Fishing is one of the most popular wildlife related activities in the southeast and Thurmond Lake's 1200 miles of shoreline and 71,100 acres of water create an excellent playground for both the experienced and novice angular. Fish species include largemouth bass, bream, crappie, catfish, striped bass and hybrid bass. Numerous recreation areas, fishing piers, and bank fishing areas provide ample fishing opportunities. Fisheries habitat improvements include the maintenance of fish attractors and felling trees into water along the shoreline.
Fishing tournament organizers are reminded that a Special Events Permit may be needed for tournaments larger than 10 boats. A Special Event Permit can be obtained by contacting the Thurmond Dam & Lake Office at 1-800-533-3478
Additional information that may be helpful when planning your next fishing trip:
Fishing Piers are located at the following parks, Below Dam South Carolina, Clarks Hill Park, Lake Springs, Petersburg Campground, and Amity.
Corps Park Rangers are on duty at Thurmond Lake throughout the year and can answer any additional questions you may have. The Thurmond Lake Project Manager's Office and Visitor Center is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
The office can be reached at 864-333-1147 or toll free at 1-800-533-3478.
South Carolina and Georgia have a reciprocal license agreement; residents of both states may fish anywhere on Thurmond Lake (from boat or shoreline) or its tailwaters with a license from either state. Residents of other states must purchase a nonresident license from either South Carolina or Georgia. Fishermen with resident or nonresident Georgia licenses do need a Georgia Trout Stamp if they fish for or have trout in their possession. Creel limits for Thurmond Lake may vary from those elsewhere within the states.
Where Can You Fish?
Fishing from the bank (shoreline) or from a boat is permitted in most areas of the lake except at boat ramps, courtesy docks, off bridge, off private boat docks (unless you have owner's permission), water intake structures, and any other area marked as restricted or prohibited access.
Type of Improvements
Submerged Christmas Trees
Over two hundred Christmas trees were sunk adjacent to the shoreline of recreation areas to provide visitors with underwater structure to fish around.
All Submerged Christmas Trees
Scotts Ferry, SC
Clarks Hill Park, SC
West Dam, GA
Lake Springs, GA
Shoreline Anchored Trees
Large trees were cut and cabled in place in areas adjacent to the shoreline to provide fish habitat and likely places for anglers to catch fish.
All Shoreline Anchored Trees
Keg Creek, Columbia County, GA
Little River, Columbia County & Lincoln County, GA
Raysville Bridge, McDuffie County & Lincoln County, GA
Lloyd Creek, Lincoln County, GA
Wells Creek, Lincoln County, GA
Fishing Creek, Lincoln County, GA
Broad River, Lincoln County, GA
LeRoys Ferry Campground, McCormick County, SC
Little River, McCormick County, SC
Dordon Creek Ramp, McCormick County, SC
Catfish Bay Ramp, McCormick County, SC
Modoc Ramp, McCormick, SC
-Piers provided for your convenience within recreation areas.
Below Dam Park, SC
Clark Hill Park, SC
Lake Springs, GA
Petersburg Campground, GA
Amity Park, GA
-Accessible only by boat and designated with fish attractor buoy.
All Fish Attractors Maintained by the Corps of Engineers
Top of Page
Fish Consumption Advisories
Fish consumption advisories that affect Thurmond Lake have been issued by the states of South Carolina and Georgia. Advisories are issued by states to inform the public when high concentrations of chemical contaminants have been found in local fish. They also include recommendations to limit or avoid eating certain fish species from specific areas. Please visit the following sites for more information:
Whether you are fishing from a boat or from the bank, please remember:
Be courteous. Keep a safe distance from swimmers, water skiers, boats, and other people on the shoreline.
Don’t fish from bridges, boat ramps, courtesy docks, or private docks (unless you have the owners permission). Do not fish from or within any area marked as restricted or prohibited access.
Please keep hold of your trash – it can easily be blown into the water, especially from a moving boat.
Please make sure you remove your litter when leaving your fishing area. Some of the most common litter found in popular fishing spots are drink containers, bait cups, and old fishing line. Not only are these items unattractive, they can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life.
Before boating, make sure you are familiar with the state boating regulations for the state(s) you will be boating in. Don’t leave the shore without all required safety equipment on board.
Although you may be in a hurry to catch a fish - watch your wake and keep a proper distance* from docks and other structures, swimmers, and other boats. It’s the law and it is in place for everyone’s safety.
Do not tie up your boat to buoys or signs
Wear a life jacket whether you know how to swim or not and dress appropriately for the weather. Most people who drown never intended to be in the water in the first place and drown within 10 – 30 feet of safety; many of them also knew how to swim.
*State boating laws vary by state. In South Carolina, boaters must keep 50 feet from docks, structures, shoreline, swimmers or other persons in the water, and from other boats unless traveling a “no wake” speed. In Georgia, the distance is 100 feet.
Top of Page
Popular Fish Species Found in Thurmond Lake
*Click fish name for picture
Crappie is the most frequently caught species at Thurmond Lake. They are easier to find and catch than other fish because they stay near protective cover and travel in schools. The most popular season to fish for crappie is the spring - when they move into shallow waters (2 - 8 feet) to spawn. During the summer, night fishing and fishing around fish attractors may give good results. At other times, slow trolling or drifting in the open waters using minnows or jigs has proved productive.
