AHQ INSIDER Lake Russell (GA/SC) Spring 2018 Fishing Report – Updated May 23
The newest Lake Russell fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-russell-gasc-summer-2019-fishing-report/
Lake Russell water levels are very full at around 474.8 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are about 80 degrees but rising into the mid- to high 80s in the afternoon. The lake is very clear.
The bass fishing is getting tougher on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that fish are starting to set up on ledges and humps in deep water. Already they are in 20-25 feet, and soon they will be as deep as 40 feet. On top of the humps you can catch fish on big crankbaits, and drop shot rigs are also a good way to fish the humps. Live bait is hard to beat if you are not tournament fishing.
If you just want to get your line pulled, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports
that there are still lots of 12-13 inch bass around the banks, particularly shaded ones. They will take small swimbaits and topwaters.
Wendell’s boat is also catching some better fish off the sides of points in 12-20 feet of water with Carolina rigs and Spot Removers.
Wendell reports that striped bass and hybrids are being caught early in the middle and lower lake on free-lined herring pulled across main lake points. Pulling bait near the surface over 15-30 feet has been the best pattern, and soon fish will group up on both ends of the lake.
It’s not as good as the springtime bite, but Wendell’s boat has been catching crappie on shallow brush in the 12-15 foot range in the creeks. Fish have been 7-8 feet down, and jigs and minnows have both been working well.
It’s only going to get better, but Jerry reports that catfish are biting well on cut herring. Fish are biting well in both the creeks and the main channel, but right now the key is fishing in 5-10 feet.
Lake Russell water levels are above full pool at 475.26 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are in the mid-70s. Most of the lake is clear with only a mild stain in some creeks.
The bass fishing is good on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the fish he is catching are related to both points and pockets. While the bass spawn is basically over the herring are spawning periodically, and throwing to points in 5-6 feet of water you can catch fish on topwaters or worms. You can also fish a floating worm or buzzbaits around the banks in pockets.
It seems to Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) that we are about in the middle of the herring spawn, and perhaps because of that he says that the shallow spotted bass fishing is wide open. Both males and females are around the bank on the main lake about as shallow as they ever come, and going down the bank and throwing a Gulp! swimming mullet on a 1/8 ounce jighead into 4-6 feet of water has been a really good pattern. Even though it’s thought of as a saltwater bait the spots have been tearing it up.
Early in the morning Wendell is also finding a very good bite for largemouth off shallow points with topwaters.
The striped bass and hybrids are also feeding around the banks and off points, and they will take the same swimbaits as well as free-lined live herring. However, Wendell reports that they have mainly been catching smaller fish up to about 5 pounds and so he worries that the population is way down due to gill maggots.
Crappie fishing has been good, and they are ganged up on shallow brush in 10-15 feet of water in the creeks. Wendell’s boat is fishing about halfway down the water column with minnows and jigs both working about the same.
It’s getting to be a really good time for catfish on Lake Russell, and Jerry suggests going into the backs of coves and pockets and fishing cut herring on the bottom. Aim for about 8-10 feet of water. It will not be very long before the fish are spawning.
Lake Russell water levels are around 474.1 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have spiked into the upper 60s. The lake is getting very clear although the backs are still a little stained.
The bass are spawning hard on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that – even though it’s hard to actually see the beds with a light stain to the water – they are all over the banks. His boat has been fishing 1-3 feet of water in the backs of creeks and catching lots of 2+ pound fish. There are probably still some fish out on main lake points, but throwing a buzzbait or Texas rig in the backs the action is so good that he has not fished anywhere else.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has been fishing a similar pattern, and he has found the bass willing to eat just about any fast moving bait. He’s been having a lot of luck retrieving a jerkbait quickly. While the bass are definitely spawning Wendell has not seen any signs of a herring spawn yet, although it cannot be far off.
Like the bass, crappie are all over the banks on Lake Russell. Some of the fish have already spawned, while some have not. Jerry has found the most catchable fish in 1-3 feet of water, as the post-spawn fish that have pulled back out to brush usually don’t feed for a period after spawning.
In addition to casting jigs in shallow pockets, Wendell’s boat has caught fish trolling 1/32 ounce jigs in about 6-8 feet of water just outside spawning areas. From what he has seen the best females are on the banks right now.
