UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Cumberland

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray
The Phoenix Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division kicks off the season at Lake Murray on Feb. 15.

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 South Carolina Division schedule at the Jewel of South Carolina, Lake Murray, which is the former host site for multiple FLW Cup events. 

Murray is full of big bass and can churn out weights in the upper 20s if conditions line up right. Thus far in 2020, warm, wet conditions have been great for bass fishing. Though patterns might vary slightly from a “normal” winter, competitors can expect to have a good time fishing shallow with power-fishing baits. 

Here are some more details on what to expect.

 

Tournament details

Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine South Carolina Division

Lake Murray

Prosperity, S.C.

Feb. 15, 2020

 

Joey Sabbagha

How the lake sets up

Lake Murray is a 50,000-acre reservoir in central South Carolina that offers anglers a range of patterns. The lower end is deep and clear, and known for its offshore bite. Up the lake, anglers will encounter dirtier water and plenty of shallow wood to fish. In the summer, there are various types of emergent bank grass, but in February most bass anglers target laydowns and docks. Murray is also known for its blueback herring, which factor in to almost every fishing pattern. 

 

What to expect

Lake Murray is the home lake of Joe Sabbagha, who’s finished in the top five in the South Carolina Division standings four times in the last six years. Sabbagha says the conditions are setting up for the season opener to be a heavyweight event. He predicts the winning weight to be around 25 pounds, with a lot of anglers bringing in 15-pound limits.

“Right now it’s fishing really good,” he says. “We’ve had a mild winter, so water temps haven’t dropped into the 40s. There’s been a bunch of fish shallow. Thanks to a bunch of rain we’ve had, we’ve got a bunch of colored water where we don’t normally get colored water. That’s why the shallow bite is going to be the predominant bite come tournament time.”

The extended forecast is calling for more temperatures in the 60s and more rain, so don’t anticipate much of a change in conditions. Bass should be staged up in anticipation of the spawn. Sabbagha expects the upper half of the reservoir to produce a lot of the top bags, and the clear lower end to be a bigger factor if the wind blows.

 

Square-bill crankbaits

Baits and techniques

According to Sabbagha, in a normal winter, when the water temperature drops below 40 degrees, the deep bite gets good and stays that way through mid-February. Dragging jigs on deep rock would be the best big-bass pattern. Even though it’s not set up as well this time, that’s still a pattern to keep in mind. 

Otherwise, he thinks a lot of fish will be caught in as little as a foot of water around rock, wood and docks.

“Crankbait, jig, maybe some spinnerbait stuff; those are going to be your three key baits,” Sabbagha says. “It’ll probably be won on a jig.”

Tags: curtis-niedermier  pre-tournament  2020-02-15-murray 

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