When weather conditions are decent, fishing action across the Carolinas continues generally good to excellent.
Most productive freshwater locations presently are Lake Norman, Lake Thurmond and sprawling Santee Cooper Reservoir in the S.C. Lowcountry.
The best saltwater reports this week are from the southeastern stretch of the N.C. coast, Hatteras Village on the Outer Banks and Charleston.
Lake Norman: Very good for hybrids, spotted bass and white perch in mixed surfacing schools in the upper part of the impoundment in an area known as Cat’s Paw. They’re hitting Ice Jigs best, retrieved rapidly after being cast to the breaks. Good for crappie around cover 25 feet deep on minnows and black Slicktail plastic jigs. Fair for catfish on cut baits.
Lake Wylie: Good for crappie on minnows worked around brush 25 feet down. Fair for largemouth bass, but quick improvement appears likely as the fish are starting to feed in surfacing schools.
Mountain Island Lake: Fair to good for crappie around deep brush. Largemouth are hitting artificial worms and crankbaits off points.
Union County lakes: Fair for crappie at Cane Creek Park. Little activity at lakes Lee, Monroe and Twitty, all of which will close after Saturday until March 1, 2016.
Yadkin/Pee Dee River lakes: Good to excellent for crappie on minnows the length of the chain from High Rock through Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. Badin and Tillery continue to produce a bit the best.
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Good for smallmouth bass at James on shiners fished around the points. Good for crappie at Hickory, where the fish generally are gathered around cover 30 feet deep. Fair for crappie at Rhodhiss.
Fontana Lake: Very good for smallmouth and spotted bass on jerk baits cast to rocky shoreline, especially long, shallow points.
Lake Wateree: Very good for crappie in the reservoir’s lower reaches on minnows and Fish Stalker jigs worked just off bottom 12-20 feet deep. At the lake’s upper end the crappie are being found 16-18 feet down along the channel ledge and taking minnows best.
Lake Murray: Fair for largemouth bass, very scattered because of recent record flooding. Some surface schooling reported with the fish being caught on topwater plugs. The bass also are hitting free-lined live baits and either lures or live baits trolled under planer boards.
Lake Thurmond: Excellent for largemouth bass on a variety of lures. It took 10 largemouth weighing 44.69 pounds to win a bass tournament last weekend. Fair to good for big crappie but quantity is down. They’re generally suspended 15 feet deep over cover 25 feet down.
Santee Cooper lakes: The news that many anglers have been waiting for has come from the complex that includes lakes Marion and Moultrie – striped bass are schooling on the surface from mid-afternoon until dark. They’re striking bucktails and topwater popping plugs. Some stripers also are being boated while drift-fishing live baits. Good for largemouth 3-6 feet deep around shoreline cover in relatively clear water on artificial worms.
Lake Keowee: Good for largemouth and spotted bass on drop-shot rigs 25-35 feet down off points and around humps.
Lake Jocassee: Fair for trout 100 feet deep near the dam on minnows.
Lake Hartwell: Good for channel catfish 15-40 feet deep off the shoreline on crawlers, cut herring and stink baits. Fair for crappie around brush 25 feet down.
Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Little surf activity because of rough seas, but fair for black drum, blues, croaker, small trout and whiting at piers. Oregon Inlet: Good offshore for blackfin tuna, dolphin, king mackerel and wahoo when sea conditions are favorable. Some yellowfin tuna also are being boated. Blues, false albacore and flounder inshore. Speckled trout in the backwaters. Hatteras Island: Excellent offshore for blackfin tuna when conditions aren’t too rough. Good to excellent for sailfish and wahoo. A recent catch included a 97-pound wahoo. Excellent nighttime gigging for flounder in the 5-10 pound range in the shallows of Hatteras Inlet. Black drum, blues, flounder puppy drum, speckled trout and whiting at various locations from Rodanthe to Hatteras Inlet. Big red drum in Pamlico Sound. Also, trophy-sized reds at night at Avon Pier. Ocracoke Island: Puppy drum in the surf along with black drum, blues and whiting. A few big red drum in the surf at the south point during the night. Wahoo offshore, including an 85-pounder. Morehead City area: Good to excellent offshore for sailfish and wahoo when seas are favorable. Excellent for king mackerel just off the beach and near the Cape Lookout shoals. Blues, false albacoare, flounder, puppy drum and spots in the surf and at piers. Puppy drum and spots also are being caught in the backwaters.
Southeastern N.C. Coast: Excellent for king mackerel just off the beach and at piers. Limits of wahoo in the 35-50 pound range offshore. Big flounder in the lower Cape Fear River near Southport. Speckled trout in Riches Inlet and the Bald Head Island creeks. Red drum in Masonboro Inlet and Snow’s Cut near Carolina Beach. Pier anglers also are catching blues, puppy drum and whiting.
S.C. Coast: Little River area: Reds, or spottails, at the jetties, along with some trout and flounder. Blues, Spanish mackerel and whiting at the pier. Grand Strand area: Blues, Spanish mackerel, reds, spots and whiting in the surf and at piers. Good for flounder at Pawley’s Island on finger mullet. Little activity offshore because of foul weather. Charleston area: “On fire,” according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, for trophy-sized red drum at the harbor entrance and along the beach. Good to excellent in the backwaters for puppy drum, or spottails, and trout around shell rakes and creek mouths. Good for sheepshed around bridge pilings and other hard structure. Little activity offshore.
Beaufort area: Reds around docks in the creeks on cut mullet and Gulp! Shrimp lures.