When summer’s heat is blasting the lid off the thermometer, fishing for trout in Lake Jocassee in South Carolina’s Upstate can be a real blast, according to guide Sam Jones of Greenville, S.C.
One recent summer day, he recounted, the air temperature was pushing triple digits. Everyone told him he was crazy to go and try to catch trout in those conditions.
“Four hours later, we returned to the dock with a limit of brown and rainbow trout. We caught them trolling with downriggers 100 to 115 feet deep in front of the dam,” Jones said. “The best way to get trout out of that deep water is to troll with downriggers, which take your lures and bait down to the cold water the trout need to survive the summer heat.”
In July and August, Jones said, Jocassee trout can be caught trolling Apex, Doctor and Sutton spoons at 1.7 to 2 mph in 80 to 110 feet of water. They can also be caught trolling large shiners at the same depths — just at a slower speed.
In the summer, the water temperature near the surface in the mountain lake can reach to the mid-80s, he said, and the trout need 55- to 65-degree water to survive.
“I use a sensor on my downrigger to locate the right water temperature and troll in and just above it,” said Jones (864-280-9056). The trout are not schooling; they are just swimming around looking for bait.”
Jones trolls with 7- to 9-foot medium-action spinning outfits loaded with clear, 8-pound line. Light, clear line is a must in Lake Jocassee because the water is so clear, he said.
“Summer fishing can be tough at times, but on an average trip, you can catch four to six trout in the 3- to 5-pound range, with a chance to catch a couple of bigger ones,” said Jones, who has had a 9-pound, 8-ounce brown trout in his boat.
“One of my best summer trips was on a Fourth of July weekend. We got started very early as the sun was coming up. We started trolling at the dam using my normal spread of six rods loaded with my favorite flutter spoons,” he said.
“Before I could get my trolling pattern set, we caught a big brown trout, 8 pounds plus, on a No. 44 Sutton spoon trolled 80 feet deep. I got everything set back up, and a few minutes later, we got another big brown. This one hit a Sutton No. 31 trolled 90 feet deep. It was even bigger than the first one; it weighed 8 pounds and 8 ounces. We finished the morning with a few smaller brown trout.”
If the heat is too much to venture out during the day, Jones said good catches of brown and rainbow trout can be caught at night with worms and herring 50 to 80 feet deep at the dam.
“The summer pattern can last into October or later. In early fall, the trout start to hang out in the submerged trees that line the bottom of Lake Jocassee. Trolling large shiners along the edges of the river channels and in front of the spillway works great in late summer and early fall.” said Jones.