Lake Hartwell Fishing Report July 24 2019
Our Lake Hartwell Fishing Report July 24 2019
This is the last weeks report for July 2019 and wouldn’t you just know that there is going to be some major change in what we’ve been used to on Lake Hartwell. The humidity is forecast to be much lower and the air temperatures will never reach the nineties this week, I think I just heard applause! This week’s forecast is much different than what we all experienced last week but don’t hold your breath or throw a jacket in the boat because it will be August in just a few days and you had better bet that the heat will return and the fishing will get even tougher. I’ve seen those summer dog days of August when you would have to ask your fishing partners if anyone has a banana in the boat because the fishing gets that tough! (Now I’m not superstitious but for those of you who don’t know about the banana in a boat superstition, it started way back in the seventeen hundreds and there are still many boat Captains that will not allow a banana on their boat to this very day.) As for me I will set the hook on a fish in one hand with a banana sandwich in the other hand.
Over this past week I’ve been getting emails and phone calls wanting to know where the fish are and what you have to do to catch fish this time of the year. The first thing to do is get an early morning start, be the first in line when the doors open at the bait shop and you will increase your odds tremendously! When you get in the water before the sun comes up and you begin catching fish as soon as you find that clean spot off the river channel then you will be glad that you got that early morning start. The Lake Hartwell bite has remained good but the water conditions are changing almost daily now. The current Lake Hartwell water levels have creeped back up just a little over this past week which is surprising due to the little amount of rain fall. The levels at the time of this report are 659.97 which are 0.03 feet below the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperature is still holding in the high- eighties during the early mornings and will reach ninety degrees each day around noon. The Army Corp of Engineers will continue with their normal summertime generating schedules now that the summer demands are in full swing. The Striper and Hybrid bite continues to be the best through the week when the dam is generating power.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell is still good with most of the fish being caught from the middle of the lake to the dam as the fish continue to move into the deeper waters. There are a few exceptions to this rule and I will cover them in this report. Having and knowing how to use your electronics correctly is the key to locating and catching fish this time of the year. The Stripers and Hybrids are much smaller this year than what most of us are used to catching which is due to the die off of the bigger fish caused by the sudden drop in our Lake Hartwell water levels last year during the hottest part of the summer when the Corp of Engineers dropped the levels suddenly. Now don’t get discouraged, SCDNR and GDNR are working together and aggressively to increase the number of fish that are being stocked in Lake Hartwell and these fish will grow rapidly. The fish that we are catching now will almost double in size by next year and it won’t be long until the Striper and Hybrid fishery will be better than what we might have ever expected. To quote DNR they have said, “It is their priority to make Lake Hartwell a great Striper and Hybrid lake again.” There are many current studies going on and the stocking is better than it has ever been so get ready it won’t be too long and Lake Hartwell will be
known once again as a Great Striper and Hybrid lake.
This week I’m going to let you in on a few secrets to catching fish right now during the current conditions. The Stripers and Hybrids in the lake are abundant and the smaller fish are in big schools right now and they are mixed with some bigger fish. If you drop live bait under your boat on one of these schools the smaller fish are very aggressive and they will usually get your bait before one of the bigger fish can get to it. But if you drop a Chipmunk Jig under your boat and power reel it you will be much more likely to catch the bigger fish and you will draw the bigger fish up to your down rods. This has worked well for me so I know that it will work for you. Also keep in mind when you are looking for Stripers and Hybrids that many of the big schools will not all go to the deeper waters this year. With all the smaller fish many schools will stay in the spring pattern and that’s due to their ability to handle the warmer waters.
If you ask me one question about locating fish this time of the year I would tell you to look for bait fish first and the Stripers and Hybrids will not be very far away. Have you ever wanted to learn what the Pro’s do to catch fish year round? I would suggest that an on the water Instructional Trip is the best way to learn everything that no one else will tell you. Now is the best time of the year to climb into a guide boat and learn everything that you can about how to locate fish and fishing the seasonal patterns that Stripers and Hybrids follow as well as the best ways to catch these fish during these different seasons. Now there are only a few professionals fishermen that will share everything that you need to know to catch fish. This could be the best trip that you will ever take and it will increase your odds of catching fish tremendously on any Striper or Hybrid lake. If you are interested in booking an Instructional Trip or guide trip give Captain Mack a call at 770-235-8135.
Go to baits for this week:
• Live Blueback Herring fished on down rods and freelines. The bait shops are all suppling nice big quality bait.
• Try rigging your live bait on the new Okuma live bait Striper Rods that Captain Mack Offers. I have tested these rods and the action they provide makes the live bait bite a lot of fun!
• Keep Alive Oxygen System. This system will make a huge difference in your bait during the summer months. I personally believe that it will help keep your bait in perfect condition during a hot day and increase your odds of catching fish.
