Hartwell This Time Around

“I’d like for the water level and the temperature to be steadily rising and for the fish to be wanting to pull up. Not only would that work out for me, but it will show Lake Hartwell’s true colors and the weights will be higher. It’s a really big lake with a lot of different structure — standing timber, cane piles, rock, docks — and if the lake is full (or at least higher, all that stuff has potential.”

Considering the big picture, Williamson said he believes a shallow shootout with mild weather would also create a more fan-friendly Classic with comfortable conditions for takeoff and on-the-water spectating.

“I just know that, if it’s warm and the fish are biting, people can get out on the water and watch us; they can get out and go to the Expo,” he said. “I just think that if it’s warm and the water’s rising, it will be a great Classic all the way around.”

Local Knowledge: Williamson; and, to a greater degree, Ashley will arrive at Hartwell with solid historical references borne of many visits over many years. They both agree that strategies and outcomes depend largely on what the weather serves up.

If the water remains low and the weather favors winter’s harshness, Ashley believes that those familiar with Hartwell’s honey holes will have the distinct advantage of accessing a long list of the sneaky spots that others may or may not find.

“When the water’s low and the weather is cold and nasty, that’s when local knowledge comes into play,” Ashley said. “But if the water comes up and the weather gets warm, local knowledge goes out the window.”

Williamson agrees, but points to another possible scenario; one that could make this 56,000-acre Savannah River reservoir fish uncomfortably small.

“The one thing you don’t want is for the water to be falling that time of year,” he said. “When it starts dropping, instead of getting up on the bank, the fish will stay out and suspend.”

Likely Lures: Pretty straightforward stuff — if the tournament sees a shoreward move, Williamson would expect shallow crankbaits, spinnerbaits and wacky-rigged worms to play. He’s not looking for any sight fishing opportunities — probably still too early, even with a warm up. But covering water to locate prewpawners willing to chase down moving baits is a solid possibility.

Offshore, you can’t rule out the underspins that delivered Ashley’s Classic win three years ago. Add to that your shaky heads, football jigs, deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits and dropshots for thorough coverage. Favoring the latter, Williamson said he’ll monitor fish positioning and tweak his rig accordingly.

“My standard drop-shot leader length is 12 inches and then I will adjust if I feel the need depending on how the fish are relating to the cover,” he said.

Light Line: Exactly where that combination of weather and water level leads the Classic competitors will play a big role in bait selection, as well as rigging decisions.

“The main body of Lake Hartwell is normally always clear, even in the pockets; so regardless of depth, if I’m fishing the main body light line will be key,” Williamson said. “I like 6- to 8-pound Gamma fluorocarbon; however, if I’m up one of the rivers or creek arms where there is some stained water, line size is not as critical.”

No doubt, many question marks still remain for the 2018 Classic, but whether the fish are lethargic or lively, this field of 52 accomplished anglers are sure to put on a show worth watching.

Originally posted on Bassmaster Go to Source
Author: David A. Brown

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