It’s named after mulberries, but it’s claim to fame is fishing. And lots of other water-related fun.
Located in the northwest corner of South Carolina, Lake Keowee is a man–made reservoir which was created for power supply in the region. Like any big body of water, it also turned into a great fishing spot. It’s an unusual lake in this part of the country because it’s about 30 miles long and has wide open expanses with water depths averaging 54 feet deep. The deepest spots in the lake are 200 feet deep.
Outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds enjoy Lake Keowee, which is three miles long, has 300 miles of shoreline, and more than 18,000 acres of water. It is not only good for fishing, but is popular for swimming, kayaking, boating and all kinds of water sports. It is especially attractive to users because of its clean, clear water.
Most of the lake has a sand or clay bottom, though there’s a lot of riprap on the banks and some rocky shelves here and there. Brushtops and island edges are top fishing targets.
Bass are the top species here, both spots and largemouths. Numbers and big fish of both types are caught from the shallows and the depths almost all year long. Anglers who use advanced electronics can track down the big ones in deeper water along points and ridges. While the average fish are a couple of pounds, the bass here can get over 10 pounds. Lots of them in the 5-6 pound range are also caught.
Jigs, soft plastics and lures that work best around ledges and underwater structure work best.
Fishermen here also catch crappie, catfish, yellow perch and several species of bream. There are lots of islands, here, too. And that’s a good place to start. Some of the islands are showing and you can fish around the edges of them. Numerous brush piles and sunken tops hold fish. The underwater Islands seem to be the most productive for bigger fish because they don’t get as much pressure. Again, you’ll need electronics to locate them.
Here’s a key to success. Since this is a power plant lake, they are often pulling water creating a current. When that happens, it pulls baitfish and bass into the eddies and around structures, like bridge pilings. You can catch fish here on crankbaits, jigs or often topwaters.
Because of the clear water here, it doesn’t take a huge bait to attract fish’s attention. The best bet is to try and match your bait to the size and types of baitfish you see. And using lighter line is a necessity here because of the good visibility for the fish.
Water temperature here also varies because of the size and depth of the lake. Water levels can also go up and down by two feet a day in some cases. Because of its location, water temperatures are often cold, but there’s one hotspot that always keeps fish active. That’s the discharge area from the power plant, commonly called the “hot hole” by locals. Water there stays warmer than most of the lake much of the time.
Some of the popular spots to fish besides the “hot hole” include the skimmer wall near the dam, the “Power Lines Area”, Little River Dike, Webb Lake (the Pond), island spots like Island 2B, a large flat on the edge of the river channel. The Jocassee Dam area has riprap and flowing water and the eddies off the current often hold big bunches of bass. Cowee Branch and Cedar Creek are also top spots. Cowee is an area filled with lots of tops placed there by fishermen plus some natural structure. Cedar Creek is a hotspot for spotted bass near the mouth and creek bends.
A popular spot for launching is the South Cove County Park in Seneca. Numerous tournaments are held there. Lake Hartwell to the south is a popular tournament spot as well, which takes some pressure off of Keowee. Public access is also available at Cane Creek, Crowe Creek, Fall Creek, High Falls Park, Holders Landing, Keowee Town, Lawrence, Mile Creek, South Cove Park, Stamp Creek Landing and Warpath Access
The region around the lake has many waterfalls and hiking paths. Just a few miles to the south, the town of Clemson has all kinds of accommodations and choices of eateries and the South Carolina Botanical Gardens, 300 acres of outdoor beauty, including a butterfly garden. The nearby Oconee Station State Historical Site, William Richards House historical areas, and the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery are fun visits. The hatchery is the only one in the state that raises trout.
A serious word of caution about Lake Keowee summer activities here. If you are taking a family trip involving swimming, use extra caution. The lake’s sudden, deep dropoffs can fool you quickly. The lake has been plagued by drownings, especially around the popular Fall Creek Landing. There is a rock outcropping used for jumping in the lake there and the shore drops off quickly into deep water.