If you want to see some big spots before your eyes, grab your favorite baits and head to Lake Russell this month. Keep it simple with a jig, underspin, shaky head and crankbait, and concentrate on fishing rocks and clay to catch some quality spotted bass in March.
Russell is our newest Corps of Engineers lake, completed in 1984, with 26,000 acres stretching between the Hartwell Dam and the upper reaches of Clarks Hill on the Savannah River. The lower lake is very clear, and those shorelines have a lot of rocks and clay, the type of bottom spotted bass love. In March, count on finding spots feeding on those bottoms near deep water—but close to spawning pockets.
Brody Manley, 18, grew up in Anderson, S.C. and has been fishing all his young life. His dad got him started fishing, but Brock Tyler introduced him to tournament fishing when Brody was only 10 years old. Brody is already living a dream life for a young bass angler—he’s making and selling bass jigs, doing a little guiding and fishing tournaments.
As well as fishing the Wild Hog Bass Club with his dad, Brody now fishes the ABA Weekend Series and BFLs and fishes as a co-angler in the BASS Southern Opens and FLW Costa Series. In the first BASS Open this year in Florida, he placed fourth out of 200 on the co-angler side.
“In March, the bass on Russell are in a prespawn mood, moving up from winter holes and feeding up for the spawn,” Brody said.
As the month progress, the bass will move closer and closer to the spawning pockets, feeding along the rocks and clay banks. The weather controls their movement. Brody says fishermen often overthink the bass. The fish are not thinking, he pointed out. They are just reacting to the weather and time of year.
Brody will keep a variety of baits ready to fish a variety of depths in March. His main baits are a 1/2-oz. Manley Shad Spin underspin jig with a Keitech Swinging Impact swimbait on it, a Shad Rap, and a 1/2-oz. Manley Custom Football jig with a Zoom Creepy Crawler Trailer. But he will also keep a 1/4-oz. Manley Finesse Shakee jig with a mean green Robo Worm on, ready for the days it is real tough to get a bite.
Brody took me fishing on Russell a few weeks ago to look at the following 10 locations. There were bass feeding on several of them even that early, and these locations will be even better in March.
No. 1: N 34º 05.065 – W 82º 37.553 — We put in at Calhoun State Park and made a big circle. If you put in there, head out of the park and downstream.
When you get to open water, you will see the railroad causeway ahead. Watch for red channel marker 28 on your left. It sits on the end of a big island. Go into the creek downstream of the island, and stop at the small gap at the end of the island that separates it from the main point.
Out from this gap, the creek is full of standing timber where the spots live. A point comes off the island at the gap and runs out toward it. This is a clay point, and spots move to it to feed, especially early in the morning. Herring move in and out of the creek and timber, and this is a good ambush point for the spotted bass to get them.
Keep your boat in 30 to 35 feet of water off the side of the hidden point, and work around it, casting your underspin across the point. Let it sink to the bottom, and then slow-roll it across the point, keeping the bait near the bottom.
As you work out toward the end of the point, the bottom rises in a slight hump. Fish all around it, too. Watch for activity on top. You may see a big spot chasing a herring near the surface. Cast your underspin to any activity you see here and on other places.
No. 2: N 34º 04.030 – W 82º 38.893 — Go under the railroad bridge across the main river to the Elbert Park Highway 72 boat ramp on the Georgia side. The ramp is on a point on the upstream side of a spawning pocket, and multiple tournaments here restock the area constantly. Bass hold and feed around the point, and the bank across from the ramp that runs out to the bridge on the downstream side of the cove at the ramp.
Keep your boat out in 15 to 20 feet of water, and cast a No. 7 Shad Rap close to the bank, fishing it back to the boat. Spots will often follow a bait, so keep it moving at a constant speed all the way back. Brody likes a new color with the silver insert in a clear body.
Make multiple casts to the ramp and around the dock beside it. Also fish the upstream side of the ramp—there is chunk rock on the bottom. Those types of rocks are what the spots like to feed around in March, and the bank across the cove also has them on the bottom.
No. 3: N 34º 01.603 – W 82º 36.390 — We ran all the way to the dam for our next stop to fish it before the sun got very high. On the Georgia side, just upstream from the dam, you will see a dock on a rip-rap point. A big sign at the dock says this is the lake Corps of Engineers office. Brody says the dock is loaded with brush and holds some quality bass.
The rip-rap around the dock sometimes holds fish, but Brody concentrates on the brush around and under the dock for bigger fish holding and feeding there. The bass are waiting on the temperature to get right to move into the spawning pocket behind the point.
Brody works the brush thoroughly from all angles with his football-head jig, getting it as far under the dock as possible and letting it fall straight down. Then he crawls it through the limbs. Most of the brush is in front of the dock, so concentrate your casts to that area. Try your shaky head in this brush, too.
