Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that striped bass on Lake Hartwell are in a transition phase, and about last Friday he says that the bite got really tough. For the last few days his boat has been struggling to catch striper and hybrids, and it’s only because of spotted bass that the action has stayed fast. While most of these have been smaller spots there have been a decent number of 3 – 3 ½ pound spots caught each day as well as some occasional good largemouth up to the 5-pound range.
It seems that everything is waiting on something to happen to make a move up the river, and lots of fish are holding in the mid-lake and staging. The bait is also there, and Chip says the striper are unlikely to make their migration until the bait does. He anticipates that a couple of things could accelerate the transition, with the first being that the Keowee Dam could start running significant amounts of water. The second thing that could happen is water temperatures could drop a few more degrees – right now they remain around 68.9. Generally this is about right to make the fish start to move, but this year temperatures may need to drop a couple more degrees.
Once fish do begin to move Chip says that they will head up the rivers and settle down on the ridges. It will be a major migration, and the fish will feed heavily again.
I asked Chip whether he thinks a lake turnover is responsible for the lull in feeding activity, and he does not think the lake has had a full-blown turnover yet. He says there was a strange little early turnover event a couple of weeks ago after which the fish went through a period of strong schooling, but he doesn’t believe the major turnover has happened yet.
Guide Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) concurs that the striper bite remains off, and he’s also found other bites to make up for it.
Overall, Lake Hartwell is at 657.60
Catfish: Good. Guide Bill Plumley reports that the channel catfish bite continues to be strong, and the fish remain in the 15-40 foot range. They continue to feed well. Anglers can either drift or anchor, and dip bait (anchor fishing), night crawlers and cut herring are all working. At night flathead catfish can be caught on live perch and bream, but the bigger blue catfish are out in the deep timber and very difficult to target. A few small blues continue to show up while fishing for channels.
Crappie: Fair. Guide Bill Plumley reports that a few crappie continue to be caught over brush in the 25 foot range, but angling activity is still pretty light. If anglers can find the right brush water temperatures are getting right where anglers should be able to load the boat using either jigs or minnows.
Bass: Tough. Anyone who followed the nearly-300 boat ABA American Fishing Tour National Championship on Lake Hartwell last weekend knows how tough the bass fishing there is, and it only took a little over ten pounds per day to win the three-day event. Averaging three pounds of bass per day put anglers in the top-half of the field. Although a lot of anglers struggled to get anything going Guide Brad Fowler, who finished in fourth place, reports that catching numbers of fish wasn’t the problem for him. He found small spotted bass around almost every brushpile, but the better fish just aren’t feeding right now. The most reliable pattern for catching numbers of fish is drop-shotting around brush off points, and there is also sporadic schooling activity. To read more about the top patterns on Lake Hartwell right now click here.
DHEC Fish Advisories: Due to PCB advisories visit http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water/fish/Advisories/hartwell.htm before consuming any Lake Hartwell fish.