There is not a lot of change in the striped bass pattern on Lake Russell, and Wendell reports that fish still seem to be in all of the creeks and scattered from the north end to the south of the lake. The best pattern remains to cover a lot of water and pull herring on free-lines and planer boards across as many shallow points as possible. Most of the fish they have caught have come in 4-5 feet of water. Fishing shallow points is likely to remain the best pattern for some time as when the herring begin spawning that will keep the bass in the same areas.
Lake Russell water levels are around 474.3 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are in the low 60s. The backs are stained but the main lake is clear.
The bass spawn is underway on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that each day there are more fish on the beds. With the cool weather earlier this week he caught a lot of fish in 15-20 feet of water on brush piles with drop shot rigs, but as it has gotten warm again more and more fish are in less than 5 feet of water where they will take spinnerbaits and crankbaits.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also finding a lot of fish near the banks, and even though two days ago there were only a few fish bedding more come up each day. In addition to soft plastic, crankbaits, small swimbaits, and jerkbaits will all work. Even as it has gotten warm again there are still decent numbers of fish out in 18 feet, proving that not all the bass come shallow at once.
There have been some excellent crappie catches over the past week, and Jerry’s boat in one day caught five over 2 pounds and one over 3 pounds. From what he has seen there is a mix of fish that have and have not spawned.
Wendell agrees and thinks more fish are spawning or about to spawn than have already spawned, and from what he has seen the best numbers of fish can be caught with a minnow 3 feet under a bobber fished around the bank. They are either in their spawning areas or very close to them. The bite dropped off at the last cold front but is picking up again as things stabilize.
The striped bass population on Lake Russell seems to be as healthy as it has been in a long time, and Wendell reports that fish seem to be in all of the creeks and scattered from the north end to the south of the lake. The best pattern is to cover a lot of water and pull herring on free-lines and planer boards across as many shallow points as possible. Most of the fish they have caught have come in 4-5 feet of water.
Lake Russell water levels are around 474.6 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures range from about 55 to 60 in the warmest pockets. The main lake is extremely clear because they are letting so much water out of the Hartwell dam, while the backs of creeks are muddy. Halfway backs in the creeks it is a very fishable dingy.
Bass are definitely moving shallower on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that he is now finding a lot of fish in the 10-12 foot range on points. The fish are prespawn and full of eggs, and they are eating both shakey heads and drop shots. Live bait is also working very well.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) concurs that fish are heading towards the banks, and he has noticed a sharp decline in the number of fish that can be caught in 18-25 feet in the creeks. He is concentrating on the creeks because about halfway back there is a good, fishable tint to the water. At the same time he is not catching fish super shallow yet, and 5-10 feet off the sides of points has been the best depth range for him. Small, medium running crankbaits have been working well.
In the main lake, where the water is clear, he suggests fishing deeper with a drop shot or Spot Romover in 15-20 feet on points.
Catches of crappie have been pretty good, and Wendell reports that fish are staging but getting close to spawning. The big females are generally pretty full of eggs. While a few fish can be caught around the banks in the creeks, the best way to target them is trolling jigs 6-7 feet down in 12-20 feet of water in the creeks.
The creeks are also holding a lot of striped bass and hybrids, and Wendell reports that they are biting both herring (which are easier to get than a few weeks ago) and medium minnows. Fish are holding in deep water but coming up to the surface to feed, and free lining bait or pulling big minnows on jigheads behind the boat is working. They are also catching some striper on minnows fished on a drop shot rig.
Lake Russell water levels are right around full pool (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have dropped about 8 degrees to 50-53 degrees in the last week. Despite all the rain the color is still pretty good and the main lake is very clear.
Unstable weather conditions have fish dispersed, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that as a result of temperatures getting warm then cold again bass can be found both shallow and deep on Lake Russell. Fish can still be caught shallow on a square-billed crankbait or a spinnerbait in the creeks, and there are also fish in 20-25 feet of water and even some in 30-40.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) agrees and reports that most of the bait seems to be deep on Lake Russell, while the shallower fish are certainly shallower than the bait. Shallow he is also using crankbaits and spinnerbaits, while in 20-25 feet of water he is catching fish on a drop shot.
Due to a bait shortage Wendell reports that minnows have been about the only bait they can get, and so they are pulling free-lines with the biggest minnows they can get their hands on for striped bass and hybrids. The best area to fish has been the mid-lake creeks about half-way back, and around 30 feet has been the best depth range. When fish are seen swirling or rolling they are throwing Alabama rigs at them.
It is worth noting that the fish are on tiny threadfin shad, and when they catch striper they will cough them up.
