Lake Russell water levels are down to 472.84 (full pool is 475.00) and most of the lake is dirty. Morning surface water temperatures are about 48-49 degrees.
As Lake Russell water levels have dropped a couple of feet this week it has pulled muddy water out of the creeks, and as a result Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that pretty much the whole lake is stained to muddy. The upper end below the Hartwell dam is about the only clear water, although there are some randoms pockets of cleaner water that can be found. With another three inches predicted for this weekend, to go with the ten inches in the last couple of weeks, it may get worse before it gets better.
There are some bass that can be caught shallow on crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but the deep bite has gotten pretty tough. The fish are scattered, and Guide Luke Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) reports that frankly they are also doing a lot more fishing than catching. Occasionally they will have a good day when they find fish ganged up in 23-30 feet in the creek channels that will feed, but most of the time they are seeing fish that won’t eat. The only good part is that when you find a group of fish that will eat the bite is pretty good, and yesterday they caught 50 bass and yellow perch when they found an active school. They are getting a few bass on soft plastics and spoons but most are coming on live bait. Of note the bait is very scattered right now.
Both guides report that the crappie fishing is very slow, and they are only rarely picking up a crappie that will feed.
Before the last round of rain Jerry found some good striped bass last Friday, but they have basically disappeared since then.
Lake Russell water levels are up to 474.35 (full pool is 475.00) and the creeks are muddy while the main lake is fairly clear. Morning surface water temperatures are about 50-52 degrees.
Most of this week the fishing has been decent, although Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that the action for striped bass as well as spotted bass has definitely slowed down since all the rain. But today the bite was terrible, and they only caught one bass, one white perch, and one hybrid. The front may have had something to do with it, or the fact that fish don’t need to eat every day in the cold, but they still marked a ton of fish. They just would not bite.
Jerry has not been messing with the creeks as muddy as they have gotten, and most of the fish he is marking have been in 50-60 feet of water on the main lake around timber. Some fish are on the bottom, but most of them have been suspended 15-30 feet down. Most days they have been able to pick up a mix of striper, bass, and white perch on live bait and spoons, but today they wouldn’t take either and the striper wouldn’t even taken an Alabama rig.
Lake Russell water levels are at 473.67 (full pool is 475.00) and up the river is muddy while the lower end is clear. The creeks are also muddy, especially at the mouths, although the very backs may be starting to clear. Morning surface water temperatures are about 48 degrees.
The fishing has been hit-or-miss on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that some days (like today) they don’t crack double digits, while there have also been some fantastic days. In fact, today was the worst day this year, and they only caught two striped bass and six bass. But this weekend they had banner days. It may just be the time of year when fish don’t necessarily have to feed every day, and today they saw a bunch of fish but they wouldn’t bite for any of the boats after them.
Overall they are still catching fish the same way, off main lake points and at the mouths of creeks in 30-60 feet. Bait is not helping, and in the areas where they mark a ton of bait they don’t get bit. In contrast, if they mark fish but not bait getting bites is almost a certainty. It may be that feeding fish disperse the bait, while if it’s just sitting it means the fish aren’t eating.
In addition to striper and spots they are also picking up a good number of white perch and yellow perch on medium minnows, and they did have a five-pound largemouth today. Alabama rigs have been working as well or better than live bait for bass and striper, while the areas they have been fishing have so much timber that you can only fish a jigging spoon very carefully.
Finally, Jerry has no idea what the birds are doing because they are not helping at all this winter.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.02 (full pool is 475.00) and the main lake is very clear. Morning surface water temperatures are down to about 52-53 degrees.
The striped bass bite has turned on in a big way on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that even though the birds aren’t consistently helpful the fish are feeding very well. They are scattered all over the lake, and yesterday they caught fish mid-lake while Tuesday they caught 16 big Russell striper up the lake. They have found the fish in both the creeks and the main lake, suspended over about 30 feet of water in the creeks but over water as deep as 60-70 feet on the main channel. Some of the fish are coming on Alabama rigs, more on bait fished on down-rods, and some on in-line spinners. Generally they are finding them by marking them on electronics.
Guide Wendell Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) has found a similar improvement in the striper bite, and even on 24 degree mornings there have been times where they see the fish swirling on the surface under gulls. They have tried throwing Alabama rigs at the fish but often found them just hitting at the baits with their mouths closed, and gizzard shad (herring are hard to get) have been more consistent for fish up to 15 pounds. Mid-lake creeks have been the best for Wendell.
Jerry’s boat is catching bass in the same areas as the striper on live bait, and they are also taking jigging spoons. Overall his primary depth has been 30-40 feet for bass, but he notes that for tournament largemouth bass fishing the better approach is to head into the creeks where there is muddy water and throw a crankbait.
