Target February Spots For Success On Lake Russell

Spotted bass have gained a hold in Lake Russell, and these feisty fish provide a reliable cold-water pattern.

Ronnie Garrison | February 3, 2005

Each time I go to Lake Russell, I am impressed with its beautiful, clear green water, and good bass fishing. With undeveloped, tree-covered shorelines, steep banks and abundance of cover, it looks like bass-fishing heaven. And it is. Filled in 1994, Russell’s 26,650 acres sit between the upper end of Clarks Hill and the Hartwell dam. Many trees were left standing when the lake was filled.

Spotted bass have taken a liking to the lake. Their population has exploded to the point where most of your catch this time of year will be spots. They are more aggressive and seem to like cold water better than largemouths. The blueback herring and shad in the lake offer great food sources, and most of the spots you catch are very fat.

Rusti Brock knows how to catch them. He helps run Bucks and Bass Sporting Goods in Anderson, S.C., and he lives about 20 minutes from a ramp at Russell, so he fishes the lake a lot. He fished with a local bass club for a time, then teamed up with Chris Powell a few years ago and now concentrates on buddy tournaments. The past few years he fished the Palmetto Team trail and the Crescent Classic on Russell. He and Chris are fishing the HD Marine trail this year.

Although only 23 years old, Rusti has been fishing Russell since it was filled. His dad taught him a lot about fishing, and they fish together often. usti also is able to keep in contact with fishermen on Russell through the store, so he knows what the bass at Russell are doing.

Lake Russell is becoming more and more of a spotted bass lake, especially when the water is still cold like it is in early February. Rusti Brock holds a fat spot caught on a jig ’n pig during a January trip with the author.

In the winter, bass follow the herring and shad at Russell. You can find them in predictable places and stay on them as they move and feed. The bass tend to stack up on main-lake points just off small creek channels, then move up and down those creek channels as the baitfish move in and out. A good depthfinder is critical for finding and following the bait and the bass.

Rusti uses several methods to find and catch Russell bass in February. A had Rap fished along the shoreline is a good way to find the fish if they are shallow, and Rusti will make long casts to cover a lot of water with the crankbait. Blowdowns and stumps along the bank often hold shallow winter bass, and a shad or silver Shad Rap is a good bait to find them.

A jig ’n pig is another good bait to fish in the blowdowns at Russell this month, and it will also work on fish holding deeper. Rusti likes a 1/4-oz. black, purple and blue jig tipped with a black or blue chunk. He fishes it around shallow wood, and he also works it through brush and trees out in deeper water.

If Rusti is seeing bass or baitfish on his depthfinder as he fishes the bank, he will note the depth and try for them. The bass and bait are often at a similar depth in many of the creeks and points at Russell, and they usually will relate to the wood structure as well to the old creek channels. You need a lure that will get down to them fairly quickly and one that you can work effectively at depths up to 35 feet.

A Fishhead spinner is very effective on deeper bass at Russell. It is a lead-head jig with a willowleaf blade attached, and a soft plastic bait like a Fluke is put on the hook. It is compact, gets down fast, and can be fished fast in deep water. Rusti will cast it out into the channel or on deeper banks, let it sink and then work it back quickly with a slight pumping action.

A jig-head worm is a good bait for fishing deeper, and Rusti keeps a green pumpkin Finesse worm rigged on a 1/4-oz. Standup jighead. This flat jighead makes the worm stand, and it seems to work better than round jigheads. It is thrown on a spinning rod and fairly light line, so it sinks fast and can be worked in deep water.

A jigging spoon will also take bass this time of year, and it is one of the best baits to fish when you spot bass and bait down 20 feet or deeper. You can get right on top of the fish and keep your spoon in front of them by jigging it vertically. Rusti likes a spoon with some blue in it and will drop it to the bottom, then jerk it up several feet with his rod tip. As it sinks back to the bottom, he twitches his rod tip to make it flutter like a hurt baitfish.

Rusti and I fished Russell a couple of weeks ago on a very foggy, warm day. There was no wind at all, and that seemed to hurt the shallow bite. Wind blowing into a point or pocket with blowdowns and shallow wood makes the bass bite better. The day we fished, it was so calm the fog did not lift until almost noon, and then it was mostly cloudy. Rusti and I landed five good spots that morning and missed several more. Chris joined us for a few hours after lunch, and late in the day six or seven more bass came over the side of the boat.

The following 10 spots are good for February bass at Russell. They are just a few examples of the types of places Rusti catches bass there this month. Check them out, and you can find many more similar places all over the lake.

No. 1:. N 34º 09.241 – W 82º 43.393 — The first point above the golf course at Coldwater Creek is a fairly flat, clay point that drops off into the river channel. It is split by a small sandy cove. There are standing trees off it in 30 feet of water, and there is some brush up on the point. To help identify the point, there is a cedar tree sticking straight out parallel to the water on the upstream side of the point.

Start in close to the point and throw a Shad Rap up into a few feet of water. Make long casts, keeping your boat out in 20 or more feet of water. Spots will often come up from the depths to hit a crankbait. Fish the Shad Rap fairly fast with a steady retrieve like a shad or herring fleeing back to deeper water, and you may draw a reaction strike.

Watch your depthfinder as you throw your crankbait and you will see brushpiles and may see fish stacked up on the bottom. Drop a jig ’n pig, jighead worm or spoon to them, or work a Fishhead spinner around them. If you get out far enough to see the standing trees, it is worth a few casts to bump a jig ’n pig through the limbs.

No. 2: N 34º 09.344 – W 82º 43.510 — This small creek runs in just upstream of the point at hole No. 1. dle in past the cedar tree sticking out over the water, and start fishing the banks. On the right bank, there is a small sandbar that was just above the water when we were there. he creek runs back and forks into two coves.

Rusti and I started on hole No. 2 and worked out to the point. He caught our first keeper of the day on a Shad Rap just downstream of the cedar tree sticking out over the water. The bass hit near the boat when we were over about 25 feet of water. As we worked out on the downstream side of the point, I saw standing trees in 35 feet of water and made a long cast with a jig ’n pig. While bouncing it from limb to limb, I felt a thump and set the hook on our best bass of the day, a 2 1/2-lb. spot.

Fish all around these two coves, casting crankbaits and a jig ’n pig to trees and stumps in shallow water. Work all the way back in the coves, sometimes bass will be right in the backs of the ditches, especially late in the month. Try that in several places before giving up on real shallow February bass.

Your boat should be out in 15 to 22 feet of water. Keep an eye on your depthfinder, and fish anything you spot in deeper water. Drop a jig ’n pig or jighead worm to anything you see. lso make casts to the center of the cove with a Fishhead spinner, and work it back through the brush and trees out in deeper water.

We did not catch anything in this pocket first thing in the morning, but we hit it on the way back late in the day and took a couple of spots out of it. There is some brush out in 16 feet of water off the small sandbar, and I landed a good 2-lb. spot out of it on a jig ’n pig. As the boat went over it, I saw the brush on the depthfinder and made a short cast right behind the boat. When the jig hit the brush, the spot grabbed it.

No. 3: N 34º 09.837 – W 82º 43.560 — About two more coves up on the same side of the river, an island sits just off the bank and the creek behind it is good. As you go in, there is a tree lying on the right bank that beavers cut down. There are some blowdowns in the water on the point across from it that are under water, and back in the creek where it splits there are more trees in the water. There is also a beaver lodge on the left side of the point in the back where the creek splits. The banks are steep clay and drop off into the ditch.

Fish all around this creek, working the shoreline cover with crankbaits and a jig ’n pig. Rusti and I both missed bites on a jig ’n pig in the brush on the left bank as you’re going in. Then fish the channel out in 20 to 24 feet of water. Rusty marked fish on the edge of the channel and landed a keeper spot on a jighead worm, and we both missed a couple. They were just holding the bait — we did not feel them hit, so they were hard to hook.

No. 4: N 34º 10.364 – W 82º 43.809 — There is a good-sized creek entering just downstream of the mouth of Coldwater Creek. It splits into three arms and has good cover and steep banks. Start fishing on the first point on your left going in, and work all the way around it, fishing the shallow cover. Fish the deeper steep bank on both sides out near the mouth of this creek. The day we fished, we hit this spot late and there was some surface activity, and there were a lot of baitfish in the mouth of the cove. Rusti and Chris both caught bass off the points on both sides of this creek, fishing jighead worms and Finesse worms in about 22 feet of water. Rusti hooked the only largemouth of the day on the downstream point of this creek.

No. 5: N 34º 11.733 – W 82º 43.627 — Cross the lake, and run up to the first creek downstream of Bond Creek. Channel marker 66 is on the upstream side of its mouth. This creek has several ditches running into it, and there is lots of wood cover in it. It was also full of baitfish when we fished in mid January. Go in to the secondary clay point on the left with a dead snag tree standing just off the bank. Start here way out on the point, fish all the wood cover near the bank, and then work the ditch edges as they run out and hit the channel. You can spend a good bit of time fishing the ditches and main channel edge here, and it usually holds bass this time of year.

No. 6: N 34º 12.765 – W 82º 44.439 — The point just downstream of the Greg Shoals ramp has some big rocks on it, and people fish from the bank a lot. It is a good spot that always has big schools of baitfish holding off it. Stay off the bank and jig a spoon under the baitfish, or drop a jighead worm or Fishhead spinner down to them. When fishing deep, keep a close watch on your line. If it jumps or moves at all, set the hook. Often a bass will suck in a bait as it falls, and the only indication you have is your bait will not go back all the way to the bottom. We caught a couple of spots doing that when we went.

No. 7: N 34º 12.796 – W 82º 44.652 — Across the lake, the second point upstream of Pickens Creek has some big rocks and blowdowns on it. The bank is sandy right at the water’s edge, and you will be sitting in 30 feet of water a short cast off the bank. There is a good bit of brush on this point out past the blowdowns. Fish around this point, working a crankbait and jig ’n pig through the blowdowns. Probe for the deeper brush with a jig ’n pig, too. Fish to the upstream side of the point and into the cove for a short distance before leaving.

No. 8: N 34º 14.046 – W 82º 44.707 — Run upstream to channel marker 81, and start fishing the bluff bank just past the little cut above the channel marker. There is a small point on the upstream side of this cut — more of an indention in the bank — and there are rocks and some brush in the water. Rusti caught his biggest Russell bass ever here in mid December, a 7.25-lb. largemouth that hit a jig ’n pig. Fish around this bluff bank past the point into the next cove, working slowly to keep your jig ’n pig in contact with the bottom as it drops.

No. 9: N 34º 14.746 – W 82º 44.565 — Cross the lake, and run up to the point at channel marker 81. Start on the upstream side, and work all around it. There are rocks and blowdowns in the water, and the bottom drops off fast. There should be baitfish here on the point with bass holding under them.

No. 10: N 34º 14.641 – W 82º 44.451 — Go into the small creek downstream of the point in hole No. 9 and past the ditch on your left. The next secondary point has an old roadbed running off it. You can see it running down the side of the point and entering the water on the inside edge of the point. Fish this roadbed with a jig ’n pig, a jighead worm and a Fishhead spinner. Chris caught a bass here the day we fished, and it was out on the edge of the roadbed. You can work this entire pocket, too, especially if there are baitfish in it.

These 10 spots give you good examples of the types of points and coves bass hold on this month at Russell. Give it a try, and you should catch fish on one of our prettiest lakes.

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