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AHQ INSIDER Clarks Hill (GA/SC) Summer 2021 Fishing Report – Updated July 9

  • by Jay

July 9

Clarks Hill water levels have finally dipped below full to 329.94 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures are in the mid-80s.   

While some people are making a run at the bass in deep water on Clarks Hill right now, tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta has found such a good buzzbait bite right now that he is barely messing with the deep patterns. When he is he is only picking up small fish on a drop shot.

Perhaps in part because of high water levels the buzzbait action has been lasting all day regardless of the weather, and Josh says that the only adjustment you have to make depending on cloud cover is where you fish. When the sun is high the fish will come up out of wood and shade to eat the buzzbait, while when the conditions are cloudy they are moving around everywhere and seem to take it even better. 

In the mid-lake, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the down rod bite for hybrids and striper is a little shallower than in the lower lake but fish are in similar patterns. 

Main lake humps and points are holding fish. Before daylight fish are feeding in the 18-25 foot range, and when the sun gets up they tend to move out to the 30-foot range. 

On the catfish front, it will be a little while until the trophy bite improves but Captain Chris Simpson reports that 1-12 pound blue and channel cats can still be caught in pretty good numbers by anchoring on points and humps. Dip baits are a sure bet to get the channels going, while cut herring will generally land more blues. 

Look in the 5-15 foot range early and late and 15-30 feet when the sun gets up. 

Additional report to follow from William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468).

June 23

Clarks Hill water levels are slightly up to 330.70 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures are around 81-83 degrees. 

It’s been a good week for hybrid and striped bass on Clarks Hill in the lower lake, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that first thing there is a fast bite for 2-4 pound hybrids off channel points and hump in 25-35 feet of water on the bottom. The bite is hot until about 7:15 or 7:30, but then the action dies off and fish generally move out to 40-55 feet of water in the same general areas. 

Here they are catching a mix of hybrids and striper, with some fish on the bottom and some suspended about 35 feet down. The biggest fish are on the deeper end of the range, like this 23-pounder caught last week. Everything is coming on down-lines. 

Caught with William Sasser Guide Service
Caught with William Sasser Guide Service

In the mid-lake, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the down rod bite is a little shallower than in the lower lake but fish are in similar patterns. 

Main lake humps and points are holding fish. Before daylight fish are feeding in the 18-25 foot range, and when the sun gets up they tend to move out to the 30-foot range. 

The last couple of times Josh Rockefeller of Augusta has fished for bass on Clarks Hill, including the BFL South Carolina division tournament Saturday where he had a respectable showing, and then again Monday when he found a very strong bite, it’s been all about a buzzbait. Unusual for summer he is getting 10 plus bites each time he throws the buzzbait, and if they don’t get it he can usually catch them throwing back with a floating worm – unless the fish have come up out of very deep water. 

Josh is mostly fishing up the river, but it seems that the most important factor is having deep water nearby and he is pretty much sticking to the main lake. The fish are also highly related to wood. He is still getting some bites around willow bushes, but particularly on overcast days laydowns have been holding more fish. Josh notes that right now there are a ton of bream up shallow.

While he would probably rather be throwing a buzzbait, too, tournament Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that you can also catch fish in 15-25 feet of water on the bottom with a Carolina rig, jig or The Sled. You want at least a half-ounce of weight. Fish are related to humps or points, but having some rock or brush greatly increases the action and bare bottom isn’t holding much. 

It will be a little while until the trophy catfish bite improves, but Captain Chris Simpson reports that 1-12 pound blue and channel cats can still be caught in pretty good numbers by anchoring on points and humps. Dip baits are a sure bet to get the channels going, while cut herring will generally land more blues. 

Look in the 5-15 foot range early and late and 15-30 feet when the sun gets up. 

Captain Bradd Sasser notes that between the heat, a feeling that the flesh is mushy in the summer, and the good striper bite not many people are targeting crappie right now, but they are almost certainly still on deep brush. Report to follow after he guides for them Saturday.  

June 18

Clarks Hill water levels are still very high at 330.57 (full pool is 330.00) and the lake is mostly clear. Morning surface water temperatures are around 83 degrees. 

Back on the water after the birth of a child and eventually a well-earned fishing vacation, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the down rod bite for hybrid and striped bass is pretty good in the mid-lake. Main lake humps and points are holding fish. Before daylight fish are feeding in the 18-25 foot range, and when the sun gets up they tend to move out to the 30-foot range. 

A huge catch this week with William Sasser Guide Service
A huge catch this week with William Sasser Guide Service

Tomorrow morning tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta has the BFL South Carolina division tournament to fish, and he reports that in the lower lake he has found plenty of bass schooling down near the dam over humps first thing. Once the sun gets up this bite shuts down. 

While there are still a lot of fish on brush piles in 15-20 feet of water, in recent tournaments like last weekend’s BFL Savannah River division event it seems that better fish are coming up shallow around bushes. Josh is catching them on topwater lures, but the winner of the last BFL caught everything he weighed flipping.  Regardless it’s obvious a lot of good fish are holding around bushes. 

While it’s not the peak time for catching giant catfish, 1-12 pound blue and channel cats can be caught in pretty good numbers by anchoring on points and humps. Dip baits are a sure bet to get the channels going, while cut herring will generally land more blues. 

