Broad River bass stay cool during August heat

Broad River

The Broad River’s cool water keeps bass active all summer

It’s sweltering, and that kind of heat can push bass into feeding for only a few minutes in the morning and then again in the evening. It can make a day of fishing seem like a drag on many bodies of water.

But that’s not the case on the cool, flowing waters of South Carolina’s Broad River. And that cool water keeps the fish biting on a much more angler-friendly schedule.

Mike McSwain of Broad River Smallmouth uses a number of different strategies when fishing the river summer’s heat. One of those is topwater lures. They’re good choices for mornings and evenings, but what many anglers don’t realize is how good they are through the middle of the day.

“River fishing is different than fishing in lakes or ponds,” said McSwain (843-763-3805). “The constant ripple on the surface caused by moving water is always perfect for topwater lures.”

Smallmouth bass are his main target on the Broad, but he catches plenty of largemouth, too.

Whopper Ploppers, Zara Spooks and Pop-Rs are three lures, all with different characteristics, that McSwain uses in the summer.

He employs a typical walk-the-dog style retrieve with the Spooks, twitching his rod tip and reeling in the slack as he goes. This causes the lure to shimmy side to side, enticing some violent strikes from hungry fish.

Guide Mike McSwain said topwater fishing on the Broad River can be good all day, even during August’s heat. (Photo by Brian Cope)

With Pop-Rs, he twitches his rod tip, then reels in the slack, pretty much the same way he fishes a Spook. But the Pop-R’s concave front causes a popping noise, sending water splashing out front of it.

The Whopper Plopper gets a different kind of retrieve

“There’s more than one way to fish this lure, which is what makes it so good,” he said. “But what works best for me here is to retrieve it steadily, at a pretty brisk pace. You can play around with reeling it at different speeds and the fish may react different from one day to the next. I call a slow retrieve a 20-mph speed. I like to reel it at about a 60-mph speed.”

No matter which lure you’re using, where should you cast it?

“Pretty much anywhere,” McSwain said. “All the usual spots you would on a lake, like near downed trees, along the edges of grass lines, near rocks. But you can cast it in the eddies formed by the shoals in the middle of the river. Cast it to shallow water right at the bank, then reel it over deeper cuts and into the shoals. Cast it right into the churning waters tumbling through the shoals.

“You really can’t go wrong throwing these lures on this river.”

JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month

Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and

About Brian Cope 1943 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply