March 17, 2016
Up the Savannah River from August, Georgia is 56,000 acre Lake Hartwell. I asked 2015 Bassmaster Classic Casey Ashley champ what he liked about this amazing body of water. "It's a big lake with a lot of patterns, lots of 4 to 6 pound largemouth, and lots of big spotted bass," replied Ashley. Hartwell is not known for giant bass, but 8+ pound fish commonly come to the scales in tournaments. As you'll see below, this lake has options that will make an avid basser dizzy.
"Mid-March through mid-April is a great time to fish Hartwell. You have bass—both largemouth and spots—in all stages of the spawn," explained Ashley. The bass stage on long, flat points. Ashley temps bites rotating through jerkbaits and soft plastics offered on shakey head jigs and Carolina rigs.
The peak largemouth and spotted bass spawn will begin in late March and continue through mid-April. Search shallow pockets off the main lake and large coves. The water is clear enough that site fishing is a strong option.
When the water warms to 64-65 °F, the blueback herring spawn begins. "Unlike the shad spawn, the herring spawn throughout the day," said Ashley. "From my own experience, 11 to 2 is when the herring-spawn action is best." And if this doesn't excite you, the best way to catch herring-crashing bass is with topwaters. Ashley prefers large pencil poppers, Zara spooks, and Zoom flukes.
If the herring-spawn bite dies or you want a change from mauling bass on topwaters, you can always go site fishing or return to the points for staging bass.
Hartwell also hosts excellent striper and hybrid striped bass fishing.
Contacts: Casey Ashley, Brad Fowler, Striper and Hybrid Bass Fishing, Buster Green's Guide Service.
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