Crappie are staging a bit, and trolling curly tail grubs on 1/16th ounce jigheads in 25-30 feet of water in the creeks Wendell’s boat has been catching fish. Some of the fish are near the bottom, while others are suspended about halfway down. On warmer days Jerry has caught a few crappie shallow in pockets with about 3 feet of water.
Lake Russell water levels are around 474.75 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are in the upper 50s. The main lake is pretty clear but the backs are stained.
This week Lake Russell bass fishing has not looked much like it has for the past month or more, and after the cold snap this weekend next week may not look a lot like this week. But for now Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that fish are very shallow, and he has been catching largemouth and spots in 2-3 feet of water on Carolina rigs, jigs and spinnerbaits. The backs of creeks have seen a lot of largemouth caught. Jerry notes that a few fish can still be caught deeper on drop shots in 20-25 feet of water, and more fish should be out there again next week.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has also found good action relatively shallow, and on shallow points they have been catching fish on worms. Off the sides of points in 8-12 feet of water they have been catching fish on shakey heads, and then in 10-20 feet a drop shot rig has been working.
Wendell reports that in the mid-lake area they have been catching striped bass and hybrids that are suspended about 20-30 feet down over timber in 50-60 feet of water. Free lines with herring and medium shiners, as well as Alabama rigs, are catching fish.
Crappie are on the move and staging up with the warm temperatures, and for most of the week they have been suspended about 6-8 feet down in the backs of creeks in about 20 feet of water. Long-line trolling with jigs has been working well for fish suspended high in the water column. Jerry thinks that by today there could even be some crappie on the banks, although the cold should push them deeper soon.
Lake Russell water levels are right around full pool (475.00) and water temperatures range from about 48-50. The backs of creeks are stained, with the front of creeks less stained, and the extreme lower lake is fairly clear.
Winter bass fishing on Lake Russell has been pretty good this week, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that his boat is catching fish in 30-57 feet of water with a jigging spoon and drop shot rig. They are mainly focusing on the main lake and mouth of creeks. Some fish are on the bottom and some are suspended.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is still finding a mixed bag of species in about 38 feet of water, but this week they have mainly caught spotted bass and yellow perch.
It’s been a good week for striped bass and hybrids on Lake Russell, and Jerry’s boat has been catching them with a jigging spoon as well as on Alabama rigs in the same areas where he is bass fishing. The best fishing is coming on the lower end of the lake, and the birds are not really helping point to the fish right now. Jerry has seen some fish swirling on the surface and is having success casting to them.
Anglers can also pull free lines in the same areas.
Lake Russell water levels have dropped a little below full pool to about 474.75 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are down to about 51 degrees. As the lake has come down it is clearing, and the floating logs and other debris are gone. Although the main lower lake is not quite clear conditions are more normal, with the creeks more stained and the main lake clearing the closer you get to the dam.
Winter bass fishing patterns are also normalizing on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that already he has started to catch fish deeper in as much as 50 feet of water. They are starting to get closer to the bottom, and he is optimistic that this next blast of cold air will put fish into even more of a traditional, deep winter pattern. Fishing drop shot rigs on the main lake has been the best bet.
They are also catching some fish throwing a shakey head worm around points.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is still finding a mixed bag of species in about 38 feet of water, including schools of spotted bass, yellow perch, white perch, and the occasional crappie and hybrid bass. He is still targeting them with minnows on a drop shot rig, concentrating more on the creeks.
Striped bass have moved a little deeper in the last week, and the best pattern is looking for birds and then casting Alabama rigs although pulling herring will also work. Fish can be off the banks out to 40 or more feet of water.
Lake Russell water levels are right at full pool (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is even dirtier than last week. The main lake continues to be muddier than the creeks, and the lower end continues to be dirtier than the upper end, since so much water is getting pulled down the lake. There are trash and logs floating everywhere and lake can be perilous to run. Water temperatures range from the upper 40s to lower 50s.
More and more dirty water continues to flow into Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that his boat continues to plug along and catch fish in 25-30 feet of water on drop shots. In addition to being shallower than typically in winter, fish remain more scattered than usual and some are still suspended.
Jerry also reports that there continues to be bait in the backs of pockets, and in certain areas throwing a square-billed crankbait or spinnerbait around the banks will catch fish. They are also catching some fish throwing a shakey head worm around points.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also finding the bait and the predator fish far more scattered than usual, but in the last week he has found a slightly deeper bite. Maybe the fish are getting used to the mud, but he has started locating some schools of spotted bass and yellow perch in a more typical winter depth of around 38 feet. He is doing this in the clearest areas of the creeks and targeting them with minnows on a drop shot rig.
