Lake Hartwell Fishing Report November 15 2019
Well, we called it right in last week’s report because the weather has been just as we predicted, fall weather one day and bitter cold the very next. This week we heard that we might break some records set as long as 100 years ago! With dangerously cold weather here Wednesday am and guess where I will be? Blasting down Lake Hartwell on a cold daybreak boat ride! I don’t mind fishing when it’s cold but I hate to fish when it’s cold and windy both on the same day which provides some wind chills that test the best of your cold weather gear.
This past Saturday I had the chance to fish another Palmetto High School Tournament and with one hundred and fifty boats launched at the Dorn Facility of Lake Thurman (still called Clarks Hill by most) with teams from all over South Carolina. These young folks sure make me proud to be a fisherman and to know that fishing is not going to fade into the past anytime soon as these High Schoolers are dedicated when they come out and fish in twenty degree weather and never complain about anything.
The weather might have been bitter cold but when the National Anthem was sang and a prayer was offered up in memory and respect for those who have served our country during this week in honor of Veterans Day these young folks gave out a big cheer as they lined up for the blast off and my team cheered it up just like their competitors chanting, Let’s Go Fishing!
The Lake Hartwell bite is still really good with the water temperatures dropping daily especially now that every evening we are seeing much colder nights. We are already beginning to see much colder days in the forecast with the highs on a good day making it into the low fifties and several days not getting out of the forties with many evening in the low twenties.
The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 656.50 which are 3.50 feet below the 660 full pool levels. The lake levels are beginning to come back up due to some rain over the past weeks and it looks like the weather patterns may produce more wet weather in the near future.
The current water temperature has dropped to around 65.5 degrees each day due to the much colder weather and I predict that these temperatures may drop another couple of degrees over the next week if the weather continues to drop into the twenties each night.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell has been great this week and if you find a good school of fish and you have live bait in the water they will bend your rods quickly. I really don’t have a Golden Nuggets for this week other than to say that the Appalachian Striper Club winners caught their fish this past Saturday on Lake Hartwell by pulling Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs, and if you are not pulling U- Rigs yet you sure had better get ready to deploy them as the water temperatures continue to drop almost daily. My go to bait are still live Herring early morning and for that chance for a multiple hook up troll a Captain Mack Mini Mack.
It’s also a great idea to have a couple of light tackle spinning rods rigged out as free lines so that you can hook a live herring on and cast to the schooling or suspended fish. If you are lucky enough to know where there are a couple of dock lights you can catch Stripers and Hybrids off of them right now. The attached picture is a picture of one of grandsons who caught this hybrid off of a dock light this past week. Early in the mornings two deployed Mini Mack’s behind Planer Boards will get you hooked up fast as you follow the schoolers as they move from one spot to another.
The Striper and Hybrid fishing conditions are now more consistent and the morning and afternoon bite will get better each day moving forward especially with the longer nights and cooler temperatures. As the water and air temperatures continue to drop the fishing will be much more predictable over the next month as they feed aggressively, but you have to go to catch them, I only saw one other boat on Wednesday, I guess it was cold! The key to catching Stripers and Hybrids is first to know how to locate them and then the best methods to catching them.
The Stripers and Hybrids are really bunched up right now and you may find them on the bottom or suspended in huge schools. I have always thought that it was better to fish smarter than harder so we continue to have the great opportunity to fish Instructional Trips and this gives us the opportunity to meet some really good fishermen while doing so. Now is the best time to fish one of our Instructional Trips, it’s a great time to witness first-hand what a changing season and pattern does and how to adapt to a new fishing pattern.
When you fish an Instructional Trip you will learn everything there is to know about catching Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell or your home lake and you will be given the chance to ask the questions that not many folks will share so if you are interested in learning all the tricks to catching Stripers and Hybrid now is one of the best times to get in a teaching boat for an Instructional Trip. This will 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 free lines. The bait shops are all suppling quality bait. Be sure to add O2 to your tank to keep this bait healthy during your trip. The live bait bite has been really good this week.
• Okuma Classic Pro Striper Rods. This live Bait Rod paired with the Okuma Cold Water CW203D reel is a great match, this rod and reel combo is the perfect Striper and Hybrid combo and it is unmatched in its ability to handle a good fish while giving you all you need to enjoy the fight. This rod and reel combo is the perfect tool and I would give this rod and reel an A++ for Striper Live Bait Fishing. If you choose another reel that is up to you but try the Okuma Classic Striper Rod side by side with your other rods and I promise you that you will see the difference immediately.
• Captain Mack under Spin Jigs. This Jig is great for schooling fish especially after they go down or if you need to cast a long distance to get to the fish schooling on top.
