Hit ‘em early on Lake Murray

Chris Blanchette of Coast to Cove Charters catches early morning bass like this one at Lake Murray. (Picture by Brian Cope)

Schooling bass are feeding during the coolest part of the day

With the heat of July bearing down on Lake Murray, the early morning hours are an angler’s best bet, according to Chris Blanchette of Coast to Cove Charters (803-447-2029).

Blanchette is a full-time guide on Lake Murray, as well as a bass tournament angler. He said the early morning bite is critical this month.

“Fishing in July on Lake Murray means early morning bite windows are critical. The largemouth will school on the non-native blueback herring aggressively for the first 2 to 3 hours of daylight. They use the surface as an ambush point to feed up on the baitfish, which are typically 5 to 7 inches long,” he said.

Blanchette uses topwater lures like Strike King’s Sexy Dawg in chrome, and a Strike King soft plastic jerk bait in the crazy chrome color.

“These are great offerings for the early morning hours,” he said. “But your cast must be perfect to capitalize on a schooling opportunity. Just make sure you cast where the baitfish are being pushed to, and not where the bass are currently blowing up. Otherwise, your lure will always land behind them.”

Once the bass go down, after a surface-feeding frenzy, Blanchette suggests casting finesse lures like a Strike King Filler worm or a KVD Dreamshot worm.

“Swimbaits are also a good option. I like morning dawn and green pumpkin colors, depending on water clarity,” he said.

During the full moon, he notices more surface-feeding activity from bass. And during the new moon phase, he finds bass feed more along the bottom.

“I target these bass on main lake and creek points in 10 to 25 feet of water. And if I find baitfish in 30 to 40 feet of water, I’ll fish those pretty hard if I find active fish with them,” he said.

This month, Blanchette doesn’t spend any time casting along the shoreline. He heads straight out to the main lake, and focuses his efforts on schooling fish.

“You’ll find them around brush and cane piles, which help congregate the bass to a certain spot. This is one of those months that forward-facing sonar is necessary for a very successful trip,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2800 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. 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 brianc@carolinasportsman.com.

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