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AHQ INSIDER Lake Russell (GA/SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated October 17

  • by Jay

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

October 17

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.25 (full pool is 475.00), and morning surface temperatures are in the low to mid-70s.  The lake is pretty clear but in areas it is turning over and you can see bubbles on the surface.

Even though temperatures have dropped, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that bassfishing remains a little tough.  He has mainly been fishing the main lake, and they are mostly finding fish 15-25 feet down over 40-50 feet of water over trees.  They are following bait schools and fish are suspended and on the move.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has been fishing more in the creeks, where his boat is finding a little better bite than they were on the main lake.  In the afternoon he is seeing some schooling activity where fish are running small shad in about 18-25 feet of water.  Even when they are not on the surface he is only finding them about 8-10 feet down.  Small topwater lures, lipless crankbaits in the ¼ ounce range, or drop shots will all work.

Perch can be found in the same areas on the bottom, but that bite will get better in November and December.

1-5 pound channel catfish are also in the creeks on the bottom, and Jerry points out that on the main lake around the bait schools he is fishing if you put a bait on the bottom all you will catch is catfish.

Jerry is finding a little better action for striped bass than bass on the main lake, and they have caught some good fish suspended in the same areas where the bass are.

A mixed bag caught with Guide Jerry Kotal
A mixed bag caught with Guide Jerry Kotal

Wendell points out that this is a period where there are still a few striper on the upper end that are holdovers from the summer that can be caught on free lines or topwater lures.  There are also some holdovers on the lower end, which can be caught 20-40 feet down with down-lines over deep water.

Overall, though, fish are starting to move into the mid-lake where the greatest numbers will be in the next month or two.  All this means the fish are pretty scattered out.

Wendell reports that crappie fishing is still great around brush piles in the creeks.  His boat is fishing one or two rods per person vertically with minnows 8-10 feet deep over 15-20 feet of water.

September 24

Lake Russell water levels are back up to very close to full pool (full pool is 475.00), and morning surface temperatures have rebounded to about 82 degrees.  The lake is still clear.

After dropping to around 78 degrees Lake Russell water temperatures have rebounded into the lower 80s, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that all this has not been a positive development for the bass.  Fishing has gotten tougher, and the bass have started to suspended even more and gotten harder to find.  They are on the move in the 30-50 foot timber, and he is still targeting them with live baits and drop shot rigs.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) also reports that he has found a tougher bass bite on the patterns he had been fishing.  On the flats fish have not been biting very well, but he has found better success up the creeks.  To target bass he suggests heading into the very backs of the creeks and fishing a crankbait, and the grass that once again has water on it (with higher water levels) is also holding fish.

On his last trip they caught about 50% bass well back in a creek where they were also targeting crappie with minnows on a drop shot.  Fish were suspended around brush in about 17 feet and both species bit very well.

Wendell reports no change in the striper bite, and he notes that they can now be caught on both ends of the lake.  On the lower end of the lake he is still mainly fishing down-lines 20-30 feet down, but with more cool water coming out of the Hartwell Dam there are now some good fish up there, too.  Free-lines are the best way to target shallower fish in the Hartwell tailrace.

While catfish are still mixed in with other species and even suspended, the best place to target them specifically is still in 15-20 feet of water off main lake points and flats.  Cut herring are hard to beat.

September 19

Lake Russell water levels are back up to around 474 (full pool is 475.00), and morning surface temperatures are around 81-83 degrees.  The lake is still clear.

Striped bass fishing has picked up on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that he is finding good numbers of fish suspended 28-30 feet down in timber.  They caught more than a dozen fish on one recent trip, particularly impressive considering that Russell has trophies but not a ton of striper. The big fish weighed almost 23 pounds.

A good day with Guide Jerry Kotal
A good day with Guide Jerry Kotal

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) also reports that he has found an improved striper bite, and he notes that they can now be caught on both ends of the lake.  On the lower end of the lake he is still mainly fishing down-lines 20-30 feet down, but with more cool water coming out of the Hartwell Dam there are now some good fish up there, too.  Free-lines are the best way to target shallower fish in the Hartwell tailrace.

