In February of this year (around the time that the Bassmasters Classic anglers were dealing with frozen rod guides, icy boat ramps, and more), I remember talking to Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) about what was then a pretty slow striper bite. He told me that he always does better with striper when it’s really hot than really cold, and as Captain Bill predicted the summer fishing for striper is wide open right now. Bill reports that his boat has been catching some very good numbers of fish, averaging 25-30 per day and catching 40 or more other days. Sizes are also pretty strong, and while the fish are averaging 2-4 pounds they’ve caught a lot of 8-10 pounders as well as some nice fish in the teens.
With the heat the striper have come out of the rivers, and they are holding around points and the river channels. The best fishing has come in 35-40 feet of water over clean bottom areas where there is not standing timber, and as the summer progresses look for the target depth range to get deeper and deeper.
The fact that the best fishing is in clean bottom areas is not to say that fish aren’t relating to the timber, and particularly in the heat of the day fish will frequently move deeper and into the trees. However, Bill is finding that the most catchable fish are out away from the timber. Predictably, the best (and most comfortable) fishing has been early and late.
Overall, Lake Hartwell is at 659.47, and beyond striper the bite is pretty mixed.
Catfish: Very good. Captain Bill Plumley reports that the channel catfish bite is wide open, and his boat is catching strong numbers of channel catfish on each trip. The fish are scattered out in 5-30 feet of water and feeding very well on cut herring, worms and particularly night crawlers, dip baits – truthfully just about anything. The blue catfish are out in the deeper timber and very difficult to target, but flatheads can be caught at night fishing with live bream or perch around brush.
Black bass: Fair. Guide Brad Fowler (864-934-5813) reports that the bite is pretty much unchanged over the last few weeks, but as the summer progresses it’s probably headed in the wrong direction. It’s already slowing down. Since water levels continue to be very high several patterns are available, and early in the morning there is a pretty good topwater bite when fish can be caught on Pop-Rs and the like. The daytime offshore topwater bite is only so-so because with water levels so high fish are not coming up like they usually do, but fish can be caught offshore on shakey heads and drop shot rigs around brush piles. There are also a pretty good number of fish still in the creeks because bait is in there.
Crappie: Slow to fair. Captain Bill Plumley reports that crappie fishing remains pretty slow, but the fish that are being caught are around deep brush in about 25 feet of water. They are holding very tight to the brush and will eat minnows.
DHEC Fish Advisories: Due to PCB advisories visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/Advisories/hartwell.htm before consuming any Lake Hartwell fish.