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Hartwell April Bass

Spots and largemouth in three stages of the spawn, and then the herring spawn. Here are 10 GPS locations to help set your April patterns for Lake Hartwell bass.

Ronnie Garrison | April 1, 2019

Hartwell largemouth and spots have spawning on the mind in April, and you can catch both on predictable prespawn and postspawn patterns, as well as on the bed, this month. Then near the end of the month both species will be concentrating on the herring spawn and feeding heavily, an exciting time to fish Lake Hartwell.

Spotted bass will spawn a little deeper and more toward main lake water, while largemouth like to move to the backs of creeks and pockets. You can follow both and catch them coming and going, and you can sight fish for bass on the bed. 

After the spawn, both species set up on open water blow-throughs and humps, waiting on the herring to come to them. Action is fast when the herring start moving.

Hartwell is a 56,000-acre lake on the upper Savannah River along the Georgia and South Carolina border. Both state’s fishing licenses are good all over the lake. 

Hartwell offers a huge variety of water to fish, and there are some patterns that work best on almost any part of the lake this month.

Jonathan Jones grew up in Anderson and has been fishing Hartwell all his life with his dad. His senior year in high school, a friend asked Jonathan to fish a buddy tournament, and he fell in love with tournament fishing. That led him to go to Clemson, where he is now on the college fishing team. 

Jonathan’s family is very supportive of all outdoor activities, including his tournament fishing.

The family also established the Outdoor Dream Foundation (http://outdoordream.org), which grants outdoor adventures to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. With help from both the Georgia and South Carolina DNR, the Outdoor Dream Foundation has provided more than 600 kids with their dream trips. With the help of local guides, Jonathan takes some of the kids fishing on Hartwell and has set up trips with Clemson basketball team members to fish for stripers.

All the time on the water has taught Jonathan the patterns that work in April. He fishes college, pot and local tournaments on Hartwell often, and he does well. 

He said April is a great month to catch bass on the lake.

“April offers some of the best fishing of the year on Hartwell,” Jonathan said. 

The bass are predictable, and he has found bedding and feeding areas that consistently produce fish. 

This month Jonathan will have a swimbait, spinnerbait, jig ’n pig, shaky head and a Senko ready for the prespawn to postspawn fish. When the bass move to the herring later in month during the postspawn, he fishes a fluke and Carolina rig, as well as the swimbait and spinnerbait. He stresses the importance of covering water until you find the fish, especially during the herring bite.

We took a trip to Lake Hartwell in early March so Jonathan could mark a map with 10 locations to help you set your April pattern for spots and largemouth in all three stages of the spawn.

No. 1: N 34º 30.816 – W 82º 50.047 — The small creek that enters at Broyles ramp is a good spawning area, and bass released from tournaments that weigh-in there concentrates large numbers of both largemouth and spots in the area. The bass move back into the small creek to spawn, and they hold on docks, secondary points and cover along the bank.

Start at the main downstream point on your left going into the creek. The rip-rap offers a good prespawn and postspawn feeding location for both species of bass, and spots will bed on points like this. Fish the rocks with spinnerbait and swimbait, and then work the docks along the bank with those some baits.

When the water temperature hits 65 degrees, usually in mid-April, look for spawning fish in the little pockets and under dock walkways. Pitching a Senko to the beds you can see or to areas where you think they will bed will catch these bass. Fish all the way around the small creek, working this pattern on both sides.

No. 2: N 34º 31.636 – W 82º 49.215 — Another good spawning creek is on the left just upstream of the I-85 bridge over the Seneca River. The flat point on the upstream side between the creek and river is a good early prespawn and late postspawn feeding area, and it is also good during the herring bite.

Fish your swimbait over the point in water from 5 to 15 feet deep. Jonathan rigs a white Skinny Dipper bait with a belly-weighted 3/16-oz. hook. He lets it sink a few feet, and then he swims it back to the boat. Fish your spinnerbait over the shallower areas, too. Then drag a Carolina rig all over the point.

Fish into the creek, working the docks, points and cover with your baits. Largemouth will move all the way to the back to spawn, so check it all if the water is 65 degrees or warmer. Work secondary points just like you fished the main point, and run your spinnerbait and swimbait along dock floats. Both species like to hold on black dock floats both prespawn and postspawn.

No. 3: N 34º 31.235 – W 82º 48.646 — Off the big island between the Seneca River and Twenty Six Mile Creek, there are several shoal markers on the river side. The outside marker at the gap that goes into Portman Shoals behind the island is a good herring spawn place. It comes up to about 5 feet deep but drops quickly into deeper water.

Jonathan says 5 to 15 feet of water is the key depth to fish. He starts by keeping his boat in about 18 feet of water and makes a long cast with a spinnerbait to 5 feet of water. A War Eagle or Hog Caller 1/2-oz. white or chartreuse bait with silver willowleaf blades is his choice. Let it sink a few feet, and then slow-roll it back all the way to the boat, letting it sink deeper as the bait runs over deeper water.

Follow the spinnerbait up with a Zoom Fluke fished with twitches and pauses. Work all the way around the shoal marker, watching for baitfish. Seeing bait makes it likely bass are in the area. When the sun gets high, drag a Carolina rig around the shoal marker from 10 to 15 feet deep.

