AHQ INSIDER Clarks Hill (GA/SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated September 21 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- September 21 Clarks Hill water levels are at 326.55 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures remain in the mid-80s.  Water clarity has mostly returned t -- September 21 Clarks Hill water levels are at 326.55 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures remain in the mid-80s.  Water clarity has mostly returned t Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Clarks Hill (GA/SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated September 21

September 21

Clarks Hill water levels are at 326.55 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures remain in the mid-80s.  Water clarity has mostly returned to normal.

Back on the water after the storm, William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that the pattern for striped and hybrid bass has changed very little.  In the morning they are still catching fish in 30-38 feet of water on down-lines fished around humps in the mid- to lower lake.  Some people are pulling umbrella rigs.  There are very occasional fish breaking, but water temperatures will need to cool a bit before schooling activity takes off in earnest.

Just another day on the water with William Sasser Guide Service

Just another day on the water with William Sasser Guide Service

On the bass front, Augusta University fishing team angler Josh Rockefeller reports that the patterns remain about the same since temperatures have not really dropped.  Going back in the creeks and throwing a white and black popping frog in the shallow, dirty water is a good way to catch some quality fish.  There is also a suspended bite and

fishing off humps and points in 10-20 feet of water you can catch a lot of two pounders, and get even more blow-ups, throwing a clear Spook or Pop-R.  The fish seem to be concentrating on smaller bait so they want something more finesse-oriented.

There’s also still not a lot of change with the catfish, and Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the night bite for flatheads, blues and channels is still pretty good.  Anchoring on both main lake points and secondary points is working well, especially points with rocks and boulders present.  The night depth can range from a few feet to as deep as 50 feet.  Live bream are the best way to target flatheads, and cut herring will catch the other species.  It’s a broken record, but daytime fishing will get better once temperatures cool.

August 24

Clarks Hill water levels are at 328.00 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures range from about 83 or 84 up to 90.  Water clarity is normal.

It’s August, but they are still catching bass on Clarks Hill.  Augusta University fishing team angler Josh Rockefeller reports that the action is not fast, but going back in the creeks and throwing a white and black popping frog in the shallow, dirty water they have caught some good ones.  It’s not a lot of bites, but when you do get one it’s usually full-grown.

There has also been a deeper bite, but again Josh is catching these fish on topwaters. Fishing off humps and points in 10-20 feet of water you can catch a lot of two pounders, and get even more blow-ups, throwing a clear Spook or Pop-R.  The fish seem to be concentrating on smaller bait so they want something more finesse-oriented.

Think she wanted the frog?

Think she wanted the frog?

 

Josh Rockefeller shows off a nice one

Josh Rockefeller shows the full fish

Tournament angler Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta is also finding fish on a topwater pattern, and he reports that fishing the shaded banks with a buzzbait is working for him.  Instead of going to the stained backs of creeks he is concentrating on parts of the creeks with some deep water nearby.

Tyler Matthews with a nice buzzbait fish

Tyler Matthews with a nice buzzbait fish

Just as bass can be found deep and shallow, the same can be said for striped and hybrid bassWilliam Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) says that is extremely unusual at this time of year, and they are not sure if it is the result of cooler temperatures, lots of freshwater inflow, or several years of the oxygen lines working.  Fish also have a beautiful color and aren’t washed out like deep summer fish sometimes are.

Whatever the reason, in the morning fish can be found from 15 feet out to 60-70 feet.  The fish are so scattered that you could pull up onto the side of a hump and find fish anywhere in that range, and accordingly electronics are very important.  Start deep and work shallow and eventually you will find fish.  Striper are also distributed over a large portion of the lake, from the 378 bridge to the dam.  Most of the fish are being caught on down-lines, but pulling umbrella rigs up and down the main channel is also working.

After it gets later in the day fish do back off and suspend in the water column along the edges of the channel, usually in 35-60 feet of water.

Some very small fish can be found in the backs of coves, but they are generally in the ¾ pound range.

