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AHQ INSIDER Clarks Hill (GA/SC) Spring Fishing Report – Updated May 12

  • by Jay

May 12

Clarks Hill water levels are still above full at 330.40 (full pool is 330.00), and morning surface temperatures range from 68-70 degrees. Up the lake the water is dirty but cleaner that it was, while down the lake it is fairly clear. The water is stained because of high winds, not rain.  

There are still a bunch of bass shallow on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that the herring spawn is still going on even though it seems to be winding down. He won a tournament with 16-2 this past weekend, mostly on the strength of schooling fish in the morning. Around mid-day the bite slowed to a crawl. 

The fish are taking topwater lures, Sebilles and flukes, and by this point the bite is pretty much exclusively on the main lake points in less than 4 feet of water.  In the morning make 10-15 casts on a point then move to the next one. The fish are still in the same areas when the sun gets up, but even on a Carolina rig or jig they are very hard to catch.   

The herring spawn bite has also slowed for tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta, who finished second in the same tournament (!), but he agrees it’s still the best thing going. In his opinion temperature drops and up-and-down water levels have not helped and it also appears the herring spawn is winding down. 

First thing Josh is finding the fish schooling, but into the day they have been able to call up a few fish on a Gunfish. A light wind has been ideal to extend the bite – very calm or very wind-blown points have not fished as well.

Cole Pearson (Josh's partner) with a couple of good ones caught Saturday

Cole Pearson (Josh's partner) with a couple of good ones caught Saturday

The herring spawn is becoming less significant for striper and hybrid feeding patterns, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish are moving deeper into 18-25 feet. Some fish can still be caught shallow around the points, but the better fish are further out where they can be caught on down-lines. The free-line and planer board bite is dwindling while the cut bait bite is coming on. Overall there have been some good fish caught but numbers are a little down. They are catching most of their fish on the lower lake.

In the middle and upper lake, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the planer board bite is still going on in the mornings, but it’s a little more inconsistent because of the cool nights. Pulling big gizzard shad will still give you the best shot at a big fish.

On the crappie front, William Sasser Guide Service reports that any post-spawn funk is over and the bite is very strong. Fish are 10-12 feet down over brush and structure in 15-20 feet of water, and fishing with small minnows is working very well.  Trolling is not doing much. Soap Creek, Raysville and Grays Creek have all been good.  

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson reports that the big blue catfish bite is still good. Fish are roaming around in the backs and so fishing flats towards the backs of coves and creeks is the best pattern. Anchoring in 15 or less feet of water in the early morning, late evening and into the night is the best pattern. Cut gizzard shad and live bream have been catching some big blues and flatheads.

April 29

Clarks Hill water levels are above full at 330.43 (full pool is 330.00), and morning surface temperatures are in the upper 60s. Clarity is good.

While there are still some bass on the bed on Clarks Hill, tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that he is not messing with them and is instead focusing herring fish off the points.  Bass are grouped up on most every main lake point, and if the fish on a particular point aren’t biting after 5 or 10 casts you should move on to the next one. Tyler is not having much luck with topwater lures to call fish up, but they will take them when they are schooling. You have to be ready, though, because the window is very brief. Sebilles have been working the best for Tyler when there is some wind, but when there is not he is having to slow down and fish a jig. A drop shot can also work into the day off the same points. 

While tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta has not been getting a ton of bites throwing a Gunfish, sometimes they have been the right ones like this 8 pounder that anchored a winning bag on Saturday. At times they have been able to call fish up, and at times they have been schooling.

In Josh’s view it seems as if the action is starting to move from the creeks towards the main lake, and the creek fish he is still finding are at the front closer to the main lake.

Josh and Austin Rockefeller with a Clarks Hill giant alongside a good one
Josh and Austin Rockefeller with a Clarks Hill giant alongside a good one

While the herring spawn is still controlling feeding patterns, William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that striper and hybrids are starting to move back towards the lower end and they are mostly fishing within a few miles of the dam. The fish are extremely shallow in the morning when they are in 5-10 feet of water feeding on herring, and you can catch them pulling up on the bank and pitching free-lines, pulling planer boards, or anchoring shallow down-lines. There is a little bit of surface activity right after sunrise but much of the action is under the water.

The past few late mornings they have been able to catch fish by backing off in the same areas and fishing 15-20 feet deep, but the action is not as good as daybreak.

On the crappie front, William Sasser Guide Service reports that the fish have pulled off the bank 8-10 feet down over brush in 15-20 feet of water. They have moved into the post-spawn feeding phase, and the middle of most creeks are working with Raysville and Soap Creek particularly productive. 

