South Carolina is a paradise for bass fishing enthusiasts, offering an array of stunning lakes that have some truly exceptional angling experiences. From Lake Murray and Lake Marion to the more well-known Lake Jocassee and Lake Wateree, there is a well-stocked fishing lake perfect for every angler in South Carolina.
South Carolina has a rich history of famous bass fishing captures, with record-breaking smallmouth and largemouth bass being reeled in from its pristine waters. In addition to bass fishing, these South Carolina lakes offer opportunities for other popular freshwater species, such as crappie, paddlefish, bowfin, and catfish.
Let’s take a closer look at 10 of my favorite top bass fishing lakes around the beautiful state of South Carolina. One of these might just be the next destination for you and your family to enjoy fishing in the state!
Top South Carolina Bass Fishing Lakes
1. Lake Marion
Located in the eastern part of the state, Lake Marion is the largest lake in South Carolina, covering more than 110,000 acres and offering some excellent fishing opportunities for most anglers. In fact, the state record largemouth bass was caught here in 1949, weighing an impressive 16 pounds 2 ounces (see here for info on the world record largemouth bass). You might just be the next angler to break that record.
Accessible from public boat ramps and marinas, this lake is known for its quality largemouth bass population, as well as countless other species, including paddlefish, various types of gar, bowfin, and American eels.
For tackle, you can’t go wrong when fishing with soft plastic worms, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits for largemouth bass. Try techniques like flipping, pitching, and topwater fishing to entice those big bass to strike.
If you’re fishing for smallmouth or another species entirely, consider using jerkbaits, finesse worms, and drop-shot rigs at different locations around this massive South Carolina lake.
2. Lake Murray
Situated near the capital city of Columbia, Lake Murray offers diverse fishing opportunities through its 50,000 acres of water. With more than a dozen different public boat ramps and marinas providing access to the lake and its connected rivers, you’ll have no trouble finding your perfect fishing spot.
This South Carolina lake has a reputation for both largemouth and smallmouth fishing opportunities but also offers a large number of other species, including Guadalupe bass, spotted bass, white bass, yellow bass, striped bass, spotted hybrids, channel cats, blue catfish, flathead catfish, perch, longear sunfish, bluegill, paddlefish, and many more.
When fishing for largemouth bass in Lake Murray, popular tackle choices include jigs, Texas-rigged plastics, and deep-diving crankbaits. Smallmouth bass can often be caught using jerkbaits, finesse worms, and drop-shot rigs.
3. Lake Hartwell
Straddling the South Carolina-Georgia border, the massive 55,900-acre Lake Hartwell is known for its stunning scenery and is one of the most productive bass fisheries around. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, redeye bass, white bass, striped bass, and spotteds are the primary species here, and access to this large lake is available through several boat ramps and some private marinas.
Among the huge numbers of bass species are walleye, white perch, channel cats, flathead catfish, white crappie and black crappie, and sunfish as well, giving visiting and local anglers a fun change of pace if the bass aren’t biting or if you just want to switch things up a bit on your next fishing trip.
4. Lake Bowen
Located near the city of Spartanburg, the 1,534-acre Lake Bowen attracts anglers of all skill levels with its scenic beauty and abundant bass fish population, including largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, and striped.
It’s also not uncommon to go fishing for channel cats, bluegill, black crappie, and white crappie in this small but well-stocked South Carolina lake as well.
I’ve had the best luck casting topwater lures early in the morning or during dusk since these can get some quick surface strikes (see here for best times to fish for bass). If the fish are deeper later in the day, try using Texas-rigged or Carolina-rigged worms. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits can also be extremely effective when you need to cover larger areas and get some reaction strikes.
5. Lake Keowee
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina, the beautiful 18,500-acre Lake Keowee is renowned for its clear waters and healthy bass population fishing opportunities. Largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted are prevalent bass species in the lake, but the huge populations of rainbow trout and brown trout bring in a lot of trophy trout fishing anglers as well. See here for our article on the best trout fishing spots in South Carolina.
