Guide Brad Fowler of Pendleton, S.C., said there is one major rule to follow when fishing for bass on Lake Keowee in the heat of summer: don’t even think about going on weekends.
“In the summer, the boat traffic is so bad on weekends that you are just wasting your time,” Fowler said. “It’s not safe to be out there in a bass boat. You have to worry about getting run over.”
Not only is the boat traffic so heavy on weekends that it’s impossible to fish, it affects fishing the rest of the week, he said.
“That time of year, you don’t see them on the surface, and you don’t find them on the points,” he said. “You see them out in 100 feet of water. I think the boat traffic drives them out to the middle of nowhere during the summer.”
That said, bass can be caught during the middle of the week on Keowee in July and August, but things have to fall into place, he added.
“You need for everything to work out in your favor to get them to commit this time of year. I try to capitalize on a little early bite on points around daylight when they are catchable,” he said. “There is a real short window early in the morning when you can catch them on topwater plugs around rock in shallow places.”
One factor has aided the shallow-water bite this summer: exceptionally high water. Keowee’s water is as high as it has ever been and due to heavy late-spring rains, Lake Hartwell is full so there is no place to dump excess water.
“With the water so high, you have to figure out some things for the shallow bite, but Keowee is still a tough lake to fish shallow up in the day,” said Fowler (www.fowlerfishing.com).
Once that shallow bite is over, Fowler said, he moves out to deeper water off points and does a lot of looking with his electronics for schools of mostly spotted bass. Fish will usually be suspended at 25 to 35 feet below the surface, he said.
“You don’t have to get back right over the top of them,” he said. “I like to throw a Fishhead Spin or a drop-shot to them. You might just pull up on a school that is feeding.”
Although the situation is different at both ends of the lake, the same tactics are in play, he said.
“You are not going to avoid boat traffic at either end, but each end has its plusses,” he said. “On the lower end, you have more wide-open water and more area to fish, while in the upper end if they are generating water, the current sometimes helps the bite. You don’t have as much room to get away from interference in the upper end, but you might catch the fish feeding better because of that current.”
Historically, the summer pattern lasts into early September, Fowler said, but in recent years, most of September has been just as hot as July and August. The latter part of the month should provide some relief when fish transition to fall patterns.