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AHQ INSIDER Clarks Hill (GA/SC) Fall Fishing Report – Updated December 1

  • by Jay

The newest Clarks Hill fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-clarks-hill-gasc-winter-2017-18-fishing-report/

December 1

Clarks Hill water levels are at 321.1 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are in the low 60s.  Clarity is normal with very little rain.

It’s an in-between time for catching bass on Clarks Hill, and weights have been pretty low in recent tournaments.  Lots of 8-9 pound bags are coming to the scales.  With water temperatures still pretty warm fish haven’t stacked up in the ditches yet.

Early in the morning the best bet is to throw a square-billed crankbait or a floating worm around the grass.  Crawfish, bream and sexy shad colors will all work, and a small 3 ½ – 4 ½ foot diver has been the best.  There have also been some fish caught slow-rolling a white spinnerbait around the grass.

Once the air warms a little, if there is some wind then bass will be chasing blueback herring.  A fluke or Gunfish is a good option, but if they are on very small bait then a small spoon may be the only way to get them to bite.

On the striped bass front, Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that mid-lake they are catching fish pulling free-lines back in the coves early in the morning, generally in 10-15 feet of water.  Mid-morning they are finding striper and hybrids on down-lines 30 feet deep over 30-40 feet of water off main lake points in the same part of the lake.  Birds are starting to show up and there is just beginning to be some winter schooling action.

Crappieare in a very similar pattern and William’s boat is finding them 15 feet down over 25 feet of water in the backs of coves over brush.

A big crappie haul on William Sasser's boat
A big crappie haul on William Sasser’s boat

Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the catfishpattern is unchanged, and while the bite is still strong he now only rates it as “good.”  It’s unclear why the bite has slowed because that doesn’t usually happen at this time of year, but it’s possible lingering warm weather is responsible.

December 1

Clarks Hill water levels are at 321.1 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are in the low 60s.  Clarity is normal with very little rain.

It’s an in-between time for catching bass on Clarks Hill, and weights have been pretty low in recent tournaments.  Lots of 8-9 pound bags are coming to the scales.  With water temperatures still pretty warm fish haven’t stacked up in the ditches yet.

Early in the morning the best bet is to throw a square-billed crankbait or a floating worm around the grass.  Crawfish, bream and sexy shad colors will all work, and a small 3 ½ – 4 ½ foot diver has been the best.  There have also been some fish caught slow-rolling a white spinnerbait around the grass.

Once the air warms a little, if there is some wind then bass will be chasing blueback herring.  A fluke or Gunfish is a good option, but if they are on very small bait then a small spoon may be the only way to get them to bite.

On the striped bass front, Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that mid-lake they are catching fish pulling free-lines back in the coves early in the morning, generally in 10-15 feet of water.  Mid-morning they are finding striper and hybrids on down-lines 30 feet deep over 30-40 feet of water off main lake points in the same part of the lake.  Birds are starting to show up and there is just beginning to be some winter schooling action.

Crappieare in a very similar pattern and William’s boat is finding them 15 feet down over 25 feet of water in the backs of coves over brush.

Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the catfishpattern is unchanged, and while the bite is still strong he now only rates it as “good.”  It’s unclear why the bite has slowed because that doesn’t usually happen at this time of year, but it’s possible lingering warm weather is responsible.

November 17

Clarks Hill water levels are at 321.28 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are in the low to mid-60s.

Bass are scattered on Clarks Hill, but tournament angler Bruce Kastner of Simpsonville reports that the bite is pretty good.  With fish spread out covering lots of water has been critical, and Bruce didn’t find more than one fish in any spot.  Fish seem to be off the main lake, but not in the backs of the creeks.  They found a few fish around bridges, but mostly in secondary pockets in the front section of creeks and rivers.

As far as baits, Bruce found that most any moving reaction bait was the best way to get bit.  He has been throwing everything from Rattle Traps to swimbaits to spinnerbaits to underspins.  Fish are chasing bait and so they seem to want something moving.

Bruce Kastner shows off a couple of good ones caught last weekend
Bruce Kastner shows off a couple of good ones caught last weekend

November 10

Clarks Hill water levels are at 321.24 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are in mid-60s.

