Lake Russell water levels are at 474.55 (full pool is 475.00) and water clarity is mostly high but it is murky in the very backs. Morning surface water temperatures are still about 72-73 degrees.
With no change in the water temperature from a week ago it’s no surprise bass patterns are about the same, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that in both the main lake and the creeks they are catching fish on brush in 15-20 feet of water. Fish are off points and in coves, and they seem to have almost totally gotten off the shallow herring spawn pattern. Some are suspended just off the bottom and some are on it, and they will take live bait as well shaky head worms and drop shot rigs.
While they have picked up some bass Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is finding more catfish, and around the riprap and deeper off points they are picking up a ton of channels in the 2-5 pound range on live herring. Meanwhile the smaller channels that are the right size to eat on the bone can be found in the coves in about 3 feet of water.
Jerry is also finding catfish all over the place from 15-20 feet to 8-10 feet in coves and off points, and they are still tearing up cut herring.
The crappie bite is also good, and Wendell reports that for smaller, more numerous fish the pattern is to fish 3-6 feet down over brush or standing trees in 12-14 feet of water back in the creeks. However, bigger fish are in coves off the main lake and they can be caught 10-14 feet down over cover in 20-25 feet. Wendell’s boat is fishing minnows but jigs will also work.
Neither guide has caught any striped and hybrid bass but they both suspect they have gone deep. Jerry is about to start targeting them again.
Lake Russell water levels are around 474.64 (full pool is 475.00) and water clarity is high. Morning surface water temperatures are about 72-73 degrees.
The herring spawn is almost over and bass have mostly moved out deeper, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that in both the main lake and the creeks they are catching fish on brush in 15-20 feet of water. Fish are off points and in coves, and they seem to have almost totally gotten off the shallow herring spawn pattern. Generally they are related to the bottom, and they will take live bait as well shaky head worms and drop shot rigs.
The have picked up one 8-pound hybrid recently while bass fishing, and while that’s a very good one Jerry suspects better numbers of striped and hybrid bass can be found in very deep water with down-lines. And while they have not targeted crappie they have picked up a couple of good ones on herring fished around brush, indicating there are probably good numbers of fish on the same type of brush as the bass.
It continues to be a fantastic bite for channel catfish around secondary points and pockets. Fishing cut herring in 8-15 feet of water has been the best pattern.
Lake Russell water levels are around 474.65 (full pool is 475.00) and the main lake and fronts of creeks are clear. Morning surface water temperatures are up to about 70 degrees.
still catching bass in about 2-10 feet of water in points, pockets and other places where herring are spawning, but especially main lake points – in another sign that the action is progressing towards its conclusion. The number of spots holding fish is also dwindling.
Fish are shallower early and when there is wind, while they move deeper on calm, cloudy days. Flukes and topwater lures are working, while when the fish go deeper you have to throw a shaky head or drag a Carolina rig. Live bait is also hard to beat.
There have also been occasional striped bass on the shallow points but not many.
Both guides agree that the bass bite has been slower than expected, but Wendell reports that they can’t keep the channel catfish off their lines. Leaning into that, Jerry had a fun day of catfishing recently and found a fantastic bite around secondary points and pockets. It wasn’t areas where herring were actively holding, but they had probably been there earlier. They fished cut herring in 8-12 feet of water, and sometimes as deep as 15.
Finally, while the crappie spawn is well over they are catching some good numbers of crappie and some really nice ones high in the water column. While the fish are on brush in 15-18 feet of water, they have only been about 3-6 feet below the surface. Casting minnows and jigs have both been working.
Lake Russell water levels are just below full at 474.75 (full pool is 475.00) and the main lake and fronts of creeks are clear. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped to 65 degrees.
It’s a fairly similar pattern for bass fishing on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that they are still catching most of their fish from about 2-10 feet of water. They are up there because of the herring spawn, and this year Jerry has discovered that the herring are spawning everywhere from points to pockets to more. With the wind he has had to fish the mouths and front sections of creeks, but fish may also be out on the main lake. Once again fish are shallower early and when there is wind, while they move deeper on calm, cloudy days. Flukes and topwater lures are working, while when the fish go deeper you have to throw a shaky head or drag a Carolina rig. Live bait is also hard to beat.
