My observation and opinion on spawning in SC lakes

Discussion in 'SOUTH CAROLINA LAKES / RESERVOIRS' started by chrisblue, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. chrisblue

    chrisblue New Member

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    SC
    For the record I am not a biologists, vetinarian, rocket scientist or anything like that, chances are I probably didnt even spell some of that right.I do however spend alot of time on the water and for the last 3 years I've made it my goal to try to figure out when excactly the spawn occurs.This is just my opinion and by no way shape or form does that mean its right.I just want to make that clear.I'm just tryin to put information out there to hopefully help somebody.

    The 2 primary lakes that this info is based on is Greenwood and Monticello but its real similar on other lakes in SC too.The 2 species is blues and channels which are very similar in spawning habits and times.I hadnt had alot of time to observe flatheads.

    PRE-SPAWN

    Most of the spawning information you read in articles and biologists reports are based on channel cats, theres not much studies on blues and flatheads spawning habits.I have found that blues are very similar to channels though.

    Catfish have one of the longest prespawn periods of any freshwater fish in the USA.

    One of the best indications that the spawn is getting close to starting is when most of the bigger fish (channels 6 lbs and up and blues 15 lbs and up) are predominately males.Usually when the daytime water surface temp is between 68 to 75 degrees.The males are the first to start feeding because they are the ones that find the spawning areas and the ones that stay and gaurd the eggs and young.

    The males of both blue and channels have big heads in other words their heads look to big to be on their body.Their bodies are usually thin at this time but often thru-out the year too.The muscles or glands on the top of their heads will start to swell and look like 2 knots on each side.The male blue will start to turn an even darker blue than they already are.Their lower jaw, barbels and the upper part of their their body will all turn darker so will the channels.

    Male channel cats are really confusing thru all seasons.Some will have a light blue or gray color (often mistaken to be a blue) all year and some will have a golden brown color while not during spawning time.During the pre-spawn or attracting time they will all turn blue and some very dark blue almost black, even the golden brown ones.

    Both male blue and channels will remain this color thru-out the whole spawning period.You will start to see scares and scratches on them as they are rooting around and fighting for territory.

    After a few weeks the fat females will start to dominate the catch because they will be feeding heavy before going on bed.By this time the males have found their spawning areas and are now trying to attract the feeding egg filled females.These temperatures will fluctuate from hot days and cold nights but this usually occurs when the daytime surface temp is around 75 to 78 degrees.

    The fishing can be really good at this time.

    SPAWN

    Slow fishing (no big males or females) usually indicates the spawn is on heavy.This seems to occur when the daytime surface temp is 78 to 85 degrees.Not all fish will spawn at the same time so a big location change on the lake might put you right back into prespawn action.I have found that while fish may be spawning in a feeder creek and in pre-spawn in a feeder creek 4 miles down the lake.

    POST-SPAWN

    The post spawn can be some really good fishing also, often times better than prespawn.The females will be the first to start feeding, while the male stays on the bed and stands gaurd.When the females first come off and start feeding they will be fairly skinny.Some will have a few bite marks and scares but not as badly as the males.This period dont seem to last to long.Not quite sure why.

    A good indication that the spawn is pretty close to over is when the males start to dominate the catch again.Most of them will look like they have been run thru a meet grinder.They will still remain dark colored but very very scarred up from fighting and very thin.You will still catch females but the males seem to dominate the catch.

    The surface temps are usually above 85 degrees by this time.

    PRE-SUMMER

    The females are usually back to their fat and healthy self by now.The scares on the males will be starting to heal and the regular summer pattern will set in.

    THE AVERAGE TIMES THIS HAPPENS FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS

    The pre-spawn on both Greenwood and Monticello seem to be from April to late May.

    The spawn is usually from late May till early July.

    The spawn is usually completely (all fish) over by mid July.Although I have caught males with fresh scarres on them as late as August especially last year 2007.

    Keep in mind not all fish spawn at the same time on the same lake so this I think is why the catfish spawn is such a wide gap of time.

    All the surface temps that I listed are not precise, they can vary a few degrees up and down.Keep in mind that just because the surface temp is one thing that dont mean that the water 2 foot or 20 foot below the surface is the same.The temps also need to be steady for several days before fish are triggered.Lots of times in late March the surface temp might be low 70's one day and high 60's the next.This is not a good gage of when fish could be triggered.

    PICTURES

    I've cropped for closer veiwing and attached several pictures of pre and post spawn male blues and channels.Some of the pics are not that great of quality but its the best I got.I will have to use 2 posts to get them in.

    Pre-spawn pic #1- This is a male channel cat already starting to turn very dark on the top but still golden brown on the sides.The glands on the top of his head are also starting to swell up.

    Pre-spawn pic #2- This is a male blue that is just starting to feed and change colors.Notice the thin body and very dark blotchy color it is turning.

    Pre-spawn pic #3- This is another male blue thats startin to get dark.Notice the way his lips and barbels are starting to get really dark blue.The muscles or glands are not quite swelling up yet though.That gives me the inclination that he is just starting his pre-spawn feeding.

    More pics in the 2nd post.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. chrisblue

    chrisblue New Member

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    1,345
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    SC
    Post spawn #1- This is a male channel after the spawn.You might not be able to see it to good but this fish had scarres all over it.

    Post spawn #2- This is a male blue, he is very scarred and beat up.He more than likelyjust come off of spawn or either I threw the bait to close to his bed.

