Catching striped bass and hybrids on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell is a pretty simple deal this month, according to guide Chip Hamilton of Easley, S.C.
Two major things are happening with the fish, he said. “At the beginning of the month, they are still coming off their summer pattern and are still in deeper water. When the water temperature starts to drop as fall starts to come in, they will be in transition, moving up to shallower water.”
Hamilton (864-304-9011) said that when September arrives, fish will be holding on flats 60 to 80 feet deep off river channels that may run twice as deep, or they may be suspended out in those channels.
“That is the typical August pattern, and it carries on at least through the first week of September,” he said, “and I have seen it go on longer. The fish are not always aggressive in early September. You can see a bunch of fish on the graph and drop the bait down to them, expecting to catch them fast, but they are still coming off that summer pattern.”
But, he added, as the water cools toward the end of the month, the bite will pick up considerably.
“When the temperature starts to drop, the fish will be in transition,” Hamilton said. “The bait moves up, and the fish just move up with them into shallower water. They will come up to 40- to 60-foot depths on flats, and if they are suspended they will be in the 40- to 50-foot range.”
Hamilton said he will be fishing this month in the last couple of miles of the Tugaloo River and Seneca River and all the areas down towards the dam, fishing mostly live blueback herring on Carolina-rigged down lines.
“You can catch them on artificials, too,” he said. “A lot of guys like to work big, magnum jigging spoons, but smaller spoons work, too. As for topwater, I’ve seen the fish start schooling towards the end of the month.”
The catch in September is a good mixture of stripers and hybrids, Hamilton said, but it is also a good time to catch big stripers before the fall migration up into the rivers.
“Before the fish start moving up, a lot of the bigger stripers will still be down in that ares close to the dam,” he said.
One other factor to be aware of in September is current.
“The heavier they generate at the dam the more aggressive the fish will be,” he said. “They have to eat, but they eat better when the current is moving and making the water more oxygen rich.”