Lake Hartwell Fishing Report for March 11, 2020

Hide-and-seek or hide-and-go seek was a favorite game to play when I was growing up. That’s when we would run and hide around the farm before someone came looking for us. March can be one of those months that when you leave the dock you might want to say, ready or not here I come! You just never know when or what an early March day might bring you on Lake Hartwell. It’s the month of March when you leave the dock not knowing if you are going to get the fish or if the fish are going to get you! It’s hard to explain how you can catch a good box of fish one day and a day or two later the F.B.I couldn’t find the fish. It’s this time of the year that you just have to go and hope that the fish will be ready to bite. I call this a transitional month as the fish get ready to make a major change in their feeding habits. There’s one thing for sure as it continues to warm up the fish will not be hiding out much longer as their desire to spawn hits the feeding frenzy mode and even the novice fisherman will be catching some good quality fish, so let’s Go Fishing!  

The Lake Hartwell bite has been fair to good overall the past seven days even with continued poor but improving water conditions. March has started out with constant rain over the last few days. The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 661.34 which are 1.34 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperatures are holding at fifty four  degrees but I would bet that the water temperatures will begin to rise very soon with the air temperatures reaching seventy degrees several days this week. 

STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS

This week the Striper and Hybrid fishing has been hit and miss as you leave the dock one day and catch a good box of fish and a day or two later you go back to the same places and fish the same conditions and the fish just seem to have disappeared. It’s very strange to go to a spot that the fish bite was good and a day or two later you go back to those same places and catch one fish in each location. Now if you know anything about Striper or Hybrid fishing you know that there’s no such thing as one Striper or Hybrid in an area that’s loaded with bait, but I can assure you if the fish don’t want to be found they can sure hide as well as any fish in the lake. I’m excited that the weather is going to improve soon and the Stripers and Hybrids are going to turn on as soon as the water temperatures get closer to that sixty degree magic number. As with anything in life I always say don’t give up! If you have a bad day of fishing mark it up as a learning experience make it a fun and educational experience and get ready for the next trip. I look forward to hearing more from those who have fished Instructional Trips over this past year as they all catch some good boxes of fish this year. I have been so blessed to meet and fish with many fishermen over this past year and been able to share many fishing techniques with these folks. They may not know it but I’m the one who learned a lot and I’m the one who feels blessed for getting to fish and make friends with these good folks. If you want to book a fishing trip for the upcoming spring season on Lake Hartwell or get your Instructional Trip done before the spring bite takes off then now is the time to get these trips booked. I have been told that I give too many secrets away when it comes to Striper and Hybrid fishing, well I plead guilty but I want to be known as the Striper fisherman that shared his all. We will be fishing all of these Instructional techniques during the end of the winter pattern and will be teaching these techniques during our 2020 Instructional Trips during the upcoming spring excursions. If you fished an Instructional Trip this past year you can use your Book to put yourselves in the right places to catch fish, and don’t forget I’m just a phone call away. I would make a serious suggestion being if you are not prepared to pull Umbrella Rigs or Mini Mack’s and if you want to pull big baits on your Perfect Planer Boards you might want to look at the bottom of this report for my suggestions on gear to catch fish during the next few months. It’s time to pull some Perfect Planer Boards with Gizzard shad close to the banks or in the backs of the creeks where the big fish roam. When I move back out of the backs of the creeks I deploy two ultra-light freelines behind the boat rigged with live herring to catch the fish that are feeding on top and you would be surprised at just how many fish I catch on these ultra-light rigs. I usually locate these fish one of two ways. I locate them on my Humminbird Side Imaging or Down Imaging and the minute that I get them under the boat I drop my live bait and Mini Mack’s into the schools of fish. If the fish decide not to eat my live bait then my Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs are my automatic tools for the guaranteed bite  during the next couple of months.. We cover all these umbrella methods and many other techniques in our teaching trips and it’s always  fun to learn new methods! One main item that we cover during the Instructional Fishing Trips is how to locate Stripers and Hybrids!  There are many ways to catch Stripers and Hybrids on our area lakes, and our we cover all of these points., This is a great time to book, you can witness first-hand what a changing season and pattern does to the fish and how to adapt to new fishing patterns. When you fish an Instructional Trip you will also be given the chance to ask all the questions that very few professional Striper fishermen will share, so if you are interested in learning all the different techniques to catching Stripers and Hybrid Bass,  get your calendar out and go ahead and book a future trip as they book up quickly when the weather begins to warm back up. If you have ever wanted to be one of the boats that come to the dock with your limit after a good spring fishing trip you might want to book a trip really soon. A Striper Instructional Trip 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. To secure your day, give Captain Mack a call at 770-235-8135.

Go to baits for this week.

