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Fishing Forecast: Best prospects seem to be at opposite ends of Carolinas

Guide Rob McComas hefts a 9-pound largemouth bass he caught a few days ago at Lake Jocassee in South Carolina’s northwestern mountains. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass all are reported striking well at the picturesque reservoir.
Guide Rob McComas hefts a 9-pound largemouth bass he caught a few days ago at Lake Jocassee in South Carolina’s northwestern mountains. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass all are reported striking well at the picturesque reservoir. S.C. Department of Natural Resources

The best fishing prospects during coming days appear to be at opposite ends of the Carolinas – in the mountains and along the coast.

Both Fontana Lake (N.C.) and Lake Jocassee (S.C.) are yielding good to excellent catches of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in the hill country.

Saltwater action, depending on weather conditions, is productive from the Outer Banks southward to Edisto Island, S.C.

Lake Norman: Good for a variety of species, mainly on live baits, in the Plant Marshall and McGuire Nuclear Station hot holes. Fair to good for largemouth and spotted bass on crankbaits and spinnerbaits cast to docks. Fair for catfish on cut white perch. Hybrids in the Mountain Creek and Davidson/Reid’s Creek arms. Large white perch in schools 30-40 feet deep.

Lake Wylie: Good for crappie on minnows around cover 10-20 feet deep, especially on the Gaston County side of the reservoir. Good to excellent for white perch, concentrated 25 feet deep in the backs of creeks. Good for catfish 18-35 feet down on drift-fished cut gizzard shad. Fair for largemouth bass, being found mainly in stained water and striking spinnerbaits and swim baits in white or chartreuse.

Mountain Island Lake: Continuing fair for crappie on minnows around brushy cover 15-25 feet deep.

Cane Creek Park: Good for crappie on minnows, with a fish weighing a whopping 3 pounds reported over the weekend.

Yadkin/Pee Dee River Lakes: Good for crappie and white perch, locally called Waccamaws, at Lake Tillery on minnows. Crappie also are hitting well at Blewett Falls, taking Kalin jigs. No reports from High Rock, Tuckertown or Badin.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Good for smallmouth bass at James, mainly on shiners, fished in and near the canal connecting the Catawba and Linville River arms.

Fontana Lake: Excellent for smallmouth and spotted bass, with a few largemouth mixed in, on jerkbaits and spinnerbaits cast to rocky points. Some anglers are calling the action the impoundment’s the best ever in early winter.

Lake Wateree: Catfishing continues good around and off points in the reservoir’s lower half on drift-fished cut baits.

Lake Murray: Fair to good for striped bass on live baits trolled under planer boards or free-lined just off the shoreline. Stripers are feeding increasingly on the surface, their schools marked by diving gulls. The schooling fish are striking Li’l Fishie lures, bucktails and topwater plugs. Very good for white perch, “stacked up” 15-50 feet deep in schools and hitting earthworms, jigging spoons and minnows. Fair for shellcrackers just off the shoreline on crawlers. Fair for catfish 20-40 feet deep around flats and humps on cut herring, gizzard shad and white perch.

Lake Thurmond: No report.

Santee Cooper Lakes: Good for catfish 15-20 feet deep drifting with cut mullet as bait.

Lake Keowee: No report.

Lake Jocassee: Good to excellent for largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass around structure on swim baits and surface lures. A 9-pound largemouth was boated during the past few days.

Lake Hartwell: Hybrids, largemouth, spotted and striped bass in mixed schools around humps and off points in the main body of the lake. They’re hitting Carolina-rigged live herring best. A 10 1/2-pound hybrid was caught over the weekend. Blue catfish in the creek arms on traditional baits.

Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Little activity in the surf because of rainy weather. Scattered small whiting at Jeannette’s Pier. Oregon Inlet area: Blackfin and yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo offshore when sea conditions are favorable. Increasing numbers of striped bass around the bridges spanning the sound at Manteo. Blues in the surf just south of the inlet. Hatteras Island: Blackfin, king mackerel and wahoo offshore during days wind conditions allow fishing parties to get out. Bottom fishing is producing good numbers of grouper, triggerfish and vermilion snapper. Red drum action continues good in Pamlico Sound near Hatteras Village. Black drum, small blues, flounder, puppy drum, speckled trout and whiting at various locations in the surf. Also, a few undersized stripers in the surf. Ocracoke Island: Continuing fair for yearling red drum in the surf. Morehead City area: Increasing numbers of bluefin tuna measuring from 75 to 100 inches are being boated offshore. Good for king mackerel to 40 pounds around the artificial reefs 12-15 miles off Beaufort Inlet on live menhaden and cigar minnows. Red drum and speckled trout continue to hit in the backwaters.

Southeastern N.C. Coast: Very good offshore for blackfin tuna, king mackerel and wahoo when sea conditions are favorable. Best king action reported at the Atlantic Ledge, and most wahoo being found 40-50 miles to sea. Some kings even caught at Christina’s Ledge within sight of shore, somewhat unusual for this time of year. Reds and speckled trout in the backwaters. Striped bass in the Cape Fear River near downtown Wilmington. Black and red drum, puffers, speckled trout and scattered whiting at piers.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: Reds and speckled trout in the backwaters and Intracoastal Waterway. Grand Strand area: Good for flounder in Murrells Inlet on drift-fished mud minnows and mullet. Speckled trout in Charlie’s Cut, the Garden City Canal and Murrells Inlet jetties on live shrimp worked under a popping cork on either side of high tide. Black drum in the deeper holes of creeks and at the jetties on cut shrimp. Fair for reds and speckled trout in Winyah Bay at Georgetown. Little activity offshore. Charleston area: Local experts say this is the “peak time” for trout, especially in the Edisto section, where the fish are moving from the rivers into the creeks. They’re hitting best around shell rakes and points, striking DOA Shrimp lures under a popping cork. Excellent for sheepshead around bridge pilings and jetties on fiddler crabs. Beaufort area: Continuing good for reds in the marsh grass during high tide on both live baits and lures.

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