Clarks Hill stripers are smashing topwater lures

Clarks Hill
Stripers and hybrids get on a feeding frenzy every day on Clarks Hill Lake this time of year.

Hybrids are mixed in with the stripers

On Clarks Hill, striped and hybrid bass are on a feeding frenzy every day this time of year. And catching these fish doesn’t require fancy electronics, a large boat, or any kind of special techniques. The weather is still hot, but the fishing here is just as hot. The action is fast, and the best way to catch them is on topwater.

Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service (803-487-3690) and his dad Richard Wolfe have been catching these fish for years during the late summer and into the fall.

“Some years it starts earlier. This year it started a little later, but it’s on right now. It’s all according to when the baitfish show up below the Lake Russell dam. They came up a little later this year, so the fishing wasn’t as good earlier in the summer. But it’s a load of fun right now,” said Richard Wolfe.

And he doesn’t expect it to slow down any time soon. The hot water in the lake is part of that reason. And that’s because when the flood gates open at the dam, the water cools considerably, and that turns the fish on big time.

“They start running water (through the Russell dam) in the afternoons. That cools the water down a great deal, and quickly. You’ll hear them blow the horns before they open a gate. They might open several on any given day. That cool water really gets them biting,” said Jason Wolfe, who guides on several lakes in the Carolinas.

Stay in the current for the hottest action

If you arrive after the horn has blown, you’ll still know whether they are running water or not. The buoys placed throughout the water will show how hard the water is moving. And you can see what side of the lake has the most moving water.

“Sometimes they’ll open the gates on just the right side of the dam. And the cooler water will be on that side of the lake. Then if they open gates on the left side, that side of the lake will cool down. It’s that cooler, moving water that you’re looking for,” said Wolfe.

Clarks Hill
Using topwater lures like Zara Spooks is the ticket to catching these fish on Clarks Hill.

Once they get in the mood, these fish will chase the baitfish to the top of the water column, then smash them on the surface. And it’s not just a fish or two here and there. Large areas of activity happen all at once, for anywhere from a few minutes to 20 minutes or more.

Sometimes, the fish will come up and start feeding all around your boat. Other times, you’ll have better luck if you motor over to them, either with your trolling motor or outboard. And even if you’re intent on staying in one spot, they will come to you at some point as long as you stay in sight of the dam and you are in water that is moving.

“There’s not many places you can go and just consistently catch fish after fish, all on topwater lures. It’s some of the most fun you can have fishing, and it’s a good way to stock up on fish nuggets. I expect the bite to stay hot like this for several more weeks,” said Wolfe.

Click here to read Wolfe’s tips on drifting for catfish.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1400 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.

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