Lake Hartwell Fishing Report October 10 2019
It’s so good to back in the south east again after a long trip to Hot Springs Arkansas for the first ever Crappie Expo. This was a very exciting event for those who enjoy Crappie fishing as much as I do! It sure was worth the nearly seventeen hundred mile round trip drive and I had the opportunity to meet many of the best Crappie fishing industry professionals in the U.S. If you were anybody in the Crappie Industry you were in Hot Springs Arkansas or you sure should have been there or you just might want to be making plans to attend the next Crappie Expo as soon as it is announced. This 2019 Crappie Expo brought in 115 vendors with an estimated 60,000 people attending the event, not bad for the first ever Crappie Expo.
I promised you in last week’s report that I would try to drag back some cooler weather but it looks like it actually beat me home. As I traveled across the state of Mississippi on my way home it was raining hard so let’s keep our fingers crossed that that rain is headed our way. I will be fishing Lake Hartwell this week and next week and then I will be off to Costa Rica from October 20th – 26th so I will most likely suspend that week’s report. Now that I’m back on Lake Hartwell let’s see what this cooler weather has the fish doing, So Let’s Go Fishing! The Lake Hartwell bite continues to be fair with the water conditions changing daily especially now that it has cooled off so it can still be tough for fishing. As the water temperatures continue to drop this will start the lake turn over very soon.
The current Lake Hartwell water levels continue to drop with only a trace of rain this past week and no major rain in the forecast anytime soon. We will begin to see much cooler days in the forecast with many evening in the fifties which will change not only the water temperatures but will help change the fishing conditions to a much better bite very soon. The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 655.95 which are 4.05 feet below the 660 full pool levels. The lake levels continue to drop with no rain falling into Lake Hartwell so it’s a good idea to remember this as you navigate the lake.The current water temperature has dropped to around 80 degrees each day.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell continues to get tougher due to the water conditions and with the cooler weather moving in to stay the lake should begin to turn over very soon. Now as I have reported before Lake Hartwell is a huge lake with nearly one thousand miles of shoreline so there will be places that the lake will turn over quicker than others. It’s time to flip through your log book or get with a Lake Hartwell Striper fisherman to see just where you need to be dropping your bait. My Golden Nuggets for this week is to continue to get your bait in the water before the sun comes up; this is the best way to get fish in the boat before the sun gets above the tree line. It is also time to prepare for schooling fish so be ready, these schools could come up just about anywhere.
You also want to start to move away from the deeper waters near the dam and begin to focus on the mid lake or move on up the lake some to some of the deeper head waters. Also don’t hesitate to deploy your umbrella rigs; this is a great search tool while you look for the fish that are moving into more favorable waters. 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 mainly because 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 condition. 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 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 free lines. The bait shops are all suppling quality bait. Be sure to add ice and 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 new to the market and you will be hearing a lot of good things about it as it puts fish in your boat.
• 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.
• Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs. I will not go to the lake without them! The Umbrella Rig bite is a guaranteed bite right now and the four arm nine bait rigs are working the best. The heavy rigs are getting deeper where the fish are hanging out. 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 or trolled behind leadcore line. Pulling this rig behind your planer boards early mornings will work great right now!
• Perfect Planer Boards. The early morning free line bite behind Planer Boards will return later in the fall so now is a good time to get your Planer Boards ready for the upcoming fall fishing patterns.
• Chipmunk Jigs for Power Reeling or while pulling lead core line. It’s time to stock up as Power Reeling and lead core pulling has now taken off. I suggest the 2oz with or without stinger hooks rigged on a Captain Mack Mustard Stick Rod. You will not find another rod that will work better for Power Reeling, pulling Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs or while pulling leadcore line.
• Parker Spoons also used to Power Reel. This bite will only get better as the bigger fish move into deeper water.
We have been waiting for the Bass fishing to improve and it has finally happened. Since I have been gone this past week I’m not going to make any changes to this week’s report other than to say that the cooler water temperatures should continue to move the Bass into shallower waters and we should see many more schooling fish now. The Threadfin Shad have started 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. Largemouth and Spotted Bass are still being caught on Weedless Wonders rigged with several different plastics. You can’t fish to shallow to catch some good Largemouth Bass in the backs of coves. 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. 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 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. The sexy shad is working the best on Lake Hartwell.
• 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. This bait produces a guaranteed bite when fished in 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!
• Larry Dahlberg 90 Whopper Plopper. A great bait for the Top Water bite.
Okay I’m back from the 2019 Crappie Expo in Hot Springs Arkansas, it was a great trip but there’s no way that I will be able to cover everything that I experienced at the show in this report so I will only hit the highlights the best that I can. I will say this, the show was worth the drive and I got to put my hands on some new and never seen before baits that I know will be a big hit in the Crappie Industry. The fishing was tough for many of the best teams from all over the U.S. and on day one several team found their selves struggling with no fish or only one or two fish at weigh in after an unexpected day of rain, lightning and cooler temperatures. If you came to this tournament with only one trick to catch fish you were in trouble from the start. No live bait was allowed in the seven fish weigh in and if you couldn’t shoot docks or locate and fish brush piles you were really in trouble. By the end of the day on Saturday the first and second place teams were only six ounces between first and second place for a tight race for the big payout and first place trophy.
