Season changes are also under way on Lake Russell, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that with water temperatures dropping fast bait – and predator species – are on the move. Wendell is finding schools of bait in small creeks and long coves off the main channel, holding near the bottom in 20-25 feet of water. Bass, white perch and crappie will all be found around these schools of bait, particularly where brush groups the fish up in 20-25 feet of water.
Targeting bass Wendell is relying mostly on drop shot rigs with either a medium minnow or small worms, and lots of 1-3 pound spotted bass are being caught this way. There are also good numbers of mostly smaller fish being taken on the surface with a popper and jig rig. If anglers want to target bigger largemouth the best bet is to head up the creeks into the Rocky River or Beaver Dam Creek and throw something like a lipless crankbait.
Overall, Lake Russell is at 474.43, and while most species can be caught around the bait schools just off the main channel in 20-25 feet there are distinct patterns for a couple of other species:
Striped Bass: Good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that striper are leaving the Hartwell Tailrace and heading down the lake. The biggest numbers of fish can now be found on the lower end, but there are also some fish in the mid-lake area. The best pattern is down-lining live herring about 30 feet down at the depth where the herring are holding.
Crappie: Good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that, as noted above, crappie can be found around the bait schools in creeks and coves just off the main lake. However, if anglers want to target only crappie and have a lower chance of catching perch, bass and other species the best bet is to head up the creeks to the more stained water and fish minnows around shallower brush piles in about 15 feet of water. While more isolated, these crappie are generally smaller than the fish closer to the main lake.
Catfish: Good. Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that catfish can be found in similar areas to other species. To target them he suggests fishing cut herring on the bottom in 15-20 feet of water in coves.
DHEC Fish Advisory: Only one meal per week of largemouth or spotted bass.