No. 4: N 34 03.179 – W 82 37.032 — Across the lake and upstream on the South Carolina side, there’s a big, round point with chunk rock that runs way out. It has red channel marker 16 on the upstream end, marker 14 in the middle of the point, and marker 12 is on the downstream side. It runs out to the main channel and is the first contact point for bass moving out of the river toward the spawning pockets on both sides of it. Since the bass move up in waves all month, there are fish constantly replenishing here. Brody says this is one of the best March points on the lake.
Stop on the downstream side at marker 12, and fish the bank all the way around the point with a Shad Rap, keeping your boat a long cast off the bank. Cast your Shad Rap so it gets down to the bottom in 2 feet of water, and bump the bottom back as deep as you can. Brody expects the fish to be feeding from 2 to 10 feet deep, so make sure you are covering those depths.
You will see on the bank there are two kinds of rocks—black rocks and red rocks. Both hold fish, but where the two types meet is usually the best location. Always make several casts to any transition in bottom cover. This is a very good morning point, since the sun starts warming the rocks as soon as it comes up, and the sun hits it all morning.
No. 5: N 34º 02.571 – W 82º 35.859 — Stay on the east side of the lake, and go toward the dam. Manor Creek is the last creek on the South Carolina side before you get to the dam. Stop out on the end of the downstream point of the creek where you see “submerged timber” signs on either side of a small cove between red channel markers 2 and 4. This deep pocket holds bass in the timber that are waiting to move back into the creek to spawn. They feed on the clay points on either side of the cove, as well as in the timber.
Work the points with a crankbait and jig, but concentrate on fishing the timber. Brody keeps his boat in 30 feet of water and casts his football-head jig into the cove, letting it fall through the limbs of the timber. Then, slowly work it up and over limbs, letting it fall back as it goes over each one. Be ready for a strike as your jig falls. Set the hook on any twitch or movement of your line.
No. 6: N 34º 03.367 – W 82º 37.524 — Go across and up the lake on the Georgia side until you get to the long point with green channel marker 13 on it. Stop just downstream near the end of the point. Fish around the end, and then down the upstream bank. The upstream bank of the point is chunk rock and is where most of the bass feed before going into the spawning pockets there.
This bank has transition areas to fish, but the change is chunk rock to gravel. Work all the rocks with a Shad Rap and jig, covering the bottom from a couple of feet deep out to 12 feet deep or so. Slide your jig along with some short hops, keeping the tails of the Creepy Crawler wiggling.
Wind blowing in on this and other places makes the crankbait bite better. Sun warms the rocks and makes it better, so this is a better afternoon place since sun hits it later in the morning. Fish all the way down this bank until the rocks end.
No. 7: N 34º 03.621 – W 82º 37.858 — The next point upstream with green marker 15 on it is a long shallow point with a shoal marker on the end of it. It drops off quickly into the river channel and the timber. There is an osprey nest on the pole, and this presents a special kind of pattern Brody fishes in March and at other times, too.
The birds drop sticks into the water while building the nest, creating some wood debris on the bottom that attracts bass. The bird droppings also attract baitfish to the area. Brody will fish around this and other opsrey nests like it with his jig ’n pig and shaky head. Many of these pole markers have man-made brushpiles on them, too, and they hold bass, but the subtle attraction under an osprey nest should not be missed.
No. 8: N 34º 04.119 – W 82º 39.238 — Go up past the Highway 72 ramp. Beaverdam Creek is straight ahead. A small pocket is just past the ramp, and then a big, wide creek with several coves in it opens up on your left. There are some small islands in the mouth of this side creek. Stop on the downstream main point even with the small island.
Keep your boat out in 20 feet of water, and fish around the chunk-rock point. Keep fishing around the first small pocket then the bank past it that leads out to the next point with a danger marker on it. Fish around that point wit the danger maker, too. Concentrate on areas here with chunk rock on the banks and points, and where the bottom changes from rock to clay.
No. 9: N 34º 07.496 – W 82º 37.622 — Go under the railroad trestle, and keep to your right to head up Rocky River. Upstream of the state park are two big creeks. The upstream creek is Latimer. The upstream point of Latimer Creek has a red marker LC with an osprey nest on it. This point drops off into the channel and is one of the first places bass stop and feed as they move into the creeks to spawn this month.
Fish all around the marker pole with jig and shaky head. There is some brush here. When you hit it, pop your jig or shaky head off it, and then let it fall back. The point tapers off slowly, and you should fish with both baits out until you are fishing the top of the point in 20 feet of water.
No. 10: N 34º 05.781 – W 82º 36.617 — Go into the creek on the downstream side of the state park past the state park ramp. Stay to the right. Near the back of this creek arm, you’ll see Blue Hole ramp on the right. Fish the ramp and out to the point downstream of it. Bass following the channel in to spawn feed along this bank, and released tournament fish at the ramp restock this location, too.
Keep your boat well off the bank, and cast your Shad Rap to the bank. Stop at any brush and work it with the jig and jig-head worm. This is a very protected area to fish if the wind is bad, and it holds bass.
Some of these places were holding bass in mid-February, and they all will have more bass on them now. Try Brody’s baits and learn how he fishes them, and then you can find many similar places all over Lake Russell.