Lake Russell Bass On Summer Pole Markers

Ronnie Garrison | July 30, 2021

August in Georgia… it’s hot, fish don’t bite very well, and boat traffic is awful on most lakes. Many of us aren’t going to stop fishing, and a good option to avoid the boat traffic and feel some bass bites is at Lake Russell.

You can catch as many spotted bass as you want on Lake Russell in August, and it’s simple. Get out on any main-lake pole marker with a drop-shot rig, and you are likely to get bit. Get on the right places, and you can quickly fill your limit with fryers.

Spotted bass have just about taken over Russell to the detriment of largemouth fishing. You can still catch some good largemouth, but you will have to target the isolated places they live, and you have to work to catch them. And you can increase the size of spotted bass you catch by fishing at night, if you like that, and night fishing is not as dangerous on Russell due to its restricted development and much-reduced boat traffic.

Lake Russell is a 26,650-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake jammed between the Hartwell dam and the headwaters of Clarks Hill. Like its bigger neighboring lakes, Russell has blueback herring that affect the ways bass act. Russell is Georgia’s newest reservoir, reaching full pool in 1984, at a time when environmental laws had changed how reservoirs were managed. Shoreline development is restricted, with no houses or private docks. Shoreline cover consists of rocks and wood, with a little grass in some areas.

Standing timber was left all over the lake when it filled, making it ideal for spotted bass, although they are not native. Folks thinking they could turn Russell into a second Lake Lanier “midnight stocked” spots. The spots love the lake and reproduced in huge numbers, but they don’t grow as fast or as big as native largemouth, so you can catch a lot, but they will be small.

Russell is a little different than its bigger sisters. It is newer, so it has more wood cover that has not rotted away. It is smaller, so current affects it more. And there is a pumpback system at the dam, so the current can move both ways.

Jordan Gunnells grew up in Jackson, South Carolina just outside Augusta. A relative introduced him to bass fishing when he was 16, and Jordan loved it. After talking his father into getting a bass boat, they started learning how to catch bass together.

Lake Russell has been overtaken by spotted bass. That’s bad news for largemouth lovers, but Jordan Gunnells says there’s a consistent summertime bite for numbers of spots.

Jordan fished with the North Augusta High School team, which is not really affiliated with any single high school. He got to fish high school trail tournaments. He and his father fish some local tournaments, and Jordan is beginning to fish solo in some.

After graduating in 2019, Jordan now captains for some of his old team members. He is also getting his Captain’s license, so he can guide on area lakes. And Jordan is starting a rod-building business. He builds custom-made rods to any specifications an angler wants, and he can put any decals or decorations on a rod.

While hot-weather fishing can be tough, it can also be predictable.

“By August, bass are set up on summer holes,” Jordan said.

He likes to find sharp drops close to the river channel, but that are still near spawning areas. Fish in these areas don’t have to move far no matter the time of year, so they are easier to find and pattern.

“There is usually a good topwater early morning bite,” Jordan said.

Anglers can often catch a couple of good fish before the sun gets bright, and then fill a limit by fishing deeper.

For this time of year, Jordan will use a frog and flopper bait for topwater fishing.

For deeper fish, he likes a drop shot and a shaky head, and when there’s current and the bass are more active, he throws a Fluke and swimbait. Smaller baits usually work better for spots, but if he’s targeting largemouth, Jordan will go to a bigger bait.

We fished the following places on the first day of July. Although the holiday weekend was starting, there were fewer than a dozen trailers at the ramp, and we saw only three boats all morning! That is a big attraction for Russell—much lower boat traffic than other lakes.

No. 1: N 34º 05.021 – W 82º 42.513 — Go up Beaverdam Creek to green channel marker 19 on your left just upstream of an island. It is on the upstream end of a bluff bank that is between two good spawning pockets. The point drops fast into the old channel and has rock and wood cover. It is the kind of place Jordan expects bass to move to after spawning and staying until the next spring.

