UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Dardanelle

College Fishing Championship 2 weeks Out

College Fishing Championship 2 weeks Out
Austin Felix and Chris Burgan


Lake Keowee

Presented by Lowrance

Seneca, S.C.


March 17-19


Hosted by Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau


 

About the Fishery

Impounded in 1971, Lake Keowee is 26 miles long and 3 miles wide, with approximately 18,500 surface acres. This deep, clear reservoir plunges to 300 feet, but averages about 54 feet deep.

With full-pool elevation at 800 feet above sea level, Keowee comprises two distinct bodies with each sporting abundant creeks, coves and docks. The northern lake runs from the Jocassee Dam at its north end to the Keowee Dam and links through a mid-lake canal to the southern lake, which is partially contained by the Little River Dam on its southeast side. Duke Energy’s Oconee Nuclear Station is situated at the connection point of the two lakes.

Outfall from the Jocassee Dam creates downstream current in the northern lake, but when the nuclear station’s pump-back system runs, it creates upstream current. Notably, with no major inflows, current in the southern lake is minimal.

Duke Energy uses Keowee water to cool the power plant’s innards, and the heated effluent expelled into the lake helps create an environment in which threadfin shad can thrive year-round. Water is sucked in through a “skimmer wall” west of the Route 183 Bridge in the southern lake and returns to the lake through the “hot hole” – a cove just west of the Keowee Dam on the northern lake. Wind, plus current, pushes and pulls the warm water throughout the northern lake.

Although Keowee spotted bass – first introduced in the 1980s – predominate, the reservoir also holds a good population of largemouths and smallmouths.

 

Last Time

When Keowee hosted the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship – also in March – the University of Minnesota’s Austin Felix and Chris Burgan (shown right) fished through two days of frigid, windy weather to stay in the hunt, and then capitalized on the final day’s sunny warm-up. They tallied an impressive 14-pound limit on day three to move up from third place and win by more than 3 pounds. The Gophers caught their limit by fishing shaky heads and jigs in 30 to 40 feet of water over main-lake humps and points.

Other top finishers caught their fish on a combination of jerkbaits, swimbaits, umbrella rigs, drop-shots and darter heads. Teams found consistency around docks, islands, shallow pockets and the back ends of coves.

 

What to Expect at This Year’s Championship

The 65 teams in the FLW College Fishing National Championship will take off each morning at 7:30 ET from South Cove County Park in Seneca, S.C. Weigh-ins will also take place at South Cove beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET on Days 1 and 2, then at 4 p.m. ET on the final day at Green Pond Landing in Anderson.

As for the fishing, shallow-water spawning action is likely, but staging prespawners could also make things interesting. Anglers seeking largemouths will target docks and laydowns in the backs of creeks.

Spots and smallmouths will be roaming and chasing shad with occasional schooling activity. Mostly, this is likely to be a game of cat-and-mouse over deep rocky areas, old roadbeds, etc.

Troy Morrow, the Walmart FLW Tour pro from northeastern Georgia who’s familiar with the lake, says 12 to 13 pounds a day will be competitive, but a team that breaks 15 pounds each day could run away with the title. That’ll require weeding through a ton of 1 1/2-pound spots to find a couple of those 3-plus-pounders and/or some hefty largemouths or a fat smallie.

Time and fish management will be critical. Most teams probably will work on putting together a solid limit of spots with a kicker largemouth or smallmouth. Those who locate honey holes will need to fish smart – that means catching enough to make it to day three, but saving enough to close the deal.

 

3 Critical Factors

1. Current – As pro Troy Morrow notes, Keowee’s water dynamics can be tricky, so knowing what’s going on at the Jocassee Dam will help anglers  with fish positioning and disposition. Moving water makes fish feed, but knowing which way they’re facing also matters.

2. Water temperature – Any fish feeling the urge to spawn in March will need water that’s warmer than most of the lake, so finding where the warmer areas overlap favorable structure can bring the magic.

3. Weather – Early spring is a fickle season with consistent weather a rarity. Tournament competitors will likely see some type of fluctuation, be it a warming trend or a bitter, rainy chill. Wind will dictate some of the pattern viabilities, in terms of casting accuracy and angling efficiency.

 

Baits and Techniques

Jigs – From flipping shallow cover for largemouths to rolling football heads over deeper hard stuff, jigs with crawfish or chunk trailers will be in the mix.

Jerkbaits – An early spring staple, suspending and slow-sinking jerkbaits might prove invaluable should a cold front bring falling temperatures and bluebird skies.

Drop-shots – Likely a workhorse bait for many teams, drop-shots could be the key to an offshore milk run for spots and smallies. Always relevant for deep-water fishing, careful sonar sweeps will be important in this lake, which is lean on brush and lacking of standing timber.

Umbrella rigs – Swing for the fence, or throw a Hail Mary – they could deliver a difference-making kicker or a whole stringer of solid keepers.

Tags: lake-keowee  david-a-brown  pre-tournament  2016-03-17-lake-keowee 

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