Guide Chris Heinning of Capt. Chris Fishing is catching bass from the Dreher Island area up into the rivers using a variety of techniques.
"The bass bite remains consistent," said Heinning (803-236-1257). "There is a tremendous amount of forage in the upper end of the lake, both shad and herring, and the bass are relating to that forage. We're catching chunky, fat largemouth that are gorging on this food supply, and we're catching (them) on a variety of structures. The key is finding good structure near deep water and working the lure near the bottom."
Heinning said bass are holding on rocky points that drop into deep water and around docks and wooden shoreline cover including laydowns, standing timber, buck brush and willow trees. The key spots, he said, are likely to vary from day to day depending on weather conditions.
"On a (recent) warm, cloudy day, the fish were shallow," he said. "However, on a cold day, the fish will likely be holding deeper – but they can still be caught. The key is to fish areas at depths where the bass will be in position to ambush forage. If the forage is shallow, expect the bass to be found accordingly. If the bait is deep, you'll have to go deeper for the largemouth. A good rule of thumb would be to start in six to 15 feet of water at this time of year. But largemouth can also be in very skinny water or as deep as 20-feet or more."
Heinning said most of the largemouth are coming from cover near the river channel because that's where the vast majority of the forage is located.
"The most productive lures are basically bottom-bumpers," he said. "I've had good success using a quarter-ounce Buckeye Shakyhead with a 6-inch watermelon color worm. Also, a brown-colored jig-and-craw combination is good as are shad style and color crankbaits that dig down to six to 12 feet. Finally, plastic creature baits worked around woody cover, such as a Brush Hog or Beaver Tails, with a quarter-ounce weight rigged Texas style are productive."
Heinning said there's no specific time of day that's best. The key is to work targets that provide bass an ambush opportunity until you hit the right depth and lure pattern. This basic pattern is likely to hold until the weather turns really cold, usually in January.
"I also know from experience and talking to a lot of long-time Lake Murray bass experts, now through February is a great time to hook a trophy largemouth here," he said. "That's an added bonus to the fishing right now."