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AHQ INSIDER Lake Russell (GA/SC) Fall Fishing Report – Updated November 30

  • by Jay

Nov. 30

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.89 (full pool is 475.00) and surface temperatures are in the lower 60s.  Clarity is good.

 Bass fishing on Lake Russell is hot, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that on recent trips they have been catching 50-60 spotted bass each time.  And believe it or not, the fishing will get even better!  Right now Jerry is finding the fish grouped up in about 20-45 feet of water, generally off the end of points where they drop off into the channel.  Oftentimes they are around natural timber at that depth.  He is finding fish all over the lake at that depth, including at the mouths of creeks, in the back of creeks, and out on the main lake.  Drop shot rigs as well as spoons are both working.

One of many bass caught recently on Guide Jerry Kotal's boat
One of many bass caught recently on Guide Jerry Kotal’s boat

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports being on a similar pattern, and he says that despite temperatures being warmer than the calendar says they should be fish are basically doing what they should be around the beginning of December.  Wendell is finding the magical depth range where bait and fish are gathering to be in about 30 feet of water just off the bottom, and he is finding that about halfway back in the creeks.   Spotted bass are on a “tear,” but like Jerry he is also finding yellow perch and white perch in the same areas, as well as some crappie and catfish.  While everything is eating in the same areas the catch is dominated by spots.

Striped bassfishing has been a little tough, and Jerry reports that he expects cooler weather to group the fish up better.  Wendell concurs, and says that his boat hasn’t definitely seen any fish although they have observed one or two likely striper roll on the surface.  The best bet for locating striper is to go about halfway up the Savannah or Rocky River and pull free lines, and also to have an Alabama rig ready if you see fish on the surface.  Some birds and loons are showing up on the lake and they will often point the way to striper.

October 20

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.82 (full pool is 475.00) and surface temperatures are back up to the mid-70s.  The lake is still turning over.

On the bass front  Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports very little change from last week, not surprising considering that temperatures have actually risen.  Fish can still be caught even though the lake is turning over.  Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that he is catching bass in the 20-35 foot range on a drop shot rig fished around main lake brush piles, and the fish have been about 12-14 feet deep.  He locates them on his electronics before dropping a bait down to them.

Crappiecan probably still be caught slow-trolling around timber, but this week Wendell’s boat has been targeting them in some of the same areas that spotted bass have been found.  He has caught some nice crappie fishing around main lake brush piles in 23-25 feet of water, with the fish very close to the bottom.  Minnows fished on a drop-shot rig have been very effective.

The most improved bite this week on Lake Russell is for striped and hybrid bass, with Wendell’s boat locating some really nice groups of fish in the mid-lake area.  Saturday his boat landed a 15-pound hybrid, and yesterday they broke off a monster, easily 25-plus pound fish that spooled them and then broke the line.  These fish have been caught on down-lines in around 40 feet of water.

No news on catfish.

October 13

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.81 (full pool is 475.00) and surface temperatures have dropped into the 72-73 degree range.  The lower lake is pretty clear but there is some stained water in the backs of the creeks, and the lake is starting to turn over.

Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that as water temperatures drop spotted bass are starting to get into their deep fall pattern, typical on Lake Russell.  Jerry’s boat is catching fish in 30-35 feet of water on a drop-shot rig, and once the lake completes the turnover fish will get even deeper.  As always on Russell Jerry likes a green worm (such as watermelon seed or green pumpkin) on the drop-shot.  To pursue largemouth bass Jerry advises heading to the backs of creeks and tying on a spinnerbait, buzzbait, or Texas-rigged worm.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) also reports that he has been catching bass on a drop-shot rig, but instead of fishing in the 30-35 foot range he has been concentrating on brush in 20-25 feet of water.  He has found fish in all the larger coves off the main lake and up the creeks.  Wendell reports that surface activity is also starting to pick up, and he has been catching some bass on small topwaters such as Pop-Rs or Zara Puppies.  While he has not seen any good largemouth some 2-pounders have been mixed in with the spots.

Unfortunately the very strong late summer/ early fall down-line striped bass bite has finally started to dissipate, and with the cooling temperatures the fish have scattered out.  Fishing should be hit-or-miss for a few weeks but the best bet to locate fish is to free-line herring in the mid-lake creeks halfway up the Rocky River or Savannah River.