April 15

Clarks Hill water levels above full at 330.55 (full pool is 330.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 65-57 degrees. Up the lake is fairly muddy while down the lake is cleaner. 

We are in the period when bass on Clarks Hill can be caught on pretty much any shallow pattern you want to fish, and for tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta that means he will be fishing the shallow herring points with topwater lures. He has found an excellent bite on a Gunfish, and it appears that for now there is a mix of pre-spawn and post-spawn fish off the points. He has had very little luck with a fluke and only picked up a few on a jerbkbait. 

For right now the herring and bass are all over points inside the creeks, but as we get further into April they will move out to the main lake and start to get out of the backs of creeks. He has already found a few bass tucked up in willow bushes on main lake blow-throughs. While for now there are still pre-spawn and post-spawn fish off the points, by the end of the month the bass spawn will be pretty much concluded and it will be a post-spawn bite. 

A pre-spawn and post-spawn fish caught off the points this week
A pre-spawn and post-spawn fish caught off the points this week

Proving that there are a lot of different shallow patterns at play, tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that even though the water has come down a bit it is still up in the trees and he has been catching fish on a Buckeye spinnerbait around laydowns and bushes in the muddy water. For now you can also sight-fish in the clearer water down the lake, and frogs, buzzbaits and jigs have also been catching fish. 

Like the bass, William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that striper and hybrids have gone extremely shallow where they are focused on the spawning herring. Early and late fish are in 4-6 feet of water schooling on the main channel points, and at daybreak (and again at dusk) the bite is very good. Fish can be caught on very shallow down-lines and casting light Carolina rigs at anchor, but most anglers are pulling up on the bank and casting the same rigs out the back.  

The fishing gets much tougher during the day, and you have to look for scattered fish in 22-35 feet of water. 

In the middle and upper lake, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the planer board biting is heating up and should get better and better in the coming weeks as the herring spawn progresses. Pulling live herring across main lake, red clay points is a great way to catch quality fish, and if you want to catch even better quality (but less fish) gizzard shad will give you the best shot at catching some of the really big females that can be caught in the spring.  The planer board bite dies after about 11.

Captain Chris with a nice planer board fish caught this week
Captain Chris with a nice planer board fish caught this week

On the crappie front, William Sasser Guide Service reports that the fishing has gotten tougher as the cool front came through. The fish were generally on the banks, but since the cool weather he has found them pulled out 6-8 feet deep over brush in around 12 feet of water.

There are still a mix of pre-spawn and post-spawn fish, and as the next group of fish spawns they will move shallow again. However, instead of spawning in 2 feet of water it would not surprise Brad if the later fish spawn slightly deeper in 4 feet of water. By the end of the month when most fish have spawned they will pull out to brush and the bite will slow as most of them recover from the spawn. 

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson reports that the big blue catfish bite continues to improve. Fish are roaming around in the backs of most major tributaries feeding on the abundance of baitfish flooding into the warm shallow water, and so fishing flats towards the backs of coves and creeks is the best pattern. Anchoring in 15 or less feet of water in the early morning, late evening and into the night is the best pattern. Cut gizzard shad and live bream have been catching some big blues and flatheads.

March 31

Clarks Hill water levels have risen to 331.67 (full pool is 330.00), and morning surface water temperatures are in the mid- to upper-60s. Clarity has improved but there is a significant amount of debris in the water. 

The spawn is very much still underway and you can certainly catch bass on Clarks Hill by running the banks with soft plastics like a floating worm, but tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that large numbers of fish are starting to orient to the points where the herring will soon be spawning. However, instead of catching them with surface baits or even sub-surface moving lures like flukes and swimbaits they have found better action with soft plastics fished on the bottom on wind-blown points in clear areas. In muddier areas they have caught bass on a chartreuse jerkbait fished off the points.  

Another wave of spawning fish will bed on the April full moon. 

Similarly, William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that striper and hybrids have gone really shallow and they are catching them off points early in the morning. Fish are in only 4-10 feet of water, and even though they are able to fish very shallow down-lines other anglers are putting out herring on small weights and casting out of the back. The bite is awesome right at daybreak, but then after that the fish scatter out. There are still some fish popping on the surface but the herring spawn is not quite yet underway. Later in the morning the best pattern is to fish on the bottom in 22-23 feet of water off the same points.  

The best section of the lake has been the mid- to lower lake. 