In bassfishing Jerry reports that the fishing is still pretty tough, with fish still very suspended and on the move in the 30-50 foot timber.  Live baits and drop shot rigs are the best ways to catch them.  With air temperatures getting back into the 90s very soon Jerry is not optimistic that this cool front will improve the bite very much.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is mainly finding bass in the typical late summer/ fall pattern of hanging around schools of threadfin shad in 20-30 feet.  There are some fish on main lake flats, and some are in coves off the main channel. Fishing minnows on a drop shot he is catching a mixed bag of both bass species, white and yellow perch, catfish and crappie.

Additionally, there are some crappie up the creeks around either brush or natural timber in 15-20 feet of water. The fish are usually about 10-15 feet down where they will eat minnows.

While catfish are still mixed in with other species and even suspended, the best place to target them specifically is still in 15-20 feet of water off main lake points and flats.  Cut herring are hard to beat.

September 12

Lake Russell water levels are back up to around 472.75 (full pool is 475.00), and morning surface temperatures have risen into the mid-80s.  The lake is still clear.

The overall patterns remain fairly similar, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that catching bass continues to get tougher.  Fish are suspending even more than last week in the 30-50 foot timber, which means instead of relating to the bottom or at least staying in one area they are usually on the move.  You can catch two or three in one area but then they swim off.   Live bait is still working best for bass, but a drop shot can also effective.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) also reports that bass fishing remains tough, but he is still catching some fish on main lake flats in about 25-30 feet of water around schools of bait.  He is also having trouble getting suspended fish to bite at times, but there are also times when they are chasing small threadfin shad on top and will take a topwater or small Shad Rap.

There are still some early nice white perch mixed in with the bass in 25-30 feet.  They will take minnows fished on a drop shot, as will the bass.

Crappie fishing is still something of a bright spot, and Wendell reports that they are doing well fishing about 10-15 feet down over brush in 15-25 feet of water.  Most of the fish are in the creeks and they are taking minnows.

Striped bass are still a mixed bag, and at times Jerry reports that they have gotten into some good ones fishing over the same timber where the bass are holding.  The fish are 20-25 feet down and will take herring on down lines.

A couple of nice ones caught with Guide Jerry Kotal
A couple of nice ones caught Tuesday with Guide Jerry Kotal

 While neither guide has been actively targeting catfish, Wendell reports that they are still very aggressive while fishing for other species.  He is catching them suspended 15 feet off the bottom while pursuing bass! The best place to target catfish is in 15-20 feet of water off main lake points and flats.  Cut herring are hard to beat.

September 4

Lake Russell water levels are down to around 472 (full pool is 475.00), about as low as the lake typically gets, and morning surface temperatures are roughly 80-83 degrees. The lake is still pretty clear.

The overall patterns remain fairly similar, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that catching bass has gotten a little tougher.  This is mainly because the fish are suspending even more in the 30-50 foot timber, and instead of relating to the bottom or at least staying in one area they are frequently on the move.  You can catch two or three in one area but then they swim off.   Live bait is still working well for bass, but a drop shot is also effective.

Another successful trip with Guide Jerry Kotal
Another successful trip with Guide Jerry Kotal

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has also noticed the bass pattern getting a little tougher, although he is still catching fish on main lake flats in about 25-30 feet of water around schools of bait.  He is also having trouble getting suspended fish to bite at times, but there are also times when they are chasing small threadfin shad on top and will take a topwater or small Shad Rap.

They are just starting to catch some nice white perch mixed in with the bass in 25-30 feet. They will take minnows fished on a drop shot, as will the bass.

Perhaps the biggest change this week is that the crappie fishing has picked up, and Wendell reports that they are doing well fishing about 10-15 feet down over brush in 15-25 feet of water.  Most of the fish are in the creeks and they are taking minnows.

Striped bass have been a mixed bag, but at times Jerry reports that they have gotten into some good ones fishing over the same timber where the bass are holding.  The fish are 20-25 feet down and will take herring on down lines.

While neither guide has been actively targeting catfish, Wendell reports that they have been very aggressive while fishing for other species.  He is catching them suspended 15 feet off the bottom while pursuing bass! The best place to target catfish is in 15-20 feet of water off main lake points and flats.  Cut herring are hard to beat.

