Lake Russell water levels are at 330.03, and water temperatures are around 62 degrees.
It’s April on Lake Russell, but instead of going up water temperatures have been going backwards or holding steady for some time now. Almost a month ago after a week or two of 80 degree days Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) says he saw water temperatures as high as 72 degrees, but after a series of cool fronts punctuating generally milder temperatures water temperatures have not approached those highs again. As a result bass have basically been in a holding pattern for about a month, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) believes the fish are all “mixed up” about what they are supposed to be doing.
Luckily for anglers, fish had moved up and the spawn had gotten underway by the time Mother Nature hit the “pause” button. As a result, fish are now mixed between pre-spawn, bedding and post-spawn fish, and Jerry guesses that about half of the fish have now spawned. He anticipates another big wave on the April full moon. In contrast, both Jerry and Wendell believe that the vast majority of the spotted bass are pre-spawn.
Jerry says that largemouth bass are scattered out in water less than 10 feet deep, and fish are mixed between the backs and the main lake. You can catch them on pretty much whatever you want to throw. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Carolina rigs, floating worms and topwater lures are all catching fish.
Spotted bass are also holding fairly shallow in less than 10 feet of water, and they are related particularly to main lake and secondary points. There are also some spotted bass in pockets on the main lake. Jerry suggests jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, flukes and topwaters off the sides of points. In addition to those baits, Wendell also really likes to swim a scrounger head/ fluke combination over trees and off the sides of points. And while most of the spotted bass are shallow, Jerry believes that as always you can probably catch some on a drop shot in 15-20 feet of water.
There was a small, very early herring spawn when water temperatures peaked a few weeks ago. Right now a very few early herring are again starting to spawn, but mostly the herring spawn is still to come when water temperatures rise a few more degrees.
Crappie: Fair to good. Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) reports that most of the better fish have probably already spawned, but there are still some smaller pre-spawn females full of eggs that can be caught. Wendell’s best pattern has been trolling 1/16 and 1/32 ounce curly tail grubs in 10-15 feet of water in the creeks. Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) agrees about the state of the spawn and has found that a pretty good number of mostly post-spawn fish are hanging around deeper banks with blowdowns in the middle part of creeks. He has been putting the boat in 10-12 feet of water and casting minnows up to trees in about 8 feet.
Striped Bass: Fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that some fish have been caught in the middle of both the Savannah and the Rocky River. The fish are hanging in about 25-50 feet of water, but on some very windy or rainy days they may pull up shallower. The best pattern has been pulling herring on free-lines and planer boards over the tops of them.
Catfish: Fair. Guide Wendell Wilson reports that with the herring spawn coming catfish are starting to gang up off the riprap around bridges. Cut herring fished on the bottom is the best bait.