After several weeks tournament bass fishing away from his home lake Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) was ready to get back on Lake Russell, and boy did he find a hot bite upon his return! Jerry says that on each of his recent trips he has caught 60-plus bass, and over the weekend he caught more than 100 fish. Most of these are spotted bass, but mixed in with the spots have been a handful of largemouth including some very good fish up to 5 pounds.
Jerry characterizes the fish as starting to move into a winter pattern, and that means they are getting fairly deep. He has found the fish in 20-40 feet of water in the creeks, and he has been having the best luck fishing the edge of the creek channels. The best zone is the middle of creeks to ¾th the way back. Over the next few months Jerrys says fish will continue to get deeper and deeper until they are in 80 feet of water in the dead of winter. Fish are already heavily grouped up in certain places, and he has found 4 or 5 spots absolutely loaded with spotted bass.
The fish are keying on threadfin shad and so Jerry has been fishing a finesse worm on a drop shot rig. When spots group up they get very competitive and he says the color of worm doesn’t seem to matter, and he has also found them willing to eat a lizard or a jig.
Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports fishing a similar pattern for spotted bass, although he is finding them on the slightly shallower end of Jerry’s depth range in 20-30 feet of water. Wendell is also fishing a drop shot rig. He concurs that the fish can be found about midway up the creeks, and some of the best places he has found have actually been on flats. Wendell reports that it is still possible to catch spotted bass out on the main lake, and he says there are a couple of big, clean flats on the main lake where spots will be feeding. However, it’s harder for the bass to hem the bait into one area on these big flats and so it’s harder to pinpoint the fish.
For anglers who want to target largemouth Wendell suggests heading up the Rocky River near the Lake Secession Dam, or going into the upper reaches of Beaver Dam and throwing a #5 or #7 Shad Rap. Finally, Wendell notes that he has not seen as much surface activity as would be expected, and he hypothesizes that this could be current-related. Despite the flood rains Lake Russell did not come up at all, and water levels actually dropped, but a great deal of water was pulled through the lakes. Schooling activity may get back on track once water conditions get more normal again.
Overall, Lake Russell is at 474.78 with water temperatures in the low 60s.
Perch: Very good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that white perch can be found in the same areas as the spotted bass, although he is finding them slightly deeper in 35 feet of water. Each winter large yellow perch show up and they are starting to be caught in the same areas now, too.
Crappie: Good. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that crappie are feeding well around brush in 15-20 feet of water. The fish are holding about 8-10 feet below the surface, and Wendell is targeting them on a slip float or with a drop shot rig and minnow. Similar to largemouth fishing the best crappie areas are way up the creeks in stained water, while other areas have too many spotted bass to effectively target crappie. However, there are some really nice crappie closer to the main lake mixed in with the spots.
Striper: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that this is a transitional period for striper, and not a lot of people are targeting them right now. Fish have been on the lower end, where some should still be, but they are making their way towards the mid-lake where they will be very soon. The key to fishing for striper right now is to pull planer boards and free-lined herring in the creeks, as opposed to the main channel, and cover a lot of water.
Catfish: Fair. Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that he has not done a ton of catfishing recently. However, the fish that he has caught have been in 20-25 feet of water on the edge of the creek channel. A variety of fresh cut baits will work.
DHEC Fish Advisory: Only one meal per week of largemouth or spotted bass.