We went up to Hartwell for a few days over the Fourth of July weekend. I dread being on the lakes on a holiday weekend, but the kids like to swim, and usually boat traffic isn’t too bad in the mornings. I always say it is a bad day when you can see at least 10 boats wherever you go. In the afternoons, it was more like 20+ boats. Fortunately, I didn’t get run over and the fish actually bit pretty good. I did have one boat coming straight toward me while I was fishing. Right before I decided to start waving my hands and jumping up and down, he made a sharp turn around me. I was surprised, with all the boats running around, that was the only problem I had.
With the water temperature being 87 degrees in the morning and rising to 89 degrees in the afternoon, the fish were deep as expected. I caught all my fish using a drop shot rig. No matter which hump or point I went to, I could usually find schools of fish. They were normally in the 15- to 25-foot range. As with drop-shotting, sometimes you would need to search around to find them, but they were normally there somewhere.
I had some old packs of Wackem drop shot worms and decided I would use them to see how they worked. Normally, I will use a Zoom watermelon seed swamp crawler. They bit the Wackem worms very well. I’m not sure if they were just “biting” or if it was those worms. Once you find the school, it was just dropping the worm through them to the bottom, tighten your line, and wait for the bite.
I have a few underwater humps that come up to about 15-20 feet below the surface. These are made sweeter by having some brush or trees on them. These always hold fish and the fish were there as usual. These are the type of areas I normally seek during the summertime, although every point and hump I went to had a school of fish on it. They just needed to be found.
It was fun. My son even caught a fish after I dropped the drop shot to the bottom and let him hold the rod and twitch it up and down. Unfortunately, allowing him to drop it down and fish it himself, the fish did not cooperate. I use a very ultralight rod with 6-pound fluorocarbon, so even the smallest fish will put up a fight. He got to reel all the fish, so he actually “caught” all the fish. I was just the net man.
If you are wondering, the net was not really needed. I have found out, when fishing a drop shot rig, if you allow the fish to jump around while you are trying to lip it, the line can get tangled real bad. If you immediately net them when they get to the boat, the chance of the line hold the weight getting tangled is reduced.
I know the pictures below are not very good, but I just wanted to show a couple of the schools of fish we saw. My old Lowrance still works well and haven’t replaced it with a color unit. The backlight is also out, so that makes taking pictures on it harder too.
All in all, the fishing was very good despite it being very hot. We usually fished 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. We would catch 4-5 each time we went out. We would also miss around 4-5 each time also. None of the fish were very big, averaging probably just over 1 pound. We did catch a couple that were pushing 2 pounds though. I would have loved to have a few clouds or rain to cool it down, but it was a good time and fish cooperated.
Stay safe and be careful on the lakes as they can be busy this time of year.