|SC pro Anthony Gagliardi on Lake Murray|
Being a South Carolina graduate and living only three hours from Columbia, I've spent a fair amount of time fishing Murray. My time on the lake has been divided chasing bass, stripers, crappie, bluegills, catfish and even gar, but it still adds up to quite a few hours and a lot of fond memories.
I caught my first striper on Lake Murray on about the fourth night after I arrived I Columbia for college. I met a fellow freshman who would turn out to be a future roommate one evening, and we got talking about fishing. He was from South Carolina and had brought his boat to school, so we made plans and met the next morning an hour before sunrise to head for a lake I'd never seen and fish for a species I'd never caught. A big school came up around us at first light, and within minutes I was hooked up with a 6- 7-pound topwater striper. I've been a Lake Murray fan ever since!
I also lost a job because of Lake Murray (OK, it was really the fault of an irresponsible college boy, not the lake). Fishing with the same friend several hours before I was supposed to start a new job we had motor problems a couple of coves over from the launch. The trolling motor would have gotten us back in plenty of time, but I made the mistake of casting to a point as we passed, and I caught a big bream. Well, that led to another cast and another fish and, well, you can probably figure out the rest of the story.
Lake Murray can be tough for tournament bass fishing during mid-summer, despite supporting a great bass population. The last Cup held there (2008) was a "junk fishing" event scratched out by Michael Bennett, whose primary pattern was throwing frogs over grass around docks. Offshore anglers commonly find good bags on Murray during late summer, but it's typically tough to repeat those catches. The morning topwater bite also can be good, but a striper can break an angler's heart if he thinks he has a largemouth on the line.
Of course, summer can also be a fine time to wade the Saluda River, downstream of Lake Murray, to intentionally cast for stripers. So while the pros are out grinding it out on the hot lake, I might chose to stand waist deep in a cool current and have fun catching stripers! With our without the river stripers, I'll enjoy spending a few days in Columbia, eating country vegetables at Lizard's Thicket and watching the nation's top pros tackle Lake Murray.
Hope to see you there.