Lake Hartwell Fishing Report March 20 2019 | Sponsored by Hayes Automotive
Written by Rick Owen – Lake Hartwell Professional Fishing Guide
Our Lake Hartwell Fishing Report – March 20, 2019
Please somebody tell the weather man that today is officially the first day of spring! Its funny how quickly things can change from one week to the next, but we’ve seen the temperatures drop back into the lower thirties again here on Lake Hartwell in the evening. It sure makes for a cold morning when you launch your boat before daylight. I’m still waiting on the water temperatures to get to that magic number of sixty so that the fish will get in the mood to feed more aggressively. The fishing still has been really good but I know that GREAT Fishing is just right around the corner. We will continue to keep our lines wet and our baits tuned as we wait for the best of the best fishing to take off hopefully any day now.
The fishing for this week has not changed much from last weeks report. We had little to no rain in the forecast over this past week which was different, but the temperatures have dropped a good bit from what we experienced last week. Too much of a good thing really can spoil you. I would expect this current cold front to pass quickly and it won’t be long and we will all be wishing for cooler weather as summer will be on us before we know it. The bait shops are supplying some good quality herring right now and we all know that they are doing their very best to keep the quality up to the standards that we are used to. It’s still a good idea to call ahead and see if your favorite bait shop has what you’re looking for before you plan your trip, especially now that the pressure will be increasing as the weather warms back up and those fair weather fishermen takes the covers off of their boats.
I assure you that the bait catchers are doing their very best to supply the best bait that they can to their customers every week. The quantities of bait are up and I would not expect to see the bait shops run out of bait anytime in the near future, so it’s time to hit the water with a tank of live bait. If you have some free time this weekend and you love a really good premier Outdoor Show you might want to check out the South Carolina Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic in Columbia South Carolina this weekend. It will run from March 22nd – 24th and will be well worth the trip.
If you have kids they will enjoy the fishing rodeo and they will have the opportunity to catch some catfish and win some neat prizes. This is a family event and will take a good day to see all the exhibits. The current water levels are 661.63, which is 1.63 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperatures remain in the fifties and should warm up much quicker as warmer days are in the upcoming forecast.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell is good and will become great very soon. Stripers and Hybrids continue to bunch up into large schools and are taking live bait on down rods and free lines. The Striper and Hybrid bite will get even better each day from now until late summer. You should be able to find fish about anywhere you fish on Lake Hartwell right now as they are on the move. Until the water warms up into the low sixties I would concentrate on the main lake from where the rivers split into the Savannah and work my way up the main river channels from there.
The Captain Mack’s Mini Mack continues to be my bait of choice on Lake Hartwell and is still my go to bait while working to locate fish. It continues to be a guaranteed bite for me and my key to locating and catching fish on every trip. If you fish the Mini Mack and your Umbrella Rigs while working to locate schools of fish I guarantee you that you will not only locate fish but you will catch fish in the process.
If Blueback Herring becomes limited again due to fishing pressure it will be a reminder to you that it’s always good to be prepared to have a backup plan with artificial bait even if you are a live bait fisherman. I still believe that there is nothing worse than getting to a bait shop to see little to no big bait left and to know that you left your U-rigs or Mini Mack’s back at the house. I’m still catching good Stripers and Hybrids pulling the Mini Mack behind planer boards in my free line spread as well as some good catches while trolling the Mini Mack. This has been a good way to catch fish when using less bait while the bigger bait is limited.
The Capt. Mack’s Mini Mack and full size umbrella rigs will be hot through the rest of the springtime bite and well into early summer. 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 because I find that it is my best way to locate fish. I locate and continue to 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.
Bass fishing has continued to improve and the Bass Master Elite Pros are being seen pre-fishing for the upcoming Geico Bassmaster Elite Series starting April 4th on Lake Hartwell. You can’t miss these guys when you see them as their boats are moving billboards to their sponsors. It’s usually a treat to see one of the Pro’s on the water and its always a good idea to just watch them for a little while and see what their experience has them casting.
Largemouth and Spotted Bass are being caught on Captain Mack’s Super Spoons, Weedless Wonder‘s, SteelShad and Mini Mack’s. Crank baits and Jerk baits are also baits you should keep in your arsenal. The Captain Mini Mack Mack blade baits are in and you can get them now in limited quantities. Do not overlook this bait, it will catch quality fish and has been proven on Lake Hartwell as a go to bait!
The Largemouth and Spotted Bass are still pulling back up on docks and in shallower waters. 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 very soon. It’s time to set up a few rigs with your favorite critter baits for any bass that you may find on bed. I’m still a lizard man when it comes to fishing a bass bed but drop shots and your favorite Plastics will also do well. 8 to 12 for diving crank baits (Shad Raps are hard to beat right now) A-Rigs, and the Kietech Swim baits on your favorite lead head will produce as the fish move into shallow shallow water.
The Crappie bite is still excellent and has really turned on since last week. You would think with all the rain and the muddy creeks that the bite would be tough but it the opposite of what you would think. My sources continue to report that the crappie are still moving up into shallower waters and are being caught in twenty to twenty five feet of water using jigs and minnows. Flat lines and jigs are catching big slabs right now and the fish continue to move shallower. March is the beginning of the Crappie spawn on Lake Hartwell and the fishing will be great all month.
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