Lake Hartwell Fishing Report October 17 2019
I sure hope you like fishing when conditions change overnight, if you don’t you’re going to be in for a big surprise over the next few days. I actually had to put on my rain gear this past weekend and again just a couple of days ago and I didn’t mind it for one minute. I actually believe that I saw Lake Hartwell smile just a little bit! Now during these sudden weather changes the fishing was great on a day while the weather was bad and then tough the following days when the weather cleared. This is typical for any transitional month when the weather and water conditions are changing. The weather is finally getting just right for the lake to completely turn over as the weather continues to cool and the fishing will improve again rapidly when this happens.
I have had the chance to fish up the lake as well as back down near the dam over this past week and I was not disappointed. There are fish that have already made their way back up the lake as well as fish still feeding near the dam. Now what does this mean in a few words, to me it means this is a great time to be on the water and no matter which direction you decide to go it’s a good time to catch some fish! So Let’s Go Fishing! The Lake Hartwell bite is good with the water conditions improving daily especially now that it has cooled off. As the water temperatures continue to drop this will help the lake turn over very soon. The current Lake Hartwell water levels continue to drop but should start to balance out with some additional rainfall in this week’s forecast.
We will begin to see much cooler days in the forecast with many evening in the forties 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 655.62 which are 4.38 feet below the 660 full pool levels. As you start to navigate back up the lake to follow the fish remember that the lake levels are much lower than this time last year so stay cautious of those shallow waters. The current water temperature has dropped to around 78.5 degrees each day.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell has improved a great deal with Stripers and Hybrids being caught in the upper lake and some of the largest schools I’ve seen in a very long time schooling on top near the dam and mid lake. My Golden Nuggets for this week is to be sure that you have a couple of top water baits on the ready for schooling fish. Also don’t hesitate to deploy your umbrella rigs or Mimi Mack’s; this is a great search 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. The Striper and Hybrid fishing conditions are not consistent, I can tell you that I was on one of the largest schools of Hybrids that I have seen in years and they stayed up schooling on top on a day when the weather conditions were very bad and this same school of fish would not school the following day and they did not want to feed when I got them under the boat on a day when the weather was great.
I said all of that to say this, no matter how much you fish and no matter how many fish you find there will be days when the fish are in this transition period that the bite can be great one day and not so good the next. There always been this thought or fairy-tale that guides always catch fish every trip, well even though a good fishing guides spends a lot of time on the water and they usually can stay on the fish and they know just how to catch them there are still times that they just can’t make the fish bite. That’s why they call it fishing and not catching but it’s really hard to look at your graph and see a huge school of fish under your boat and they all have lock jaw!
The key to catching Stripers and Hybrids is knowing how to locate them and then the best methods to catching them. 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 supplying 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 lead core 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 2 oz 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.
The Bass bite remains good with Spotted Bass still schooling and several reports of some Spots on rocky points. Since I have not had the opportunity to Bass fish much over the past week I have had to depend on the reports that I’m getting from those who Bass fish every week. Based on these reports and the Bass that I’m catching I know that the Bass are feeding well and this will continue with the cooler weather. I have continued to see a lot of Bass hanging out around brush piles and docks. 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. 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 Crankbaits, Spinner baits, Topwater baits, Jerkbaits and swimbaits 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 swim baits 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.
I promised you that we would start the Crappie Report this week after returning from the Crappie Expo. I have tried to keep that promise but I have not had the opportunity to Crappie fish due to several days I’ve spent Striper fishing this past week. I have had the opportunity to look for Crappie before putting my boat back on the trailer and with the help of my side imaging on my Humminbird Solix and it was no problem to find the Crappie just where I thought that they would be. Brush piles and docks are already holding Crappie and I’m sure as the water continues to cool that the Crappie will continue to bunch up even better. I also found a really nice school between some bridge columns so catching these fish will not be a problem. I will leave the below go to baits until I return from this coming weeks’ vacation in Costa Rica and when I return and get the opportunity to try the baits listed below. My Golden Nugget for Crappie fishing for this week is to just go fishing; you will catch Crappie as soon as you locate them.
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 KotaTrolling 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