AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Summer 2017 Fishing Report – Updated August 10
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 652.90 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 84 degrees first thing in the morning. Even though they’ve had a good bit of rain the dry ground has soaked it up and clarity is good.
The striped and hybrid bass bite remains about the same on Lake Hartwell, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that the fish are from about where the Savannah River begins down the lake. A thermocline has set up about 25-30 feet down, and most of the fish are being caught a little below that in 35-45 feet of water. In addition to down-line fishing there has been a little schooling in the mornings, and some fish are also being caught trolling lead core line with about 10-15 colors out. Some fish are also still being picked up on big spoons.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) concurs in his assessment of where the fish are located, and he says it’s not hard to find them by riding the channel until you spot the schools. However, they are biting a little funny and some days they will bite and other days they simply will not – even on days with identical weather. When they do bite there have been some really nice fish, though. Chip is also seeing the same thermocline, and the fish he is catching are 30-50 feet down just below that. He is finding them mostly in 60-150 feet of water.
In bass news, Guide Brad Fowler reports that the same basic summer patterns are still in play – offshore topwater fishing, fishing deep for offshore fish, and running the banks for shallow fish. The lake is down about a foot which has really hurt the shallow bite, and the best action right now is drop-shot fishing offshore. Spotted bass are biting very well on this pattern with just a few largemouth mixed in.
No change on catfish or crappie.
Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 653.43 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 85 degrees even first thing in the morning. Clarity is good.
The striped and hybrid bass bite has slowed down marginally on Lake Hartwell in the heat, but Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that they are still catching very good numbers of fish. The biggest change he has noticed is that striper have moved further down the lake, mostly out of the rivers, and started to suspend over the deep timber. In addition to down-lining live herring they are catching some nice fish dropping big spoons down into the fish and then ripping them up.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) has also noticed a slight summer slow-down in the heat, but more significantly he has seen the big fish going a bit deeper into 40-60 feet. More fish are starting to be on the deeper end of that range as the water warms up. He is finding fish at the mouths of some deep coves and occasionally a little way up the main rivers. Some days they are over clean bottoms, but the next day they could be over trees.
There is occasional schooling very early in the morning but it does not last long.
On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish remain in a pretty typical summer pattern on Lake Hartwell. Recent tournaments have had some good sacks in the 17-18 pound range at the top, and maybe another good bag over 15 pounds, but there is usually a pretty steep drop-off after that.
The patterns and baits are still about the same as described on June 30, including an offshore topwater bite, an offshore deep bite, and a shallow topwater bite. Brad says that if you are looking to catch some good fish it’s really a toss-up whether to fish shallow or deep, and you are just as likely to catch a good one either place. The shallow fish seem to be eating bream and you can throw topwater baits at them all day long.
Captain Bill reports that there is not much change on the catfish bite which remains good, with channels eating about anything in 5-40 feet. Blues are out in the deep timber but you have a shot of catching them in 25-30 feet of water at night. Flatheads can be caught at night on live perch or bream around brush.
There is not much change with the crappie either, and overall the bite remains a little slow. Captain Bill reports that a few have still been caught at night over brush in 18-20 feet of water, and some fish are also still being caught under bridges at night.
Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 653.47 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 82 degrees. Clarity is good.
It would be hard not to give the striped and hybrid bass top billing on Lake Hartwell right now, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that on his worst trip this week they had 38 fish by 9:30! While there are still a few fish in the rivers Bill has found that most of them are moving down the lake, and he is catching them 30-45 feet down off long tapering points.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) is also finding excellent numbers of fish, and while he concurs that there are some fish up the rivers he is also finding more down near the dam. Additionally, up the rivers he notes that you have to deal with voracious, small channel catfish at every depth. He is fishing 40-45 feet down at the mouths of coves, and one day recently he found fish over timber and caught some nice ones and broke off some monsters in the trees. On other days they will be in clean spots. If you fish up the river you need to fish the sides of the river channel, from 32-45 feet deep, and with a thermocline developing up there you need to be aware of whether the bait is staying alive.
Chip reports sporadic schooling – three days ago it was awesome for an hour, the next day he found occasional schooling for about an hour, and yesterday he found none.
On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish are in a pretty typical summer pattern on Lake Hartwell. Out on the points you can find them in their normal range of about 15-25 feet of water, and you can call up some on topwaters like Spooks, Sammies, Sebilles and flukes. You can also catch fish on drop shots and shakey heads in the same areas. The bite is about average for this time of year.
There has also been a shallow bite for bass, and there have been some hungry wolf packs prowling the banks. These fish are not picky and they will eat a variety of baits including flukes, noisy but subtle topwaters like Pop-Rs, Spook Jrs., or smaller buzzbaits. If there is a lot of rain more fish should move into the old growth along the banks.
Captain Bill reports that catfish are pretty voracious right now, with channels eating just about anything in 5-40 feet. He is also catching them while pursuing striper. Blues are out in the deep timber but you have a shot of catching them in 25-30 feet of water at night. Flatheads can be caught at night on live perch or bream around brush.
Overall the crappie bite has been a little slow, but Captain Bill reports that a few have been caught at night over brush in 18-20 feet of water. Some fish are also being caught under bridges at night.
Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 654.06 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures have shot from 76 degrees to around 80 or 81 in just a few days. Clarity is good.
Striped bass action has been very good on Lake Hartwell, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that each trip his boat is catching 20-25 fish. Fish are moving back down the rivers into the mid-lake and lower lake, and he is finding the best numbers of fish 25-30 feet deep off long points. The most action is coming on down-lines, but they have also seen some schooling activity early and late.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) has been targeting big fish instead of catching numbers, and so he is targeting fish that are setting up in timber. They could be around creek channels, ridges, or a variety of other underwater structure. The water is 50-80 feet deep, but with trees topped off 30 feet below the surface of Hartwell (at full pool) he is putting out baits about 23 feet down so that they are just above the trees. You lose a lot of fish this way, but if you can find an opening in the trees you stand a better chance of staying hooked up.
On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that you can catch bass a lot of different ways right now. His tournament partner Brock Taylor won a 50- or 60-boat event with 19 pounds last weekend and caught two big ones off a bream bed – and found one fish still on spawning on a bed! Overall with water levels rising a good number of fish have come up shallow, and there are also plenty of fish in the offshore topwater pattern suspended off long points. Another group of fish can be found drop-shotting around timber and brush.
Captain Bill reports that the catfish bite is very good for channel catfish, and he has been finding the best action in 25-30 feet of water on herring, red worms, night crawlers and dip baits. You can also find fish much shallower.
During the day you can pick up a flathead fishing for striper on herring, but if you really want to target flatheads the best bet is fish live bream or perch at night. Fish could be anywhere on the lake around brush or stick-ups in 5-25 feet of water.
Crappie action has been a little sporadic, but Captain Bill says that fish can be caught at night under the bridges. Additionally, some fish are being caught during the day 15-18 feet down beside and around brush along the edges of creek channels.