AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Spring 2019 Fishing Report – Updated May 21 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- The newest Lake Hartwell fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-hartwell-gasc-summer-2019-fishing-report/ May 21 -- The newest Lake Hartwell fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-hartwell-gasc-summer-2019-fishing-report/ May 21 Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Spring 2019 Fishing Report – Updated May 21

The newest Lake Hartwell fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-hartwell-gasc-summer-2019-fishing-report/

May 21

Lake Hartwell water levels remain above full pool at 660.79 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s.  Clarity is normal.

May is living up to its reputation as one of the best months to catch hybrid and striped bass on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that they are catching fish all over the lake.  He has caught them in the middle of the Seneca, in the middle of the Tugaloo, where the rivers come together, and at the dam.  It is normal for fish to come off the spawn and be all over the place.

Before daylight and for about an hour after they are catching most of the fish free-lining in the 15-foot range, and after that fish are settling into a 35-45 foot downline pattern off humps, ridges, and in coves.  There has also been some sporadic schooling, usually early.

Guide Chip Hamilton with a happy customer

Guide Chip Hamilton with a happy client first thing

While striper fishing is wide open bass fishing is tough, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that although he and tournament partner Brock Taylor finished second in the Skeeter event this weekend they really had to work to catch the fish.  A lot of very good fishermen had a tough go of it, and even though about 38 pounds won over two days weights dropped off substantially below the top.

Bass are super scattered right now, and they caught fish from 30 plus feet to the bank. You can catch all the small bass you want offshore, but most of the better fish were caught shallow including everything Brad and Brock weighed.  There are still some small bass feeding on the tail end of the herring spawn, but the best fish they caught were around spawning bream.  They also caught a decent one that was guarding fry.  They caught fish on topwaters, shakey heads and drop shots.

Overall fish are not in the usual May places, and the combination of high water levels and a weird moss on the bottom are possible causes.

Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel catfish can be found all over the lake in 5-15 feet of water.  They will eat pretty much any bait including dip baits, cut herring, worms, and crickets.  Blue catfish are hard to target right now as they have headed towards the timber, but flatheads can be caught around brush on live bait.

May 8

Lake Hartwell water levels remain above full pool at 660.96 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the low to mid-70s.  Overall the lake is clear again.

It’s been a really good bite for hybrid and striped bass, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that with the bait spawning fish are being caught shallow first thing on free-lines pulled over 10-15 feet of water.  They are around main lake points, shoals, and old roadbeds, and most areas have at least a few fish while some are loaded up.  After the sun gets up fish pull out to 30-35 feet of in the same areas.

Fish were all the way in the backs but have started to make their way out towards the main lake, and they are being caught in the front of the rivers as well as on the main lake itself.

There has also been a little bit of schooling, mostly really early or late from daylight until 9:30 or from 6:00 to dark.

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that fish are still on a similar pattern for his boat, and each morning they are jumping from point to point and casting out live bait on the bottom.  He is finding fish in 4-5 feet of water, and a lot of spots are mixed in too. Down-lines and free-lines are also catching fish, and they can be found anywhere from about 3-35 feet.

The bass fishing has not been as good as the striper/ hybrids, although Guide Brad Fowler reports that you can catch them about any way you want to fish right now.  However, finding size has been tough.

There are still some fish on beds, and with lots of herring spawning there are fish chasing them on shallow points. However, it is not the wide open topwater bite usually expected at the first of May.  You can also throw a Senko or shakey head around the banks for mostly post-spawn fish.

There is also an offshore bite, and anglers can target suspended fish with topwaters like Spooks or flukes, or fish drop shot rigs around brush for deeper fish.  However, there has not been much size to these fish either.  The post-spawn could be responsible, high water levels may not be helping, or an algae growth on the bottom could be slowing things down.

Captain Bill reports that catfish remain scattered from 3-30 feet.  The best place to fish is still the creeks, but there are also fish on the main lake which will get better and better.  Cut herring or shad on the bottom is picking up blues, and channels are also biting much better.

There continue to be flathead caught on live bait, like this monster caught very early yesterday morning with herring off a point.

On the crappie front, Captain Bill reports that fish have moved out deeper into 15-25 feet of water where they will be suspended in the creek channels and over brush.  You can also catch them at night with minnows around the bridges.

A huge flathead caught yesterday with Captain Bill Plumley

A huge flathead caught yesterday with Captain Bill Plumley

April 25

Lake Hartwell water levels remain above full pool at 661.47 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have rebounded to the upper 60s after dropping into the lower 60s last weekend. After a massive inflow of freshwater the lake came up over two feet in 24 hours and some of the creeks are red muddy.

Fishing for hybrid and striped bass has been very good on Lake Hartwell, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that each morning his boat has been off the water with a full limit by 7:30 or 8:30.  Fish are scattered all over the lake, and the easiest way to catch them is to jump from point to point and put out live bait on the bottom.  It appears that the blueback herring spawn is well underway.  Fish are in 4-5 feet of water, and a lot of spots are mixed in too.  Down-lines and free-lines are also catching fish, and they can be found anywhere from about 3-35 feet.

A couple of good fish caught early with Captain Bill Plumley

A few good fish caught early with Captain Bill Plumley

Guide Brad Fowler reports that the combination of it being late in the spawn and extremely high water levels is making for some strange bass fishing conditions, and there is a little bit of everything going on right now.  With bluebacks up on the points a lot of people are fishing topwaters and flukes for herring fish, but with water levels so high there are also a lot of fish up shallow. There is also the tail end of fish on beds right now.

Buzzbaits and flukes are both working around the flooded brush grass, and soft plastics including shakey heads are also doing well.

Captain Bill reports that catfish are scattered around right now, and they could be anywhere from 3-30 feet.  The best place to fish is currently the creeks, but there are also fish on the main lake.  With the creeks heating up so fast they aren’t likely to be there long, either.  Cut herring or shad on the bottom is picking up blues as well as the occasional channel, and they have been catching some flatheads on herring while down-lining for striper.  You could target them with live bait.

On the crappie front, Captain Bill reports that because it warmed up so fast most of the fish are post-spawn, but not all of them.  The best pattern has been throwing jigs around docks.

April 4

Lake Hartwell water levels remain above full pool at 660.53 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures range from the mid- to upper-50s in the main lake to the low 60s in the backs. Clarity is pretty normal.

Fishing for hybrid and striped bass has gotten very good, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that as water temperatures have hit the low 60s a lot of fish are heading into the backs of rivers. They are also treating major coves off the main lake like creeks and going to the back of them.

The best pattern for catching numbers of fish has been fishing shallow down-lines 25 feet down in the backs of rivers and coves or pulling free-lines in the same areas. Some days fish strongly prefer one, some days the other, and some days they show no preference between free-lines and down-lines.  Some better fish are also being caught on planer boards, but this is not a numbers pattern.

There is also a little bit of schooling early on Hartwell.  For right now it’s typically pods of 2-3 fish early in the morning, but Chip says it will only get better.  They will take free-lines pitched to them or standard topwater lures.

A young angler on Chip Hamilton's boat shows off a healthy Hartwell lineside

A young angler on Chip Hamilton’s boat shows off a healthy Hartwell lineside

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) is on a slightly different pattern, but like Chip he is catching plenty of fish.  First thing in the morning he is pulling up on the bank and casting herring out the back, and most mornings they have a limit by 7:30.  When they have to work harder he is fishing down-lines on the bottom in about 20 feet.  Bill had been concentrating on main lake points until the rivers started to warm this week.

Spring bass fishing is wide open on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish are on the banks and spawning like crazy. Because the spawn is so heavy right now weights have actually dropped a little, and while 17-18 pounds has won recent tournaments it drops off pretty steeply below that.

