Lake Hartwell Preview – A different Hartwell this go around

The NPFL returns to Lake Hartwell to kick off stop #2 of the 2024 NPFL Season.  With the 2024 Championship event behind us, the NPFL returns to action this week at Green Pond Landing, on the famous Lake Hartwell. Hosted by Anderson County, Lake Hartwell produced for the NPFL field in April of 2022, where Drew Six took the victory by targeting deep spawning fish, and outlasted the shad spawn bites as the final scales closed.

Collin Smith
This year, a month later in the season with several natural factors at play, Lake Hartwell is looking a lot different. Colin Smith knows the lake as well as anyone in the field and says despite May and June being two of his favorite months to fish, it might be a tougher week than most expected due to major weather that swept through the area recently.  “We have had it all recently – crazy weather, tornados and trees and power lines down,” he said on Saturday, before the official practice period.

“Our neighboring counties had it worse, but the fish will be biting and someone will catch them well. I love this time of year; there is so much happening and so many things that ‘should’ be playing out here. However, it has been tough.”

With everything said, Smith said some of the local events have seen some decent weights, but it’s been tough to be consistent day over day. In the NPFL, those who come out on top will have strung together three good days. 3-pound bites could be tough to come by with added pressure on the lake in the weeks leading up to the event.

“I’d guess it’s about 80% post-spawn, which means the fish are in thank ‘funk’ and nothing is for certain each day as things change,” he added. “This is an event where getting a big bite will make a huge difference. Under normal circumstances, it should be fishing better than it is, but the pressure on this lake has been unreal the last few weeks. Combined with the post-spawn deal, it could be hard to come by a 3-pound fish. It’s a marathon this week, not a sprint. You need to fish throughout practice, and the tournament, with an open mind because things are changing”

Brandon Perkins
In 2022, with the weights tight at the top, Brandon Perkins was right where he wanted to be on the final day. Weather and fishing pressure affected his bite and threw him a curve ball on the final day. His shallow “sight-fishing” pattern faded quickly. Now in 2024, Perkins is fresh off a victory at the inaugural NPFL Championship which changes the entire outlook of his season.  Practice kicked off on Sunday and Perkins was bouncing around trying to figure out how he should focus his practice period.

“Water temperatures are a lot warmer and they are way further along in the spawning process,” he said. “There are some fish spawning, but for the most part, it seems like, as of now, most of the fish are not shallow.”

With the weather on Sunday, Perkins was hoping to get a good look around in shallow water to determine if he should continue focusing a portion of his practice on the bank, where he had success in 2022. With lots of anglers offshore fishing for pressured fish, he hopes to avoid fishing in a crowd as much as possible and hopes to find less pressured bass.

“The places from 2022 are dirtier and different, and the majority of the fish I have seen and caught have been offshore,” he noted. “The problem is, those fish are super hard to catch, there are boats all over them, and the few I have caught have been smaller sized. Looking forward to tomorrow and Tuesday, I feel like I know where and what I need to do, where the fish are at, but it’s going to come down to figuring out how to catch a few of the bigger fish – and fishing less pressured areas.”

Jesse Wise
Making a top ten on Hartwell in 2022, Jesse Wise has been super consistent throughout his time on the NPFL with top-five Progressive Angler of the Year finishes. Wise has had an up-and-down practice, through the midpoint of Tuesday and like Collin Smith, knows a big bite or two will make or break the event.

“These fish are super educated but the one thing we have is the low light bite – you can get a few fish to commit,” he said. “I have been able to do that during practice, but the next day I only caught a few keepers, so being consistent is tough.”

Wise noted lots of boats are fishing “the same types of things” and the fish show interest but are very hard to get to bite. Like the others, he feels like local pressure and fishing being in “the funk” are responsible, but like always, someone will catch them.

“These fish are tired and not wanting to eat,” he added. “I like these tougher events, but it’s stressful. If you don’t land a few big fish, you are not getting paid out here this week. I was thinking more before, but now 12 pounds per day should cash a check, and maybe 47 pounds total to win.”

How to Watch
Tune in daily from May 16 through 18 to watch daily action from Lake Hartwell with Live Coverage here and on the FREE PHYX TV App beginning on Thursday.  Follow along and watch the daily LIVE Leaderboard, LIVE Blog, and on-the-water photo galleries and blogs of the anglers on Lake Hartwell.

Under the Go Live Tab, choose LIVE Broadcast or check out the real-time leaderboard on the Weigh Live Tracker with estimated weights entered by the anglers on the water and join us for the LIVE Weigh-ins, here!

And be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, & Twitter.

NPFL Stop #2 on Lake Hartwell is hosted by Anderson County. For more event Information, click here.