Clarks Hill stripers gang up in spring

Guide Tommy Dudley said big stripers are a good possibility at Clarks Hill Lake in April, especially close to the dam on the lower end.
Guide Tommy Dudley said big stripers are a good possibility at Clarks Hill Lake in April, especially close to the dam on the lower end.

You can’t go wrong at the Clarks Hill Dam this month

Striper fishing this month on South Carolina’s Clarks Hill Lake is pretty simple, according to guide Tommy Dudley of Plum Branch. Just go to the dam and get there early in the morning — very early.

“The fish stage up at the bottom of the lake in April, and the hot spot is Clarks Hill Dam, pure and simple,” said Dudley (706-833-4807). “But you have to hit it early. You need to be there by absolute first light.”

The pattern, he said, usually begins in late March and continues at least to the middle of April.

“There are tons and tons of fish down there at that time, and it gets pretty busy,” he said. “Usually, they are suspended. They can be right out in the open water and right up against the rocks at first light — but they will be there.”

When the bite is going good at the dam, Dudley said, there is another bite underway at the very opposite end of the lake.

April is time for quantity and quality

“The top end of the lake is tricky in the spring. There are a lot of fish up there, and there’s a lot of spawning activity below Russell Dam. But the fishing is tricky depending on water flow through Russell Dam,” he said. “You have to monitor it to see when there will be a good flow. But it can be another really good hot spot that time of year.”

After the first couple of weeks of April, the fish start moving away from the dam and heading up the lake.

“They start moving up the rivers. So you have to start moving and finding them up the rivers, the major tributaries coming into the main river channel. Go to the mouths of Little River, Keg Creek and the Lake Springs area,” said Dudley. He normally finds fish in 20 to 30 feet of water, relating mostly to underwater hills with some in the actual creek ditches.

Traditionally, he said, the main pattern has been to pull live baits on planer boards. But for the last couple of years, he has concentrated mostly on fishing down lines.

“As always in the spring, you have to watch the weather patterns,” Dudley said. “Cold fronts coming through will keep knocking the fish up and down. But the good thing in the spring is that the baits live well.

“And the other good thing is that you can catch limits of fish. Plus it is a good time to catch some big, fat fish, quality fish.”

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