That all changed as the first place weigh in on Sunday was just over thirty one pounds and second place weighing in at twenty seven pounds and fourteen ounces after three tough days of fishing. If you want to see the complete leader boards check out the Mr. Crappie Web Site or check out this link for the first and second place winners. https:// www.wired2fish.com/news/sheppards-win-2019-mr-crappie-invitational-tournament I can always say now that I was at the biggest ever Crappie fish fry and man was it GREAT! The fish fry fed over eight thousand people and that took well over sixteen thousand Crappie fillets that came with all the fixings. What a trip, the only thing I would suggest if I get the chance to talk with Wally Marshall in the near future would be to include in the next Crappie Expo some Pro Demonstrations so all the thousands that attended the show would have the ability to learn how to fish different methods from those who fish for Crappie professionally.
I was quick to invite Wally Marshall to bring a Crappie Expo to Lake Hartwell and he said that it is on his radar. At the end of this report I will list the best of the best in industry favorites from the show and the fish breading and hushpuppy’s and spices that were used for this fish fry are listed in these favorites. (The best hushpuppy mix and fish batter that I have ever eaten) so be ready to check these items out for yourselves. Now it is time to begin the fall Crappie fishing which will include refreshing your brush piles as you check them for fish as the weather cools. I will begin next week with a weekly crappie report for Lake Hartwell.
Go to Baits and Crappie Expo Best in Show!
➢ If you are like me you have tried just about every fish batter that has ever been made. Guess what? I have found the best that I have ever tried! Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning – (337-224-4084) firstname.lastname@example.org is the best I’ve ever eaten. Now most folks think when they hear Cajun they think HOT but that’s not the case. The flavor is out of this world and I can tell you that you will not find a better fish batter or Hush Puppy Mix anywhere. The prices are very reasonable and they will ship the product right to your door. Let me know what you think about this product. I will give this one a 10+ in a 1 out of 10 rating! This is a Captain Rick’s Best in Show!!!
• Blue Ice Jigs seem to be the go to color on Lake Hartwell right now and Bobby Garland had several of these baits along with four new colors that will be introduced to the market very soon. They also have a new Slab Runner in Blue Ghost Glo that should work well on Lake Hartwell.
• Hal-Fly DINA – MITE Jigs. Made by Big Bite Baits and an old standby that will still put Crappie in the boat on every trip! They have every color and size to fit your needs no matter the lake you are fishing. My favorites are their white and chartreuse colors. This company has been around for a long time and they proudly make their products in the U.S.A. and they carry any type crappie jig in any color that you could ever need. Check with Captain Mack if you need some of these baits or contact them directly at www.bigbitebaits.com this bait gets a Captain Rick’s Best in Show!!
• Something new to the market this year. Gill Reaper Lures @ email@example.com or by calling 352-266-4131 this bait company has a new jig called an “Eye Hole” which gives you the ability to insert your Crappie Nibbles bait right into the jig head. The attractant scented bait will stay in the jig head for up to five hours and these baits come in many different colors and sizes. I can’t wait to try the baits that I bought and let you know how they work. This product is also proudly made in the U.S.A. so contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org this bait is another Captain Rick’s Best in Show for their great idea!
• Z-VIBER Baits @www.eurotackle.net have very impressive baits that are worth taking a good look at. This bait gives you the ability to swim or jig the bait and I’m going to be surprised it this bait is not a winner! I will be testing the baits that I bought and I’m sure they will be a hit so stay tuned for a follow up.
• Now who has not been looking for a fish counter that will keep up with every fish that you catch and at the same time will keep up with what you put in the box while also keeping up with what you release back into the lake? Now if you find a fish counter like this and then you find out its waterproof
and also floats, well that beats the old counters that I’ve used over the last forty years “THE BUTTON” made by www.madfishen.com has just what you are looking for. This product is very reasonable priced and keeps a digital record of your catch. No more clickers in my boat.
• ACC CRAPPIE STIX @acccrappiestix.com or look for them on Facebook if you are looking for quality in your crappie fishing rods you will want to check these rods out. While at the show you didn’t have to look far to see what everyone was buying when it came to the best in a Crappie rod. The best dock shooting rod in my opinion at the show. They are another Captain Rick’s Best in Show! I hope to be testing these rods soon and getting back to you with a follow up.
• Driftmaster Rod Holders. What can you say about a company that builds the best rod holders built for those who like to troll or long line for Crappie. Driftmaster Rod holders were on many of the boats that fished the Crappie tournament and I can personally give them an A++ as this is what I use on my boat and the word Quality goes hand in hand with their Lifetime Guarantee.
• Humminbird Solix or Helix graphs and Minn Kota Trolling Motors. These graphs have superior side imaging and down imaging and are worth every cent if you are looking to locate Crappie. Humminbird and Minn Kota were well represented during the Crappie Expo and with the Tournament Pro’s using their 360 imaging and side and down imaging to locate Crappie and their Spot Lock on their Minn Kota Trolling Motors to hold them on the fish sure helped make this tournament a great event for those who used these products. Humminbird and Minn Kota ALWAYS GETS THE BEST IN SHOW AT ANY TOURNAMENT!!!
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