Overall, however, Jerry notes the shallow bite is starting to drop off.
That’s what Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also noticing, and while they are still getting decent numbers of fish it has just not been as easy as in typical years. There have not been nearly the number of spots around the bank as normal, while at the same time he has not seen as many 12-14 inch largemouth in years. It leads Wendell to wonder if the largemouth are making a rebound.
Overall they are now looking deeper, and they are fishing 10-15 feet of water with the boat in 20-25 around points. Live bait and drop shot rigs are both working.
On the crappie front, the wind this week has made it very hard to fish for them but they are ganging up on brush in about 18 feet of water. They caught a huge one that was spawned out this week on a jig about 10-12 feet down.
For catfish, Jerry recommends anchoring cut bait in 5-10 feet just out from any area where you see spawning herring.
Lake Russell water levels are above full at 475.28 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is relatively clear. Morning surface water temperatures range from about 65 on the main lake to 71 in the creeks.
There has been some pretty significant change with the bass fishing on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that they are having pretty good catches in just 3-4 feet of water off points in the main lake and the front section of creeks. They don’t have to be sharp points, and some rounded points and even pockets are holding fish.
The fish are up there feeding on herring, and while the bite is best early it can be off-and-on all day. When there is wind fish are more likely to stay shallow, while on calm days the fish pull out to 10-12 feet of water. Flukes and topwater lures are working, while when the fish go deeper you have to throw a shakey head or drag a Carolina rig.
Surprisingly there have not been very many striped bass mixed in with the bass, and Jerry’s boat has actually seen some schooling over 40-50 feet of water. If we have more wind he expects to see more striper near the banks.
While his boat is not targeting them they have picked up a bunch of catfish, and yesterday they caught four bass fishing. To target cats he suggests anchoring cut bait in 5-10 feet in the same areas the bass are feeding.
Lake Russell water levels are above full at 475.32 (full pool is 475.00) and there is muddy water in some of the creeks. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped about 10 degrees to 59.
Despite the brutally tough weather Saturday, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) put on a warm rain suit and braved the conditions to win a bass tournament with about 18 pounds. They weighed all spots between 3 1/4 and 4 pounds, and they caught their fish dragging a worm, fishing a spinnerbait and casting a fluke in 8-10 feet of water. The main lake was too windy to fish so they stuck to the creeks.
They also caught a couple of 8-10 pound striped bass early on a fluke.
In his guiding business he’s fishing the same depth, often with live bait, and the fish are generally around schools of herring. However, the cold front knocked the herring back a little deeper and it will probably be a few days before they start spawning again.
The crappie spawn seems to be winding down, but you can still catch a ton of small to medium males casting a jig around the bank. It might be possible to troll for better fish but Jerry’s boat has been having too much fun catching the tail end of the shallow bite.
Jerry isn’t targeting catfish right now, but if he were to he would fish in the middle sections of creeks and anchor cut bait in 15-20 feet of water in the center of coves.
Lake Russell water levels are way up to 474.95 (full pool is 475.00) and the main lake and front of creeks are still pretty clear even though there is trash floating everywhere. Morning surface water temperatures are around 64 degrees.
The fishing is wide open right now on Lake Russell, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that the herring are just barely starting to spawn in their usual spots and then some random ones because of the high water levels. His son Luke caught an 18-pound striped bass in a shallow cove where it was feeding on some early spawning herring.
Soon the bass will be concentrating on the herring, but for now Wendell’s boat is catching them on shallow sloping banks. It doesn’t matter whether they are setting up in the creeks or on the main lake, and they are sitting the boat in 12 feet and catching them in 6-7. Jerkbaits, Shad Raps, swimbaits and more will all work.
While he also isn’t seeing a wide-open herring spawn yet, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) is fishing around them in a few places with flukes and picking up a few spots. He also notes that with the extremely high water levels the bait is more spread out than usual.
Undoubtedly some crappie have already spawned, but the catchable fish right now seem to be very shallow spawning in 2-4 feet of water. Wendell reports that all you have to do to catch them is go along the bank and cast a jig in shallow coves, and right now there are a lot of black male fish.
