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AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated November 21

  • by Jay

November 21

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 655.61 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 62 degrees on the main lake. With the lake at various stages of turning over the water is murky in places.

Even though water temperatures have dropped Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that hybrid and striped bass are still in similar areas about halfway back in the creeks. There are large schools of fish in those areas, and the best way to catch them has been down-lining in 35-40 feet of water close to the bottom.  The greatest concentrations of fish are still setting up on main points in the creeks. If you jump from point to point and give each one about ten to fifteen minutes you should find fish.

Until water temperatures drop into the mid to lower 50s the bite should not change very much. 

Chip Hamilton with a nice striper caught this week

By now bassare finally in a late fall/ early winter pattern, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that means that numbers of fish are in the creek channels in the 20-40 foot range. They can be caught on drop shot rigs, spoons and more.

However, with temperatures still pretty warm there is also bait in the creeks and bass can be caught that are chasing small bait. They will eat spinnberbaits, scrounger heads, and small crankbaits. 

As temperatures drop more fish will leave the shallow creeks and get out in the 20-50 foot range. Depending on the day they will suspend or relate to the bottom.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that fishing is pretty slow but a few channel cats are being picked up here and there on worms or cut herring. With persistent warm temperatures the big blues are still fairly deep, but as water temperatures drop they will come into the creeks. They will be caught in 15-50 feet, mostly anchoring with cut bait. 

The best way to catch crappie right now is around deep docks with at least 15 feet of water and some brush. Anglers are catching them casting jigs tipped with minnows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 31

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 656.00 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are 72-73 degrees on the main lake. Up the Seneca River it looks like the water has finished turning over, while the main lake has not yet turned over.

The bait and fish are finally really on the move on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that hybrid and striped bass have made their way about halfway back into the creeks. There are still some fish out on the main lake, but in the very backs there are only very small fish. That will change as temperatures continue to drop.

The best pattern has been down-lining in 35-40 feet of water close to the bottom, and the greatest concentrations of fish are setting up on main points in the creeks. If you jump from point to point and give each one about ten to fifteen minutes you should find fish.

There is some schooling activity, but for about the last week it has been limited despite ideal conditions. It is unclear why. Accordingly, free-lines aren’t doing much. 

With persistently warm temperatures it is taking the lake a while to turn over, and since Guide Brad Fowler reports that bassget finicky around the turnover you want to stay ahead of it or get well behind it. Fish are moving into the creeks and so if you can find areas with good water quality in the creeks fish should be feeding. 

There are several different patterns that can produce right now, and up shallow a buzzbait is doing pretty well. If you can find some colored water a spinnerbait will work, but without much rain that’s hard to find. 

Deeper fish can also be caught on a drop shot or shakey head, and there is still some schooling. However, it has been tailing off in the past couple of weeks.

While fish are not really busting the surface, they can still be pretty high in the water column over 20-25 feet. This can be a good time for scrounger heads, spy baits and other lures that fish just below the surface but high in the water column. 

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in about 20 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake. The big blues are still fairly deep, but as water temperatures drop they will come into the creeks hunting for fresh water as the lake turns over. They will be caught in 15-50 feet, mostly anchoring with cut bait. 

Crappie are moving shallower, and they are stacking up around deep docks with about 15-20 feet of water and some brush. The best way to fish these docks is with a long rod where you can drop a minnow vertically around the cover.

 

October 15

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 655.75 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are 76-79 on the main lake. Visibility remains clear.

The schooling action for hybrid and striped bass on Lake Hartwell is not as good as it was, but Guide Chip Hamilton(864-304-9011) reports that there is still some going on early. However, overall fish have been holding lower in the water column and down-lines fished around points and humps in 35-40 feet of water right on the bottom have been the most effective. Fish are still in the main lake, but they seem to be just beginning to go up the creeks and rivers. 

With the lake having been pulled hard and the shallow fish highly pressured recently, Guide Brad Fowler reports that he has mainly been bassfishing offshore. In the afternoon there is good schooling activity, typical for this time of year when afternoon breezes get up and activate the fish. Most of the schooling is over 15-25 feet of water, but there is also schooling over very deep areas.

When they are not schooling, fish can also be called up with topwater lures, and you can also catch fish with a scrounger head or drop shotting. Very good numbers can be caught on drop shot rigs. 

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in about 20 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake. When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackersmixed in. Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber, but there are occasional big flatheads being caught at night.

There are no fresh crappie reports, but they should be moving shallower along the edge of the channel where they can be found about 10-12 feet down in 20 feet of water. Fish will be suspended around brush where there are schools of bait nearby, and minnows or jigs will work.

 

October 3

Lake Hartwell water levels are down to 656.32 (full pool is 660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are back in the mid-80s. Visibility remains clear.

The fishing for hybrid and striped bass on Lake Hartwell remains good, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that until water temperatures drop the pattern is unlikely to change. 

Fish are in the same locations where they have been, in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks over 90-175 feet of water. 

However, they have started coming up to feed and schooling on the surface regularly. In a mobile bass boat you can really have fun chasing the fish and picking off a couple each time they start to school. 

Chip’s boat is catching about 70% of the fish on free-lines when they let the bait swim down to about 10-12 feet, and 30% are coming on down-lines. Fish are still holding about 30-40 feet deep but coming up to eat.

It’s still hot on Lake Hartwell, but fresh off third place in last weekend’s BFL FLW angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reports that the bass are feeding very well on Lake Hartwell. The lake is fishing more like fall than summer and fish are schooling all over the place. The suspended bite is really good over brush or cane piles in 15-25 feet of water, but because there is so much deep timber fish could also be over very deep water. Topwater baits, flukes and swimbaits will all catch fish, and there can also be some good ones caught on drop shot rigs in the same areas. However, on the drop shot you have to weed through a ton of small fish.

There are still some nice fish shallow that can be caught with buzzbaits on Hartwell, but with water levels dropping that seems to be a fading bite.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake. When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackersmixed in. Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber, but there are still some good flatheads being caught at night.

Crappieare moving shallower along the edge of the channel, and they can be found about 10-12 feet down in 20 feet of water. Fish will be suspended around brush where there are schools of bait nearby, and minnows or jigs will work.

 

September 19

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 657.37 (660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 83. Visibility remains clear.

There is finally some good news with the hybrid and striped bass fishing on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton(864-304-9011) reports that fish have turned on in the last few days.  The bite changed around the weekend even before the water temperatures started to drop, so it is unclear exactly what made the difference.

Fish are in the same locations where they have been, in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks over 90-175 feet of water. 

However, they have started coming up to feed and schooling on the surface regularly. In a mobile bass boat you can really have fun chasing the fish and picking off a couple each time they start to school. 

Chip’s boat is catching about 70% of the fish on free-lines when they let the bait swim down to about 10-12 feet, and 30% are coming on down-lines. Fish are still holding about 30-40 feet deep but coming up to eat. 

In the two-day BFL tournament this weekend Guide Brad Fowler reports that he made the cut on the strength of a sack of largemouth the first day, with most of the fish he caught coming on buzzbaits fished shallow for wolf packs of fish that he could see. The second day those fish were not cooperative and so he had to move out deep, where he was able to catch all the spotted bass you could want to catch but had trouble finding better ones. Small fish are easy to catch offshore on topwater lures right now, and they will also take drop shots. 

There is still sporadic schooling offshore, including some big fish, but it is hard to know where they will come up. The bite should get better and more predictable in the coming weeks. 

The tournament was won with about 31 pounds for two days, and it seemed that a lot of the better fish were caught shallow.

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake. When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackersmixed in. Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber, but there are still some good flatheads being caught at night.

Crappiereports are still hard to find.

 

September 9

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 658.05 (660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 83-85 degrees. Visibility remains clear.

Bassfishing is still more exciting than striper fishing on Hartwell, and Guide Brad Fowler reports that he has seen fish on top all over the place - including some good ones. While depth changes like humps are the most fishable places to look, some of the biggest fish he has seen have been in random places right over the channel where it would be hard to predict that they will come up. For the most part fish are on very small bait, and they will be for a little while until it cools and they start feeding on blueback herring again. That means small topwater plugs, fish head spins and spy baits are good options.   

When offshore fish are not schooling they can be hard to call up with topwaters, but a drop shot or suspended bait can still work. Fish head spins or swimbaits are a good choice for subsurface fish, but again you need something small since they are on little bait. 

With lake levels down there may be less fish shallow than usual. However, Brad has still seen some wolf packs up shallow running bream. 

With the heat still punishing hybrid and striped bass fishing remains really tough on Lake Hartwell, and Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fish still just are not biting very well. 

They remain in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks. Fish are mostly suspended 40-60 feet down over 90-175 feet of water. There are also some hybrids on mid-lake humps in 45-60 feet of water that are holding on the bottom and will sometimes eat herring on a Carolina rig fished just off the bottom right at daylight. 

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are still being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake. When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackersmixed in. Fishing for blues is still very slow as fish seem to be in the timber.

But the catch of the week on Hartwell this week may have been a giant flathead. The 64-pound beast pictured below was caught on a live bream fished on the bottom in 25 feet of water.   

Crappiereports are still hard to find.

 

September 4

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 658.20 (660.00), and morning surface water temperatures are around 83 degrees. Visibility remains clear.

The fishing for hybrid and striped bass has gotten really tough, as Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that the cool front that dropped water temperatures 5 or 6 degrees really turned off the fish. Instead of catching 25-30 fish on a trip catching 5 became a good day. 

Fish remain in the main Savannah River channel from the meeting of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers to the dam, and they are still around the edges of the river channel and at the mouth of the creeks. Fish are mostly suspended 40-60 feet down over 90-175 feet of water. There are also some hybrids on mid-lake humps in 45-60 feet of water that are holding on the bottom and will eat herring on a Carolina rig fished just off the bottom right at daylight. 

While the striper fishing has taken a nosedive, Chip points out that spotted bass seem relatively unaffected. They are still schooling all over the shallow humps in 25-35 feet of water as well as around shoal markers, road signs and other depth changes. Some of the best schooling in areas that go from very deep to less than 25 feet of water quickly. While many of the schooling fish are small there are still good ones mixed in. 

Guide Brad Fowler reports that he is not seeing a lot of change in the bass fishing either, but with lake levels dropped there may be less fish shallow than usual. He has still seen some wolf packs up shallow running bream, though. There are still a lot of smaller fish schooling offshore on humps, although at times there are some really good ones. You just have to hit the right area. 

When offshore fish are not schooling they can be hard to call up with topwaters, but a drop shot or suspended bait can still work. Fish head spins or swimbaits are a good choice, but you need something small since they are on little bait. 

On the catfish front, Captain Bill Plumley reports that channel cats are now being caught in 15-25 feet of water fishing worms, cut bait or dip baits on the bottom in the creeks or main lake. When using worms they are also catching lots of nice shellcrackersmixed in. Fishing for blues and flatheads is very slow and fish seem to be in the timber.   

Crappiereports are still hard to find.

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