Lake Murray Will Require Strategy and Patience

Published on 09-19-2020

Lake Murray Will Require Strategy and Patience

By Pete Robbins

While world events have caused some changes to the Big Bass Tour schedule, the October dates of the Lake Murray tournament should not throw much of a monkey wrench in anglers’ plans. That’s because even though last year’s Murray tournament was in May, the four preceding that were either in September or October. It’s a lake that plays equally well in the spring and in the fall.

Veteran South Carolina pro Anthony Gagliardi, who won a regular season FLW Tour event on Murray in 2006, and claimed the Forrest Wood Cup there in 2014, said that conditions are setting up for a solid tournament, one where anglers will be able to claim cash by fishing to their strength.

“We’re starting to get some fall-type weather,” he said. “That should kickstart some additional bites.”

One of the best ways to catch numbers of fish this year is chasing schooling bass in open water. Gagliardi said that this one of the most enjoyable ways to fish, and while “you could make some hourly money,” in all likelihood it will not produce the overall big fish.

There should also be a solid shallow water bite, which he believes has a better chance of leading to one of the top spots. Anglers who wish to make the most of this pattern could throw a frog, popper or buzzbait around shoreline grass and docks. This approach may be bolstered or hampered by water levels. He noted that the water has been dropped several feet in recent days for reasons he’s not entirely sure about. That could take some of that shallow cover out of play. If the levels stay stable over a period of time, the shallow bite could stay stable as well – but if there’s recent fluctuation it tends to be less reliable.

That leaves his third pattern: “If it were me, I’d be fishing brush. I’d have some deep brush, some shallow, and some mid-range. I think that’s the best chance of getting the overall win.”

His preferred big fish strategy would be to fish really slowly with a buly jig or a 10-inch worm and to look for one or two big bites. His color choices would start with green pumpkin, and might vary into dark red shades like plum and redbug.

In order to fish slowly and thoroughly, competitors will likely have to choose a section of the lake in which to concentrate their efforts.

“Per fish caught, the lower end of the lake has the bigger fish most of the time,” Gagliardi said. “But that clear end is hit or miss, and bites can be fewer and father between. That’s why a lot of guys tend to move toward mid-lake. It’s a little bit dirtier and it tends to be more consistent.”

Skinny water anglers may prefer to be up in the river sections, where the fish tend to stay a little shallow. “There are not as many big ones up there, but they do live up there,” he explained. “You still have a chance at catching an 8- or 9-pounder, but the middle of the lake is where you have numbers of 4- and 5-pound class fish.”

He expects that it will take at least an upper 5-pound-class bass to make it into the overall top 10. That’s consistent with our results in recent years. It has always taken at least a 5.40 pound fish to squeeze in the top ten, with the heaviest 10th place finish in the four most recent fall Murray events weighing 5.87 pounds. Last year, in May, it took 6.48 pounds to make the ten cut, and there were four fish over 7 pounds weighed in by our anglers. There haven’t been as many seven-pluses weighed in during recent BBT fall events on Murray, but in 2017 the winning angler’s fish pushed the scales to 7.79 pounds. This is an event where savvy anglers could be able to earns multiple hourly checks by fishing cleanly and acting surgically, but the weights at the top of the overall leaderboard should be tightly packed.