Jocassee’s thermocline trout

Finding the thermocline is the key to catching Jocassee’s trout this time of year.

Downriggers required for deep trolling

Every year by June, Lake Jocassee has developed a distinct thermocline. And fishing guide Sam Jones of Jocassee Charters (864-280-9056) said that’s where he focuses his efforts to catch trout this month.

“June is a great month to fish Jocassee. The weather is still fairly nice, not scorching hot like it will be next month and into August. But what really helps this month is that the thermocline is easy to spot on electronics,” said Jones.

The thermocline is that area in the water column that is closest to a trout’s preferred temperature than any other water depth. 

And when Jones finds that thermocline, which can range from 40 to 70 feet deep, depending on the day and area of the lake, he trolls with downriggers.

“Sutton spoons are great when fishing this way and at these depths. I really like them in gold and in silver,” he said. “I also use lures in shad patterns and trout patterns.”

“I’m looking for water temperatures in the 55- to 65-degree range. That’s what trout are constantly searching for. It’s easy to find thanks to the thermocline, and by using the temperature sensor on my downriggers,” he said.

The downriggers get the lures down quickly, and keep them there while trolling. 

Jones said finding that thermocline is the key to consistent fishing this month. And he said this same pattern will work beginning this month into the late fall.

“I can’t tell you the exact depth you’ll find the thermocline, or the exact date it will develop by. It’s different every year, but by June, it’s well-defined. And when it develops, that’s where you’ll have the most success,” he said.

Break the rule

Like many rules in life, Jones said sometimes it’s worth breaking the thermocline rule.

“If the bite isn’t as good as I think it should be, I’ll sometimes set my downriggers to go even deeper. A lot of this type of fishing is experimenting. Don’t be afraid to break the rules if things just aren’t working out as well as you’d expect,”  he said.

Jones uses 8-pound test fishing line, and stresses anglers should find the clearest fishing line they can find.

“The water in Jocassee is very clean, very clear. So you need to use line that is as clear as possible,” he said.

As for rods, he prefers a medium power rating, and rods that are in the 7- to 9-foot range.

“Another thing I’ll do sometimes is troll large, live minnows. The spoons usually work great, but when the bite is especially tough, large minnows can get things back on track,” he said. 

About Brian Cope 2783 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

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