Wendell notes that when you find striper and bass there are usually perch on the bottom around them, and fishing in the trees they are pulling up nice yellow perch up to about 14 inches. Spotted bass up to 3-4 pounds have been suspended over the trees, and but when they start feeding and tearing up bait it seems to be chum the perch into feeding on the bottom in about 60 feet.
While Wendell is picking up rare crappie on the bottom in deep water, Captain Roland Addy with Carolina Crappie Guide Service (864-980-3672) reports that he has been finding fish in open water chasing bait. He is finding more fish up the river in the main channel, and they are at a variety of depths from 5-30 feet. Right now he thinks they are biting better with minnows or jigs tipped with minnows.
Lake Russell water levels are at 473.74 (full pool is 475.00) and clarity is normal. Morning surface water temperatures are down to about 54 degrees.
The birds are still totally useless on Lake Russell, as they concentrate almost solely on bait that loons are running, but Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that they are picking up a few more striped bass mixed in with the bass. And occasionally they will see one swirl on top and catch it with an Alabama rig, but they are doing a lot of running and looking without seeing much. For that bite to really take off Jerry thinks it needs to get cooler.
The bass are still in the same areas, and they are finding most of them in 30-35 feet of water on long, rounded points and flats on the main lake and at the mouths of major creeks. Most of them are tight to the bottom, and about as shallow as they have seen them suspended is 25 feet. While live bait is still working well a jigging spoon is getting much better.
Further back in the creeks Guide Wendell Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) reports that that they are still catching a mixed bag including yellow perch, spots and a few white perch on flats halfway back in 27-32 feet. If there is bait on the flats then fish will be there too. The best action is in the middle of the day once the water warms a little.
This pattern should get better once temperatures drop a few more degrees, fish group up tighter, and shad get more stressed.
Lake Russell water levels are at 473.70 (full pool is 475.00) and clarity is normal. Morning surface water temperatures are about 57 degrees.
Even as it’s gotten cooler the bass are more scattered that expected, and Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that there are also more suspended fish than he would have predicted. He is still catching them in 30-35 feet of water on points and flats on the main lake and at the mouths of major creeks. In addition to live bait the fish will take drop shot rigs and they are also starting to bite a spoon better.
Guide Luke Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) continues to be more creek-oriented, and Luke reports that that they are catching a mixed bag including yellow perch, spots and a few white perch on flats halfway back in the creeks in 27-32 feet. If there is bait on the flats then fish will be there too. The best action is in the middle of the day once the water warms a little.
Luke has seen a few striped bass but they are moving fast and not biting well, and even though the birds have showed up they are not helping as much as they would like. Jerry concurs and reports that the birds he has seen are only around loons and cormorants, but he has picked up a couple of random striper on main points 15-20 feet down in about 30 feet of water. He would fish these same areas with cut bait if he were trying for catfish.
While neither guide targets crappie as much in the winter, Jerry’s boat did catch a decent number fishing with minnows 20-22 feet down around brush in 27-28 feet at the mouth of a creek.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.02 (full pool is 475.00) and clarity is normal. Even after some extremely cold nights, morning surface water temperatures are still about 59 degrees.
The bass are getting deeper on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that he is catching them in 30-35 feet of water on points and flats on the main lake and at the mouths of major creeks. Sometimes they are around bait school and sometimes they are not, and most of the fish are within five feet of the bottom although occasionally they will see groups of suspended fish. In addition to live bait the fish will take drop shot rigs and they are also starting to bite a spoon better. White perch and occasional crappie are mixed in with the bass, but no striped bass so far.
Also fishing fairly deep is Guide Wendell Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336), and Wendell reports that they have targeted most of their fishing at one really good flat in Beaverdam Creek. In 26-30 feet they are catching spotted bass, white perch, yellow perch, crappie and the odd small striper. Interestingly there is not much bait in the area and most of is further up the creek, and Wendell wonders whether the fish have thinned out the bait.
While the crappie aren’t biting great most of the day for about 30 minutes in the late afternoon they seem to be feeding well each day. There are also some crappie on brush if you want to target them more specifically.
Jerry notes that he has seen some striper on his depth finder but they are suspended and moving fast and will not bite. For right now the birds aren’t related to fish and so they aren’t helping.
Lake Russell water levels are up to 473.97 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is extremely clear. With no rain, even areas way up the creeks that are usually stained have high visibility. Morning surface water temperatures range from about 64-65 degrees.
It’s a positive report from Lake Russell, with both of our experts Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) and Guide Wendell Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) reporting that the fishing continues to improve.
