It’s August, and the heat is on, especially the striped bass fishing at Lake Hartwell. It’s been extraordinarily hot for both quantity and quality fish.
Guide Preston Harden said the normal pattern for the stripers is running late this year, but they are certainly on a strong bite right now.
“Usually by late July and early August, the bulk of the stripers are in the lower end of the lake, suspended in the very deep water,” Harden said. “However, the pattern has been a bit out of whack all spring and summer. The fish are finally moving toward the lower end of the lake, but we’re still catching lots of fish above the I-85 bridge near Portman Mariana and down into the mid-portion of the lake around the Anderson Islands. For me, the good news is as they are slowly moving down the lake they are biting fast and furious.”
Hardin (706-255-5622) said the most productive bait is live herring, but there has been some topwater schooling as well.
“Topwater action is scattered right now but great when it occurs,” he said. “I’m using a Lucky Strike Sammy in a ghost minnow pattern for great results. I recommend anglers have one rigged and ready just in case.
“I’m finding the big schools of stripers and hybrids school in the ditches, channels or on the humps,” he said. “The most productive depths recently have been with fish being marked suspended in the 30- to 50-foot range just above the thermocline in the middle proton of the lake. The bottom will often be 70 feet or deeper. I’ll lower the bait to just above where they are suspended based on the graph. The good thing is that if I mark several fish in an area, once we hook one or two, it seems to attract them all, and we often get into a situation where the graph depicts scads of stripers right under the boat and we’ll hookup on fish as soon as we drop the bait down. Multiple hookups are common.
“When the fish get to the lower end of the lake, the biggest difference is they will be they’ll be found in deeper water but the technique will be the same, they’ll suspend over deep water.”
“The size of the fish will vary, and if we get on a school of small fish, we’ll leave quickly because there are plenty of schools of quality fish that are on a strong bite,” Harden said. “We’ve caught some stripers over 30 pounds in the past couple of weeks and a lot of fish not far from that weight. Plus, we are catching limits of fish in the 6- to 12-pound class, with some huge chunk hybrids as well. Sometimes we’ll get on a big school and fill a cooler as fast as we can get bait down to them.”
Harden said the key will be to keep looking for the fish to move as they head downlake.
“Once the fish pile up in the lower end of the lake, typically the bite will stay strong, and we’ll actually have better odds of catching really big fish,” Harden said. “I can focus on fewer spots that are holding more fish. Right now and for the next few weeks, the action is and should remain sensational for both stripers and big hybrids.”