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AHQ INSIDER Lake Russell (GA/SC) Spring 2021 Fishing Report – Updated April 29

  • by Jay

April 29

Lake Russell water levels are above full at 475.03 (full pool is 475.00) and the lake is very clear except for some floating debris and pollen.  Water temperatures are in the upper 60s. 

The bass fishing is still really good on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the fish remain in just a few feet of water on the herring points. However, the big change is that the herring are up there with them spawning. His boat is catching them flipping live herring up onto the points, but topwater lures, flukes and more will also work. 

A successful trip this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
A successful trip this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is seeing the same thing, and he has fished points in five totally different areas of the lake in the last ten days with success. However, he has also discovered that if you go a little deeper on main lake points that run from shallow water but drop off then you can find some big striped bass off the sides. His boat has caught a large number of 14-15 pound striper fishing free lines over fish that seem to be about 15-20 feet down over points that have dropped off to 30-45 feet.   

In contrast, the bass are much shallower. 

Wendell has gotten back on the crappie, and even though they are mostly finished spawning they are still in relatively shallow water.  The fish are ganged up on brush in 8-10 feet in the creeks, and they are mostly within 3-4 feet of the surface. He is catching them on minnows. 

Jerry reports that the pattern for catfish has not changed and the fish are on points, pockets, and coves fairly shallow in the 5-10 foot range.  They are not usually in the same areas where the herring are spawning.  His boat has mainly been fishing with cut herring and catching 20 plus fish has been normal.

April 16

Lake Russell water levels are up to above full at 475.26 (full pool is 475.00). Surface water temperatures are in the upper 60s. 

The bass fishing remains strong on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the fish are in just a few feet of water on the herring points. However, the herring have not gotten up there and started spawning yet – even though he saw some a week or two ago before the previous cool snap. His boat is catching them flipping live herring up onto the points, but topwater lures will also work. They are also picking up some striper this way but not generally targeting them. 

There are also still some bass on beds even though more seem to be post-spawn. 

A good morning with Guide Jerry Kotal
A good morning with Guide Jerry Kotal

With the crappie in a post-spawn phase Jerry’s boat has not targeted them much, but he has spent some time on the catfish.  The pattern has not changed and the fish are on points, pockets, and coves fairly shallow in the 5-10 foot range.  They are not usually in the same areas where the herring are spawning.  His boat has mainly been fishing with cut herring and catching 20 plus fish has been normal.

April 2

Lake Russell water levels are down to 473.91 (full pool is 475.00). Morning surface water temperatures were about 63 or 64 degrees in the creeks before the cold snap but have dropped. The main lake is pretty clear but the creeks have a good stain to them.

The bass fishing has really picked up on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that most of the fish – including spotted bass – that he has been catching right now have been in 4-5 feet of water or less. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of fish deeper, but good numbers are in the shallows. He has been fishing both the main lake and the creeks with a spinnerbait and finding that most of the fish are still full of eggs. While some fish have already spawned, including a lot of the big largemouths, most are still pre-spawn.

Before long the herring spawn should also get underway when fish will stack up on the points. 

While some of the better crappie have already spawned, Jerry reports that his boat is still catching lots of big males and females around the banks. The cold snap should prolong the shallow action. The fish he has been catching are in about 3 feet of water, and while some of them are related to obvious cover most of them have just been on small flats with no obvious attraction that he knows from past years. Jigs and minnows are each catching about half of the fish. 

A couple of shallow crappie caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
A couple of shallow crappie caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

Jerry is just getting ready to start targeting catfish, and very soon they should be pulling up on points, pockets, and coves fairly shallow in the 5-10 foot range.  They are not usually in the same areas where the herring are spawning.  Cut herring is hard to beat.

March 19

Lake Russell water levels are almost full at 474.88 (full pool is 475.00). Morning surface water temperatures have fall to about 59 degrees. Water clarity is a little stained after the rain this week. 

 Most bass anglers love spring warming, but on Lake Russell Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) often finds that the fishing can get trickier for a time as we come out of the winter. This year is no exception, and with yo-yoing temperatures the fish have scattered all over the place. They can be found around points, deep banks and more – with some fish in 15-20 feet and others in less than 5 feet. Drop shots, jerkbaits, blade runners, shakey heads and more will all catch fish. With fish so spread out you can pretty much target them with your preferred bait.

Jerry does expect that at the next warm front the shallow bite will be wide open.