Look in the 5-15 foot range early and late and 15-30 feet when the sun gets up.

June 10

Clarks Hill water levels are still very high at 330.62 (full pool is 330.00) and the lake is mostly clear. Morning surface water temperatures are around 82 degrees. 

Summer patterns are starting to set in on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the hybrid and striped bass are in a pretty reliable pattern where they can be caught on lower end, main lake humps in 30-40 feet of water. The pattern doesn’t change a whole lot as the sun gets up, but they bite better early and as it gets later shift from the shallower to deeper end of the 30-40 foot range. 

There are also some big fish starting to be caught off the sides of humps in about 60 feet, and these are mostly 8-10 plus pound striper. However, it’s not a very reliable pattern for numbers yet. There were some decent numbers of fish at the dam but now there aren’t as many.

Unusual for this time of year there are also some schooling fish in the 1-2 pound range right at daybreak. 

In the two weeks since the last report the bass patterns have changed pretty significantly, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that even though there are still some shallow fish most of the action right now is deeper. A buddy of Josh’s fished almost 20 brush piles in 15-20 feet of water and caught a fish out of every single one, but sizes are not generally great. Some people are fishing big worms but Josh likes to get over them and fish a drop shot. He finds that as long as there is at least 12 feet of water the vertical presentation does not spook the fish.

In his last night tournament Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that they caught fish on even deeper brush in 25-30 feet, but they actually found their best action around chunk rock where they located some good groups of fish. They also targeted humps that rose from about 15 to 8 feet. Tyler notes that there has been some schooling over the humps. 

As always there is some shallow action if you know where to look, and Josh has discovered that around the flooded bushes he can get the fish to blow up on topwater lures.  If they don’t get it then he will throw back in with a wacky rig. The fish seem to be suspended in the bushes and so flipping for them has been ineffective. 

The crappie fishing remains very good and in stable patterns, and Captain Bradd Sasser reports that fish are still 10-12 feet down over brush in 15-20 feet of water. The depth where they are suspended is probably more important than the depth of the water, and if you had brush that rose to within 10 feet of the surface in 30 feet it would likely also be good.

Small minnows are still working well and the Amity area has been good.

May 27

Clarks Hill water levels are still very high at 331.28 (full pool is 330.00) and the lake is pretty clear for the most part. Morning surface water temperatures have shot up to 82 degrees. 

It’s been an interesting couple of days on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that in general the pattern for catching hybrid and striped bass has been to fish 25-30 feet deep on the bottom with down-lines. Fish are set up on main lake points, and they are also starting to move onto humps. There are still some fish in the mid-lake, but more are in the lower lake. 

However, the last two days they found a massive group of big hybrids that were sitting in only 12-14 feet of water. They were more expecting to see fish in 50 feet before they saw them in the sub-teens again. It’s unclear why, but who knows what fish think when a lunar eclipse coincides with a full moon!

You would be forgiven for expecting the bass bite to slow down with the heat, because everyone did, but Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that in fact the opposite seems to have happened. 17 pounds won a recent night tournament and there were a bunch of bags in the 14-15 pound range, with most people fishing to the end in a sure sign they were catching. Everyone seems to be getting numbers and what separates the top from everyone else is who can catch a 4-pound plus fish. 

Early and late fish are chasing herring, but tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that the herring bite is slowing down and now they are on more small herring than big ones. He is having to adjust with a small swimbait and it’s at best a sporadic bite.

The best bite seems to be offshore now, and Tyler reports that humps in 10-16 feet of water have been producing. However, they did not catch a single fish on brush and finding rock on the humps seemed to be key. There are also some fish off points in 15-25 feet of water.  This is the period when you can usually do really well offshore before the fish have been hammered for months. 

With a good bluegill spawn right now there have also been some bass around bream beds, and Josh saw a group of huge fish around bream. With high water there is a lot of cover that should hold fish up, and early in the morning you can run the bank with a frog or buzzbait. 

The crappie fishing remains very good, although Captain Bradd Sasser reports that fish have moved a little deeper. He is finding them 10-12 feet down over brush in 15-20 feet of water. The depth where they are suspended is probably more important than the depth of the water, and if you had brush that rose to within 10 feet of the surface in 30 feet it would likely also be good.

Small minnows are still working well and Lloyds Creek has been good.   

A good catch this week with William Sasser Guide Service
A good catch this week with William Sasser Guide Service

New report to follow from Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352).

May 19

Clarks Hill water levels are still very high at 331.24 (full pool is 330.00) and the lake is pretty clear for the most part. Morning surface water temperatures are up to 73-74 degrees.    

Almost overnight the water temperatures shot up several degrees, and literally overnight William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the pattern for catching hybrid and striped bass changed.  As of yesterday they could still find a shallow bite early, and there are most likely still some scattered shallow fish somewhere on the lake, but this morning all of their boats had to move deeper. Captain Bradd Sasser caught everything first thing in 28-30 feet of water around a blow-through, and then straight through the morning replicated that pattern on several identical spots. Overall the fish seem to be in 25-30 feet of water off points, shoals, and blow-throughs, and even though that change happened overnight it doesn’t seem likely to change back. The bait is starting to thin out on the points and the water temperatures have gotten too warm for better striper to be comfortable. 

