Capt. Ronnie Faircloth throttled back the twin 225-hp Yamahas and eased Playin Hookey, his big 31-foot Grady White, into one of Lake Murray’s hundreds of coves. Swinging into the light southwest wind, he moved forward and dropped the bow-mounted Minn Kota electric motor into the water. The sun had warmed the air into the 60’s and the water temperature to 52 degrees.
Mary Gayle and i had come to Columbia, S.C. to attend the Professional Outdoor Media of America (POMA) yearly conference. No trip to this area would be complete without fishing for fresh water stripers on this famous lake. Capt. Faircloth was generous enough to take us out for an afternoon.
With practiced ease he rigged the 7’6” Ugly Stick medium-light action rods with some very lively blueback herring which are found in the lake. Using Abu Garcia 6500 LC reels with 10-lb. test line, he had about 2 1/2 ft. leaders attached to the running line with a barrel swivel. Just ahead of the swivel he used a small sliding egg sinker to get the line down on four of the six rigs.
On the other two he used a bright orange egg float to work the surface. In a matter of minutes we had six rigs trolling out behind, moving very slowly up wind. On one line he put a planer board to put it some twenty feet out to the side of the boat. Although we were using herring for bait, many folks also use the threadfin shad.
“March is a tough time to fish this lake,” Ronnie told me. “The stripers are in a pre-spawning time where they do not congregate. They can be almost anywhere. As the spring progresses, we can usually find huge schools of fish especially in the bays with feeder streams.”