Lake Russell Summer Spotted Bass

It seems like spotted bass are taking over at Lake Russell. One benefit is that spots are creating a dependable summertime bite using topwater early, then worms during the day.

Ronnie Garrison | June 1, 2007

Summer bass fishing on Lake Russell traditionally has been tough because the quality largemouths seek deep-water refuge by suspending in the submerged timber. An exploding spotted bass population is changing Russell, and now a topwater bite early and then worms fished during the day can produce good numbers of bass.

If you are looking for a lake that has a natural shoreline, limited access and is full of spotted bass you should head to Lake Russell. This U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake has very restricted shoreline development, and you can fish for miles without seeing a dock or house. You will see spots though, since the lake is full of them.

Located on the Savannah River between Clarks Hill and Hartwell, Russell was dammed in 1984. Its 26,650 acres are full of standing timber and many shorelines are rocky. The clear water helps spotted bass that were illegally introduced reproduce at a high rate, and the lake is now teeming with small spotted bass.

Blueback herring are also in the lake, and this helps a few of the spots grow bigger. There are some good largemouths in the lake, but lately you are much more likely to hook up with smaller spots on most structure and cover in the main-lake areas of Russell. Tom Mundy lives in Laurens, South Carolina and works on the molds in a plastics factory. A few years ago he started making lures, and his experience with molds on his job helped him design and pour plastic baits as well as jig heads. After starting out doing this for himself and friends, he soon formed Fish Stalker Lures. He also makes a line of buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and his Pro Shad Spin, one of his most popular baits right now.

Tom loves fishing and goes everytime he has a chance. He spends most of his time working on lures so he depends on friends like Jim Stroup to field test them for him. Jim lives near- by and is a retired law-enforcement officer, so he gets to fish almost every day. Russell is one of his favorite lakes and being on the Fish Stalker pro staff gives him a chance to test lures there.

Jim has fished for bass for many years. For a long time he fished local tournaments and also the Redman (now BFL), Jerry Rhine and Bassmasters Trails. Jim’s brother was one of the founders of Bandit Lures, so Jim has a lot of experience helping make different kinds of lures, and he often helps Tom.

Jim Stroup caught a few largemouths on our trip last month, and in this article they show us some good locations to catch June spotted bass on Lake Russell.

Since Jim fishes almost every day, and Russell is one of his favorite lakes, he keeps up with what the bass are doing there and follows their movements. In June he looks for bass that have moved out of the spawning pockets to main-lake points and humps nearby. Those bass school up on cover and move in to feed around points and humps. As the water gets hotter this month, they gradually move deeper.

Early each morning before the sun gets on the water, Jim will be throwing a topwater bait like a Sammy, Spook, Skitter Pop or buzzbait. He does not have a favorite; he tries different baits until the bass show what they like that day.

After the sun gets above the trees Jim will switch to a Carolina rig and cover water 5 to 20 feet deep, looking for bass holding on stumps, rocks and other cover. He rigs a Fish Stalker straight-tail, 4-inch worm on one rod and a bigger 6-inch worm on another. He will also have a ribbon-tail worm rigged to try if the bass seem to want more action.

Jim, Tom and I fished Russell in mid May, and they showed me some good spots to fish. We got a late start and the topwater bite was pretty much over, but we caught a bunch of small spots that day and missed a lot of bites, probably from even smaller spots. Our best fish were a couple of 2-lb.-plus spots and a 2-lb. largemouth, but bigger fish use these areas, too.

No. 1: N 34° 04.190 – W 82° 39.572 — If you put in at the Hwy 72 ramp, head up toward the mouth of Beaverdam Creek. There are dozens of small islands and humps to your left, and any of them could be holding a school of bass. Jim and Tom have a few favorites that produce fish for them consistently.

As soon as you round the first point upstream of the ramp, head into the small creek behind the islands. On your left you will see a danger marker not far off the bank, and there will be some big rocks sticking out of the water under the shoal marker. This is a big flat with sand on the creek side and rock on the main-lake side, offering bass the kind of structure and cover they like this time of year.

Start on the outside, and make long casts across the flat toward the rocks with a topwater bait if you are here before the sun gets bright. Bass can be holding anywhere on the flat, so cover it all. Watch for breaking fish here and on other spots, too, and cast to them.

After working it with a topwater plug, go back over the area with a Carolina rig. Drag your bait along the bottom, and you will feel the rocks on one side and the sandy bottom on the other. On the back side of this flat, the creek channel swings in and it drops off into deeper water.

No.2: N 34° 04.330–W 82° 40.584 — Head upstream to the next creek, and go behind the island in the mouth of it on the downstream side. Toward the back of the creek, on your left, you will see a long point running out with a hump on the end. The pocket past it has two standing-timber markers in it. The next small island is near the bank and has a good blow- through-type saddle between it and the bank. Tom said they call this small island “Cedar Island” because of the cedar trees on it.

Fish the flat between the bank and the island, working topwater over it. Then use a Carolina rig. The flat that makes up the blow-through drops off on the creek side, and a channel swings in by it and the back side of the island. Fish on out to the island, and work around the island, too. There are good rocks on the creek side of the island around to the main-lake side.

We caught several 11- to 13-inch spots here two weeks ago. They like the rocks near deeper water and were holding there after the early morning feeding spree was over. You are likely to find bigger fish here and on other spots early in the morning this time of year.

No. 3: N 34° 04.528 – W 82° 40.741 — Across the mouth of this small creek, just downstream of a main-lake point with the 3 BDC channel marker in Beaverdam Creek, is a small island with rocks all around it. It sits in the mouth of a spawning creek and has deep water with standing timber nearby. Bass hold in the timber and move in to the rocks and clay around the bottom to feed.