Most of the fish are in spawning areas or very close-by, and pre-spawn fish can be found sitting at secondary points, guts or ditches leading into spawning pockets.  Anglers can either bed fish or blind cast, and soft plastics such as shakey heads are catching a lot of fish.  If you find some colored water a spinnerbait is working well. Don’t overlook the shoreline bank grass which is holding a lot of bass.

Crappie have been in 18-25 feet of water, but the bucks have moved shallow and the females can not be far behind.  The best bet is to look very shallow in the creeks and fish minnows or jigs 1 ½ feet under a float.

The catfish bite is still slow, although it should be turning on very soon.  Normally by this time Captain Bill reports that he is catching multiple fish over 20 pounds each day, but this late winter and early spring the big ones have been harder to come by.  The combination of rain earlier and high water has apparently not helped.

March 22

Lake Hartwell water levels are still well above full pool at 661.08 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the low to mid-50s.  The main lake is relatively clear while some creeks are still pretty dingy.

Temperatures have not quite gotten warm enough for bass to be close to spawning on Lake Hartwell, but Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish are staging up and getting ready to hit the banks hard.  Fish are in the guts of creeks, channels and ditches, and while there are still fish on the main lake most of them have also moved up to just outside spawning areas – any cove with protection and good habitat in 8-10 feet of water or less. Because they are pulling the lake so hard fish could spawn a little deeper this year.

Crankbaits, blade runners, jerkbaits and anything else you can fish parallel to the channels will work, and when temperatures hit the mid- to upper-50s spinnerbaits should be good. Note that fish will pull up shallower first thing to feed, and then slide out a little deeper but stay in the same areas.

Fishing for hybrid and striped bass is on the verge of getting really good, but for now Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that they are catching pretty good numbers of fish even though it can be a grind. Fish are in similar areas but they have moved up the rivers a bit more, and Chip’s boat is now finding them 10-15 feet down in about 30-35 feet of water.  Fish have moved about halfway back in the creeks but as it gets warmer they will move further back.

Most of the time free-lines are working a little better than down-lines right now.  On some warm afternoons fish will pull up relatively shallow and you can throw a jig or swimbait like a Li’l Fishie at them.

The catfish bite is still very slow, although Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that they have picked up a few big fish. All of the catfish have come in 30-35 feet of water on cut bait, and it appears that the bulk of the fish have not moved up out of the deep timber yet.

Crappie fishing has not changed a whole lot, and it’s still hard work to put half a dozen fish in the boat.  Overall the fish are still pretty deep around brush in the 18-25 foot range.

A hard-to-come-by crappie caught this week on Captain Bill's boat

A hard-to-come-by crappie caught this week on Captain Bill’s boat

March 6

Lake Hartwell water levels are still well above full pool at 661.75 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures now range from the low to mid-50s.  Water clarity ranges from chocolate milk in the backs of some creeks to typically clear on the main lake.

Despite some tough weather conditions catches have been fairly solid, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that on his last trip they managed 16 striped and hybrid bass.  Fish have moved a bit shallower into 25-30 feet of water, but they are still related to points, ridges and humps in the rivers.  With the backs getting very stained some of the fish have pulled out of the creeks, however.  For now they are catching all of their fish on down-lines with small herring or medium minnows, and very small jigging spoons are also still working.

A 12-pounder caught on Captain Bill Plumley's boat

A 12-pounder caught on Captain Bill Plumley’s boat

Late last week and into this past weekend Hartwell bass were moving shallower, and tournament angler Reid McGinn reports that with some warm water temperatures approaching 60 over the weekend up the rivers he found fish moving up shallow into drains and around the weeds that grew up when the lake was down.  The best action was fishing in less than 6 feet of water with spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. Down the lake there was apparently a good bite around docks in the clear water with shakey heads and Senkos.  While Reid does not expect the cold snap to back the fish up very much, it will stall the forward progression.  However, before too long fish should be on the banks spawning.

