Anglers eager to feel the pull of some good fish can find just what they’re looking for on Lake Hartwell, where the striper bite is heating up with the weather. Smaller pockets of schools are scattered throughout the lake, and Capt. Seth Owens said that means anglers can catch them in a variety of ways, and in a variety of spots on the lake.
“The water temperature is relatively stable right now, and the fish are feeding. You’ll find some deep, some shallow, and you can catch them either on down rods or free-lining live herring,” said Owens of Lines Out Charters (864-909-7388).
Because the fish are currently schooling and not locked down into the submerged trees like they will be once the water temperatures edge up a few degrees, Owens said he’s currently using light line in the 12-pound class, and lighter rods. This makes the fishing more fun, as every tug of the fish seems magnified.
“Right now, the fish aren’t relating to cover like they will once it warms up. So you can get away with using lighter line and tackle. And there is no question that we are getting more bites with lighter line right now,” he said.
“This is definitely one of the best times to fish for stripers on Hartwell. The weather is comfortable, the fish are biting plenty good, and we’re not having to beef up the tackle too much. It all makes for an easier day of fishing,” he said.
When fishing around shoals in shallower water, Owens is using rods with no weight and free lining live herring. He may add one split shot or even a 1/8-ounce sinker depending on conditions, but using no weight, or as light a weight as possible allows the herring to swim freely, drawing the attention of stripers.
Pulling live herring with planers is also working. Owens said you can’t go wrong with any of these methods, but said that on some days, you’ll have to experiment with all of them to consistently get on the fish.
In deeper water, like 25 to 30 feet deep, Owens suggests anglers use 1/2-ounce to 1-ounce egg sinkers to get the bait down.
“I will drop the bait to the bottom, then reel up two or three cranks, then put that rod in a rod holder. I’ll fish with a few of those out, and that’s catching just as many as free lining in the shallows,” he said.