Just because the striper aren’t shallow doesn’t mean the same is true for the bass, and for the last couple of days Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA has found bass on every point. Yesterday he fished 15 main lake points and caught a fish on every one – at one point he caught two on a bait!  There have been a lot of 2-3 pound fish, and yesterday Tyler weighed a bag of basically 3-pound clones in a club tournament. The fish have been coming on flukes, Gunfish and Sebilles. 

While wind can extend the bite Tyler has found the action slows down dramatically after about 11, and then he has been getting out on humps in 10-20 feet of water with a jig or Carolina rig. 

While there are certainly more 2-3 pound fish on the points, tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that they have still caught some good ones up there. A friend caught a 6-pounder on a Pop-R as well as a 4 1/2, and he has actually had better luck for bigger fish on windy afternoons. Josh also notes that unstable weather can turn off the bite. 

With high water levels there are also some fish shallow around bushes. 

14+ pounds of live bass caught yesterday by Tyler Matthews
14+ pounds of live bass caught yesterday by Tyler Matthews

The crappie fishing remains very good, and Captain Bradd Sasser reports that yesterday on a crappie trip they found fish 8-12 feet down over all depths of brush and trees in the creeks.  Whether brush was in 15 or 25 feet that was still the depth where fish were holding. Small minnows have been working well and the Amity and Raysville areas are good. 

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) 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 remains the best pattern.  Anchoring in 15 or less feet of water in the early morning, late evening and into the night is ideal.  Cut gizzard shad and live bream have been catching some big blues and flatheads.

May 6

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 331.03 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures are in the low to mid-70s.   

Even though the bass are still schooling on spawning herring off main lake points, tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA notes that the weights are starting to drop and it is only taking 12-16 pounds to win Saturday tournaments. Finding that big one is getting a little harder, and the schooling action is now better in the morning. Certainly you could still pull up on a point and catch 20 pounds at 2:00, but the better windows are now before lunch. Wind can sustain the action. When fish aren’t schooling you can drag a jig on the points where you have been fishing topwater lures and flukes, but it seems like some of the fish are starting to move out towards main humps in 8-15 or 20 feet of water.  However, for now 90% of what Tyler is catching out there is spots. A Carolina rig or Sled/ creeper head is good for fishing the humps, but you should always have a fluke or topwater ready just in case. 

There are also a few bass still on beds, and there is also getting to be a good buzzbait bite. With more bluegill and shellcracker heading shallow to spawn that is only going to help the buzzbait bite in coves. 

The hybrid and striped bass are still biting well but they never really got on the super shallow pattern again, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the best action is coming off main lake points 10-18 feet deep right at daybreak. After that you are having to move out to 20-25 feet of water in the same areas around points and blow throughs, and at both times anglers are mainly fishing down-lines. People seem to be pretty much done with planer boards for a while if not the year. 

Overall the bite has been pretty good and, although some days have been a bit inconsistent because of the weather, Tuesday in particular was one of the best days of the year. The action is mostly in the lower lake right now although there have been some reports of a really good bite on the upper end around Russell Dam. 

The crappie fishing remains extremely good, and Captain Bradd Sasser reports that his boat is still catching big fish and excellent numbers. All of the fish he is catching are suspended about 8-10 feet down in trees in 14-20 feet of water and he is only using minnows. 

A pile of crappie caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service
A pile of crappie caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service

April 28

Clarks Hill water levels are still above full at 330.61 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures are in the upper 60s. 

The cold snap earlier in the week slowed down the bass schooling on herring for a few days, but tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that by this weekend he thinks the fish will be back in the same pattern where running points with a Gunfish and fluke is all you need to do to catch them.

However, with that pattern a little slow for the last few days he started experimenting with some other stuff, and throwing a buzzbait down the bank he caught the below 8-pounder.  He also discovered a pattern throwing a Pop-R at the holes between bushes with the high water levels. 

Josh has also heard reports of a spinnerbait and frog working in the rivers, while in the lower lake a jig and shakey head have been catching fish around docks. 

Josh Rockefeller with a giant he caught this week
Josh Rockefeller with a giant he caught this week

Tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA is in agreement that the bass will be blowing up on main lake points for the next few weeks, but he points out that on calm days that action may be confined to low light conditions early and late. When the wind is not blowing and the sun is up you can fish a Carolina rig on points. In contrast, when the wind is howling you can fish topwaters all day. 

In addition to the buzzbait bite now that more bream are up, Tyler also notes that he has caught some fish on shallower humps in 8-10 feet when the wind was not blowing on the main lake. Some better spotted bass are on these humps and a ½ or 3/8 ounce creeper head or jig has been working.

The hybrid and striped bass will probably be found a little shallower early once the herring really get up again, but William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that for now they are finding the fish in 18-20 feet on main channel points and shoals and the edge of the channel first thing. After that initial feeding they are pushing out into 25-30 feet of water in the same areas, and at both times they are catching them on down-lines.

In the middle and upper lake, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the planer board biting is still good. 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.

The crappie fishing is extremely good right now, and Captain Bradd Sasser reports that he has caught fish up to almost 3 pounds as well as excellent numbers. All of the fish he is catching are suspended about 8-10 feet down in trees in 14-20 feet of water and he is only using minnows. 

