Night Fishing in Columbia South Carolina

Posted: Jun 22 2015

By Christopher "Riff" Browning

Summertime in Columbia, South Carolina is one word “HOT”.  Luckily we have beautiful Lake Murray in our backyard.  With temperatures usually in the high 90’s to just above 100 degrees it is usually too hot to fish in the middle of the day.  If you’re like me then you work five days a week and your weekends are usually booked up with “Honey Do” lists!  That opens up the evenings/nights for fishing.  One of the most popular fish in Lake Murray is Striped Bass (stripers).   When water temperatures go into the mid 80’s, the stripers seek cooler waters.  If you look at a map of Lake Murray you will see the “Big Pool” located near the dam.  This is where most of your stripers are going to be located.  The depths can range from the teens around the humps to over 100 feet of water.  The best technique for deep stripers is known as down rods.  This is essentially a Carolina Rig.  I use 20 lb test line with a swivel and a 3 foot 12 lb fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 circle hook depending on bait size.   Now what about bait?  How can you attract bait which will attract hungry stripers?  Pick any night during the summer that it’s not raining or high winds and drive across the dam.  When you look out you will see several boats with green lights lighting up the water.  These lights are essential to a successful fishing trip.  Not only are the herring (abundant and most popular bait in Murray) attracted to the light but it also provides a sense of safety for fellow boaters.  When you first turn on the light you will quickly see the bottom of the food chain appear right in front of you.  It starts out with the smaller bugs and then smaller bait comes around.  In no time at all you will start to see schools of herring swimming all over the top.  When you look at your fishfinder, it will usually be blacked out due to all the bait!  You can usually catch all the bait you need with one or two throws of the cast net.  You can also catch herring with a sabiki rig.  I usually put a bucktail lure on the end for two reasons.  It will provide the weight you need to jig the sabiki rig and it will also attract stripers.  I have been jigging and all of a sudden the rod bends in half!  Now you are ready to fish!  Where there is prey there will be predators.  With all the herring around there is bound to be stripers around.  Using your depth finder you can find what depth you need to drop the line down to.  Let your line down and usually within a couple of minutes you will be hearing drag tearing off!  Most people put out several rods to better their chance of catching.  I like to put out two rods so I can watch them both carefully and to extend my time on the water!  On Murray we have a “five and done” rule.  It allows us to catch five stripers per person and then you are not allowed to fish anymore.  It is great for conservation due to stripers having a high casualty rate in warmer water due to lack of oxygen. 

I can summarize night fishing in one word “Relaxing”.   Time on the water is peaceful and stress relieving.  It is time to get away from it all.  Lights are essential for attracting fish and bait but most importantly – SAFETY.  The bright lights let others see where your boat is.  I look forward to night fishing in the summertime and avoiding the crowds and the high temperatures.  I’ve seen people hook up lights like they have for parking lots with a loud generator.  There is nothing peaceful about that!!!  Make the right decision and pick a light that is powerful enough and is “noise free”.  Fishermen that have never been night fishing are really missing out on the other world of fishing!


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