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Lake Russell April Bass

Spawning bass are moving in and out at Richard B. Russell Reservoir this month, and they're eating.

Ronnie Garrison | April 1, 2009

This is the month bass fishermen dream about all year long. Shallow bass are feeding and fanning beds, and fishing is good. The weather is nice and comfortable most days, and it just feels good to get on the water. Lake Russell is a great lake to take advantage of the weather and the bass activity.

Russell is a 26,650-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake on the Savannah River between Clarks Hill and Hartwell. There is no shoreline development on the lake, so it is a picturesque, natural place to fish. But that also means no docks or the brushpiles that are under most. However, low water the past two years produced a good bit of shallow brush and weeds now under water to fish in the 25-year-old lake.

Kent Guest lives in Elberton and loves to fish. He considers Russell his home lake and fishes a good many pot tournaments on the lake as well as hitting it every chance he gets. He also fishes the BASS Weekend Series. His older brother got him started bass fishing when he was about 9 years old, and he has concentrated on tournament fishing for about the past 10 years.

After fishing with a South Carolina bass club that fished Russell a lot, Kent has limited most of his tournament fishing to Russell the past few years. An 18-lb. five-bass limit is Kent’s best catch from Russell. It came in April, and he had another 16-lb. tournament sack that gave him second place in a tournament.

Learning how to consistently catch bass this time of year has been Kent’s goal, and his patterns and methods will work for you. Although he does not sight fish for bedding bass, Kent’s tactics work well for bass staging both prespawn and postspawn, and there are plenty of both all month. The way he fishes produces bedding spotted bass that are just about impossible to see.

Bass are on many patterns any day in April on Lake Russell. Some early spawners will already be moving out by early April, staging as they move to deeper water. Others will be staging in the same places as they move in to spawn. Some will be spawning all month long. Late in the month there will be lots of postspawn bass feeding near the spawning areas.

Baitfish are a key to the bass. Shad or herring swirling on top, a loon feeding or clouds of baitfish on the depthfinder tell Kent he is in the right place. He is always watchful for bass schooling on top, even in early April.

“Keep moving until you find fish,” Kent said.

His philosophy — bass are feeding somewhere. If you hit enough places and use a variety of baits, you will locate them. He will fish from the dam to the back of Beaverdam and other creeks to find active bass this month.

Kent will have several baits tied on both spinning and casting rods when he hits the lake. He keeps a crankbait, a blade-runner style bait, a jerkbait, a jig ’n pig, a weightless worm and a Carolina rig tied on. He will use a jig head at times, but he usually sticks with the Carolina-rigged lizard in April. And he will not be on the water any time of the year without a drop-shot rig ready to drop down to fish he spots on his depthfinder.

Wind blowing in on points and banks in April will always make the catching better if you can control the boat and work the area. He fishes the wind with faster-moving, more-active baits, but he switches to slower baits and fishes deeper when it is calm.

Kent showed me the following 10 spots in mid March. Some bass were already on them, and we had eight nice keepers on a cold, rainy day. All of them were spots, and the best five would have weighed about 10 pounds, a pretty good catch under tough conditions. These places will be much better throughout April.

No. 1: N 34º 01.521 – W 82º 36.161 — Run downstream to the dam, and look to your right. Just upstream of the dam is a series of shallow points and marked humps that continue to the rip-rap point at the corps office dock, and then around a cove to the rip-rap breakwater that protects their dock. Start at the first shallow point at the dam, and fish all the way to the breakwater. Bass school up on these shallow points and feed before moving into the small creek upstream of the breakwater to spawn. After spawning they move back out to these points to feed. Some spots probably spawn on the points, too. You can find feeding fish on them all month long.

Kent will stay back out from the bank with his boat in 16 to 20 feet of water and make long casts with a blade-runner type bait with a Zoom Fluke on it. He works it fairly fast if wind is blowing into the bank, but slows it down to a crawl with the blade barely turning if it is calm. He will also work a crankbait like a Norman’s Deep Little N in shad or lavender-shad colors if wind is blowing. Also try a Carolina-rigged lizard. There is some grass here and will gum up your bait when fishing really slowly, so a Carolina rig moves the bait away from the mess. When you get to the dock, there is a lot of brush around it to fish. Work a jig ’n pig through this brush.