August 21

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.75 (full pool is 475.00), and morning surface temperatures are roughly 84-87 degrees.  The lake is clear.

With stable, hot temperatures Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that his boat is still catching bass and striped bass suspended around underwater timber in 30-50 feet of water.  Generally the bass are about 20 feet down over 30-40 feet, while the striper are mixed in with the bass or a little deeper 20-25 feet down over 40-50 feet of water.  In part because Lake Russell timber was not cut off at a uniform height you have to search to find fishable areas, and it’s not uncommon for the biggest fish to break off.

Live bait will work for both species, and for bass you can also fish a drop shot or shakey head.

A pair of nice striper caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
A pair of nice striper caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has noticed some changes in the last week, and he is already starting to see some fish get into a fall pattern.  He is catching a mixed bag of white perch, spotted bass, and channel catfish on the main lake flats in 28-35 feet of water around schools of bait.

There are also some striped bass in similar areas with about 28-40 feet of water, and Wendell notes that striper have behaved differently this summer than usual.  Because there isn’t a lot of water coming into Russell from Hartwell, and because they are back-pumping from Clarks Hill into Russell, fish have not moved to the ends of the lake looking for cool water as is typical at this time of year.  Instead the mid-lake is the most productive.

On the crappie front, Wendell reports that it is slow.  Brush in 20-25 feet of water is probably the best place to look.

July 31

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.0 (full pool is 475.00), and morning surface temperatures are around 85.  The lake is clear.

Water temperatures have cooled off a bit on Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that patterns are about the same – even as the bite may be slightly improved.  Thereare still plenty of bass and striped bass being caught suspended around underwater timber in 30-50 feet of water.  Generally the bass are about 20 feet down over 30-40 feet, while the striper are mixed in with the bass or a little deeper 20-25 feet down over 40-50 feet of water.  In part because Lake Russell timber was not cut off at a uniform height you have to search to find fishable areas, and it’s not uncommon for the biggest fish to break off.

Live bait will work for both species, and for bass you can also fish a drop shot or shakey head.

A nice haul this week on Guide Jerry Kotal's boat
A nice haul this week on Guide Jerry Kotal’s boat

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has been fishing a similar pattern for both species, and he notes that sometimes the fish are just off the bottom while at other times they are suspended.  Because there has not been a lot of water released from Lake Hartwell the upper end of the lake is not cold, and so most of the best fishing has been in the lower half of the lake.

Both guides report good catches of white perch in 25-30 feet of water on the bottom with either white perch or small herring.

On the crappie front, Wendell reports that fish remain suspended about 12-15 feet down in brush sitting in 20-25 feet of water.  The best area is mid-lake in creeks as well as coves off the main channel.

Jerry’s boat is also catching catfishmixed in with the striper and bass on each trip, but to target cats specifically fish in 25-30 feet with cut bait on the bottom.

July 19

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.0 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are in the upper 80s.  The lake is clear.

Water temperatures are hot on Lake Russell, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that there are still plenty of bass and striped bass being caught suspended around underwater timber in 30-50 feet of water.  Generally the bass are about 20 feet down over 30-40 feet, while the striper are mixed in with the bass or a little deeper 20-25 feet down over 40-50 feet of water.  In part because Lake Russell timber was not cut off at a uniform height you have to search to find fishable areas, and it’s not uncommon for the biggest fish to break off.

Live bait will work for both species, and for bass you can also fish a drop shot or shakey head.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has been fishing a similar pattern for both species, and he notes that sometimes the fish are just off the bottom while at other times they are suspended.  Because there has not been a lot of water released from Lake Hartwell the upper end of the lake is not cold, and so most of the best fishing has been in the lower half of the lake.

A big striped bass caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
A big striped bass caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

Both guides report good catches of white perch in 25-30 feet of water on the bottom with either white perch or small herring.

On the crappie front, Wendell reports that fish have been suspended about 12-15 feet down in brush sitting in 20-25 feet of water.  The best area is mid-lake in creeks as well as coves off the main channel.