On the crappie front,Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the long-line trolling bite as well as the tight-lining bite is starting to fade away as crappie get into very shallow water at various stages of the spawn.   

William Sasser Guide Service confirms that they are now fishing in only 2-6 feet of water and the fish are super shallow. While there is a mix of pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawn fish, there is no pattern that does not involve fishing shallow. Baker Creek and Long Cane Creek have both been good.

A pile of crappie caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson 
A pile of crappie caught recently with Captain Chris Simpson

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson reports that the big blue catfish bite is starting to really heat up. Fish are roaming around in the backs of most major tributaries feeding on the abundance of baitfish flooding into the warm shallow water, and so fishing flats towards the backs of coves and creeks is the best pattern. Anchoring in 15 or less feet of water in the early morning, late evening and into the night is the best pattern.

March 25

Clarks Hill water levels are still above full pool at 330.43 (full pool is 330.00), and morning surface water temperatures are in the lower 60s. The lake has cleared but is still stained to muddy in areas. 

The bass fishing on Clarks Hill is as good now as it was tough a couple of weeks ago, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that this past weekend in the Top 6 tournament a warm spell had pushed fish shallow and it seemed as if every bass on the lake had run to the shallows. His father David Matthews won the “Top 6” tournament with a 24-pound sack the second day, and both father and son were fishing the dirtiest shallow water they could. In areas with less than 3 or 4 inches of visibility they were able to fish spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits, catching both pre-spawn and spawning fish. Everything was in 1-4 feet of water, and anglers reported that fish were mostly around brush and not rock. Methiolate floating worms were also working well. 

David Matthews with some of his winning fish
David Matthews with some of his winning fish

Last weekend tournament bass angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta found a similar shallow bite, catching fish on floating worms, Chatterbaits, and frogs around most anything shallow. However, as of yesterday water levels had dropped around a foot – and temperatures had cooled – and some of the shallow stuff that had been holding fish was out of the water.

Instead of finding fish along the banks they seemed to be grouped up shallow on points and schooling. Instead of feeding on the spawning herring they will soon be eating they were feeding on small bait, but they would still take topwaters, flukes, and jerkbaits. Some fish also came off the bottom on a Sled. Some of the fish out there seemed to be post-spawn, and Josh noted that only windy points produced well. 

Even though business is chaotic right now, William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that striper and hybrids have gotten on a strong early morning pattern where they are grouped up on main lake blow-throughs, points and shoals very shallow in 8-12 feet of water. The fish are up there for their faux spawn as well as in anticipation of the herring spawn, and they can be caught on very shallow down-lines or by pitching baits out the sides of an anchored boat.  When the sun gets up planer boards are working the best.

Bass fishermen are catching plenty of striper, and any plug that runs 3-5 feet under the surface can also catch fish. There are also a few fish popping on the surface. 

On the crappie front,Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the long-line trolling bite with jigs and jigs tipped with minnows is still very good in the creek runs and large coves. A large percentage of fish have also moved into the shallows and they can be caught around the banks. 

William Sasser Guide Service confirms that they are also seeing crappie very shallow, and most people are either trolling very shallow or casting at the banks. They have checked deeper brush a couple of times and there are almost no fish out there.

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson reports that big blue catfish are feeding pretty well in the same creeks where the crappie are running.  Anchoring on points and humps near the creek channel and fishing with cut gizzard shad and herring is the best pattern.

March 13

Clarks Hill water levels are well about full pool at 332.88 (full pool is 330.00), and water temperatures have risen into the upper 50s. Even though the lake remains very high it has cleared some, although there is still a ton of debris including stumps and logs floating around. 

Finally conditions have forced his hand, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that striper and hybrids have gotten so scattered that there really is no choice but to fish planer boards and free-lines.  Fish are making their way back down the lake, and even though they can be found all over Captain Brad Sasser is finding the best fishing in the mid- to lower lake. They are at the mouths of creeks, along the edges, and in the shallows, and while it is not unusual for the schools to be broken up when the false spawn approaches they are even less concentrated than usual. As would be expected it is hard to pinpoint a depth range, but generally fish are in 10-30 feet of water and they can be found from 5 feet below the surface to the bottom. 

Perhaps due to a weekend cold front tournament weights in the BFL last weekend on Clarks Hill were abysmal, and tournament bass angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that with 86 boats it only took 13 pounds to win! However, with the warming trend this week fishing is really picking up and bass are starting to move to the edges of pockets and around buck brush and shallow rock along the banks. In a few days they will be all over the banks, and spinnerbaits and crankbaits will get better and better for shallower, aggressive fish. There are also some nice bass being caught flipping shallow cover with a Senko or jig. 