In catfish news, Captain Chris Simpson reports that the big blue catfish bite remains strong. Fish are roaming around in the backs of most major tributaries feeding on the abundance of baitfish in 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. 

April 16

Clarks Hill water levels are still well above full at 330.82 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures are in the upper 60s. The lake is very clear. 

There’s a big BFL coming up this weekend on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that there are still some bass on beds but the majority of the bigger females seem to have spawned out by this point. He is finding the best action out on main lake points where fish are chasing spawning herring, and a couple of days ago he caught 25 fish on this pattern.  You can throw whatever bait you like, from topwaters to flukes to Sebilles, but the key is to have some wind. When the wind dies down a jig can work or a local favorite is to fish a big 12-inch worm on a drop shot.  There are also some fish chasing bluegill in the backs. 

Mrs. Tyler Matthews, 21 weeks pregnant with two future fishermen, with a nice one caught this week
Mrs. Tyler Matthews, 21 weeks pregnant with two future fishermen, with a nice one caught this week

Tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of August will also be fishing the BFL this weekend, but he notes that you can also find some blueback spawning in the creeks. This usually lasts through the 3rd or 4th week of April before it moves exclusively out to the main lake. Like Tyler he is almost completely targeting schooling fish. 

Many of our regular statewide correspondents are pre-fishing Clarks Hill right now and they report a finicky bite on the points, so it will be interesting to see what weights look like tomorrow.  

The pattern for hybrid and striped bass is pretty predictable right now, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that before daylight until 15 or 20 minutes after the sun rises the fish are up on the main channel points on the lower end of the lake chasing the herring spawn. The fish are extremely shallow in 6-10 feet of water or even less. 

Once the sun starts to get up the fish back off into 18-20 feet of water where they can be caught on down-lines. 

Just yesterday Captain Bradd Sasser also found a group of fish on the bottom in 40 feet, but it is very early for them to be that deep and so this may have been a one-off. 

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. 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.

While there are still a very few crappie that have eggs in them, Captain Bradd Sasser reports that almost all of the fish are post-spawn and those with some eggs may have already laid the majority of them. He is now catching fish over brush in the creeks 6-10 feet down, with the depth of the water being less important than how deep the fish are holding. Some of the productive brush is in 12 feet and some is in 25 feet where there are good trees that stick up vertically. Electronics are vital right now. 

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. 

April 2

Clarks Hill water levels are well above full at 331.06 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures are in the 60-degree range on the main lake. The lake was fairly clear before the last round of rain this week, but it is again stained and there is still lots of yellow pollen on the water. 

Even though the water temperatures have dipped, the last couple of days tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA has still found most of the fish in 4 feet of water or less. While some of them are on beds, a lot of them are just up there in pre-spawn feeding mode. Tyler has mainly been fishing stained water with a spinnerbait, and he even caught one good one on a frog. He expects that by the end of next week if the weather stabilizes as predicted the herring spawn will be wide open. 

A good one caught yesterday by Tyler Matthews
A good one caught yesterday by Tyler Matthews

Tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of August reports that before the cold snap there were already some fish starting to set up on herring points, although whether there were herring up there or not was unclear. Soon every point on the lake will have fish on it and the action will be wide open.   

The action for hybrid and striped bass got a little tough for a while, but William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that this whole week the fish have been in a feeding frenzy. They are scattered all over the place on the lower end of the lake including the dam, and he is finding them off secondary points in creeks, along the edges of the channel and off channel points. With the fish in 5-25 feet you can catch them on free-lines, planer boards and down-lines. 

While his boat is still catching a few crappie that have eggs in them, Captain Bradd Sasser reports that most of the fish are post-spawn right now. They are mostly catching them 8-12 feet down over trees in 25 feet of water. 

We are getting into a really good month for catfish, and Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that anchoring on points, humps and saddles between islands is a good way to put a mixed bag of cats and striper in the boat during April.  Islands and points with red clay are typically better, and live and cut herring are the best baits.

March 19 (continued)

Out on the water earlier today fishing the Big Bass Tour, tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA managed to score a 5.82 pound big fish worth a healthy check in one of the hourly weigh-ins. This follows a good weekend last week where Tyler placed 11th out of about 150 boats in the Top 6 tournament. 

Overall Tyler reports that the fishing is getting good on Clarks Hill even though the water temperatures have dropped a few degrees, and fish are doing about everything right now.  There are some fish deep, some fish shallow and everywhere in-between.  There are plenty of pre-spawn fish but he has also seen some on the beds.  Tyler has been throwing a spinnerbait the most.

March 19

Clarks Hill water levels are slightly back up to 329.60 (full pool is 330.00) and morning surface water temperatures have fallen from about 60 back into the mid-50s as of this morning.  

The action for hybrid and striped bass has improved this week, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that right at daybreak there is a window where fish can be caught with shallow down-lines fished in 8-15 feet of water off shoals and points on the lower end. Some anglers are also pulling the nose of the boat on the bank and casting out the back. However, after the early flurry fish scatter out and there is pretty much no choice but to pull planer boards and cover water.

While a few fish are being caught in the backs, the vast majority are being caught in the mouth of creeks or along the channel. There should be at least small hybrids in the coves but there are not. 