Jerry isn’t targeting catfish right now, but if he were to he would fish in the middle sections of creeks and anchor cut bait in 15-20 feet of water in the center of coves.
Lake Russell water levels are at 473.09 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is mostly clear although some of the creeks have stained water. Morning surface water temperatures are around 56 degrees.
From last week to this surface water temperatures have dropped about 5 degrees on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal(706-988-0860) reports that as a result the crappie fishing has slowed a little. He did manage about 30 fish by himself two days ago but he had to work for them.
The best pattern is still trolling jigs 5-7 feet down in about 15 feet of water. From what Jerry can tell the fish are between spawns, and he is catching a mix of pre-spawn and some post-spawn fish. With cool temperatures there are very few fish on the banks right now, but there are some pre-spawn fish in much deeper water.
The bass are stuck in a pre-spawn mode and if anything have backed out a bit this week, but Jerry reports that as they wait to move up to spawn they are feeding well in 20-22 feet of water off secondary points and in pockets. His boat is catching them on live herring, swimbaits, jigging spoons and drop shot rigs.
Jerry has not seen any striper this week and suspects they have gone to deep water with the cold snap.
Lake Russell water levels are down to 473.13 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is mostly clear. Morning surface water temperatures are around 61 degrees.
As the water levels have quickly dropped the crappie fishing has changed pretty dramatically, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the fish he had been catching around the bank have totally disappeared. When he started trolling in 15 feet of water they found fish again, and trolling jigs about 6 feet down was the ticket.
As of right now it appears that a few fish have spawned, another group was trying to spawn, but the majority are still pre-spawn. There are still a fair number of crappie in deep water, too.
When they pulled the water Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) gave up crappie fishing on Russell (moving trips over to Clarks Hill), but he has been targeting the bass. On the lower end they have been fishing the backs of coves in about 15 feet of water, and it appears that the fish are preparing to move up and scatter along the banks. They aren’t relating to bait but they will take minnows or artificials.
Jerry is targeting another group of bass which are holding off points. The best range off points for him has been 15-25 feet, and while there are some fish in the creeks the action is better on the main lake.
The striped bass are extremely scattered right now, but the best way to target them is pulling free-lines off points. Usually the most fish are on the main lake, including right now, and that’s also where you are most likely to have gulls to help target them. However, while there aren’t as many fish in the creeks Wendell did get a lucky 15-pounder back there recently – so it can be worth looking.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.17 (full pool is 475.00) and the whole lake has a really good color with a light stain. Morning surface water temperatures have jumped into the upper 50s.
Like Wendell Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) has been targeting the crappie, and he reports that with water temperatures hitting 65 in places the fish he is seeing are very close to spawning. For right now especially male fish are holding in about 5-6 feet of water 10-15 feet off the creek banks, but they are close. Casting minnows or jigs will catch these fish. Another group of fish is in 15-25 feet of water in the creeks holding 6-8 feet down, and they are targeting these fish trolling.
Like the crappie the bass have moved shallower, and Jerry is now finding them on secondary points in 10-15 feet of water. They are mostly spotted bass, and shakey heads are working for them.
They are also picking up some largemouth way back in the creeks on crappie jigs, and with larger offering he suspects you could target them back there.
Even as most of the fish get shallower this week they have still found some fish in deep water working under the birds. Monday they caught bass and one striped bass on Alabama rigs fished 15-20 feet down in 35-40 feet of water.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.44 (full pool is 475.00) and the whole lake has a really good color with a light stain. Morning surface water temperatures are around 55 degrees but rising fast.
Things are changing so fast on Lake Russell that we wanted to get this report up before we heard back from Jerry, as Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that a lot has changed in 36 hours. Yesterday they started out fishing in 25-feet off a major point in a creek, and they caught a ton of spotted bass and yellow perch on minnows. They did not get any white perch.
However, in the afternoon they went into a shallow area in the very backs where the crappie eventually spawn and found both males and females on the banks. It was the earliest that they had seen jet black spawning males – or females on the bank, surpassing February 27 last year.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.20 (full pool is 475.00) and the main lake is pretty clear while the backs of some larger creeks are a little muddy. Morning surface water temperatures are around 51-54 degrees.