While not usually the headliner species, it’s hard not to rate the Clarks Hill catfish bite the best thing going right now.  Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that he is in the midst of the most consistent bite for big fish over 20 pounds that he has ever seen on any lake – and a quick perusal of his Facebook page (Fightin Da Blues) confirms this.  The best pattern is still anchoring on mid-lake points and humps and fan-casting herring, with most of the blues coming in 40-60 feet and most of the channels coming in 15-30 feet.  Putting out some live perch or bream in the same areas increases the chances of a flathead biting, but flatheads are starting to become more of the catch even on cut bait.  Some large blues are also being caught on the upper end of the lake along the river channel.

One of many, many monster cats caught recently on Captain Chris' boat
One of many, many monster cats caught recently on Captain Chris’ boat

While it’s certainly not the best bass bite that anyone has ever seen, Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that the fishing is getting better – as long as the wind is blowing.  When the wind lays down fishing can get downright tough.  For the first few hours of the day, when it is most likely to be calm, the best bet is throwing a green buzzbait around the banks to imitate bream or shellcracker.

Assuming that some wind comes up by mid-morning, then look for schooling fish off the biggest, main points in the major creeks.  Fish are heading into the creeks and they are feeding on the young of the year, very small blueback herring that hatched this spring.  In windy conditions fish feeding on the surface will take a Gunfish, but when the bite gets tough you might have to downsize to a small spoon.

If all else fails it’s also worth fishing a Spot Remover off points.

On the striped bass front, Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that striper and hybrids are moving towards the mid-lake including the Shriver Creek area and the Georgia Little River above the bridge.  They are being caught 30 feet deep on the bottom around shoals in the mouths of major creeks, and there is also some schooling at the mouths of the major tributaries.

While many fish migrate there are also some fish that stay near the dam year round, and these fish will also be schooling or, again, holding on the bottom in the 30-foot range.

William’s fleet is also finding a very good crappie bite pulling jigs in 20 feet of water in the creek channels of the South Carolina Little River.  They are also catching fish on brush fishing 15 feet down over 20-25 feet of water.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has also been spending some time on Clarks Hill and he reports finding crappie in shallow water in the very back of creeks.  They are trolling 1/24 and 1/32 ounce jigs in 5-10 feet of water in the middle of the channel.

October 20

Clarks Hill water levels are at 321.01 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures are in the low to mid-70s.  Water clarity is very good with the absence of rain.

It’s not a great time for catching huge striper on Clarks Hill, but with a solid 10-pound average and fish up to about 15 pounds it’s a good time to catch a bunch of quality fish.

Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that his boat is catching fish early in the morning on the bottom off points in 30-40 feet of water in the mid-lake area.  Parksville, Shriver Creek, and the Georgia Little River between the bridges have all been good.

Mid-morning 2-5 pound hybrid basshave also been schooling in the same areas.

Of course, there are also still some fish on the lower end that will stay there through the winter.

Young anglers show off a big catch this week with William Sasser Guide Service
Young anglers show off a big catch this week with William Sasser Guide Service

William advises that crappiecan be caught in the backs of creeks 15-20 feet down over 30 feet of water in the channel.  They can be caught fishing minnows around brush, or pilling little jigs.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that fishing is fair to good.  Anchoring on mid-lake points and humps and fan-casting herring is the best pattern, with most of the blues coming in 40-60 feet and most of the channels coming in 15-30 feet.  Putting out some live perch or bream in the same areas increases the chances of a flathead biting.  Some large blues are also being caught on the upper end of the lake along the river channel.

September 26

Clarks Hill water levels are at 321.92 (full pool is 330.00) and main lake water temperatures are 80-83 with the backs of creeks around 79-81.  Water clarity on the main lake is good (5-8 foot range) but stained in the backs of creeks.

Tournament angler Bruce Kastner of Simpsonville reports that Clarks Hill bass seem to still be in a late summer pattern.  In a recent club tournament which they won with 12 pounds most of the fish were caught early and late off of main lake humps with grass.  An Alabama rig and Rapala DT-10 were the best baits.

There is some schooling activity on the main lake throughout the day, but it is strongest in the morning.  Casting accuracy is a most to target these fish as you pretty much have to land a lure in the middle of the surface commotion to get a take.

Some fish are also being caught around bridges in the backs of creeks, but with water still warm the major fall migration has not taken place yet.

