While the bite for striper and hybrids on Lake Hartwell has gotten really good, the fish still haven’t made a huge move up the rivers. Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that the fish usually make the run sometime in November, but with water temperatures still hovering in the low 60s they haven’t made the move en masse yet this year. A few small fish have moved into the backs, and bait is starting to head that direction, but it may be until December before the major transition happens this year. But Chip warns that when it does conditions could change significantly overnight.
Even though fish haven’t run way up the creeks and into the rivers following bait they are feeding very well, and Chip reports that striper, hybrids as well as some nice spotted and largemouth bass are grouped together. Around humps and points near the main lake they are catching solid numbers of fish in 30-40 feet of water on Carolina rigged herring. There is also some sporadic schooling activity, and down in the big water near the dam his boat has gotten into some nice fish at times. You certainly can’t set a clock to when the fish will pop up, but when they do Chip says you are in for a treat!
Proving that there’s more than one way to skin a cat and catch a striper, Guide Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that high water levels have made for some interesting fishing conditions but he has been catching decent numbers of fish pulling umbrella rigs. He has also caught some nice fish on big gizzard shad and herring free-lined up against the shoreline, and with fish starting to scatter out all over the lake he advises covering a lot of water. Most of his better fish have come in 6-8 feet of water.
Overall, Lake Hartwell is at 658.75.
Catfish: Fair to good. Guide Bill Plumley reports that the channel catfish bite is starting to taper off just a little bit, but some fish are still being caught in 5-10 feet of water on dip baits, worms and cut herring. At the same time that the channel catfishing wanes fishing for blue catfish is improving, and some big blues are starting to pull back into the larger creeks that have a good inflow. Cut herring, big gizzard shad and white perch will all work, and the bite will only get better as water temperatures drop.
Bass: Fair. Guide Brad Fowler reports that bass are starting to feed up for winter on Lake Hartwell, but there is no mass movement where all the fish are starting to go deep or anything akin to that. Instead it’s still a pretty good time for junk fishing, and with water temperatures still hovering in the low 60s fish there has been a decent buzzbait bite and some fish have also been caught on spinnerbaits. Of course the most reliable pattern for numbers of fish is targeting points and structure with drop shot rigs or shakey head worms, and a good number of fish have also been caught on jigs.
Crappie: Slow to fair. Guide Bill Plumley reports that a few crappie continue to be caught 18-20 feet down over brush in the 25 foot range, but angling activity is still pretty light.