Now that the kids are out of school, many families are looking to head outdoors and spend some time together, and what better way to spend time than fishing.

Vacationers looking for a good place to catch plenty of fish need look no further than Lake Hartwell; its 56,000 acres of water in Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee Counties on the South Carolina/Georgia state line are teeming with plenty of fishing action this month.

Guide Bill Plumley (864-230-7363) said anglers have two solid fishing bets this time of year; they and need to concentrate on striped bass and catfish.

Hartwell receives annual stockings of both striped bass and hybrid bass through a cooperative management agreement between the states of South Carolina and Georgia.

"This time of year you fish for striped bass and hybrids the same way," said Plumley. "The fish have moved into the mid-lake areas, and most of the action is taking place from right before daylight until 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning. Fish are moving into any of the shallow pockets off the main lake anywhere from Portman Shoals down toward the dam."

 lumley said his last few his parties have been catching their limits by free-lining live herring around main-lake points outside those pockets. If they don't get a limit early, Plumley said he'll spend the mid-morning fishing the same baits on down rods just out from the main points.

"Right now, they're moving a lot, so if you don't find them in one pocket, move on to the next one," he said. "I'll pull planer boards early, then move out to the edge of the standing timber in 25 to 40 feet of water and catch them on down rods."

Plumley said that anglers who aren't interested in stripers or those who want a change of pace can also target catfish at Hartwell.

"The average size of blue catfish in the lake has increased tremendously in the last few years," he said. "But if you want to catch a lot of good, eating sized catfish, you can't beat Hartwell for channel cats in the 2- to 5-pound range."


Plumley has two methods by which he targets channel cats.

"You can find a sloping red bank – there are plenty of them at Hartwell – and just go down the bank casting half a nightcrawler on a split-shot rig," he said. "The other method – if  your boat is rigged up to troll – is to put out several Santee rigs, which have a crawling sinker to keep from getting snagged and a small crappie float just below the bait to keep it off the bottom. You can just troll a half a nightcrawler or some of the commercially made Hoss's Hawg Bait down the shoreline and catch all you want."

 Plumley said that channel cats, and often shellcrackers and bluegills, will hold just off the bank on any kind of wood or rock structure. He said the ideal depth for finding cats, whether trolling or casting, is 15 feet of water or less.