• Freshwater Fishing

    Productive fly patterns for late fall and early winter include (top, left to right) bead-head Prince, bead-head Pheastant Tail, bead-head Hare’s Ear,   (bottom, left to right): brown Caddis, parachute Adams, parachute Blue-Winged Olive.

    Cool weather is welcome

    After a record dry and hot summer, fall has arrived in the mountains, bringing cooler weather and, hopefully, improved trout-fishing conditions.

    November 19 at 9:00am
    Guide Gene Crawford netted this 76-pound blue catfish for a client last November.

    How to catch your biggest catfish on Santee this month

    November is special on the Santee Cooper lakes for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the fishing is fantastic for multiple species. Striper fishing improves from the excellent, already strong October bite, with more big, keeper-sized stripers on both live bait and schooling patterns. Catch-and-release days of 50 to 100 stripers were common last November. Big largemouth bass roam the shallows, and far fewer anglers are bass fishing, ensuring elbow room. Crappie action is slab-silly good in deep water.

    November 16 at 9:00am
    Pro angler Matt Arey fishes only suspending jerkbaits; to add weight to make them suspend, he’ll change out hooks for ones a size larger.

    Suspending jerkbaits more common than in the past

    Deep inside my tackle box, there is a Rapala floating minnow that’s a victim of a late 1980s how-to article. Above the front hook, I drilled three holes and inserted a split shot in each, then sealed the wounds with epoxy. At the time, it was one of only a few ways that anglers could make their jerkbaits suspend.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Bass pro Andy Montgomery catches his best jerkbait bass on the lower end of Lake Wylie, where the water is less stained.

    Catch more bass by understanding Wylie’s shad

    Find the shad, and you’ll find the bass. That well-worn wisdom is true on Lake Wylie, especially in the winter. But to find the shad, it helps to know a little about them.

    Lake Wylie’s largemouth bass predominately feed on two types of shad, according to David Goodfred, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The first are gizzard shad, which tolerate cold water well, but quickly grow larger than bass can eat. The other is threadfin, which average 4 to 7 inches long, the perfect size for bass to eat.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Black nose crappie are a uniquely marked black crappie found in the Eno River. They have a black stripe running from the front of the dorsal fin to the lower jaw.

    Black nose crappie

    Without a doubt, the Eno River presents a unique crappie fishing experience, in part because it offers the opportunity to catch a unique crappie.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Tiny jigs with built-in spinner blades can make a big difference in the number of crappie going in your cooler.

    Blades of glory

    Ask guide Eddie Moody what the difference is between a long-liner and a tight-liner, he’ll quickly tell you that a tight-liner is more of a finesse or presentation fisherman, while a long-liner is putting his money on a reaction strike. As a long-liner, Moody ups the ante by rigging half of his offerings with bladed jigs to cause a forced feed.

    November 15 at 6:00am
    Lake Wylie is known for producing some chunky largemouth bass, and for being a great cold-weather lake, thanks to fishermen who understand that a jerkbait is often the ticket.

    Turn cold into hot - Lake Wylie bass will turn onto a jerkbait when the water cools in late fall

    Late-fall and winter fishing on Lake Wylie, the Catawba River impoundment that straddles the North Carolina/South Carolina border, is an uncomfortable proposition. Docks and decks are slick with frost. Travel mugs of piping hot coffee quickly turn stone cold. The outboard needs more time to warm up at the dock. The bone-chilling boat rides are downright painful, and the extra clothes needed to make them tolerable make casting difficult. Line guides freeze closed after a few casts. 

    November 01 at 7:00am
    Eddie Moody of Roxboro finds all the fall crappie he needs in the Eno River, the largest of the three tributaries that feeds Falls of Neuse Reservoir.

    For fall slabs, Eno is enough - Fish this North Carolina river for fall crappie

    In the cool, morning air, Eddie Moody’s passenger boarded the Roxboro guide’s boat and brushed aside the life jacket placed on the seat for him.  

    “You may not wear it going out, but I bet you’ll wear it coming back,” said Moody, grinning. 

    November 01 at 7:00am
    Jason Bowen of Durham had to call for reinforcements when he hooked this 101-pound blue catfish at Buggs Island on Oct. 15.

