Lake Hartwell has long been know for its bass, crappie, and striper fishing, but probably the best kept secret is the catfish fishing. The reason that catfish fishing is kept a secret is there are big catfish in Lake Hartwell.
Catfish fishing on Lake Hatwell is very similar to fishing on Santee-Cooper or Lake Wateree. Drifting with cut or live blueback herring or gizzard shad is the main way these catfish are caught. But at the recent Shriners Hospital for Children Catfish Tournament, the biggest complaint from the tournament anglers was that they could not keep the stripers off the hook, but that is another story.
For the most part the catfish are now hanging out in the flats in the rivers. Floating down the rivers in 10 to 25 feet of water early in the morning is very productive. A trolling motor or if the wind is up, a drift sock is essential for catching these cats and using a controlled drift.
The basic equipment is a seven foot medium heavy rod with a Ambassador 6500 reel spooled with 20 to 30 pound line. This line is fished Carolina rig style with a sliding 1 1/4 ounce weight or “snake weight. The main line is tied to a barrel swivel and a 50 pound three foot leader is tied to the other end of the barrel swivel. A small 1˝-3 inch float is secured half way up the leader with a 5/0 -8/0 circle hook attached.
For the most part, blue cats are predominate on Lake Hartwell, but you never know what you will pull in. So if you have never tried cat fishing on Lake Hartwell, give it a try. But don't keep it a secret. Share your secrets with me.
South Carolina Sportsman Field Reporter
Capt. Glenn “Teach” Corley