There’s not a lot of change with the catfish, and Captain Chris Simpson(864-992-2352) reports that the night bite for flatheads is still pretty good.  They are also starting to catch some blues and channels at night, too.  Anchoring on both main lake points and secondary points is working well, especially points with rocks and boulders present.  The night depth can range from a few feet to as deep as 50 feet.  Live bream are the best way to target flatheads, and cut herring will catch the other species.  Daytime fishing will get better once temperatures cool.

August 9

Clarks Hill water levels are at 329.85 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures are in the high 80s and into the 90s.

William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that striped and hybrid bass are in a bit of an unusual pattern this summer.  While they are finally going deep the fish stayed shallower a lot longer than usual, perhaps because of the large bait population, an influx of fresh water, or some other factor.  Unusually there is also a pretty good bite throughout the day, and while the morning and evening bite is still better the daytime bite is not virtually non-existent like in most years.  This could be because of cooler weather late this summer.

Most of the fishing is in the middle to lower lake, or the extreme upper lake.  In areas like the mouth of the Georgia Little River or along the channel they are catching fish in 55-60 feet of water.  About 70% of the time they are on the bottom, but another 30% of the time they will suspend.  Early and late fish will also move up to about 45 feet to feed.

There have been some surprisingly good limits weighed in recent bass tournaments, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that it’s taking 17-19 pounds to win a lot of night tournaments.  Overall the pattern seems to be fishing deep around rock during the day, which is getting pretty scarce at this time of year with all the weed growth.   At night fish are moving up shallow to feed and worms, frogs and buzzbaits are all working.

There isn’t a great pattern for catching catfish during the day, but Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the night bite for flatheads has been pretty good.  There are decent numbers of fish caught in the 15-30 pound range, as well as the occasional bigger one.  Anchoring on both main lake points and secondary points is working well, especially points with rocks and boulders present.  The night depth can range from a few feet to as deep as 25 feet.  Live bream are the best way to target flatheads, and from time to time a large blue cat will not pass up a bream, either. Cut herring is catching smaller blues, channels and even hybrids and striper are in the same areas.

A big night-time flattie caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson

A big night-time flattie caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson

July 13

Clarks Hill water levels are at 328.79 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures are in the high 80s and into the 90s.

Unsurprisingly with the heat, Augusta University fishing team angler Josh Rockefeller reports that some of the best bass fishing is taking place at night right now.  You can throw a big worm around docks, or a frog or buzzbait, and if you can find an area where there is a little bit cooler water and perhaps some fresh water flowing in from a creek there can be an improved bite.

There is also a decent offshore pattern, although it has slowed down from the beginning of the summer. Fish the obvious humps out in front of the dam that are surrounded by deep water and rise to 10-20 feet below the surface, or focus on long, tapering points.  A ¾ ounce Buckeye Lures football mop jig or a deep diving crankbait will work, especially when there is some current.  However, the better fish seem to be coming shallow.

William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that striped and hybrid bass are extremely aggressive from about 5:30 or 6:00 until 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, and they can be caught 45-55 feet deep on the bottom along the edge of the channel or off the side of humps.  After the hot early bite the fishing slows way down but some fish can be caught suspended 35-50 feet deep in 50-70 feet of water.  The best bite is in the mid- to lower lake, or on the extreme upper end. Fish are related to both dams.

A nice Clarks Hill striper caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service

A nice Clarks Hill striper caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service

Crappie have pushed out to 18-22 feet of water, and William Sasser Guide Service reports that they can be caught on the bottom around brush piles on the main lake.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson(864-992-2352) reports that night-time is without a doubt the best time for them, too.  The preferred pattern is still anchoring on humps and points that top out around 10-30 feet with a variety of cut baits, and some bigger fish are showing up now that the spawn is winding down.  There should be more big blues and flatheads caught the closer to fall it gets.

June 20

Clarks Hill water levels are at 328.16 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures are around 86 degrees.