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is finding about the same thing, and he notes that the spots and largemouth are behaving pretty differently. This makes sense because they will ultimately spawn in different areas, and his boat has caught some largemouth in the backs of stained creeks on Shad Raps.
Meanwhile, the spots will ultimately spawn on medium sloping banks that have some sand and so he is targeting adjacent areas with swimbaits and deeper running Shad Raps. 

With Wendell crappie fishing more on Clarks Hill that is leaving more Russell fish for Jerry, and right now he is targeting male fish that have moved up very shallow into spawning spots in the backs of two particular pockets. He is catching them on minnows and jigs fished under a cork. 

While you can probably still troll for crappie Jerry has found less of them suspended and on the flats recently and so he thinks the spawn is very close. 

Some handsome males caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
Some handsome males caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

While both guides will still pick up a few striped bass in the spring, they are basically a by-catch with the fish extremely scattered.

The catfish are often about the last species to move up, and Jerry reports that right now they are still out on deeper points in about 30 feet of water. They will take a variety of cut baits. It should be early April before they come shallow.

March 10

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.50 (full pool is 475.00). Morning surface water temperatures are about 54 on the main lake and in the upper 50s in the creeks. Water clarity is normal.

The bass fishing is picking up again on Lake Russell, and tournament angler/ Guide Brad Fowler of Pendleton reports that in the Skeeter Challenge on Lake Russell last weekend he and his tournament partner Brock Taylor were able to catch about 15 pounds good for a 15th place finish by fishing deep in 35-40 feet. They caught a few on football jigs but most of their fish on shakey heads, and the fish wanted the bait slow and dragging. They would not take a drop shot. It seemed that the lake was behind as of Sunday, and even throwing a crankbait in the dirty water they could not get a bite. Based on what he saw Brad thinks the spawn is still a little ways off.

That’s consistent with what Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) has seen, and he agrees that the cold front over the weekend killed the shallow bite but found that even yesterday they just weren’t up. Instead he found fish in 15-25 feet of water on flats off main lake points staging. They would take a drop shot and a spoon. The fish should start to make a move shallower by the end of this week. 

Some nice fish caught with Jerry Kotal on Lake Russell
Some nice fish caught with Jerry Kotal on Lake Russell

While the shallow bass fishing has not yet materialized, yesterday Jerry did find a good number of crappie up shallow in the creeks. He notes that the water was dirtier and a good 4 or 5 degrees warmer, but they were on brush in 3-4 feet of water throughout the warmer part of the day. It looks like the fish were about ready to spawn and at least yesterday trolling in the channel didn’t produce. 

That doesn’t surprise Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336), who reports that each year the crappie move up really fast on Lake Russell once conditions get right. They come in waves, with each getting progressively smaller, and so it makes sense that almost everything Jerry caught yesterday was over a pound.   

While both guides will still pick up a few striped bass in the spring, they are basically a by-catch with the fish extremely scattered.

The catfish are often about the last species to move up, and Jerry reports that right now they are still out on deeper points in about 30 feet of water. They will take a variety of cut baits. It should be early April before they come shallow.

March 5

Lake Russell water levels are at 472.99 (full pool is 475.00). Morning surface water temperatures are about 53 on the main lake and 57 in the creeks. Water clarity is normal.

Lake Russell offered perhaps the best bass fishing in the state through the winter, so perhaps it’s karma that at least this week as the fishing turns on around South Carolina the action on Russell lags behind. Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that yesterday on the water they caught fish, but numbers were not great and it was hard to find anything over about two pounds. After a great winter bite it’s not unusual for the early spring to be a little slow on Russell.

It seems that temperatures have warmed just enough to break up the deep schools, although they still found the best action in about 30 feet on the bottom or suspended with shakey heads, drop shots and blade runners. However, even as the deep schools have broken up the shallows haven’t really turned on and they only managed a few fish shallow.

A couple of bass caught on Russell with Guide Jerry Kotal
A couple of bass caught on Russell with Guide Jerry Kotal

There’s no disagreement from Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) that the deep bite has declined, and almost overnight it disappeared for him in the hot weather last weekend. The bass scattered out but he has been able to pick up fish on the side of points in 12-20 feet of water with crankbaits and shakey head worms. Ultimately Wendell expects the spots to spawn just out of easy sight on shallow, sloping sandy banks in 7-8 feet of water. 

