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AHQ INSIDER Lake Russell (GA/SC) Fall 2018 Fishing Report – Updated January 2

  • by Jay

The newest Lake Russell fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-russell-gasc-spring-2019-fishing-report/

January 2

Lake Russell water levels are around 475.2 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is very dirty.  However, in the opposite of what is usually expected the lower end is generally muddier than the upper end and the main lake is generally muddier than the creeks.  Water temperatures are in the lower 50s but will rise to the mid-50s on warmer afternoons.

More and more dirty water continues to flow into Lake Russell, and so it’s no surprise that bass fishing is still off for this time of year. However, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) says they are still catching pretty good numbers of fish, just not the 100-fish days expected this time of year.  Fish are still shallower than typical, and they are catching most of the fish in 25-30 feet of water.  Fish are also more scattered than usual and some are still suspended.

Bait is so scattered out that Jerry reports that a shallow bite has also developed.  Normally all the bait is in 50-60 feet of water, but right now there is bait in the backs of pockets.   It won’t work everywhere, but throwing a square-billed crankbait or spinnerbait around the banks will catch fish in places.  They are also catching some fish throwing a shakey head worm around points.

Yesterday's haul of spotted bass on Guide Jerry Kotal's boat
Yesterday’s haul of spotted bass on Guide Jerry Kotal’s boat

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also finding the bait and the predator fish far more scattered than usual, which means that schools of bait as well as of the species he is chasing are smaller.  He is mainly fishing the creeks where the water is often cleaner and targeting the 20-30 foot range with drop shots and live bait. In addition to spots they are catching a lot of yellow perch.

Striped bass are also more scattered out than usual, and you could find the fish against the banks or in 30 feet of water.  Wendell has found that the best pattern is looking for birds and then pulling herring and casting Alabama rigs near them.  He is often holding the boat in about 25 feet of water but casting much shallower.

December 20

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.5 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the lower 50s.  Overall the water is pretty stained, and in some areas up the lake the creeks are clearer than main lake.  The cleanest water is on the lower end from about three miles north of the railroad trestle to the dam.

This is the best time of the year to catch numbers of bass on Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) says that compared to the 75-100 fish days they should be having fishing is slow. There are still plenty of days where they catch 25-30 fish, but the fish are so scattered from the rain that it is just not where it should be.

Fish are also shallower than typical, and they are catching most of the fish on the bottom in 25-30 feet of water in the main lake and up clearer creeks.  There are also some fish suspended but it has been harder to get these fish to bite.  The best action has come on spoons, drop shotted worms and live bait.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also finding fish shallower than they should be, although as is typical of winter multiple species are grouped up together in the areas he is fishing.  He is finding spots, yellow perch, and striper22-30 feet deep in coves off the lower end of the main lake.  They are generally fishing live bait, but when they mark suspended fish they are casting out an Alabama rig to tangle with striper and sometimes spotted bass.  Jerry is also picking up some striper in the same areas as the bass on spoons.

If you want to catch a largemouth the best bet is to go into the dirty water and fish shallower with a worm in 15-18 feet of water around brush.  You can also throw a square-billed crankbait in the dirty water.

November 27

Lake Russell water levels are a couple of feet above full pool (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the upper-50s.  The lower end is clear but up the rivers the water is dirty.

As expected cold weather continues to improve bass fishing on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that with more cold weather on the way he expects it to get even better. Jerry’s boat is catching good numbers of fish with minnows (although you can use soft plastics) on a drop shot rig in about 25-30 feet of water, but because water levels are so high a lot of the fish are suspended five to ten feet off the bottom.  You can still catch some on the bottom though.  Perch and crappie are still mixed in, but largemouth bass remain hard to locate.

Jerry is fishing the creeks less now with high, dirtier water, and he is spending most of his time on the main lake or in the front of creeks.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is still looking for bait schools to target predators like bass, and what he is finding is generally in 25-56 feet of water.  He is also sticking to the main lake and front of creeks but is mainly fishing a drop shot right on the bottom.  Wendell’s boat is also picking up some catfish.

Striped bassfishing is improving, coinciding with the arrival of birds, and Jerry reports that on Saturday he caught a bunch of striper up to 16 pounds and hybrids up to 8.  He is catching them in the same areas as the bass on bigger live bait.

With the arrival of gulls and loons Wendell says the pattern is getting better every day.  He still finds that the best bet is to head to the lower end of the lake and fish around the birds with a free-line rig.

The big striper caught yesterday on Guide Jerry Kotal's boat
Some big winter striper caught on Guide Jerry Kotal’s boat

November 14

Lake Russell water levels are just above full (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures have dropped into the lower 60s.

