Lake Hartwell Fishing Report January 2011

GON Staff | January 3, 2011

Hartwell: Level: 1.6 feet below full pool. Temp: 50-53 degrees. Clarity: Clear.

Bass: Fair. Josh Fowler reports, “The two weeks of frigid weather in mid December caused a drastic drop in water temperature, and the bite has been slow to recover. The cold snap really hurt the shallow cranking bite in the creeks, and that had been the key to catching the better fish. The deeper main-lake bite has been more consistent all fall, but it’s been hard to catch a quality fish. However, I expect this to change as we get into January and the bass settle into their winter pattern. The better fish should begin to set up in deep drains or ditches that funnel out to the submerged timber. The conditions and time of day will dictate how deep you need to fish. During low light you may find the bass feeding shallower near the backs, but as the day progresses they tend to move deeper. The baits I like for the ditches include a 1/2-oz. Buckeye Lures football jig in the perfect-craw color rigged with a green-pumpkin Zoom Creepy Crawler. I also like a Berry’s Tackle jigging spoon, a drop shot rigged with a natural-blue Zoom Swamp Crawler and a Lucky Craft XD Pointer 78 jerkbait in pearl-shad color. I like to start out by casting the jerkbait near the backs of these ditches and gradually work deeper with the other baits. The fish like to hold right in the center of these drains, so I will pay close attention to my Lowrance GPS mapping system to keep me over the ditch. It pays to have a milk run so you can move around in search of an active school. Some other locations I like in January include creek-channel bends and submerged road beds. I like any place where you have deep timber that runs along the edge of a sharp drop. The same baits will work in the channel bends and the road beds. If we see some mild overcast days in January, don’t be surprised to see some schooling activity. The shallow cranking bite can also fire back up if we have several days of mild temperatures. Look in the major creek arms on the upper end of the lake for the schooling and shallow cranking. If you find an area with bait, you can expect to find some active fish. I like to cast a Lucky Craft Flat Mini CB and a Lucky Craft LV 200 in any shad-imitation color for the shallow cranking. Another bait that has produced well is the new Buckeye Lures Pulse Jig rigged with a Zoom Fluke. This is a great lure to mix in when you’re shallow cranking.”

Linesides: Good. Guide Preston Harden said the stripers are in the major creeks, and there is some schooling action during low light and calm conditions. “If the sun is high during the day, try a jigging spoon 30 to 50 feet deep. If they swirl on the surface, throw a bucktail jig with a fluke, or try a fluke on a jig head. Make it dance and fall. Use small jigs and light line. Work the lure or jig slowly, and pause regularly. The strike will be soft, even from a big fish. Herring will also work well on a freeline or downline until the water temperature drops below 47-48 degrees. This usually occurs by the first or second week of January. then they will not eat live bait well. If the water temperature stabilizes or warms some above 47 degrees, larger stripers may become active. As this happens, bait moves all the way to the backs of creeks, and the larger fish feed on tiny threadfin shad. Small lures such as a Sassy Shad on a 1/8-oz. jig head work. My favorite is a pearl, 3-inch Mr. Twister. Fly fishing with small flies works well. Crappie minnows under small floats also work.”

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