Our Lake Hartwell Fishing Report for February 27, 2020
If you have ever fished with me you know that I’m all about having the best and most up to date electronics available, and in my opinion I have the best on the market! This can be a real problem for the fish because with side imaging showing me what’s around me, and down imaging showing me what’s below, and of course my Lake Master Card giving me all the lake details in one foot increments, the fish will have a real hard time hiding when my boat floats off the trailer. I’ve been thinking real hard about how to install and use some smart devises like an Alexa or how to get my “Hey Google” to just tell my graph what species I’m looking for along with the right size and see if I can incorporate the assistance that we have now to get these new tools to work together and take me right to the spots where the fish are biting. Now if I can get Alexa to order me a pizza or change the channels on my TV, or get Hey Google on my cell phone, who by the way is always listening to me just like Alexa. That paints a pretty grim picture for the fish as the electronics continue to improve!
The Lake Hartwell bite has been fair overall the past seven days even with poor water conditions. With the rain that we have seen over this past few weeks this month has gone down in history as the wettest February ever recorded for Lake Hartwell so this helps explain the huge amount of debris in the lake. The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 662.24 which are 2.24 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The Army Corps Of Engineers has done a great job of releasing the water from the lake at a rate that will not cause harm to the fishery. Although there still is some suggestion that the flood gates may be opened if the levels climb back up again if we get additional rain, there is not any immediate chances of this happening this week. The current water temperatures are fifty three degrees and unless it gets really cold again I would bet that the water will start to warm up even more as muddy water warms much quicker than clear water and Lake Hartwell is still very muddy.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
This past week the Striper and Hybrid fishing was fair with fish being caught from the mid lake all the way to the dam. It has been very cold this past week with several days of rain which has brought the water levels back up and has prevented the water from clearing up. Typically this time of the year I’m fishing up the lake and in the backs of creeks located in the Seneca or Tugaloo Rivers, however I’m still having problems getting under several bridges so I’m fishing in the middle of the lake with some success. The Stripers and Hybrids that have been caught this past week were located and caught from mid-lake all the way to the dam and I’m guessing that these fish may have moved into more favorable water conditions due to the amount of trash located in the backs of the creeks and rivers. There’s are hundreds of seagulls working bait in the main lake so finding a good place to fish is based a lot on where the bait is located. The quality of the fish that have been caught has been good and they are eating big Gizzard Shad, Herring and Umbrella Rigs in clear water. I see no reason for the fish to move from these locations and I would even bet that the bite will only improve as spring time continues to get closer. The weather is still forecast to be very cold and wet with several cold fronts to move across Lake Hartwell during the month of March. Hopefully the muddy stained water that still has a lot of trash mixed into the water columns will clear up soon and we will be able to move back into the areas that are more consistent for this time of the year. Striper fishing has always been tougher when the lake is above full pool so don’t get disappointed or give up when these conditions get tough. 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 you can use your Instructional Book to put yourselves in the right places to catch fish. I would make a serious suggestion being if you are not prepared to pull Umbrella Rigs or Mini Mack’s and 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 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. Again we cover all these methods in our Instructional Trips and it’s a fun way to catch some good Stripers. One main item that we cover in our Instructional Fishing Trips is how to locate Stripers and Hybrids and then the best methods to catching them. There are many ways to catch Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell and our Instructional Trips cover all of these points. Now is one of the best times to fish one of our Instructional Trips, in order to witness first-hand what a changing season does to the fish and how to adapt to new fishing patterns. The Instructional Trip you will teach you all you need to know about catching Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell, or on any other reservoir. Got questions? No problem. You will be given the answers to the questions that very few professional Striper fishermen will share, so call now to get on the schedule! These trips book up quickly when the weather begins to warm! 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 High School Student Anglers Federation fished this past Saturday and even though it was twenty four degrees at blast off the Bass bite was still on! These SAF Anglers were fishing to qualify for the National Championship and they were focused on the prize as we watched them fish hard. This makes two High School Bass Tournaments back to back on Lake Hartwell and there has been no shortage of good sportsmanship along with big bags of fish being weighed in. The future of Bass fishing is strong with all of these young fishermen taking this great sport to heart and being all they can be! Team Kershaw and Konrad from York County High School took first place with a bag weighing 15.10 pounds with the Lew’s Big Fish Award for an 8-15 pound Largemouth Bass. Just ounces behind them were Team Jacob Butts and Collin Sutherland from Crescent High School out of Anderson SC taking second place with a bag weighing in at 15-04. Most of the team had to go deep with Lake Hartwell still being muddy 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. About ten percent of these winners will qualify to fish the National Championship Tournament in June 2020 at La Crosse Wisconsin this year with the National Championship for next year already being announced to be fish at Lake Hartwell in 2021.
- 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 selection 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, Prizm Kraw, or Prizm Perch 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
- Steel Shads in various colors and sizes.
With the lake conditions not changing from last week’s report the Crappies will still be biting even in the muddy water if you can get a jig in their face under a dock or in a brush pile. With the lake still above full pool again it has made it tough for me to get to some of my favorite spots due to my T-Top. With the lake being full the brush located in shallow water should produce some good fish as the Crappie get ready for their pre-spawn. 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 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. 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