Hartwell’s shallows are key for stripers, hybrids

Guide Preston Harden likes to free-line live bait for hybrids and stripers on humps, shoals or points. (Photo by Pat Robertson)

Mornings and afternoons are productive

April may be the most-popular fishing month on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell because it is the shallow month for most species, according to Preston Harden of Bucktail Guide Service.

“The bass are shallow, the hybrids and stripers are shallow and crappie are still spawning shallow,” said Harden. He also said mornings are as good as afternoons this month after fishing mostly in the afternoon in March.

“The bass will stay shallow all day. Sometimes, the hybrids and stripers will feed shallow and then move out. But then they will move back later.”

A lot of fishermen go up the rivers in April because the narrower waterways congregate stripers, and fish can get crowded in the upper reaches. Some fish do migrate up the lake to spawn. But a lot hang on the shallow banks down the lake, he said.

“By April, hybrids and stripers are keying on herring. So if you can get a herring close to one, he will eat it,” said Harden (706-255-5622). If you can get a herring within 20 feet of a striper or hybrid this time of year, he will eat it.”

Artificial lures are also good this month

Harden’s favorite way to fish is to get around a shoal, a hump or a point and put out free-lines with no weight.

“If they see it, they are going to eat it,” he said. “I also like to fish artificials in April. My favorite is a bucktail jig with a little Zoom Fluke. Just make it dance in the water. My next favorite is a Scrounger jighead with a Fluke. Another excellent lure in April, especially later in the month, is a white Sebille Magic Swimmer. It’s a no-brainer; just reel it right under the surface and get it wobbling back and forth.”

Harden explained that when stripers and hybrids are just feeding around but are not real aggressive, they will hit the Sebille.

“The main thing in April is keying on shallow water,” he said. “This lake is full of 5- to 10-pound hybrids and there are a lot of 10- to 12-pound stripers. They have put so many fish in this lake in the past three or four years it is on the verge of being unbelievable. We may not be known for monster fish right now, but we do have the numbers. And a bonus is that the spotted bass have just come on strong.”

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