There’s no doubt that the main event on Clarks Hill right now is the striped and hybrid bass fishing, and Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports an excellent bite.  In the mid-lake area he is fishing around humps, points and saddles in 20-40 feet with down-lines. The bigger hybrids and striper are feeding well from about 5 in the morning until about 6:45, and then the smaller fish start to move in and take over.  Sometimes moving out deeper into the 40-60 foot range can get you into the bigger fish again.

William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that as lake levels drop and temperatures heat up fish are starting to move deeper, and fishing in the lower lake off secondary points going into creeks and coves they are catching fish in 30-35 feet. However, it seems like each day the fish are getting two or three feet deeper and very soon they will be in ditches along the edge of the channel in 40-50 feet.  Sometimes they will be right on the bottom, and sometimes they will be suspended in that depth over 60-80 feet.   They are also finding an early morning and evening bite, with the middle of the day slow.

A typical morning's haul on Captain Chris's boat

A typical morning’s haul on Captain Chris’s boat

And a big hybrid

And a big hybrid

Bass fishing has been pretty tough, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that it has only been taking 11-12 pounds to win most tournaments.  Early in the morning there is a surface bite with buzzbaits and other topwater lures such as Gunfish and Whopper Ploppers, but it only lasts for about 30 minutes.  Fishing gets hard after that and you need to look around humps, points and deeper brush. Tyler has been fishing humps that range from 4-5 feet to as deep as 20-25 feet hopping a jig painfully slowly, and almost dead-sticking a big Carolina rig with a ¾ or 1 ounce weight has also worked.  Clean, rocky humps have been preferable, or humps with some good brush on them.

There are also some fish in the 9-15 foot range, but from what Tyler has seen these are mainly 13-14 inch fish.  However, in evening/night tournaments you can get away with fishing shallower in the 9-10 foot range and then the 5-6 foot range once it gets dark.  A solid black buzzbait has been working at night.

On the crappie front, William Sasser Guide Service reports that they have found a very good bite in 17-18 feet around brush that sits in 20-22 feet.  Fish are mid-way down on the brush, and anchoring and then fishing vertically with minnows has been working.

While he has spent more time on hybrids and striper, Captain Chris reports that the catfish bite is also best early morning or late evening.  Anchoring on humps and points that top out around 10-30 feet is the best bet with a variety of cut baits.  For flatheads fish live bream, especially at night.

May 24

Clarks Hill water levels are again just below full pool, after several more days above full, at 329.69 (full pool is 330.00).  Surface temperatures are 76-78 first thing and rising into the low 80s in the afternoon, unless there is a bunch of rain to cool things off.  For the most part the lake is very clear, although there are some stained areas.  There is a little bit of debris from the rain.

The spring bass bite is transitioning into a summer bite, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that there is still a very little bit of herring spawn going on but it is dying off. First thing in the right spot you can catch some fish shallow on a fluke, and if there is some wind it is worth keeping it tied on.

However, Tyler has had better luck fishing deeper in the 6-12 foot range over rocky parts of humps and points.   He has been fishing a Sled with a green pumpkin Speed Craw in clean areas without grass.

There are still a very few late fish on the bed, but the number of fish shallow guarding fry or on beds is dwindling.  However, with the water up in the bushes you can throw a buzzbait or a frog in the shallows during low-light periods.

Augusta University fishing team angler Josh Rockefeller says that fishing has gotten tougher, and as the very tail end of the herring spawn winds down he is seeing the action move out to the main lake – or closer to it off long tapering points at the mouth of creeks.

The offshore bite should be coming on soon, but from what Josh is seeing it hasn’t taken off yet. When there is current being pulled through the lakes it will get hot and for the first couple of weeks before the offshore fish get pressured it should be really good.

On the striped bass front, William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that as the herring spawn wraps up they are almost exclusively finding a down-line bite off the ends of points in 25-30 feet of water. The best bite is at daylight, and after the sun gets up it tapers off until evening.  During the heat of the day the bite can be better in 35-40 feet.  They are doing the majority of their fishing from the mid-lake to the lower end, but the bite is pretty good throughout.  The South Carolina Little River has been very strong.