The last few years Wendell has discovered a slower crappie bite than he would like on Lake Russell, apparently indicating that the population is down, and so he has been spending more time targeting them on Clarks Hill.  The patterns are about the same on both lakes, though, although the fish are down further on Russell because it is a deeper, clearer lake.  

The best Russell pattern right now is long-line trolling about ¾ the way back in the creeks, pulling 1/16 ounce jigs 8-12 feet down over 15-20 feet of water. Fish are not yet on the banks but when temperatures rise a few more degrees the first big wave of females will come up very quickly and then leave just as fast. 

While both guides will still pick up a few striped bass in the spring, they are basically a by-catch with the fish extremely scattered.

The catfish are often about the last species to move up, and Jerry reports that right now they are still out on deeper points in about 30 feet of water. They will take a variety of cut baits. It should be early April before they come shallow.

February 26

Lake Russell water levels are down to 472.88 (full pool is 475.00). The main lake is clear while the creeks are fairly stained. Surface water temperatures are about 50 degrees in the morning. 

Even though water temperatures are still cool in the morning, Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that on warm afternoons they are rising as much as five degrees. Yesterday he saw mid-50s when he got off the water, and so he thinks we are at the very tail end of the deep pattern. Yesterday they caught bass on Alabama rigs fished deep for suspended fish, but in the next few days he expects more fish to be suspended in 25-30 feet instead of 50-60. They will be pushed up off the side of secondary points where they can be caught on drop shots.

Another group of fish will start to move all the way towards the banks, and they will be pushed up on points and around brush. Blade runners are good in 10-15 feet and jerkbaits will produce against the banks.  

Numbers should be about equal in the creeks and on the main lake. 

In the same vein, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has also found the bass shallower in 20-25 feet instead of 40 plus feet. He has had the best action off points in the creeks. 

While Jerry will still pick up a few striped bass in the spring, they get much harder to catch and he basically loses them. The suspicion is that since Russell has less of them and they are spread out they are just harder to locate, and as the fishing for bass and other species comes on he puts less time into them.

Speaking of other species, Wendell reports that he is still finding some small crappie out deep but it seems like the better crappie are starting to stage in the creeks. The best way to pursue them is to slow troll 1/16 ounce jigs in 25-30 feet of water.

The catfish are often about the last species to move up, and Jerry reports that right now they are still out on deeper points in about 30 feet of water. They will take a variety of cut baits. It should be early April before they come shallow. 

A nice striper caught this week with Jerry Kotal
A nice striper caught this week with Jerry Kotal

February 18

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.03 (full pool is 475.00). Water temperatures are in the upper 40s and before today’s rain clarity was still fairly good.

He’s not expecting it to last much past this weekend, but Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that they are still having really good catches of bass and striper suspended about 30 feet down in the 40-60 foot range. The fish they are catching are usually in the mouths of creeks and on the main channel in creeks. The striper are usually coming on Alabama rigs or bucktails cast in areas where Jerry has graphed fish, while the bass (as well as perch) are also being caught on minnows. Some days are more bass-heavy or striper-heavy, and yesterday they caught 25 bass and only 5 striper. However, those 5 included a 20+ pounder as well as a 10+ pound hybrid.

Some bruiser striper caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
Some bruiser striper caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

On a similar but slightly different pattern, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also cashing in on the tail-end of the winter pattern and he is catching striper, spots, white perch and yellow perch deep. However, he is fishing right on the bottom in 40-50 feet with minnows. Wendell says that him for him the action is entirely dependent on finding bait and gulls, and yesterday they caught fish in the Russell State Park area.  Yesterday his boat also caught two channel catfishon the bottom with minnows in 46 feet.  

In addition to casting an Alabama rig in areas where birds are diving, for anglers who don’t want to run-and-gun he has had success pulling shiners or herring (which have been a little hard to get) on free-lines in areas with bird activity.    

It isn’t quite time for Wendell to start targeting them yet, but he believes that the crappie are staging in open water in the 20-25 foot range just off the bottom. 

February 4

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.09 (full pool is 475.00). Water temperatures are down to about 48-49 degrees and the lake is pretty clear. 

There has been some really good fishing recently on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that his boat caught 17 striped bass on one of the last two trips – but then the next day they only caught 2 striper and 18 good bass on the same pattern! The fish he is targeting have started to suspend more in the mouths of creeks and on the main channel in creeks, and they are usually finding them about 30 feet down over 40-60 feet of water.

