May’s mayfly magic – Lake Waccamaw bream get hungry

The mayfly hatch at Lake Waccamaw, which typically takes place during May, can lead to some amazing catches of bream.

And you don’t even need a boat to catch them this month

Each May, Lake Waccamaw is the site of a special event that’s especially special to fishermen. A mayfly hatch that has been described as “incredible’” acts as an internal alarm that wakes up the 8,936-acre natural lake’s bream population.

And there are lots of bream, including bluegills, shellcrackers and redbreasts, that sit up and take notice when the aquatic insects rise to the surface, dry their wings and flitter about until their fall, spent to the surface.

Bream fishing is good at Lake Waccamaw almost any time the water is warm enough, but it soars to a high peak around the Mayfly hatch. The warm May water also works to the advantage of fishermen, as they can comfortably wade without needing waders.

“Bream fishing in Lake Waccamaw is easy,” said Toby Hall, the superintendent at Lake Waccamaw State Park. “There are fishermen who prefer to use a boat, but there are many wade fishermen, too. The bream are close to the banks and in shallow water, so many fishermen find wading as productive and more fun than fishing from a boat — and it’s easier. You don’t have to launch and load the boat.

Anglers only need simple gear

“All you need is a Bream Buster and a tube of crickets or a fly rod and either crickets or small poppers and insect flies,” Hall said. “Go to the windward edge of the lake and wade out enough to cast to the grass beds. Don’t go all the way to the grass, or you’ll risk spooking fish. The wind blows the mayflies out of the trees into the lake, and the bream, which are typically hungry, get fired up and are aggressively striking on the surface. It can get pretty wild.”

Hall said he has heard stories of past years when the mayfly hatch was so large there were slick spots on the roads under streetlights and the windward side of houses along the lake turned black. This hasn’t happened in a while, but this could be the year.

Fishermen who prefer to fish from their boat will find a ramp off Bella Coola Road in Lake Waccamaw State Park and a N.C. Wildlife Ramp across the lake at Canal Cove Road. For more information on Lake Waccamaw State Park and the ramp there, visit

About Jerry Dilsaver 1153 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.