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Elite Destinations: Clarks Hill Lake

2/8/2008

When Mike McClelland won last year's Pride of Georgia Elite tournament on this 70,000-acre Savannah River impoundment along the South Carolina/Georgia line, he did so by fishing a jig around brushy points, finishing with 70 pounds, 7 ounces. It wasn't an unusual tactic for McClelland, but it was a different way to fish Clarks Hill.

Normally, most patterns here revolve around either the hydrilla or the blueback herring. The hydrilla is widespread throughout the impoundment, but is particularly well established in the more open water of the lower lake. Anglers frequently head to tributaries like Big Branch where they can fish floating frogs or slow roll spinnerbaits, depending on the water conditions.

The blueback herring, one of the primary forage species in Clarks Hill, are usually migrating up the lake in May in preparation for spawning. The bass follow and often trap the herring on the surface, where lucky fisherman can have a field day with topwaters, soft jerkbaits and crankbaits. By May, Clarks Hill largemouth are in the latter stages of the postspawn and are ready to begin feeding heavily again.

Clarks Hill also is a point lake; there are thousands of long points along both the Savannah River and Little River arms, the lake's two primary tributaries. Most have abundant brushy cover on them, making spinnerbaits, crankbaits and Carolina rigged lizards favorite lure choices. Well-known tributaries where point fishing is popular include Fishing and Soap creeks.

ATTRACTIONS:

The 110-mile Savannah River Scenic Byway leads through forests, farmlands and old towns, including Wilmington and McCormick, where shopping for antiques is popular. The byway also cuts through Sumter National Forest as well as Hickory Knob State Park, offering nice views of the reservoir. For sports lovers, Adventure Crossing features a new state-of-the-art, multi-level laser tag sports arena, go-cart track, roller coaster, mini-golf, batting cages and arcade.
(www.choosecolumbiacounty.com; www.adventure-crossing.com)