On the crappie front,Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the bite is getting stronger and stronger as temperatures rise. Long-line trolling with jigs and jigs tipped with minnows is one of the most consistent ways to put fish in the boat, especially as they start to flood into the creek runs and large coves. Start at the mouth or in the back and work your way in or out of the creek until you find an active area. Most of the fish have been suspended 5-15 feet deep over 10-20 feet of water, and you should vary your speed and jig colors until you find what the fish want on a particular day. Chris notes that bank fishing is about to get really good.

A couple of slabs caught this week with Captain Chris Simpson
A couple of slabs caught this week with Captain Chris Simpson

William Sasser Guide Service adds that fish are full of roe, but that since water temperatures were about 50 only last Sunday it will take them a few days to adjust to the warming trend and be ready to lay eggs. Soap Creek and Lloyd’s Creek on opposite ends of the lake have been fishing well.   

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson reports that big blue catfish are feeding pretty well in the same creeks where the crappie are running.  Anchoring on points and humps near the creek channel and fishing with cut gizzard shad and herring is the best pattern.

February 27

Clarks Hill water levels are well about full pool at 332.63 (full pool is 330.00), which is actually down almost a foot and a half in the last week. There is no clear water anywhere on the lake – it is just a matter of how stained it is. The middle of the channel is muddy and full of debris, logs, broken away docks, staircases, and even lawn chairs. In many cases the backs of creeks are actually cleaner. Water temperatures range from the low to mid-50s.    

Even though water conditions are – to put it mildly – unusual, tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that the bass bite has actually been pretty good for the last 10 days. The greatest numbers of fish have been on rock in 6-10 feet of water where he has been catching them on a jig or Sled/ Zoom Speed Craw, but there have also been fish caught on deeper brush in 20-25 feet of water. There have also been reports of excellent catches on crankbaits, although Tyler has spent more time throwing the other baits. 

Even though the submerged grass has pretty much been eradicated on Clarks Hill, tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta has been able to fish covered up bank grass with the high water levels. He has caught some very nice fish on Chatterbaits fished shallow over the grass. Like Tyler he has also found a good bite on jigs around rock. 

The Rockefeller brothers with a couple of good ones
The Rockefeller brothers with a couple of good ones

Crazy water conditions – and wind, and rain, and more rain – are also affecting the striper and hybrids, but William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) also reports that the fish are still eating pretty well. They are highly scattered likely due to the influx of fresh, dirty water, and every single day you need to look for them anew. Yesterday Captain Brad Sasser caught everything off points and blow-throughs off the edge of the main channel in 17-28 feet of water.  Everything he targeted was on the bottom, although there were a few fish suspended.

While there is little consistency and the fish are moving around a lot from day to day, there have been some commonalities. Fish are generally in less than 30 feet of water, and they are generally in the main lake and not the creeks. They are also totally full of roe.

February 17

Clarks Hill water levels have shot way up to 333.10 (full pool is 330.00), and even though there are reports that the Corps will soon open the floodgates for now people’s docks and walkways are under water. There just haven’t been a lot of places to send the water without flooding the downstream areas. The backs of all the creeks are extremely muddy, and while the lower end is clearing a bit it looks like more freshwater and therefore mud is coming.  There is a ton of debris floating and surface temperatures range from about 52-53 degrees. 

Unusual water conditions are forcing anglers away from traditional winter patterns, but tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that that if you can find the right water then the bite can be pretty good. He is looking for water that is stained but not muddy, and 2-2.5 feet of visibility seems to be fishing the best. 

Right now fish are highly scattered but everything seems to be relating to either rocks or brush piles, be they in 4 feet or 25 feet.  Rocks hold heat and both types of cover give fish something to relate to when low visibility limits their senses.  

With virtually no grass on Clarks Hill right now Tyler has found a very poor crankbait/ Rattle Trap bite all year, and most of the fish he is catching are coming on The Sled. Fish do not seem to want to chase so he advises slowing down and working the bait very methodically with repeated casts to the same rock pile. Because visibility is so low fish may not see it unless it is presented right to them. Even though it seems like a Chatterbait and spinnerbait would work in the muddy water, Tyler has had little luck with them.

While weights have overall been a little depressed, there have been some big bags caught this year that are allegedly coming in more than 35 feet of water. A ten plus pound fish was also caught recently. 