  • Live Blueback Herring, large Shiners or Gizzard Shad fished on down rods and freelines. The bait shops are all suppling quality bait and several have the gizzard shad that you will need for that big fish bite. Be sure to add O2 from your Keep Alive O2 system to keep this bait healthy during your trip. The live bait bite has been tough but should get better soon.
  • 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 will be 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 Super Spoons or Captain Mack Jig’N Shad spoons. These Jigs are great for fish that are bunched up and hugging the bottom. These Jigs are a must have for the winter months.
  • Any top water bait of your choice; I prefer a spook or anything in a chrome color. Flukes and swim baits paired with one of Captain Mack’s trailers. The chartreuse trailer works the best for me. 
  • Keep Alive Oxygen System. This system will make a huge difference in your bait. I know from experience that this system will help keep your bait in perfect condition during your day of fishing and increase your odds of catching fish with the best bait you can put in the water.
  • 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. They can be purchased at Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine as well as Sportsman’s Warehouse and Academy Sports. If your favorites bait and tackle shop does not carry them you might want to ask for them. I like to get my tackle where I normally shop and I hate to go to the lake without everything that I need to catch a good box of fish.
  • Captain Mack Mini Mack’s – they will catch good fish if trolled with your trolling motor at .08 mph or pulled behind your Perfect Planer Boards. Pulling this rig behind your planer boards is working great right now and gives you the ability to cover a lot of water! These rigs are hard to find right now as they sell out quickly. They can be found at Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine and I personally would ask my favorite fishing store to purchase them so that you always have a good supply at your go to bait shop.
  • Perfect Planer Boards. This is the best Planer Board I have ever used. The Planer Board bite can be an all-day bite right now as you cover a lot of water. It 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 waiting for that big explosion that always seems to come behind a Planer Board.
  • Stealth QR2 Quick Release Rod Holders. This is a NEW Technology Rod Holder and it is built for the fisherman that wants the best for their boats and the ability to fish at any angle that you would like to fish with a few simple adjustments that you can make without tools on the fly. Down rods, freelines or Umbrella Rigs these rod holders will get the job done and they come with a Lifetime Guarantee. The clients that I have fished since installing these new rod holders have already said that they are the BEST that they have ever used and are looking to install them on their boats. (If you are buying a new boat this year please check out the Stealth QR2. Do not scratch up your rails with other rod holders when you can install a Stealth QR2 that will leave no marks on your new rails and will do you an excellent job.)

BASS

This past week has been fair for Bass fishing. The Spotted Bass bite has really been good with Spotted Bass coming off of points that drop off into 20-40 feet of water being caught on Alabama Rigs, Ned Rigs, Drop Shots, Shakey Heads and Carolina Rigs with soft plastics. The FLW Toyota Series 2020 Lake Hartwell Series was held this past week during the middle of the week from Tuesday March 3rd through Thursday March 5th. These FLW fishermen got to experience the high water and still somewhat trashy waters of Lake Hartwell from all the rainfall that we experienced last month and into this month. Thursday March 5th gave these fishermen a hard rain all day long for a miserable day of fishing. I was out there with them during this mid-week of fishing and it was not hard to tell that these guys were running and gunning into the backs of many Lake Hartwell creeks looking for that big fish bite. The lack of sunshine all three days of the tournament seemed to hurt many of these fishermen. Marty Robinson from Lyman SC was the winner of the three day event with a total weight in of 47.4 pounds. Second place went to Derrick Bridges from Greenville SC with a total weight of 45.12 pounds. That’s not a big number for Lake Hartwell with much bigger fish to be caught as the Lake conditions improve but it was a good number for the weather conditions that these guys experienced. Congratulations to all of these Bass Fishermen who worked hard to qualify to fish this tournament and for all the efforts that they put into fishing this mid – week tough tournament.

  • Captain Mack Super Spoons over suspended fish. It’s going to get really cold this February and the select of Captain Mack Super Spoons will be bought up quickly as soon as this bite takes off. I always get my baits early so I know that I will have what I need when I need them.
  • Captain Mack under Spin Jig.
  • KVD 1.5 Magnum Square Bill baits in the color of your choice, with all the rain I would suggest something in a shad or chartreuse color. Deeper diving crank baits are also working in these same colors.
  • Ned Rigs and hard and soft Jerk Baits of your preference, the Robo Worms are working best. We are catching some good fish on swimbaits rigged with Captain Mack Trailers; again the chartreuse color is working the best.
  • Captain Mack Weedless Wonder Shakey Head rigged with a Robo six inch Morning Dawn or Bluegill worms as well as some new colors we are using. 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!
  • Captain Mack Mini Mack’s. If you want to catch some big Spotted Bass this is a go to bait!
  • Robo Worms are working the best for us. There are several colors that work great!
  • Steel Shads in various colors and sizes.

CRAPPIE

With the lake beginning to warm up and sunny days in the near forecast the Crappie are pulling up into shallow waters as they begin their spawn. The Crappie will begin the pre-spawn now and many of the females that are being caught are already full of eggs. Live minnows and jigs all work great this time of the year and I have had very good luck with the Crappie Country Jigs that I’m buying at Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine, don’t over-look changing up colors when you are marking fish and the bite is slow especially if the water is muddy. Chartreuse colored jigs works great in stained water on Lake Hartwell. A trick to try that’s working for me, tie a minnow onto the bottom of your line and add a Crappie Jig about a foot above the minnow. The movement of the minnow is all the action you will need to get the bite on the jig. Don’t overlook a float as you fish over the tops of brush, this can be the best bite of the day.

 Go to Baits for this week.

  • Small 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. Tipping a jig with a small minnow is working also.
  • Popeye Jigs are doing the job right now and if fished slowly in deeper brush piles they will produce the bite you are looking for. I will share a secret to fishing this jig later in the year as the water gets much colder so stay tuned and I will let you know when this idea begins to work.
  • Give Captain Mack a call and order you a good supply of Crappie Country Jigs or drop by Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine and pick out a good selection from their large collection of colors and sizes. They come in some Crappie killer colors and they will produce some good fish.
  • 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 – 770-235-8135

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