Lake Hartwell Fishing Report February 27 2019 | Sponsored by Hayes Automotive
Written by Rick Owen – Lake Hartwell Professional Fishing Guide (Ret.)
The heavy rain has finally moved out of our area for a few days. In fact, just in time! Lake Hartwell water levels rose over three feet within a couple of days last week. It made the fishing really tough. Heavy rain fall, high winds, and lightning made it almost impossible to get out on the water without getting soaked. Water conditions are poor. Debris is floating in the water in the first five feet of the water column in the upper arms of the lake.
The fishing for this week’s report is based on a limited amount of time on the water due to the above mentioned conditions. We still have rain in the forecast for this week but at least it will be limited to lower precipitation rates. Temperatures are forecast to be in the low sixties during the remainder of the week and only in the low forties each night.
It sounds like spring is finally in the air. With that being said, it won’t be long until the fishing will reach its peak. Pre-spawn is very near! We are still seeing a limited amount of quality blueback herring at the bait shops. This is a result of die off of the larger herring this past year. The bait shops are doing their very best to supply what they can to those who fish live bait. As the year progresses, I would expect the bait to get larger and the bite will be even better. The current water levels are 662.49, which are 2.49 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperatures remain in the low fifties.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell still remains good. Stripers and Hybrids are bunching up and taking live bait really good. The Striper and Hybrid bite should only get better every week from this point on. The Captain Mack Mini Mack continues to be a huge hit on Lake Hartwell. It has been a guaranteed bite when you fish it. Blueback herring are still limited to very small baits due to the die off. The larger bait reminds you that it’s always good to be prepared to have a backup plan with artificial bait.
The Capt. Mack’s Mini Mack and full size umbrella rigs are hot right now. If you run low or out of quality live bait, rig one up! I personally fish more with my umbrella rigs than I do with live bait. I locate and catch fish faster using this pattern 9 times out of 10. If you have not had a chance to fish the Mini Mack rig behind planer boards you are missing out. This method on Lake Hartwell is working great and will get even better in the coming weeks. I would expect to see the Stripers and Hybrids start to make a run up the rivers very soon.
This never happens all at one time. When they do start to make this run it will last for several weeks. In the next few weeks I will be focused on the points in anticipation of the early morning bite. This bite is usually the strongest right before daylight and it should be about to start. The only problem with this bite will be the limited amount of shoreline. Beaching your boat on little to no shoreline due to high water levels is no fun. If you have a Minn Kota Talon you will find it necessary to use it to fish this pattern.
Bass fishing has continued to improve. Largemouth and Spotted Bass are being caught on Captain Mack’s Super Spoons, Weedless Wonder‘s, SteelShad and Mini Mack’s. Crankbaits and Jerkbaits are also baits you should keep in your arsenal . Bass fisherman – DO NOT sleep on the bladed Mini Mack! It will be available in early March. Keep your eyes on captmacks.com or your local tackle shop.
The Largemouth and Spotted Bass are still pulling back up on docks. They can also be located in creeks, ditches and road beds. The Bass bite is now beginning to lock into an early spring pattern. I’m sure that they will be on bed sooner than later. Drop shots and your favorite Crankbaits Jerkbaits, A-Rigs and swimbaits in shallower waters will get the job done.
The Crappie bite is still very good and should remain good for the rest of this month. My sources are reporting that the crappie are continuing to move up into shallower waters and are being caught in twenty to twenty five feet of water using jigs and minnows. The Crappie are not being located on brush piles as much as before but docks and blow downs are holding fish.
The Crappie will continue to move up into shallower waters and fishing will still to be a morning or late afternoon bite. Live bait fishing will continue to be a good way to catch fish as you move to your favorite Crappie locations. It’s time to get your minnows down under floats to catch some slabs. I still believe that the Crappie will begin to spawn early this year. It’s just a matter of time before you will see crappie fishermen fishing overnight under bridges with minnows to catch good numbers of quality fish.
Wishing you all tight lines and good fishing!
Rick Owen – Lake Hartwell Professional Fishing Guide (Ret.) Certified SCDNR Fishing Instructor