Lake Murray stripers begin to stir

The author (left) caught this nice Lake Murray striper fishing with guide Brad Taylor.

Look for spring fish on flats in any creek, guide says

With winter’s chill finally being to be replaced by warmer weather, March is a strong month for striped bass on Lake Murray, according to guide Brad Taylor.

“There will be fish showing up in every creek around the entire lake in March,” Taylor said. “Typically that time of year, they are starting to get up on the shallower flats in the creeks.”

It is, he said, probably the best time of year to catch a big striper in Lake Murray.

“Most are caught on gizzard shad on free-lines, but there are a lot of ways to catch stripers in March. Some really big fish can be caught on cut bait around Buffalo Creek, Rocky Creek and the elbow bend right along the edge of the river.”

Taylor (803-331-1354) said the bite on cut bait occurs mostly above Dreher Island, adjacent to the river channel in 20 feet of water, along little flats and ridges that run out into the channel.

While the winter school fishing is starting to fade with the warmer water temperatures, and anglers don’t find chasing seagulls as productive, the gulls and loons that helped target those schools are still active and can help locate bait, he said.

“This time of year, I pull planer boards and free-lines and fish the biggest blueback herring I can find,” said Taylor who focuses on 20- to 30-foot flats adjacent to the river channel and creek channels in the mid-section of the lake. “I normally have eight lines out, six with planer boards, a free-line and one with a cork out in the middle. I also will run a big gizzard shad on one of the lines just for the opportunity to catch a really big striper.”

A typical catch in March, he said, will be an average of 5 to 6 pounds per fish, but if luck provides a big striper, that one fish could run well over 20 pounds.

“The good thing about striper fishing this time of year is that normally when you catch one you catch a bunch. They are grouped up, and when you hit them, multiple hookups are very common,: Taylor said.

Striper fishing is improving on Murray, he said, as the population has made a long recovery since it crashed in 2006.

“They drew the lake down back then to work on the dam and then they dumped poison in to kill the hydrilla and we lost the bulk of the stripers that fall,” Taylor said. “But the fish are on a comeback, and in the past couple of years, 20-pound fish have become more common.”