• Any top water bait of your choice; I prefer a spook or anything in a chrome color. Flukes and swim baits also work well if you can cast them far enough.
• Keep Alive Oxygen System. This system will make a huge difference in your bait. I personally believe that it will help keep your bait in perfect condition during your day and increase your odds of catching fish.
• Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs. I will never go to the lake without them! The Umbrella Rig bite is a guaranteed bite now and the four arm nine bait rigs are working the best. These rigs are best fished using the Okuma 303 Coldwater series on a Captain Mack Trolling Rod.
• Captain Mack Mini Mack Umbrella Rig’s – they will catch good fish if trolled or pulled behind your Perfect Planer Boards. Pulling this rig behind your planer boards early mornings is working great right now!
• Perfect Planer Boards. The early morning free line bite behind Planer Boards is working great right now and it gives you the ability to put more bait in the water which always increases your odds of catching more fish. I will fish Planer Boards every trip during the fall and winter months.
The Bass bite remains good with Spotted Bass being caught on rocky or red points and long points that drop off into the river or creek runs. This past weekend the Bass Nations Tournament had competitors from forty seven states and eleven countries! The tournament was won fishing lipless crank baits with a total weight after three days of 32.12 pounds which is very respectful for Lake Hartwell. This tournament was a big one, but the second week of December there will be a two hundred boat BASS Team Tournament fishing Lake Hartwell and these guys are showing up for practice now.
With big schools of Spots moving and chasing bait the top water bite has continued be great. The Thread fin Shad continue to school on the surface early in the mornings and again in the late evenings and that’s all it has taken for the Spotted Bass to make their attack on the surface for some great top water action.
The Spotted Bass are all over the lake so if you keep your eyes peeled and do your homework you will not have much trouble locating these feeding frenzies; these fish are feeding well right now so they are fat and fighting hard when you hook up. Largemouth and Spotted Bass are still being caught on Weedless Wonders rigged with several different plastics. There will be several club Bass tournaments on Lake Hartwell over the next few weeks but keep your eyes peeled for some of the Pro’s as they get ready for the Bassmaster Team Championship which is scheduled for next month. You can’t fish to shallow to catch some good Largemouth Bass in the backs of coves. The Largemouth Bass are following the bait back into shallow water coves and they will bite when you find them.
The resident Largemouth can be found packed up in the backs of many coves so when you find them you will boat some heavy fish. A Golden Nugget for some large Spots is to cast the Mini Mack off of points and on flats in thirty feet of water for some fat quality fish and have a Mini Mack ready for schooling fish. SteelShads, Mini Mack’s as well as your various Crank baits, Spinner baits, Topwater baits, Jerk baits and swim baits are all working well.
My golden nugget to share with you this week is to fish a Captain Mack Weedless Wonder rigged with a Baby Bluegill Robo Worm pitching it to the bank and slowly retrieving it back to the boat.
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.
• Captain Mack Mini Mack Umbrella Rig’s with or without blades, both work great. This bait is catching some hogs while being fished off of deeper points or in schooling fish. This bait produces a guaranteed bite when fished in or near schooling fish.
• Captain Mack under Spin Jig.
• 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 rigged with a Robo six inch Morning Dawn or Bluegill worm. Use the plastic of your choice. The Captain Mack Weedless Wonder 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!
The Crappies are bunching up as they move in and out of the river and creeks as they begin staging in their normal fall and winter brush piles. They are feeding well on live minnows under floats and jigs fished around brush piles and around and under docks as well as in deeper water around bridges. This bite will only get better and better as the water temperatures drop.
Over the next few weeks I will be putting out brush piles which I normally do after dark and on many occasions the Crappie will be on them the next day. Now is the time to get those brush piles that have produced well over this past year freshened up and add a few new ones while you are doing all the hard work to prepare for the winter bite.
As the Striper bite gets tougher later in the year I will fish for Stripers and Crappies all in the same day so when this happens then the Crappie bite will be my reason to get on the water every week so stay tuned for further updates.
Go to Baits for this week.
• Blue Ice Jigs seem to always be the go to color on Lake Hartwell.
• Minnows fished on four pound test line under small floats pitched under docks or over brush will get you the bite you’re looking for.
• Popeye Jigs are doing the job right now and if fished slowly they will produce the bite. I will share a secret to fishing this jig later in the year as the water gets much colder.
• Humminbird Solix or Helix graphs and Minn Koto Trolling Motors. These graphs have superior side imaging and down imaging and are worth every cent if you are looking to locate Crappie. You have to find them to catch them and Humminbird gives you that ability.
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 – 770-235-813