Jerry’s boat is still fishing in big groups of bass 20-30 feet down off main lake points and now also at the mouths of creeks, and in addition to live bait they are now showing more interest in a jigging spoon. They are also picking up yellow perch in the same areas.
They did hang one big striped bass but on bass tackle it was impossible to turn as it headed into the timber.
Wendell agrees that the fishing is better for almost everything, and he’s most excited by the improvement in the yellow perch bite – mostly for their table fare. The spots are also ganging up in bigger schools, and they are catching them in 25-30 feet of water at the mouth of large coves in creeks just off the main lake. A few crappie were in the same areas last week, and you could see the tight schools of crappie briefly, catch a couple, and then they would swim off while the other species remained. The crappie were about 15-20 feet down, while the others are related to the bottom more. But these last few days the crappie have disappeared.
Wendell’s boat has had a little success with the striper, finding some in Coldwater Creek Saturday around bait and then some more in the lower lake yesterday. They are moving a lot but always around bait schools, and with the birds just beginning to show up they are getting easier to find. Cloudy days are the best because they stay on the surface longer and give away their locations.
If you want to concentrate on catfish it’s a pretty simple formula to put cut bait on the bottom off the same main lake points where Jerry is finding bass.
Lake Russell water levels are down to 474.34 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is extremely clear. With no rain, even areas way up the creeks that are usually stained have high visibility. Morning surface water temperatures range from about 65-67 degrees.
Even though it’s gotten warmer again, Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that the bass are still pretty concentrated. He is finding big groups of fish 20-30 feet down off main lake points. The only catch is that the fish aren’t showing a bunch of interest in artificial lures, or at least spoons, and they are catching most of the fish on live bait. Drop shot rigs could be a different story.
They are also picking up a few catfish and white perch in these areas but striped bass have been conspicuously absent.
Meanwhile Guide Wendell Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) reports that they are having success for bass back in the creeks, also drop-shotting minnows, in 16-24 feet. The fish are about halfway back in the creeks, where there is a ton of bait, and they are having the best luck right off the side of the channel on the flats. In addition to bass they are picking up a few crappie, yellow perch and white perch.
Wendell’s boat is also targeting crappie, but they are finding the crappie are really moving a lot. They are near timber in 20-something feet on clean bottoms, and they will see tons of crappie on the screen and catch 2-4. But then they will be gone again and they will have to find another school – or where that school went. It seems clear that the fish are related to bait right now and not holding on any particular structure.
Jerry’s boat has had similar results with the crappie, although they did find a few schools that were stationary around brush in the creeks. However, they could only catch one or two out of them before the fish stopped feeding – even though they could see dozens more just holding and inactive. The biggest schools seemed to be suspended about halfway down in 15-20 feet of water.
If you want to concentrate on catfish it’s a pretty simple formula to put cut bait on the bottom off the same main lake points where Jerry is finding bass, but Wendell says to only go striped bass fishing right now on Lake Russell if you really want a challenge. The last ones they spotted for sure were in a creek around bait, but they are here-today-gone-tomorrow. However, that will all change later this month when it gets colder and the gulls show up, and by the end of the month you will be able to find the fish by following the birds.
Lake Russell water levels are at 474.73 (full pool is 475.00) and the turnover is pretty much finished. Morning surface water temperatures have dropped several degrees into the mid-60s.
There’s at least one guide we talk to who loves the cold weather, and Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that if it could stay this temperature all year he would be happy. Not us! Unsurprisingly, he has figured out how to make the bass bite in these conditions, and today Jerry’s boat got a limit of spots fishing off the end of main lake points in 20-30 feet of water. They were mostly fishing vertically with live bait, but what was most noticeable was how the fish were bunching up. Jerry thinks the bite is about to get really good.
But it’s a different story in the creeks, and Guide Wendell Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) reports that – fishing the last two days – they have found a much worse bite since it got cold. He’s surprised by how much the front has affected the fishing, as generally fall fronts don’t curtail the bite the way that a March or April front might do. Perhaps it’s a location thing, and they are still marking good groups of fish. They were just biting short or not eating.
Neither guide has been on the striped bass in the past few days, although first thing Jerry has seen a few breaking the surface chasing shad.
For both guides the crappie fishing continues to be really tough, and after the cold front Wendell says they have only picked up one or two randomly and aren’t even marking them. It seems like the crappie have gone deeper.
And while nobody has been targeting the catfish, Jerry believes they are off the same points as the bass. To catch them fish cut herring on the bottom.
Lake Russell water levels are up to 475.11 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is still turning over but bubbling less than a week or two ago. Morning surface water temperatures are around 68 degrees, rising to 70-71 by the end of the day.
