The on-again, off-again demise of summer has finally dropped water temperatures enough to start the long-anticipated fall schooling activity for hybrid, striped and even black bass species on Lake Hartwell. 

According to guide Steve Crenshaw, the action, which was sporadic through October and the first week of November, has come on strong over the last couple of weeks.

“We caught 15 to 20 fish in one trip last week, and earlier this week, we had 30 fish that didn’t take us long at all to put in the boat,” he said.

The majority of fish are hybrid bass, with some schoolie-sized stripers mixed in. Crenshaw (864-608-2763) said his parties were catching the majority of their fish feeding at the surface, casting Flukes or Rooster Tails into the swirling fish.

“We’re not seeing acres of fish come up at one time; it’s small pods of fish off a larger school chasing bait,” said Crenshaw. “The good thing is when they come up, they’re staying up for several minutes at a time. They’re giving us plenty of time to get three or four fish out of each school before they go back down.”

Crenshaw said he has heard of and seen the same type of action, bass feeding on baitfish, all over the lake. He has had success with his parties on the Tugaloo River, anywhere from the T-14 marker back to the I-85 bridge, and midway back in Six-and-Twenty Creek. One school of fish will be in the middle of the channel, and the next school of fish will be up against the bank.

Typical of fall topwater patterns, Crenshaw said the activity isn’t necessarily at daylight, but will begin around 8:30 and last until about 11 a.m. on clear, sunny days. On the odd cloudy or overcast day, he has seen the schooling activity last through the morning and into the afternoon.

“I still start at daylight, fishing live herring on downrods around shoals in 30 to 40 feet of water,” he said. “Usually, we’ll get a few fish in the boat before the schooling starts, then we’ll spend the rest of the time casting to schools with smaller baits on 10-pound class tackle, then go hunt the next school. Most of our fish are in the 3- to 5-pound range, but it’s a lot of fun when you get on a school and several anglers are hooked up at one time.”