Well this past week did you feel it; did you notice that the weather has started to make some sudden changes? You might not have noticed the changes in this past week’s weather but I can bet you that the fish have noticed it and just like a built in time clock they know what’s coming. Weather changes can make a difference in when fish bite and when they don’t and in many situations that can mean catching fish or not. I know that this past week I’ve talked with many Lake Hartwell Guides who I have fished with for years as I ran my own guide business who have said they were canceling trips due to the slow bite and that’s how they make their living so you know that the fishing has to be tough. Many ask the question can one year’s fishing be different from another. The answer to that is positively yes, this same time last year the live bait and trolling bite was still very strong so you just never know from one year to the next. I’ve seen it when the Lake Hartwell bite was on fire and other lakes were poor and right the opposite. Still being shut in from surgery it’s been very disappointing to me not to be able to help out by being on the water. I received several calls and text this past weekend requesting help and that’s harder to do from a recliner when I need to be behind the console of my boat. My best information was to troll artificial bait if the live bait bite was not producing. This week I will continue to share some information that you will need to get you through the next couple of weeks of this changing weather and you already know that you are free to call me at any time. The information that I will be providing will be first-hand information from my personal experience and from those who have provided current information to me from several of the best fishermen on Lake Hartwell as well as information from my personal log books that I don’t normally share. I will do this until I’m able to get back on the water with this bionic arm that’s taking it’s own good time healing and we will get after the fish together. Please continue to pray for my recovery so that I can return to the lake soon. So as I tell my best fishing buddies my advice is let’s let, 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! So let’s go Fishing!
The Lake Hartwell bite has remained fair with the water conditions beginning to change for fishing. The levels at the time of this report are 661.12 which are.1.12 feet above the 660 full pool levels. The current water temperature is into the mid 80’s and will begin to make more changes very soon. There have been some storms over Lake Hartwell over the last week with more forecast for this weekend from the hurricane coming from the gulf so make sure you have plans to get off the water in a hurry if required. The Striper and Hybrid bite continues to be the best through the week when the dam is generating power.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell has been hit and miss and more miss than hit. It still has been an early morning and late evening bite if you get lucky enough to find a good school. In my article three weeks ago I said that I would cover what I consider the best ways to catch Stripers and Hybrids during the hot weather months of August and September and with August now nearly in our past September is going to be the toughest month in my opinion and the one month you will have to work to catch fish. First off let’s discuss what I’ve found to be the toughest month to catch Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell during the summer. With over forty years of guiding on Lake Hartwell under my belt I would have to say that September is a very tough month and my Log Books sure back that up! So let’s cover a typical September day. First of all I don’t have to be at the bait shop when they open up because I’m going to be pulling artificial bait all day. Now is the time to cover the main river channels pulling Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs or Captain Mack Mini Mack’s or a big Chipmunk Jig tipped with a Captain Mack trailer about 10 or 11 colors at 2.5 miles per hour and don’t hesitate to pull the edges of the channels and hit the tree tops where the Stripers seem to want to hang out when the water temperatures and oxygen levels are changing like they do in September. FYI, there has been a very good Lead core bite on the lower end of the lake on the river channel and over the creek channels. A chipmunk Jig fished 8 colors back has been a steady producer. If you run up on a good school of fish suspended that don’t favor your trolling outfits, or the are in really deep water, mark the waypoint and immediately grab one of your Power Reeling rods and send a Captain Mack Chipmunk down to ‘em I prefer the one and one half ounce size tipped with a dead or alive Herring. Insert the hook through the bottom jaw of the bait and let the hook come through the top nose of the bait. Drop this rig as fast as you can without backlashing your reel with your thumb on the line through the bait and fish and the reel like crazy until you pull the rig back through the fish. Hang on tight to your rod and reel because when they take the bait it will be aggressive. Keep doing this over and over again until the fish move or until you’ve had enough.(I normally catch my biggest fish of the day Power Reeling) I recommend the Chipmunk Jig In the one and one half ounce size because it falls faster and the jig comes in four colors and I’ve caught fish off of all four colors. Captain Mack also offers a Ben Parker Spoon that works great for Power Reeling and broken glass is my favorite one but they all will work great. Trolling lead core line and Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs will also work well in September so we will cover more next week. My main point is don’t get discouraged, it is fishing and there will be those tough days but it can be those days that you say what’s the use in going that you may just miss out. I miss every second of the many hours and days that I have been off the water and I can promise you when I’m better you will see me almost every day. Now is still a good time of the year to climb into a boat that teaches all the different method’s that you can use to locate fish and catch Stripers and Hybrids while learning all the seasonal patterns that Stripers and Hybrids follow as well as the best ways to catch these fish during these different seasons. Now there are only a couple of professional Striper fishermen that will share everything that you need to know to catch Stripers and Hybrids but if you get a chance to get into a teaching boat, book and take that trip. This could 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 an Instructional Trip or guide trip give Captain Mack a call at 770-235-8135.
