AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Winter 2017-18 Fishing Report – Updated February 9
The newest Lake Hartwell fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-hartwell-gasc-spring-2018-fishing-report/
Lake Hartwell water levels are significantly up to 654.24 (full pool is 660.00), while water temperatures are still around 45 degrees. The main lake is still clear but with rising water there is some color in the creeks.
Bass on Lake Hartwell can still be found mixed between deep and shallow water, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that there is still a pretty good deep bite in 30-40 feet of water on drop shots and shakey heads. Besides channels and timber he has also found fish around deep rock.
However, the biggest change is that with rising water levels there is a better bite in the creeks where fish have moved up into the stained water. Fishing a shallow running crankbait is the best bet.
On the striped bass front, Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fishing is still not good – but there are more decent days than there were even a week or two ago. You can catch a few fish, which is better than it was, and with no major cold coming it should only get better. Instead of 1-5 fish in a long day you have a realistic shot at catching 6-12.
The best pattern to catch a big striper continues to be fishing free-lines and planer boards in the back of creeks after the sun has warmed the water, and fish can be found as shallow as over 20 feet of water. For numbers the best bet is still to concentrate on the creek channels and flats with down-lines in about 30-40 feet. Fish could be on the bottom one day and suspended the next.
Birds have been pretty active on bait, which helps anglers locate the fish.
Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that the catfish bite has been really tough, and on his last trip he managed three small catfish.
No new crappie report.
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 652.28 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are from the mid-40s and even down to the low-40s in the backs of some creeks. It’s still very clear.
On the striped bass front, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) report that the fishing is still just really slow. Captain Bill reports that fish seem to be really scattered, and you can catch a few on umbrella rigs as well as jigging spoons. For spoon fishing look for fish in the bottom in 30-40 feet of water, but don’t expect a hot bite. Chip says that in the afternoon when the water warms up you can occasionally get a fish pulling live bait in the backs of creeks.
Crappie and catfish are still very slow, and on his last catfish trip Captain Bill did not get a bite!
No change reported by Guide Brad Fowler on bass.
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 651.40 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are 44-46 on the main lake and in the high 30s/ low 40s at the back of creeks. There is some stained water in the backs.
Overall bass fishing is pretty tough on Lake Hartwell, but in a tournament this weekend several anglers did manage 16-18 pounds bags – although weights dropped off sharply below that. One of those bags belonged to Guide Brad Fowler, who found fish out deep in 30-40 feet of water in channels and timber. He caught the deeper fish on a drop shot, but a jigging spoon will also work.
Brad also went fishing and found fish up a creek at the back of a major creek arm after the sun came out, where he filled out his limit. The water was only in the mid-40s, but he caught the fish in 1-3 feet of water on a small Shad Rap thrown on a spinning rod. He was fishing around some rocks and sticks, but generally there was no major cover. They just wanted to be shallow in the rising, stained water.
On the striped bass front, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) report that the fishing has gotten extremely tough in the very cold conditions. This morning Captain Bill had something happen which has not happened to him before, when his boat froze to his trailer so hard that it lifted the trailer out of the water. He had to back several times to get it to unstick.
Today Captain Bill did not see a boat on the water, partly because of the snow yesterday and partly because the fishing has been so rotten. In a recent striped bass tournament only 30 out of 120 boats weighed a fish, and many of these were just 4 to 6 pounders.
Chip says that it’s not unusual for the bite to turn off when temperatures get into the mid-40s, and that until surface temperatures get back into the 50s he doesn’t expect a lot of improvement. Four inches of snow yesterday was movement in the wrong direction. For now a few, bigger fish can be caught later in the day when temperatures hit their peak. The best way to catch them is to slowly pull free-lines or planer boards in the backs of creeks.
Captain Bill reports that catfish and crappie fishing is also very slow.
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 651.70 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 54 degrees. Clarity is normal.
It’s still a little tough to catch striped and hybrid bass on Lake Hartwell, but Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that there has been some improvement in the bite. Fish are definitely up the rivers, and the most successful pattern has been fishing down-lines in 35-38 feet of water. However, he has also caught some fish pulling free-lines through areas that birds are working.