No. 2: N 34º 02.004 – W 82º 36.597 — Run out to the next big upstream point on this side, the one with channel marker No. 3 on it, and start fishing there. Fish from this point all the way to the last point in the cove at Shuck Pen Eddy ramp. All of these points will hold bass in April. Wind blowing in here helps, too. You can fish faster for more active bass in the wind, but slow down if it is calm and sunny. A Carolina-rigged lizard in green pumpkin with a chartreuse tail is especially good on these long points, and Kent got our first bass of the day on one. It hit on the point where two cypress trees have been planted with cages around them to protect them.

Kent always likes to keep his boat out in 16 feet or so of water and cast in. That allows him to cover the most productive depths with any of the baits he uses. Hard bottoms help, and rocks, sand and hard clay hold bass best this time of year. There are several areas of hard bottom here, so slow down when you get to one, and then fish faster over softer bottoms.

No. 3: N 34º 03.610 – W 82º 35.880 — Head across the lake into Beer Garden Creek, and go in past the ramp in it. Manor Creek and the ramp will be on your right, but run on back in Beer Garden to the point just past the other ramp on your left. Start on that point, and work all the way around the back of this creek, hitting points and hard banks. Bass will hold on these points just before and after the spawn. These are the last staging areas for the bass before they spawn in the backs of the pockets, and these are the first spots they come back out to. The bass will often school in this area in April, too.

Kent says the water usually stays clear back in this creek, and largemouths and spots use it to spawn. If the bass seem to be very shallow, he will also try a weightless Trick Worm, thrown right on the bank and worked out. This will catch bass that are fanning beds and cruising the area, even if you can’t see them.

No. 4: N 34º 03.051 – W 82º 35.929 — Come back out to the point on your right with channel marker 5 on it, across from the mouth of Manor Creek. Stop upstream of the point where the sand starts, and fish out past the channel marker pole. There are some blowdowns up on the bank, but Kent is fishing farther out, covering deeper water. He seldom moves in to cast to the trees themselves. He does fish carefully around the channel marker pole, since there is deep brush on it.

Wind blowing across this point makes it better, and Kent had an excellent catch here on a windy day, fishing the upstream side of the point. Stay out in 25 feet of water, and cast toward the bank with crankbaits if the wind is blowing or Carolina rigs if it is not. Fish the Carolina rig out to 15 feet deep or so. Work all the way around the point and to the rocky area on the downstream side. If you get bit here, or in other places, go back and fish them again, fishing even slower. Kent says he likes to “soak” an area where he catches a good fish and will often cover it several times, switching baits to give them a different look. I let two bass make a fool of me here on a jig-head worm the day we fished, realizing they were swimming with it but waiting until I felt them spit it out before I set the hook.

No. 5: N 34º 03.124 – W 82º 37.127 — Head upstream, and watch for channel marker 14 on the downstream side of a big, rocky, main-lake point. Start near that marker, and fish around the point to channel-marker 16 on the upstream side. Kent says this point holds bass year-round, and he always hits it with crankbaits and Carolina rigs. The channel runs right by this point, and you will be sitting in 50-plus feet of water. This is one of the places bass hold year-round, so there will always be some bass here. Work around it slowly. This is also a good place to throw a jig ’n pig since it produces some good largemouths.Kent’s fishing partner Jeremy Strong makes jigs and also pours the blade-runner style bodies and other lead that Kent uses.

No. 6: N 34º 02.833 – W 82º 38.068 — Back across the lake go into the creek behind channel marker 11 all the way to where it makes a cross shaped back. There will be pockets to the right and left, as well as one straight ahead. Stop out from the points that come out on either side, and watch for brush out in the middle. Kent says there is brush all along here, and all of it will hold bass. Kent likes a Zoom Finesse Worm or a Swamp Crawler fished on his drop-shot rig. He uses a lead that Jeremy makes, and he ties on a 1/0 hook about 18 inches up from it. They are tied on 12-lb. Vanish fluorocarbon leader that is about 5 feet long. That is tied to a swivel, and the main line is Power Pro braid. The braid is needed when fishing deep brush and timber.