Both species are being caught on bucktails and Alabama rigs, and they are reeling them very slowly over the top of timber in areas where they have marked fish. (Most of Russell is covered in timber.). The fish are coming up to about 20 feet to take the baits. 

Check out the newLake Russell Catch ’Em Kits with bass lures hand-picked for each season by Jerry.

A good Lake Russell day this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
A good Lake Russell day this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

On a different pattern, Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is also finding the fish very deep. In the mid-lake he is catching a mixed bag including bass, some striper, and yellow and white perch in 35-50 feet of water, while on the lower end he has found them much deeper in 65-70 feet. He even caught one crappie in 70 feet! While small spoons or other lures will also work, he is catching most of the fish on live bait on a drop shot. 

While Wendell is not targeting striper specifically, they are still picking up the occasional fish in the deep schools. He believes there are more striped bass on the lower end right now where there are also more birds, and if he is going to go after them he will either run-and-gun with an Alabama rig or drag herring and shiners on free-lines. 

While neither guide targets catfish this time of year, Jerry advises that to specifically target catfish you should fish pockets in 10-20 feet with cut bait.

January 21

Lake Russell water levels are at 473.83 (full pool is 475.00). Water temperatures are down to about 50 degrees and the lake is clear. 

Lake Russell remains a really good place to catch bass, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that the fish continue to be deep in the 41-45 foot range. He just can’t find big schools in less than 30 feet, but deeper they continue to catch a mixed bag of spotted bass, yellow and white perch on drop shots with minnows or worms.  The best action is still coming on deep flats with bait, and Wendell is having the best luck in the front of creeks near the main lake. Coldwater Creek is still producing and the area around Calhoun Falls State Park has also gotten very good. 

The other way that people are catching bass right now is fishing shallower around the poles in the channel in 10-15 feet of water, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that shakey head worms are working really well there.

Check out the new Lake Russell Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season by Jerry.

A good mess of fish caught with Guide Jerry Kotal
A good mess of fish caught with Guide Jerry Kotal

This week Wendell’s boat caught another 14-pound striped bass in one of the bass holes on 4-pound test line, but when he is mainly targeting linesides he uses heavier stuff on the lower lake where fish seem to have moved. The birds are also there as well as other species. 

While Wendell will mainly be fishing with herring and medium minnows, he will always have lures such as bucktails or an Alabama rig tied on and ready to cast. 

While neither guide targets crappie or catfish this time of year, Jerry advises that to specifically target catfish you should fish pockets in 10-20 feet with cut bait.  Wendell says his boat has not been picking up many crappie on the deep flats.

January 13

Lake Russell water levels are down to 473.77 (full pool is 475.00). Water temperatures are down to about 51 degrees and as of yesterday most of the lake is clear. 

The bass fishing is similar again this week on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that fishing the front of creeks in 30-40 feet of water with spoons and drop shots is still working pretty well.  Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is finding that the fishing has gotten even better, however, and in 42 feet of water on the bottom their last trip yielded 114 fish including spotted bass, yellow and white perch. The best action is still coming on deep flats with bait, and like Jerry Wendell is having the best luck in the front of creeks near the main lake. Coldwater Creek continues to produce and for right now the fish are not moving much.

The other way that people are catching bass right now is fishing shallower around the poles in the channel in 10-15 feet of water, and Jerry reports that shakey head worms are working really well there.

Check out the new Lake Russell Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season by Jerry.

A bonus in Wendell’s last trip was a 14-pound striped bass in one of the bass holes on 4-pound test line, but on the last trip out Wendell decided to give the lower lake a try specifically for striper since there is more bird activity down there. While some fish were caught, he still thinks the best concentrations of striper are in the mid-lake even though there are less gulls. This include the front part of creeks in the mid-lake as well as the main lake. 

The best fishing remains over 35-50 feet from the top to the bottom of the water column. Especially on cloudy days they can roll on the surface, but in general they are 20-30 feet down. Alabama rigs, down-lines, spoons, bucktails and more can all catch fish. Mark bait and fish before settling into an area.  

Another good day for Lake Russell striper with Guide Jerry Kotal
Another good day for Lake Russell striper with Guide Jerry Kotal

While neither guide targets crappie or catfish this time of year, Jerry advises that to specifically target catfish you should fish pockets in 10-20 feet with cut bait.  Wendell says his boat has not been picking up many crappie on the deep flats.

