Spotted bass biting in heat of day on Hartwell

Brian Latimer targets spotted bass on Lake Hartwell this month because they aren’t as sluggish as largemouths. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Spotted bass bite throughout the heat of the day

For pro bass fisherman Brian Latimer of Belton, S.C., spotted bass are lifesavers on Lake Hartwell in September. That’s especially true in the first half of the month.

“September is often thought of as a transition month, but the fact is, it’s really an extension of August,” he said. “It’s still brutally hot, especially during the first two weeks. The largemouth are sluggish, and they will completely shut down in the middle of the day. Spots, on the other hand, you can catch them at any time of the day, and anywhere on the lake.”

And while having some fish willing to bite can be a blessing, he said the behavior of spots can also be a curse.

“It’s not really something you can develop a pattern over,” he said. “They can bite deep in the middle of the lake one day, then shallow and sporadically the next. It can even change throughout the same day. These fish will keep you guessing. But the good thing is, if you stick to it and eliminate what’s not working, you will catch your share.”

Look for bait schools

Latimer said it’s tough to beat the soft-plastic bite this month. Drop-shotting, Z-Man Ned Rigs, and ShadZ are all good choices. He watches his electronics closely and targets bait schools.

One thing anglers need to remember this month is that you can’t be afraid to completely change what you’re doing, even if you’ve had some success doing it.

“You can catch a few fish on a deep ledge, then the bite goes cold,” he said. “It’s easy to stick with the same technique and in the same areas, but when the bite shuts down this time of year, you need to turn the tables. Even if it’s just to reset your own mind, you’ve got to make a change.”

Don’t be afraid to reset your mind

When the fish shut down, Latimer said he will move from open water into small coves and fish around docks or shallow water.

“That doesn’t always result in fish. Sometimes it does, in a big way, but even when it doesn’t, making a change that drastic clears my mind and gets me thinking again,” he said. “Even if I don’t catch fish, it lets me eliminate that type of water and cover. And it gets me thinking about what I should try, instead of just sitting in the same spot wondering why the fish quit biting.”

Latimer also said that September fishing is all a numbers game. He doesn’t expect to catch many big fish, but the numbers will make up for it.

“You can catch big numbers of spots this month. The size will run small, for the most part, but with every small fish you catch, you’re one step closer to catching a big one. It’s really a numbers game. Eliminate water, change things up when the bite slows, and put as many fish in the boat as you can,” he said.

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1651 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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