It’s so hot I saw two trees fighting over a dog. When it’s that hot, you have to wonder if it is worth going fishing. The dog days of August are tough, but head to Lake Russell, and you can catch a lot of keeper bass and have a chance at some quality fish.
Russell is a corps lake between Hartwell and Clarks Hill on the Savannah River. It is a beautiful lake with few pleasure boaters and no houses along the shore. Even better, it’s full of hungry bass.
There was a lot of standing timber and natural cover left in the lake when it reached full pool in 1984, and man-made cover like rip-rap and brushpiles also hold fish this time of year. At Russell, the channel markers are on poles set at the ends of points and humps in 10 to 15 feet of water. They make finding good places to fish easy. Fishermen have added brushpiles to the natural structure and cover around the marker poles.
Barry Hooper has lived in Monticello all his life and grew up fishing for bass in farm ponds. He joined the Baldwin Backlashers Bass Club while in college and still fishes with the club. He also fishes many tournaments like the PAA and Weekend Series and bigger tournaments like the Elite Series as a co-angler and a tournament marshall. Right now Barry is tenth in the Georgia Weekend Series trail. Although he has fished all over the country, Lake Russell is one of his favorite lakes in August.
“You can have a lot of fun catching large numbers of spots and largemouths this time of year on Russell,” he said.
And if you are fishing a tournament, you can concentrate on getting five or six bites from quality fish. He has brought in five-fish limits weighing 25 pounds at Russell, but in August he expects a 15-lb. stringer to do well.
Some of Barry’s favorite spots are community holes that get hit hard many days, but he fishes them a little differently and catches fish others pass by. There are several bridges on the lake that everybody fishes, but Barry can still catch lots of bass on them in August. We fished the lake in mid-July, and Barry landed more than 25 keepers before lunch.
For August, Barry will have a variety of baits tied on first thing in the morning. A Spro McStick jerkbait is one of his favorites. He said most anglers put it up when the water gets hot—a big mistake. He also throws a buzzbait made by Bob Williams and a Lucky Craft Kelly J topwater prop bait.
A big crankbait will catch bigger bass than many other baits, and Barry fishes a Strike King 5 or 6 XD and a Fat Free Shad. When he sees a lot of bream on the rip-rap or on a point, he chooses a bait with brown in it and throws a chartreuse shad most other times. Shad and blueback herring are favorite foods of bass on Russell.
A swimbait, jig-head worm, Carolina rig and football-head jig are all good, and Barry will fish them during the day. He also keeps a Zoom Meathead or Swamp Crawler worm on a drop-shot rig ready for points and brush. For flipping timber, a good big-bass pattern, Barry rigs a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm behind a 1/4- to 3/8-oz. tungsten sinker.
The following 10 spots all hold bass in August and give you a variety of places and patterns to catch bass now.
No. 1: N 34º 05.692 – W 82º 43.754 — In the morning, Barry usually runs up Beaverdam Creek to the first bridge to start fishing. Run the rip-rap near the corners with a buzzbait and topwater bait, and then work the pilings with a jerkbait and big crankbaits. Hit all the pilings with both baits from several angles.
Many people throw jig-head worms around these pilings and rip-rap, but Barry said he catches bigger bass on the hard baits. He expects to catch mostly largemouths around the bridges in Beaverdam Creek but said the same tactics will catch spots on the Highway 72 Bridge and the railroad bridge on the main lake.
Current or a ripple on the water from wind helps a lot for this kind of fishing. If current is moving, Barry will keep his boat downstream and cast so his bait moves with the current. Current helps, but the day we fished he caught several keeper bass here with no current moving.
No. 2: N 34º 06.056 – W 82º 44.648 — Just upstream of the first bridge you will see a danger marker on your right. It is just downstream of Pole marker 34. This shallow point runs out to the channel and is a good place to throw a topwater bait like a Spook or popper, a big swimbait or a spinnerbait. Barry likes the Scorpion spinnerbait for Russell.