Wendell is also finding a relatively shallow bite off points in 12-15 feet of water fishing a Carolina rig or shakey head worm.
Striped bass remain more scattered than usual, and as is typical on Lake Russell on some of the rainy days in the past week they have found an above average bite. Generally you can still find the fish against the banks or in 30 feet of water. Wendell has found that the best pattern is looking for birds and then casting Alabama rigs near them, but pulling herring will also work. He is often holding the boat in about 25 feet of water but casting much shallower.
Lake Russell water levels are around 475.2 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is very dirty. However, in the opposite of what is usually expected the lower end is generally muddier than the upper end and the main lake is generally muddier than the creeks. Water temperatures are in the lower 50s but will rise to the mid-50s on warmer afternoons.
More and more dirty water continues to flow into Lake Russell, and so it’s no surprise that bass fishing is still off for this time of year. However, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) says they are still catching pretty good numbers of fish, just not the 100-fish days expected this time of year. Fish are still shallower than typical, and they are catching most of the fish in 25-30 feet of water. Fish are also more scattered than usual and some are still suspended.
Bait is so scattered out that Jerry reports that a shallow bite has also developed. Normally all the bait is in 50-60 feet of water, but right now there is bait in the backs of pockets. It won’t work everywhere, but throwing a square-billed crankbait or spinnerbait around the banks will catch fish in places. They are also catching some fish throwing a shakey head worm around points.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also finding the bait and the predator fish far more scattered than usual, which means that schools of bait as well as of the species he is chasing are smaller. He is mainly fishing the creeks where the water is often cleaner and targeting the 20-30 foot range with drop shots and live bait. In addition to spots they are catching a lot of yellow perch.
Striped bass are also more scattered out than usual, and you could find the fish against the banks or in 30 feet of water. Wendell has found that the best pattern is looking for birds and then pulling herring and casting Alabama rigs near them. He is often holding the boat in about 25 feet of water but casting much shallower.
Lake Russell water levels are around 474.5 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the lower 50s. Overall the water is pretty stained, and in some areas up the lake the creeks are clearer than main lake. The cleanest water is on the lower end from about three miles north of the railroad trestle to the dam.
This is the best time of the year to catch numbers of bass on Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) says that compared to the 75-100 fish days they should be having fishing is slow. There are still plenty of days where they catch 25-30 fish, but the fish are so scattered from the rain that it is just not where it should be.
Fish are also shallower than typical, and they are catching most of the fish on the bottom in 25-30 feet of water in the main lake and up clearer creeks. There are also some fish suspended but it has been harder to get these fish to bite. The best action has come on spoons, drop shotted worms and live bait.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also finding fish shallower than they should be, although as is typical of winter multiple species are grouped up together in the areas he is fishing. He is finding spots, yellow perch, and striper 22-30 feet deep in coves off the lower end of the main lake. They are generally fishing live bait, but when they mark suspended fish they are casting out an Alabama rig to tangle with striper and sometimes spotted bass. Jerry is also picking up some striper in the same areas as the bass on spoons.
If you want to catch a largemouth the best bet is to go into the dirty water and fish shallower with a worm in 15-18 feet of water around brush. You can also throw a square-billed crankbait in the dirty water.
Lake Russell water levels are a couple of feet above full pool (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the upper-50s. The lower end is clear but up the rivers the water is dirty.
As expected cold weather continues to improve bass fishing on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that with more cold weather on the way he expects it to get even better. Jerry’s boat is catching good numbers of fish with minnows (although you can use soft plastics) on a drop shot rig in about 25-30 feet of water, but because water levels are so high a lot of the fish are suspended five to ten feet off the bottom. You can still catch some on the bottom though. Perch and crappie are still mixed in, but largemouth bass remain hard to locate.
Jerry is fishing the creeks less now with high, dirtier water, and he is spending most of his time on the main lake or in the front of creeks.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is still looking for bait schools to target predators like bass, and what he is finding is generally in 25-56 feet of water. He is also sticking to the main lake and front of creeks but is mainly fishing a drop shot right on the bottom. Wendell’s boat is also picking up some catfish.
