Lake Hartwell’s striper heat wave

Upstate stripers bite hot during November

Stripers don’t mind cold weather. In fact, in most southern waters, they are more active as fall weather sets in, heartily eating baitfish.

And for guide Chip Hamilton of Lake Hartwell Striper Charters (864-304-9011), finding the baitfish is the key to staying on stripers this time of year.

“This is a really good month on Lake Hartwell for stripers. The key is finding clean flats, hump and points in deep water. As long as those areas have bait, that’s what we want,” he said.

When Hamilton says deep water, he’s specifically looking for areas that are in the neighborhood of 35 to 45 feet deep.

“But the bait is the key. Even in the perfect areas, if bait’s not there, the fish won’t be there either,” he said.

When he finds those spots in that depth, and baitfish are present, he rigs his rods up with live bait.

“We’ll put out live herring using Carolina rigs, and set them up just off the bottom on those areas. When we first start fishing, this is usually our go-to pattern every morning,” he said.

Topwater at times

One of the more exciting patterns also takes place this month. But Hamilton said it’s not something you can plan for. You should, however, always be ready for it. It can happen anywhere on the lake at any time of day. And it usually ends just as quickly as it begins.

“The topwater action is unpredictable, but it’s not uncommon for it to take place. I’m always looking around at the surface. And they’ll just decide to come out of deep water and chase the baitfish,” he said.

When he sees this happen, he fires artificial lures like Sebile Magic Swimmers and Little Fishies into the schools of crashing fish. And it’s not a time to be gentle.

“It’s just firing the lure in there and ripping it right throught the schools. When one hits it, hang on,” he said.

Free it up

When he’s seeing a lot of schooling activity that doesn’t last long, but continues throughout multiple areas of the lake, Hamilton said free-lining live herring is a good bet. This helps cover a lot of water quickly.

“Pulling live herring on free lines is usually a good way to catch them. But it’s important here to match the size of the baitfish they’re hitting. If our baits aren’t the right size, it’s better to use artificials because we can use whatever size we need,” he said.

Toward the end of the month and into December, Hamilton said jigging spoons in deep water becomes an effective way to target the fish.

One thing that can turn the bite off this month is a winter weather event.

“It usually happens in December or later, but sometimes we can get a nasty weather front from the north this month. If that happens, it can wreck the fishing for a few days,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2800 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. 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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