There has been minimal surface activity.

In the mid-lake area, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the down-line bite has been on fire.  He is fishing similar depths, and in the morning he is fishing humps, points and saddles that top out in around 18-25 feet, and then gradually the fish will move down to 35-40 feet.

Chris is also finding that there is not much feeding taking place after 9:00 a.m., but usually the boat already has a limit by then.  Then in the evening there is also a really good bite taking place in the same areas about an hour before dark as fish head back to the shallower side of humps, points and saddles.  Fish are also being caught in the dark under lights.

Captain Chris reports that catfish have also been pretty active, and anchoring in the same areas as for the striper and spreading cut bait around has been working until about 11 a.m.  At night the fish are in the same areas but as shallow as 5-10 feet. The catch is mostly consisting of 2-12 pound channels and blues, but if you want to increase your chances of tangling with flatheads live bream are the best bet.  Some really big flatheads can be caught at this time of year.

Another good day on the water this week with Captain Chris Simpson

Another good day on the water this week with Captain Chris Simpson

May 11

Clarks Hill water levels are at 329.88 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures are up to the mid-70s and higher in some areas.  Visibility remains good overall.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the fishing is decent for 1-10 pound blues and channels anchoring on humps and points in the 10-25 foot range.  Fan-casting cut herring is working best, but while using bigger pieces of gizzard shad may decrease the number of bites it increases the chances of hooking up with a big blue.  And while you may have to deal with nuisance garfish, fishing live bream in the same areas may entice a big flathead or two.

A big Clarks Hill blue caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson

A big Clarks Hill blue caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson

As reported lots of anglers have been pulling free-lines and planer boards for striped bass, but Captain Chris notes that the last few days of really warm weather have got the gar feeding so aggressively that pulling bait in the mid-lake area is almost impossible.  Chris also reports that plenty of good-sized hybrids and striper up to about 6 pounds are being caught on down-lines in 20-35 feet of water, but anchoring on points and cut bait fishing is catching more quality striper.

May 10

Clarks Hill water levels are finally back below full pool at 329.80 (full pool is 330.00), and main lake water temperatures range from about 73 in the morning to 75 in the afternoon. Visibility is good overall.

The herring spawn is very much underway on Clarks Hill, but as on some other South Carolina herring lakes the bass bite isn’t as good as it can be. Augusta University bass team angler Josh Rockefeller says that there are bass on pretty much every point, but the trick is to find the biting ones.

For now the best bite seems to be on points that are about ¼ to ½ way back in the creeks, and Josh is finding plenty of fish but generally smaller ones on the main lake.  That could change as it gets hotter.  In the creeks the points that stick out the furthest have generally been the best (and most pressured), but there are some jewels that don’t look as good as they are.  Orange clay bottoms with rock are ideal.

Traditional baits likes flukes and Gunfish are hard to beat, and you can also catch fish on a jig in the same areas.

Tournament angler Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta has also found the herring bite a little spotty, although when the wind is blowing everything seems better.  To prove the point that feeding fish aren’t on all the points, Sunday Tyler caught eight fish off one point over the course of the day and none anywhere else.

A 7.90 pound bass won the Oakley Big Bass tournament Sunday, reportedly on a swimbait, and there are also starting to be some fish caught early on buzzbaits.

In striped bass news William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that especially early striper and hybrids are being caught very shallow in 8-15 feet of water chasing herring.  When that bite slows down they can be caught in the same areas but a little bit deeper off the sides of humps, shoals and points.

While some people are fishing planer boards and free-lines, their boats are pretty much sticking to down-lines although you can also throw small jigs first thing.  After the sun gets up then they are moving out to 17-29 feet of water with the down-lines.  The same pattern is going on from one end of the lake to the other, and in all arms of the lake.

Limited crappie reports indicate that fish have are in brush piles in 18-19 feet of water.

April 27

Clarks Hill water levels have risen rapidly to above full pool at 330.29 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures range from the mid- to upper-60s.  The water is pretty dirty with a lot of debris.

