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AHQ INSIDER Clarks Hill (GA/SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated December 24

  • by Jay

December 24

Clarks Hill water levels are at 327.07 (full pool is 330.00) and surface temperatures are around 53 or 54 degrees.  The lake is full of debris and heavily stained, and in the backs it is muddy. 

Fish are getting into a winter bass pattern on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that they are finally starting to eat blade baits like the Sonar.  He is finding fish in ditches from 8-10 feet up to about 2 feet, and in another week or two he predicts that this bite will be wide open.

There are also reports of a deeper bite over humps in 20-40 feet of water with Su-Spin blades and similar baits, and this may be a particularly good way to catch large spotted bass.  You can also fish underspins in the 10-foot range if you can find bait.

With the water getting dirty after all the recent rains there may also be a shallow crankbait bite.

Dirty water has striper and hybrids on the move, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish have pulled out of the creeks and are now sitting off humps, shoals and points at the mouths of the creeks.  They are hunkered on the bottom in 30-32 feet of water. 

Once conditions clear fish will go back into the creeks where most anglers will be pulling free-lines and planer boards.  Fish can also be caught on shallow down-lines, and 15-30 feet of water will be a good target range. 

Captain Brad Sasser reports that there have been some reports of crappie caught in as little as 14 feet, but with recent winds and rain he has not been able to anchor for them.   He would still suggest fishing trees and brush in 15-18 feet of water over 25-30 feet.  The best areas have been Amity/ Raysville and way up the South Carolina Little River. 

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that patterns remain similar, but heavy rains have caused the fish to scatter and made the fishing a little less consistent.  He downgrades the overall bite to “fair.”

Anchoring on channel ledges in 30-50 feet of water is still the most consistent way to catch fish.  Baitfish are also in large schools at the mouths of feeder creeks and coves, and the ledges on the points and humps in the mouths are good areas to fish.  These are places where catfish can both ambush and corral the schools of baitfish. 

Cut gizzard shad and white perch remain hard to beat for the bigger blue catfish, and these same areas can also be really good for flatheads if you fish with live bream or white perch.

An impressive catch this week with Captain Chris Simpson
An impressive catch this week with Captain Chris Simpson

December 13

Clarks Hill water levels are at 324.50 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface temperatures are in the mid to low-50s.

It’s still good conditions for bass fishing on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that the fish continue to eat a crankbait. A DT-6 in blueback herring color has been working well, but the key has been working swings and the backs of creeks in 2-5 feet of water.

Pretty soon the fish should get in the ditches, but for right now Josh has had very little luck fishing baits like a blade runner in them. 

Josh Rockefeller with a good one caught last week
Josh Rockefeller with a good one caught last week

Striper and hybrids are scattered and suspended in the creeks, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that as a result most people are pulling planer boards. Fish are in very small groups and so covering water has been a key. There are also some fish close to the bottom or suspended in the deeper parts of ditches in about 30 feet of water, and for these fish you can target them with down-lines. However, they can be hard to locate.  The two main areas where people are fishing right now are the South Carolina Little River and Amity/ Raysville.

There is some bird activity but most of the gulls are following loons right now.

Captain Brad Sasser reports that crappie fishing remains strong, and he has found fish around trees and brush in 15-18 feet of water over 25-30 feet. The best areas have been Amity/ Raysville and way up the South Carolina Little River.

On the catfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that there is not a lot of change in the bite, which rates as fair to good.

Anchoring on channel ledges in 30-50 feet of water is still the most consistent way to catch fish.  Baitfish are also in large schools at the mouths of feeder creeks and coves, so points and humps in those areas are also fishing well. The ledges on the points and humps are good areas for fish to both ambush and corral the schools of baitfish. 

Cut gizzard shad and white perch remain hard to beat for the bigger blue catfish, and these same areas can also be really good for flatheads if you fish with live bream or white perch. 

November 25

Clarks Hill water levels are at 324.41 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface temperatures are in the lower 60s. 

It’s a pretty good time for bass fishing on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that a lot of quality fish are being caught right now. There seem to be a good numbers in the backs of creeks chasing bait, and he has been catching them with a square-billed crankbait in natural shad colors fished in about 2-3 feet of water. A red crankbait has also been working but they have caught more small fish on that one. Fish have been grouped around rock but they have also been along non-descript banks and secondary points way back in the creeks. 

There are still some fish busting the surface and at times there has been so much bait and activity in the backs that it looks like spring schooling season.

The fishing for striper and hybrids has changed as temperatures have cooled, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish are scattered about halfway back in the ditches and creek beds. As it gets even colder he anticipates that the fish will push all the way to the backs, but temperatures are still fairly mild.

You can pretty much fish how you want to fish right now, with down-lines, planer boards and free-lines all productive. Plenty of fish are suspended 5-15 feet deep, but there are also fish in 25-35 feet.

