Russell: Level: 0.4 feet below full pool. Temp: 48 degrees early in the morning, reaching 52 by mid afternoon. Clarity: Clear.
Bass: Tough. With surface temperatures below 50 degrees, spotted bass are your most dependable bite right now. For spots, try small crankbaits like a Shad Rap or a Norman’s Little N on rocky, main-lake points. Also work a jighead worm — try a Spotstalker jighead with a Zoom Finesse worm in green-pumpkin color — on the same main-lake points. With the water still cold, many of the largemouths are suspending in the deeper timber, but this month look for these bass to start to move up. In the creeks, fish the ends of long points with Carolina-rigged U-tail worms for largemouths. Rip-rap will also produce on sunny days. On the rip-rap, try slow-rolling a spinnerbait or bouncing a small crankbait off the rocks, and if that doesn’t pick up a few aggressive bass, slow down with a jig ’n pig.
Crappie: Good. Russell regular Jerry Craft said the best bite is later in afternoons when the water warms up a bit. “They’re down between eight to 15 feet of water holding around structure, anything from treetops, brushpiles, to bridge pilings,” he said. This time of year, Jerry said to fish straight down with live minnow with no float. “Use a fishfinder, you have to find bait or you won’t catch any crappie. They’re real good size, ranging from three-quarters to two pounds.” When the water reaches the mid to high 50s in late February, start concentrating your efforts in the feeder creeks. “Vans, Pickens, Coldwater, Beaverdam are all good when they move up. They’ll go the flats off the feeder creeks in two to four feet of water. That’s when we’ll change over to trolling. My favorite jigs on Russell are Pop Eye Feather jigs made by Cabin Creek Baits, and I like chartreuse/green and yellow. Sometimes I hook a minnow upside down on the feather jig when the bite is slower. Russell is a real unpredictable lake, there’s so much structure, they’re here today and gone tomorrow, but it’s an excellent crappie lake.”