The tailrace behind the Lake Hartwell Dam offers cold water siphoned from the depths of the lake, and for striper fishermen on Lake Russell, it’s a great place to catch fish during the summer, especially the dog days. It’s a place you’re likely to find Seneca-based guide Steve Pietrykowski.
“Because the water stays cool through the summer, we can pretty well stick with spring tactics to catch fish in this area of Lake Russell” said Pietrykowski (864-353-3438), who relies on live-bait tactics, using freelines and planer boards to catch stripers.
“Once the summer heat gets pretty consistent in August, the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) will run water through the dam on a pretty regular schedule,” he said. “On a typical day, they’ll start somewhere between 12 noon and 2 o’clock running water. Right after they start running the water is a good time to get on some fish.”
The Corps is one of the few companies that operates impoundments that publishes a schedule of water releases, with is a bonus to fishermen planning a day’s outing. They can plan to be in place when the water running through the turbine brings bait and current to the hungry stripers
“The daylight bite is usually pretty good, and there’s almost always going to be fish holding along the channel somewhere between where the rocks stop just below the dam and about a mile below Smith McGee ramp” said Pietrykowski. “We’ll usually start the day out pulling planer boards with live bait. Certain areas along the channel run will hold fish at certain times, and I can often target those bottom contours, but the best bet now is to focus on the edge of the Savannah River channel.
“The big fish usually come early, say within the first two hours of daylight. That’s when you want to be pulling big baits. The best baits, if you can get them, will be 10- to 14-inch gizzard shad, or you can buy rainbow trout at The Bait Shop in Townville. ”
After the daylight bite, Pietrykowski will stick around and fish the moving water once generation begins. He said that the current flow will move stripers into strategic ambush points like humps, run-outs and drop offs, though most of these will still be related to the edge of the main channel which directs the flow of released water after it moves out of the immediate spillway run.