The catfish bite is still not fast and furious, but there continue to be some really good fish caught.  Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that he has caught several 20-30 pound fish anchoring cut bait in the Seneca River, with all the action coming in 28-35 feet of water.

On the crappie front, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports little new information but the last successful reports came fishing minnows 30-35 feet deep on the bottom in creeks.  Fish are still positioned beside brush but not on top of it.  With cold water temperatures it’s often a soft bite where the fish will barely mouth the bait.

February 22

Lake Hartwell water levels have risen two feet in the last three days to 660.53 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 50 degrees.  The creeks are muddy while the main lake is pretty normal.

It’s been a rotten week or so of weather in the Upstate, where they have had more cold rain than the Midlands and Lowcountry.  As a result Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that the weather has made striped and hybrid bass fishing tough, even as the fish generally remain in the same areas.  Fish are still related to points, ridges and humps in 35-45 feet of water in the rivers, but they are now catching them on the smallest herring they can get or medium minnows.  Very small jigging spoons are also working.

The bass bite remains pretty tough on Hartwell, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that the BFL only took 17 or 18 pounds to win – low for this time of year on Hartwell.  Between water levels, the calendar and the color of the water looking shallow is probably the best pattern, especially since the water is cool but not cold.  Fishing crankbaits and spinnerbaits around shallow rock, wood, or broom straw in the stained areas is a good bet.

Still, there continue to be good numbers of fish deep with water temperatures where they are.  Jigging spoons, drop shots, shakey heads and spoons will all catch fish.

On the crappie front, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that anglers continue to have success fishing minnows 30-35 feet deep on the bottom in creeks.  Fish are still positioned beside brush but not on top of it.  With cold water temperatures it’s often a soft bite and the fish will barely mouth the bait.

While the catfish bite is still not fast and furious, there have been some good fish landed recently.  Captain Bill has caught blues up to 40 pounds anchoring cut bait in the Seneca River, with 30-40 feet of water the prime depth range.

A 39.5 pound blue in a BIG net

A 39.5 pound blue in a BIG net

February 8

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 657.53 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the lower 50s.  The creeks are dingy but the main lake is clear.

Guide Chip Hamilton(864-304-9011) reports that striped and hybrid bass have been biting very well.  He continues to find the fish relating to points, ridges and humps in 35-45 feet of water in the rivers, but in addition to catching them with herring on down-lines they have been having success fishing a jigging spoon in the same areas.  Fishing a jigging spoon while you have herring out increases your chances, and sometimes the jigging spoon will trigger a feeding frenzy with all the baits.

A nice Hartwell striper off Guide Chip Hamilton's boat

A nice Hartwell striper off Guide Chip Hamilton’s boat

On the crappie front, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that anglers have been having success fishing minnows 30-35 feet deep on the bottom in creeks.  Fish are positioned beside brush but not on top of it.  With cold water temperatures it’s often a soft bite and the fish will barely mouth the bait.

Catfish continue to be really difficult to catch.

In bass fishing news, the bite is still pretty tough.  Guide Brad Fowler reports that on the one hand warm weather this week means that there is good reason to look shallow this weekend, but on the other hand they have been pulling the lake down so hard that it may have backed fish out of the shallows.  It’s still worth looking and he suggests fishing crankbaits and spinnerbaits in the stained creeks around rock, wood, or broom straw.

You can also look for deeper fish with drop shots and spoons.

January 23

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 658.34 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the mid- to upper 40s depending on location.  With another round of rain there are some stained areas.

There’s no major change with the striper and hybrids, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that fishing remains a little tough.  There are several patterns, with one being free-lining in the mouths of creeks. You can also free-line or pull umbrella rigs in the clearer water on the main lake, and if you mark fish you can sit on top of them with a jigging spoon.