Jerry’s boat is also catching catfishmixed in with the striper and bass on each trip, but to target cats specifically fish in 25-30 feet with cut bait on the bottom.

June 25

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.7 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures range from 79-82 (morning to afternoon) on the main lake to the mid-80s in the backs of creeks.  The lake remains relatively clear.

Bassfishing remains pretty tough on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that in a tournament this week he took third with 11 pounds, while it only took 13 to win.  To get that weight Jerry had to run about 50 miles from end to end and back again, but pretty much everything he caught came on a drop shot rig beside brush in 20-25 feet.  Both the main lake and creeks produced numbers of small fish.

While the pattern for spotted bass he is catching has not changed, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that he has discovered a new pattern for largemouth in the last week.  They have seen a good number of largemouth up in the water willow that the Corp planted and which seems to have taken off, and in coves on the lower end of the lake fish are shallow in areas where they should be in April. They will take a topwater bait first thing, but during the day they will eat Shad Raps.

You might have to run around to find them, but there are plenty of spotted bass in Lake Russell
You might have to run around to find them, but there are plenty of spotted bass in Lake Russell

The down-line pattern for striper on the lower end is unchanged from last week, but Wendell reports that fish are just starting to be caught on free-lines at the upper end of the lake below the Hartwell dam.

Jerry reports that there has been a little improvement in the catfish bite, and both in the creeks and the main lake fish can be caught in the center of pockets in 15-20 feet of water on cut herring.

Crappieare still on the same brush pattern described in the last report.

June 20

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.6 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are about 84 degrees.  The lake is clear.

Mild temperatures have actually not been great for the bassfishing on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that once it gets and stays warmer the fish will get in tighter schools and the action should improve. For now his boat is mainly fishing 20 feet down in 30 feet of water at the mouths of creeks and on the main lake, and they are having the most success with live bait.  Using artificial lures they are mainly just catching small fish.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has caught some largemouth in the evening on topwater lures fished around shallow coves, and during the day he says that spots can still be caught off main lake points in 15-20 feet of water with Spot Removers.

While the catfishbite has been a little hit-or-miss, Wendell’s boat has been catching some nice striped bass on down-lines in the lower end.  The best bite has been in the morning 25-30 feet deep, and they have gotten fish over 20 pounds recently.

Crappiefishing has been pretty good, and fish have been caught 10-12 feet down on minnows around brush piles in 20 feet of water.  The best action has been in the creeks, but some fish have also been in coves off the main channel.

A mixed bag caught on Jerry Kotal's boat
A mixed bag caught on Jerry Kotal’s boat

June 3

Lake Russell water levels are around 474.6 (full pool is 475.00), and water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s.  The lake is very clear.

The bassfishing is fairly steady on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that he is catching fish about 20 feet down in 30 feet of water on the main lake and at the mouth of creeks.  His boat is using live bait a lot of the time and also picking up striped bassin the same areas, but you can also fish with a drop shot rig.

While he has not spent much time doing it you can also catch a few bass on topwaters such as a buzzbait around the banks early.

The photo does not do justice to a big 10-pound hybrid caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
The photo does not do justice to a big 10-pound hybrid caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is fishing a little shallower off main lake points in 10-20 feet of water, and casting or pulling herring they are also catching a mixed bag of spotted bass and striper.  The bite is very good early, but in the clear, sunny conditions it tapers off around 8:00 or 8:30.  Lures that imitate herring will also get the job done, and after the sun gets up fishing a Spot Remover or a drop shot in 15-20 feet is the better pattern for bass.

Crappiehave still not moved very deep, and for now you can still catch some nice fish 5-12 feet down with both minnows and jigs around brush in 15-20 feet of water.  For now fish are still in both the creeks and of course the main lake.

There are mixed reports on the catfish, and Wendell reports that his boat has been picking up a lot of them as a by-catch while fishing herring off the points.  He thinks that if you fish cut bait in the same areas you could do well.

On the other hand Jerry is finding a slower bite, but the best area he has found is 20-30 feet. It got hot so quickly that the spawn has ended very early this year and he is finding that the fish have pulled deeper earlier than usual.

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