Start on the downstream side of the point where the bank hits the water. A small bump on the point is a key spot. Then work around the point, keeping your boat out in at least 6 feet of water, and fish over the very shallow part of the point. Barry is looking for fish running in to feed first thing in the morning here.
Keep a swimbait or Spook ready for schooling fish here, too. They often come up on top, and you want to cast to them as soon as you see a swirl. If not in a tournament, drop the rod you are using and cast to any activity before the fish move.
No. 3: N 34º 06.075 – W 82º 44.732 — The point marked by pole marker 34 has stumps and brush on it and is another good topwater place early in the morning. Fish around it with topwater, concentrating on the downstream side. Barry said this side tends to hold the better fish.
Then go back over the point, or fish it later in the day with a shaky head or drop shot. Barry likes a 3/16- to 1/4-oz. head threaded with a Meathead or Swamp Crawler worm. He said the Swamp Crawler has excellent action on both the drop shot and shaky head.
There is brush in front of this pole. With the lake down several feet, the brush was 13 to 14 feet deep. Blind cast for it first, but if you have trouble finding the brush, ride over the point with your depthfinder and locate it, and then fish it.
No. 4: N 34º 06.335 – W 82º 45.157 — Run up to the next bridge, and fish the rip-rap and pilings. Barry usually fishes the rip-rap for about 40 yards on either side of the bridge this time of year. Get in close, and run a buzzbait right on the rocks, keeping it parallel to them a foot or so out. A white buzzbait is usually best now.
Fish one side of the rip-rap, and then fish the pilings. Run a big crankbait or jerkbait beside them, casting past them to get the bait down. The jerkbait will catch more bass, but you often catch bigger fish on the crankbait. Fish the pilings from all angles if there’s no current, but fish with the current if it is moving.
No. 5: N 34º 06.415 – W 82º 45.388 — The next bridge has smaller pilings and does not hold as many bass as the bigger pilings on other bridges, but it is still good. The fish were mostly on pilings when we fished, but the rip-rap here is good most of the time, too.
If you can get your crankbait to hit the piling and bump off it, you will get more bites. Barry will often make a long cast past the piling with his crankbait or jerkbait, and then walk toward the middle of the boat to get a better angle on it as the boat moves past the piling. In this case, close counts, and the closer you get your baits to the pilings the better.
A good jerkbait rod is very important, and Barry says using the Powell jerkbait rod has made him a better fisherman. He works the jerkbait by cranking it down, and then popping it along with short twitches of the rod tip. Make it flash and pause. Be ready for a strike any time during the cast.
No. 6: N 34º 05.684 – W 82º 44.046 — Head back down the creek to pole marker 29. It’s on your right going downstream. This marker sits out on a long point with a small island between it and the bank. The point runs out from the island and drops off into the channel. It has brush out around the marker.
If it’s early, try a topwater bait here between the pole and the island. Then back off and fish a jig head, drop shot or big crankbait all around the pole. Sit in 20 to 25 feet of water. Brush is in about 10 feet of water all around the pole. There are also some rocks on this point that helps hold fish here. If you get hits but the bass just won’t hold the worm, dip your worm in clear JJ’s Magic. You can also dye the tail of the worm to give it some flash. We caught a couple of keepers on worms around this pole.
No. 7: N 34º 04.903 – W 82º 40.528 — Run out to the mouth of Beaverdam Creek to pole marker 8. The number is hard to see because it has a big osprey nest on it. Barry calls this the biggest community hole on the lake. Many tournaments have been won here. This location is good because it has everything bass want. There are stumps and brush, deep water close by, and a big flat toward the bank for the fish to feed on. They often school on the flat, so keep a topwater bait ready. There is brush all around the pole in water down to 18 feet deep where the fish hold. Fish it with a crankbait or a worm rig.
