Stripers are hitting wake baits in heavy current
The Wateree River has been plagued with high, fast-running water lately, but that hasn’t slowed down the striper bite. On some recent days, water has been pouring over the top of the dam, making the river treacherous to river anglers. But anglers with the proper knowledge and equipment have steadily caught stripers in huge numbers.
Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service has spent numerous days on the river in the past two weeks. With a jet-drive outboard and years of experience on this stretch of the river, he’s guided many clients to their best fishing days ever. And it’s some of the most exciting fishing of the year. These fish are ravaging wake baits right at the surface, with jarring strikes followed by drag-pulling runs.
“The fishing is so good, people are risking it all to get out here. We’ve seen a number of boats hung up on the rocks and calling DNR for help. That’s the kind of excitement these fish bring,” said Wolfe (803-487-3690). “There’s a lot of fish here, and they’re healthy, good-sized fish.”
These fish like a steady retrieve
Wolfe said getting a boat safely in position is the toughest part. After that, it’s all a matter of casting into current creases and holes behind boulders. The stripers love that churning water, they’re here in big numbers, and they’re hungry.
“On some days you can cast just about anywhere and they’ll crush your lure before you even start cranking your reel. If they don’t hit it right away, just retrieve the lure with a steady crank. Don’t worry about pausing it or reeling fast. Just a steady retrieve makes that wake bait shimmy and wobble just the right amount,” he said.
And once they hit, don’t expect these fish to give up quickly or easily. They’ll often make a run down current, peeling drag as they go. Let them run when they run, then gain line back when you can. Don’t reel against the drag — you want the drag to help wear down the fish.
Wolfe suggests using baitcasters for accurate casting, abundant line capacity, strong drags and the cranking power they provide. His favorite wake bait is the Cotton Cordell Red-Fin in natural colors.
The hot striper bite is expected to continue for the next several weeks.
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