Lures like the Redfin Shad are top choices
The Wateree River just below the Lake Wateree Dam is not a big river. But the striper bite is as big as it gets right now. They are hitting topwater lures in the rocky, current-heavy sections of the river within a few hundred yards of the dam.
According to Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service, the bite couldn’t be hotter than it is right now. These are stripers that run up from Santee to spawn, and this is the northernmost point they can reach. They are stopped by the dam, spawn here, and hang out to feed before heading back downriver this summer.
“Wateree River stripers fall under the same regulations as Santee stripers, so the season closes on June 15. Right now, throughout the month of April and into the first couple of weeks of May, these fish bite like mad,” said Wolfe.
One landing that is down a dirt road and within eyesight of the dam offers access, but Wolfe prefers the landing at the Hwy. 1 bridge that connected Camden and Lugoff. When using the landing at the dam, anglers can fish the portion of river between the dam and the first set of shoals. Some fish will move that far up, but they are tougher to catch. In this section, they move between the surface and the deep holes.
Wateree River stripers are lurking in current breaks
The Hwy. 1 landing allows anglers to run upriver and get into the shoals that are several hundred yards down from the dam. This is where Wolfe (803-487-3690) finds most of the stripers ducking behind the shoals and into cuts in the banks. They are getting a break from the current while making runs into the current to ambush baitfish. Jet-drive outboards are best here, especially with the water levels rising and falling throughout the day.
That area is accessible from the landing at the dam too, but it requires running downriver in the shoals, which is tricky, even with a jet-powered outboard.
Wolfe suggests anglers cast topwater plugs and wakebaits into the eddies and creases of water where current meets slack water. He favors the Cotton Cordell Redfin Shad. And he prefers using baitcasters with large line capacity for this type of fishing. He spools up with heavy line and uses a fairly tight drag.
For anglers not daring enough to get into the middle of the shoals, they can still catch some anglers downriver in the current. Look for anything that gives stripers a break from the current, and cast these same lures.
“Look down the bank and when you see any cuts in the banks or places that the banks juts in, stripers will hold along there. Downed trees and rocks are also good spots to cast. Once you’ve been anchored a few minutes, these Wateree River stripers will even hold behind the boat. It gets them out of the strongest current and allows them to ambush prey. So don’t forget to make a cast straight behind you every now and then,” he said.
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