Marty Robinson was working a Lake Keowee cove in late March, picking bass off docks along the bank. He hadn't limited yet, but he had a solid average going.

"I had a 5-pounder, a 3- and one about four (pounds)," said Robinson, a resident of Lyman who is a Bassmaster Elite Series pro.

And that's when he hit the mother lode.

"I got in the back of this little pocket, and there was this sandbar coming out from the bank," Robinson said. "There was a little current coming from a small creek, and I saw a big fish cruising."

He grabbed a rod that was rigged wacky-style with a Zoom Trick Worm; he'd stuck a small nail into the worm's head when he rigged it.

Robinson tossed the lure in front of the bass, letting it settle.

"With that nail in the head, it sank faster than I normally would have liked it," he admitted. "But I let it settle to the bottom, and then I picked it up and let it go back down."

When he pulled the slack out of the line to repeat the process, Robinson felt spongy weight and set the hook.

"That was a 6-pounder," he said.

That clued him in that fish were cruising, looking for suitable digs for the spawn. So he quickly unhooked the hefty bass, re-rigged the worm and tossed it back out.

"I threw right back in the same spot and caught a 7-pounder," Robinson said.

He never left the shallow water again, dredging the bar and associated waters the rest of the day.

"I probably caught 10 to 12 more (fish) that day on that wacky worm," Robinson said. "I had five that went 23, 24 pounds."

That might surprise some Keowee anglers, since the lake doesn't typically give up such arm-stretching weights. And, in fact, Robinson's catch that day isn't a common occurrence, especially since the bulk of the fishery is made up of spotted bass.

"Keowee is 90-percent spots," said Chris Schuber, who owns and operates Fishboy Adventures Guide Service (864-888-7974).

"The average spot is 1½ to two pounds, but you'll still get a kicker that'll go three to four pounds."

Robinson agreed, but added that there are a few spotted bass that grow even larger.

"I have seen a spot weighed in on that lake that went over seven pounds," he said. "There are some big spots on that lake."

Although the chances of catching such huge spotted bass are akin to being struck by lightning, the largemouth component offers the opportunity to put together large sacks.

"Largemouth run from two to eight pounds," Schuber said. "My wife got a 9½-pounder (from) Keowee. They're there; they're just hard to catch."

Robinson admitted that his big-bag trip was special, pointing out that he exceeded his normal Lake Keowee expectations by about 10 pounds.

"That time of year, I'm trying to catch a 14-pound bag," he said. "That's about all you can do to put yourself in a position to win."

However, because there are chunky largemouth roaming the waters, Robinson said he always keys on patterns conducive to catching that genre of bass.

"Spotted bass tend to be a little deeper than largemouths," he explained.

And when the spawn kicks in and largemouth pull into the shallows, there's no reason to stay out deep. Besides, the spotted bass that are shallow will fall for the same techniques as their larger cousins.

"If you can get the largemouth to bite, you're going to get some spots," Robinson said. "Especially that time of year, the largemouth are real catchable."

And the spawn on Keowee lasts for months.

"Fish start moving up the last week of February or the first week of March if the wind is mild and the water (temperature) is in the mid 50s," Schuber said. "And the end of the spawn is normal in mid-May, but I've seen it run up into August."

The lake is a power-plant cooling reservoir, so there is a warm-water discharge about mid-lake. That means the waters near the Oconee Nuclear Station gets a lot of attention, since there is plenty of warm water to activate bass, even during the coldest months.

However, Schuber and Robinson focus their attention on shallow coves around the lake, picking off fish that are cruising the banks and staying away from the crowd.

"I'll be fishing one to seven feet of water, and I'll be looking for largemouths and spots cruising the shoreline looking for a place to spawn," Schuber said.

The key is to know where these shallow areas are, since the majority of the lake holds deep water.

"It's a deep, crystal-clear lake with not much structure," Schuber said.

However, Robinson said there are still plenty of flats for bass to spawn.

"If you get back in the right creek, it's got flats like any other lake, but they're deeper," he explained. "These flats might be 15- to 20-feet deep, with a 40- to 45-foot ditch running into the middle of it."

While there will be bass on deeper flats throughout the spawn, Robinson said he really focuses on the same waters as Schuber.

"When they're setting up to spawn, they'll be up on the bank and get on some kind of wood cover," Robinson said. "If you find a flatter pocket with three to four boat docks, there will be a fish on every one."

Both anglers also focus on any natural wood in the water.

"I look for laydowns and any kind of shallow wood," Robinson said. "They'll be spawning right next to wood."

Robinson added rip-rap along the banks to his list of targets.

"If you find a little bank between boat docks where there's some rip-rap, they love to spawn at the end of that riprap in three or four feet of water," he said.

But even during the spawn, when fish are shallow and visible, a day on Keowee is unpredictable.

"You just never know what you're going to catch on that lake," Schuber said. "I can go out there some days and catch 10 pounds, and on some days I can go out there and catch 15.

"It takes a lot of patience."

And that's exactly why it such an intriguing place. "I like to fish a lake that presents a challenge," he said. "There's always a place I haven't tried."