While the best action is moving towards the lower lake, neither significant numbers of fish nor bait schools have showed up at the dam yet although a few fish are being caught in the evening. This may be the result of an atypical power generation schedule.  

While the crappie fishing is strong on Clarks Hill, Captain Bradd Sasser reports that they would expect for it to be further along than it is right now. The fish they are catching are (like other species) totally full of eggs but erratic water temperatures appear to be throwing the fish off of actually spawning. While other anglers are catching fish trolling Bradd has gone back to fishing relatively shallow brush.

Speaking of trolling, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has spent a lot of time on Clarks Hill this spring and he reports that this week they have been catching some really nice females long-lining with 1/32 ounce jigs in the creeks. At times they have found fish suspended 5-6 feet down in 10-15 feet, while at other times they are more like 8-10 feet down in the same depths. 

Another seasonal crappie guide, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) notes that the crappie have moved pretty shallow in the creeks where he is fishing. Before the cold snap there were some fish that could be caught casting to the banks, although trolling is also still productive.

A couple of good ones caught this week with Captain Chris Simpson
A couple of good ones caught this week with Captain Chris Simpson

The catfish continue to be in about the same pattern, and Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that fish are in the creek runs in the upper half of the lake. They are in the middle to backs of the creeks, and anchoring cut gizzard shad or herring at whatever depth the bait is holding on a particular day is the best pattern. 

Bass report to follow.

March 10

Clarks Hill water levels are slightly down to 329.32 (full pool is 330.00) and most of the lake is clearing. Morning surface water temperatures range from about 53-57 degrees.

There’s general agreement that the bassfishing is about to really bust wide open on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that last weekend he found fish suspended off points eating small herring. They wanted a jerkbait, and he also caught some fish deeper in 20 feet of water on an Alabama rig.

However, while Josh didn’t fish there his buddies caught 22 pounds up the river fishing shallow with spinnerbaits and crankbaits, and so there were obviously some fish moving shallower even last weekend. While the cold backed the fish up some last weekend Josh expects a big wave to go shallow this weekend, particularly up the rivers where the water warms faster. 

Some really nice fish caught up the rivers this week
Some really nice fish caught up the rivers this week

In a similar vein, tournament angler Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that it’s getting to be the time where you can throw any lure in your tackle box. Consistent with Josh’s report he has found fish from 2-23 feet, and early they have found some better ones in ditches on Su-Spin blades. Some decent fish have also been caught on brush.

However, in the warm afternoons they have found some better fish around shallow buck brush that wanted a spinnerbait and Chatterbait. These fish just appeared to be up there soaking up the sun and looking around, but by this weekend there will almost certainly be fish spawning. Tyler expects there to be a big run to the bank this weekend.  

As good as the bass fishing is getting, William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the striped and hybrid bass fishing has been pretty tedious the last week, and fish are so inconsistent and scattered that you have to troll all over the place to find them. A few are on the bottom and some are suspended around ditches, creeks and the edges of shoals, and you generally have to pull planer boards to catch them as they want a reaction bite instead of something dangled in front of them. Whether suspended at that depth or on the bottom most fish are 10-20 feet down. Fish are still moving down towards the lower end, but they have not gotten to the dam yet. 

About the only window when you can fish on down-lines is at daybreak on some shallow shoals.

The fishing is so tough that some guides were actually rescheduling last weekend, which is unusual after the winter layoff. 

Fortunately the crappie fishing is better, but Captain Brad Sasser reports that you also have to cover a lot of water trolling in 6-10 feet of water although a few fish are a bit deeper.  Usually they are close to the bottom. They are not marking a lot of big groups as most of the fish are scattered, but even when they do they are only picking a few fish out of each one. They are pretty much pulling jigs tipped with minnows. Mistletoe has been a very productive area.

This spring Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has also been fishing Clarks Hill for crappie, and while fishing a similar pattern he notes that he has found much better action in areas with some dirty water. When the area they were fishing cleared the bite dropped off until they moved into a creek that is often muddy but has a good stain right now.

Finally, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) notes that with the warming trend by this weekend he expects fish to move shallower. However, he notes that the crappie don’t always read the same book we do!

And neither do the catfish, although Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) expects that again the fish should move shallower in the creek runs in the upper half of the lake this weekend. The fish should stay in the middle to backs of the creeks but move up, and again dirty water will be a plus. The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and definitely this weekend the best bet is to fish however deep the bait is holding on a particular day.

March 5

Clarks Hill water levels have dropped to 329.50 (full pool is 330.00), and there is great color variation over the lake ranging from almost clear to chocolate milk. Water temperatures range from about 53-55 degrees.

This past weekend the bass fishing was strong on Clarks Hill, and tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that in a large high school tournament a 20 plus pound bag came to the scales. Josh was also out on the water and it seemed you could call your shots, with fish hungry and staging on points. They seemed to be on any steep point that was close to an area where they would be getting ready to pull up. 

However, by Wednesday the bite had completely changed and the group of fish that was setting up on steep points and hungry seemed to have disappeared. Josh only caught one this way. While cool temperatures might have pulled some fish back out to deeper water or made them suspend, it seemed to Josh that at least some of these fish had moved to the banks.  He caught some bucks around the banks and there were also some big females swirling in shallow water. There was no wind and the fish were striking a little short, almost swiping at a spinnerbait as if it were a nuisance.

