Our Lake Hartwell Fishing Report for May 13, 2020

If you have never experienced a sudden weather change on Lake Hartwell then you haven’t been on the lake recently. This same time last year the water temperature was around 74 degrees and the fishing was great, but this past week if you could find water in the high sixties you were doing well. Has this had an influence on the fishing, you had better believe that it has. This coming weekend we will see air temperatures back up into the high eighties and if we can keep it there you will see a major change in the fishing conditions. As it stands now I’ll just leave my big cold weather coat in the back seat of the truck until I see this unusual weather get just a little more stable. We are still teaching Instructional Fishing Classes on the water so give us a call and let’s learn something new and put more fish in the boat. So as I remind everyone who wants to catch fish, my advice is use Humminbird to Find Them, Minn Kota to Sneak up on Them, Stealth Rod Holders Hold Them, Captain Mack Products to Fool Them and Okuma Rods and Reels to Put Them in the Boat! So let’s go Fishing!  

The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 661.39 which is.1.39 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperatures are 68 degrees. This past week has been a cold one with very low temperatures during the evenings and only warmer up into the mid-seventies during the day. Luckily we will see some eighty degree days this weekend and the current forecast for June and July from the National Weather Service has quoted very hot temperatures for these summer months.


Striper and Hybrid fishing has still been tough once again over this past week. This is not to say that the Stripers and Hybrids were not biting, we have caught fish on every trip but it has not been the large numbers or Striper/Hybrid mayhem that we normally see this time of the year on Lake Hartwell. I really expect that this will change the minute that the water temperature gets into the seventies which should be very soon. It’s past time to see some good results while Striper and Hybrid fishing and as soon as the fish pull up on the points before daylight the bite will become aggressive. This year with the lake being almost 1.5 feet above full pool many points will be hard to get on and stay on so be careful when pulling up on a point because you may be pulling right into the trees along the shoreline which also makes it much harder to throw your Carolina Rigs out the back of the boat. The Planer Board and free line bite has been good early morning before the sun get up high and has lasted into the day on cloudy days. When the Stripers move deeper don’t overlook your Mini Mack’s or U-rigs if the live bait bite slacks off. Umbrellas are a valuable tool for searching and catching, and can really save your back side in high winds!. The big fish are biting right now and this week’s picture is of double caught on Perfect Planer Boards across a point on Lake Hartwell (notice the hats on these guys, it was 44 degrees when we backed the boat off the trailer). If you want to book a future fishing trip during this spring season on Lake Hartwell or get your Instructional Trip done before the spring bite is over with as well as learn how to catch fish during this summer 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. 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 during the next month and don’t forget I’m just a phone call away.  When you deploy your live bait spread be sure to include a couple of ultra-light free lines rigged with live Herring. The lighter tackle allows for a more natural presentation of the bait and will generally account for quite a few extra bites. Again, we cover all the aforementioned methods, and more,  in our Instructional Trips.  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 future 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 under spins are working throwing to breaking fish.
  • 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.)


This past week has been good for Bass fishing. The Spotted Bass bite has gotten better and we have caught some really good fish. The Spotted Bass and Largemouth are coming off of points and humps 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 Largemouth Bass are biting well off of points and in the backs of coves around structure or docks off of Spinner Baits and Crankbaits. We are seeing some schooling activity just at sun down in the early evening hours. Most Striper and Hybrid fishermen are catching Bass off of freelines while Striper fishing so this should give you a good start and suggestion that the Blueback Herring bite is good so don’t overlook your herring colors.

  • 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 are working around structure and are excellent for eating to schooling fish!
  • Spinner Baits of your choice will get the job done.


The Crappie bite is really good right now and the fish are showing up all over the lake, find some structure and you will find some good fish. Patients will get the job done as you take your time and move from one place to another. The recent blow downs are still great places to look for the shallow bite; these new blowdowns from some pretty bad Lake Hartwell storms from earlier weeks are holding some good numbers of fish. A new tree in the water is a great condo for fish looking for a new hang out and you would be surprised how quickly they will find it and make it their home. You might have to catch ten fish to catch a few good keepers but it’s a good bite and a fun bite as you move from one blow down to another. Live bait under a float and your favorite jigs are working well. This past week a Popeye jig was our jig of choice and a small minnow fished about five to six feet under a small float was working well.

 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.

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