Fish all the way around this island. Pay attention to the wind, and concentrate on the wind-blown side. Jim says wind helps position bass on the structure as baitfish move across it. Make your casts into the wind, and bring your bait back with it the way the baitfish will be moving. We caught several
spots here by using the wind.

No. 4: N 34° 04.919 – W 82° 40.513 — Across Beaverdam Creek you will see red channel marker 8 BDC on a pole way off the bank. There is an osprey nest on it almost blocking the sign. Behind the channel marker is a danger sign. The water is shallow from the channel marker all the way to the bank. Downstream you will see a limb sticking out of the water marking some standing timber under the water where it drops off in that direction.

Jim says this is an excellent area for topwater early and to find fish schooling later. Start out around the channel marker, and cast under the osprey nest since there is often some wood trash under the nests that will hold bass. Fish around the end of the flat near the marker, then work in. You will be fishing water 5 to 8 feet deep all around this big flat.

Fish downstream to the end of the flat that is near the standing timber. Remember, fish hold in the timber and move up onto the flat to feed, so there may be more fish holding in that direction. Work all over the flat with a variety of baits to find the feeding fish.

No. 5: N 34° 08.110 – W 82° 40.207 — Make a run up the Savannah River to the creek between red channel markers 42 and 44. The first creek on the downstream side of marker 44 runs way back, but right at the mouth of it there is a long point on your left with an old road bed running off it. This point makes a big flat that holds bass.

Start on the main-lake side of the point, and make casts across it. There are some bushes out on the end of the point, and the roadbed runs near them. Work all around it with both topwater and Carolina rigs. Wind blowing in on this point helps, and a west wind will be blowing right into it. Watch your depthfinder, and remember how deep you were sitting and how deep you were casting when you caught a fish. Concentrate on that depth here and in other spots as you fish them.

No. 6: N 34° 08.080 – W 82° 40.346 — The island at channel marker 44 has shallow points running off it and deeper cuts between them. Jim and Tom like to fish the back side of the island. Start on the downstream end, and you can see a point running out in that direction. Fish it while working toward the back of the island. A deeper cut runs in between the downstream point and the point that runs toward the bank. Bass often run baitfish into this deeper cut and school up on them.

Fish past the point running toward the bank, and you will hit deeper water on the other side, too. Fish it, working the drop from the island and the point. Fish hold on the lips of those drops. Watch for brushpiles as you fish; there are several scattered at different depths. Tom and Jim caught a couple of fish around the brush when we fished it.

No. 7: N 34° 08.256 – W 82° 40.461 — Leave the island, and idle into the creek on the upstream side of it. You will see an undeveloped ramp back in the creek for the proposed McCalla State Park. Head toward it, and watch your depthfinder. You will come out of deep water onto a ridge that comes up to about 4 feet deep right in the middle of the creek. Looking toward the ramp, you will see a white- sand and rock point on your left and a red-clay bank to your right.

There is brush on this hump, and it drops off into the creek channel about 16 feet deep. It is an excellent place to find bass schooling up on baitfish and holding around the brush. Stay on the outside of the hump in deeper water and cast up onto it, working topwater baits over it then fishing a Carolina rig through the brush.

No. 8: N 34° 08.500 – W 82° 40.991 — Go upstream past the next small creek, and you will see a point on your right with two trees on it that have small diamond-shaped markers on them. Near the downstream tree there is another tree lying on the bank pointing toward the water. Just inside the point on the upstream side is a tree with a sign nailed to it.

Fish this double point, working from the tree with the diamond marker on the downstream side. Fish upstream, making long casts almost to the bank. There are some rocks here, and they get thicker and bigger as you get near the upstream point. Fish those rocks care- fully when you get to them.

• Bonus Spot: N 34° 08.429 – W 82° 40.964 — After fishing the point, idle straight out from it toward the main lake. Watch your depthfinder, and you will see a ridge come up to about 7 feet deep on top. It is covered with big stumps, and Jim says big bass hold here. Fish all around this ridge with both topwater and plastics.

No. 9: N 34° 08.111 – W 82° 41.525 — Go across the river and a lit- tle upstream to green channel marker 43. Fish all around it. Jim says this is an excellent night hole for fishing after dark. After fishing all around the channel marker, idle into the creek going between the island and bank. As you pass the second flat point on your right on the main bank, the one with some small dead trees lying on it and a short dead snag sticking up, start fishing the back side of the point.

• Bonus Spot: N 34° 07.716 – W 82° 41.650 — A big flat runs upstream in the small creek above this point and across the mouth of the first pocket behind it. Stay out in about 8 feet of water and cast all over the flat, then watch for where it drops off. Fish the edge of the drop. The creek channel coming by the flat is about 16 feet deep.

As in other places, try several sizes of worms. If the fish don’t want a 4- inch finesse worm, try a 6-inch worm. Also try a ribbon tail for more action. If you are catching small fish on the smaller worm, try a bigger worm.

No. 10: N 34° 07.401 – W 82° 41.421 — Idle downstream behind the island, and watch for a shallow hump off a point just downstream of the island. You can see an old roadbed running straight off the bank toward the hump. The next point has a danger marker on it. Fish all around the point and hump it runs out to. Fish the shallow top, but also work the drops around  it as it gets deeper. Two weeks ago we caught our best two spots in this area on worms. They will move up into the shallows late in the day just like in the mornings.

Give these spots a try then look for similar places. Russell is covered with both marked and unmarked humps and many have brush and rocks on them. You will catch a lot of spots on them this month, and a few nice largemouth should be in the mix.

The author Ronnie Garrison holds up a nice spotted bass that hit a jig-head worm the day he fished Lake Russell with Jim and Tom in mid May.

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