World-class Fishing + National Tournaments = Vacation Fun

January 10, 2024

Reading Time: 4 minutes

With world-class fishing prime for elite tournaments and sparkling waters beckoning vacationing families, Lake Murray offers year-round entertainment and relaxation.

Catch fishing tournament fever and reel in vacation fun in Capital City/Lake Murray Country, anchored by Columbia and the surrounding towns and counties of Lexington, Newberry, Richland, and Saluda. This playground is located off Interstates I-77, I-20, and I-26 in the central part of the Palmetto State. Connecting the four counties is “the Jewel of South Carolina,” Lake Murray, 41 miles long and encompassing 650 miles of shoreline. This world-class freshwater fishing spot lures local and top national fishing tournaments each year, where striped bass, largemouth bass, bream and crappie are the stars.

The sparkling clear water is also favored by families who love to create lake life vacations filled with spectacular sunsets, swimming, pontoon boating, sailing, kayaking, and more. Countless forested coves shelter not only fish but also vacation homes and rentals. Delightful dining spots, marinas, and landings are situated all around the lake. Visitors can bring their watercraft and gear or rent from numerous outfitters. The area has all the ingredients needed for a relaxing getaway year-round: close by charming small towns; farmers markets; and great places to eat. Big city culture and entertainment are just 30 miles away in Columbia.

Top-notch tournament fishing

Lake Murray is among the top tournament destinations in the country for competitive sport fishing. In 2023, Bassmaster named Lake Murray the “Top Lake in the Southeast” and the number four Lake in the Country for ”Best Bass Fishing.” In just the past year, Lake Murray attracted top-tier fishing tournaments like The Bassmaster Elite Series, Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour and the XVI Black Bass World Championship, with 25 participating countries from around the world. Lake Murray has a strong track record of hosting competitive fishing tournaments like the coveted FLW Forest Wood Cup (six times) and has become a favorite for competitive kayak bass fishing tournaments. Learn more about the increasing popularity of kayak fishing here.

Here are just a few of the competitions this upcoming season:
    • January 26-27: Bassmaster College Series (Lake Murray Kicks off the Series)
    • February 24-25: Bassmaster Kayak Series (Lake Murray Kicks off the Series)
    • March 9 & 23: S.C. B.A.S.S. Nation Youth State Championship (High School)
    • April 20: Queen City Kayak Bass Fishing South
    • April 25-28: USA Kayak Fishing Team Qualifier (USAngling)
    • April 26-28: MLF Bass Pro Tour
    • May 9-12: Bassmaster Elite Series
    • June 29: Queen City Kayak Bass Fishing Championship
    • September 26-29: Pan American Kayak Fishing Championship

There are tournaments for all ages and skill levels to keep anglers busy, and plenty of fishing action on the lake throughout the year. For more details, go to Fishing Tournaments – Lake Murray Country

Professional fishing legends, hometown fans and those who follow fishing tournaments gather at these events to see the impressive catches and weigh-ins. Those who are thinking of entering competitions, as well as recreational anglers, can glean insider techniques used by the pros during tournament season. One place to follow the pro tournament circuit, and get tips and knowledge is MajorLeagueFishing.com. Use the search tool to type in “Lake Murray,” and find articles on the winners, strategies, and baits used.

Lake Murray continues to be a world-class fishery with excitement for the pros as well as plenty of quiet coves for a peaceful day on the lake. One lifelong authority is Saluda native Davy Hite, who holds eight Bassmaster victories and an FLW Championship win. Growing up on Lake Murray and fishing with his father and grandfather for “anything that would bite my hook,” he began his tournament affiliation at age 11. He retired from the pro tournament circuit in 2016 to co-host “Bassmaster LIVE” and “The Bassmasters” TV shows. In 2019, he was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

Hite credits his angling success to the diversity and variety of Lake Murray. “The lower end of the lake is deep clear water with a lot of sharper contours. The upper half of the lake formed by the Big and Little Saluda Rivers has expansive flats and usually, the water is fertile and colored. With a variety of vegetation, wood, and rocks for habitat, Lake Murray has always been and will continue to be one of the best fisheries in the country.” Hite notes that “even with multiple fishing tournaments every month, it still continues to pump out great catches.”

To fully experience the camaraderie and excitement of fishing on Lake Murray, Hite and others recommend getting out on the water with an experienced fishing guide. This vast lake is full of coves, varying temperatures, and habitats, and the experts who have been fishing there for many years know its secrets and where to reel in a “big one.” Tournament hopefuls, as well as recreational anglers, will learn insider fishing spots, baits, and techniques used by the winning pros from years of tournaments and their own seasons on the water. Details on fishing guides can be found here.

Unforgettable boating and outdoor recreation

In addition to the pro fishing excitement, visitors will find plenty of ways to explore all of Lake Murray’s 50,000 acres of sparkling waters. Boating Magazine named Lake Murray as one of the “Top 10 Boating Destinations and Places to Live” in the country. Marinas and boat landings are located around the shoreline for boats, pontoons, paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. Beyond the lake are three rivers that offer everything from lazy floats to rapids and serene canoe spots.

Where to stay

Reserve a Lake Murray vacation rental home and rent a boat for a sunset cruise. Or, plan ahead and rent a cozy cabin at Dreher Island State Park–a magical three-island outdoor wonderland that spans 12 miles of Lake Murray’s shore. There are also plenty of traditional hotel lodging options available with a free breakfast. Well-behaved pets are allowed in certain areas and accommodations. View hotels and book accommodations at https://accommodations.lakemurraycountry.com.

To discover more hidden gems, trip ideas, dining, and additional attractions stop by or call the Lake Murray Country Visitors Center located in the historic Lorick Plantation House (2184 North Lake Drive, Columbia, South Carolina 29212; 803-781-5940) Or visit www.LakeMurrayCountry.com.

Journalists: for more downloadable photos and ideas, go to https://www.travelmediapressroom.com/south-carolina/capital-city-lake-murray-south-carolina/