Lake Keowee in western South Carolina is a fishing powerhouse—literally. This reservoir is used to generate hydroelectric power and cool three nuclear reactors at the Oconee Nuclear Generating Station. Of course, we anglers might think of all that electricity as a mere side benefit to what we really care about: the incredible fish game here. Read this Lake Keowee Fishing Guide for everything you need to know.
Where to fish: Best Lake Keowee fishing spots
As a general rule of thumb, vertical drop-offs are a key feature to look for when you’re prowling for open-water bass. You may see action on the surface as schools of fish attack bait, but having electronics to locate the fish gives you a big leg up. If you’re going to rent a boat on Lake Keowee and plan to target open-water fish, it’s good to get one with a fishfinder.
Shoreline structures like docks and stumps are another thing to look for, particularly if you want to target largemouth or smallmouth bass. Some of the best structure, however, is provided by the Route 11 bridge. This is a hotspot for crappie anglers in particular.
There are also over a dozen mad-made fish attractors in the lake, courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). You can find their exact locations on the SCDNR Fish Attractor Map.
Two other well-known hotspots are the dam at the upper end of the lake, and the power plant’s warm water outflow. At the dam, you’ll find rip-rapped shoreline, moving currents, and cooler temperatures created by the deepwater outflow from Lake Jocassee.
Pro Boatsetter fishing tip: If you’re looking to make a fishing trip this winter at Lake Keowee, the warm water outflow is, as one might guess, a wintertime hotspot where fish gather when the temperatures are low.
What to fish for in Lake Keowee: Top species list
While the spotted bass take top honors at Lake Keowee, they certainly aren’t the only game in town. The popular species caught here include:
- Largemouth bass
- Smallmouth bass
- Spotted bass
Pro Boatsetter fishing tip: Spotted bass are a serious highlight of this reservoir and you can thank its unique properties. The lake is known for having very clear waters, little obvious structure, and at times a very tough bite. Fish are often schooled and roving, which favors the spotted bass’s tendencies as opposed to those of largemouth or smallmouth bass.
When to go fishing in Lake Keowee
Because of the deep, clear water and lack of structure, fishing tactics do need to be adjusted a bit from the norm. When the bass are schooled in open water or creek mouths, dropping jigging spoons is usually a good bet.
If they relate to a drop-off or deepwater structure, sending a drop-shot or shaky-head soft plastic can be the productive move. And, when the fish are shallower, topwater will provide some action, especially very early and very late in the day.
All that said, the biggest thing to remember when fishing Lake Keowee will be to stay on the move until you locate fish. With lots of open, structure-free water to deal with, it’s usually best not to stick with any one particular spot and wait for the fish to “start biting.”
Crappie and catfish anglers will generally stick to bait fishing. Live minnow works best for the crappie, and catfish anglers can use either live or cut sunfish to tempt their quarry into biting.
Bodies of water like Lake Keowee can be difficult to master, but they also provide anglers with new challenges. And, overcoming these challenges will make success taste that much sweeter when you yank the rod back and set your hook into the catch of the day.
About Boatsetter fishing
Boatsetter offers over 50,000 boats to rent or charter–for anglers, that means you can rent everything from bass boats or pontoons to fish freshwater to center consoles or skiffs to fish saltwater from inshore to offshore. Your next personal best or bucket list catch is here!
With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites ranging from BoatU.S. Magazine to BDOutdoors.com. Rudow is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk, he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.