Hartwell: Level: One foot below full pool. Temp: 48-52 degrees. Clarity: The main lake is clear, the backs of the creeks are stained.
Stripers/Hybrids: Fishing guide Steve Crenshaw said the lineside fishing has been good. “I caught 20 last Sunday (January 15), and I caught 12 on Friday (January 20). Steve said he had been fishing up the lake above Portman Shoals on both the Seneca River and Tugaloo River — although he gives the Tugaloo side the edge when it comes to bigger fish. The fish have been holding in the 42- to 54-foot range over a clear, flat bottom. “Watch for the bait,” said Steve. “You will see clouds of bait just off the bottom, and that’s where you want to anchor out.” Steve has been catching fish on both live herring and jigging spoons. “It depends on the day, but I have been catching nearly as many on a spoon as on live bait,” he said. “A CC spoon works well, so does a Mann-O-Lure. The type doesn’t matter much.” Steve says he likes a white-colored spoon, or white and green. “I hold the rod in the down position until the spoon hits the water,” he said. “Then I roll it in two cranks. When I jig, I raise the rod 12 to 16 inches and then let the spoon fall on slack line. Usually the fish hit on the drop, and they will be there when the line tightens up.” The fish he has been catching have been predominantly hybrids, lately, with most fish in the 3- to 5-lb. range, with an occasional 10-lb. striper mixed in.
Bass: For bass fishing in February, Steve recommends the jigging spoon, too, but in water that is slightly less deep and the fishing is usually better if there is brush in the area.
Crappie: Good. The fish are bunched on brush in 15 to 20 feet of water. “It is important that the brush be back in a creek,” said Steve. “When you find brush at that depth, fish over it about 10-feet deep. Steve fishes jigs and minnows. In February jigs are likely to be on the small side — 1/64-oz. jigs. “The fish seem to like the jig to fall slowly,” he said. Black/chartreuse is a good color combination at Hartwell, and white/red works well, too. “The little tube jigs you can buy at Wal-Mart will work fine,” he said. Darker colors work better in dingy water.