    Post spawn #3- This is 2 male blues very badly scarred and scratched but are starting to heal.This is an indication that the spawn is coming to a close.
     

    Attached Files:


  3. outstanding info.. as always.
    thanks
     
  4. martygreen

    martygreen Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    2,224
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    Rock Hill,S.C.
    very good info Chris,thanks for passing it along to everyone,outstanding job
     
  5. longbow310

    longbow310 New Member

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    sc
    Thanks for the info.
     
  6. sarSWAMPFOX

    sarSWAMPFOX New Member

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    381
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    Union, South Caroilna
    Yes sir Chris, Ya Done It Again. Impressive post with very usefull info. I for one know that when you talk I listen. Thank you very much for the lesson. Now lets put it to use.
     
  7. JimmyJonny

    JimmyJonny Well-Known Member

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    4,059
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    Darn nice job Chris !!! I even loved the disclaimer section, LOL. Thanks man, you answered a lot of questions I needed to know.

    -Jim-
     
  8. mudkip

    mudkip New Member

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    very nice, and I agree
     
  9. Cgoyette

    Cgoyette New Member

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    South Caro
    Easily the most insightful post of read on catfish spawning ever!

    Curt
     
  10. rivercatsc

    rivercatsc New Member

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    1,990
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    South Caro
    Now thats the Chrisblue we have been missing. That right there is good stuff. Thanks Chris.
     
  11. nanny patrol

    nanny patrol Member

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    389
    State:
    SC
    Thanks a lot. Im kind of new to catfishing overall , this answered a lot of questions that would have taken me a long time to figure out on my own!
     
  12. MUDHOLE KID

    MUDHOLE KID New Member

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    1,178
    State:
    Anderson,S.C.
    Chris , I know you fish Santee alot too. I've always heard the spawn starts way early down there. I've fished in early April and the water temp may be in the low 70's and everybody always tells me I just missed the spawn. I have always went on my own thinking and said no way. I myself agree with your info, but does it conflict with Santee. I think it's about the same as here, but folks swear pre- spawn fires up in March. What's your thought on Santee. I know there's alot of local Santee fisherman on here, maybe they can help answer . I've never really give it any heavy thought, but since I read your post I had to ask. I just got back from Wilson in Ala, and the fish are on a pre-spawn pattern.Water temp High 60's low 70's the fish are full of roe and feeding heavy and fat. Just thought I'd ask. Your post was full of good info.:wink:
     
  13. krowbar

    krowbar New Member

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    664
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    South Caro
    thanks for the great info
     
  14. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

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    NC
    "....For the record I am not a biologists, vetinarian, rocket scientist or anything like that, chances are I probably didnt even spell some of that right..."

    Now that right there will make you laugh!! :smile2:

    Great post.

    It needs to be added to the library or something for future reference.

    You included a lot of information there brother. Very nice job.
     
  15. chrisblue

    chrisblue New Member

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    1,345
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    The fish start flooding the shallows as early as Febuary down there and alot of people think they are moving in to spawn.I could be completely wrong but I think they are just moving shallow because thats where the food is, I dont think it has anything to do with prespawn, I dont think the fish have to be extremly shallow in pre-spawn anyway.I found out this past year that apparently fish will spawn in very deep water.I was catching females out of 50 to 80 foot of water and they where shooting eggs all over the boat.

    Its just my opinion but I think Santee may be only 2 to 3 weeks ahead of the upstate lakes.They are a little farther south and warmer which speeds it up but the biggest thing is that all that shallow water warms faster causing a quicker spawn.

    Once again this is just my humble opinion.
     
  16. rivercatsc

    rivercatsc New Member

    Messages:
    1,990
    State:
    South Caro
    Santee is very shallow lake and the water temps flucuate alot from day to day. The temp might be 70deg in the am and by late pm it can be i the high 70s to low 80s. I think like he said the more consistant it stays the faster the spawn will happen. So Yes I reckon they do spawn a little earlier than the upstate lakes.
     
  17. fishmccall

    fishmccall New Member

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    Anderson sc
    Great thread... thank's chris
     
  18. Shrimp Man

    Shrimp Man New Member

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    State:
    South Carolina
    Chris,
    From this day forward you are "SIR CHRIS", What great information, I have always noticed the scares but never new why. What an outstanding Brother you are and we all appreciate you.
     
  19. QBQ

    QBQ New Member

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    State:
    South Carolina
    Great stuff for us rookies. TY
     
  20. tennessee blues

    tennessee blues New Member

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    35
    State:
    Fort Bragg, North Carolina
    Chris, great post with answers to a lot of the questions we all struggle with this time of year. I think the spawn starts a 2-3 weeks earlier on Lake marion and Moultrie due to the shallow water (compared to other lakes in SC). I know we wore them out late March/early April in 2-4 feet of water but I also believe that is because the baitfish was thick in the shallows. To prove the theory: we drifted in 20ft and eventually drifted the shallows using fresh herring and only picked up 3-4 smaller blues. We then used the trolling motor and eased our way into the real shallow water where the shad was concentrated. We used the cast net and caught 50-60 shad in 3 or 4 casts and began fishing with the shad. We immediatey started catching nice blues in 2 feet of water. We caught about 15 more before we had to call it a day. I saw no signs of pre-spawn, only agressively feeding fish. Again, outstanding post and extremely useful information.

    Shayne