AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated October 31 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- October 31 Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 656.00 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are 72-73 degrees on the main lake.  U -- October 31 Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 656.00 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are 72-73 degrees on the main lake.  U Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated October 31

October 31

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 656.00 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are 72-73 degrees on the main lake.  Up the Seneca River it looks like the water has finished turning over, while the main lake has not yet turned over.

The bait and fish are finally really on the move on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that hybrid and striped bass have made their way about halfway back into the creeks.  There are still some fish out on the main lake, but in the very backs there are only very small fish.  That will change as temperatures continue to drop.

The best pattern has been down-lining in 35-40 feet of water close to the bottom, and the greatest concentrations of fish are setting up on main points in the creeks.  If you jump from point to point and give each one about ten to fifteen minutes you should find fish.

There is some schooling activity, but for about the last week it has been limited despite ideal conditions.  It is unclear why.  Accordingly, free-lines aren’t doing much.

Chip Hamilton with a nice striper caught this week

Chip Hamilton with a nice striper caught this week

With persistently warm temperatures it is taking the lake a while to turn over, and since Guide Brad Fowler reports that bass get finicky around the turnover you want to stay ahead of it or get well behind it.  Fish are moving into the creeks and so if you can find areas with good water quality in the creeks fish should be feeding.

There are several different patterns that can produce right now, and up shallow a buzzbait is doing pretty well.  If you can find some colored water a spinnerbait will work, but without much rain that’s hard to find.

Deeper fish can also be caught on a drop shot or shakey head, and there is still some schooling.  However, it has been tailing off in the past couple of weeks.

While fish are not really busting the surface, they can still be pretty high in the water column over 20-25 feet.  This can be a good time for scrounger heads, spy baits and other lures that fish just below the surface but high in the water column.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in about 20 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake.  The big blues are still fairly deep, but as water temperatures drop they will come into the creeks hunting for fresh water as the lake turns over.  They will be caught in 15-50 feet, mostly anchoring with cut bait.

Crappie are moving shallower, and they are stacking up around deep docks with about 15-20 feet of water and some brush.  The best way to fish these docks is with a long rod where you can drop a minnow vertically around the cover.

October 15

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 655.75 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are 76-79 on the main lake.  Visibility remains clear.

The schooling action for hybrid and striped bass on Lake Hartwell is not as good as it was, but Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that there is still some going on early.  However, overall fish have been holding lower in the water column and down-lines fished around points and humps in 35-40 feet of water right on the bottom have been the most effective.  Fish are still in the main lake, but they seem to be just beginning to go up the creeks and rivers.

A good one caught recently with Guide Chip Hamilton

A good one caught recently with Guide Chip Hamilton

With the lake having been pulled hard and the shallow fish highly pressured recently, Guide Brad Fowler reports that he has mainly been bass fishing offshore.  In the afternoon there is good schooling activity, typical for this time of year when afternoon breezes get up and activate the fish.  Most of the schooling is over 15-25 feet of water, but there is also schooling over very deep areas.

When they are not schooling, fish can also be called up with topwater lures, and you can also catch fish with a scrounger head or drop shotting.  Very good numbers can be caught on drop shot rigs.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in about 20 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake.  When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackers mixed in.  Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber, but there are occasional big flatheads being caught at night.

There are no fresh crappie reports, but they should be moving shallower along the edge of the channel where they can be found about 10-12 feet down in 20 feet of water.  Fish will be suspended around brush where there are schools of bait nearby, and minnows or jigs will work.

October 3

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 656.32 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are back in the mid-80s.  Visibility remains clear.

The fishing for hybrid and striped bass on Lake Hartwell remains good, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that until water temperatures drop the pattern is unlikely to change.

Fish are in the same locations where they have been, in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks over 90-175 feet of water.

However, they have started coming up to feed and schooling on the surface regularly.  In a mobile bass boat you can really have fun chasing the fish and picking off a couple each time they start to school.

Chip’s boat is catching about 70% of the fish on free-lines when they let the bait swim down to about 10-12 feet, and 30% are coming on down-lines.  Fish are still holding about 30-40 feet deep but coming up to eat.