First thing in the morning, work this bank quickly, fishing from the channel marker to the point at the downstream cove. Keep your boat in 30 feet of water, and cast a topwater bait right to the edge of the water. Skip a frog under overhanging bushes and work it over submerged wood. Jordan likes a Booyah frog that’s brown, to match the color of bream that stay on these banks.

Run your plopper over the wood, too. Jordan says bass like to hold right on old stumps and trees that have fallen into the water as waves ate the bank away. Watch for the tip of a trunk in shallow water, and you can figure out where the tree or big brush is under water.

When the sun is high, follow up by slowly fishing down this bank, working your drop shot out on the ends of the trees and bumping a shaky head worm through the limbs. Try to find a consistent depth the fish are holding and concentrate on it.

No. 2: N 34º 05.077 – W 82º 42.440 — Go to the upstream end of the island that is just downstream of location No. 1, and fish that bank the same way. The channel runs along it and it drops off fast, with rock and wood cover, and its angle means shady areas along it later in the morning. Channel marker 17 is on the downstream end of the island.

After fishing it with topwater, slow down and work the wood and rocks carefully with a shaky head. Jordan likes to put a green-pumpkin or black Trick Worm on a 1/4-oz. head, and he dips the tails in chartreuse JJ’s Magic to more imitate the bream the bass feed on in the wood. Crawl the shaky head slowly through the rocks and wood. Pull it up and over underwater limbs, letting it fall back to the bottom under them. Make sure you hit every stump you see—Jordan says stumps are favorite holding places along these banks.

Current often makes the difference between getting bit and fishing this time of year. Current turns these on bringing food to them and positioning them on the wood. You can call 800.533.3478 for water release at both the Hartwell and Russell Dams as well as pumpback at the Russell dam, all of which creates current on the lake. Some wind blowing on the bank helps, too.

No. 3: N 34º 15.127 – W 82º 43.069 — Channel marker 21 is on another good bluff bank. Fish it like the others, with topwater, drop shot and shaky head. With your boat in 25 feet of water, cast to the bank and work a topwater bait over the wood and rock cover. Then bounce your shaky head through it.

Jordan watches his front electronics for fish and cover straight down under his feet. When he sees anything off the bottom, he lowers his drop-shot worm down to it. If it is cover like the end of a tree, he shakes his worm all around it.

For his drop shot, Jordan puts a morning-dawn or green-pumpkin 4.5-inch Robo Worm on a small hook 12 inches above a 3/8- to 1/4-oz. sinker, depending on depth, current and wind. If he thinks there are largemouth on the bottom, he cuts his leader back to 6 inches long, since they tend to stay right on the bottom.

If he sees fish up above the cover, Jordan will “video fish” for them. He watches his bait go down and looks for a fish moving to it. To entice them to hit he will twitch his rod tip to make the worm jiggle. If they are above or below his bait, he moves it up or down to put it right in their face.

No. 4: N 34º 04.671 – W 82º 40.797 — Downstream past Beaverdam Marina, look for marker 3 on a clay point. It’s the upstream point of the mouth of a big bay. The creek channel swings in right beside the point, and it drops fast on that side. The bay side is flatter and offers a good feeding flat.

Stop near the marker and fish around the point, keeping your boat in 30 feet of water on the creek side. Work around to the bay side and fish shallower, hitting the visible blowdowns with topwater then slower baits.

Watch for brush and cane piles as you go around points like this one and in other places. Fishermen have put out a lot of them, and they hold fish. Work your drop shot and shaky head through the cover.

No. 5: N 34º 04.748 – W 82º 39.998 — Marker 1 BDC sits on a long point that has a roadbed running out on it. This flatter point is the kind of open-water area Jordan fishes on the main lake. The roadbed gives bass a good path to move up on the flat point to feed, and brush on it gives them cover. You can see the roadbed gap in the trees on the point where it comes off at an angle and runs toward the marker.

