Lake Hartwell Fishing Report December 6 2019
If you have ever wondered what a difference a year can make when planning a fishing trip look back at last year’s Lake Hartwell Fishing Report. This time last year the lake was just barely a foot below full pool and we were already getting the winter weather which included rain and even some sleet and scattered snow fall.
I’m not a huge fan of the bitter cold weather because it seems that it takes longer to layer up than it does to put the rods and reels in the boat and then just moving around with all these extra clothes can be a chore. Winter time fishing can be challenging but there’s one great thing about this time of the year and that’s if you know how to fish umbrella rigs as the winter weather continues to advance you won’t have to worry about getting skunked. With many fair weather fisherman off the water for now you will have the advantage and the ability to catch fish in your favorite spots without having a lot of company and after you decide to finish up on your Striper bite for the day you can Crappie fish until you are ready to put the boat back on the trailer.
So if you don’t mind winter fishing conditions you can go ahead and get started. Winter officially begins on December 21st but if you are like me and you are ready to get a jump on the calendar, Let’s Go Fishing! The Lake Hartwell bite still remains good with the water temperatures still dropping daily. We will see a few days with the highs being in the low fifties this week and many evening dropping down into the very low twenties with wind chills below that.
The Lake Hartwell water levels at the time of this report are 655.26 which are 4.74 feet below the 660 full pool levels. The lake levels are continuing to drop even with the rainfall that we seem to be getting weekly. The current water temperature has dropped to 59.5 degrees due to the much colder weather and will continue to drop as we move into December.
STRIPED BASS & HYBRIDS
Striper and Hybrid fishing on Lake Hartwell has been good this week but we have experienced a few days when the live bait bite has been really tough. The fish are continuing to bunch up as they move up the lake into shallower waters. Now that the seagulls and loons are showing up on the lake it’s not much of a problem to locate the bait and where there’s bait the fish are going to be very close.
I’m pulling my Perfect Planer Boards early in the morning along with a couple of ultra-light freelines behind the boat to catch the fish that are feeding on top right at daybreak each morning. The trick to that is if the birds are feeding on bait on top the fish are usually doing the same thing. This does not last long and the minute the sun begins to get higher the fish move deeper. When this happens I deploy my Captain Mack Mini Mack’s and I pull them to locate fish farther back into the creeks or into coves that have large schools of bait in them. I usually locate these fish one of two ways.
The fish come to me as soon as I drop the Mini Mack’s or I locate them on my Humminbird Side Imaging. Over the last few days we have experienced a steady wind on Lake Hartwell but I have a guaranteed solution for that problem. My Captain Mack Umbrella Rigs will work textbook perfect in the wind as you have full control of where you put the bait by using your boat speed and trolling chart. Again we cover this method 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. You always hear that it is better to fish smarter than harder so we continue to have the great occasions to fish Instructional Trips and this gives us the opportunity to meet some really good fishermen while doing so. Now is one of the best times to fish one of our Instructional Trips, it’s a great time to witness first-hand what a changing season and pattern does and how to adapt to a new fishing patterns.
These trips will illustrate everything you need to know about catching Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Hartwell, or your home lake! If you are interested in learning all the different techniques to catching Stripers and Hybrid bass now through early Spring is one of the best times to get in a teaching boat for an Instructional Trip, book them now as days will fill up quickly when warms up! 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 free lines. The bait shops are all suppling quality bait. Be sure to add O2 to your tank to keep this bait healthy during your trip. The live bait bite has been really good this week.
• 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 is 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 Spin Jigs. This Jig is great for schooling fish especially after they go down or if you need to cast a long distance to get to the fish schooling on top.
• Any top water bait of your choice; I prefer a spook or anything in a chrome color. Flukes and swim baits also work well if you can cast them far enough.
• Keep Alive Oxygen System. This system will make a huge difference in your bait. I personally believe that it will help keep your bait in perfect condition during your day and increase your odds of catching fish.
• 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.
