Mixed-bag fishing takes off at Lake Russell this month

Guide Wendell Wilson catches plenty of nice crappie, along with several other species, on live minnows around deep brush in Lake Russell.

Crappie, perch, spotted bass, and catfish all heat up this month

Fall officially starts tomorrow, even though we still have some hot weather in store. But the miserably hot weather will soon be a welcome sight in the rearview mirror. And the fishing on South Carolina’s Lake Russell is already getting really good, according to guide Wendell Wilson of Elberton, Ga.

The next couple of months are great for catching mixed bags of crappie, white perch, yellow perch, spotted bass and catfish. Wilson targets brush piles in 20 to 25 feet of water in coves off the main lake.

“On a typical day this time of year, we usually catch four or five species. And we will have 30 to 40 fish in the cooler by the time we head for the boat ramp,” Wilson said. “In September, the baitfish start migrating into the large coves. And the mixed-bag fishing gets better and better as the water cools.”

Wilson suggest fishing primarily with medium-sized minnows unless you want to target spotted bass. You can do that by drop-shotting a 4-inch worm around the brush, he said.

“Sometimes, the bass will be right in the brush, and sometimes, they won’t,” he said. “They will be with the shad schools in the coves. They will also be moving around a little. But if you are catching a lot of bass, mostly spotted bass, you probably won’t catch a lot of crappie.”

Pay attention to your depthfinder

For crappie, Wilson (706-283-3336) ties a drop-shot rig with a 3/8-ounce sinker and either a No. 4 or No. 2 gold hook. To target crappie, he suggests dropping minnows straight down into the bush.

“The crappie this time of year will be pretty good -sized, up to a pound or a pound-and-a-quarter,” he said. “Sometimes, you catch some pretty good-sized perch, too, up to almost a pound. The white perch like to stay right around the edge of the brush, right on the bottom.”

Wilson watches his depth finder to determine where fish are holding in the water column. Then he places his baits at that depth.

“Sometimes, we let the bait all the way down to the bottom right next to the brush. And sometimes, we hold the bait 10 to 12 feet down,” he said. “If you see fish on the graph up in the brush, just reel up to them.”

This pattern stays the same right on through October, he said, but it gets better because more fish concentrate in the 20- to 25-foot depth range as the water gets cooler.

“But as the water gets cooler and cooler into November, you will target yellow perch more, and the crappie won’t be quite as active. It seems like the yellow perch come out of nowhere in November,” Wilson said.

Click here for tips on targeting trophy stripers at Lake Russell.

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