Lake Hartwell’s channel catfish are, in the words of guide Bill Plumley, and “overlooked” fishery on the sprawling Savannah River reservoir. They way they’ve been biting recently should be making headlines

“A lot of people don’t realize how many channel cats there are in this lake,” said Plumley (864-230-7363). “They tend to get overlooked because of all the striper and bass fishing that goes on here, but you’ll find them all over the bank. Every point or hump will have three or four on it.

“(Now), it’s time to go catching. When the water gets this warm, you can catch all the channel cats you want, anywhere from five to 20 feet deep, using a good stinkbait and a little piece of swim noodle.”

Plumley said that after weeks of rain and rising water, the summer pattern has finally stabilized, and the lake’s channel cats are out in abundance.

The channel cats that Plumley targets are what he likes to call “eatin’ cats” – those in the 1- to 4-pound range that go straight from the lake to the ice box to the fryer. Unlike other species that get lethargic or go deep when the weather turns hot, channel cats get more active.

“They seem to like the hot weather, especially with the water up like it is,” said Plumley. “Usually I’ll go to a point and just nose up on the bank, but with the water up, I’m finding I’m having to anchor the boat in order to fan-cast my rods all around the area.”

Plumley has been using “dip baits” – a concoction with the consistency of peanut butter that smells as bad as any stinkbait ever did.

“I take a piece of styrofoam swim noodle – it’s a pool toy, like you buy at Wal-mart – and I cut off a little piece, hook it on a Carolina rig and then dip it down in the stinkbait,” he said. “The pool noodle is a good surface for the bait to stick to, and when you use it with a ½- to ¾-ounce weight, it floats up off the bottom. That helps the fish smell it, and they can get to it without having to root it off the bottom.”