LAKE MONTICELLO FISHING TIPS
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Fishing Tips
I'm not able to provide much personal experience information on many species other than catfish and white perch on Monticello but I'm working on other sources for that.In the mean time, I'll provide tips and info on the fish I fish for the most.

Catfish

Monticello is un-like any other lake in SC, possibly the nation.The catfish, particularly the bigger 20+ lb blues behave differently than they do in most other lakes.They seem to be somewhat spoiled by all the forage in the lake in the fact that they dont neccesarily have to take a bait presented to them as it goes by because there will be something else available for them to eat shortly afterwards.This is why most of my fishing for big fish is usually done from an anchored position, which I'll cover below.

As a general rule on Monticello.You either target big fish or you target numbers of small fish.On the real good days, you might get the best of both worlds but usually its one or the other.Theres 2 methods of catching cats on Monticello.Drifting and anchoring.Theres several different variations of each method that work.

Drifting

Free-line drifting- This is probably the most popular way of fishing Monticello.It consists of just a hook and bait and the line is let out far behind the boat.Depending on how fast you are drifting depends on how deep or shallow the bait is.Sometimes a split shot or two is added to the line to get the bait a little deeper when needed.Theres many different ways of doing this and everybody has got their own.Planer boards, slip corks, multiple hook rigs, you name it.This is the best way to target the lakes huge population of suspended catfish.The bait of choice is usually small peices of blueback herring, shrimp and chicken breast soaked in WD-40 is becoming very popular also.This method will catch big fish but 99% of the people I talk to that fish like this, say that the consistency of catching big fish is not very good.For the most part, it catches big numbers of 1 to 10 lb fish.

You can also drift around with baits suspended at certain depths, straight under the boat and catch plenty of good eating sized fish, big fish can also be caught like this too.Many people have a few rods free-lined and a few like this as they drift around.


Santee Style drifting- This is a bottom dragging, drifting method, that can work real good at times for big fish.It can also catch good numbers of small fish, if the bait is down-sized.Theres not alot of places that this method can be done on Monticello, because of all the trees in the lake.You have to do your homework and get out and do alot of graphing to find cleared, snag-free areas.Theres lots of old feilds and pastures under the water that are very good places to drift like this.For a little more info on this rig and what it looks like click this link http://www.catfishtips.net/Basic_Rigs.html Its usually a pretty short window, usually in the fall, that this method works really good.

Anchoring

Numbers of fish anchoring- Lots of people go out and chum areas and come back and anchor on them.Lots of the chum consists of soured grain, corn, dog food and tons of other home-made concoctions.Some people chum the day before, some chum while they are anchored there waiting.This is a real popular method and has been for a long time, but is not neccesary to fill the boat up with 1/2 lb to 2 lb fish.Monticello is loaded with small catfish and normally its not to hard to catch em.

You can anchor pretty much anywhere you feel comfortable.Points, humps, backs of coves, the middle of nowhere, it dont really matter.You can double anchor and cast out or anchor off the bow and fish straight down, it doesnt matter.If you use stink bait, chicken liver, nightcrawlers, marsh-mellows and stink bait, and the list goes on, you will catch fish.Its not very hard to get a good mess of small fish.

Big Fish Anchoring- This is the method I use 95% of the year.I used to spend alot of time on Monticello doing the Santee style drifting and caught lots of big fish but the consistency is just not as good as anchoring.People pay me to put them on big fish and I have not found a more consistent way to do it than anchoring.This style of fishing is for patient people.Theres usually alot of waiting (not always) but the wait is normally worth it.

As I was saying above, the big fish are spoiled in this lake, in other words, fat and happy and to a certain extent, lazy.They feed when they get good and ready.You have to find them, set up on them and hope that their feeding schedule occurs during the time frame that you give them.Once I find what I'm looking for on the graph, I'll give them 1 hour and 30 minutes after the last rod is thrown out, sometimes longer, it just depends on whats going on.Sometimes, it dont take but 5 to 15 minutes for a rod to go down but sometimes it may take an hour or more.Theres been times, and lots of them, where nothing has happened for an hour or more, then all of a sudden, two or three rods may go down with big fish, almost all at the same time.The thing to keep in mind when fishing this way is that, it dont take but one fish to make the entire day, depending on the person, possibly the entire year.

The biggest thing is to have confidence in your graph and understand what its showing you.I spend alot of time riding around making sure I'm marking what I want to see before I set up on the spot.In order to sit there for an hour and a half with paying customers, I have to feel confident that there are big fish in the area and hope that they bite.I double anchor (bow and stern) and fan cast lines out around the hump, ledge, point, flat or whatever it is that I'm fishing.Heres a general discription of how I normally anchor, disregard the river channel in the diagram, as Monticello dont have one. http://www.catfishtips.net/Anchoring.html 

Keep in mind, once you find the fish and put the bait out there, that it dont take long for the catfish to realize its there.A catfish is basically a swimming tongue, it can taste fish from up to 30 foot away without having to actually taste it with their mouths.They know its there and they will eat eventually.You just have to be patient.

Find highly traveled areas, such as points, humps, ledges, flats and gullies, also it doesnt hurt to have some other structure, such as rocks and trees around either.Just make sure you are marking good fish on the graph, that way you'll have the confidence to sit there.



Rig- I use standard carolina rigs with 2 to 3 ounce sinkers.8/0 Gamakatsu circle hooks have been the best hook that I've used.20 to 30 lb main line and 50 lb leader is plenty strong enough for most situations on Monticello.

Bait- The bait choice is usually no-where near as important as the actual area that your fishing.I do beleive that what ever baitfish your using needs to be as fresh as possible though.The size of bait and texture of bait is important when trying to avoid the annoying small fish.The big chunks of bait prevents the smaller fish from getting it in their mouth and getting hooked.When a small fish gets on, you have to reel it in.This screws things up because you want the bait out there as long as possible, with the intention that a big one will get it.If the small fish cant get the bait in its mouth, it will chew, knaw and shake the bait, in turn attract attention from a bigger fish in the area.

The texture of the bait needs to be pretty tough, fish such as white perch, bream, crappie, big gizzard shad and other tough, hard to get off the hook fish is ideal.This keeps the millions of small fish in the lake from eating all the meat off the hook before a big one gets to it.Not that you cant catch big fish off of tender fish like blueback herring and threadfin shad, in this lake but you will find yourself spending alot of time reeling in to rebait and to take small fish off.The time that you spend doing this, is time that the bait could be out there sitting in front of a big fish.

White Perch- I normally find schools of white perch up on top of humps and scattered accross flats, usually around 20 to 40 foot deep.I have caught them as deep as 60+ foot of water.Jigging 1/4 ounce spoons off the bottom is one of the easiest ways to catch them but traditional methods, such as live minnows and worms will work just fine too.Another real fun way to catch them when they are balled up tightly in big schools is to use a Sabiki rig.Most Sabiki rigs have 5 or 6 hooks on them.Bait a few jigs up with some worms or small peices of cut bait.This entices the 1st fish to bite, set the hook in it and let it swim around.This will often cause the rest to get into a frenzy and before you know it all the jigs on the Sabiki will have fish on them.

The jigging spoon and live minnow methods, fished in the same areas is how I used to catch tons of white bass but as I stated earlier, that dont happen much anymore.





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