Lake Russell:Lake Russell water levels are at 473.91 (full pool is 475.00), and after reaching the low and even mid-60s water temperatures are back to the mid-50s and dropping. Clarity is still very high, and in fact rain is needed to give the creeks a healthy amount of stained water for fishing.
Before the cold period that started recently Guide Jerry Kotal (706-988-0860) reports that bass were all over the backs of creeks. He hadn't actually seen any fish spawning, but that may have been a function more of spawning patterns on Lake Russell than the fact that fish weren't on beds. In the very backs of Russell creeks where largemouth like to spawn the water is frequently dingy, and crappie have already started to spawn. Both spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits were catching fish.
However, Jerry advises that this cold front seems to have pushed the bass back out towards deeper water and more fish seem to be back in the 15-25 foot range. A lot of fish are hanging off points, and it's time to break out the Carolina rigs, drop shots and heavier jigs again.
Weather forecasts indicate that temperatures won't rebound for a little while, and with some very cold nights predicted for the next few days Jerry expects it to be some time before fish come to the bank again.
On the crappie front, it started off as a very good, early spring on Lake Russell, and Guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336) says that his boat has had some very good trips in the last week. One day they caught about 50 big fish, with some fish caught casting a jig or minnow under a cork towards the bank and others caught trolling jigs tipped with minnows in 12-14 feet of water. While a few fish have spawned and males were building nests around the bank, Wendell believes that the bulk of the females were holding out in the creek channel. Unfortunately, the cold weather has essentially killed the bite and Wendell believes it will be several days before the fish start feeding again. He expects to find them in the creek channels before they return to the banks.
Jerry was also catching a lot of fish throwing a minnow or jig against the banks, and he points out that the cold will move a lot of fish out to the closest brush off the banks while another group of fish will suspend out in the channel where they can only be caught trolling. 10-20 feet is the basic depth range he advises right now. While one wave of crappie has already spawned, another wave will come up as soon as temperatures settle down again.
While crappie and bass were practically jumping in the boat earlier this spring, Lake Russell striped bass have been hard to come by. On one striper trip Jerry caught about 35 bass but no striper. This is a time of year where the fish can be hard to target, either because they are so scattered or because they are hunkered down in the timber. Wendell points out that the herring spawn shouldn't be far off once temperatures get back to where they were before, and once the herring move up striper could show up anywhere in the shallows.
Neither guide has been targeting catfish but they have caught a few on minnows fished around the bank.