What local anglers at Fontana Lake are calling the best late fall/early winter bass fishing in their memory continues at the reservoir in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The catch includes a mix of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, mostly ranging from 2 to 4 pounds.
The fish are striking crankbaits, skirted spinnerbaits and a double-tailed, soft plastic, minnow-like lure called the “Creepy Crawler” in a green pumpkin color pattern.
Filling a limit of five generally has been readily attainable this week while casting to rocky points during the two hours before dark.
Lake Norman: Very good for blue catfish on cut baits worked 30-40 feet deep a bit out from the mouth of the Plant Marshall hot hole. Hybrids are hitting jigging spoons and minnows fairly well in that same area, plus in McCrary and Stumpy creeks. Fair for largemouth and spotted bass on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and rattling plugs around deep cover.
Lake Wylie: Fair to good for crappie on minnows fished 20-30 feet deep around brushy cover. The S.C. side below Buster Boyd Bridge appears to be producing best. Good for blue catfish to 35 pounds on cut baits drift-fished 25-40 feet deep along ledges, both in the creek arms and main part of the lake.
Mountain Island Lake: Fair to good for crappie on minnows around brushy cover 20-25 feet down. Good and improving for blue catfish on cut baits.
Cane Creek Park: Good for crappie on minnows. Fair for largemouth on shiners.
Yadkin/Pee Dee River lakes: Good for crappie and white perch, locally called Waccamaws, at Badin Lake and Lake Tillery. Fair for crappie at High Rock and Tuckertown. Little activity at Blewett Falls as a low water level is limiting access.
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. Fair for crappie at Rhodhiss and Hickory, with the latter also producing fairly good largemouth catches. Striped bass in the tailrace at Hickory’s Oxford Dam when water is being released.
Lake Wateree: Good for catfish in the stretch between Colonel and Dutchman creeks on cut gizzard shad and white perch fished 20-30 feet deep.
Lake Murray: Good for striped bass to 25 pounds on live baits fished 20-30 feet down. Some stripers also are being caught from surface-feeding schools, striking bucktails and spoons. Very good for white perch 30 feet deep on jigging spoons.
Lake Thurmond: Fair to good for crappie on minnows. Quantity is off a bit, but the size of the fish being caught is excellent.
Santee Cooper lakes: Very good for striped bass in surfacing schools from about 3 p.m. until dark on bucktails and spoons. Most are relatively small, but a few of keeper size are mixed in. An area called “The Hatchery” on the west side of Lake Moultrie has produced the best activity during recent days.
Lake Keowee: Good for schooling largemouth and spotted bass on lures that run just under the surface during retrieve, including flukes. When not feeding on top, the bass are taking artificial worms and jigs on drop-shot rigs 20-60 feet deep.
Lake Jocassee: Trout remain very deep – about 100 feet down – and the action is a bit off for early December. The fish are being taken mainly on shiners worked on downrigger devices.
Lake Hartwell: Good for channel catfish 15-40 feet deep on points and flats, biting mainly crawlers and cut herring.
Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Little activity in the surf and at piers. Oregon Inlet area: Good to very good in the inlet and sound for striped bass up to 10 pounds. Little activity offshore because of rough sea conditions, but action likely to resume for blackfin and yellowfin tuna, along with king mackerel and wahoo, as the weather improves. Hatteras Island: A mix of small blues and flounder, plus scattered black drum, puppy drum, speckled trout and whiting in the surf from Avon to Hatteras Inlet. Little activity offshore because of foul sea conditions. Ocracoke Island: Scattered black drum, blues, flounder and whiting in the surf. Morehead City area: Bluefin tuna measuring from 74 inches to just over 100 offshore during an on-again, off-again bite. Fair to good for king mackerel around artificial reefs 12-15 miles offshore on live menhaden and cigar minnow. Reds and speckled trout in the backwaters.
Southeastern N.C. Coast: Good for blackfin tuna, king mackerel and wahoo 30 miles offshore, with several limit catches reported. Flounder and gray trout continue to be caught at the near-shore artificial reefs. Speckled trout in the backwaters, with the Brunswick County stretch of coast producing best. Black drum, puffers and whiting in the surf and at the piers that aren’t closed for the winter.
S.C. Coast: Little River area: Scattered striped bass in the Intracoastal Waterway. Grand Strand area: Scattered black drum, blues, kings, spots and whiting at the pers still operating. Little activity offshore. Charleston area: Very good for speckled trout in the backwaters on a variety of lures. Also on live shrimp worked under a popping cork. Sheepshead around bridge pilings and other hard structure on fiddler crabs. Beaufort area: Reds on the main river flats near the mouths of creeks on Gulp! shrimp lures. Some flounder also are being caught.