A 10.19 pounder caught recently on Clarks Hill
A 10.19 pounder caught recently on Clarks Hill

Whether because of the calendar or water conditions, and probably due to both, William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that striper and hybrids are starting to push towards the lower end. They can be found off the points in the main channel, and the sweet spot has been about 28-35 feet on the bottom. Down-lines have been working well as fish are generally too deep for planer boards.

There are also some fish on the upper end of the lake, and Parksville, the Georgia flats, Shriver Creek and up the Broad River have been the best areas. 

They note that perhaps due to a warm January pretty much all the fish (regardless of species) that they are catching seem to be busting with roe and eggs. 

Always a finicky species, Captain Brad Sasser reports that crappie have all but locked up and they are very difficult to catch. Before the flooding fish had shallowed up some, and once water conditions normalize a little Brad expects to find them in the 12-15 foot range suspended in trees. 

January 30

Clarks Hill water levels are down to 327.64 (full pool is 330.00) and surface temperatures are about 51 or 52 degrees. Most of the lake is muddy to dirty, even including the deep water on the lower end of the lake. 

Despite the absence of relatively clear water on Clarks Hill striper and hybrids are biting well, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the fish they are catching are extremely fat and healthy. They have been finding fish ¾ of the way back in the creeks in 25-30 feet of water on the sides of ditches, and they are catching them close to the bottom on down-lines.  There are also suspended fish that are really on the move, and they must be targeted with free-lines and planer boards. 

Fish are not related to anything in particular and so electronics are critical.  While there is a decent amount of bird activity, in general the birds are on loons and not fish. 

The majority of the fish are up the lake and out in the arms, and up the Georgia Little River up to Raysville has been fishing well as has Soap Creek up the lake.  

When the lake got very high there was a good bite for bass up in the shallow bushes, but tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that since water levels dropped the fish seem to have pulled back out. They are still catching some fish on rocky points in 5-10 feet of water with The Sled and jigs, and with the absence of grass rock is really the only structure besides wood for the fish to get around. There have been reports of a good blade-bait bite in the ditches but it is not working everywhere. 

Windy conditions have reduced the amount of crappie fishing on the lake, but Captain Brad Sasser reports that as water temperatures gradually begin to rise they should move shallower in the creeks into 12-15 feet of water. Both tight-lining and long-line trolling techniques will work. 

A 2 pound 11 ounce crappie caught recently with William Sasser Guide Service
A 2 pound 11 ounce crappie caught recently with William Sasser Guide Service

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that muddy conditions are still making for a tough bite. Still the basic patterns are unchanged, and 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.

January 16

Clarks Hill water levels are above full pool at 330.46 (full pool is 330.00) and surface temperatures range from about 52-57 degrees. While water clarity varies over the lake, overall the lake ranges from stained to muddy.

Even though it’s not textbook winter conditions for striper and hybrids on Clarks Hill, William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the bite has been really good. In the areas they are fishing the dirty water is not hurting the bite too much, and there have been just enough breaks between the rain to keep it from getting downright muddy further down the lake.

Fish are in the creeks, particularly the backs of creeks and on the edges of ditches or the main trough. They are highly suspended, and the best action has fishing shallow down-lines or planer boards for fish holding 10-20 feet deep over 25-40 feet of water.

There is some bird activity but it is limited.

The only thing better than the striper fishing has been the crappie fishing, and Captain Brad Sasser reports that bite has been outstanding. Fish are holding 15-18 feet deep over brush in 25-30 feet of water, and they are catching them on minnows as well as jigs with pink heads and silver bodies. Crappie are in the backs of creeks, and up the South Carolina Little River Baker Creek has fished well. In the Georgia Little River the Raysville are has been good.

From time to time there have been some monster bags of bass caught on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that in a New Year’s Day tournament a huge 31-pound sack was landed! However, while a few people have really figured them out on certain days, overall fishing has been a little tough. Perhaps because of water conditions they are not in typical patterns for this time of year. Blade baits have not been fishing well in ditches, and even when loons have been around there have not been bass feeding in the ditches with them. And while a few fish have been caught on underspins over humps it has not been an easy pattern.

The best action Josh has found has been fishing an Alabama rig around bridges, and he has found tons of bait and bass in those areas.

One Clarks Hill bass that did fall for an underspin last week
One Clarks Hill bass that did fall for an underspin last week

 

On thecatfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that muddy conditions in the areas he likes to fish have made the fish scatter out even more. The presence of trash and logs floating everywhere, especially now that the lake has gotten so high, is also making it harder to fish. 

While fishing is tougher the basic patterns are unchanged, and 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.

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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