Blackwater bass on the Waccamaw River

Waccamaw River bass
Guide Todd Vick catches plenty of nice bass this month on the Waccamaw River. (Photo by Todd Vick)

Waccamaw River largemouths in spotlight

When the landscape transforms into its spring wardrobe and turkeys are gobbling in the background, it’s a surefire message to anglers that largemouth bass are chomping on the lower Waccamaw River.

Spring fishing takes off on the blackwater rivers in the eastern parts of the Carolinas. And the Waccamaw River is hot this month, especially south of the South Carolina-North Carolina state line.

Todd Vick of Fishin’ Freshwater Charters out of Murrells Inlet, S.C.,  practically lives on the Waccamaw throughout the year. And April is a prime time to target largemouth bass there.

“It’s the time of year we crush some good fish on the Waccamaw,” said Vick (843-333-8200). “We consistently catch fish in the 3 1/2- to 4-pound range in the spring.”

Bass are preparing to spawn and will slide out of winter holding areas on their way to shallower places. As they get ready, they are typically found holding along breaks within feet of their spawning grounds, waiting on water temperatures to rise.

Look for current breaks

“We look for backwater areas that are out of heavy current. And we target the first drops where the fish will be staging before they slide up into the shallows to spawn. The fish are either on the beds or getting ready to be on the beds,” he said.

One of three lures will get the job done for Vick. He always has square-billed crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits tied on. His all-time favorite is a Rapala Husky Jerk. This versatile lure can be fished in a wide variety of places.

Vick fishes them with various retrieves, from stop-and-go to a steady retrieve. The intermittent pause is typically when bass become unhinged and attack the lure.

“No real wrong way to work a jerkbait,” he said. “Figure out a rhythm that works, and when you start getting hit, it can be an incredible way to get fish on the end of the line.”

This section of the river is tidal

Vick always has at least a portion of the lure in a specific color.

“Color choice is extremely important on this river,” he said. “When the fish are moving into the shallows early in the year, they key in on red and any variation of red. It has to do with light refraction and the way they see it. Regardless of the reason, jerkbaits in red will outperform any other color this time of year.”

Vick also follows a strict regiment when it comes to scheduling his trips. The stretch of the Waccamaw River flowing through central and lower Horry County is tidally influenced.

“I only fish the outgoing tide, from the beginning of the fall to the dead low tide and then one hour of the incoming. After that, the fish shut down, and you’re better off going home,” he said.

Tides in the lower section of the Waccamaw can have a range of several feet. So much of the shallow cover will be high and dry on low tides. Check the tide charts before fishing, because the tide can make a huge impact on where to fish and when to go.

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Jeff Burleson
About Jeff Burleson 1396 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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