The best catch, however, has been spotted bass. Out of 31 fish they caught on a recent trip the majority were spotted bass. There are still a lot of spots offshore and they are hungry.
No change on catfish or crappie.
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 651.60 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the mid-50s. Clarity is still pretty good even after last weekend’s snow.
Last week the striped bass on Lake Hartwell were really eating, but this week Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that it seems more like they are interested in napping. The cold front has slowed down the fishing and they are just not eating that well. Fish are definitely up the creeks, and the pattern is still about the same with fish being pursued with free-lines as well as down-lines.
Birds will certainly point the way to schools of bait, and the bait is stacked up in the creeks by the millions. However, even when you find loads of bait right now it doesn’t always mean there are feeding fish around. And just because birds are diving also doesn’t necessarily mean fish are feeding.
Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) also reports a slow striper bite.
On the largemouth bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that dropping temperatures are having a different effect. Even though temperatures are still several degrees above where they should be at this time of year, the snow helped drop the temperature a bit and has grouped up the fish a little tighter. The bite has slightly improved.
The best pattern is still fishing offshore in the main lake in18-20 feet on out to 40 feet with shakey heads, drop shots, and spoons. Fish are close to natural timber and the creek channel.
Captain Bill reports that the channel catfish bite has slowed down with the cold, but blues can still be found in 8-30 feet of water in the creeks. The best numbers are still in 25-30 feet, and drifting in the creeks or around main lake humps is the best way to target them.
Bill reports that crappie remain in a similar pattern, mostly on deep brush in 18-20 feet of water in the creeks. Some fish are also being caught under bridges at night if you don’t mind the cold.
Lake Hartwell water levels are at 652.15 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures range from the upper 50s in the morning to the low 60s in the afternoon. The lake has almost completed the annual fall turnover and is pretty clear.
With afternoon water temperatures still getting into the 60s Guide Brad Fowler reports that Lake Hartwell bass have not gotten into a true late fall/ winter pattern yet. There are still some fish shallow, and he is still seeing some fishing chasing bait on the surface. Again, a small swimbait or other subsurface lure is a better option than a topwater as fish are rolling on bait more than blowing anything up.
Overall, the best bet for getting bites is still to fish offshore in the main lake. Working shakey heads and drop shots in 18-20 feet on out to 40 feet is the best way to catch a bunch of spotted bass, and the better tournament fish seem to be out there too. Early there has been a good spoon bite. The key is fishing close to natural timber and the creek channel. While there are fish in both the creeks and main lake more and more fish seem to be staying on the main lake.
On the striped bass front, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that fishing has definitely improved. Fish can be found all over the lake and they are spread out in the Seneca, Tugaloo and larger creeks. Because fish are scattered free-lining and covering water has been the best bet, although down-lining has also been productive at times. Fish could be in 5-10 feet or out to 40 feet; with a good number of gulls and loons moving in they can help anglers locate the fish. If you locate deeper fish and drop down-lines to them position the bait a couple of feet above the fish – present herring at 37-38 feet for striper at 40 feet, as they would rather go up than down to chase bait. Very little striper schooling activity has been seen, although some spotted bass have been on top.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) also reports that he is finding fish spread out in the creeks and rivers, with lots of fish well up the rivers and some still about mid-way. On warm days there are also good reports in the backs of creeks when the water heats up. He is also catching fish on a mix of free-lines and down-lines, and on days when fish get in the channel he has found some fish 20-25 feet down in 35-60 feet of water. Chip has not seen schooling in three weeks but he is also seeing plenty of gulls.
Catfish continue to feed pretty well, and Captain Bill reports that both channels and blues can be found in 8-30 feet of water in the creeks. However, the greatest concentration of blues can be found in 25-30 feet, and drifting in the creeks or main lake humps is the best way to target them.
Bill reports that crappie remain in a similar pattern, mostly on deep brush in 18-20 feet of water, mostly in the creeks. Some fish are also being caught under bridges at night if you don’t mind the cold.