Whether you like to bass fish in shallow or deep water, muddy or clear water, right now Lake Hartwell has something for everyone.
For shallow-water enthusiasts, Guide Brad Fowler says that high water levels – Lake Hartwell is at 659.67, about four inches below pool – and significant mud in the creeks have the creek fish scattered out shallow. While the bass will still generally be proximate to deep water, they can be caught around the banks on crankbaits and spinnerbaits fished in 6-8 feet of water and less. In the dirty water both white and chartreuse spinnerbaits are hard to beat, and flat-sided crankbaits as well as Shad Raps are working. In areas with cleaner water where fish are still up shallow more translucent spinnerbaits are working better.
Even though the creeks are stained to downright muddy in a lot of places, there is still plenty of clear water on Lake Hartwell – especially on the main lake. And as is the case most of the year on Lake Hartwell, out on the main lake there is a significant deep bite. Fish are being caught in 30-40 feet of water around creek channels, long points and other depth changes, with timber and brush also concentrating fish. Spoons, blade runners, and drop shot techniques are all working.
Brad says that bass are still very much in a winter pattern on Lake Hartwell, but several warm days could change everything. It’s anybody’s guess what pattern the fish will be in when the FLW Tour comes to Lake Hartwell on March 17, as weather conditions in mid-March are reliably unpredictable!
Catfish: Fair to good. Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that his boat has been catching some big blue catfish in about 30 feet of water. Numerous fish in the 25-30 pound range have been landed recently, with cut herring and gizzard shad anchored on the bottom producing best. Channel catfish have not been feeding well.
Striped Bass: Fair. Captain Bill Plumley reports that his boat has been catching a few striper on downlines, but instead of herring being the bait of choice smaller minnows and threadfin shad have been getting the bites. Fishing in pockets about 30 feet down has been working the best. Before the last round of rain fish were being caught on free-lined gizzard shad and herring in the creeks, but muddy conditions may have pulled those fish out.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that fish have been a little lethargic with the cold water temperatures, but some very nice fish in the teens and low 20s have been caught. However, numbers have been poor. He has been finding fish relatively shallow in 20-30 feet of water in the backs of creeks and rivers, and the bite has often been better in the afternoon when the sun warms the water a couple of degrees. Pulling live herring on free lines and planer boards has been working best, although jigging spoons, crankbaits and bucktails have also been catching some fish. Chip’s boat has had very little action on down lines as they have not found fish willing to eat under the boat. No schooling activity has been reported, but at times birds have been on the surface with fish a few feet under them.
Crappie: Slow. Captain Bill Plumley reports that with up-and-down weather the crappie fishing has been sporadic, and even when fish bite one day they often won’t feet well again for a couple more days. The fish that have been caught are coming over 25-30 feet of water on brush.