It’s still hot on Lake Hartwell, but fresh off third place in last weekend’s BFL FLW angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that the bass are feeding very well on Lake Hartwell.  The lake is fishing more like fall than summer and fish are schooling all over the place.  The suspended bite is really good over brush or cane piles in 15-25 feet of water, but because there is so much deep timber fish could also be over very deep water.  Topwater baits, flukes and swimbaits will all catch fish, and there can also be some good ones caught on drop shot rigs in the same areas.  However, on the drop shot you have to weed through a ton of small fish.

There are still some nice fish shallow that can be caught with buzzbaits on Hartwell, but with water levels dropping that seems to be a fading bite.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake.  When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackers mixed in.  Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber, but there are still some good flatheads being caught at night.

Crappie are moving shallower along the edge of the channel, and they can be found about 10-12 feet down in 20 feet of water.  Fish will be suspended around brush where there are schools of bait nearby, and minnows or jigs will work.

September 19

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 657.37 (660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 83.  Visibility remains clear.

There is finally some good news with the hybrid and striped bass fishing on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fish have turned on in the last few days.  The bite changed around the weekend even before the water temperatures started to drop, so it is unclear exactly what made the difference.

Fish are in the same locations where they have been, in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks over 90-175 feet of water.

However, they have started coming up to feed and schooling on the surface regularly.  In a mobile bass boat you can really have fun chasing the fish and picking off a couple each time they start to school.

Chip’s boat is catching about 70% of the fish on free-lines when they let the bait swim down to about 10-12 feet, and 30% are coming on down-lines.  Fish are still holding about 30-40 feet deep but coming up to eat.

Chip with a nice Hartwell striper

Chip with a nice Hartwell striper

In the two-day BFL tournament this weekend Guide Brad Fowler reports that he made the cut on the strength of a sack of largemouth bass the first day, with most of the fish he caught coming on buzzbaits fished shallow for wolf packs of fish that he could see.  The second day those fish were not cooperative and so he had to move out deep, where he was able to catch all the spotted bass you could want to catch but had trouble finding better ones.  Small fish are easy to catch offshore on topwater lures right now, and they will also take drop shots.

There is still sporadic schooling offshore, including some big fish, but it is hard to know where they will come up.  The bite should get better and more predictable in the coming weeks.

The tournament was won with about 31 pounds for two days, and it seemed that a lot of the better fish were caught shallow.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake.  When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackers mixed in. Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber, but there are still some good flatheads being caught at night.

Crappie reports are still hard to find.

September 9

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 658.05 (660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 83-85 degrees.  Visibility remains clear.

Bass fishing is still more exciting than striper fishing on Hartwell, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that he has seen fish on top all over the place – including some good ones.  While depth changes like humps are the most fishable places to look, some of the biggest fish he has seen have been in random places right over the channel where it would be hard to predict that they will come up.  For the most part fish are on very small bait, and they will be for a little while until it cools and they start feeding on blueback herring again.  That means small topwater plugs, fish head spins and spy baits are good options.

When offshore fish are not schooling they can be hard to call up with topwaters, but a drop shot or suspended bait can still work.  Fish head spins or swimbaits are a good choice for subsurface fish, but again you need something small since they are on little bait.

With lake levels down there may be less fish shallow than usual.  However, Brad has still seen some wolf packs up shallow running bream.

With the heat still punishing hybridand striped bass fishing remains really tough on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fish still just are not biting very well.

They remain in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks.  Fish are mostly suspended 40-60 feet down over 90-175 feet of water.  There are also some hybrids on mid-lake humps in 45-60 feet of water that are holding on the bottom and will sometimes eat herring on a Carolina rig fished just off the bottom right at daylight.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake.  When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackers mixed in.  Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber.

But the catch of the week on Hartwell this week may have been a giant flathead.  The 64-pound beast pictured below was caught on a live bream fished on the bottom in 25 feet of water.

Crappie reports are still hard to find.

A 64-pound flathead caught this week on Lake Hartwell!

A 64-pound flathead caught this week on Lake Hartwell!

September 4

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 658.20 (660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 83 degrees.  Visibility remains clear.

The fishing for hybrid and striped bass has gotten really tough, as Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that the cool front that dropped water temperatures 5 or 6 degrees really turned off the fish. Instead of catching 25-30 fish on a trip catching 5 became a good day.

