Gagliardi Says Murray is Super-Healthy and So Are The BassĀ 

Published on 04-27-2021

Gagliardi Says Murray is Super-Healthy and So Are The Bass 

By Pete Robbins

If Bass Pro Tour veteran Anthony Gagliardi’s lifetime of fishing Lake Murray didn’t provide high-level credibility on the big South Carolina lake, then his 2014 Forrest Wood Cup victory there should do the trick. Further burnishing his credentials, he finished 2nd in last week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit tournament there. Simply put, when it comes to Murray, Gagliardi knows his stuff.

While the springtime is a period of vast and rapid changes on most bass fisheries, he said that if he were going to fish this weekend’s Big Bass Tour event on his home pond, he’d continue to do what allowed him to compete so effectively last week – follow the blueback herring bite. Right now the bluebacks are spawning like crazy, and the bass know where to find them and gorge upon them.

“That's what everyone is dialed in on now,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to move around all that much. It may be important to wait them out.”

One other strategy he’d employ is to find the lesser-known herring haunts. Anglers have traditionally keyed on long, slow tapering points, and the action definitely goes down there, but everyone knows about it. “Sometimes you might be able to find them on shorter or steeper rocky points,” he explained. “Sometimes they’re on clay. Obviously it’s all hard bottom, but there are a lot of different places where it can happen. It could be in the creeks or it could be on the main lake. Any kind of less obvious irregularity for them to move up on could be a winning spot.”

While historically the herring bite was best in the lower end of the lake, Gagliardi said that in recent years it has gradually expanded upward, even into the river mouth. Anglers seeking to get away from the pressure might try to look that way to escape the point-hopping and point-camping that will inevitably go on closer to the dam.

He’d employ three main categories of lures: The first would be a topwater, like the Berkley Cane Walker, which he’d use if the fish were very aggressive or there were heavy wind and waves. In calmer conditions, he’d choose the smaller, subtler Berkley Drift Walker. His second option would be a PowerBait Jerk Shad, either rigged as a single, or in the double configuration made famous in the Carolinas. Finally, he’d lean heavily on a small swimbait like the Berkley Power Swimmer.

If you know that the fish are there, but they’ve been heavily pressured and refuse to bite those more aggressive presentations, it’s possible to eke out some bites – including a giant – with light line and a small worm like the Maxscent Hit Worm.

For anglers who want to buck the most obvious pattern, it’s also possible to run deep brush – you may not get a lot of bites, but big ones live there year-round. Similarly, several anglers in last week’s event reported success on large swimbaits. Gagliardi had some jumbo followers doing that, but could not convert.

Finally, he said that the bream have started bedding. “It’s way early for that, but you might want to identify a few areas where that’s going on. You might find a great big one, a 7- or 8-pound largemouth, waiting for an easy meal.”

These hard-feeding fish may be at their fattest this month. Two of the past three years we’ve held the Murray BBT in October and while there have been a ton of quality fish brought in, no one topped the 7 pound mark. In 2019 when we held it from May 3 to 5, on the contrary, there were four fish over 7 pounds brought to the scales. The three prior years we held the tournament in September, and a total of three bass over 7 pounds were weighed in. Gagliardi said the lake is super-healthy and so are the bass, so an 8-pounder – or several of them – will cause much admiration, but not much surprise.