    Durham angler catches 101-pound catfish

    Undeterred by a broken trolling motor, Jason Bowen of Durham had to make all his drifts for blue catfish with the wind on Kerr Lake last Saturday. After changing spots once, he hooked up to the biggest fish of his life, a 101-pounder that required reinforcements to land.

    October 21 at 3:42pm
    Ronnie Setzer is a self-taught fly-tier, but he recommends anglers who want to learn the craft start by taking a course or two.

    How to tie your own trout flies

    Seeing a trout rise to a fly is always a thrill, no matter how often you fish. Having a trout rise to a fly you’ve tied yourself is a greater thrill.

    Tying flies is an art, a craft and a science, the concocting of feathers, fur, thread, yarn and other material to produce a fly that looks enough like an insect to make a trout think it’s the real thing.

    October 19 at 9:00am
    If a school of stripers you’re working has only small fish, fish deeper or look for another active school to find bigger fish.

    Change strategy when you’re catching only small Santee Cooper striped bass

    The fall striper bite on the Santee Cooper lakes is a must-see event for anglers. Typically, hundreds of birds hovering over the water in fall are prime indicators of a surfacing school of stripers. Sometimes, anglers may want to consider leaving fish to find other fish. Here’s why.  

    October 15 at 7:00am
    The Diversion Canal between Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie is a great place to find stripers when weather makes for rough conditions on the open water of the lakes’ 170,000 acres.

    Santee Cooper’s Diversion Canal can be a striper hot spot on bad-weather days

    The Santee Cooper lakes, Moultrie an Marion, span more than 170,000 surface acres of water. While they include many coves, blackwater ponds and creeks where anglers can hide on windy days when the surface gets rough, the best schooling action is usually in open water where there’s no where to hide. But the Diversion Canal connecting the two lakes is a place where the action remains good, even on the worst weather days.

    October 15 at 7:00am
    Anglers may catch dozens of stripers in the 20- to 25-inch range on October trips at Santee Cooper.

    Fall frenzy

    Anglers in the Carolinas are fortunate to be within driving distance of a true, freshwater paradise: the Santee Cooper lakes. With towering bald cypress and water tupelo lining the banks and massive beds of aquatic vegetation, the sheer beauty of Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion is evident. Sweeten the pot with a tremendous fishery for monster crappie, heavy stringers of largemouth bass, record-sized shellcrackers and colossal catfish and you’re really onto something.

    October 01 at 7:00am
    Chris Simpson catches plenty of channel cats at Lake Murray this month, but the potential exists for a slam: channels, blues, whites and  flatheads.

    How to slam catfish on Lake Murray through October

    October is a prime time to catch the grand slam of catfish — channels, blues, whites and flatheads — in a single trip to Lake Murray, according to guide Chris Simpson of Greenwood, S.C.

    September 27 at 11:25am
    The Lynches River produces lots of nice bream like this one caught by Joe Wilson, especially in the fall.

    Lynches River’s bream heat up as weather cools

    With cooler, fall temperatures overtaking much of South Carolina, it’s tough to beat bream fishing on small rivers like Lynches River. This narrow waterway can be tough to fish during the summer, when hornets’ nests, snakes, mosquitoes, and various other creepy crawlies can ruin a day of fishing, but the cool nights of October put most of those to rest.

    September 27 at 11:21am
    Flowing for 52 miles through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, the Chattooga is one of the nation’s Top 100 trout streams.

    The Chattooga beckons

    One of the five largest and longest free-flowing rivers in the Southeast, the Chattooga begins its 52-mile journey below Whiteside Mountain in Jackson County near Cashiers, N.C., flowing south and entering the Nantahala National forest below Cashiers Lake. After leaving North Carolina, the river forms the border between South Carolina and Georgia, flanked by the Sumter National Forest in South Carolina and the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia, offering a variety of trout fishing experiences before entering Lake Tugalo in northeastern Georgia.

    Designated as a National Wild and Scenic River in 1974 and rated as one of the top 100 trout streams in the nation by Trout Unlimited, the Chattooga is regulated as wild trout waters, delayed-harvest waters and general waters, according to the section being fished.

    September 19 at 9:00am