Fish remain in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks.  Fish are mostly suspended 40-60 feet down over 90-175 feet of water.  There are also some hybrids on mid-lake humps in 45-60 feet of water that are holding on the bottom and will eat herring on a Carolina rig fished just off the bottom right at daylight.

While the striper fishing has taken a nosedive, Chip points out that spotted bass seem relatively unaffected.  They are still schooling all over the shallow humps in 25-35 feet of water as well as around shoal markers, road signs and other depth changes.  Some of the best schooling in areas that go from very deep to less than 25 feet of water quickly.  While many of the schooling fish are small there are still good ones mixed in.

An offshore bass caught with Guide Chip Hamilton

An offshore bass caught with Guide Chip Hamilton

Guide Brad Fowler reports that he is not seeing a lot of change in the bass fishing either, but with lake levels dropped there may be less fish shallow than usual.  He has still seen some wolf packs up shallow running bream, though.  There are still a lot of smaller fish schooling offshore on humps, although at times there are some really good ones.  You just have to hit the right area.

When offshore fish are not schooling they can be hard to call up with topwaters, but a drop shot or suspended bait can still work.  Fish head spins or swimbaits are a good choice, but you need something small since they are on little bait.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are now being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake.  When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackers mixed in.  Fishing for blues and flatheads is very slow and fish seem to be in the timber.

Crappie reports are still hard to find.

August 22

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 658.23 (660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 88 degrees.  Conditions are clear.

The fishing for hybrid and striped bass remains strong, although Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that it is more of a steady bite than a fast one right now.  Fish are almost all in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks.  Fish are mostly suspended 40-60 feet down over 90-175 feet of water.  Fishing is pretty steady throughout the day, although early morning and when they are pulling water can be the best.

A good catch last week with Guide Chip Hamilton

A good catch last week with Guide Chip Hamilton

Chip notes that spotted bass are schooling all over the shallow humps in 25-35 feet of water as well as around shoal markers, road signs and other depth changes.  He has seen some of the best schooling in areas that go from 160 to 22 feet of water quickly.  While many of the schooling fish are small he has caught some 3 pounders.

Outsides of schooling activity, Guide Brad Fowler reports that overall bass fishing is pretty tough right now. He also points out that a lot of the schooling fish are tiny, in the 8-inch range.  With the lake level having dropped about 2 feet there are less fish around the banks and most of the fish have gone deeper.  They will take a drop shot, but Brad has had trouble getting them to come up to eat a topwater.  Overall this is definitely the dog days of summer for bass.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught deep in 25-35 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake.  Fishing for blues and flatheads is very slow.

Crappie reports are almost nonexistent right now.

July 31

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 659.56 (660.00), and surface water temperatures are around 85 at daylight. Conditions are clear.

Hybrid and striped bass remain in a pretty typical summer pattern, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that before daylight there are a lot of hybrids being caught on humps and long points near deep water.  Fish have moved a bit deeper to 35-40 feet of water, and down-lining herring is catching them.

After daylight hybrids and stripers can be found together and they are holding in the bottom third of the rivers down to the dam.  (Only smaller fish are further up the rivers).  Fish are on the edge of the channel and they seem to be most comfortable in 40-50 feet of water.  Sometimes they are suspended at that depth over 60-90 feet of water, and sometimes they are right on the bottom in 45 or 50 feet.  The best bite is early, and after about 10 a.m. all you are getting is a sunburn.

There is no schooling, even though you often do see that this time of year.

A good morning with Guide Chip Hamilton

A good morning with Guide Chip Hamilton

In bass news, possibly because of the cooler conditions Guide Brad Fowler reports there has been some of the best fishing of the summer in shallow water.  They will take a Pop-R, buzzbait, or Senko, and the biggest fish may be shallow right now.

In addition to shallow fish, there is still a good population of bass out on the cane piles and around brush.  These fish can be caught on drop shots, but they will also come up to eat a topwater walking bait.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats have gone deeper and he is catching most of his fish in 25-35 feet of water fishing worms on the bottom. While he has mainly been targeting coves off the main lake, fish are all over the creeks as well.

Crappie reports are still thin but Captain Bill says there have been some fish caught at night around lights and bridges in 18-20 feet of water.

July 19

Lake Hartwell water levels are at exactly full pool (660.00), and water temperatures are in the upper 80s. Conditions are clear.