January 7

Lake Russell water levels are back down to 474.14 (full pool is 475.00) after reaching a foot above full pool on January 4. Still, the main lake and front of creeks remain clear and water temperatures are about 53 degrees.

There’s a couple of different bass patterns going on right now on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that fishing the front of creeks in 30-40 feet of water with spoons and drop shots is hard to beat. Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is fishing a similar pattern, and yesterday he found that the fish had moved a bit deeper into 43 feet of water. On crappie minnows he caught 54 fish including spotted bass, yellow and white perch. They are also picking up the occasional 1-2 largemouth per day and 1-3 crappie per trip. The best action seems to be coming on deep flats with bait, and like Jerry Wendell is having the best luck in the front of creeks near the main lake. Coldwater Creek has been producing. 

The other way that people are catching bass right now is fishing shallower around the poles in the channel in 10-15 feet of water, and Jerry reports that shakey head worms are working really well there.

Check out the new Lake Russell Catch ’Em Kits with lures hand-picked for each season by Jerry.

The striped bass fishing is also heating up, and Wendell reports that as usual they are showing up in the mid-lake.  However, for right now the fish seem to be more in the mid-lake creeks than the main lake itself, albeit in the front part of creeks.  Gulls can provide tips about where to fish, but Wendell has had the best success finding them hanging over deep water in 35-50 feet.  They can be from the top to the bottom of the water column, and especially on cloudy days they can roll on the surface, but in general they are 20-30 feet down.  Alabama rigs, down-lines, spoons and more can all catch fish.

Recently Jerry had a banner day for Lake Russell striper, and they caught 12 or 13 fish up to about 15 pounds. Again, the fish were in a creek in the mid-lake in the same type of area where he has been fishing for spots. They caught them on a combination of down-lines, Alabama rigs and bucktails. 

If the water gets very cold Jerry believes the fish will leave the creeks but otherwise they seem pretty happy there.

While neither guide targets crappie or catfish this time of year, Jerry advises that to specifically target catfish you should fish pockets in 10-20 feet with cut bait.  Wendell says his boat has not been picking up many crappie on the deep flats.

Just another big day fishing on Lake Russell with Guide Jerry Kotal
Just another big day fishing on Lake Russell with Guide Jerry Kotal

December 20

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.66 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are in the mid-50s.   

Winter is usually a great time to fish on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that this year is no exception. They are getting a mixed bag of spotted bass, white perch, yellow perch, catfish and striped bass.  The fish are all grouped together in areas where there is bait, whether that is on a flat, off a point or elsewhere. Basically 25-40 feet is the best depth range to search, and fish are in both the main lake and the creeks. While Jerry is catching them on blueback herring most of the time when he has clients when he is fishing alone he is doing about as well with a spoon.

While Jerry has picked up one 4-pound largemouth in the last couple of weeks on the same pattern, if you want to target largemouth the best bet is to head into the creeks and fish crankbaits around brush (or go to Clarks Hill!)

A similar pattern is also paying dividends for Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) for the same mixed bag of species, although he is pretty much sticking to coves off the main lake on the bottom in 30-35 feet. Like Jerry he is fishing a jigging spoon, but instead of herring he is employing minnows on a drop shot.

Perhaps for that reason Wendell has not picked up as many random striper so far this year. He has seen a few roll on top, but overall they are a little behind schedule on bunching up in mid-lake coves as they do every winter. The birds are also behind schedule and for right now they are mostly on the lower lake. 

Once the birds and striper really get in the mid-lake the pattern should be fishing from the surface to the bottom in 30-40 feet of water with down-lines, free-lines, Alabama rigs, jigging spoons and more.

While neither guide targets crappie or catfish this time of year, Jerry advises that to specifically target catfish Jerry you should fish pockets in 10-20 feet with cut bait.

A big haul with Guide Jerry Kotal this week on Lake Russell
A big haul with Guide Jerry Kotal this week on Lake Russell

November 24

Lake Russell water levels are close to full at 474.78 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are about 65-67 degrees. The water is pretty clear.  

Even though they have not gotten stacked up in deep water the bass fishing is still strong on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that he continues to find a very good bite on shakey heads and drop shots in 20-25 feet on the side of points around bait and brush. About half the time he is fishing on the main lake and about half the time he is in the creeks. Fish are in tight schools and there are probably already a few deeper, but so far he has not found them where they will be headed. 

