Welcome to fall, it did not sneak up on us this year as the air temperatures dropped and if you caught yourself on the lake this past weekend wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt you most likely were seen talking to yourself about the chill that kept running up your backbone. This past Saturday was a special day for me because I got to see my boat pull out of the driveway just before daylight on its way to the lake. The only thing missing was I was not going to be in it but one of my very best friends in this world Lester Hughes who I met during an Instructional Trip last year was kind enough to come get my boat my fishing gear and best of all my three grandsons and take them fishing. Now I know what some of you may be thinking, you let someone else take everything that means the world to you fishing and in your own boat, you bet I did and I’ll do it again. If you have ever talked with me on the water or tried to schedule an Instructional Trip you know by now that every other weekend no matter what the situation I take my three grandsons fishing and let me tell you these boys can fish. Now that the doctor has me off the lake until I completely heal I’ve had to watch them come over every other weekend with all their gear and walk down to the dock and spend their day fishing one area and they usually catch fish and even if they don’t they never give up. So to see the look on their faces when I told them that Lester was going to take them fishing in my boat this past Saturday was worth everything to me. Now the boys love to hook up with a Striper or Hybrid and I usually can make that happen without a problem but Lester is an old Bass Tournament fisherman and he knows how to catch fish so the boys got the opportunity to fish for Stripers and a bunch of green fish all in the same day and that was like winning the lottery to them. They had a great day and boated some good Spots as they learned some things as they picked their guides brain. I can tell you this they had a blast caught a good bunch of green fish and will be ready to go again whenever Lester decides to take them again. My boat had been sitting long enough and it needed running and it needed some fish hooked up and flopping on the deck. I’m getting better and it should not be long before I will be fishing again! Late fall or early winter is the target date, with or without my doc’s permission. A Special thanks to Lester for thinking enough about me to take my boat to the lake and let my grandsons tag along for a fun day of fishing. A person with friends can call their selves BLESSED and I’m truly blessed! So as I tell my best fishing buddies my advice is let’s let, Humminbird Find Them, Minn Kota Sneaks up on Them, Stealth Rod Holders Hold Them, Captain Mack Products Fool into biting while 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 quickly for fishing. The levels at the time of this report are 660.46 which are.0.46 feet above the 660 full pool levels with very heavy rain from this past week. This same time last year the lake was two feet below full pool. The current water temperature is into the high seventies and will begin to drop quickly if we continue to get these cool evenings. There have been some storms over Lake Hartwell over the last week that dropped as much as five inches of rain that’s still running in from all the creeks and rivers that feed the lake. As soon as the lake makes a complete turn over you will see a huge difference in the fishing.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell still remains as tough as I’ve ever seen or heard in all my years of fishing for Stripers or Hybrids. Just as a follow up to what I hear and know about what’s happening on the lake is this past weekend there was a Striper Tournament on the lake and not one single Striper or Hybrid was caught! Now there were not that many folks Striper fishing but the ones that where on the water are some of the best on the lake. So what’s up, first of all let me tell you that the lake is not empty of Stripers and Hybrids. The Biologist I talked with last week said when they shock fish up on Hartwell they have no problems finding numbers of Stripers and Hybrids. So let me tell you that how I explain it best to my grandkids the best I know how. I believe that the lake has been way to full all year, so hear me out. At the end of the day we know that when we leave the dock we will never cover the nearly one thousand miles of shoreline that Hartwell offers. Now let’s break it down in how hard it can be to catch fish when the lake is full. I have a big bait tank in the front of my boat and when the day of fishing is over with I usually ask one of my grandsons to catch the bait out of the tank and cast them back into the lake. Now if there’s a bunch of bait left the first dozen are not hard to catch but wait until you get down to five or six. It’s then that the bait tank seems like it has one thousand miles of shoreline and when it gets to catching the last one or two it feels like you’re trying to catch them out of the ocean. Now let’s talk about making things easier, pump the water level down in the tank and the lower it gets the easier it is to catch the bait so now when I ask one of the boys to empty the bait tank they have found that they lower the water level first by pumping some water out and then they have no problem catching the left over bait. So let’s put it into perspective, when the Lake Hartwell water levels fall below full pool the Striper fishing is always better and when the Striper fishing gets better it doesn’t take long for the word to get out the when, where and how to catch them. Fall is now here and that is a good thing because the fish will move into smaller areas where the fish will be easier to catch when they move back into the upper lake as it gets cooler and cooler. I’ve been kidding a bunch of folks that the fish are just waiting for me to get back on the water, I promise you there’s no truth in that but by the time I’m able to hit the water again the fish will be just where I want them to be and they will be much easier to catch. So with the fish that we know that are already in the lake and and the numbers of fish stocked over the last two years, it’s going to get better and better very soon! Let me assure you that I know personally that even though that there are not as many Stripers and Hybrids in the lake as what we saw many years ago, there are still a big number of fish in the lake and if you do your homework you will find them and catch them. We teach everything that you need to know to catch Stripers and Hybrids so 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.
- SteelShad 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 – Great for Stealth trolling, flat line trolling, trolled on the Perfect Planer Boards or casting to surfacing fish!
- Perfect Planer Boards. The early morning free line bite is cranking up and will only improve with cooling water temps. Get your Planer Boards ready for the upcoming fall fishing patterns.
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. The BassMaster Opens will be fished this week on Lake Hartwell September 23rd – 25th for the Eastern Open. My grandsons are still catching resident Bass fishing from the dock using SteelShads and Weedless Wonders and Robo worms, The Weedless Wonder and the Robo worm seem to get the best bite. 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 swimbaits as well.
- Captain Mack Weedless Wonder Shakey Head rigged with a Bold Bluegill Robo Worm. 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 into the sixties and I start back Crappie fishing. I will be building and sinking a bunch of new Crappie Condo’s this year so I’m getting ready. I’m already starting to hear some good reports!
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