Lake Hartwell stripers heat up as weather cools

Hybrid and striped bass really put on the feed bag on Lake Hartwell this month.

Summer’s gone, but the bite is still sizzling hot

By the time little kids in weird costumes have amassed all the Halloween candy they can eat, the oppressive summer of 2019 will be a near-distant memory. But fishing for stripers and hybrids on Lake Hartwell is as hot as an August heat wave, according to guide Chip Hamilton of Easley, S.C.

“November is a really good fishing month,” said Hamilton (864-304-9011). “The only thing that ever goes wrong in November is when we get some really nasty weather fronts coming down from the North. They can really mess things up.”

That said, there are two major patterns for stripers and hybrids in November, Hamilton said. The main one is a carryover from October that can last through Christmas and well into January.

Hamilton locates groups of stripers and hybrids around underwater islands, humps and main-lake points that taper off slowly before dropping off in the channel.

“We are looking for clean, flat spots about 40 to 45 feet deep with bait on them. If there is no bait, there won’t be any fish,” he said. “We mainly just set up on those flats, humps and points and put out live herring on Carolina rigs just off the bottom. That is usually the go-to pattern every morning when we start out.”

The other pattern is topwater schooling, he said, adding that you never know when fish will school or where. It just happens.

Artificial lures sometimes work better than live bait

“I am always looking for it. They will just decide to come off the humps and gather up and chase the bait out in the middle of the lake,” he said.

The two main ways to catch these schooling fish are by casting artificial lures and pulling live herring on free-lines, he said.

“I have seen days when they hit artificials better than a live bait,” he said. “The live herring we are using might not match the bait they are hitting. So we have to match the size with the artificial baits.”

Hamilton said his artificials of choice are Sebile Magic Swimmers, Little Fishies and a Pulse jig with a Fluke body.

Throwing artificials into the schools is not finesse fishing, he said. “Just rip the lure right through them.”

By Thanksgiving, fishing live herring on Carolina rigs is usually in full swing, he said. A party of three or four fishermen on his boat often land limits totaling 30 to 40 fish. Sometimes artificials work better on the deep pattern, too, he added.

“Action on small jigging spoons really starts picking up in November on the spots where we drop the Carolina rig. It is a dynamite pattern in December and January,” Hamilton said.

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