Lake Hartwell Fishing Report March 6 2019 | Sponsored by Hayes Automotive
Written by Rick Owen – Lake Hartwell Professional Fishing Guide (Ret.)
Well by the time that this report is posted the temperatures will have dipped back into the low twenties here on Lake Hartwell. This year so far has brought us some tough weather with weeks full of rain bringing us high water levels again. This past week on Friday we had a big thunder and lightning storm with a tornado touching down less than thirty minutes south of Lake Hartwell and in less than twelve hours later on Saturday the weather was in one word, beautiful! Lake Hartwell water levels continue to remain above full pool. Water conditions are still poor with a lot of debris continuing to flow into the lake.
The fishing for this week’s report has not changed much from last week’s report. We still have had a lot of rain in the forecast over this past week and now we are experiencing what I hope is the last blast of winter weather. Temperatures are forecast to be in the low twenties this Wednesday and then returning to the low forties each night during the remainder of the week with more rain forecast for this weekend.
I know that spring is just around the corner so I’m prepping my gear and sitting on ready. I have a secret weapon at my house that lets me know the moment that the spawn will begin. My secret is a huge Japanese Koi pond in my back yard that has some two plus pound koi in it. They spawn every year and when they spawn the fish on Lake Hartwell are never more than a week or two behind them. Get ready, my koi are acting crazy now so they are spawning! We are still seeing a limited amount of quality blueback herring at the bait shops. This is a result of the 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. The quantities of bait are up and I would not expect to see the bait shops run out of bait in the future. The size of the Blueback herring is very small so you will need to change your hook sizes to successfully fish this bait. As the year progresses, I would expect the bait might get larger and the bite will be even better. The current water levels are 661.78, which are 1.78 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperatures remain in the low fifties and may drop even more with this current cold front.
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. With Blueback herring still limited to very small baits due to the die off. The smaller 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 as the fish begin to feed aggressively. I would expect to see the Stripers and Hybrids start to make a run up the rivers any day now. 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 and the smaller baits. 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 and the Bass Master High School Tournament that fished out of Green Pond landing this past Saturday was a big success. These young bass fishermen and fisherwomen did their selves proud with some impressive catches. 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. (They are available now in limited quantities so when you find them you might want to stock up.)
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 very soon. I’m sight fishing now so I will let you know when the bass show up on bed. It’s time to set up a few rigs with your favorite critter baits for the bass on the beds, for now 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 has not changes since last week’s report with the exception of the water quality in the upper lake and especially in the creeks. 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. With the muddy and heavily stained water you will have to put your bait right in the face of a Crappie to get a bite. The Crappie still 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 unless we get another cold front. 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