Also throw a football-head jig here. Barry likes a 3/8- to 1/2-oz. jig with a twin-tail Zoom Fat Albert trailer on it. He usually throws a jig made by Bert Deener with a peanut butter and jelly skirt and a green-pumpkin trailer. His favorite worm colors for drop shot, jig head or Carolina rig is watermelon red if it is sunny, or junebug when it is cloudy. He often dips the tails of his trailer or the tips of the worms in chartreuse JJ’s Magic.
Drag your plastics along the bottom until you hit the brush. Bass will often hold near the brush but not right in it, especially when it is cloudy. When you hit the brush, jiggle your bait to entice bass. We caught a couple of good keepers here.
Watch your depthfinder, and look for little changes where the bass hold. A small drop on the point or a place where the point turns or sticks out will attract fish.
No. 8: N 34º 04.862 – W 82º 39.250 — In the mouth of Beaverdam Creek, between it and the river, is a small island. Behind it a red-and-green pole marker with BDC on it sits on a point off a hump. This spot also has everything from brush and stumps to deep water close by. Barry said every fish moving in and out of Beaverdam Creek goes right by this spot. Fish school here and will hit topwater baits, especially in the mornings. Barry said you can pull up here and get a big limit quickly some days. Later in the day, stay back in deep water, and fish a football-head jig, Carolina rig and big crankbait all around the point.
Both sides of the point are good, but the bottom falls faster on the river side, and fish seem to like to hold on this drop. There is 40 feet of water all around the point, so sit out deep and cast up into shallow water, working all around it. Fish any brushpiles you find.
No. 9: N 34º 06.128 – W 82º 40.051 — For a change of pace, run up the river to Indian Creek, the first big creek on your left. Pole markers show the outer edges of the standing timber that fills the creek. A lot of timber is visible back in the creek, but there is a good bit out in front of what you can see, so be careful going into the creek.
Barry said he comes to this timber and similar timber in Beaverdam Creek when he fishes a tournament. He said you have to commit yourself to fishing the timber, since you can’t just run in and out quickly unless you don’t care about your boat. You can fish here for a long time without a bite, but then catch several big fish in a few minutes and be culling in 30 minutes.
Flip an Ol’ Monster worm on 20-lb. line behind a 1/4- to 3/8-oz. tungsten sinker. Concentrate on the biggest trees you can see, especially the ones completely under water. The more limbs a tree has, the better.
Pitch or flip your worm to the center of the tree, and let it fall on slack line to at least 15 feet deep. Watch your line closely, and set the hook quickly if you see a tick or twitch in it. If your worm stops falling, set the hook. It may be on a limb, but often the bass will suck it in and not move.
Trees in 40 to 50 feet of water are best. Barry stays out toward the middle and works in on one side and out the other, well off the banks. Watch carefully for trees under the water. A good pair of sunglasses helps you see the trees that are completely submerged. Try to fish them before your boat gets right on top of them.
No. 10: N 34º 02.404 – N 82º 36.085 – Down near the dam, there are many good points and humps to fish. This one is on the left of the river, right in the mouth of Manor Creek. A long point runs out between Manor Creek and the river, and this point with pole marker 2 on it sits on a smaller point off the main one.
A clay point runs out to the marker and has brush and rocks on it. This is a good spotted-bass hole, and a crankbait or plastic bait will catch them. Keep your boat out in front of the marker in 18 feet of water, and cast up on top of the point on both sides of the marker and in front of it. There is a lot of brush on the downstream side of this marker that holds bass, but they will be feeding all around it. Places like this produce more action, but typically the bass are smaller. A jig head will catch a lot of fish. Barry likes a 1/8-oz. head if the current and wind will allow him to fish it. He will go to a 1/4-oz. if he has to. The current moving across this point makes it much better.
All of these locations should hold bass all during August. Go for numbers and have a lot of fun catching a lot of bass, or go for a big bite in the timber.