Trout: Fair. Captain Steve Pietrykowski reports that fish can still be caught in the main lake, but the best concentration of fish will be found up the rivers. Troll from the surface down to 50 feet with live bait, including free lines far back from the boat, planer board rigs, and weighted baits at a variety of depths.
Black Bass: Slow to fair. Captain Pat Bennett advises that the best winter action traditionally is found fishing over deep water for suspended fish. Look for bait schools on your graph, and then lower down a jigging spoon or drop shot rig. Bait and fish are on the move, but locals know deep spots with underwater structure that will often produce.
Largemouth and Spotted Bass: Fair. Guide Brad Fowler reports that a typical winter pattern of fishing around deepwater structure will catch fish. Jigging spoons have been working well, and drop shotting as well as fishing shakey head worms will both produce. However, probably because of the unseasonably warm weather a surprising number of fish can still be caught shallow around most any type of cover. Slow moving baits such as soft plastics and jigs are working best for targeting shallow cover.
Black Bass: Fair to good. Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish can certainly be caught deep using traditional winter fishing techniques. In 25-40 feet of water bass are being caught near channel swings, drops or any structure proximate to very deep water on shakey head worms, drop shots, spoons and jigs. The key to catching the deep fish is finding them. Probably because of the unseasonably warm winter thus far, fish also continue to be caught shallow. Fish can be found around most any piece of shallow cover, such as wood or brush piles, on soft plastic or jigs.
Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Bill Plumley reports that the blue catfish bite has come on fairly strong, and most fish are being caught in 10-30 feet of water off points near the main river channel. A variety of cut baits will work. Fish have not yet moved into the creeks, but they should soon.
Striped and Hybrid Bass: Fair. Captain Bill Plumley reports that striper are scattered all over the lake, and one day they may be in the creeks and the next day they could be out in the channel. Free lined live herring and umbrella rigs have been most productive, and at least some days umbrella rigs have greatly outfished live bait.
Crappie: Fair. Captain Bill Plumley reports that the best crappie fishing on Lake Hartwell seems to be taking place at night, when mild temperatures have allowed anglers to put out lights to attract fish. Fish are being caught on minnows 12-20 feet down over 30 feet of water around brush and bridge pilings.
Striped bass: Good to very good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports several specific locations are holding striper right now, and the best spots are over deep open water in the 40-70 foot range. Fish will be found from the surface about 20 feet down; look for birds to locate fish. Anglers should target striper by pulling a mix of free lined live herring and shiners.
Black Bass: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that bass are schooled up in the creek channels 30-35 feet deep. Fishing drop shot rigs and vertically jigging ½ ounce white Berry spoons is the most productive way to catch them, and the key is marking schools of bait and fishing around them. Some anglers are also having success throwing Alabama rigs.
White and yellow perch: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that the perch pattern is similar to the pattern for bass. Fish 30-40 feet deep in the creek channels around bait schools, and lift your bait (generally minnows) about 6 inches off the bottom. One day Wendell's boat found the fish as deep as 50 feet of water, but those fish were suspended off the bottom.
Crappie: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that a similar pattern is working for crappie as for bass and perch, but to specifically target crappie the best technique is a very slow troll in 30-40 feet of water.
Striped and Hybrid Bass: Good to very good. Captain William Sasser reports that fish can be found both shallow and deep, but few fish have moved up very shallow yet. His boat is catching lots of 8-12 pound fish in the mid-lake area and the South Carolina Little River using planer boards and down lines, especially fishing in the 20-30 foot depth range. With planer boards they are allowing about 25-30 feet of line between the planer and the bait.
Crappie: Good. Captain William Sasser reports that crappie are feeding well in the mid-lake area and Buffalo Creek. Pulling minnows and jigs along the edges of the creek channels 15 feet down in 20 feet of water is producing.
Black bass: Fair. Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that bass are starting to move into a typical winter pattern on Clarks Hill. Fish are in ditches 15-25 feet deep where they can be caught on lead head fluke rigs, spin blades and possibly Alabama rigs. Fish are spread out all over and not especially active.
White perch: Very good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that white perch fishing remains the most consistent that it has been in months, and fish are feeding in open water on the edges of humps 30-35 feet deep. Schools are a mix of large and small fish so don't move on just because you catch a few small ones. Fishing small minnows on a modified Sabiki rig is the best technique.
Catfish: Good to very good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that a typical winter pattern is fishing in or proximate to the river channel, but recently fish have not been bunched up in the river bed. Fish have been scattered across a variety of depths, and bait concentrations are varied from creek to creek. 35-40 feet has been a good depth for drifting cut bait.
Largemouth Bass: Fair. FLW Professional and Guide Matt Arey reports that fish are in a typical early winter pattern, and fishing spoons and grubs - such Yamamato single tail grubs fished behind a ¼ or 3/16 ounce jighead - around channel swings, points and at the mouths of creeks in 20 feet of water is producing. The key is finding the bait.
Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that drifting is the best way to put quantities of fish in the boat, while anchoring may lead to higher quality fish. The fish are holding very close and down in the river channel, and the upper half of the lake where the channel ranges from 20-30 feet has been most productive. Cut herring, gizzard and threadfin shad have been the most effective baits.
Crappie: Fair to good. Sportsman's Friend reports that fishing with minnows in 12-15 feet has been productive.
Largemouth Bass: Fair. Sportsman's Friend reports that there continues to be scattered schooling activity across Lake Greenwood, with bass, striper, and some other species all mixed together. Anglers are throwing everything at these fish, including Alabama rigs, small spinners and ice flies. There is also some action fishing crankbaits and worms off points.
Catfish: Good to very good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that this is traditionally a good time of year for catching big fish, and true to form there have been some outstanding days recently. Some big fish have been caught free line drifting and Santee-style drifting, but anchoring has been the most effective way to catch a trophy. 35-75 feet has been a general depth range, and some days the fish will get in a very narrow band when fishing at any other depth can be a waste of time.
Catfish: Good to very good. Captain Rodger Taylor reports that slowly drifted cut bait is still working well for numbers of blue catfish in the middle to lower part of the lake. Key on bait locations and follow the birds. If the deep channel is not producing, the deeper flats between the major creeks often harbor medium to large blues in the winter. These fish often lie on the bottom and can be hard to see on your graph. Finally, be flexible in your approach as unpredictable weather can make for unpredictable patterns.
Crappie: Good. Will Hinson of the Southern Crappie Tournament Trail reports that the crappie bite is strong up river from Wateree Creek on up to the Cedar Creek Dam. Fish can be caught on the ledges on either side of the river channel, and a good way to fish the ledges is to start out fishing about 18 feet deep and fish out to 24 or 25 feet. The best bait varies from day to day, with both minnows and jigs.
Largemouth Bass: Fair. Captain Chris Heinning reports that the largemouth bass bite has slowed some due to winter's cooler temperatures. Bass can still be caught around rocky points, deep docks, steep banks, and humps near deep water working crankbaits, jigs, shakey head worms, and jerkbaits very slowly. 8-12 feet is the best depth range to target.
Catfish: Good. Captain Chris Simpson reports that the drift bite has been good and both blues and channel catfish have been feeding well. The best action has been in 40-55 feet of water, whether that depth is on a flat, a hump rising out of deeper water, or up a feeder creek in that range. Cut herring bas been the best bait, and a lot of striper are also being picked up.
Striped Bass: Good. Reports indicate that the best concentrations of fish have moved up the rivers, and because of unseasonably warm weather the fish are dispersed with some scattered out on the flats. Anglers are looking for schooling fish and throwing at them with spoons and bucktails, and they are also trolling free lined live herring.
Crappie: Fair to good. Captain Brad Taylor reports that there are two major patterns for catching crappie right now. One is a traditional winter tight-lining pattern up the Big and Little Saluda rivers, pulling minnows and jigs 8-12 feet deep in 15-20 feet of water.
Largemouth Bass: Fair. Veteran bass angler Doug Lown reports that the fishing is a little spotty. Because of a mild winter fish can be found both deep and shallow, and it is not uncommon to see bass up to about 3 pounds laying in the shallows - particularly in short pockets off the main lake and around rocky points. Jigs, shakey head worms and crankbaits are catching fish.
Santee Cooper System
Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Jim Glenn reports that most days the blue catfish bite is fair to good, and fish are being caught in various depths from 4-10 feet on down to 50 feet. The concentrations may be greatest in deeper water. Both anchoring and drifting with fresh cut gizzard shad, menhaden, perch or mullet will catch fish in the right places.
Striped Bass: Fair to good. Captain Jim Glenn reports that fishing 35-50 feet deep with live baits including big shiners and gizzard or threadfin shad is working and anglers are also having success trolling and chasing schooling fish on the surface with jigs, spoons and surface plugs.
Largemouth bass: Fair. Captain Jimmie Hair reports that the primary pattern remains similar. Fishing around eel grass with Gambler Super Studs and swimming jigs will catch fish, and in the swamp working square-billed crankbaits around cypress trees is effective.
Crappie and Bream: Slow. Captain Steve English reports that the crappie and bream bite has slowed down for the winter.
Saltwater Fishing Trends:
Haddrell's Point reports a nice numbers of redfish (sometimes 100+ fish in a school) have been schooling up on the low tide flats and are eagerly taking all kinds of baits. Gulp! jerkshads, Gulp! swimming mullet, Zman's. Sheepshead are still feeding heavily along structure in 8-20ft of water with fiddler crabs, oysters, and barnacles being the top bait choices. Though often over-looked by many anglers, the black drum bite has also been pretty consistent lately. Look for them around structure (often the same places you like to fish for sheepshead) in 6-20 feet of water. Cut shrimp is hard to beat for the drum, but Gulp! shrimp and many other cut natural baits can all be very effective.