Lake Murray: Lake Murray water levels are at 357.86 (full pool is 360.00), and temperatures are in the mid-80s. Clarity is good.
Lake Murray bass are firmly in summer mode, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that there isn't a lot of change in the overall pattern since the beginning of the month. Early there is a shallow bite around the banks, and after that you need to look around deeper channel points. Doug notes that if we get some rain and cloudy weather it can be a good time to look around the bank later into the day, particularly since deeper fish don't bite as well when it is cloudy. When it is hot and sunny you pretty much need to concentrate offshore outside of a small window first thing.
Tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria has also spent time on Murray recently, and he notes that it's not taking a lot of weight to win tournaments. In addition to finding some fish shallow early (before 8:00) on topwaters like a buzzbait, frog or Pop-R he has also found some schooling fish out over deeper water. Most of these fish seem to be in the 2 to 2 1/2 pound range. They have also caught them in the same areas on the bottom around brush.
On the striped bass front, Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that the best action has been coming on down-lined herring fished in 40-60 feet of water. Pretty much all of the fish are out on the main lake moving towards the lower pool, and there have even been some reports of fish caught in 80 feet along the dam.
Crappie fishing has been really good recently, and Brad reports that he is catching fish around brush in 15-20 feet of water at the mouths of major creeks on the upper part of the lake. The fish have been 6-12 feet down, and they will pretty much only bite toughies that are small as you can get.
In catfish news, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that the spawn is winding down as in most of the area lakes. That means that most of the fish are headed deeper, although they will come into shallower water to feed at night. 30 feet is a good depth range to target during the day, while at night 15-25 feet is a good range. Fish will be found off long points and humps, and fishing the deeper side of channel buoys on the lake is a good bet. For numbers of fish dip baits are hard to beat, while for a little better quality try cut bait.
At night you have a good shot at tangling with a good flathead on Murray right now if you fish live bait around brush.
Finally, if you just want to catch numbers of fish as most of the year it may be hard to beat the white perch fishery. The best bite is up the lake because of the threadfin population, and fishing long ledges that run out to the channel are good places to look. 20-25 feet is a good range to target, and they may come up to 15 feet. Minnows, jigging spoons and even strips of fish belly meat will catch perch, with the best bite early and late.