For several weeks now it has looked like the herring spawn was getting underway on Clarks Hill, but Augusta University bass team angler Josh Rockefeller and tournament angler Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta both agree that it just hasn’t gotten right yet.  In some areas the herring are up on the points, in some areas the bass are up on the points, but it’s rare for them to have found each other.  When they are together a lot of times the fish have been finicky.   Intermittent cold fronts don’t seem to be helping, fishing pressure at this time of year on Clarks Hill is well known, and now very high water levels add another factor. However, between the calendar and the possibilities it’s hard not to be up on points right now throwing flukes, Gunfish, and swimbaits.  You just need to keep moving until you find the right areas, and know that any time it could bust wide open.

There seem to still be some smaller females and buck bass up on beds, and with a lot of post-spawn females pulled out to points you can catch fish pulling a Carolina rig or jig. In stained water spinnerbaits have been catching fish.  A frog/ buzzbait bite does not seem to have started yet.

Tyler Matthews with a nice one caught on a double willow chartreuse Buckeye spinnerbait

Tyler Matthews with a nice one caught Friday on a double willow chartreuse Buckeye spinnerbait

In striped bass news William Sasser Guide Service (864-333-2000) reports that striper are moving shallow and attempting to spawn.  They can be found along shoals, points and humps and are full of roe.  In the morning the best pattern is down-line fishing very early in 8-25 feet of water, and after that they are moving out to shoals and pulling free-lines and planer boards.  Fish can be found throughout the lake, but they are concentrating their fishing down the lake.  There is also a good bite in the Georgia Little River and below the Russell dam.

Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that he is still catching decent numbers of quality striper pulling planer boards and free-lines across and around secondary humps and points, but the biggest change is that the cut bait bite for fish over 15 pounds has gotten better. They are catching some very nice fish this way.

On the catfish front, Chris reports that the blue catfish bite remains inconsistent for big fish but that overall numbers are picking up. Fish remain scattered from 5 feet down to as deep as 50, with anchoring on ledges the best way to get a big one.  Look for the night bite to get good soon.

Limited crappie reports indicate that post-spawn fish have pulled out to brush piles in 15-20 feet.

April 12

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 327.71 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures range from about 63 in the main channel to the mid-60s in the backs.

The main event on Clarks Hill is finally arriving, and Augusta University bass team angler Josh Rockefeller reports that the herring spawn is getting underway.  This past Saturday fishing the Tommy Shaw Memorial Josh saw bass knocking herring out of the water around a couple of points, but they weren’t everywhere and you needed to find 65-degree water – on the main lake – to locate the fish. If temperatures stay warm then that bite will get even better.

It seemed to Josh that the fish feeding on herring were a mix of pre-spawn and post-spawn bass, and some were females full of eggs while others were clearly laid out.  The best baits were Zoom flukes, 5-inch Zoom paddletail swimbaits fished on Buckeye J-Will heads, and Gunfish 115s and 135s.

As would be expected with pre-spawn and post-spawn fish around, there are plenty of fish on beds right now.  However, Josh says that even though he is seeing a lot of nice 5+ pound fish they don’t seem to be locked on to beds yet and aren’t very committed.   Maybe they will this weekend, but for now the females are hard to catch.

In striped bass news Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that fishing is wide open right now.  In the mornings striper and hybrids can be caught off main lake points on the lower end with down-lines fished on the bottom in about 30-40 feet. Later in the day as the water warms these same fish can be caught on free-lines in the same areas.  Around and after dark there has been an excellent bite out in front of the dam tied up to the cable fishing about 30-40 feet deep.

Farther up the lake, Captain Chris Simpson(864-992-2352) reports that he is catching decent numbers of quality fish pulling planer boards and free-lines across and around secondary humps and points.  He is also catching some good fish pushing 20 pounds anchoring and fishing cut bait as the sun gets up and pushes the fish deeper.

