Our Lake Hartwell Fishing Report for March 25, 2020

With every boat ramp federal and state temporally closed on Lake Hartwell due to the COVID-19 virus you just might want to get a really early start on the weekends and hit a Lake Hartwell Marina. Now you could do what I did this past Saturday while fishing my grandsons and head to the Portman Marina where I normally put in and find the boats backed all the way to the main road. Now Rick doesn’t do lines very well when I’m ready to go fishing so I tell my grandsons, hang on boys we are headed to the dam! I just knew that I would get to the dam and launch before daylight and start catching fish right away. When I get to the dam I find out why the marina was so backed up with gates closed at every boat ramp from Portman to the Georgia side of the dam. Long story short I’m back in line at the Portman Marina behind what seemed to be one hundred bass boats waiting on my turn to launch. I learned a long time ago, when things are not going your way it’s during those times that you just may not want to throw in the towel because it could be one of your best day. The attached picture to this article shows a 33 pound Blue Cat along with an 18.2 pound Striper which is good for Lake Hartwell right now and a full box of Spots that were in a feeding frenzy on this day. My new Fishing Slogan is, Humminbird Finds Them, Minn Kota Sneaks Up On Them, Stealth Rod Holders Holds Them, Captain Mack Products Fools Them and Okuma Rods and Reels Puts Them In The Boat! There may still be some distress an uncertainty going on in the world right now but a good day of fishing sure makes you forget the things going on around us and we all know that we are going to be just fine so let’s Go Fishing!  

The Lake Hartwell bite has been good overall the past seven days if you do your homework. The Striper and Hybrid bite will take off any day now but it’s not there just yet. So what are we doing to catch a good box of fish, hit a red point and throw live bait out the back of the boat and you will catch a box full of Spots and a few Stripers and Hybrids as a bonus. The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 661.44 which are 1.44 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperatures are holding at sixty two degrees. I would bet that the water temperatures will rise very soon with the air temperatures reaching seventy plus degrees several days this week and reaching very near eighty. We have experienced a cold front with some good cold rain the first part of this week which will hold the water temperatures but the conditions are perfect for the bite to become very good soon.


Striper and Hybrid fishing should be wide open right now but for some reason the bite is still not at its peak, but it could happen any minute now! This could and should change any day now so stay in the water and be on the ready as the Striper and Hybrid fishing is soon to take off. We did boat and eighteen plus pound fish this week which is great right now for Lake Hartwell. The fish are being caught pulling the Captain Mack Perfect Planer Boards on every trip. The Mini Mack is catching fish as soon as it is deployed in or near a school and we have had several double hook ups which is too much fun to describe. The Stripers and Hybrids are beginning to bunch up in certain places but they have not fully turned on yet. When they do the bite will be great and it will be a good opportunity to run out of bait quickly. No matter if you catch them coming or going in the false spawn the bite will be aggressive! With school being out now it is the perfect time to get the kids out of the house and on the water so they can experience a fun day of fishing when they normally would be in school. It will be good for the kids as well as for the parents as many are troubled by the current situations and need something that will bring a smile to us all. I’m still looking 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’ve been told that I give to 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 this winter pattern and will be teaching these techniques during our spring and summer 2020 Instructional Trips. If you fished an Instructional Trip this past year you can use your Instructional Book to put yourselves in the right places to catch fish, and don’t forget I’m just a phone call away. 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. Once I locate fish on my Humminbird Side Imaging or Down Imaging I drop my live bait and Mini Mack’s into the schools of fish. If the fish turn their nose up at the live bait then my Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs are my automatic tools for the guaranteed bite.   The fish are on the move now and locating them is the key to success, we devote a good potion of the Instructional trip to finding fish, in addition to the variety of techniques needed  to consistently catch the Striper and Hybrids.  Now is one of the best times to fish one of our Instructional Trips, it’s also a great time to witness first-hand what a changing season and pattern does to the fish and how to adapt to new fishing patterns.  If you are interested in learning all the different techniques to catching Stripers and Hybrid Bass now is one of the best times to get in a teaching boat for an Instructional Trip or it’s a good time to 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. If you are interested in booking a 2020 Instructional Trip or guide trip give Captain Mack a call at 770-235-8135.

Go to baits for this week.

  • Live Blueback Herring or Gizzard Shad fished on down rods and freelines. The bait shops are all suppling good 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. If your favorite 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.)


This past week has been GREAT for Bass fishing. The Bass bite has moved into shallow water which will last for a couple of weeks as the Bass begin the spawn. Catching a lot of fish moving from long shallow points and red banks has been excellent and it’s been a great Spinnerbait, Crankbait and SteelShad bite. These last several days it seemed no matter what you were throwing the Bass were biting. It’s time to put some heavy fish in the boat with the fish soon pulling up on their beds. If you drop a lizard into one of these beds or any other favorite plastic you had better be sitting on ready as the Bass will not tolerate this at all. Currently Jerkbaits and Ned Rigs as well as Carolina Rigs and the Weedless Wonder rigged with a Robo Worm are working great to catch a limit of fish. A Captain Mack Mini Mack fished off of points will get the job done with the Spotted Bass jumping on this bait on every pass. Several Bass clubs are fishing tournaments every week so be prepared to jump into the wakes as these folks chase the bite.

  • Crank baits (Rapala DT 10 and Spro Rock Crawler) and Jerk 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 getting the job done in a shad or blueback color.
  • Ned Rigs and hard and soft Jerk Baits of your preference, the Robo Worms are working best. We are catching some good fish on swim baits 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.


The Crappie USA Tournament Trail 2020 Lake Hartwell Tournament has been postponed until further notice. Hopefully this tournament will be rescheduled soon and will provide some great fishing to those who target the Crappie Tournament Trails. 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. Long lining for Crappie is working great right now and this gives you the ability to cover a lot of water. 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 Kota 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.  Lake Hartwell crappie fishing has slowed down now that the fish are pulling off of the brush piles. The best crappie action seems to be in shallow water or on live minnows under bridges at night. To book your Lake Hartwell adventures please call Captain Mack Farr at – 1.888.989.8052 

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