Hybrid and striped bass have gotten into a pretty typical summer pattern, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that before daylight there are a lot of hybrids being caught on humps and long points near deep water.  Fish are on the bottom in 30-35 feet of water, and down-lining herring is catching them.

After daylight hybrids and stripers can be found together and they are holding in the bottom third of the rivers down to the dam.  (Only smaller fish are further up the rivers).  Fish are on the edge of the channel and they seem to be most comfortable in 40-50 feet of water.  Sometimes they are suspended at that depth over 60-90 feet of water, and sometimes they are right on the bottom in 45 or 50 feet.  The best bite is early, and after about 10 a.m. all you are getting is a sunburn.

There is no schooling, even though you often do see that this time of year.

A good morning earlier this week with Guide Chip Hamilton

A good morning earlier this week with Guide Chip Hamilton

In bass news, in addition to high water levels a strong bream spawn earlier this week has pulled even more fish up shallow.  As a result Guide Brad Fowler reports that if anything the shallow bite has gotten a little stronger this week.  What the bass want to eat depends on the way they are set up around the bream, but they will variously take a Pop-R, buzzbait, or Senko.  The biggest fish may be shallow right now.

In addition to shallow fish, there is still a good population of bass out on the cane piles and around brush.  These fish can be caught on drop shots, but they will also come up to eat a topwater walking bait.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats have gone deeper and he is catching most of his fish in 25-35 feet of water fishing worms on the bottom. While he has mainly been targeting coves off the main lake, fish are all over the creeks as well.

Crappie reports are still thin but Captain Bill says there have been some fish caught at night around lights and bridges in 18-20 feet of water.

June 24

Lake Hartwell water levels remain above full pool at 660.73 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 82-83 degrees.  Conditions are clear.

There’s no change in the pattern for hybrid and striped bass according to Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011), and his boat is still finding very hot action each morning in the coves.

Captain Bill Plumley is also still finding the same excellent bite, but this morning he saw some early signs of fishing moving out of pockets into open water.  They are still in the 30-40 foot depth, and all over the lake.

Two of the fish Captain Bill caught this morning with his grandson

Two of the fish Captain Bill caught this morning with his grandson

With water levels still very high bass are shallower than usual on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Brad Fowler also points out that water temperatures are several degrees below normal for this time of year.  The topwater bite appears to be picking up, and there are also lots of fish starting to chase bait on the surface.

There is no change on the catfish front, and Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel catfish are still spread out in 5-15 feet of water where they will take a variety of baits at anchor.  You can also catch good numbers of fish dragging nightcrawlers in 10-12 feet of water. There have been some blue catfish picked up in about 30 feet of water on live bream before daylight, and flatheads can be caught at night around cover on live baits.

Crappie reports are still thin but Captain Bill says there have been some fish caught around lit docks at night or brush in 18-20 feet of water.

June 21

Lake Hartwell water levels remain above full pool at 660.65 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have rebounded into the low 80s after dropping from the mid-80s to about 77 degrees.

It continues to be an excellent time to catch hybrid and striped bass on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that in the last month or two his boat has only fished past 9:00 a.m. a couple of times.  Fish are still in the mouths of deep coves suspended 35-40 feet down in 40-60 feet of water.  A lot of the fish are over shallow tree tops, but they will also suspend over clean bottoms too.  Fish are all over the lake, in both the Seneca and the Tugaloo as well as around the dam.

A nice striper caught last week with Guide Chip Hamilton

A nice striper caught last week with Guide Chip Hamilton

While you can certainly catch bass on Hartwell fishing offshore with a fluke or drop shot rig, Guide Brad Fowler reports that these are mainly smaller fish right now.  With very high water levels the best fish seem to be up shallow, and there are lots of 2-5 pound fish cruising the banks in small wolf packs.  These fish are looking to eat, particularly on the prolific bream in the shallows, and as long as you don’t spook them they will take a Pop-R, Senko or frog.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel catfish are spread out in 5-15 feet of water where they will take a variety of baits at anchor.  You can also catch good numbers of fish dragging nightcrawlers in 10-12 feet of water.  There have been some blue catfish picked up in about 30 feet of water on live bream before daylight, and flatheads can be caught at night around cover on live baits.

Crappie reports are thin but Captain Bill says there have been some fish caught around lit docks at night or brush in 18-20 feet of water.

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