A nice Clarks Hill striper caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson

A nice Clarks Hill striper caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson

William reports that crappie fishing is still extremely good, and although there are some deeper patterns at play across most of the lake fish are still spawning.  They are all over docks with less than 10 feet of water and you can catch them throwing little jigs up shallow.

There is also some tight-lining and long-lining action shallow in the creeks.

On the catfish front, Chris reports that the big blue catfish bite is inconsistent because the fish are scattered from 5 feet down to as deep as 50.  Anchoring in highly-travelled areas like ledges near the mouths of coves or adjacent to large flats is still catching a few, but patience is the name of the game right now.  Look for the night bite to get good soon.

A big blue caught last week with Captain Chris

A big blue caught last week with Captain Chris

March 30

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 327.31 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are back to 60 and above in much of the lake.  The very lower lake is clear while some of the creeks are heavily stained.

It’s finally starting to really happen on Clarks Hill, and Augusta University bass team angler Josh Rockefeller reports that, while it’s not everywhere, in certain places there is already some pretty heavy bedding activity.  There are also a ton of buck bass up shallow in the grass, and it’s hard to go wrong fishing a floating worm or jig in very shallow water.  With the full moon he expects there to be a very strong wave of bedding fish over the next few days.

Fresh off the water this afternoon, Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta reportsthat he found the fish in less than a foot of water in a muddy creek.  They were eating a spinnerbait and a Chatterbait around the bank grass, and he also saw some fish that were already on the bed.  However, it looks like water temperatures need to warm a few more degrees for the spawn to be wide open.  By next weekend pretty much all the fish should be on the bed, heading that way – or done.

Tyler with a nice one caught today

Tyler with a nice one caught today

In striped bass news Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that they are finding an outstanding bite for striper and hybrids fishing 35-40 feet down over 35-50 feet of water off main lake points.  The best area has been the lower lake in front of the dam, and there are a lot of fish being caught right in front of the dam tied up to the cable.  Mornings have been very productive, and there has been a good mix of large and small fish.

On the crappie front, Captain Chris Simpson(864-992-2352) reports that crappie are at all depths.  Some anglers are catching them on the banks, while other anglers are catching them over open water tight-lining and long-lining.  Curly-tail jigs and slider jigs tipped with minnows are both working well, and in the more stained water darker colors have been better.

A nice crappie caught this week with Captain Chris

A nice crappie caught this week with Captain Chris

William’s boats have even found some fish 30 feet deep over 35-40 feet of water, and they have also been catching some spawning fish up against the bank.  The best shallow bite seems to be in the evening.

Chris reports that catfish are still hanging near the ledges of creek runs and off of points near the mouths of creeks in 20-40 feet of water. The bigger blues have been holding really tight to the drop-offs.  Anchoring and using cut herring is the best pattern for 1-10 pound fish, while gizzard shad, white perch and large river herring are the best bet for big fish.

They are still catching the big blue cats with Captain Chris

They are still catching the big blue cats with Captain Chris

March 15

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 326.85 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures have dropped into the mid-50s.  Much of the lake is relatively clear, while some creeks are stained.

After two weeks of cold weather bass fishing on Clarks Hill has changed, but Augusta University bass team angler Josh Rockefeller reports that fish are still biting pretty well – although weights have dropped.  However, instead of being up super shallow they have backed off to the first staging areas and a lot of the fish are now being found around points with rocks.  In clearer areas jerkbaits have been working well, but in the more stained areas he has been having better success with a PB&J Buckeye Lures Football Mop Jig.

Josh notes that he believes that a lot of the bigger fish do spawn on rocky points, and so some of them may not have too far to go.

In striped bass news Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that the fishing is wide open, and in front of the dam and off lower lake points they are catching some really nice fish early and late on free-lines and planer boards.  The same pattern is working in the Parksville area, and in both sections the same fish pull out mid-morning where they can be caught on down-lines in 25-30 feet of water on the bottom off the points.

