Hartwell: Level: 0.2 feet below full pool. Temp: Low 50s. Clarity: Stained to muddy in the creeks and river.
Bass: Tournament angler Kerry Partain reports, “The lake is full again with the recent rains, and the fishing is changing weekly with the water levels fluctuating. The majority of the bass are deep on the main-lake ditches and in the creek mouths around baitfish. Once you locate a school of bass, you can catch them early in the day on Blade Runners rigged with a Zoom Fluke, and you can also catch them on jigging spoons. Later in the day the majority of the bass are hitting football jigs and drop shots in the same areas. There are some bass still shallow with the water level being so high, and you can catch them on jigs, crankbaits and jerkbaits on points and around brush. By the end of February, you can expect more fish to move up shallow around docks and major pockets, and if you hit it right with the weather, there can be some big fish caught this month.” Tournament angler Shayne McFarlin reports, “Lake Hartwell is about to be at its best time of year. The warm temps and rain have the fish a bit more active than usual this time of year. The spotted bass can still be found schooled up out deep in the ditches and timber drains. These fish can be caught on a Blade Runner or jig, and if you find them bunched up, vertical fishing with a spoon or drop shot can be very productive, as well. My favorite thing about this time of year is the big largemouth are on a feeding frenzy shallow putting on weight for the spawn. These fish can generally be caught around wood and rocks with any reaction bait. The best way to get the big girls and most fun is to find the channel-swing banks heading into spawning areas with wood cover. This cover, as well as bridges, can be targeted with a Qwik 8 Baits Gorilla Killa 5-Wire umbrella rig. I like to throw the umbrella rig paired with Keitech Fat Impact swimbaits on a ALX 7-foot, 11-inch XH Powerbolt rod. This can be a very productive and fun bite with high potential for record-size fish. In the future weeks this pattern should hold well as the fish move in to spawn if we don’t have to many major weather changes.”
Linesides: Guide Preston Harden reports, “El Niño has made fishing tough so far this winter. The water has been warm, keeping most fish deep. The large amount of rain has made fishing tough with water levels at flood stage. However, February could be a great month for fishing on Hartwell. Usually by February the water temperature is much colder and most fish are inactive. Look for stripers, hybrids and bass to be chasing shad in the creeks and up the rivers. I like to throw small jig with flukes, bucktail jigs and small flies. If I am marking fish in deeper water, I like to fish a drop shot with a fluke or a jigging spoon. Some people catch fish on Alabama rigs, but it is too much work for me. Umbrella rigs catch winter fish if you like to troll. If fishing live bait, sometimes smaller baits work better in cold water.”
Crappie: Guide Preston Harden reports, “Crappie are a great option if the water gets cold. They move into major creeks and stage under docks and bridges, especially on bright sunny days. I look for them 15 to 30 feet deep in the shade of the dock or bridge. I do not get out on people’s docks, but I will get close and try to put my tiny jig in the shade of the dock. I use 1/32-oz. jig on 4-lb. test line. Crappie will eat no matter how cold the water gets. As we move into spring, crappie migrate farther back into the creeks.”