A couple of nice spotted bass caught this weekend with Jerry Kotal
A couple of nice spotted bass caught this weekend with Jerry Kotal

On soft plastics the catch is mainly spotted bass, but when they use minnows they are also catching some white perch, some yellow perch and catfish. To specifically target catfish Jerry suggests fishing pockets in 10-20 feet with cut bait.

Out of about 50 bass Jerry caught on Saturday only one was a largemouth, and he suggests that if you want to target them you need to head into the creeks and fish crankbaits around brush. 

Jerry’s boat has also picked up a couple of striped bass on live bait, but generally they get pretty scattered after the fall turnover and until the dead of winter. Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) advises that the next stage is that when it gets a few degrees cooler they will bunch up in mid-lake coves. The seagulls that are just arriving will help anglers locate them, and for some reason the colder weather seems to keep them in one place better.

Once the striper show up the pattern will be fishing from the surface to the bottom in 30-40 feet of water with down-lines, free-lines, Alabama rigs, jigging spoons and more.

November 12

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.39 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are in the upper 60s. As of yesterday the lake was clean but the rain should mess it up. 

The bass are the main event again on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that there has been a really good bite on shakey heads and drop shots in 20-25 feet on the side of points.  A couple of days this week they caught 60 and then 70 fish, and when the weather gets colder again he expects the bite to only get better. It’s a good sign that the fish are already bunched up. The action has been in the main lake and the creeks around bait and brush. 

Most of the catch is spotted bass, and to target largemouth Jerry advises going into the backs of creeks and fishing a crankbait around brush. 

A good day with Guide Jerry Kotal this week on Lake Russell
A good day with Guide Jerry Kotal this week on Lake Russell

Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) is fishing a similar pattern, and in the middle of large coves off the main lake in 25-30 feet of water he is fishing around large schools of bait with drop shot rigs and jigging spoons. They are catching spotted bass, white perch, some big early yellow perch and catfish. To target catfish try cut bait in the same areas.

There are also a few crappie mixed in around the bait schools, but the better action for crappie has been back in the creeks around brush in 20 feet of water. They are fishing minnows about 8 feet down. As we get later into November Wendell is more likely to target perch instead of crappie.

There are a few random striped bass being picked up around the same bait schools, but really it needs to get a few degrees cooler before they will bunch up in the same mid-lake coves where Wendell is catching other species right now. The seagulls that are just arriving will help anglers locate them, and for some reason the colder weather seems to keep them in one place better.

Once the striper show up the pattern will be fishing from the surface to the bottom in 30-40 feet of water with down-lines, free-lines, Alabama rigs, jigging spoons and more.

October 23

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.35 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures have warmed back up to 73-74 degrees. Even though it looks okay the water seems to be turning over now and at times it can be hard to read a depth finder. 

The striped bass fishing has coming roaring back on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that even though every day has not been like this they had one day recently where they caught three 25-pound fish!  Usually when they find them they are good ones.  The best fishing has been in the mid-lake area, and they are catching the fish on down-lines fished on the edge of the main channel around the timber 15-20 feet down over 40-50 feet of water. 

One of three 25-pounders caught on a recent trip with Jerry Kotal!
One of three 25-pounders caught on a recent trip with Jerry Kotal!

There are also some bass mixed in with these fish.

The bass fishing has also been good on the mid-lake flats, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that he is catching fish close to the bottom on the flats in 18-35 feet of water. The best areas are in the main lake, at the very front of long creeks, and in pockets or short creeks just off the main lake. A mixed bag of species is together and they are catching spotted bass, white perch and some big early yellow perch on minnows. 

Up the bigger creeks such as Coldwater and Beaver Dam Wendell has also been catching crappie dropping minnows down near the bottom in 18-20 feet of water. The fish are not tight to brush but they are in areas near brush, and spotted bass are also nearby.

Jerry’s boat is also catching crappie suspended about 8 feet off the bottom in 15-21 feet of water over the top of brush about halfway back in the same creeks. Minnows are working and again spotted bass are mixed in.

October 8

Lake Russell water levels are at 474.74 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures range from about 70-74. The water has been dingy from turning over but it just beginning to clear.

It was an uncharacteristically tough few weeks on Lake Russell and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the turnover made for some really slow fishing. Eventually the striped bass bite that had kept things going slowed down too, but now there are starting to be some signs of life with the shallow bass bite. You can catch fish around points with crankbaits or worms on the main lake or in the creeks, and they are also starting to see some fish chasing bait on the surface. Be sure to keep a topwater lure ready to throw at schooling fish.