No. 4: N 34º 32.466 – W 82º 47.470 — Go under the Highway 24 bridge on Twenty Six Mile Creek into Twenty Three Mile Creek, which is on the left. About halfway between the mouth of the creek and the I-85 bridge—just downstream of marker 5—there is a round point on your left that has rip-rap running from the downstream side halfway around it. The point runs way out into the lake. 

Stop off the point in 20 feet of water, and fish around it with your spinnerbait and fluke. The bottom is rocky and holds both bass species. Drag a Carolina rig all over it, too. Jonathan rigs a green-pumpkin Zoom lizard 18 inches above a 1/2-oz. sinker and crawls it along. Both prespawn and postspawn fish will hit it, and any spots that are spawning here will eat it, too.

Jonathan Jones with a Hartwell largemouth caught on one his April patterns.

Before you leave, fish the docks in the pocket downstream of the point. Largemouth will spawn back in this pocket, and both species will hold and feed on the docks. The water was stained when we were there, but it is usually clear enough to see bedding bass in the pocket.

No. 5: N 34º 30.777 – W 82º 47.356 — Green Pond Landing is on your left going out of Twenty Six Mile Creek. The creek on the downstream side of the landing is a good spawning area, and big tournaments release a lot of bass here. Jonathan goes into where it narrows and starts on the deep docks on the right for prespawn and postspawn fish.

Fish all the way to the back, hitting the docks and the bank between them. Watch for brush around the docks, and fish it with your jig ’n pig or Carolina rig. Jonathan fishes a Manley 3/8-oz. green-pumpkin jig with a matching Zoom Chunk, and he will dip the tails in chartreuse JJ’s Magic.

When you get to the back, watch for spawning largemouth while covering the water with a spinnerbait and fluke. Work the other side going out, hitting the docks and any wood cover you see. A jig ’n pig worked through the wood is good for bigger bites.

No. 6: N 34º 30.002 – W 82º 48.045 — In the mouth of Twenty Six Mile Creek, where it hits the Seneca River Western Carolina Sailing Club, there is on a point on your left off marker S 20. A shoal marker sits well off the point in front of the high-peaked clubhouse of the sailing club. Jonathan says this is one of the best herring-bite holes on the lake.

The outside of this shoal is best. Stop out in 18 feet of water, and cover it with a fluke and spinnerbait from 5 to 15 feet deep. Then drag a Carolina rig in that depth, too, especially if you see fish or baitfish on your electronics.

No. 7: N 34º 29.878 – W 82º 47.928 — Going into the creek on the downstream side of the shoal, a tire breakwater protects the boats. Herring spawn on these tires. Run your spinnerbait and fluke beside the tires parallel to them. 

After fishing the breakwater, go into the pocket behind it and the boats. Bass spawn back in here. Fish around it like in other places. Watch for bedding bass. When he sees a bed, Jonathan will pitch a 1/4-oz. head with a white Zoon Speed Craw and work it in the bed slowly. 

No. 8: N 31º 29.920 – W 82º 50.056 – Downstream of Broyles, past the island, there is a series of shoal markers on the right. One of the best shoals for the herring spawn is the one with two markers and six cypress trees on it. It is a good place to start early in the morning.

Fish around it with a spinnerbait and fluke. If the water is high, go in and pitch your jig ’n pig to the bases of the trees. Fish will hold around the roots, even after the sun pushes most of the bass and herring deeper.

There are stumps and some brushpiles out in 15 feet of water off this hump, and that’s where most bass go when the sun gets up. Fish around it with a Carolina rig, staying in about 18 feet of water and making casts to keep your bait in the 15-foot contour. 

Watch for brush. Mark it, and then back off and fish it with Carolina rig and jig ’n pig.

No. 9: N 34º 30.337 – W 82º 50.716 — Go up Little Beaver Dam Creek to the long pocket on the right that almost makes the peninsula into an island. There are docks on the left, but none on the right side. This flat pocket is a very good spawning area.

Fish the docks for prespawn and postspawn bass, and look for bedding fish around the docks, especially under the walkways. Work all the way around this pocket. Largemouth will get very shallow in here to spawn. There is less cover on the dockless side, but fish it too since bass will spawn all back in this area.

No. 10: N 34º 30.835 – W 82º 51.551 — Go up Little Beaver Dam Creek under the first bridge, and stop downstream of the small second bridge. This is an area that concentrates largemouth as they move up the creek and back out, and many bass spawn on the flats on both sides of the bridge. There is a lot of overhanging bushes with limbs in the water where they feed. 

Jonathan starts on the clay point on the right, downstream of the bridge, and he fishes to the bridge and past it out to the first dock or so. Cast your spinnerbait and fluke to all the wood cover, and pitch a jig ’n pig to it, too. 

Fish the rip-rap on the bridge when you get to it. On the left side of the bridge, there is a lot of old dead grass and small bushes that grew when the water was down. They hold bass, too. Fish them with the spinnerbait and fluke, and then try dragging a Carolina-rigged lizard through the cover, fan casting the whole area.

These 10 spots give you an idea of the kinds of places that hold Hartwell bass in April. Catch fish on them, and then you can find many similar places to fish all over the lake this month.

Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful? If so, visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series to can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

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