Lake Russell fishing is pretty strong for early August, but Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) both report that if you want to be catching fish you had better be fishing deep. Wendell reports that he has been seeing water temperatures as high as 91-92 degrees in the backs of creeks, and probably because of this he has been spending most of his time fishing the depths out on the main channel.
Striped bass fishermen know that you don’t usually head to Lake Russell if you are looking to catch numbers of fish, but you do head to the lake which holds the current state record for striped bass if you want to hook into big fish and have the chance at a monster. Wendell reports that in the past few weeks they have gotten into some big fish down-lining with live herring on the lower end of the lake near the dam where the greatest numbers of fish are now concentrated. The best depth range has been 40-50 feet of water.
That’s not to say that striper can’t be caught in other parts of the lake, and there have also been fish caught at the top of Lake Russell in the tailrace below the Hartwell dam. Fishermen on that end of the lake have been having the best luck pulling free-lined live herring, and while the action has been somewhat spotty there are fish to be caught up there.
Overall, Lake Russell is at 475.16, and anglers who remember the mantra to stay deep can catch good numbers of several species:
Bass: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that he is catching fish on drop shot rigs fished around brush piles in 20-25 feet of water. Again, he is sticking to the main channel. There is also some schooling activity and some good fish have been caught on popper-and-jig double rigs. The spotted bass have been popping up on main lake points, and since they could come up any time of day it’s important to always have a topwater rig handy. The most surprising catch that Wendell reports occurred over a recent two-day period, and in two days his trips caught four largemouth in the 7-10 pound range fishing live herring around underwater bridges and roadbeds. While it’s rare to catch fish like this there are clearly some big largemouth in the lake, even though it’s better known for numbers of spotted bass.
Guide Jerry Kotal reports that like Wendell he is concentrating on deeper wood for bass, but instead of brush piles he is focusing on standing timber in the 40-foot range. In a trip last week his party only fished two spots but caught more than 40 spotted bass on live bait, and they also caught 3 striper and 3 catfish. If he were fishing a tournament and needed to use artificials in this area Jerry suggests a drop shot rig at this time of year.
Crappie: Fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that the crappie are still doing okay, and he is catching them on brush in 20-25 feet of water fishing minnows 10-14 feet down. He is mostly focusing on coves off the main channel. For a number of reasons he was surprised a few days ago to catch a bonus 8-pound flathead on crappie minnows out of a brush pile during a daytime trip.
Catfish: Fair. Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that catfishing has gotten a little tougher on Lake Russell, but he is still catching channel catfish out deeper in 25-30 feet of water in the creek channels. Jerry’s boat is fishing a mix of cut bait and catalpa worms right now.
DHEC Fish Advisory: Only one meal per week of largemouth or spotted bass.