South Carolina Division Starts at a Good Time on Hartwell - Major League Fishing
South Carolina Division Starts at a Good Time on Hartwell
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South Carolina Division Starts at a Good Time on Hartwell

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February 3, 2022 • Jody White • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine South Carolina Division is set to start the season on Lake Hartwell. With a burgeoning spotted bass population that bites well in the winter, you can bet a good time will be had by all.

Tournament Details

Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine South Carolina Division

Lake Hartwell

Anderson, S.C.

Feb. 12, 2022

Sign up today!

How the Fishery Sets Up

Built on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell is a fairly typical example of a Southeastern spotted bass and largemouth fishery. Though there are shad and bream, the primary forage is blueback herring. Hartwell has very little vegetation outside of flooded dog fennel, and the primary cover types are docks, rock, shoreline wood, brush and cane piles.

What to Expect

A Hartwell regular, Brian Latimer has fished the lake for years and lived through the process of it turning into one of the better spotted bass fisheries in the south.

“Hartwell is fishing really good now,” said Latimer. “The way the lake sets up now is so different than even five years ago. It’s become pretty much that our lakes are spotted bass fisheries at this point. It’s not a Lanier, but it’s pretty daggum close to it.”

While going for spotted bass or largemouth are both options, they aren’t necessarily doing the same things. That means that even in the winter you have multiple patterns in play.

“The great thing about the lake is you have a lot of options,” said Latimer. “You can fish for spotted bass, or if you decide to go into the creeks with stained water, you can crank, throw a spinnerbait, or throw a jig on docks. There’s always a dock bite on Hartwell. Winter, summer, spring, prespawn, postspawn, they always use the docks at some point. So, you’ve got that for your largemouth guys.”

For spots, expect deeper targets to be best.

“You’ve got three options for deep water fishing,” said Latimer. “You’ve got the ditches and drains, you can always do that. And then, the spotted bass stay on the brush piles year-round, because they harbor the baitfish and they give the bass some structure to use as ambush points. the other thing is the deep timber, they always use the deep timber. It actually plays more than the brush in the winter, the bait uses that a lot. Timber anywhere from 40 to 60 foot, that’s always a player too.”

Pegging the winning weight at anywhere from 17 to 20 pounds, Latimer thinks there will be plenty of bags in the low teens as well.

Baits and Techniques

Fishing Hartwell in the winter gives anglers the option of sticking with baitcasters and shallow water or busting out lighter tackle for deep fish.

Up shallow, you can bet on a crankbait to catch fish, and something like a Bill Lewis MR-6 or a Storm Wiggle Wart could do well. Plus, skirted baits like a spinnerbait and a jig have a long history of southern wintertime success.

Out deep, traditional baits include a jig and an underspin, but a lot of options are in play. Jerkbaits around brush could do well, plus Ned rigs and other finesse offerings are sure to catch bass. In particular, Latimer recommends a Z-Man Long ShotZ Worm or a 3.75-inch StreakZ on a drop-shot for deep brush. If you’re targeting really deep stuff, a jigging spoon is a bait you don’t want to be without in the winter.

The one sure thing is decent fishing. Spotted bass are voracious eaters all year long, and they don’t slow down in the winter. That means even if it’s cold, the fish will still be biting.