On the crappie front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that cooler temperatures have stalled their shallow movement.  Big female crappie are staging and suspended in depths of 5-15 feet in the clearer creeks off the main lake depending on the time of day.  Some creeks are still stained and usually the fish in those creeks can be found a little shallower.  Long-lining and tight-lining are both working well.  Curly-tail jigs and slider jigs tipped with minnows are both working well, and in the more stained water darker colors have been better.

Some big Clarks Hill crappie caught with Captain Chris Simpson

Some big Clarks Hill crappie caught with Captain Chris Simpson

Chris reports that catfish of all sizes are hanging around the mouths of creeks, main lake points, and humps at the entrance to creeks in 20-40 feet of water.  The bigger blues have been holding really tight to the ledges in these areas.  Anchoring and using cut herring is the best pattern for 1-10 pound fish, while gizzard shad, white perch and large river herring are the best bet for big fish.

March 2

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 326.36 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures have dropped from the mid-60s back into the upper 50s.  Water conditions were pretty clear before yesterday’s rain in the lower lake, and already stained up the lake and in the backs of creeks.

The up-and-down weather is changing the bass bite on an almost-daily basis, and Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that water temperatures that have dropped 7-8 degrees are keeping the fish from settling into a stable pattern.  Before the cool temperatures came in Tyler saw some fish in the clear water near the dam laying eggs, and he was able to catch a few fish in the lower lake.  However, he found a much better bite in the more stained water up a creek on the Georgia side where fishing in less than three feet of water he wore them out a chartreuse spinnerbait.

After the cooler weather came in, though, those fish backed out to slightly deeper water in the same areas.  Overall it seems that fish have gotten into the backs where they will spawn, and some have already bedded, but as spring fronts roll throw the pattern and depths will change from day to day.

In striped bass news Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that the pattern is virtually unchanged from last week, with nice hybrids in front of the dam about 20 feet down.  They are also still fishing off secondary points in the mid- to lower lake with down-lines 20 feet down over 30 feet of water.  Anglers can also pull free lines with herring or small gizzard shad in the backs of coves in the major creeks to hook a big one.

On the crappie front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that long-lining in the backs of creeks in 5-15 feet of water has been productive, with dark black and blue jigs working best in the stained water.   Some anglers have also had decent success casting jigs up towards the bank in very shallow water, particularly in areas that crappie couldn’t access until water levels came up.

William also reports that in certain areas fish are up shallow and spawning, and his boat is throwing very small hair jigs under a bobber to catch them.

Like the crappie catfish have moved shallower, and Chris reports that most of the big blues are hanging around ledges on humps that top out around 10-20 feet, while some are roaming flats at that depth and others are migrating towards creeks with the shad.  Anchoring has been the best approach.  It is predicted that the cooler temperatures will stall the shallow movement until temperatures stabilize/ warm again.

A monster Clarks Hill blue caught this week on Captain Chris Simpson's boat

A monster Clarks Hill blue caught this week on Captain Chris Simpson’s boat

February 23

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 326.10 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures have shot up to the low 60s on the main lake and the mid-60s in the backs on warm afternoons.  Water conditions are pretty clear on the main lake but stained in some of the creeks.

Augusta University bass team angler Josh Rockefeller has spent a lot of time on Clarks Hill recently, and the biggest change he has found in the last week is that as water levels and temperatures have risen fish have moved from the outer edge of the grass to way back in it.  He is also finding that the best fishing is in the very backs of pockets, with less fish on the points and coves leading back into them.  He has not seen fish spawning, but it’s almost like they are on the beds already from the ways they are hitting and the places they are sitting.

Yesterday Josh found that fish were in no deeper than 1 ½ feet of water, and throwing a Texas-rigged 5 inch swimming fluke on 65-pound braid he caught a bunch of buck bass in the two to two and a half pound range as well as a nice almost six pound pre-spawn female.  Fish are really tight in the grass and on most casts some fish were spooked out of it, possibly including some gizzard shad and other species.

Josh Rockefeller with a nice one caught yesterday

Josh Rockefeller with a nice one caught yesterday

Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures reports that the last time he was out was at the beginning of the week, and that day he found fish that seemed to be getting ready to spawn.  He also found a lot of fish keying on bait and schooling in shallow pockets, and at one point on every cast for five minutes he caught a bass.  He did well with square-billed crankbaits.