Varieties of bream in Thurmond Lake include bluegill, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish, green sunfish, and pumpkinseed. The most popular baits are crickets, worms, and mealworms, although some bream will strike small artificial lures such as spinners, flies, and popping bugs. As a general rule, small to medium-size bream can be located along the shoreline while larger fish will be in slightly deeper water. A good time to fish for bream is during the summer when a full moon is present because bream tend to spawn at that time.
Largemouth bass are caught most easily in the spring. As water temperatures approach 70°F, the fish move into shallower areas with cover in order to spawn. At this time a variety of top water and shallow running lures are effective. Although bass move to deeper water in the summer, they can still be found near the shoreline in the early morning or late afternoon. During the rest of the day, bass can be found at the thermocline depths because they prefer temperatures ranging from 65 to 75°F. In the winter, bass (especially large ones) go as deep as 40 - 60 feet. At these times, fishing with large jigs, plastic worms, and jigging spoons at underwater islands, steep drop-offs, and old creek channels can be productive
Hybrid Bass are a popular sport fish because they bite readily and are excellent fighters. The offspring of white bass males and striped bass females, hybrid bass are produced in state hatcheries and stocked by the South Carolina and Georgia Departments of Natural Resources. Although they are not known to reproduce naturally, they still make spawning runs up tributaries in the spring. At this time, they can also be found in the open water near the dam and riprap. Surface fishing - using fish bait and trolling or retrieving jigs, spoons, or shad-like lures - have proved effective methods to catch hybrids. During the summer, these fish can be found in large, flat, shallow areas or between islands early and late in the day. When not in these areas, they will be quite deep; hybrids have been caught with some regularity behind the dam at depths of 60 feet. During other times of the year, schools of hybrids can be found by trolling or using depth finders.
Striped Bass have created quite a stir at Thurmond in recent years and are a very popular sport fish.
Top of Page
Understanding seasonal lake changes and the habits and distribution of fish may help you be more successful in finding and catching fish (sorry, no guarantees!)…
The Corps of Engineers and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources have placed fish attractors in Thurmond Lake. These artificial reefs, made of trees and brush, attract large schools of fish, especially crappie. The locations of the deep water fish attractors are marked with buoys. Fish attractor maps are available from the J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake Office and are typically shown on navigational charts. Boaters and fishermen are reminded not to tie up to fish attractor buoys or any other navigation buoys or signs on the lake.
From late spring to early fall, Thurmond Lake, like all large lakes in the southeast, becomes stratified, in layers based on water temperature. Each of these layers behaves relatively independently and has different water qualities. These qualities affect the distribution of fish and therefore fishing success. There are three distinct layers or zones:
The epilimnion is the top layer. Although there is plenty of dissolved oxygen in this zone because of its frequent contact with air, fish are generally not found here because the temperatures are too warm. Fish may briefly move into this zone during early morning or late afternoon to feed when light is decreased and food is abundant, but most of the time fish will be in deeper, cooler waters.
The hypolimnion, or bottom zone, is the coolest layer. However, because this layer does not come into contact with air, the dissolved oxygen is used up by natural processes and soon depleted. Fish therefore cannot survive in this zone and fishing at these depths holds little chance of success.
The thermocline, or middle zone, is the most important zone to the fisherman. It offers a wide range of temperatures, including those preferred by many fishes. During summer, the thermocline will often produce good fishing, but remember that the factors of cover and available food also have an influence.
At Thurmond Lake, thermal stratification begins near the dam (the area of greatest depth) in late April and early May of each year. The thermocline establishes at a depth of approximately 30 feet and stays at this depth through early August. At that time, it moves to a depth of about 40 feet and then in mid-September to about 50 feet. In late October or early November, the thermocline moves to a depth of about 70 feet and shortly thereafter the water becomes mixed.
Shallower main-channel locations of the lake exhibit stratification at depths from 20 to 30 feet from late April through early September. The water in these locations becomes mixed in September, about 1 to 1½ months earlier than the waters behind the dam.
Night fishing is also popular at Thurmond Lake. For light, fishermen usually use a boat-mounted lantern. These lights attract insects, food organisms, and threadfin shad, which in turn attract game species such as crappie, hybrids, and white bass. Minnows are the primary bait, but jigs and small plugs may also be effective. When fishing with lights, many fishermen have been successful under the various bridges that cross the lake (some bridges have "boat tie-ups" available) and at the fish attractor sites. These places are worth a try during the summer months when fish are hard to locate.
Tailrace fishing (fishing in the area below the dam) is another popular pastime for many anglers.
The Corps of Engineers urges you to use extreme caution when fishing the tailrace section. First, the rocks may be slippery, loose, or dangerous. If you do wade, make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear with good traction. Second, the water is subject to rapid rise and violent turbulence during power generation. A horn is sounded for one minute before generation begins, but it is only heard within a mile of the dam. Upon hearing the horn, immediately move back to the shoreline. Warning signs are posted at popular access points along the river, and the Corps urges you to read and obey them. In addition, the Corps provides daily generation schedules. This information can be obtained by calling the Thurmond Dam and Lake Office toll-free at 1-800-533-3478 or 864-333-1100.
Top of Page
Fishing Related Links