At 100 years old, Lake Wylie has lost little of her charm and charisma. She is just as fresh as ever, with a youthful renewal that shows itself year after year.
The 13,443-acre reservoir straddling the North Carolina and South Carolina borders, endures the popularity that comes with living in the shadow of North Carolina's most populous city. Million-dollar yachts, cruisers, water skiers, jet skiers and a wide array of fishing boats share her waters and at times it resembles a holiday parade.
The popular lake will celebrate its centennial in grand style when it hosts the 34th CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer July 30-Aug. 1.
“I think it will be a good place for a Classic,” said Todd Auten, a veteran CITGO Bassmaster Tour pro of Lake Wylie, S.C. “It’s going to be a little better than High Rock Lake (site of three previous Classics) was. High Rock gets really tough in the hot months, but you can still catch them in the summer deep or shallow.
“I think there will be a lot of limits caught. The lake is full of fish.”
Lawrence Dorsey, local biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, also agrees that Wylie will be a good Classic lake.
“As a Classic lake, I think it will do really well because it’s a large lake and there’s plenty of opportunity to go to different areas and try different things,” he said. “It’s a productive lake. It still produces quality fish even with pretty heavy pressure from anglers. It’s one of the more productive lakes in the region.”
How has Lake Wylie survived both the ravages of time and the enormous fishing and boating pressure it endures?
“Part of the reason is that it has very fertile input into it from the flow of the Catawba River that comes out of the Gaston County area and feeds into the top end of the lake,” he said. “Most of the lake is fed by that arm and it just has a good in flow of nutrients.
“And it’s a fairly shallow lake that has a lot of bass habitat in it. Those two things, I think, probably keep it going as strong as it does.”
Lake Wylie has enjoyed an amazing run when you consider that it was impounded in 1904. Owned and operated by the Duke Power Company, Wylie, one of four hydroelectric lakes on the Catawba River, straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina border.
“It’s not a real big lake, but it’s going to fish pretty good because it’s real long and has a lot of creeks,” Auten said. “So you can get spread out on it pretty easily.
“The Classic fishermen will be able to catch fish a lot of different ways. I look for a deep-diving crankbait, a topwater and a jig to be the three main things. It’s going to take a combination of things to win this Classic. You’re going to have to do it all — get a limit deep and then go shallow and catch some good fish. They stay shallow on that lake a long time.
“The dock bite will be good. In a lot of lakes that you go to it’s hard to catch them off docks anymore (because of fishing pressure). But Wylie seems like it has a dock bite all year long.”
Auten predicts that it will take about 15 pounds a day to win the $200,000 top prize and professional bass fishing’s world championship.
Unlike previous Classic lakes, one type of fishing that will be missing is vegetation. Lake Wylie has somehow resisted the invasion of both native and exotic aquatic grasses that provide good habitat for bass.
Wylie has also somehow escaped the introduction of spotted bass that are plentiful throughout the South. In Classic XXXIV, the 53 contenders will spend three days scouring its waters searching for the 15 biggest largemouth they can find.
Two of the Classic anglers will enjoy a home-lake advantage — Jason Quinn of Lake Wylie, S.C., and Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.
Local Sponsors include the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission, Visit Charlotte, the Auditorium-Coliseum-Convention Center Authority, the Rock Hill Sports and Tourism Council and Time Warner Cable.