Gulls will help point you in the right direction and there are times when you can throw lures at feeding fish under the birds. 

Captain Brad Sasser reports that crappie fishing is still pretty good, and fish should be in a fairly stable pattern until it starts to really warm. Fish are 15-18 feet down over brush in 25-35 of water. Minnows and jigs will both work.   

On thecatfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that anchoring on channel ledges in 30-50 feet of water is still the most consistent way to catch fish.  Baitfish are getting into large schools and holding at the mouths of feeder creeks and coves, so points and humps in those areas are also fishing well. The ledges on the points and humps are good areas for fish to both ambush and coral the schools of baitfish. 

Cut gizzard shad and white perch remain hard to beat for the bigger blue catfish, and these same areas can also be really good for flatheads if you fish with live bream or white perch. 

A big one caught this week with Captain Chris Simpson
A big blue cat caught with Captain Chris Simpson

November 1

Clarks Hill water levels are at 324.47 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface temperatures are around 72 or 73 degrees. 

While he has found a little bit of a spinnerbait bite for bass on Clarks Hill, tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that far-and-away he has been having the best results on The Sled with a green pumpkin Speed Craw fished off rocky points in the creeks. Fish are starting to make a fall run into the backs, and he has been having the best success fishing about halfway back. With the lake so low basically the only shallow structure is natural rock, and rocky points and humps with about 5-10 feet of water have been the best. Very shallow rock has not produced. 

Josh has also caught some fish flipping a jig around docks in the backs.

There are also schooling fish, but he has not invested much time fishing for them. Most of the bass seem to be smaller, and the better ones are often finicky since they are feeding on such small bait. They are also roaming so much that it can be hard to predict where they will come up.

Tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA is also finding that the schooling fish are generally small, although every once in a while you can catch a better one that way. He has found some decent fish on brush in about 15 feet recently, but the best fish are coming off a buzzbait – like this beauty!

The fishing for striper and hybridsis still running about a month and a half behind on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish have made it to about the mouths of the creeks. First thing they can be pushed into the creeks, but the best bite has been between about 8:30 and 10:00 when they pull out into the mouths chasing bait. There has been some surface activity, but with the majority of the fish down about 10-30 feet in 35-50 feet down-lines have been working well. You could pull planer boards but fish are so concentrated that the pattern lends itself well to down-line fishing. 

Captain Brad reports that crappie fishing is still pretty good, but 70-degree water temperatures are a magic threshold where the bite should really improve once they drop below that. For now the bite is pretty steady in 15-22 feet of water around brush, but soon fish will head further back in the creeks and gang up in 20-25 feet of water. 

On thecatfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that anchoring on channel ledges in 30-50 feet of water is still the most consistent way to catch fish. Other areas are deep, main lake points, and if heavy concentrations of baitfish are found in a creek then anchoring on secondary points back in a creek can sometimes be a good bet. Cut gizzard shad and white perch are hard to beat for the bigger blue catfish, and these same areas can also be really good for flatheads if you fish with live bream or white perch. 

Even though the last three months of the year are the most consistent time to catch big fish, patience is required. You might not find fish in every spot, but if you stick with it you can eventually put together the right pattern for a particular day. 

 

 

October 18

Clarks Hill water levels are around 324.70 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface temperatures are in the mid-70s. Water clarity is still very good.

Fresh off a 2nd place finish in a 65-boat team tournament last weekend, tournament angler Reid McGinn reports that there are at least a couple of different things going on. You can catch tons of fish on drop shot rigs fished off of points, or dragging/ casting soft plastics in the same areas. The 10-20 foot range holds some big numbers of fish. 

However, it seems that the better fish are in shallow water, and they caught their best fish around the banks – as a lot of people reported. Even though water levels were dropping these fish seem to have just showed up, and they will take a topwater lure such as a Pop-R or a buzzbait. 

Reid notes that there were also some fish schooling on points. 

Striper and hybridshave finally started to move on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that even though it’s a month and a half late a seasonal migration is underway. Fish are moving out of the ends of the lake and into the creeks pushing bait. They have not made it into the backs of creeks, but they are at the mouths and starting to push their way in. They have started to chase bait shallow, they are feeding heavily, and there is some surface action.

First thing you can find fish over shallow humps from the surface down to about 20 feet, and fish can be caught on shallow down-lines. Of course, have baits like a Spook, Sammy or an Ice Fly ready to throw for fish on the surface.

Captain Brad reports that crappie fishing is strong, but he is surprised by how shallow the fish are. Instead of the 18-22 foot range, he has found them 10 feet down over trees in 15 feet of water. Everything is in the backs of creeks and they are eating minnows well.

On thecatfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that anchoring on channel ledges in 30-50 feet of water is the most consistent way to catch fish right now. Other areas are deep, main lake points, and if heavy concentrations of baitfish are found in a creek then anchoring on secondary points back in a creek can sometimes be a good bet. Cut gizzard shad and white perch are hard to beat for the bigger blue catfish, and these same areas can also be really good for flatheads if you fish with live bream or white perch. 

Even though the last three months of the year are the most consistent time to catch big fish, patience is required. You might not find fish in every spot, but if you stick with it you can eventually put together the right pattern for a particular day. 

 

 

 

September 30

Clarks Hill water levels are around 324.70 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface temperatures are in the mid-70s. Water clarity is still very good.

Water temperatures have not continued to drop on Clarks Hill, and in fact they have gotten warmer with recent very hot weather. As a result fish are still in the same late summer patterns. On the bassfront tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that he continues to find schooling fish, particularly around bridges, but they can be pretty tricky to get to bite right now. They also don’t stay up very long with the hot water. 

There are still fish around main lake humps in 13-22 feet of water, and if they do not want to eat surface lures then they will usually take a drop shot. There are also fish being caught on a drop shot around bridges.

A lot of the better fish are still coming shallow, and some of the biggest are being caught on buzzbaits fished in the back of creeks. 

Hot weather has put a pause on thestriper and hybridmigration up the lake and back in the creeks on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish are generally still in the same places as last week. Some can be found in the Modoc area near the dam, but greater numbers are still in the middle of the lake. 

Fish are generally off of creek channel points and secondary points, and while there are some fish on the bottom in 40 feet there are more fish on the bottom in 30-35 feet. There are also some groups starting to suspend in 10-15 feet and there is beginning to be more schooling. 

Some anglers are trolling umbrella rig and others are pulling planer boards, and weighted free lines will also catch fish. However, Captain Brad Sasser is still fishing down-lines 90% of the time.

Captain Brad reports that crappie fishing is still pretty good, particularly in the middle and upper lake. They are catching the most fish around natural submerged timber or planted brush close to the bottom in 15-20 feet of water. Some anglers are trolling while others are dropping shiners down to them. 

On thecatfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that with little change in the weather tactics remain the same and good numbers of 1-10 pound blue and channel catfish can still be caught in a summer pattern.  However, the big fish bite is improving and they have caught some very large fish on recent trips. 

Slow tapering points and ridges in the 5-15 foot range at night, and 15-35 foot range during the day, are still fishing best. Anchoring on these areas and fan-casting cut herring, shrimp and dip baits is the best way to put some fish in the boat right now. 

When water temperatures get into the mid-70s the bite for big fish will improve. 

Night-time fishing for flathead catfish is still pretty good, and rocky points have been by far the best. Anchoring in the 5-10 foot range and fan-casting live bream all around the rock piles from as shallow as 5 feet out to about 25 feet has been the best approach. Give each spot plenty of time, up to 2 hours or more, because the fish will feed in cycles. You can also pick up the occasional big blue catfish (and gar) this way.

 

September 20

Clarks Hill water levels are around 326.1 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures have dropped into the lower 80s. Visibility is still good.

Bassfishing is picking up on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that he is already seeing some minor schooling activity although it will get more widespread once the lake cools a bit more. 

There are good numbers of fish around main lake humps in 13-22 feet of water that will take a topwater or fluke, and if they will only chase the bait then they will usually take a drop shot. There are also fish being caught on a drop shot around bridges.

However, it seems like a lot of the better fish are shallow, and some of the biggest are being caught on buzzbaits fished in the back of creeks. 

Thestriper and hybridsare on the move on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish are working their way up the lake and back into the creeks. Some of them are still in the Modoc area near the dam, but greater numbers have made it to the middle of the lake. 

Fish are generally off of creek channel points and secondary points, and while there are some fish on the bottom in 40 feet there are more fish on the bottom in 30-35 feet. There are also some groups starting to suspend in 10-15 feet and there is beginning to be more schooling. 

Some anglers are trolling umbrella rig and others are pulling planer boards, and weighted free lines will also catch fish. However, Captain Brad Sasser is still fishing down-lines 90% of the time.

Captain Brad reports that crappie fishing is getting better and better, particularly in the middle and upper lake. They are catching the most fish around natural submerged timber or planted brush close to the bottom in 15 feet of water. Some anglers are trolling while others are dropping shiners down to them. 

On thecatfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that good numbers of 1-10 pound blue and channel catfish can still be caught in a summer pattern. Slow tapering points and ridges in the 5-15 foot range at night, and 15-35 foot range during the day, are still fishing best.  Anchoring on these areas and fan-casting cut herring, shrimp and dip baits is the best way to put some fish in the boat right now. 

When water temperatures get into the mid-70s the bite for big fish will improve. 

