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AHQ INSIDER Lake Hartwell (GA/SC) Winter 2017-18 Fishing Report – Updated December 14

  • by Jay

The newest Lake Hartwell fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-hartwell-gasc-winter-2017-18-fishing-report/

December 14

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 651.60 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are in the mid-50s.  Clarity is still pretty good even after last weekend’s snow.

Last week the striped bass on Lake Hartwell were really eating, but this week Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that it seems more like they are interested in napping.  The cold front has slowed down the fishing and they are just not eating that well.  Fish are definitely up the creeks, and the pattern is still about the same with fish being pursued with free-lines as well as down-lines.

Birds will certainly point the way to schools of bait, and the bait is stacked up in the creeks by the millions.  However, even when you find loads of bait right now it doesn’t always mean there are feeding fish around.  And just because birds are diving also doesn’t necessarily mean fish are feeding.

A nice Hartwell striper off Guide Chip Hamilton's boat
A nice Hartwell striper off Guide Chip Hamilton’s boat

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) also reports a slow striper bite.

On the largemouth bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that dropping temperatures are having a different effect.  Even though temperatures are still several degrees above where they should be at this time of year, the snow helped drop the temperature a bit and has grouped up the fish a little tighter.  The bite has slightly improved.

The best pattern is still fishing offshore in the main lake in18-20 feet on out to 40 feet with shakey heads, drop shots, and spoons.  Fish are close to natural timber and the creek channel.

Captain Bill reports that the channel catfish bite has slowed down with the cold, but blues can still be found in 8-30 feet of water in the creeks.  The best numbers are still in 25-30 feet, and drifting in the creeks or around main lake humps is the best way to target them.

Bill reports that crappieremain in a similar pattern, mostly on deep brush in 18-20 feet of water in the creeks.  Some fish are also being caught under bridges at night if you don’t mind the cold.

December 1

Lake Hartwell water levels are at 652.15 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures range from the upper 50s in the morning to the low 60s in the afternoon.  The lake has almost completed the annual fall turnover and is pretty clear.

With afternoon water temperatures still getting into the 60s Guide Brad Fowler reports that Lake Hartwell bass have not gotten into a true late fall/ winter pattern yet.  There are still some fish shallow, and he is still seeing some fishing chasing bait on the surface.  Again, a small swimbait or other subsurface lure is a better option than a topwater as fish are rolling on bait more than blowing anything up.

Overall, the best bet for getting bites is still to fish offshore in the main lake.  Working shakey heads and drop shots in 18-20 feet on out to 40 feet is the best way to catch a bunch of spotted bass, and the better tournament fish seem to be out there too.  Early there has been a good spoon bite.  The key is fishing close to natural timber and the creek channel.  While there are fish in both the creeks and main lake more and more fish seem to be staying on the main lake.

A nice fall catch on Guide Brad Fowler's boat
A nice fall catch on Guide Brad Fowler’s boat

On the striped bass front, Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that fishing has definitely improved.  Fish can be found all over the lake and they are spread out in the Seneca, Tugaloo and larger creeks.  Because fish are scattered free-lining and covering water has been the best bet, although down-lining has also been productive at times.  Fish could be in 5-10 feet or out to 40 feet; with a good number of gulls and loons moving in they can help anglers locate the fish.  If you locate deeper fish and drop down-lines to them position the bait a couple of feet above the fish – present herring at 37-38 feet for striper at 40 feet, as they would rather go up than down to chase bait.  Very little striper schooling activity has been seen, although some spotted bass have been on top.

Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) also reports that he is finding fish spread out in the creeks and rivers, with lots of fish well up the rivers and some still about mid-way.  On warm days there are also good reports in the backs of creeks when the water heats up.  He is also catching fish on a mix of free-lines and down-lines, and on days when fish get in the channel he has found some fish 20-25 feet down in 35-60 feet of water.  Chip has not seen schooling in three weeks but he is also seeing plenty of gulls.

Catfishcontinue to feed pretty well, and Captain Bill reports that both channels and blues can be found in 8-30 feet of water in the creeks.  However, the greatest concentration of blues can be found in 25-30 feet, and drifting in the creeks or main lake humps is the best way to target them.

Bill reports that crappieremain in a similar pattern, mostly on deep brush in 18-20 feet of water, mostly in the creeks.  Some fish are also being caught under bridges at night if you don’t mind the cold.

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