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Fishing Forecast

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Carolinas fishing forecast: Offshore trolling building toward autumn peak

By Tom Higgins
Correspondent

Offshore trolling appears to be building toward its annual autumn peak with good catches of dolphin, wahoo and white marlin reported from Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks to Georgetown in the S.C. Lowcountry.

The number of hard-fighting, tasty wahoo boated has been especially strong the past few days.

Inland, Lake Norman continues to provide pleasing action for bass anglers who rise early and are on the lake ready to start casting to points and rip-rap at sunrise. The catch consists mainly of spotted bass averaging about two pounds. They are striking topwater gurgling lures best, such as small Zara Spooks in a shad color pattern.

Lake Norman : A few largemouth bass are mixed in with the spots and striking fairly well from dawn until about 8:30 a.m., longer if there is cloud cover. Fairly good for white perch, taking earthworms, small pieces of cut bait, jigging spoons and minnows worked 30-40 feet deep, mainly around points. Good for catfish on crawlers, cut baits and pieces of chicken treated with garlic fished 10-25 feet down. Crappie around deep brush for anglers who know where to find it.

Lake Wylie: Good for largemouth around humps and points 20-30 feet down on large artificial worms, football jigs and crankbaits. Also, largemouth in packs cruising the shoreline to feed near bream beds. These bass are striking weightless Senkos. Fair to good for catfish and bream.

Mountain Island Lake : Continuing good for bedding bream along the shoreline. Catfish are hitting well, too.

Rankin Lake, Gastonia: Bream on crawlers and crickets, catfish on earthworms, crawlers, cut baits.

Union County Lakes: Fair to good catches continue at all reservoirs for bream and catfish – Cane Creek Park, Lakes Lee, Monroe and Twitty. Lee continues to produce occasional trophy largemouth.

Yadkin-Pee Dee River Lakes: By far the best action continues to be found at Badin and Tillery, where white perch, locally known as Waccamaws, are striking Ice Flies cast to surface-feeding schools. Bream and catfish are being caught at all lakes, from High Rock downstream through Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory : Relatively slow, typical of late summer. Best bet among these lakes on the upper Catawba River is fishing for walleye at night at James with crawlers.

Fontana Lake : Smallmouth and spotted bass “in the jumps” uplake between Points 7-9 near Panther Creek. They’re hitting Pop R and Sammy lures cast to the breaks. Fair for trout on spoons trolled near the dam.

Lake Wateree : Fairly good for crappie around brush 18-22 feet deep on jigs in green, pearl and robin egg colors. Fair to good for largemouth on artificial worms worked around deep humps and ledges.

Lake Thurmond: “Stripers in the 2-pound range are everywhere,” according to a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. “They are on the humps and points, in the coves and the main lake. These are fish we stocked as fingerlings several months ago.” The stripers are hitting live herring. Crappie also are showing well, biting around brush 20-25 feet down in the channel.

Lake Monticello: Fair to good for blue catfish on cut baits.

Lake Murray: Very good for bream off the shoreline as deep as 20 feet, which is somewhat unusual. Fair to good for catfish around humps, especially at night. Fair to good for striped bass, gathered 35-60 feet deep around power generation towers at the lower end of the lake and hitting live baits.

Santee Cooper Lakes : Good for crappie, suspended 6-8 feet deep over brush 12-14 feet deep in the upper lake. Generally good for bream on crickets, earthworms.

Lake Hartwell : Very good for channel catfish 10-20 feet down around points. Fair to good for stripers, hybrids in the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers, 30-40 feet deep in the channels.

Lake Keowee: Good for striped bass 30-60 feet deep from the mid-lake area to the dam on live baits.

Lake Jocassee : Fair to good for trout on spoons trolled 50-70 feet deep in the main lake.

Outer Banks : Nags Head area: Scattered spots and whiting in the surf. Slow at piers. Very good for blues, Spanish mackerel inshore at Oregon Inlet, along with cobia, red drum, speckled trout and triggerfish. Billfish, dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna offshore; Hatteras Island: Excellent offshore for wahoo, with billfish, dolphin and blackfin tuna also being boated. Excellent for reds and speckled trout in Pamlico Sound. Continuing scattered black drum, blues, croaker, flounder, gray trout, pompano, sheepshead and whiting in the surf at various locations from Rodanthe to Frisco/Hatteras Village; Ocracoke Island: Blues, flounder, gray trout and puppy drum in the surf. Dolphin and wahoo offshore; Morehead City area: Improving almost daily for big red drum, spawning in Pamlico Sound and nearby waters. King and Spanish mackerel just off the beach. Amberjack at the artificial reefs. Billfish, dolphin offshore. Spanish mackerel, spots at piers.

Southeast Coast : Continuing fair to good for flounder in the Southport area of the Cape Fear River, at Snow’s Cut and around inshore artificial reefs. Reds, speckled trout in the backwaters. Black drum, pompano, puppy drum and spots at piers. Wahoo, dolphin and a few king mackerel offshore.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: Croaker, ladyfish, pompano and whiting; Grand Strand area: Fair to good for flounder in the creeks during the last two hours of falling tides. Also, flounder at the artificial reefs. Black and red drum at the Georgetown and Murrells Inlet jetties on finger mullet. Good to excellent offshore for dolphin, kings and wahoo; Charleston area: Reds, speckled trout in the backwaters during early morning on topwater lures. Big reds around the jetties. Spanish mackerel along the beaches; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Sheepshead around structure, especially docks, on fiddler crabs, mud minnows and shrimp. White around sandbars at high tide.

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