• SteelShad are still working great for schooling or breaking fish. This bait will catch all bass species when cast to points or fished in deep or shallow waters.
• Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs. I will not go to the lake without them!
• Captain Mack Mini Mack’s – they will catch good fish if trolled or pulled behind your Perfect Planer Boards.
• Perfect Planer Boards. The early morning free line bite behind Planer Boards is still working great before the fish move deep.
• Chipmunk Jigs for Power Reeling, it time to stock up as Power Reeling will soon take off. I suggest the 2oz with stinger hook rigged on a Captain Mack Power Reeling Mustard Stick Rod. You will not find another rod that will work better for Power Reeling.
• Parker Spoons also used to Power Reel. This bite will only get better as the bigger fish move into deeper water.
The Lake Hartwell Largemouth Bass as well as Spotted Bass bite continues to be good. Bass boats are still focused on shallow points and around underwater islands, shoals, ditches and old road beds. We are catching a lot of Spotted Bass on humps near the main river channels and they have been some good quality fish! Don’t overlook the back of coves and places where there are a lot of docks. Just in my neighborhood alone I can Bass fishing a Captain Mack Weedless Wonder rigged with a Zoom Pumpkinseed worm and I can catch these fish every day using this method. Much of this is done off the dock sight fishing but these resident fish are there and they don’t seem to be bothered by the water temperatures as long as they have the shade of the docks and the cover in the coves. The early morning bite is best before the sun gets up over the trees. Be sure to have a good top water bait rigged as the Spotted Bass are still schooling some early in the mornings. Don’t overlook the coves and flats near the river channels and near or over trees, the Largemouth and Spotted Bass are taking live bait deep while Striper fishing so they should take the bait of your choice in the deeper waters. Largemouth and Spotted Bass are still being caught on Weedless Wonders rigged with several different plastics, SteelShads, Mini Mack’s as well as your various Crankbaits, Spinner baits, Topwater baits, Jerkbaits and swimbaits. My personal bait of choice is the Weedless Wonder rigged and fished as a shakey head on the bottom near docks or in the backs of coves. The evening bite is still good and the fish are pulling up on the points and around dock lights.
Go to baits for this week:
• SteelShad in all sizes and colors are working great. The mini SteelShad is working the best on points in the mornings when the bait is shallow. The Heavy Series is working over schools of bait in the main lake. Be prepared to throw this bait at schooling fish for a guaranteed hook up.
• Captain Mack Mini Mack’s with or without blades, both work great. This bait is catching some hogs while being fished off of deeper points or around bridges and docks.
• Ned Rigs and hard and soft Jerk Baits of your preference. We are catching some good fish on swimbaits as well.
• Captain Mack Weedless Wonder Shakey Head in Green Pumpkin. Use the plastic of your choice. This is the BEST Bass bait that I know of for Lake Hartwell and I recommend that you not go to the lake without rods rigged with the Weedless Wonder Shakey Head!
The Crappie bite has continued to be good on Lake Hartwell shooting docks or fishing near bridges or structure. For those who know how to fish the summer pattern you already know that you can catch Crappie year round. I will be back later in the year with an updated Lake Hartwell Crappie Report when it cools off and I start back Crappie fishing or when I hear something that needs to be shared. I have made my reservations to attend the 2019 Crappie Expo at Lake Hamilton, October 4-6 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Expo and Crappie Tournaments are going to be a BIG deal! With the 100,000 – square foot Expo Center already being filled with every Crappie related vender and companies motived and ready to support this first ever inaugural event. If you have not made plans to attend this event to support the many teams that are headed that way from Georgia and the surrounding area you might want to get on board now. I’m driving out to the event which is 8.5 hours from Atlanta. There will be two boats given away at this event, (you must be present to win) so why not drive my truck out just in case!
Go to Baits:
• Blue Ice Jigs seem to be the go to color on Lake Hartwell right now. You may want to move up to bigger jig heads as the fish move deeper. When every other color fails on Lake Hartwell we find that chartreuse still will catch fish. Bobby Garland is my choice but many other brands also work great.
• Small Minnows under floats. This may not be your cup of tea but it still works and the bigger Crappie will take live bait when they won’t take anything else.
• Chartreuse and white jigs are working well when blue ice or blue grass colors fail.
• Custom Jigs are working if you can find the right ones. It’s still a good idea to see what is selling the best at your local bait shops. If the bait shop is out of certain bait you may want to see when they are scheduled to get their next shipment so that you can give it a try.
• Humminbird Solix or Helix graph. These graphs have superior side imaging and down imaging and are worth every cent if you are looking to locate Crappie.
Wishing you all tight lines and good fishing! Rick Owen – Lake Hartwell Professional Fishing Guide (Ret.) Certified SCDNR Fishing Instructor
To book your next Lake Hartwell fishing adventure please call Captain Mack Farr at – 1.888.989.8052