For a few weeks each year crappie guiding dominates business for Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) and Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860), and that time is now! Wendell is fishing for crappie up shallow around the banks in 3-4 feet of water, and using a float with a minnow 18 inches below it his boat is catching solid numbers of mostly male crappie. For right now targeting the bigger females is often as simple as fishing off the other side of the boat, as they are holding just slightly deeper and waiting to move up to spawn. In the next few days the first wave of females should move shallow and spawn. Jerry says he has already caught a couple of females that are laid out, but the spawn is certainly ahead for the bulk of the fish.
Everything is happening so fast this year that the bass are only a little behind the crappie if at all, and Guide Jerry Kotal says that most of the fish are moving shallow towards secondary points, and they are very close to moving into pockets to spawn. Fishing in 5-15 feet of water with Carolina rigs and crankbaits is a good bet, and Jerry points out that many of the spotted bass will spawn deeper in 10 or so feet of water where it is hard to see them.
There are also still a decent number of fish out deeper in 25-30 feet of water, and these fish will take a worm fished on a drop shot or a jig. However, this bite is almost certainly winding down with warm temperatures and the spawn close at hand.
Guide Wendell Wilson is finding spotted bass on the sides of shallow, sloping banks and for him they are taking a Scrounger head rigged with a fluke body as well as a jig or drop-shot rigged worm. The male spotted bass seem to be holding in 8-10 feet, while the females are a little deeper off the sides of points in 12-15 feet.
Wendell is also catching a pretty good number of largemouth very shallow mixed in with the crappie in dirty water up the creeks. #5 Shad Raps have been hard to beat for these fish.
Overall, Lake Russell is very high at 475.09, with significant stain in the water. On the main channel water temperatures are holding around 56 or 57 degrees and in the shallows they are spiking to the mid-60s on sun-drenched days.
Striped Bass: Fair. Guide Wendell Wilson hasn’t fished for striper in about a week, but at last search he was finding fish on the main channel from the mid-lake up to Hartwell dam. As is characteristic at this time of year on Russell free-lining large live herring off points in 20-50 feet of water has been the best pattern.