After a summer of torrential rainfall and high water, the summer pattern that Clarks Hill striper guides rely on has arrived – at last. 

Guide Mark Crawford said that in a normal year, Clarks Hill’s deep, clear water stratifies and eliminates more than half of the water in which he has to hunt for striped bass. Fortunately, it’s better late than never.

“All summer, we’ve had current flowing through this lake,” said Crawford (706-373-8347). “That’s kept thermoclines from forming and kept water oxygenated all over the lake. Good for the lake, but fish could be and were everywhere and not concentrated, and that makes the fishing tough.”

August produced some changes, and Crawford said the signs of stripers and hybrids schooling up over humps in 20 to 30 feet of water – and even surface schooling – could be expected.

“It’s our typical September pattern,” Crawford said, “and here on Clarks Hill, that’s pretty good.”

Early and late in the day, anglers can expect to locate striped bass based on surface-feeding activity. Crawford keeps rods rigged with topwater baits so his clients can cast into the schools.

“The fish are not picky when they’re on top,” he said. “Mostly they’re grabbing at anything moving on the surface that’s smaller than they are.”

During the balance of the day, Crawford will cruise a series of underwater humps and long points in the mid-lake area and Georgia’s Little River looking for fish on his graph. Once a school is located, he’ll use the trolling motor to slowly creep around the perimeter of the contour with live herring dangling straight down on Carolina rigs.

“I couldn’t say for sure that it’s a thermocline that’s holding them there,” he said. “The Corps has been generating power, running water through the dam from early morning until at least noon most days. We were able to free-line baits back in the coves a week ago, so the water quality is still good all over the lake. I think they just become accustomed to feeding around humps and points this time of year, so that’s what they do.”