Night-time fishing for flathead catfish is still pretty good, and rocky points have been by far the best. Anchoring in the 5-10 foot range and fan-casting live bream all around the rock piles from as shallow as 5 feet out to about 25 feet has been the best approach. Give each spot plenty of time, up to 2 hours or more, because the fish will feed in cycles. You can also pick up the occasional big blue catfish (and gar) this way.

 

September 13

Clarks Hill water levels are at 326.72 (full pool is 330.00) and surface water temperatures run the gamut from the lower 80s to high 80s depending on the time of day. The lake is very clear due to no rain and little generation. 

Even though the bassdon’t typically start schooling offshore on Clarks Hill until a little later in the season, tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that schooling activity is already underway this September. He has found the fish schooling off sandy, rocky points in about 10-15 feet of water, but they aren’t staying up for very long. You are lucky to get one or two out of a school before they go down again. 

The fish are on very small baits, so small topwater lures or down-sized flukes are the best option. 

After the sun goes down fish can be caught with a jig on the same points where the bass were schooling during the day. 

There are also still deeper fish that can be caught on deep humps, brush or deep rock piles with jigs or drop shots.

For a kicker fish a buzzbait or Whopper Plopper is probably your best option, even though bites are few and far between. Since shallow fish are likely to be targeting bream or frogs and not shad at this time of year, a green skirt with a gold blade is better than a white buzzbait.

Since the last report action forstriper and hybridshas picked up on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish are grouping up better and less scattered than a week to ten days ago. In general fish are in the middle of the channel on the bottom off the sides of humps in 35-40 feet of water. The bite kicks off at dawn, and there is not much going on before that. 

Fish were basically on the ends of the lake, but now they are starting to bite better around Cherokee in the Georgia Little River and Shriver Creek. 

Captain Brad Sasser reports that crappie fishing has also improved, and they are catching fish around natural submerged timber or planted brush close to the bottom in 15-20 feet of water. Some anglers are trolling while others are dropping shiners down to them. Most of the action is in the middle to upper lake, in areas like the South Carolina Little River, Soap Creek, Hall Creek, the Georgia Little River and Raysville. 

On thecatfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that 1-10 pound blue and channel catfish are still biting pretty well. Slow tapering points and ridges in the 5-15 foot range at night, and 15-35 foot range during the day, seem to be fishing best right now. Anchoring on these areas and fan-casting cut herring, shrimp and dip baits is the best way to put some fish in the boat right now. 

Night-time fishing for flathead catfish is still pretty good, and rocky points have been by far the best. Anchoring in the 5-10 foot range and fan-casting live bream all around the rock piles from as shallow as 5 feet out to about 25 feet has been the best approach. Give each spot plenty of time, up to 2 hours or more, because the fish will feed in cycles. You can also pick up the occasional big blue catfish (and gar) this way.  

 

September 4

Clarks Hill water levels are at 327.61 (full pool is 330.00) and surface water temperatures in the morning are around 83-86 degrees. The lake is relatively clear.

Tournament bassfishing weights are a little off for Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that overall fishing is pretty tough. There is not a much good daytime fishing going on right now, and early morning and then the evening into the night are the best times to catch fish. 

Fish are mainly being caught on deep humps, brush or deep rock piles. Jigs and drop shots are good options.

If you are looking to catch big fish a buzzbait is hard to beat, early in the morning or even in the heat of the day.  However, bites are few and far between. Since shallow fish are likely to be targeting bream or frogs and not shad at this time of year, a green skirt with a gold blade is better than a white buzzbait.

Overall fishing should get better later in the month when surface activity improves.

It’s a strange, transitions period for striped bass and hybridson Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that one day the fishing can be really good and then the next day it is likely to be much tougher. Fish are really broken up with little consistent pattern, and one day you could find them suspended shallow over deep water while the next day they could be on the bottom in 38 feet like they were today.  

The common denominator is that fish are running the edges of the main channel on both the lower and upper ends of the lake. There are some really nice hybrids being caught below the Russell Dam right now. 

Overall they are still catching some good-sized fish, but the pattern just keeps changing. 

On thecatfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that 1-10 pound blue and channel catfish are still biting pretty well. Slow tapering points and ridges in the 5-15 foot range at night, and 15-35 foot range during the day, seem to be fishing best right now. Anchoring on these areas and fan-casting cut herring, shrimp and dip baits is the best way to put some fish in the boat right now. 

Night-time fishing for flathead catfish is still pretty good, and rocky points have been by far the best. Anchoring in the 5-10 foot range and fan-casting live bream all around the rock piles from as shallow as 5 feet out to about 25 feet has been the best approach. Give each spot plenty of time, up to 2 hours or more, because the fish will feed in cycles. You can also pick up the occasional big blue catfish (and gar) this way. 

Captain Brad Sasser reports that there are still not many anglers targeting crappie, but they are still holding around brush 20-25 feet down in 25-35 feet.

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