It seems that bass fishing is better on Lake Russell when it starts to get cold, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that right now is no exception.  Jerry’s boat is catching good numbers of fish with minnows (although you can use soft plastics) on a drop shot rig in about 25 feet of water.  He is mainly fishing in the creeks around brush, regardless of the presence of bait schools, and there are perch and crappie mixed in.  Largemouth are few and far between, though.  Out of 400 fish last one only one was a largemouth!  Spots have been schooling sporadically.

A good early fall haul with Guide Jerry Kotal
A good early fall haul with Guide Jerry Kotal

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is fishing a similar pattern, but he is coming at the fish from a different direction.  Instead of looking for brush he is looking for bait schools, generally in 25-30 feet of water in the creeks and large coves off the main channel where bait has migrated after leaving the main lake flats. Fish are close to the bottom, and in a pretty typical late fall/ early winter pattern he is catching a mix of spots, white and yellow perch, and catfish.

Because Wendell is fishing away from brush he is not picking up many crappie in his standard pattern, but when he wants to pursue crappie he is heading into the creeks and fishing minnows 10-12 feet down over brush in 20-25 feet of water.

Striped bassfishing has been a little tough, but Wendell says that with the first seagulls starting to show up chances for catching fish will improve.  The best bet is to head to the lower end of the lake and fish around the early gulls and loons with a free-line rig.

October 19

Lake Russell water levels are around 473.8 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are in the mid to upper-70s.  Despite the storm clarity is still pretty good.

Water temperatures are finally dropping on Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that until now the bass fishing on Lake Russell has only been fair – probably because of the unseasonable warmth.  We should already be in the 60s, but before the cold front water temperatures were still near 80.  In a recent tournament a 9-pound bag was good enough for the win, and the winning angler had a 5-pounder!

For now fish are around brush piles in 25-30 feet of water in the main lake and some of the creeks, and what they really want to eat is live herring.  However, they will take soft plastics fished on a drop shot.  Jerry expects that in the next couple of weeks the fall bite should get wide open.

If you want to tangle with a largemouth the best bet is to head into the backs of creeks and fish a buzzbait, or fish around blowdowns.

A nice spotted bass caught with Guide Jerry Kotal
A nice spotted bass caught with Guide Jerry Kotal

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has started to see some schooling bass, and when it’s calm you can ride around and look for fish. He has seen schooling in a variety of different areas including over deep water out in the middle.  You can throw a small Rattle Trap, but Wendell’s bait of choice is a Pop-R with a 1/16 ounce crappie jig 18-24 inches behind it. Almost all the fish take the jig.

After not pursuing them for over a month, Wendell has started targeted crappie again and found a good bite.  He has found the fish willing to take minnows fished 6-8 feet deep over brush piles in 10-18 feet of water in the backs of creeks.  On the last trip they caught more than 40 crappie including some very nice ones.

On the striper front, Wendell reports that they have found fish 25 feet down over 50-60 feet of water on the lower end around bait schools.  Jerry has also found some mixed in with the spotted bass in about 30 feet, as well as some catfish.

September 18

Lake Russell water levels are around 471.8 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures range from about 83-86.

Bass are still biting on Lake Russell, but not like they were a few weeks ago.  Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that one day he was catching tons of spotted bass and perch out in deep water, and when he went back the next day they were all gone. None of his 7 or 8 spots produced. Despite the warm water Jerry is seeing some signs of an early turnover, with some bubbling on the surface, and so he wonders if water quality has something to do with it.

A mess of Lake Russell fish caught a couple of weeks back with Guide Jerry Kotal
A mess of Lake Russell fish caught a couple of weeks back with Guide Jerry Kotal

The bass Jerry is still catching are in 10-20 feet of water around brush, mostly in the main lake and the middle section of creeks.  They are not in the backs.  He has caught a few fish on live bait but most have come on soft plastics fished on a shakey head or worm.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) also reports that spotted bass have started schooling, and at times he has found some pretty good action.

Wendell reports that he has spent the most boat time recently fishing for striped bass on Lake Russell.  Fish can be caught on both ends of the lake, and in the Hartwell tailrace he has gotten fish on live herring pulled on planer boards and free-lines. However, the bite has been a little better on the lower end of the lake down-lining 30-40 feet deep.

Wendell’s boat has also been picking up some white and yellow perch on drop shot rigs in 25-30 feet of water, and there are a few spotted bass mixed in.

While Wendell has not been targeting crappie they can be caught in the creeks fishing with minnows around brush 12-14 feet down over 20 feet of water.

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