March is trophy striper time
If you want to catch trophy stripers, March is probably the best month to go after a big one on South Carolina’s Lake Murray, according to guide Brad Taylor. It’s also a good month to fill a daily limit, he added.
“In March, the stripers are scattered around the lake, back in the creeks,” Taylor said. “Anglers will catch most of these fish on free-lines and planer boards. Typically, we’ll find these fish in the back half of the creek.”
You will need to read the weather, he said, to know where to concentrate.
“If it’s really cold in the morning, you’ll want to fish more in the creek channel,” he said. “As the water warms up, you will need to fish more up on the bank. You have to just keep fishing to determine what is working best.”
Taylor (803-331-1354) moves along at about 1 mph back in the creeks, and he likes to pull the planer boards all the way up on the bank.
“If I start catching fish on the opposite side of the boat from the bank, I just move out into the deeper water,” he said. “But those fish will feed all the way up on the bank as the water warms and the baitfish move up.”
The biggest fish are often in the shallowest water
The shallower water is also the location to target a really big striper, he said.
“The bigger fish will push the bait up very shallow where they can get to them,” he said. “You need bigger baits to catch the bigger fish, so I like to fish gizzard shad if I can find them. I also up-size my hooks and fish the bigger baits on planer boards — and then just cover water.”
March is also a good month to catch plenty of quality, average-sized Lake Murray stripers, he said.
“The fish will have grouped up in big numbers by then. There will still be a few birds — loons and gulls — hanging around the lake so there is a good opportunity to find fish schooling and feeding under those birds,” he said.
“You can cast to them, but my preference is to pull free lines through them. They will be moving fast, so if you do cast to them, remember, this is not a topwater bite. You will need to cast something subsurface like a Fluke or a spoon.”
Taylor said this pattern will generally be consistent right on through most of April.