Lake Hartwell Fishing Report November 8 2019
It’s November and that means it can be toasty outside today and so cold the very next day that you have to dig into your heavy winter gear or you are going to wish you had. It’s looking like this fall may be much like this past spring where we seemed to bypass spring and jumped right into summer and so far this fall it looks like that we may skip fall and find ourselves right in the middle of winter as I’m already hearing predictions like arctic blast and much colder weather in the forecast and it looks like these conditions are going to be on us before the first day of winter actually arrives.
No matter what happens the fish seem to know that cold weather is coming and coming fast because the bite has been really good. I love this time of the year because you don’t have to be in that big of a hurry to get on the water because the bite can be good all day but you also can’t wait to late during the day now with the time change or it will be dark before you get started. I read an article recently that said that the time change causes a lot of folks to fall into depression due to the limited amounts of sunlight.
I have the cure for that just jump in the boat and, Let’s Go Fishing! The Lake Hartwell bite is good with the water conditions improving daily especially now that every evening is longer and we are seeing much cooler nights. We are already beginning to see much cooler days in the forecast with the highs on a good day making it to sixty and with many evening in the low forties with several nights in the thirties which will change not only the water temperatures but will help change the fishing conditions to a much better bite.
The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 656.45 which are 3.55 feet below the 660 full pool levels. The lake levels are beginning to come back up due to some heavy rain over the past week and it looks like we may be getting even more in the near future. The current water temperature has dropped to around 70.5 degrees each day due to the much colder weather.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell has continued to improve and during the next couple of weeks it’s going to be hard not to catch a good box of fish. It’s not uncommon while the fish make their move from the deeper waters near the dam as they follow bait balls up and into the main creeks up the lake that you will find them schooling on top so, My Golden Nuggets for this week again is to be sure that you have a couple of top water baits on the ready for schooling fish.
My go to baits are spooks and for that chance for a multipliable hook up cast a Captain Mack Mini Mack and retrieve it quickly and HANG ON! 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 to the rig and cast to the schooling fish. Throw it toward the school fish and stick it in a rod holder and keep casting your top water bait until the spinning rod takes off, try not to get excited (lol) and don’t set your top water bait down without putting a foot on the rod and reel. If you don’t get over excited you will be able to catch a lot of fish fast and this will be the most fun you will ever have fishing Lake Hartwell.
This is one fun bite on light tackle spinning rods and once you try the live bait in the rod holders while the fish are schooling you will practice this technique every time the fish school. Also don’t hesitate to deploy your umbrella rigs or Mimi Mack’s; this is a great tool while you look for the fish that are moving into more favorable waters or while fish are
schooling and moving from one spot to another before they surface again.
Two deployed Mini Mack’s behind Planer Boards will get you hooked up fast as you follow the schoolers as they surface from one spot to another. Try not to run into these schools with your big engine, drop the trolling motor and work your way into the areas that the fish are schooling in. If you run through them with the big engine you may just be out of luck for the rest of the day after that happens.
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.
The key to catching Stripers and Hybrids is first to know how to locate them and then the best methods to catching them. I have always thought that it was better to fish smarter than harder. 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 while it’s not one hundred degrees in the shade and 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, 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 freelines. The bait shops are all suppling quality bait. Be sure to add O2 to your tank to keep this bait healthy during your trip.
• 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 work well also 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 d 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’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 still schooling and several reports of some Spots on rocky points and long points that drop off into the river or creek runs. This past weekend the FLW closed out their season with the FLW Youth Bass Fishing two day Tournament on Lake Hartwell. This tournament was like all other bass tournaments that are fished on Hartwell which brought Bass fishing youth from all over the country to fish on a lake that always provides a great weigh in for those who do their homework. With big schools of Spots moving and chasing bait the top water bite has been great.
The Threadfin 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 Crankbaits, Spinner baits, Topwater baits, jerk baits and swim baits are all working
My golden nugget to share with you this week is to fish a Captain Mack Mini Mack on the schooling fish and you might just hook up on a couple of doubles which is a BLAST!
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’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. 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