I have often had success at this lake using topwater lures such as walk the dog lures and frogs, spinnerbaits, and Texas-rigged plastics for the largemouth and smallmouth bass. Drop-shot rigs, jerkbaits, and finesse worms are effective for getting the spotteds to strike.
If you’re wanting to try your hand at rainbow trout or brown trout fishing, topwater dry flies, nymphs, and streamers will get the best results. You can also find bluegill and yellow perch throughout the lake as well, making this a very fun lake for both beginners and experienced anglers to visit.
6. Lake Jocassee
Also located in the upstate region of South Carolina, Lake Jocassee is known for its pristine beauty and quality bass fishing. Spotted and smallmouth bass can be found in this 7,500-acre lake, along with healthy populations of bluegill, rainbow trout, and brown trout.
While public access is available via boat ramps around the lake, the real magic happens when you navigate its crystal-clear waters and can easily spot fish swimming below your boat. This is one of my favorite places for sight fishing. The state record spotted bass was caught in this lake back in 1996, weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces. Maybe you can be the one to break that record.
To lure in spotted or smallmouth bass, cast topwater lures, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics. Bluegill in this lake seem to respond well to jerkbaits, crankbaits, and finesse jigs, and trout are best landed with a variety of different flies, nymphs, or streamers, with topwater and drift fishing being very worthwhile.
7. Lake Greenwood
Situated in western South Carolina, Lake Greenwood is a popular 11,400-acre bass fishing destination for anglers of all skill levels. Largemouth and striped bass are the primary target species in this lake, but you can also reel in bluegill, black crappie, and some pretty massive channel catfish.
Effective baits for largemouth include Texas-rigged worms, crankbaits, and jigs. Targeting the shallow areas and visible structure often yields positive results. I’ve had the best luck with all species in this lake when jigging, so if you want to ensure you get a bite on your next trip, I’d recommend bringing along your favorite jigs.
8. Lake Wateree
Located in the central part of South Carolina, the beautiful 13,000-acre Lake Wateree offers excellent largemouth bass, striped bass, and white bass fishing opportunities since their numbers are so abundant in this lake.
You can also choose to go fishing for white perch and channel catfish in this lake, too, if you want to try something different or the bass aren’t biting for you. Many anglers focus on the shallow water areas to find numerous species throughout the year, especially during the pre-spawn season or when air temperatures are cooler.
Stick to the submerged structures, such as fallen trees and brush piles, where your target bass love to hide. Tackle choices like artificial worms, frogs, or other creature baits, jigs, and shallow-running crankbaits are go-to options for enticing those trophy bass to bite.
9. Lake Thurmond
Found on the South Carolina-Georgia border, the 71,000-acre Lake Thurmond, also known as Clarks Hill Lake, is a popular bass fishing destination with more than 1,200 miles of shoreline.
Largemouth and striped bass are the main attractions in this lake, and they respond exceptionally well to a wide range of baits and lures, making this a great spot for beginners. You can also find healthy populations of bluegill, redbreast sunfish, and channel catfish here too.
When targeting largemouth bass, popular baits include soft plastics, jigs, and spinnerbaits, but I have had the best luck using a single-blade buzzbait in the early season. Striped bass respond well to live bait such as bream, a wide variety of topwater baits and lures, and some lighter-colored swimbaits.
10. Lake Moultrie
Located in the South Carolina Lowcountry region, Lake Moultrie is part of the Santee Cooper reservoir system and offers exceptional bass fishing opportunities so if you’re hoping for your next largemouth trophy, this is the place to be.
You’ll also notice longnose gar, black crappie, blue catfish, and channel catfish call this lake home. If you’re looking for a change from bass fishing on your next trip to Lake Moultrie, consider targeting one of these popular species instead. You may even haul in the next state record channel catfish, which currently stands at 58 pounds set back in 1964.
Whether you choose to use a public boat ramp to launch your craft or prefer keeping your feet on the dry land of a fishing pier, you’ll find the perfect spot to cast your line and reel in some of these monster trophies from this lake.
Effective baits in this lake include plastic worms, jigs, and lipless crankbaits. Targeting the abundant submerged vegetation and structures can lead to successful catches since the larger bass like to hide in these areas throughout the day.