From the largest of lakes to relatively small municipal reservoirs, bass fishing is blooming in the Carolinas.
A tournament Saturday on the sprawling Santee-Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, produced a winning catch of five largemouth weighing 32.5 pounds. And numerous lunker largemouth have been caught this week at two of Union County’s public impoundments, Lakes Monroe and Twitty.
Along the coast it appears that milder weather and favorable southeast winds will bring the start of good surf fishing for red drum and other species.
Lake Norman: Good for crappie, mainly on minnows fished around cover 10 feet deep. Limit catches were reported over the weekend. Fair to good for catfish on cut baits. Fair for spotted bass and scattered largemouth on small crankbaits and spinnerbaits cast to shallow cover and docks halfway back in the coves.
Lake Wylie: Excellent for crappie around brush and other cover 10-12 feet deep, mostly on minnows. Largemouth on small crankbaits, jerkbaits and Alabama rigs worked in stained water. Catfish on crawlers and cut baits.
Mountain Island Lake: Very good for crappie, which are concentrating around increasingly shallow cover and taking both jigs and minnows. Good for catfish on cut baits. Improving for largemouth on a variety of lures.
Union County Lakes: Excellent at Monroe and Twitty for largemouth. Crappie are hitting well at Cane Creek Park and Lake Monroe.
Rankin Lake, Gastonia: Recently reopened from winter closure and yielding good catches of crappie and largemouth.
Yadkin/Pee Dee River Lakes: Fair to good for crappie at High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin and Tillery as the fish move to shallower cover. Tillery presently ranks a bit the best. Improving for largemouth at all four reservoirs. The catfish bite is picking up, too. Low water level issues continue to stymie fishing at Blewett Falls. But the watch for American shad as their annual migration run up the Pee Dee from the sea has begun at Blewett Falls Dam.
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Fair to good at James for smallmouth bass on small crankbaits, soft plastic lures and shiners fished around the points. Very improved for crappie at Rhodhiss and Hickory.
Fontana Lake: Mixed limit catches of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass on shiners, jerkbaits and Creepy Crawler soft plastics cast to points and rocky shoreline.
Lake Wateree: Very good for catfish in the creeks on cut gizzard shad fished 7-10 feet deep. Good for crappie around shallow brush and docks.
Lake Murray: Good for striped bass from Bomb Island uplake on live herring and shiners, either free-lined or trolled under planer boards over 35-50 feet of water. It took two stripers weighing 56 pounds to win a tournament last weekend.
Lake Thurmond: Good for stripers and hybrids. The stripers are being caught mostly by anglers either free-lining or trolling live baits under planers at the points. Best hybrid action is near the dam on herring and shiners fished 35-50 feet down.
Lake Hartwell: Fair for stripers on shiners and threadfin shad. Fair to good for blue catfish to 30 pounds on cut gizzard shad and herring.
Lake Jocassee: Good for smallmouth on jigging spoons worked on deep points and around steep bluffs.
Lake Keowee: Fair for largemouth and spotted bass on drop-shot rigs with 4 1/2-inch Robo artificial worms attached.
Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Little activity. Oregon Inlet: Excellent offshore for limits of yellowfin tuna. Scattered bluefin to 76 inches also boated. Hatteras Island: Good catches of blackfin tuna and a few bluefin offshore. Puppy drum in the surf at Cape Point, Ramp 43 and near Hatteras Inlet, where blues also have started to show. Blow toads, or puffers, in the surf from Avon to Hatteras Inlet. Ocracoke Island: Big red drum to almost 50 inches have begun moving into the surf to feed, joining puppy drum. Morehead City area: Good to excellent offshore for wahoo and blackfin tuna, with a few dolphin and yellowfin also showing in the catch. Fair in the backwaters for red drum and speckled trout.
Southeastern N.C. Coast: Reds in the backs of creeks and speckled trout around oyster rakes. Black drum at the Little River jetties.
S.C. Coast: Reds, or spottails, in the backwaters of Murrells Inlet, Winyah Bay, Charleston and Beaufort around grass edges and oyster beds on mud minnows worked under a rattling cork. Fishing during the outgoing tide is producing the best catches. Improving for speckled trout in Charleston waters on ZMan Slim Swim lures and artificial shrimp. Black drum around hard structure such as bridge pilings and rock jetties on clams. Little activity offshore.