Go to baits for this week.
- Live Blueback Herring fished on down rods and freelines. The bait shops are all suppling nice big quality bait. Be sure to add ice and O2 to your tank to keep this bait healthy during your trip.
- Captain Mack Chipmunk Jigs and Trailers in all colors available.
- Okuma Cold Water CW203D reels. What 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.
- Oxygen System. This system will make a huge difference in your bait during the summer months. I personally believe that it will help keep your bait in perfect condition during a hot day and increase your odds of catching fish.
- SteelShads are still working great for schooling or breaking fish. This bait will catch all bass species when cast to points or fished in deep or shallow waters.
- Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs. I will not go to the lake without them!
- Captain Mack Mini Mack’s – they will catch good fish if trolled or pulled behind your down rigger or on the lead core line.
- Perfect Planer Boards. You think of a planer board as being a cool water technique? Well, that is true but fishing a down line below a planer can be a good trick to coerce some extra bites. This allows you to fish a bait deep, and get it out from underneath the boat and the boats shadow which may be a plus if the fish are finicky!
- Chipmunk Jigs for Power Reeling or while pulling leadcore line. It’s time to stock up as Power Reeling and lead core pulling has now taken off. I suggest the 2oz with or without stinger hooks rigged on a Captain Mack Mustard Stick Rod. You will not find another rod that will work better for Power Reeling, pulling Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs or while pulling lead core line.
- Parker Spoons also used to Power Reel. This bite will only get better as the bigger fish move into deeper water.
The Lake Hartwell Largemouth Bass as well as Spotted Bass bite continues to be good based on a few reports that I’m getting from those weekend Bass Club Teams. My grandsons are still catching Bass fishing from the dock using SteelShads and Weedless Wonders and Robo worms. As soon as I’m released back to Lake Hartwell I will give you an accurate report. Go to baits for this week.
- SteelShad in all sizes and colors are working great. The mini SteelShad is working the best on points in the mornings when the bait is shallow. The Heavy Series is working over schools of bait in the main lake. Be prepared to throw this bait at schooling fish for a guaranteed hook up.
- 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 around bridges and docks.
- Ned Rigs and hard and soft Jerk Baits of your preference. We are catching some good fish on swim baits as well.
- Captain Mack Weedless Wonder Shakey Head in Green Pumpkin. Pair it with a Roboworm and if you are fishing around Spotted Bass you’ll be quick to get the bite! In terms of numbers and consistency, this 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 Shakey Head!
I will be back later in the year with an updated Lake Hartwell Crappie Report when it cools off and I start back Crappie fishing.
Go to Baits.
- Blue Ice Jigs seem to be the go to color on Lake Hartwell right now. You may want to move up to bigger jig heads as the fish move deeper. When every other color fails on Lake Hartwell we find that chartreuse still will catch fish. Bobby Garland is my choice but many other brands also work great.
- Small Minnows under floats. This may not be your cup of tea but it still works and the bigger Crappie will take live bait when they won’t take anything else.
- Chartreuse and white jigs are working well when blue ice or blue grass colors fail.
- Custom Jigs are working if you can find the right ones. It’s still a good idea to see what is selling the best at your local bait shops. If the bait shop is out of certain bait you may want to see when they are scheduled to get their next shipment so that you can give it a try.
- Humminbird Solix or Helix graph. These graphs have superior side imaging and down imaging and are worth every cent if you are looking to locate Crappie.
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