Lake Hartwell: Lake Hartwell water levels are up to 653.47 (full pool is 660.00), and water temperatures are around 82 degrees. Clarity is good.
It would be hard not to give the striped and hybrid bass top billing on Lake Hartwell right now, and Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that on his worst trip this week they had 38 fish by 9:30! While there are still a few fish in the rivers Bill has found that most of them are moving down the lake, and he is catching them 30-45 feet down off long tapering points.
Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) is also finding excellent numbers of fish, and while he concurs that there are some fish up the rivers he is also finding more down near the dam. Additionally, up the rivers he notes that you have to deal with voracious, small channel catfish at every depth. He is fishing 40-45 feet down at the mouths of coves, and one day recently he found fish over timber and caught some nice ones and broke off some monsters in the trees. On other days they will be in clean spots. If you fish up the river you need to fish the sides of the river channel, from 32-45 feet deep, and with a thermocline developing up there you need to be aware of whether the bait is staying alive.
Chip reports sporadic schooling three days ago it was awesome for an hour, the next day he found occasional schooling for about an hour, and yesterday he found none.
On the bass front, Guide Brad Fowler reports that fish are in a pretty typical summer pattern on Lake Hartwell. Out on the points you can find them in their normal range of about 15-25 feet of water, and you can call up some on topwaters like Spooks, Sammies, Sebilles and flukes. You can also catch fish on drop shots and shakey heads in the same areas. The bite is about average for this time of year.
There has also been a shallow bite for bass, and there have been some hungry wolf packs prowling the banks. These fish are not picky and they will eat a variety of baits including flukes, noisy but subtle topwaters like Pop-Rs, Spook Jrs., or smaller buzzbaits. If there is a lot of rain more fish should move into the old growth along the banks.
Captain Bill reports that catfish are pretty voracious right now, with channels eating just about anything in 5-40 feet. He is also catching them while pursuing striper. Blues are out in the deep timber but you have a shot of catching them in 25-30 feet of water at night. Flatheads can be caught at night on live perch or bream around brush.
Overall the crappie bite has been a little slow, but Captain Bill reports that a few have been caught at night over brush in 18-20 feet of water. Some fish are also being caught under bridges at night.