• Captain Mack Mini Mack Umbrella Rig’s – they will catch good fish if trolled or pulled behind your Perfect Planer Boards. Pulling this rig behind your planer boards early mornings is working great right now!
• Perfect Planer Boards. The early morning free line bite behind Planer Boards 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.
The Bass bite remains good with Spotted Bass now chasing the big schools of bait up the creeks. There’s not going to be much of a change to this week’s bass report other than to say that one of my grandsons finally hooked up on a huge largemouth fishing off of our dock with a KVD Square Magnum Bill Chartreuse bait. This big fish broke him off when it pulled the bait under the dock and into the boat lift. The grandkids also caught over a dozen bass fishing live shiners in twenty feet of water right in front of the dock and near brush piles near the dock.
Weedless Wonders rigged with several different plastics especially the Robo Bluegill color is working great. Currently the shakey head bite is working the best over all the other fishing methods and baits that we are fishing so give the Weedless Wonder a try along the banks and docks of Lake Hartwell. You still can’t fish to shallow to catch some good Largemouth Bass in the backs of coves, but we are also catching Spots and Largemouth in structure in thirty to forty of water.
The Largemouth Bass are following the bait back into smaller creeks and they will bite when you find them. The bite is not consistent right now but I do believe after these fronts move through and the water temperatures get more stable the bite will improve. I look to see bass being caught very soon fishing lead jigging spoons (Captain Mack Super Spoons) directly over fish that are marked on your sonar. The resident Largemouth can still be found packed up in the backs of many coves so when you find them you will boat some heavy fish if you can trick and older bass into taking your bait.
A Golden Nugget for some large Spots is to cast the Mini Mack off of points and over flats in thirty feet of water for some fat quality fish and have a Mini Mack ready for schools of fish. SteelShads, Mini Mack’s as well as your various Crank baits, Spinner baits, Topwater baits, Jerk baits and swim baits are all working. My golden nugget to share with you this week is to fish a Captain Mack Weedless Wonder rigged with a Bluegill Roboworm or several other selections of the Roboworms (fisherman’s choice) pitching it to the bank or around docks and slowly retrieving it back to the boat.
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.
• 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.
• Captain Mack Super Spoons
• Captain Mack under Spin Jig.
• Ned Rigs and hard and soft Jerk Baits of your preference. We are catching some good fish on swimbaits rigged with Captain Mack Trailers.
• Captain Mack Weedless Wonder Shakey Head rigged with a Robo six inch Morning Dawn or Bluegill worm. Use the plastic of your choice. 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!
The Crappies continue to bunch up and are now in their early winter pattern so the Crappie bite should only get better as the water temperature continues to drop. There are several brush piles and docks that are now loaded with Crappie so if you locate them you will catch a lot of fish. Many of the fish are small so you may have to catch ten to have two or three keepers but they are feeding well on very small live minnows with or without floats and jigs fished around and in deeper brush piles and shot or skipped under docks as well as in deeper water around bridges.
The rest of this week’s report is very similar to last week’s report but if you are like most Crappie fishermen you are always on the lookout for new baits that work well for your tackle box. The next time you are in Lake Hartwell Fish and Marine check out the Crappie Country Jigs and drop something new into your brush piles. You will find that this bait works great and they have some new colors that you may have never used before.
The Crappie bite will only get better and better as the water temperatures drop. I’m already seeing Crappie fishermen launching their boats before daylight to get on their brush piles early. Over the next few weeks I will continue putting out brush piles as I normally do after dark and on many occasions the Crappie will be on them the next day. Now is the time to get those brush piles that have produced well over this past year freshened up and add a few new ones while you are doing all the hard work to prepare for the winter bite.
As the Striper bite gets tougher later in the year or into January and February I will fish for Stripers and Crappies all in the same day so when this happens then the Crappie bite will be my main reason to get on the water every week so stay tuned for further updates.
Go to Baits for this week.
• 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 – 770-235-813