After a few days away from Lake Russell, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) was back on the lake again yesterday and he found some fish still in the same spots that they have been in. Fishing on the bottom in 25-26 feet of water in the creeks they caught about 80% spotted bass, a few yellow and white perch, and one crappie. The fish were in the front section of larger creeks off points and on one flat. They bit minnows but yesterday they also hit spoons very well.
They saw one striped bass in the creek hit the surface, and while there are still a lot of birds around yesterday they were not active.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.06 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is slightly stained. Morning surface water temperatures are around 53 degrees.
As they often do at this time of year, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the striped bass have almost totally disappeared on Lake Russell. But fortunately, the largemouth and spotted bass are cooperating. They have moved up to the sides of points in 15-20 feet, and Jerry is catching them mostly on crankbaits and worms although drop shot rigs and shakey heads are also working. There are probably fish moving into the creeks but Jerry is sticking to main lake points.
The crappie fishing is pretty slow, but the fish they are catching are all big. They are incredibly scattered out, with some fish in 15 feet and others in 40 feet of water. But in the warm weather most of them are only suspended 6-7 feet down and they are catching them trolling jigs.
More information to follow.
Lake Russell water levels are at 473.21 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake ranges from stained to muddy. Morning surface water temperatures are around 50 degrees.
It’s been a fantastic couple of days on Lake Russell for Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336), and with the muddy water coming down the lake fast they actually found cleaner water at the top of the lake. Two days ago they found gulls diving and caught eight different species in 45-55 feet – two types of bass, two types of perch, hybrid bass, striped bass, crappie and channel cats. Everything except the hybrids and stripers was on the bottom, and it seemed that the other species were waiting underneath for bait to fall down. Sometimes the same is true with the bass, and other species will let them attack bait and wait underneath. They caught hybrids and striper on Alabama rigs and everything else on live bait.
The fish were all in the trees, and you had to fish exactly vertical between limbs without any movement. If the boat moved at all then you would get hung up.
Yesterday they found exactly the same pattern in the same area. Average weights were higher, but instead of catching 80 fish they caught 50. The striper are averaging about 8 pounds but they did have one giant straighten the hooks on an Alabama rig.
Lake Russell water levels are down to 473.25 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake ranges from stained to muddy. In the backs of creeks and up the rivers the water is muddy, and even the water by the dam is not clear. Morning surface water temperatures are around 50 degrees.
A fresh round of muddy water has really shaken up the striped bass bite on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that his last three trips have been all over the map. On the first trip the lake had gotten so muddy that they didn’t even mark any fish and had to lean on spotted bass to catch anything. The next time out they caught seven striper, plus a bunch of bass, and found both species about 20 feet down in 40 feet of water running the top of the trees. Then the next trip out, yesterday, the striper had totally disappeared again. This is the time of year when they start to scatter out and be “here today – gone tomorrow”, and the muddy water is certainly making that worse.
They did manage to catch a bunch of bass yesterday, and Jerry reports that the fish had moved up to 10-15 feet of water on rocky, secondary points. With the calendar turning to February it would be easy to credit the season, but since water temperatures are still right at 50 degrees Jerry thinks it has everything to do with the water clarity and nothing to do with the time of year.
They did manage a few perch and crappie in 40 feet on the bottom.
Lake Russell water levels are down to 474.17 (full pool is 475.00) and the whole lake is muddy to stained. The backs of creeks and up the rivers the water is muddy, and even the water by the dam is not clear. Morning surface water temperatures are around 49-50 degrees.
It’s been a heck of a year for striped bass on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that they have caught a half-dozen in the 30- or more pound range in December and January. He has also hooked two that were undoubtedly much bigger, neither of which he could turn with the drag tightened all the way down on 65-pound braid. With the exception of one fish that was blind in one eye, they have all been fat. The Lake Russell striped bass fishery is strong right now.
The most recent was a 30-pound beast caught this week on live bait. Right now striped bass, bass and perch are all mixed together, and they are highly scattered. They are related to bait, but rarely are the fish grouped up in huge schools. A few are five or six feet off the bottom (none are flat to the bottom) in deep water, but most of the fish are about 25-30 feet down in 40 or so feet of water. Recently the action has been off-and-on all day, and sometimes birds are around the fish and sometimes they are not.