Bruce Kastner shows off a nice one caught Saturday
Bruce Kastner shows off a nice one caught Saturday

September 15

Clarks Hill water levels are at 323.25 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures have dropped and then rebounded.  They are around 82 right now.  Clarity is normal.

Bassfishing has gotten really good on Clarks Hill, and Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that schooling activity has been pretty awesome on the lake – particularly for 2-2 ½ pound spotted bass.  They generally stay up for ten to twenty seconds, then go down, and then surface five minutes later maybe 50 yards away.  You have to be ready when they come up but if you make a good cast you can get bit every time they surface.  A Gunfish or double fluke rig is hard to beat.

When fish are not on the surface, a ½ ounce Su-Spin blade (our store still has the double-bladed version) with a pearl paddle fluke is a good way to get bit in the same areas.  Most of the schooling has been on the deeper ends of points and there are also some fish out on humps.

As temperatures cool the shallow buzzbait bite is getting better, and instead of being an early morning bite you can throw it all day in pockets with laydowns and docks.  A white floating worm a couple of feet behind a small barrel swivel is also a good bet right now.

Theres not a lot of change with the striper and hybrid pattern, and Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that his boat is still catching fish about 50 feet deep.  However, now they are catching those fish on the bottom off points.  There has also been some good schooling activity around Parksville out in the middle where fish are chasing threadfin.  There are some decent fish mixed in with a lot of small ones.  The best schooling has been mid-morning and late in the afternoon.

A nice recent catch off Captain William Sasser's boat
A nice recent catch off Captain William Sasser’s boat

On the catfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that there is not a lot of change, but while the shallower point/ hump pattern is still good he is also catching some fish a little deeper now.  Some of the bigger blues are being caught in 50-60 feet of water at the bottom of ledges.

No new crappie report.

September 1

Clarks Hill water levels are at 322.66 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures have dropped into the lower 80s.

As temperatures drop bassfishing is starting to pick up on Clarks Hill, and Buckeye Lures in Augusta reports that first thing there is some pretty good schooling activity off deeper points and offshore humps.  If there is wind then the schooling can last longer.  They suggest making 5-6 casts with a fluke or topwater lure, and if there are no bites then switch over to a Carolina rig or jig before moving onto the next spot.  Fish are grouped together and if you catch one you should be able to catch more.

Another pattern is fishing around shallower humps in about 12-18 feet of water, and as fish get more active with cooling temperatures they are eating deep diving crankbaits.  Jigs will also still catch fish.

Fish can also be caught running the banks and throwing a buzzbait.  Try to target banks that have as many laydowns as possible where bass are likely to be ambushing bream up shallow.

Striper and hybrids are grouped up together in the lower lake on Clarks Hill, and Captain William Sasser (864-333-2000) reports that his boats are catching lots of nice fish in the 5-12 pound range between Modoc and the dam.  Each morning they are catching 30-40 fish.  The best pattern is fishing 50-60 feet deep with down-lines in about 100 feet of water, but the key is chumming with small pieces of cut herring.  Without the chum William says you can forget it.

There are also tons of small fish in the 2-pound range off basically all the points in the lower lake.

Fishing has slowed down tied up to the cable at the dam, and they have not seen schooling activity.

No caption needed
No caption needed
A healthy catch of fish this week on Willam Sasser's boat
A healthy catch of striper and hybrids this week on Willam Sasser’s boat

On the catfishfront, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the bite is still good with a mixed bag of blues, channels and flatheads along with some bonus hybrids and striper.  Anchoring on points and humps and fan-casting cut herring is catching blues and channels, while live bream and white perch are catching flatheads.  During the day target 20-40 feet and at night focus on 5-15 feet.  Numbers of fish are being caught during the day but most of the bigger fish are coming at night.  If you are focusing on numbers of fish moving every 30-45 minutes is the best way to target aggressive fish, but if you want to catch big ones mark them on your graph and sit on them for at least an hour and a half.  Patience can pay off in a big way.

The crappiepattern remains unchanged, with excellent numbers coming fishing over brush in the backs of coves in the mid-lake area.  Fishing about 20 feet down in 30 feet of water has been the best pattern.  Fish can be caught on jigs but minnows have been working much better.

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