S.C. freshwater fishing report – what’s biting right now

fishing report
Anglers are catching plenty of quality catfish at Santee.

Hot weather has not halted the hot bite

The weather is hot, but for anglers willing to brave the heat, so is the fishing. So what’s biting right now for freshwater anglers in South Carolina? Plenty!

Crappie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, trout, stripers, and hybrids are all biting in various bodies of water. On most, it’s best to get out there early. But if mid-day is your only time to fish, don’t stay home. If fishing during the heat of the day, pay close attention to cloud cover. The bite can go from stone cold dead to hot as a July firecracker as soon as clouds cover the sun.

Capt. Todd Vick with Fishin’ Freshwater Charters is killing the crappie on the Waccamaw River between Murrells Inlet and Conway. He’s catching them on live minnows under slip corks, and also with jigs. This time of year, he finds slabs in a variety of spots on the Waccamaw, including tight to docks, deep on brush, and around bridge pilings. He said each day, the bite can be totally different, and that having a variety of bait/lure options and techniques is a must.

Wacammaw Crappie
Capt. Todd Vick said anglers shouldn’t give up on crappie just because the weather is hot.

Mike McSwain of Broad River Smallmouth has been experiencing some top-notch fishing on the Broad River above Columbia. In low-light conditions, he said the Whopper-Plopper has been tough to beat. But the Mepps inline spinners, like the Aglia and Black Fury, have been producing great fish throughout the day. He’s also catching his share with plastic worms and creature baits fished thoroughly through the eddies. In the slacker pools of water, he’s hooking up with swim baits dragged thoroughly through that slower water.

The smallmouth fishing on the Broad River has been stellar for Mike McSwain and his clients.

Brett Collins, who runs the Carolina Anglers Team Trail, is racking up the largemouth bass on Lake Wateree and at Fishing Creek. He’s been catching a lot of them in shallow water on jigs. Topwater lures like Rebel Pop-R’s have been getting it done for him in the early moning, low-light conditions. And Spro hollow-body frogs are helping him catch bass on surface weeds. On a side note, Collins said he has also caught a few white bass on Wateree lately, so the white perch haven’t completely killed them off.

Wateree bass
Lake Wateree started off slow for bass this year, but it’s giving up some quality largemouth lately.

At Santee, Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service said the days have been hot, and so has the catfish bite. He’s been catching them while drifting. Finding constant and varied depth changes has been the key to catching fish. Drifting a flat and having his cut baits slide over the bottom, then down steep slopes, into deep holes, and over sunken debris has been the ticket. His most recent catches have been cats from 5-pounds up to 40-pounds. And he said there’s always a chance to hook into one considerably bigger here.

Santee catfish
Drifting with cut bait is producing some nice Santee cats for Capt. Jason Wolfe’s clients.

In the Upstate, Capt. Sam Jones of Jocassee Charters said the bite doesn’t really slow down in the summer for Lake Jocassee’s rainbow and brown trout, but he said the heat does push them deeper. He’s catching them trolling in water depths of 55 feet and deeper. On some days, the bite is starting off strong at first light. On other days, he’s catching more fish later in the day. So, he suggests anglers don’t give up on what may seem like a slow start. The hot bite can all of a sudden turn on quickly, making a slow day into one filled with action.

Jocassee trout
The trout bite is still going strong on Jocassee, but the fish seem to go deeper every week.

On Clarks Hill Lake, William Sasser Guide Service is catching limits of stripers and hybrids early in the mornings. They’re catching most of them 25 to 35 feet deep off points and humps in open areas of the lake. Live herring is unbeatable for bait. And while many of the fish are tight to the bottom, some fish are also suspended. So anglers should try different depths if they’re having trouble getting bites. Some limits are coming by 8:30 a.m.

Clarks Hill stripers
Stripers and hybrids are plentiful on Clarks Hill Lake, and they’re feeding heavily, especially right at daybreak.

Click here to find out how to catch summertime slabs on Lake Russell.


Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1480 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of CarolinaSportsman.com. 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.