You can also still fish down-lines, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that he is still finding fish relating to points, ridges and humps in 35-45 feet of water in the rivers. Dropping temperatures could move the fish further up the rivers or make them more lethargic, but so far he finds the bite fairly stable.

A healthy hybrid bass caught this week on Chip Hamilton's boat

A healthy hybrid bass caught this week on Chip Hamilton’s boat

Captain Bill Plumley reports that catfish continue to be really difficult to catch, although the crappie bite remains good.  They are catching fish both trolling and anchoring over brush about 15-20 feet down over 25-30 feet of water.  Both minnows and jigs are working.

On the bass front, the bite is still pretty tough, and it’s only been taking about 13 pounds to win.  Guide Brad Fowler reports that with the water high and getting stained again he continues to look to shallow patterns.  In the muddy creeks there continues to be a shallow bite fishing around rock, wood, or broom straw with crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

In the creeks there isn’t much of a deeper bite, but with the main lake still clear there continues to be a good deep bite in 30-50 feet of water.  With water levels high for Hartwell in the winter a lot of the ditches that bass like to stay in are deeper than their ideal 35-45 foot range, and so more fish remain suspended right now than usual.  Spoons and drop shots are both working for deep fish. Brad advises looking for the birds to help locate fish on the main lake.

January 17

Lake Hartwell water levels are again back below full pool at 659.47 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 49 degrees, warming to the low 50s later in the day. The larger creeks are muddy to dingy, while the main lake is pretty clear.

There’s not a lot of change with the striper and hybrids, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that fishing remains a little tough.  There are several patterns, with one being free-lining in the mouths of creeks. You can also free-line or pull umbrella rigs in the clearer water on the main lake, and if you mark fish you can sit on top of them with a jigging spoon.

You can also still fish down-lines, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fish can still be found relating to points, ridges and humps in 35-45 feet of water in the rivers. This pattern is stable and again yesterday they caught fish on the same technique.

A healthy Hartwell striper caught yesterday with Chip Hamilton

A healthy Hartwell striper caught yesterday with Chip Hamilton

Some striper have also been picked up on cut bait, while Captain Bill reports that catfish continue to be really difficult to catch.

Captain Bill reports that the crappie bite remains good, and they are catching fish both trolling and anchoring over brush about 15-20 feet down over 25-30 feet of water.  Both minnows and jigs are working.

On the bass front, conditions remain atypical on Lake Hartwell with the lake high and dirty.  Guide Brad Fowler reports that in the muddy creeks there continues to be a shallow bite fishing around rock, wood, or broom straw with crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

In the creeks there isn’t much of a deeper bite, but with the main lake still clear there continues to be a good deep bite in 30-50 feet of water.  With water levels high for Hartwell in the winter a lot of the ditches that bass like to stay in are deeper than their ideal 35-45 foot range, and so more fish remain suspended right now than usual.  Spoons and drop shots are both working for deep fish. Brad advises looking for the birds to help locate fish on the main lake.

January 10

Lake Hartwell water levels have just dropped back below full pool at 659.87 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 50 degrees.  Creeks are muddy to blood red in places, while the main lake is pretty normal.

Back on the lake after the holidays, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that striper and hybrids can be caught several different ways.  One pattern is free-lining in the mouths of creeks, as his boat has found that with the rain and dirty water fish have moved out of the backs.  You can also free-line or pull umbrella rigs in the clearer water on the main lake, and if you mark fish you can sit on top of them with a jigging spoon.

You can also still fish down-lines, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fish can still be found relating to points, ridges and humps in 35-45 feet of water in the rivers.

A healthy Lake Hartwell fish caught recently with Guide Chip Hamilton

A healthy Lake Hartwell fish caught recently with Guide Chip Hamilton

Winter bass fishing conditions remain atypical on Lake Hartwell with the lake high and dirty, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that in the muddy creeks there continues to be a shallow bite.  Fishing around rock, wood, or broom straw fishing crankbaits and spinnerbaits has been good.

