AHQ INSIDER Clarks Hill (GA/SC) Winter Fishing Report – Updated February 20
Clarks Hill water levels are at 319.96 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures are in the high-50s to low-60s.
Water temperatures are so warm that the bass aren’t doing what they are usually doing at this time of year on Clarks Hill, but they are definitely biting. Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that fish have already moved into essentially the type of places they will be when they spawn, and on recent trips everything they have caught has been in 1 ½ to 5 feet of water. The fish have been in the very backs of pockets and creeks – nowhere close to deep water or the main lake. Fishing hard around deep structure has produced very little.
The bass seem to be highly related to rock, and pretty much every cast around shallow rock has the potential to get a bite. Fish are also around downed trees in 2 ½ to 3 feet of water. They are biting well on square-billed crankbaits, and flipping a jig around trees has led to some nice bites (like the fish pictured below, caught on the soon-to-be-released Buckeye “Balling Out” Jig).
On the striped and hybrid bass front Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that hybrids are already out in front of the dam, and mainly in the evening and at night fish can be caught in 20-40 feet of water on down-lines. Striper can also be caught on the bottom at the mouth of pretty much all of the major creeks from the mid-lake to the dam. 40 feet is the magic depth. White perch are holding in the same areas as the striper and hybrids but just a little deeper, in about 50 feet of water on the bottom.
William’s boat is still catching crappie around brush in the very backs, but there are also a lot of fish already up staging and get very close to spawning. They are generally in 8-10 feet of water.
Clarks Hill water levels are at 320.00 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures are in the high 50s.
Water temperatures remain unseasonably warm, and perhaps as a result of this Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that bass don’t seem to have really gotten into the ditches they are known for inhabiting during the winter. The best pattern for catching numbers of fish seems to be targeting areas with rocks, as most of the typical structure that anglers like to fish is dry with water levels so low. Moving down the banks and fishing areas with emergent rocks with a jig or the The Sled is a good bet. There seem to be a lot of fish in the 10-12 foot range, and with the fish still in a winter mode it seems to make a big difference to drag the jig instead of hopping it.
Additionally, there are some fish up very shallow chasing shad in only a foot or two of water – particularly on warm days. These fish can be caught on a shallow running jerkbait.
Isolated reports indicate that some fish are being caught on a jigging blade or rattle trap in the grass. If the water temperatures drop fish should start to move into the ditches, but which way temperatures go is anybody’s guess.
On the striped bass front Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that striper are starting to make their way down the lake. Should the warm temperatures continue, it should be within a week or so that fish make it all the way back down to the dam and anglers catch them cut bait fishing.
For now William has found the best success for big striper pulling free lines and planer boards very early in the day in the backs of mid-lake creeks. The best pattern for catching numbers of good 5-10 pound striper as well as big hybrids bas been fishing 40 feet down on the bottom at the mouth of creeks. The best action has been around the 378 bridge in the mid-lake. White perch are mixed in with the striper and hybrids in 40 feet of water on the bottom.
There is very little change in the crappie pattern, and in the backs of creeks they are catching fish with minnows about 15 feet down over brush in about 30 feet of water. If temperatures stay where they are fish could be on the banks in a matter of days, if they are not already.
Clarks Hill water levels are down to 319.18 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are in the low to mid-60s.
Water temperatures are unseasonably warm for the end of the year, and perhaps as a result of this Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that bass fishing on Clarks Hill is almost like spring fishing. Bass are shallow in the backs of pockets and along the banks, and throwing a small square-billed crankbait you can get all the action you want from one to three pound fish in 4-5 feet of water. Both crawfish and shad-colored crankbaits are working.
There have also been some very good bags caught in recent tournaments, and in one winter event a 22-pound bag did not get a check! There have been reports that some of these big fish have been caught flipping deep docks that have some brush, and 5/8 ounce brown Mop Jigs have been selling very fast.
On the striped bass front Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that very little has changed, but the bite is “awesome.” Fish should be migrating up the lake, but there are still a lot of fish in the mid-lake. Striper and hybrids are being caught on the bottom in 30-40 feet of water at the mouths of tributaries up the Georgia Little River and the Savannah River in areas like Shriver Creek. The only significant difference in the striper bite is that the presence of birds will now point out the areas that striper are holding, even though there is not surface schooling activity going on.
The crappie pattern remains relatively unchanged, and they are catching some impressive numbers of solid fish. William’s boat is still catching nice one-pound plus fish in the backs of tributaries fishing 15-20 feet deep in 25-30 feet of water. Fishing around brush next to the creek channel has been key, and minnows have been catching fish.