Fish all the brush you find. Bass hold in it and then move back into the pockets to spawn. If the bass are back on the bank, a floating worm works well here, too, but Kent says he consistently catches bigger bass out deeper in the brush. To emphasize Kent’s idea of moving until you find feeding bass, we quickly caught five keepers here, including our two best of the day. We did not stay on them a long time and probably would have caught more if we had worked them slowly and carefully with different baits. The wind was blowing right into this creek the day we fished.

No. 7: N 34 05.132 – W 82 39.930 — Run up past the Highway 72 Bridge and start into the mouth of Beaverdam Creek. On your right is the mouth of Heardmont Creek, a creek full of standing timber. It is across from the small island with red marker 6 in Beaverdam Creek. The first point on the right is just outside of the timber and has three poles on it. One has the “Submerged Timber” sign on it, and it is just outside the trees. The next one has a couple of green stripes around it and a small green square, and then upstream of it is the first green channel-marker pole with No. 2 on it for the creek channel.

Fish all around the submerged timber sign. It has a lot of brush on it, and the point it sits on is a hard-clay bottom. Bass stack up on this point going in and out of the creek to spawn. Run a crankbait over the brush to see if the bass will come up and chase it. Then work a Carolina rig or jig ’n pig slowly through the brush. Although he caught a spot here the day we fished, Kent says this is a good largemouth hole.

No. 8: N 34º 05.449 – W 82º 43.093 — Head toward the first bridge in the back of Beaverdam Creek, but watch on your right for channel marker 24. Start at the point at that channel marker, and fish the next three points all the way to the small creek just downstream of channel marker 26. These points run out really shallow to the channel, and bass stack up on them.

As he casts toward the bank, Kent keeps an eye on the depthfinder on the front of the boat. Since he is out over 15 to 20 feet of water, he often spots bass holding at that depth and drops a drop-shot worm down to them. Keeping the boat in one place, he will twitch the worm right in front of the bass, which usually draws a hit. Some of Kent’s best catches have come on a drop shot fished this way. He said during the winter he catches them as deep as 50 feet, but the bass will be much more shallow now. You can limit out real quick when you find a bunch of bass holding in deeper water and can fish for them vertically.

No. 9: N 34º 06.047 – W 82º 45.327 — Go under the first bridge, and then just downstream of the second bridge you will see a pumping station on your right on the upstream side of a creek. Run back into this creek to the danger marker in the middle of it near the end. This is an old pond dam where bass hold and feed just before and after moving farther back to bed.

Kent fishes the downstream side of this old dam, starting with his boat near the left bank and casting out parallel across it. There are a lot of rocks and stumps in this area, and a point runs out from the dam toward deeper water. He will work all the way around the marker that is on the most shallow spot, casting up into 2 or 3 feet of water and fishing out with his Carolina rig.

Before leaving this spot, fish a brushpile that is worth hitting that often holds a good bass. With your boat pointing toward the main creek, the left bank runs out across the mouth of the cove. It is a fairly straight bank, but there’s an obvious “dent” in it where it drops off faster. In that indention there is a brushpile in 16 feet of water. Kent says he doesn’t often catch a bass there, but when he does, it is usually 3 to 4 pounds. Fish it with a jig ’n pig.

No. 10: N 34º 06.846 – W 82º 46. 782 — Go under both bridges, and stop when you see channel-marker 42 on your left. Ahead of you there will be a cove on your left with power lines crossing it, and you will see the powerline crossing the main creek farther up. Start fishing at the point at marker 42, and fish upstream, working the left bank as you go up. Fish the bank and around the pocket where the powerlines cross. A crankbait or Carolina rig is good here. The water will usually be more stained than out on the lake, and you might need a brighter bait. Bass stack up along this bank, feeding just before and after spawning. Kent said one of his best catches came here in April. He caught one just less than 5 pounds and two more between 3 1/2 and 4 pounds while working this bank and the pocket at the powerlines. He said they don’t stay on these banks long, but keep hitting them until you find bass — they should be good ones.

Try Kent’s spots and lures, and then look for similar places. There are many more like this all over the lake, and they all hold bass this month. Expect to catch a lot of spots, but there should be some quality largemouths, too.

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