A couple of nice bass caught recently with Guide Jerry Kotal
A couple of nice bass caught recently with Guide Jerry Kotal

Some of the striper seem to have showed up again in the Hartwell tailrace, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that they have been catching some nice ones on free lines and shallow down-lines up there. Some big largemouth have also been caught on free-lines. 

On the crappie front, Wendell reports that they have found some really good fishing back in the creeks around bait. The best action has been in about 20 feet of water around natural brush, and the fish have been holding very close to the bottom. There are also some spotted bass in the same areas and so with minnows you will catch a mixed bag. 

They are still picking up a few early yellow perch fishing minnows on the bottom on main lake flats in 20-30 feet of water.  However, for right now they are mostly small and the action usually doesn’t get good for a few more weeks.

September 25

Lake Russell rose after the storms but water levels now dipped back below full to 474.40 (full pool is 475.00), while water temperatures have dropped more than 10 degrees in the past two weeks to the lower 70s. In addition to being muddy in certain areas (including some that don’t usually get muddy), much of the water is coffee-colored and the lake appears to be turning over. 

It’s still an uncharacteristically tough bass bite on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the fish are highly scattered around points in 35-40 feet of water and suspended over timber. The few bass they are catching are coming on live bait, and for the second week it’s really been the striped bass that have kept guide parties happy. They are holding in the same general areas as the bass in the mid-lake and lower end on the main channel, but the striper are biting on the bottom in clean holes in the timber that Jerry knows.  Catfish are in the same areas. 

If you want to target largemouth you probably need to head to the back of creeks. 

Some nice striper caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal
Some nice striper caught this week with Guide Jerry Kotal

The bass bite has been so tough that Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) has been fishing Clarks Hill more than Lake Russell, but he has found that the best thing going on Russell is the crappie bite. He is catching fish on minnows in the creeks 6-8 feet down over brush in the 15-foot range. 

While not many people have been doing it lately, crappie can also still be caught night-fishing with lights over deep water in the 40-50 foot range. The best areas are in the creeks around timber or bridges; main lake bridges and timber do not usually produce. Fish will come to the light and take minnows 12-15 feet deep.

They are still picking up a few early yellow perch fishing minnows on the bottom on main lake flats in 20-30 feet of water.  However, for right now they are mostly small and the action usually doesn’t get good for a few more weeks.

September 15

Lake Russell is just below full pool 474.66 (full pool is 475.00) and water temperatures are around 82-83 degrees on Lake Russell. The water seems to be a little off-color, and anglers are wondering if the lake could be turning over early.  

In the last couple of days the bass bite has fallen off on Lake Russell, and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that the same fish which were suspended in 15-20 feet and feeding are still there but just not biting. Guide Wendell Wilson(706-283-3336) reports that what makes it so frustrating is they have no idea why the action has slowed down.

Wendell has still managed to pick up a few on the upper end in areas with current, and on the lower end he has found some in 20-30 feet of water on flats. The bait is holding fairly shallow right now and the fish don’t seem willing to eat much besides live herring.

Even though the bass action has gotten tough, the striped bass bite which Jerry has found recently has more than made up for it. Yesterday they caught 14 fish in the 8-12 pound range! They are living on the edge of the river channel and around humps 2 or 3 feet off the bottom in 30-32 feet in the mid-lake section. Herring on down-lines are working very well.

At the top of the lake below the Hartwell dam Wendell points out that some fish can be found pulling free-lines, and then on the lower end there are also some fish 40-50 feet down that will take down-lines. They could be on the bottom or suspended at that depth over deeper water. 

A couple of nice striper caught recently with Guide Jerry Kotal
A couple of nice striper caught recently with Guide Jerry Kotal

Wendell has managed to keep people happy with a good crappie bite, and the fish his boat is catching are being caught up the creeks on minnows fished 10-12 feet down over brush in 15-20 feet of water. 

They can also still be caught night-fishing with lights over deep water in the 40-50 foot range. The best areas are in the creeks around timber or bridges; main lake bridges and timber do not usually produce. Fish will come to the light and take minnows 12-15 feet deep.

They are picking up a few early yellow perch on minnows in about 30 feet of water, but the action for catfish has actually been really good in 30-40 feet of water in the mid-lake. Fish will take live or cut herring fished on the bottom. 

 

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