Lakes Norman and Wateree appear the most promising for anglers seeking to start the New Year with good fishing.
Largemouth and spotted bass continue to strike well at Norman, where it took five fish weighing 17 1/2 pounds to win a local tournament a few days ago. They’re striking Alabama rigs, crankbaits and jigs cast to slightly discolored shoreline waters.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources reports that crappie in the 1 1/2-pound range are being boated at Wateree. The best action is in a stretch from Wateree Creek uplake to the riverine section. The crappie generally are hitting minnows fished about a foot off bottom 18-24 feet deep.
Lake Norman: Striped bass and a mix of other species in the Plant Marshall and McGuire Nuclear Station hot holes on bloodworms.
Lake Wylie: Largemouth bass on Alabama rigs. Fair to good for crappie 10-20 feet down around boat docks and brush, mainly on minnows. Fair-to-good for catfish on cut white perch drift-fished near the main channel.
Mountain Island Lake: Continuing fair for crappie on minnows around bridges, brush and docks.
Cane Creek Park Lake: Good for crappie on minnows.
Yadkin/Pee Dee River lakes: Good for crappie in the “Smith Lake” section of Blewett Falls on minnows and Kalin jigs. Fair crappie at Badin, Tillery. No report from the others, High Rock and Tuckertown. Plentiful blue catfish in the 10-pound range in the Pee Dee River below Blewett Falls Dam near Lilesville.
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Good to very good for smallmouth bass on shiners at James. Little activity at Rhodhiss. Hickory is yielding stripers and crappie on minnows.
Fontana Lake: Continuing excellent for walleye on jigging spoons worked 60-70 feet deep off points in the Hazel Creek arm. Smallmouth and spotted bass are hitting crankbaits and skirted spinnerbaits cast to the shoreline.
Lake Wateree: Fair for largemouth on crankbaits, jigs cast to rocky shoreline.
Lake Murray: Continuing fair to good for striped bass from the Gap uplake. The stripers are taking free-lined live baits from the shoreline out to 40 feet deep. Fair to good for shellcracker 10 feet off the shoreline. Fair to good for catfish 20-50 feet deep in the creeks on cut baits.
Santee Cooper Lakes: Good for catfish in the lower lake, Moultrie, on gizzard shad. Improving for schooling small stripers in both Marion and Moultrie on topwater lures, spoons and live herring.
Lake Hartwell: Fair for stripers, hybrids in the major creek arms on live gizzard shad, herring.
Lake Keowee: Good to very good for largemouth and spotted bass on live baits worked on drop-shot rigs. Also on topwater lures cast to surface-feeding schools. Anglers have reported catching and releasing up to 20 fish per day.
Lake Jocassee: Slow.
Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Very good for puppy drum in the surf on pretty days; Oregon Inlet: Little activity; Hatteras Island: Very good for puppy drum in the surf at Cape Point and for black drum near Ramp 55 across the dunes; Ocracoke Island: No report; Morehead City area: Small speckled trout in very good numbers. Reds in the marshes, along the beaches, at Shark Island and the Cape Lookout shoals. Flounder at the near-shore artificial reefs. Continuing good for wahoo offshore when sea conditions are favorable.
Southeast Coast: Fair for speckled trout in the backwaters.
S.C. Coast: Little River area: Little activity; Grand Strand area: Good in Murrells Inlet and Winyah Bay at Georgetown for reds during the tide turn on mud minnows, cut mullet. Black drum, sheepshead at the Murrells Inlet and Georgetown jetties; Charleston area: Continuing fair to good for reds, or spottails, in the backwaters on Jerk Shad lures with a glitter pattern; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Very good for speckled trout around oyster beds on mud minnows, shrimp and soft plastic lures. Good for reds on Gulp! lures.
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