Lake Hartwell’s hybrid and striped bass have started to move up the rivers for their false spawning run and are hitting topwater lures, according to Capt. Steve Pietrykowski of Fishski Business Guide Service.
“When the water temperatures start to hit the 70s, the hybrids/stripers start moving up the rivers,” Pietrykowski said. “(Topwater is) an exciting way to catch them, and if you want to catch fish on top, you have to commit to it.”
Pietrykowski (864- 353-3438) keeps two, 7-foot, medium-action spinning rods ready to go at all times, one rigged with a chrome Lucky Craft Sammy and the other with a white Heddon Super Spook Jr. He customizes the Spook by painting it white with sparkles and adds extra weight so that it casts like a bullet.
Pietrykowski uses 8- to 14-pound braid because it floats and gives him the extra distance he needs to reach out to these fish. He ties the lure on with a Uni knot.
“The topwater bite will start after sun-up, and the schooling fish will come up sporadically,” said Pietrykowski. “They will only stay up a few seconds before going back down, and that will last about half an hour before they go back down for good.”
During the spring, anglers can “run and gun” to get these fish or basically wait on the fish to surface near the boat. Pietrykowski likes to get the fish coming up near the boat by throwing out live shad. It will not long be the fish start sucking down the bait.
Pietrykowski makes long casts when the fish surface, and he tries to “hit ‘em in the head.” The fish will generally strike as soon as the lure hits the water and attack the lure and not blow up on it.
After the lure has settled on the water and if a fish has not struck, Pietryowski will start working the bait by “walking the dog” – making a series of quick jerks to make the lure jump back and forth. He moves the lure fast and makes a “big commotion to get the fish excited.”
“You don’t have to work the lure more than a couple of feet before they will hit,” Pietryowski said. “If you don’t get a strike, reel in quickly and get ready for when they come back up again.”
These hybrids/stripers are schooling up and down the Seneca River and its tributary creeks: Martin, Coneross and Eighteen Mile. The Keowee River is also loaded with fish.
Most of these fish from are running from 1 ½ to 7 pounds, and most are hanging right off the river channel. They are holding in 20 feet of water and suspended in depths from 14 to 18 feet.
In the next couple weeks as water warms, the fish will start moving back down the rivers into deeper water, and the topwater bite will leave with the fish.