Lake Russell is not a lake for huge numbers of striped bass, and on his last trip out Jerry’s boat caught four striper (the 30, plus three 10-12 pounds), eighteen bass, three or four white perch and one giant yellow perch.
Crappie don’t seem to be mixed in with the other species right now.
Jerry is sticking to cleaner water on the main, lower lake right now.
Lake Russell water levels are down to 474.35 (full pool is 475.00) and parts of the lake are still muddy. Morning surface water temperatures are still around 54 degrees.
At this time of year Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) often prefers to fish spots up the lake, but the mouths of some bigger creeks like Coldwater and Allen Creek are muddy and so they have moved down. Near the dam the water is basically clear (although below the Russell Dam in the main channel it’s also pretty clear.)
The bass seem to have broken off from the large, deep bait schools and headed shallower, and Wendell is now finding them mostly in the 20-foot range. In contrast the biggest schools of bait and in turn striped bass, white perch and yellow perch are more likely to be in the 50-70 foot range. Sometimes there are a ton of gulls around them and sometimes just a few.
Yesterday they started the day off with a 20-pound striper caught high in the water column on an Alabama rig, then for numbers of big perch they fished a spot that has been good in 68 feet and then another in 52 feet on the bottom. Overall there are more fish deep right now, which is unsurprising because the bait is still there.
Crappie are generally in deep water, too, but they are mostly suspended 12-16 feet down over tree tops.
Lake Russell water levels are hovering around full at 474.98 (full pool is 475.00) and almost the whole lake is muddy. Morning surface water temperatures are now around 54 degrees.
The only sections of Lake Russell which aren’t muddy are right around the dam and some sections of the Rocky River, and combined with rising water temperatures Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that means the fish are scattered and suspended. In some ways that makes for a tough bite, and numbers are down from when fish were grouped up tighter on the bottom.
But in other ways it’s an outstanding bite, and they are catching some really nice striped bass with a 6-15 pound average. They are also catching some monster fish in the 25-30 pound range. Some bass are also mixed in with the striper.
Fish are generally over deep water in 50-60 feet, and they have mostly been 20-25 feet down. They are catching some on bait and some casting Alabama rigs. At times they are under diving birds, and at times they are just marking schools.
The best action has been in the cleaner water down the lake.
It’s a similar tale on the boat with Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336), who reports that they are still finding the very occasional fish on the bottom but more of them suspended. They are having the best success in about 48 feet of water, where they are catching a mixed bag of bass, perch, and catfish. Crappie have been absent.
When conditions normalize the fish should group up better and get on the bottom again, but for now you have to do a lot of hunting to find a few fish.
Lake Russell water levels are way above full at 476.60 (full pool is 475.00) and the water has been clear but is getting muddy. Morning surface water temperatures are now around 51 degrees.
There have been some crazy fishing conditions on Lake Russell recently, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that in the immediate aftermath of the very cold weather around Christmas the fishing was really good even as water temperatures dropped into the mid-40s. Bass, striped bass, perch and more were tight to the bottom in the wake of 18-degree nights, but they were feeding extremely well on jigging spoons and live bait. Striper (and bass) were taking Alabama rigs as well.
However, the warming trend changed the bite, and instead of finding fish tight to the bottom in 35-40 feet they became much more suspended.
But that didn’t mean they stopped biting as Jerry continued to find a few hungry fish on the bottom as well as numbers suspended, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) actually had a couple of his best days earlier this week. Monday they briefly struggled to locate the fish but then found them feeding under gulls on the main lake in about 56 feet of water. It was a mixed bag of bass, white and yellow perch, and crappie, and they caught 83 fish. Then Tuesday they returned to the same area once they could get through the fog and caught a pile more fish in the same area as well as striped bass. They wanted an Alabama rig about 15 feet down.
But then came the rain. Yesterday between three and five inches of rain fell depending on where on the lake you were monitoring it, and quickly the whole lake started to get very muddy. The water also shot up, almost a foot and a half in 24 hours. We will have to see what effect this has on the patterns, but they expect fish to get more scattered and suspend more. Continue to look for the birds to locate fish.