Striped bass fishing is improving, coinciding with the arrival of birds, and Jerry reports that on Saturday he caught a bunch of striper up to 16 pounds and hybrids up to 8. He is catching them in the same areas as the bass on bigger live bait.
With the arrival of gulls and loons Wendell says the pattern is getting better every day. He still finds that the best bet is to head to the lower end of the lake and fish around the birds with a free-line rig.
Lake Russell water levels are just above full (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the lower 60s.
It seems that bass fishing is better on Lake Russell when it starts to get cold, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that right now is no exception. Jerry’s boat is catching good numbers of fish with minnows (although you can use soft plastics) on a drop shot rig in about 25 feet of water. He is mainly fishing in the creeks around brush, regardless of the presence of bait schools, and there are perch and crappie mixed in. Largemouth are few and far between, though. Out of 400 fish last one only one was a largemouth! Spots have been schooling sporadically.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is fishing a similar pattern, but he is coming at the fish from a different direction. Instead of looking for brush he is looking for bait schools, generally in 25-30 feet of water in the creeks and large coves off the main channel where bait has migrated after leaving the main lake flats. Fish are close to the bottom, and in a pretty typical late fall/ early winter pattern he is catching a mix of spots, white and yellow perch, and catfish.
Because Wendell is fishing away from brush he is not picking up many crappie in his standard pattern, but when he wants to pursue crappie he is heading into the creeks and fishing minnows 10-12 feet down over brush in 20-25 feet of water.
Striped bass fishing has been a little tough, but Wendell says that with the first seagulls starting to show up chances for catching fish will improve. The best bet is to head to the lower end of the lake and fish around the early gulls and loons with a free-line rig.
Lake Russell water levels are around 473.8 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are in the mid to upper-70s. Despite the storm clarity is still pretty good.
Water temperatures are finally dropping on Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that until now the bass fishing on Lake Russell has only been fair – probably because of the unseasonable warmth. We should already be in the 60s, but before the cold front water temperatures were still near 80. In a recent tournament a 9-pound bag was good enough for the win, and the winning angler had a 5-pounder!
For now fish are around brush piles in 25-30 feet of water in the main lake and some of the creeks, and what they really want to eat is live herring. However, they will take soft plastics fished on a drop shot. Jerry expects that in the next couple of weeks the fall bite should get wide open.
If you want to tangle with a largemouth the best bet is to head into the backs of creeks and fish a buzzbait, or fish around blowdowns.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has started to see some schooling bass, and when it’s calm you can ride around and look for fish. He has seen schooling in a variety of different areas including over deep water out in the middle. You can throw a small Rattle Trap, but Wendell’s bait of choice is a Pop-R with a 1/16 ounce crappie jig 18-24 inches behind it. Almost all the fish take the jig.
After not pursuing them for over a month, Wendell has started targeted crappie again and found a good bite. He has found the fish willing to take minnows fished 6-8 feet deep over brush piles in 10-18 feet of water in the backs of creeks. On the last trip they caught more than 40 crappie including some very nice ones.
On the striper front, Wendell reports that they have found fish 25 feet down over 50-60 feet of water on the lower end around bait schools. Jerry has also found some mixed in with the spotted bass in about 30 feet, as well as some catfish.
Lake Russell water levels are around 471.8 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures range from about 83-86.
Bass are still biting on Lake Russell, but not like they were a few weeks ago. Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that one day he was catching tons of spotted bass and perch out in deep water, and when he went back the next day they were all gone. None of his 7 or 8 spots produced. Despite the warm water Jerry is seeing some signs of an early turnover, with some bubbling on the surface, and so he wonders if water quality has something to do with it.
The bass Jerry is still catching are in 10-20 feet of water around brush, mostly in the main lake and the middle section of creeks. They are not in the backs. He has caught a few fish on live bait but most have come on soft plastics fished on a shakey head or worm.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) also reports that spotted bass have started schooling, and at times he has found some pretty good action.
Wendell reports that he has spent the most boat time recently fishing for striped bass on Lake Russell. Fish can be caught on both ends of the lake, and in the Hartwell tailrace he has gotten fish on live herring pulled on planer boards and free-lines. However, the bite has been a little better on the lower end of the lake down-lining 30-40 feet deep.
Wendell’s boat has also been picking up some white and yellow perch on drop shot rigs in 25-30 feet of water, and there are a few spotted bass mixed in.
While Wendell has not been targeting crappie they can be caught in the creeks fishing with minnows around brush 12-14 feet down over 20 feet of water.