The bass bite is still pretty good on Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that one group of fish seems to be moving deeper. He is catching those fish on points and flats and in 20-30 feet of water, both in the main lake and in the creeks.
At the same time the best bass action Guide Luke Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) has found has been halfway up the creeks, and when they find the fish they seem to be ganged up in pretty tight groups. Sometimes they are in 14-17 feet, but at times they are finding them as shallow as 7 or 8 feet. Fish are highly related to bait schools, and even when they find them around structure such as a point there has always been bait there.
Drop shots and live bait are both working, and at times there has even been some schooling action. They hooked two big striped bass when the bass were schooling in a creek this week.
That’s consistent with the report from Jerry that he is finding the striped and hybrids very spread out, which is common at this time of year when water temperatures are mild. He did manage one big hybrid while bass fishing on the main lake.
The crappie fishing is still pretty tough, and Luke reports that they are still marking a few in the backs of creeks where they were catching them but more of the fish seem to have moved. They appear to be heading out towards the front half of creeks or main lake coves and getting on brush in those areas.
Jerry’s boat is still picking up some catfish while bass fishing, but if he were to target them he would fish cut herring on flats in 15-25 feet in both the main lake and creeks. If those didn’t produce he would get into the pockets and coves.
Lake Russell water levels are at 473.29 (full pool is 475.00) and the turnover appears to be nearing completion although the whole lake is still pretty brown. Morning surface water temperatures are around 70-71 degrees.
The bass bite is finally picking up on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) reports that they are catching more fish this week. Some of them are as shallow as 5-10 feet, while another group of fish is in 15-20 feet. They are on flats, points, and around brush, with about equal numbers on the main lake and in the creeks. Shakey heads and live bait are both working.
At the same time, Guide Wendell Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) also reports a significantly improved bass bite. They are fishing around timber in the creeks in 14-18 feet of water and catching 95% spotted bass on drop shot rigs. Interestingly, a few days earlier they were catching tons of crappie in the same areas but the spots seem to have completely run them off – or the crappie just decided to leave.
Jerry is now finding a very slow crappie bite, and even when he marks them on brush (usually about 8 feet down over 20 feet mid-way back in creeks) he will catch one and then they will disappear. For some reason it seems the crappie are moving around a lot right now.
At the same time the hybrid and striped bass bite is still pretty good, and Jerry reports that they are catching some nice ones fishing 15-20 feet down over trees in 40-50 feet. From what he is seeing the fish are really starting to scatter out.
Wendell has also picked up some big fish up to about 36 inches on the lower end over deep water, but agrees they are scattering.
Jerry’s boat has picked up some catfish while bass fishing, but if he were to target them he would fish cut herring on flats in 15-25 feet in both the main lake and creeks. If those didn’t produce he would get into the pockets and coves.
Lake Russell water levels are down to 473.36 (full pool is 475.00) and clarity is generally normal although the lake is turning over. Morning surface water temperatures are stable in the mid-70s.
The best bite on Lake Russell is still for striped bass, and Guide Luke Wilson with Wilson’s Guide Service (706-283-3336) reports that they are still catching fish on the lower end about 30 feet down suspended around bait. They are mostly over clean bottoms in over 100 feet of water, and down-lined herring are working the best. They have not seen any schooling activity at all.
While Guide Jerry Kotal with Jerry Kotal’s Fishing Guide Service (706-988-0860) agrees it’s the best thing going, from what he is seeing the numbers on the lower end are just starting to drop off. However, he is still catching several good ones in the 10-16 pound range on each trip.
Even though they are biting a bit better at times, Jerry reports that the bass are still not good. Now he thinks it’s the turnover that’s slowing the bite, and in the creeks the water is clearly bubbling up. Fish are mostly on brush in 15-20 feet of water, and in the creeks they are finding the most catchable fish. While they are on similar cover in the main lake, even fishing with live bait the bass will run up to it, look, sometimes kill it but rarely eat it. The same thing happens about this time every year.
Luke reports that the best bass fishing comes when fish are visibly active, and in 15-25 feet of water in the creeks they will sometimes see fish swirling at bait. Then they will take a variety of baits including swimbaits and Rattle Traps.
Unfortunately the crappie fishing has really deteriorated as the lake turns over, and both Jerry and Luke report the action has been at best hit-or-miss. They are still marking plenty of fish in the backs of creeks in 12-14 feet of water, sometimes on brush and at other times just related to bait, but getting them to bite has gotten difficult. They don’t seem to want minnows or jigs, and yesterday Jerry could only catch two before he had to change species.