June is one of the best, if not the best month, to fish for stripers and hybrids on Lake Hartwell, according to guide Preston Harden of Commerce, Ga.
“The fish seem to eat really good in June,” Harden said. “By June, the false spawn is over, and they go on a feeding spree. They really put the pounds on. If you can get a blueback herring near him, he is going to eat it.”
The key, Harden said, is having good electronics on your boat and knowing how to use them. As the water begins to warm in early to mid-June, the summer thermocline beings to form in the creeks in the upper part of the lake and moves down the river channels.
The thermocline is the line between the warm layer of water, which is less dense, that lies over the colder, denser, deeper water as the sun continues to warm the surface during summer. The fish stay above the thermocline because there is little or no dissolved oxygen in the water below it. As the summer wears on, there is less and less oxygen below the thermocline, because the water there never circulates to the surface, and organisms in the water deplete the available oxygen.
“The fish come out of the feeder creeks and the Seneca and Tugaloo rivers and ride above the thermocline coming down the lake,” said Harden (706-255-5622). “By mid- to late June, fishing becomes very predictable. Just fish above the thermocline heading down the lake.”
That’s where the electronics come in, Harden said. Fish are not necessarily associated with underwater structure; they are beginning to school above the thermocline, which is very noticeable on good electronics.
“I very seldom fish this time of year without marking them on my fish finder or seeing them schooling,” Harden said. “When the fish are in less than 10 feet of water, it’s hard to use your electronics because they are so shallow, but when they move deep, striper fishing becomes hunting and then fishing. It’s a lot of looking and then, Bam! You are catching them really quick.”
Early in June, he said, the fish will be in 10 to 20 feet of water, but as the month progresses and the thermocline continues moving down the lake, they will be in 30 to 40 feet of water out over the river channel.
The good thing about the striper/hybrid fishing bonanza in June is that it lasts just about all summer, Harden said, through July and into August.
This time of year, fishing is all done with live blueback herring, with one major exception, Harden said.
“I always have a Lucky Craft Sammie in ghost minnow (color) to throw if the fish come up. You never know when they will pop up, but you need to be ready, so I always have that topwater plug ready to go.”