Level: 3.3 feet below full pool. Temp: 87-88 degrees. Clarity: Clear.
Bass: Good. During two trips in late July, Hartwell guide Mark Waller said his parties caught eight or nine fish on five-hour trips. The fish were on main-lake points, humps and reef markers and hit mostly topwater — Spooks, flukes, and similar baits. “We aren’t seeing the big fish,” said Mark. “A three-pounder is a good fish.” For the run-and-gun pattern to produce, pick a windy day. “Catching them on a calm day is tough,” said Mark. If the fish aren’t blowing up on top, drag a green-pumpkin worm over the humps that top out at 12 to 15 feet, or over points as the same depth.
Stripers/Hybrids: Fair for numbers. Hartwell lineside guide Wayne White said he had been doing well at night fishing live bluebacks 30 to 40 feet deep over clear humps in the Portman Shoals Marina area. “We are catching a mix of hybrids and stripers and catching a lot of small fish,” said Wayne, “but the size is starting to improve.” A 15-lb. striper was his best fish over the past two weeks. According to WRD Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern, Hartwell has been stocked with high numbers of stripers and hybrids in recent years, and the lake is flooded with big numbers of fish in the 2- to 3-lb. range. The larger fish are still there, he says, but make up a lesser percentage of the catch due to all the smaller fish. The good news he says, is that the big wave of fish coming through will weigh four or five pounds next year, and eventually 10 to 15 pounds — and more. Right now, nighttime fishing is a whole lot better than daytime, said Wayne. He anchors over humps and ditches after dark and fishes live bluebacks on a Carolina rig just off the bottom. “If you can fish on a night with a little wind, the fish will bite,” he said. “If the wind doesn’t blow, they don’t bite as well.” There has been little surface activity from linesides lately, said Wayne. Mark Waller has been fishing late afternoons and evening over the river channel near the dam both pulling jigs on lead-core line, and fishing live bait after dark. “We have been catching some good fish just before dark pulling big 1-oz. to 1 1/2-oz. Roadrunner jigs about eight or 10 colors deep over the river channel. Use a white jig, and I have been adding a little color by pinching off a little blue plastic worm and adding it as a trailer. Troll at about 2 mph, which is idle speed. With 10 colors out, the jig will run 27 to 30 feet deep. You’ve got to stay off the ledges and know where the trees are. We have been catching some good fish — from eight to 18 pounds. You might catch five or six before dark.” After dark Mark anchors over the river channel in front of the dam, cranks up his generator and turns on high-pressure sodium lights and fishes live bluebacks straight down. He has been double-anchoring over 150 to 180 feet of water, and the bite has been coming in the 70 to 110 foot range. Lively, fresh bait is a key, so Mark catches his own. After he has his lights on, he uses Sabiki rigs to catch herring. “The fishing hasn’t been great, but it is fixin’ to be,’ said Mark.