Overall Josh will not be surprised if there is a small wave of fish spawning by this weekend as he is already seeing them in the backs of some flat pockets. He has had the best luck recently with a jig, but there have also been good reports on a crankbait and The Sled.

While the rivers warm faster on Clarks Hill and so fish up there are probably closer to spawning in those areas, Josh also notes that he caught some fish schooling at the dam. 

Josh Rockefeller with a chubby one caught this week
Josh Rockefeller with a chubby one caught this week

The hybrid and striped bass have moved on Clarks Hill, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the action on down-lines has completely fallen apart this week as fish have gone shallower. About the only way that guides are catching them is pulling planer boards shallow across shoals and secondary points in the creeks, and fish are extremely scattered. The areas Brad is fishing have a slight stain.  

Overall fish continue to migrate down the lake, and right now the majority of the fish are in the mid- to lower lake. However, they have not yet gotten to the dam nor has the bait.

On the crappie front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the fishing is pretty good long-lining in the mouths of feeder creeks and bays. Fish are suspended in 10-15 feet of water most days. With different water conditions over the lake you need to match your jigs to the water color, and in muddier areas oranges, blacks, purples and blues are working. In clear areas sometime natural colors are best, and sometimes the pattern is just random from day to day. 

This spring Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is finding a better crappie bite on Clarks Hill that his home lake Russell, and he is also catching some nice ones trolling 5-8 feet deep in 10-12 feet of water. He is finding the best action about ¾ the way back in creeks, but it shouldn’t be too long before the fish head to the banks.

Once again Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports no change with the catfish bite, as fish are still around the very large concentrations of bait in the creek runs in the upper half of the lake. The catfish are in these same areas, and so the best place to look remains in the middle to back of creeks. The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and the best depth to fish is however deep the bait is holding on a particular day.

February 26

Clarks Hill water levels are above full at 330.38 (full pool is 330.00) and, while much of the lake is starting to clear, the upper end still has some very muddy areas and there is still a lot of debris floating. Water temperatures range from about 50-52 degrees.

There are plenty of hybrid and striped bass being caught on Clarks Hill right now, but William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that they would be lying if they didn’t acknowledge that you have to work for them. Overall fish continue to migrate down the lake, and right now the majority of the fish are in the mid- to lower lake. However, they have not yet gotten to the dam nor has the bait.

The best action has been coming about 15-20 feet down for fish suspended in the mouths of creeks, and in stained areas they are suspended shallower while in clear areas they are suspended deeper. Fish aren’t really related to any distinct structure such as a hump or point right now, and they are just moving around in some early staging for their faux spawn. About half of the fish are being caught on down-lines, with planer boards and free-lines accounting for the other half. 

As usual on Clarks Hill, Captain Brad Sasser says that the birds are pretty worthless right now.

Last week Guide Brad Fowler and his tournament partner Brock Taylor fished the Skeeter Challenge Sunday on Clarks Hill, finishing seventh with about 18 pounds, and Brad reports that they caught most of the bass that they weighed out deep in 40-50 feet! They caught the fish on ridges and what appeared to be an old roadbed that offered a good depth change. They caught them on a football jig, a drop shot, and one or two on a shakey head, but eventually the wind made fishing deep tough and they moved shallower to fish the colored water in the creeks. That pattern should become dominant going forward.

With temperatures likely to warm fast Brad expects more fish to set up in 6-10 feet or less, and they found the best action around rock in that depth range. Shallow running crankbaits should continue to work well in the stained water in the creeks.

Right now crappie are in a pretty typical spring pattern, and Captain Brad Sasser reports that means it’s essentially an electronics game at the moment. Fish are in the backs of creeks relatively close to their spawning areas, and the best way to catch them is to long-line troll in 8-10 feet of water in areas where you mark fish.  Sometimes they will be related to subtle structure such as an underwater point but at other times they are just swimming around and feeding. Plain jigs have been working the best. 

The catfish report is starting to feel like a broken record, but Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that’s not because the fish aren’t feeding. With all the fresh, muddy water the blue catfish bite has been really good. 

With all the mud there are still very large concentrations of bait in the creek runs in the upper half of the lake. The catfish are still in these same areas, and so the best place to look remains in the middle to back of creeks. The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and the best depth to fish is however deep the bait is holding on a particular day.

A good one caught in the mud this week with Captain Chris Simpson
A good one caught in the mud this week with Captain Chris Simpson
February 18

 

Clarks Hill water levels have shot up to 329.77 (full pool is 330.00) and the lake has plenty of chocolate milk muddy areas.  Even the dam is stained for that area, and with two inches of rain already this morning it will only get worse. Water temperatures range from about 49-51 degrees.

The hybrid and striped bass bite is changing, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that fish are starting to be caught all around the mouths of creeks, off points and in blow-throughs as the fish begin to move shallower.  They are making their way towards the lower end but they have not made it to the dam yet, and most fish are in the mid-lake stage of their migration. Right now most of the fish are in the 15-20 foot range, with some suspended at that depth and others on the bottom. Down-lines and planer boards are the go-to techniques. As stained as the water is the birds are really not helping. 

A good box caught last week with William Sasser Guide Service
A good box caught last week with William Sasser Guide Service

Even before the lake got really muddy tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that he was finding the best bass action fishing a red crankbait off rocky points in 6-8 feet of water at the mouths of creeks. That bite should only be getting better as water conditions deteriorate and more fish get pushed to the banks. 

In clearer areas there is also a pretty decent deep bite on rock, and the fish will take a jig or Ned rig. 

The crappie continue to make their migration shallower, and Captain Brad Sasser reports that they have moved off of brush and basically they are staging 8-12 feet down on flats in the backs of creeks. Some fish are suspended but most of them are fairly near the bottom, and trolling is the best way to target them right now. 

Plain jigs seem to be working the best right now, and even though crappie are feeding fine in the dirty water a more vivid bait such as a neon blue or bright pink seems to be working the best. 

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that due to all the mud there are again very large concentrations of bait in the creek runs in the upper half of the lake.  The catfish are still in these same areas, and so the best place to look remains in the middle to back of creeks.  The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and the best depth to fish is however deep the bait is holding on a particular day.

February 4

Clarks Hill water levels are at 328.16 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures range from about 50 or 51 down the lake to the upper 40s up the rivers. The lake has a slight stain but has cleared a bit. 

On Clarks Hill the hybrid and striped bass are starting to make their seasonal move back towards the lower end, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that so far some fish have made it as far as the mid-lake. There are still fish on the upper end as well as way out the river branches such as the Georgia Little River.

Right now fish are holding in the mouths of about 70% of the creeks, and since fish are not on some particular structure such as a point electronics are key right now. They can be found everywhere from about 15-45 feet.   Down-lines are working.  

Especially the hybrids are suspended right now, while the better striper as well as white and yellow perch and bass are on the bottom. 

A good box caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service
A good box caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service

Speaking of bass, William continues to have some incredible days for spotted bass on the bottom in the mouth of creeks – including some very big ones. 

In addition to the deep pattern for bass, tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that he has also been catching some fish up shallow in 2-5 feet of water on a red crankbait fished around rock. The best areas seem to be where a creek channel swings in very close to the bank and so there is some deep water nearby, as well as cover such as rock or even some wood.

Josh has also found some fish extremely shallow in the backs of some creeks where they have corralled bait and are rolling on it on the surface. 

Check out the new Clarks Hill Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season byJosh.

Even though water temperatures are still cold, Captain Brad Sasser reports that crappie have started to move shallower into 10-15 feet of water onto flats in the backs of creeks in the very early stages of the pre-spawn period.  There are also some fish on brush in the early morning, but after that they seem to want to get on flats as if they are preparing to stage.  Minnows and jigs are both working pretty well.

Outside of the lower end, which does not usually fish very well for crappie, fish are all over the lake up and out the river arms.  The South Carolina Little River, Baker Creek and up the Georgia Little River Raysville and Lloyd’s Creek have all been good. 

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that there are still large concentrations of bait in the creek runs in the upper half of the lake.  The catfish are still in these same areas, and so the best place to look remains in the middle to back of creeks.  The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and the best depth to fish is however deep the bait is holding on a particular day.

January 21

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 328.12 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures range from about 49 down the lake to 45 up the rivers. The lake is mostly clear with a slight stain as of this morning, but as it continues to rain the lake is likely to get fairly dirty. 

Because the bait is staying deep on Clarks Hill the hybrid and striped bass are too, and William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that he is finding them 38-50 feet deep just off the edges of ditches in the backs of creeks. The fish nor the bait have moved from the same general locations up the lake and in the backs of the river and creek arms where they have been, and Lloyds Creek is fishing particularly well. The fish are so deep that they have no color to them and the water has gotten so cold that they feel like ice cubes!

Sometimes an early bite will start up in the lower lake about now and you can escape the fishing pressure, but right now it’s like the Dead Sea down there. 

A week or two ago there were some good bass reports on crankbaits fished shallow, but Tyler Matthews of Evans, GA reports that with the recent drop in water temperatures that pattern has gotten a lot less predictable. It’s still worth fishing steeper banks and rock piles in less than 10-12 feet of water, but when temperatures dipped to 50 and below that action really slowed down.

The best fish right now are being caught on brush piles in 15-40 feet of water, and Tyler has found that both main lake and creek brush has been producing.  You can fish a variety of soft plastics or jigs but Tyler has been doing the best with a Speed Craw on The Sled. 

Tyler Matthews with a fish caught off brush this week
Tyler Matthews with a fish caught off brush this week

While the deep bite is still producing, Captain Brad Sasser has received reports (and seen photos) of some really nice crappie being caught trolling jigs across shallow points on the upper end. It’s very early for fish to be caught in only 5-6 feet of water but that’s where these have been. 

However, Brad is still finding the most consistent action between 30-32 feet down over brush in 41 feet and 16 feet down over brush in 25 feet. Small minnows are working very well in the Raysville area.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that there are still large concentrations of bait in the creek runs in the upper half of the lake. The catfish are still in these same areas, and so the best place to look remains in the middle to back of creeks. The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and the best depth to fish is however deep the bait is holding on a particular day. 

January 13

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 328.56 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures range from the upper 40s to about 52 degrees. The main lake is fairly clear with some stain while the creeks are pretty dirty. 

The hybrid and striped bass have not moved from the same general locations up the lake and in the backs of the river and creek arms on Clarks Hill where they have been, but William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that they have been moving a lot within those same areas this week. Generally they have gone a bit deeper, and some fat hybrids have been caught as deep as 80 feet this week! However, 25-50 feet has been a more general depth range with the majority of the fish being caught off secondary points at that depth on down-lines.  

Hickory Knob has been fishing very well, Soap Creek has been good and Hawe Creek has also been good. Clearly there is something going on with the water conditions because the same pattern is repeating all over the lake. 

A few fish caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service
A few fish caught this week with William Sasser Guide Service

While the exact pattern couldn’t be replicated by a tournament bass fisherman, this week Captain Brad Sasser experienced a first when on 17 drops with live herring in 28 feet he caught 17 bass – up to 8 pounds! Consistent with this, tournament angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that there has been a decent deep bite, and anglers who have been dragging a jig are catching some fish. 

At the same time, he has still been concentrating on shallow fish in the backs of some of the clearer creeks on the lower end. These fish seem to want to be on flats in a foot or two of water at the end of drains, and while he has not seen herring in these areas he has seen a lot of bream. The only tricky part has been getting the fish to bite, and some days they will take a blade bait or a small swimbait while other days they won’t take anything. They do seem to bite better early. 

Josh has not found a very good crankbait bite in the last week, although water conditions are right where they should be for it to be productive. Basically anywhere with stained water and rock in 5 or less feet of water should produce. 

Check out the new Clarks Hill Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season by Josh.

Consistent with the fact that water quality is allowing the striper to move around a lot right now, Captain Brad Sasser reports that they are catching crappie over a wide range of areas. Usually the big fish will be grouped at one depth with smaller fish perhaps at another, but right now they are catching identical, big fish both 30-32 feet down over brush in 41 feet and 16 feet down over brush in 25 feet. Small minnows are working very well and the Raysville area is very productive. If the water clears up some then Baker Creek and the South Carolina Little River should come on but those areas can be the muddiest.  

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that there are still large concentrations of bait that moved into the creek runs in the upper half of the lake when rain water muddied them up.  Either following the bait or looking for other food sources the catfish are still in these same areas, and so the best place to look remains in the middle to back of creeks.  The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and the best place to fish is whatever depth the bait is holding on a particular day.

January 8

Clarks Hill water levels are slightly up to 328.82 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures have dropped a hair into the 50-53 degree range. 

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that there are still large concentrations of bait that moved into the creek runs in the upper half of the lake when rain water muddied them up. Either following the bait or looking for other food sources the catfish are still in these same areas, and so the best place to look remains in the middle to back of creeks. The best pattern is still to anchor cut gizzard shad or herring, and the best place to fish is whatever depth the bait is holding on a particular day. 

January 6

Clarks Hill water levels are up to 328.54 (full pool is 330.00) and water temperatures range from about 51-54 degrees. While the main lake has remained clear, the creeks developed some stain and even mud lines but have cleared up again. 

The hybrid and striped bass remain up the lake and in the backs of the river and creek arms on Clarks Hill, but William Sasser Guide Service (706-589-5468) reports that the rain and mud – plus the effects of a full moon – put off the bite last week. However, it is getting better again and fish are starting to be caught again along the edges of the creek bed in 25-35 feet of water. Some fish are on the bottom and some are suspended, and so looking for them 15-30 feet down has been the best pattern. Down-lines have been working well, and while planer boards have produced some quality fish the numbers have been lower. 

Young anglers battle their first big fish with Captain Brad Sasser
Young anglers battle their first big fish with Captain Brad Sasser

Typically you are more likely to hear striped bass fishermen say this, but tournament bass angler Josh Rockefeller of Augusta reports that right now he is having the best luck catching fish by looking for areas where loons are feeding on bait. At times he will also see fish pushing bait up to the surface, but usually looking for fish busting bait you will just see the bait flickering on the surface.  

Josh is looking for bait right now where there is a flat that has a ditch running beside it. He likes to cast a blade bait up onto the flat where fish will roll on it. This is generally a better pattern in clearer water, and he also find that it is best the first and last couple of hours each day. On cloudy days it can go all day.   

There is also a decent crankbait bite right now, but for that to produce Josh needs to find dirtier water. Basically anywhere with stained water and rock in 5 or less feet of water is good, and he is mainly throwing a square-bill.

While some people are fishing for Clarks Hill bass in deeper water right now, Josh is having better results on shallow patterns. 

Check out the new Clarks Hill Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season by Josh.

In addition to their being deep the crappie fishing has gotten tough on Clarks Hill, and Captain Brad Sasser reports that even when they mark the fish in 25 plus feet of water it has been tough to get them to feed. They can mark a lot of fish and get a few to bite, but for right now there is no good pattern for numbers. 

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the fishing for big blue cats remains strong albeit a bit down from the late fall peak.  Ledges will produce but anchoring cut bait on main lake points and humps in the 30-60 foot range remains the best pattern for blues.  They will take cut gizzard shad, herring and sometimes bream.

 

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