In the creeks there isn’t much of a deeper bite, but with the main lake still clear there continues to be a good deep bite in 30-50 feet of water.  With water levels high for Hartwell in the winter a lot of the ditches that bass like to stay in are deeper than their ideal 35-45 foot range, and so more fish remain suspended right now than usual.  Spoons and drop shots are both working for deep fish. Brad advises looking for the birds to help locate fish on the main lake.

Captain Bill reports that the crappie bite has been good, and before the latest round of rain they were catching a lot of fish sitting over brush as well as trolling about 15 feet deep in 20-30 feet of water.  With the water getting muddier it’s a good bet that fish will have moved out towards the mouths of the creeks looking for cleaner water.

Catfish have been very difficult to catch in the last few days.

January 2

Lake Hartwell water levels are above full at 661.29 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have dropped to 50 and even below in places.  The backs of creeks are dirty, with the mouths of creeks clearing and the main lake generally pretty normal.

It’s still a good time to catch striped bass including some big ones, but Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that with water temperatures dropping below 50 in places it does make the fishing tougher.  Still, up the rivers he has found some active schools of fish with birds working them.

Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) has been spending some time on Hartwell with his home lake Russell muddy, and just riding and looking he has found a bunch of 2-6 pound fish.  He has caught some of them on Alabama rigs, and some pulling bait. However, Jerry says that they are moving so fast that you generally just catch one or two before they are gone.  Jerry has found fish scattered out over the whole lake from the rivers to the dam.

When he isn’t chasing schools, Chip says that the fish are still relating to points, ridges and humps in 35-45 feet of water in the rivers.  If you sit over the top of these schools and put out some free-lines and down-lines you will pick up fish even when they are not actively feeding on the surface.

A good Hartwell striper caught yesterday

A good Hartwell striper caught yesterday

Winter bass fishing conditions are atypical on Lake Hartwell, with the lake flooded and the water dirtier than usual.  Guide Brad Fowler reports that in the muddy creeks there is a shallow bite, and fishing around rock, wood, or broom straw fishing crankbaits and spinnerbaits has been good.

In the creeks there isn’t much of a deeper bite, but with the main lake still clear there continues to be a good deep bite in 30-50 feet of water.  However, with water levels having gotten even higher for Hartwell in the winter a lot of the ditches that bass like to stay in are deeper than their ideal 35-45 foot range, and so more fish are suspended right now than usual. Spoons and drop shots are both working for deep fish.  Brad advises looking for the birds to help locate fish on the main lake.

December 19

Lake Hartwell water levels are above full at 660.33 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have dropped into lower 50s. The backs of creeks are generally very muddy.

It’s cold, wintry conditions on Lake Hartwell, and as a result it’s no surprise that Guide Brad Fowler reports that there is a good deep bite in 30-50 feet of water.  However, with water levels very high for Hartwell in the winter a lot of the ditches that bass like to stay in are deeper than their ideal 35-45 foot range, and so more fish are suspended right now than usual.  Spoons and drop shots are both working for deep fish.

With water levels very high it’s also unsurprising that there is a shallow bite, and catching a lot of two pounders around the bank is very possible.  In a tournament last Saturday the winning team had about 13 pounds, but 9-10 pound sacks were common and most anglers had a limit.  Fishing around rock, wood, or broom straw fish can be caught on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jigs.  In shallow areas with dirty water the crankbait and spinnerbait have been good.

There are a few different things going on with the striper and hybrids, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that his boat is catching fish pulling umbrella rigs in areas where they see birds.  They are letting out two rigs 80-120 feet behind the boat, and by varying the length of line they are able to fish different depths. They are also catching some fish free-lining across points back in the creeks, and at times fish will be pushing up bait. Because it is so muddy in the very backs they are doing better closer to the mouths of creeks.  Finally, in areas where they find concentrations of fish dropping spoons in 30-40 feet has been productive.

Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) has been approaching the fish a little differently, and his boat is having success fishing down-lines in 35-45 feet of water around points, ridges and humps.  The fish have moved into the creeks, but he is also finding that muddy conditions have kept them out of the very backs.

Both guides report some random schooling activity, particularly late in the afternoon, but you can’t count on it.

Captain Bill reports that crappie have moved out to the mouths of creeks where they can be caught 18-20 feet down over 25-30 feet of water.  You need a minnow on your hook right now.

Captain Bill reports that the catfish bite has gotten very tough with so much rain and muddy water.

November 28

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 659.06 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the mid-50s. The rain has had relatively little effect on water clarity, except that some of the creeks are stained.  However, while the lake is not too dirty it’s been so windy that some areas which are usually clear are more off-color than usual.

Bass fishing is pretty tough on Lake Hartwell, and while Guide Brad Fowler reports that a nice 18-pound sack won a tournament last weekend weights dropped off sharply below that.  And 10-11 pounds has won other recent events.

With some dirty water and the lake at full pool there is definitely a shallow bite, and Brad reports that if you fish around rock, wood, or broom straw fish can be caught on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jigs.  In shallow areas with dirty water the crankbait and spinnerbait have been good.

Some fish are also starting to get deep, too, into places over 30 feet.  Some of them are on the bottom, while others are suspending.  You can fish a drop shot, a jigging spoon, shakey head or drag a jig in these areas.

On the striped bass front Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports very little change, with fish continuing to get further back in the creeks.

The best catches have still come 35-45 feet deep around points and humps in areas with bait. Dropping down-lines has been the best pattern, but when fish come up to the surface then pitching a free-line is almost a certain way to get bit.  There has been some spotty schooling activity, but most of that is taking place in the afternoon right now.

Overall fishing remains good and they continue to be able to catch a solid 25-35 fish on each trip.

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) is fishing a similar pattern, but he points out that with a lot of birds having arrived that is the best way to locate the fish.

A nice striper caught this week with Chip Hamilton

A healthy striper caught this week with Chip Hamilton

The blue catfish bite is improving, and Captain Bill reports that they are starting to move out of the deep timber and into the creeks in 30-40 feet of water where they will eat cut shad.  There are also still plenty of channels to be caught in 25-35 feet on cut herring.

Crappie remain in the creek channels in 25-30 feet of water, and Captain Bill reports that they have moved deeper and are now suspending in the 18-25 foot range.  Fish are following the creek channels and will be there regardless, but if you can find areas with some brush that is ideal.

November 14

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 658.97 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the lower 60s.

The cold rain over the last few days will undoubtedly affect the bass fishing, but Guide Brad Fowler reports that for a little while now it’s been easy to catch a lot of small fish offshore on drop shots rigs and the like.  However, to get a decent bite you’ve had to do something different.

The better fish have come shallow on spinnerbaits or crankbaits, and before the cold snap you could also catch some fish on a Spook.  However, now that it has gotten cold it will be very difficult to bring fish to the surface and so fish head spins and blade runners will work better for fish chasing bait.  There have also been some good fish caught on soft plastics and jigs fished around cover.

On the striped bass front Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fish have made their annual fall migration into the creeks.  They started late this year, and so at this point they have made it about halfway back.

The best catches have come 35-45 feet deep around points and humps in areas with bait.  Dropping down-lines has been the best pattern, but when fish come up to the surface then pitching a free-line is almost a certain way to get bit.  There has been some spotty schooling activity.

Overall fishing is good and they have been able to catch a solid 25-35 fish on each trip.

A long skinny one caught this week with Chip Hamilton

A long skinny one caught this week with Chip Hamilton

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) has been concentrating on the mid-lake area with 30-40 feet, and he has also seen some schooling activity.  His boat is fishing a mix of free-lines and down-lines.