Early in the morning, Jordan will run his white Whopper Plopper 90 topwater plug over the brush. Spots will school on points like this, chasing blueback herring, and they hold in the brush. The Whopper Flopper draws them up, and they will be looking up on bright days, since bluebacks go to the surface on sunny days.

After trying topwater, work around the point with drop shot, shaky head and swimbait. Cover water from 10 to 25 feet deep. A swimbait works well on flat main-lake points and humps like this one.

No. 6: N 34º 03.596 – W 82º 38.355 — Downstream of the Highway 72 Bridge marker 16 is on the upstream point of a cove. Go into the cove to the downstream point. It sits back inside the cove because of the way the ditch comes out.

Off the outside edge of this point that drops almost straight off, there is brush out in 13 feet of water. Cast your shaky head to it, and then get on top of it and drop down to it. There is a good bit of brush to fish here. Jordan said he caught a couple of fish here on Tuesday before we fished.

No. 7. N 34º 03.550 – W 82º 37.908 — Channel marker 15 sits way off the next point downstream and has a big osprey nest on it. It is on a hump that comes up out from the point and a little upstream of it. The point itself runs out shallow and is covered with rock. The point runs out downstream of the marker on the hump, but another hump comes up downstream off the end of it, too, almost as far out as the marked one.

Jordan likes to fish a flopper right on the bank early, and then he works out the point with a drop shot and shaky head. Fish out to 20 feet deep on the end of the point, and then ease out to the top of the hump in about 20 feet of water.

There are rock piles on it, maybe from where a farmer cleared his field before the lake was dammed. Jordan caught a keeper spot off one on his drop shot and could see a lot of other fish around them that would not hit. With current, this is the kind of place you can catch your limit without moving. Ease around the hump and find the rock piles to fish.

No. 8: N 34º 03.386 – W 82º 37.905 — Just downstream back in the small creek downstream of hole 7 is a good example of the kind of place Jordan targets largemouth. Go into the small creek, and the first small pocket on your left has steep banks. There are two big blowdowns on the right side and one on the left.

Stop out from these trees and fish your frog over them first thing in the morning, working it close to every piece of wood in the water. Work it slowly with twitches to make it stay in place but “walk the dog” to draw strikes.

As the sun gets up, work a weightless green-pumpkin fluke slowly through the limbs. The limbs on the end of the trees are out in 15 feet of water, deep enough to hold bass all day. Fish very slowly and carefully.

Find other wood cover in pockets like this for more largemouth. If there is grass on the bank in the water, hit it with your frog, too. Some pockets have some water willow in them. And there was one patch of floating primrose near the Highway 72 boat ramp. If it spreads, it will attract bass everywhere it grows, so the corps will probably spray it aggressively.

No. 9: N 34º 03.397 – W 82º 37.613 — Channel marker 13 sits on a rocky point. There are boulders along the bluff bank going out to the point and more on the point.

This is a good place to catch spots, especially when current coming down the river hits the bank and then goes around the point.

Sit in about 30 feet of water, and cast your shaky head and drop shot at an angle to the bank, working it back from three to 25 feet deep. Start back from the point at the big blowdown in the water.

After fishing it, work out to the point, fishing the bluff bank and the point.

No. 10: N 34º 02.283 – W 82º 36.133 — Down near the dam on the South Carolina side, Manor Creek is the last creek on that side.

The downstream point of it has several channel markers on it. Jordan’s favorite is the one at red channel marker 6.

Stop out from it in 25 feet of water, and fan cast to hit the brush on it with shaky head and drop shot. Also run your swimbait over the cover on places like this.

Jordan puts a 4-inch sexy shad Keitech bait on a 1/8- or 1/4-oz. head and counts it down to reel it back just above the depth of the brush.

Check out these places to see what and where you want to fish to load the boat with good-eating spotted bass this summer.

You can call Jordan about a custom-made rod or a possible guide trip at 803.645.3654, or check him out on Facebook at

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