Wendell’s boat continues to catch crappie slow-trolling around timber in 10-14 feet of water, but the newest development is that they are starting to catch some big yellow perch on minnows.  Catching 20-25 fish on drop-shot rigs is not uncommon.

Soon the catfish will group up with the bass around the deep bait schools.

September 28

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.94 (full pool is 475.00) and surface temperatures range from 82 to 86 degrees.  The lake is very clear and there has been no rain.

Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) again reports little change in how he is targeting spotted bass, with fish still being caught on deep drop shots.  Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that he continues to see schooling bass, and in addition to finding them over 25-30 feet of water he has also seen some fish running shad around the banks in the creeks where he has been crappie fishing.  In addition to the jig and popper rig previously described fishing a spinnerbait in the areas where they are schooling is a good option.

Wendell’s boat continues to catch crappieslow trolling in the timber in 10-14 feet of water, and he has also picked up a few largemouth that way.

Yesterday Wendell took a party down to the upper part of Clarks Hill and caught some striped bass on top, and then they trailered the boat up to the lower part of Russell and fished down-lines in the lower lake.  They picked up four nice over 12 pounds fishing 18-30 feet down on the lower end.

September 22

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.79 (full pool is 475.00) and surface temperatures remain around 83 degrees.  Clarity is normal for Lake Russell.

Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports little change in how he is targeting spotted bass, with fish still being caught on deep drop shots.  He has also seen sporadic schooling activity over deep water, but still hasn’t caught any largemouth.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that in the last day or two he has just started seeing bass school, and even though water temperatures remain very warm fish are starting to get into this fall pattern.  He has seen schooling action half-way up the creeks over the channel in about 25-30 feet of water where fish are chasing threadfin shad.  The fish are on small bait, and so a popper and jig rig, a ¼ ounce lipless crankbait, or a small Pop-R is a good bet.

Additionally, Wendell reports that the crappiebite is still pretty good, but his boat is fishing a different pattern now.  Instead of fishing brush, they have started heading into the timber and slow trolling between stumps with minnows on 4-pound line with a split shot.  The crappie have generally been 10-14 feet down over 25-30 feet of water.

Striperaction remains about the same, with the better action in the lower lake.

September 14

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.79 (full pool is 475.00) and surface temperatures are around 83 degrees.  Clarity is normal for Lake Russell.

Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) has been fishing tournaments on other lakes for much of the summer, but back home on Lake Russell over the last week or two he has been catching good numbers of spotted bass.  By and large the fish are being caught on drop shot rigs fished in 40-50 feet of water on the main lake around underwater timber.  Fish are relating to schools of threadfin shad and morning dawn (pinkish with a blue stripe) and green pumpkin have been good worm colors.

Catching numbers of fish in the 1-3 pound range has been easy, but bigger spots have been hard to come by and top tournament weights have generally been in the 10-12 pound range.  Jerry has caught almost no largemouth bass fishing the above pattern, but if he were going to target a big largemouth he would probably head to the back of creek and throw a buzzbait.  This isn’t a numbers pattern but a nice one can be caught this way.

While his boat hasn’t been targeting bass very often this month, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has been catching some good striped bass in the 8-12 pound range.   Most of those fish have been caught on down-lines fished 25-35 feet deep with herring.  The mid-lake and lower lake have been most productive, although some fish can be caught on free-lines in the Hartwell Tailrace.  Overall the tailrace has been spotty this summer because with less water released from Hartwell than usual temperatures are warmer than normal.

A big Lake Russell striper caught on Jerry Kotal's boat earlier this summer
A big Lake Russell striper caught on Jerry Kotal’s boat earlier this summer

It continues to be a good summer for crappieon Russell, and Wendell reports that fishing minnows from 10 feet deep to the bottom in 20-25 feet of water has been productive.  This is a very main lake pattern and most of the fish are being caught around brush in large coves just off the main channel.  Numbers aren’t very high but they are catching some big crappie, particularly for the season.

Wendell isn’t targeting catfishon guide trips, but they are picking up 1 or 2 each day crappie fishing.  To target catfish he recommends fishing cut herring off deeper points on the bottom in 15-20 feet of water.  Some pretty good-sized schools of threadfin shad are moving into the 20-30 foot range.