The blue catfish bite should be right around the corner, but for now the fish are still out in deeper, often unfishable areas.  However, Captain Bill reports that there are plenty of channels to be caught in 25-35 feet on cut herring.  There have also been some nice flatheads caught recently.

Crappie are in the creek channels in 25-30 feet of water, and Captain Bill reports that anglers have been catching them fishing 10-15 feet deep.

October 19

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 658.55 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the mid to upper-70s.

Now that Hartwell water temperatures have started to drop Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that a fall pattern is kicking in.  You can pretty much pick the area of the lake you want to fish, as there are still a lot of striper and hybrids in the big water but they have also started their migration up both the Seneca and Tugaloo rivers.  Fish aren’t yet in the backs of creeks, however.

Pretty much every day for the last week and a half there has been schooling activity.  Some days it is spotty, while other days it is constant.  There is no clear pattern to when the fish are on top.  When fish are not on the surface then fishing down-lines 30-40 feet deep over 40-130 feet of water is the best pattern.  Fish will be around main lake points or ridges, and when they are not there they will be out in the channel or on the edge of the creek or river channel.

Chip Hamilton shows off a nice one

Chip Hamilton shows off a nice one

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) has also found schooling activity in the mid-lake as well as the lower lake, and for him the peak depth range has been 40-85 feet.  He is finding fish over humps mid-lake or on the lower end.

On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler is at the tail end of an off-limits period before a championship tournament.  However, at this time of year he would look for a topwater bite at the mouths of major creeks where fish will be chasing small bait.  Also, now that water temperatures have finally dropped below 80 degrees there should be an improving buzzbait and Pop-R bite shallow around the banks.

Captain Bill reports that the channel catfish bite remains good on a variety of baits in 25-30 feet of water.

September 18

Lake Hartwell water levels are above full at 661.06 (full pool is 660.00), and even though water temperatures dropped a few degrees around the storm they are expected to quickly rebound to 84-85 with the hot weather.

It’s a tough bass bite on Lake Hartwell, and in the recent two-day BFL it only took about 23 pounds total for the win.  However, Guide Brad Fowler says that some good things are just starting to happen and schooling activity is picking up on the lake.  A lot of fish are out suspended in open water keying on very small bait, and to target them you need to fish something very small like a tiny Blade Runner or a 1/8 ounce bait.

Of course you can still catch a bunch of small fish on drop shots fished around offshore brush.

There has also been some very late bream bedding activity on local lakes which opens up a shallow bite, and Brad says that he has seen 3 or 4 pound spotted bass sitting off bream beds at local boat ramps.  He has seen bream bedding into August but September was new to him.

Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that water temperatures are several degrees warmer than typical for the time of year, and as a result striped and hybrid bass are still in a deep pattern.  His boat is chiefly catching fish early and late down near the dam and at the mouth of creeks.  One group of fish is flat on the bottom over humps in about the 60 foot range, although that bite has slowed a bit lately.  The better action is fishing 40-60 feet down for fish suspended over very deep water in the 100 plus range.  The oxygen levels aren’t great below about 40 feet and so fishing at the shallower end of that range has been better until the fish get really activated.

Some early schooling activity is just starting but temperatures really need to drop for it to take off.

A couple of late summer fish caught with Chip Hamilton

A couple of late summer fish caught with Chip Hamilton

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that he has found a better bite at night than during the day, and he has also started to see some smaller fish schooling around the dam in the afternoon.  Fish are moving around a lot but he has had the best success starting out looking along the river channel.

The catfish bite remains good for channels in 15-25 feet in the evenings, and Captain Bill suggests nightcrawlers, cut herring and dip baits.

Anglers who want to target flatheads should fish off main lake points and around islands and shoals in 15-35 feet at night with live bait on the bottom.

Crappie fishing is slow but the best pattern is to fish in 25-30 feet of water around standing timber or brush at the mouth of creeks.

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