AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Summer Fishing Report – Updated July 25
Lake Hartwell water levels have dropped significantly to 656.54 and water temperatures are in the upper 80s. Clarity remains very good.
Bass fishing on Lake Hartwell is in a typical mid-summer pattern, and while fish can be caught Guide Brad Fowler reports that overall the bite is basically slow to fair. Between the heat and dropping water levels the shallow bites have pretty much disappeared, but there are a couple of deep patterns still. Fish can be caught fishing topwater lures offshore over points, and there is also some schooling activity over river channels in the middle of the day. These fish aren’t on anything except for bait schools so the schooling action is basically in the “middle of nowhere.” Additionally, bass can be caught on shakey head worms and drop shot rigs in 18-30 feet of water. They are around points and schools of bait, and brush or timber nearby will sometimes concentrate fish.
Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that air temperatures hit 100 degrees today, and unsurprisingly striper have made their way out of the creeks and down the lake into the main pool. While other anglers have been targeting deeper water Captain Bill’s boat has been catching fish 35-50 feet down along the edges of the main channel.
One of those guides who is fishing deeper is Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011), and Chip reports that for striper there are two primary patterns. Both involve fishing in the lower lake in 60-100 feet of water with down-lined blueback herring. One group of fish is right over trees and will take baits suspended just over the bottom, and another group of fish is right off the bottom in areas with a clean bottom. Equal numbers of fish seem to be in both patterns and schools only a mile or two apart may be doing different things, with one on the bottom and one suspended over trees.
Those are predominantly striped bass patterns, and for hybrids Chip’s boat has been fishing over underwater islands and humps in 30-35 feet of water. The best action for these fish is under cover of darkness, and so one strong pattern is getting on the water around 4:30 and wearing out the hybrids before starting to focus on striper at daylight. Hybrids can be found from the mid-lake where the rivers meet to the lower lake. Overall Chip rates this some of the best striper and hybrid fishing of the year.
Captain Bill’s boat doesn’t target blue catfish (protected in the deep timber) during the summer, but it’s a very good time to catch channel catfish. Fish are in 20-40 feet of water, and since Bill is striper fishing on the shallower side he is catching a decent number of channels as a striper by-catch. With the extreme heat (Bill read 88 on the surface at dawn today) fish have moved out of the backs and scattered out in mid-depth water, and they will eat about anything including cut herring, dip baits, nightcrawlers and more. Flatheads are still available at night.
Overall crappie fishing is slow but Captain Bill reports that a few fish are being caught on deep brush in the 25-30 foot range during the day. At night some fish are being caught tying up under bridges in 15-20 feet of water.
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 659.05 and water temperatures are in the mid-80s. Clarity is very good.
Guide Brad Fowler reports that the “offshore” topwater bass bite is improving, perhaps because water levels are dropping, and they have been catching good fish off points and humps. Spooks, Sebille Magic Swimmers, flukes and more are all working. There are certainly some fish that can be caught in deeper water on drop shots, and there are also some pretty good fish up shallow around bream beds. Early in the morning is better for making these fish eat, but they will hang around the shallows all days. Shakey heads as well as topwater baits like Rebel Pop-Rs will catch fish.
Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that striper are moving down the lake and getting into the main part of creeks; the bulk of the fish are from the mid-lake down to the dam. The best pattern has been fishing down-lines 30-45 feet deep in the morning off points and along the edge of the channel in creeks. There has been a bit of schooling in the afternoon but not much.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that all of the fish he is catching have been in coves off the main lake. He has also found the best action in the 35-45 foot range. His boat is mainly catching fish off downlines but they have picked up some fish on free-lines. A few big striper can be found over deep tree tops in 60-90 feet of water, but this is really more of a July pattern and is just getting started. For now these fish are still only about 30 feet down. There was a little schooling last week but Chip has not seen any in the last three days.
Captain Bill reports that they are still catching good numbers of channel catfish in 12-20 feet of water. He is catching most of his fish on dip baits and a few on cut herring, but they will eat worms, shrimp and most anything else.
Flatheads are doing pretty well at night in 5-25 feet of water, and they aren’t showing a preference for any live bait over another.
While most of the better blues are out in the timber Bill’s boat has caught a few on dip bait while targeting channels. Most of these were in the ½ to 3-pound range, but he did catch one better 12-pound fish.
Bill says a few crappie are being caught at night under bridges and around deep brush in 20-30 feet of water.