Super striper bite despite high river levels across Carolinas

High water stripers
The stripers don't mind the high water levels from recent rains.

Water is rolling over Lake Wateree Dam, but stripers still biting

Most anglers across the Carolinas have been taking a wait-and-see approach to fishing lately. The massive amount of rain has many rivers, creeks, and lakes swollen out of their banks. So sitting at home has been the choice for many who would rather be on the water.

Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service got a little too much cabin fever after rain drenched his area near the NC/SC state line. So he got on the river with his Yamaha jet-powered aluminum boat and headed up toward the base of the dam that separates Lake Wateree from the Wateree River above U.S. Hwy 1 on the Camden-Lugoff border.

With rain gear and an extra dose of caution, Capt. Jason Wolfe doesn’t mind fishing in high water.

As expected, he found high water upon arriving at the boat ramp. He made his way upriver to find water flowing over the dam. He wanted to see if any fish would bite in these conditions. A feeding frenzy of stripers answered his question.

Wolfe caught fish in a variety of ways. Twitchbaits, topwater lures, subsurface lures, and weighted jigs all put fish in the boat.

Churning water makes for favorable striper fishing

“This time of year, stripers bite like crazy in this portion of the river. A lot of people just give up on the striper bite here once the spring gives way to hot weather. But you’ll catch them in this moving water. The hardest part is getting to them,” said Wolfe (803-487-3690).

And he wasn’t even talking about flood-like conditions that are present right now.

High water stripers
Water is pouring over the top of the Wateree Dam.

This river is full of boulders, loose rocks, and shoals that can make navigating treacherous. It’s next to impossible with a propeller-driven outboard when the water is at normal height. When flooded, it can look easier to navigate in some spots. But it’s actually even more dangerous.

The shoals and rocks are all under the surface right now. This makes the water look deep enough for any boat to get through. But it’s easy to bottom out on the rocks. And with the heavy current present during flooding, it can flip or swamp a boat quickly. Not to mention the damage it can cause to an outboard’s propeller or lower unit. Wolfe said he wouldn’t consider running this river in anything other than a jet-powered boat.

Stout tackle is key

Fishing close to structure and where one current meets another are good tactics. The fish like to gather around these spots. It can be difficult to find a wrong place to fish right now. The tumbling of so much water has the river churning heavily. And stripers like that kind of turmoil.

Wolfe uses pretty stout tackle in these conditions. And he expects hangups to happen from time to time. That’s all a part of fishing in these conditions and environment. But Wolfe said the fishing is worth it. And it beats sitting home watching everything get soaked outside.

Click here to find out how to catch stripers all summer on Lake Hartwell.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1313 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.