Jocassee Famous For Trout, Harbors Four Species Of Bass, Including Some Giant Largemouths

When bass guide Rob McComas starts out to catch a trophy bass he heads for a reservoir known more for trout fishing than bass – Lake Jocassee in the South Carolina mountains.

Jocassee does, in fact, hold the records for the largest trout caught in South Carolina – a 17-pound, 9.5-ounce brown caught by Larry Edwards of Pickens in 1987 and an 11-pound, 5-ounce rainbow caught by Scott Coggins of Travelers Rest in 1993.

But it also holds three black bass records – a 9-pound, 7-ounce smallmouth caught by Terry Dodson of Rosman, N.C., an 8-pound, 5-ounce spotted bass caught by David Preston of Tryon, N.C., and a 5-pound, 2.5-ounce redeye, or coosa, bass caught by Randy Dickson of Westminster, S.C. – all in one great record year, 2001.

And the deep, clear lake also harbors some monster largemouths, said McComas, who has first-hand experience.

“I’ve caught two largemouths over 11 pounds, one in November and the other, I’m pretty sure, was caught in January,” said McComas, who lives in Mill Spring, N.C. “Both were caught on big swim baits, 8- to 12-inch swim baits.”

Those were the two biggest, but McComas has made a record for himself for boating some really big bass in Lake Jocassee.

“I had a six-fish stringer one time that weighed almost 43 pounds. Five of those fish would have gone a little over 35 pounds.”

In addition to guiding for bass on Lake Jocassee, McComas actually is a multi-species guide on Lake Lure near his home, taking families and children fishing for everything from bass to crappie to perch. But when he is looking for a challenge, there is only one lake that can scratch that itch – Jocassee – where he knows there is a chance of catching a really big one during the winter months.

“I am trying to catch that one giant largemouth in three or four trips to Jocassee this time of year,” he said.

Bass fishing on Jocassee is tough during the hot summer months, he said, so he concentrates his efforts from late August through February, but sometimes will fish on through April and May. The largemouth bite seems to be best from late summer through November and then the best bite is for smallmouth and spotted bass, with the occasional redeye for good measure.

“When fishing for largemouths I generally like to fish the upper water column area with larger baits – big swim baits, big topwaters, and then when I am smallmouth and spotted bass fishing I usually fish deeper in the water column with smaller baits like hair jigs or a finesse 2 1/2-inch shad imitation jerkbait like a fluke on a float fly rig. You can also fish that same jig without a float and tight-line for smallmouth and spotted bass.”

Fishing for smallmouth and spotted bass in Jocassee, depending on the weather and the location of the baitfish, might mean fishing that hair jig or 1/8-ounce jig with a jerkbait anywhere from 20 feet deep down to as much as 85 feet, McComas said.

Good numbers of smallmouth, spotted bass and redeye bass can also be caught on live medium minnows drifting in the creeks, he noted.

“With four different species of black bass, Jocassee is just a unique fishery,” McComas said.”When I was a teenager I went down there with a friend from high school and his dad bass fishing and I was mesmerized, blown away by that lake – how it set up with that ultra-deep, clear water. I just fell in love with it.”

McComas fishes Lake Jocassee mostly from September through April-May. He can be reached at (828) 674-5041 or by email at: [email protected]. You can check out his website at: