Lake Hartwell water levels are at 650.23 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures range from the mid to upper-50s. Clarity is good.
After the winter doldrums Lake Hartwell striped bass are starting to “move around” again, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that fish are starting to scatter out and move up the rivers and into the backs of creeks. He has caught fish on recent trips pulling free-lines over shallow water in the 6 foot range, and he has also caught fish on down-lines in about 20 feet of water. Coves have been productive. While there are tons of birds on the lake 9 ½ times out of 10 Bill says they are feeding over loons, and even though it’s worth checking them out he says not to expect feeding striper every time you see gulls. With temperatures still on the cool side Bill has not seen schooling activity.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) concurs with this assessment of the fishing, and even though the bite isn’t “dynamic” yet he believes it’s starting to heat up. Most years this would be very early for the Hartwell striper to turn on, but it’s been so warm that they are getting close earlier. In the morning he is also having some luck pulling free-lines, and later on he has found fish in the slightly deeper 25-35 foot range on down-lines. Late in the day Chip reports that striper can be caught up shallow near the banks around windblown, red clay points. The shallows warm and bait moves up into these areas, and casting swimbaits can be a productive way to target the fish.
On some of the lakes in South Carolina Guide Brad Fowler reports bass went basically straight from deep to the bank, but on Lake Hartwell the fish are in more of a staging pattern. A few fish are still out deep but more of them are on points, secondary points or in ditches that lead back into coves. There are certainly some fish on the banks already but nowhere near as many as on Murray or Clarks Hill.
As on Lake Keowee Brad likes to fish soft plastics for these bass that are staging, and he says that jerkbaits and Blade Runners also work well for fish that are in the ditches. Anglers can also drag a jig for them.
Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that crappiefishing on Lake Hartwell has been fairly good, with fish scattered from 2 feet out to 20. He has even picked up some big two-pound crappie while trolling baits for striper and catfish! Crappie are pre-spawn right now, and they have moved solidly into the creeks. In the morning they are holding around brush in 15-20 feet of water, but on warm afternoons they will move up to rocky points with as little as a couple of feet of water. Minnows are working well.
The catfishbite has also been pretty good, and Captain Bill reports that they are catching blue catfish from 6-8 feet all the way out to about 30 feet. Fish are scattered all over from the creeks to main lake flats to points, and he is also picking up striper (and crappie) as a by-catch. Cut herring has been the best bait. Water temperatures are too cold for Hartwell channels to be very aggressive and he has not picked up a single one recently.