Our Lake Hartwell Fishing Report for March 03, 2020

GOOD NEWS!! Well now that I have gotten everyone’s attention it’s no secret that over this last week all we have seen and heard has been bad news, but I’m not into doom and gloom so let focus on the positive and not all this despair. I can assure you that we have all weathered much tougher storms and my faith is still in the Christ who has this bump in the road in His control, so there’s no need to be worried? So let’s keep a positive outlook on the future and move on to bigger and brighter things. It’s March and the fish are biting and the bite is only going to get better and better each day forward, how’s that for encouraging news.  I’ve always believed that fishing was good medicine for the mind body and soul so don’t let the things going on around us get us down when you can jump into the boat and leave it all at the dock, so let’s Go Fishing!  

The Lake Hartwell bite has been good overall the past seven days even with continued poor but improving water conditions. March has started out with rain and then more rain over the last few days. The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 661.27 which are 1.27 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The Army Corps of Engineers continues to do a great job of releasing the water from the lake at a rate that will not cause harm to the fishery. The current water temperatures are holding at fifty three degrees but I would bet that the water temperatures will begin to rise very soon. 


This week the Striper and Hybrid fishing continues to be good with fish being caught from the mid lake all the way to the dam. I’m very encouraged that the bite is good because not only am I catching fish but I’m getting calls from several of the folks that have been out over this past year on Instructional Trips and they are all applying the techniques that they learned and they are catching fish too! The quality of the Stripers and Hybrids that are being caught are good and the fish will take a live Blueback Herring quickly off of a Perfect Planer Board or a down rod fished just over the schools of fish. I have found some huge schools of fish already this month and as the lake continues to clear up and warm up the fishing will become fast and furious. I’m hearing from the bait shops that there are not many Striper fisherman buying bait right now and if that’s the case you are missing out on a good bite. I know that the weather has been cold and the lake has been trashy with high waters but those conditions have improved so now is a good time to take the cover off the boat and get back on the water. 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. We will be fishing all of these techniques during the remainder of the winter pattern and will be teaching these techniques during our 2020 Instructional Trips during these winter excursions. If you fished an Instructional Trip this past year remember to use your Book to put yourselves in the right places to catch fish. I would make a serious suggestion to be prepared to pull Umbrella Rigs,  Mini Mack’s and big baits on your Perfect Planer Boards, reference  the bottom section of this report for my suggestions on the proper gear needed to catch fish during the next few months. It’s time to pull some big Gizzard Shad behind the perfect Planers close to the banks or in the backs of the creeks where the big fish roam after the rains stop and the trash settles down. 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. The Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs work great now that the real winter weather is showing up. If you want to catch fish during the next couple of months you should add Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs to your fishing gear for the guaranteed bite.  Pulling rigs and many other techniques are highlighted during our Instructional Trips.  One main item that we cover in our Instructional Fishing Trips is how to locate Stripers and Hybrids.  There are many ways to catch Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell and we will demonstrate all of them! 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. 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 and you will be given the chance to ask all the questions that very few professional Striper fishermen will share.  If you are interested in a teaching trip  it’s a good time to get your calendar out and go ahead and book a date as they fill 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 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, 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.


This past week has been great for Bass fishing. The Spotted Bass bite has really been good with Spotted Bass coming out of 20-40 feet of water being caught on Alabama Rigs, Ned Rigs, Drop Shots, Shakey Heads and Carolina Rigs with soft plastics. The Bass are feeding and fattening up now as the water temperatures begin to rise. It’s not going to be long before the Largemouth Bass pull up on the banks and there have already been some heavy fish caught over this past week. I’m seeing many professional Bass fishermen on the lake over this past week so I’m sure there has to be a major tournament coming in the near future.

  • 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 and is a great fish locator for any upcoming 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!
  • Roboworms are working the best for us. There are several colors that work great!
  • Steel Shads in various colors and sizes.


With the lake conditions on Lake Hartwell starting to clear up and with the water levels dropping it’s not going to be long before I will be able to get back into the Crappie fishing again. With the lake beginning to warm up and sunny days in the near forecast the Crappie should pull up into shallow waters soon 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. I’m hearing that there are a lot of fish being caught long lining for Crappie right now. It won’t be long and we will see the banks of Lake Hartwell lined up in many places as the bank fishermen hit their favorite spots to catch some quality fish. I hope to get back to Crappie fishing as soon as the lake clears back up and I can get back to my favorite spots. 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. 

 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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