AHQ INSIDER Lake Russell (GA/SC) Spring Fishing Report – Updated May 19
The newest Lake Russell fishing report, updated June 9, can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-russell-gasc-summer-2017-fishing-report/
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.19 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are in the mid-70s and above.
The gradual decline of the spring bass bite on Lake Russell continues, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that as temperatures rise the bass have started to scatter out as they make their way towards deeper water. A few fish can still be caught shallow in the backs, but most of the fish are starting to be found off points in 25-30 feet of water around timber. Drop shots and shakey heads are both working.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) concurs and says that fish are acting like it’s June already. The bass spawn is pretty much over with and the herring spawn is about the same, although decent numbers of herring remain fairly shallow. Sometimes in the morning you can find bass around these schools.
In addition to fishing soft plastics off deeper points, Wendell advises trying underspins with a fluke off points for larger, tournament fish.
Crappie fishing is also getting tougher on Russell. Wendell has caught a lot of fish on shallow brush about 3 feet deep over 10 feet of water, but they have mostly been small. The better fish seem to be out on the same brush as the spotted bass where they are picking them up on drop-shotted minnows.
On both ends of the lake Wendell reports that striped bass can be found, and up towards the Hartwell dam they can be caught on large herring or gizzard shad fished on planer boards. On the lower end of the lake down-lined herring is the best bet, fishing about 20 feet down over 60-70 feet of water. If conditions are cloudy you can fish free lines on the lower end, too.
Overall, the best Lake Russell bite right now is for channel catfish. Jerry reports that fish are feeding very well in about 10-15 feet of water, although some are out to about 20 feet. Fish are scattered out but the best action is in the creeks and pockets. Cut herring is hard to beat.
Lake Russell water levels are above full pool at 475.06 (full pool is 475.00), and after the recent rains the lake is significantly more stained than usual. Water temperatures have dropped from the low to mid-70s back into the 60s, but should quickly rebound again.
Bass fishing on Lake Russell is not quite as good as it was a few weeks ago, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that you can still catch fish on pretty much any shallow to mid-depth technique. There are some largemouth in the backs of creeks which can be caught on buzzbaits and frogs, and out towards the mouths of creeks/ the main lake you can catch spotted bass on shakey head worms, flukes, spinnerbaits and more. Live bait is also hard to beat. Spots will be found from the bank out to 14-15 feet where you can drop shot for them around brush. Pretty much all the bass are post-spawn right now.
On the catfish front, the bite for channel catfish is starting to really pick up. Fishing is on the verge of being wide open, and fish are already biting well on cut bait fished in the mouths of pockets in 4-15 feet of water. Pretty soon fish should enter the spawning period.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.58 (full pool is 475.00), and temperatures range from the upper 60s to lower 70s.
According to Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) bass fishing on Lake Russell is wide open and catches are extremely good. You can catch fish about anywhere right now – except for deep. Bass will be found in the backs of creeks, pockets, and shallow on the main lake. Spotted bass are off points out to about 10-15 of water.
While there are certainly some pre-spawn bass on Lake Russell, most of the fish Jerry is catching are post-spawn. In the backs of creeks spinnerbaits and lizards/ worms are working, while on the main lake Jerry is mainly dragging a Carolina rig.
Fishing for bed fish is not usually a predominant pattern on Russell. Jerry suspects this is a product of the spotted bass population (which spawn deeper) and the fact that largemouth tend to bed a bit deeper on Russell, too, perhaps because of fluctuating water levels.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also having excellent results for spotted bass, and he reports that they are catching a ton of fish simply casting a 1/8 ounce jighead with a curly tail grub to the banks. Because they are doing this on the main lake they aren’t picking up a lot of crappie (which are up the creeks), and the spots are generally striking in 5-8 feet of water.
On the crappie front both guides concur that the action, particularly for big fish, is starting to wind down on Lake Russell. Most of the big females have already spawned, and they seem to be recovering and not feeding heavily. Wendell’s boat is still catching plenty of medium-sized fish in the backs trolling 1/16 to 1/32 ounce jigs, and they generally still have eggs.
Striped bass have been a little absent recently, but Wendell reports that the best place to look for them is halfway up both the Savannah and the Rocky River. Pulling large herring and gizzard shad on planer boards and free lines across main lake points in 15-30 feet of water is the best pattern.
While neither guide has been pursuing catfish actively very much recently, they are picking them up on live herring while fishing for other species and dragging a line out the back of the boat. Fish seem to be holding in about 10 feet of water.
Lake Russell water levels are at 473.91 (full pool is 475.00), and after reaching the low and even mid-60s water temperatures are back to the mid-50s and dropping. Clarity is still very high, and in fact rain is needed to give the creeks a healthy amount of stained water for fishing.
Before the cold period that started Sunday Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that bass were all over the backs of creeks. He hadn’t actually seen any fish spawning, but that may have been a function more of spawning patterns on Lake Russell than the fact that fish weren’t on beds. In the very backs of Russell creeks where largemouth like to spawn the water is frequently dingy, and crappie have already started to spawn. Both spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits were catching fish.
However, Jerry advises that this cold front seems to have pushed the bass back out towards deeper water and more fish seem to be back in the 15-25 foot range. A lot of fish are hanging off points, and it’s time to break out the Carolina rigs, drop shots and heavier jigs again.
Weather forecasts indicate that temperatures won’t rebound for a little while, and with some very cold nights predicted for the next few days Jerry expects it to be some time before fish come to the bank again.
On the crappie front it started off as a very good, early spring on Lake Russell, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) says that his boat has had some very good trips in the last week. One day they caught about 50 big fish, with some fish caught casting a jig or minnow under a cork towards the bank and others caught trolling jigs tipped with minnows in 12-14 feet of water. While a few fish have spawned and males were building nests around the bank, Wendell believes that the bulk of the females were holding out in the creek channel.
Unfortunately, the cold weather has essentially killed the bite and Wendell believes it will be several days before the fish start feeding again. He expects to find them in the creek channels before they return to the banks.
Jerry was also catching a lot of fish throwing a minnow or jig against the banks, and he points out that the cold will move a lot of fish out to the closest brush off the banks – while another group of fish will suspend out in the channel where they can only be caught trolling. 10-20 feet is the basic depth range he advises right now.
While one wave of crappie has already spawned, another wave will come up as soon as temperatures settle down again.
While crappie and bass were practically jumping in the boat earlier this spring, Lake Russell striped bass have been hard to come by. On one striper trip Jerry caught about 35 bass but no striper. This is a time of year where the fish can be hard to target, either because they are so scattered or because they are hunkered down in the timber. Wendell points out that the herring spawn shouldn’t be far off once temperatures get back to where they were before, and once the herring move up striper could show up anywhere in the shallows.
Neither guide has been targeting catfish but they have caught a few on minnows fished around the bank.