In striped bass news Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that more and more 3-5 pound hybrids are showing up in front of the dam about 20 feet down, with the best fishing in the afternoon and late evening.  They are also still fishing off secondary points in the mid- to lower lake with down-lines 20 feet down over 30 feet of water.  Anglers can also pull free lines with herring or small gizzard shad in the backs of coves in the major creeks to hook a big one.

On the crappie front William reports that fish are up very shallow and spawning, and you can catch them on your favorite shallow water technique.  His boat is throwing very small hair jigs under a bobber.

The catfish bite is fair, and Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that with warming temperatures fish are scattered.  Humps that top out around 25-35 feet are becoming most productive.  The best bet is to anchor on these humps for 35-45 minutes and then move on to find more aggressive fish if you don’t get bit; sometimes when you find the sweet spot fish will just keep coming through in feeding waves.  Cut gizzard shad has been the best bait for bigger blues.

On a side note blueback herring have been hard to find since the rain.

February 17

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 325.80 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures shot up yesterday to the mid- to upper-50s – and warmer in some areas.  Visibility on the main lake is pretty good but some of the creeks are very dirty.

Yesterday Augusta University bass team angler Josh Rockefeller spent the day in the South Carolina Little River on Clarks Hill, and in the back of the creeks he found water temperatures pushing 65 and even 66 degrees in the shallows!  He suspects that the inflow of warm rain (as well as the fact that dirty water heats up faster) accounts for these temperatures, and the runoff is certainly accountable for what he describes as muddy conditions with almost no visibility.  A lot of people would have considered it unfishable.

But Josh did find fish in the super muddy water, mostly very shallow in the 1 – 2 ½ foot range.  They were blowing up on 3-inch fingerling herring along the edge of the grass (where the water has come up a couple of feet recently).  With the fish keying on small bait they were a little picky, but he was able to catch a bunch of fish in the 3-4 pound range on spinnerbaits and flukes.

Josh Rockefeller shows off a nice Clarks Hill bass caught yesterday

Josh Rockefeller shows off a nice Clarks Hill bass caught yesterday

February 16

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 325.67 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures range from about 52-54 degrees.  The water is a little stained.

Even before air and water temperatures really started to rise Tyler Matthews with Buckeye Lures reported that bass were shallow, but that trend has only accelerated over the last few days.  The deeper ditches were not producing and so Tyler started looking shallower, and he realized he was onto something when on his first cast at brush in about 3 feet of water he caught a 3-pounder.

Overall Tyler has been finding good numbers of fish over 3 pounds in the backs of creeks, and working his boat parallel to the bank and throwing a square-billed crankbait has been the ticket.  He lets the bait dive 4-5 feet until it makes contact with the grass just above the bottom, then stops and lets it float, then pulls it into the grass again.  Contact with the grass has been key, and sometimes fish have been grouped up in areas where there is some other form of cover in the grass like a stick-up.

In clearer water a shad-colored crankbait has worked best, but in dingier water up the creeks a red crawfish colored bait has been better.

Tyler Matthews shows off a couple of Clarks Hill bass caught last weekend

Tyler Matthews shows off a couple of Clarks Hill bass caught last weekend

In striped bass news Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that the pattern remains relatively unchanged, except for the fact that 2-3 pound hybrids are starting to show up in front of the dam about 20 feet down.  Other than that they are still fishing off secondary points in the mid- to lower lake with down-lines 20 feet down over 30 feet of water.  Anglers can also pull free lines with herring or small gizzard shad in the backs of coves in the major creeks to hook a big one.

Crappie are also moving up, and William reports that more and more fish are getting shallower in the 5-10 foot range and even near the banks.  They Plum Branch area has been good.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the bait and catfish are still deep in the trees on the main lake flats near the river channel.  Anchoring in about 40-50 feet at the mouth of major creeks is still the best pattern.

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