Lake Hartwell in Ga

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Lake Hartwell - Lake Comprises of normal pool elevation

Fishing at Lake Hartwell, Georgia 

If you want to catch bass in Lake Hartwell, you need to stock up on the lures and aim for the main creeks like Crane Creek and Beaverdam.

There’s plenty of gamefish, like striped bass, in the main channel ahead of the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca rivers.

According to the Lake Hartwell Fishing Report, the pre-spawn is already there. As a result, many species, including catfish, walleye, and spotted bass, will gather around the rock piles. This time of the year, fish bite at just about everything.

Main Fish Species in Lake Hartwell

The entire lake has been stocked with naturally occurring species. For the most popular fishing spot in Georgia, Lake Hartwell has an abundance of panfish, trout, striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, and bream.

You can find more than 40 types of fish in Lake Hartwell. A Recreational License is required to fish in this lake.

Fishing on Lake Hartwell is fun and challenging. The water is deep, so anglers often use a fish finder to locate groups of stripers. A striped bass caught at GA and South Carolina spots weighs between 6-12 lbs. on average.

It would be best to drop the bait right above the thermocline in the winter season. The small fish that bass prey on often swim in warmer water, so you can target that spot regardless of where you are on the lake.

What Baits and Lures to Use

The Lake Hartwell fishing spots are spread over Georgia and South Carolina.

Mop jigs, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, and cranks are effective when fishing in the South Carolina part. The same goes for fish on this side of the dam.

The largemouth bass in Tugaloo and Seneca river love blue backs, shiners, threadfins, and gizzard shads. Using a 4.5-inch straight tail worm rigged on a split shot/drop hook with ¼-ounce weight is effective in Lake Hartwell. Take it from Capt Peter T that’s mad over 300k in the BassMaster!

Top Targeted Fish Species

Northern Largemouth bass
Northern Bass
Spotted Bass

Spotted Bass

Walleye Fish
Walleye
Crappie fish

Crappie

See all fish species >>>

If you’re into camping, fishing, and all things outdoorsy, then the entire Hartwell lake is your type of area.

The Hartwell lake area keeps everyone amused, from bass fishing tournaments to regattas, art galleries, and botanical gardens.

Today we’ll talk about the best places to visit around Lake Hartwell in GA, its popular campgrounds, boat ramps, and rentals.

Hartwell is home to picturesque campsites with lakefront views, hiking trails, and comfy yurts.

Bass fishing enthusiasts can scroll down to our Lake Hartwell fishing tips and tricks. This guide can help you select the right lures and fishing spots and level up your game if you’re one.

History of Lake Hartwell

Lake Hartwell is one of the southeast’s largest reservoirs that separates Georgia and South Carolina. It’s located approximately 7 miles behind the part where Tugaloo and Seneca rivers join and form the Savannah River.

The reservoir extends 45 miles up the Seneca at average pool elevation and 49 miles up the Tugaloo. Lake Hartwell has a shoreline of 962 miles.

It was constructed as a part of the Hartwell Dam project back in 1962. Lake Hartwell was named after a female American Revolutionary War figure Nancy Hart. Out of 159 counties in Georgia, Hart County is the only one named after a woman.

Interestingly, the 23,000 acres of land surrounding Lake Hartwell once belonged to the Cherokee Indians. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed and constructed Hartwell Dam and the lake.

Lake Hartwell opened to public use in 1968. There are nine campgrounds at Lake Hartwell, four of which fall on the South Carolina side.

Lake Hartwell Fishing Charters

To see a complete list of great Ga Fishing Guides, please click here!

Hartwell Lake Camping and Cabins

Campgrounds near Lake Hartwell, Ga, provide tourists with a relaxing, fun-filled getaway. They feature well-serviced restrooms, showers, water hook-ups, courtesy docks, biking and hiking trails, and restaurants.

Do you want to camp on the most popular recreation lakes in Georgia? Here’s an overview of the best campgrounds at Lake Hartwell.

Hartwell Lakeside Park 

This site has unique lakefront properties and is one of the largest campgrounds in Hartwell. Designed and built on a huge 147 acres of land, the campground is at 330 Hart State Park Road.

It comprises three picnic shelters, a boat ramp, a playground, and 58 campsites. Tourists have full access to the boat ramp, courtesy dock, and a private campground beach.

 Tugaloo State Park 

You will enjoy the scenic beauty of the Tugaloo and Seneca rivers. This 393-acre campground is perfect for the occasion. Tugaloo State Park has multiple launch sites, a sandy beach, and gorgeous picnic shelters.

The park currently has six yurts, 20 cottages, and 116 campsites. In addition, there are on-site tennis, volleyball, hiking, horseshoes, and designated swimming areas to keep you entertained.

This portion of Lake Hartwell is a suitable fishing habitat for walleye, striped bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, and bream.

Watsadler Campground 

Are you looking to go fishing on Lake Hartwell and stay the night? The Watsadler Campground will be right up your alley. The campground is on the Savannah River, and, at the same time, it’s a few minutes drive from the town of Hartwell.

This location has water and electricity, a courtesy boat dock, and a public boat ramp—the 39-acre campground with lots of fishing spots and shade. You can dabble in water sports or go water skiing with your group. The campground is open every day of the week.

Georgia River Campground 

The Ga River Campground is near the river below the Hartwell Dam. Campers and anglers can stay up to 14 days at a stretch for only 10 dollars a night.

So, if you’re looking for nothing more than good-old trout fishing, this campground is a budget-friendly option.

The campground is heavily patrolled by law enforcement and rangers. However, you’ll feel secure at this campground like any other at Lake Hartwell.

Paynes Creek Campground

It’s a beautiful 400-acre campground with lots of greenery, steep roads, and hills. Because of this, some sites are only recommended for small travel trailers and campers.

The Paynes Creek Campground area is complete with a 7.6 miles (12.2 kilometers) biking trail. It’s a 20-minute drive from the town of Hartwell and offers great lakefront views.

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Hotels & Motels:

Quality Inn

This beautiful establishment is a few minutes’ drives from downtown Hartwell. The hotel offers complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and pool access. It’s a pet-friendly lodging, and Hartwell’s best restaurants are close by. Prices start from $107 a night.

Simmons-Bond Inn

This refurbished Victorian mansion in downtown Toccoa makes for a romantic getaway for two. The scenic Toccoa Falls is within walking distance from the Simmons-Bond Inn. There are several antique shops, art galleries, and restaurants nearby.

Bed & Breakfast:

Beacon Farmhouse

With four rooms and two sleeping areas for children, Beacon Farmhouse is the perfect lodging for small weddings and family events.

There are several things to do at the Beacon Farmhouse, including swimming and kayaking at the Swim Dock, grape-picking at their expansive gardens, and hammock swinging in the lap of nature.

Beacon Farmhouse is at 804 Old Beacon Light Road, Hartwell, GA.

Boat Rentals & Marinas

There are six marinas in Lake Hartwell for you to park, rent boats, and enjoy lakefront dining. In addition, you can have your boat serviced, refueled, and repaired at these perfect locations.

These businesses rent out majestic sailboats, yachts, pontoons, deck boats, and jet skis. Prices vary from trip type (fishing, sailing, diving, luxury events, houseboats, etc.), group size, and dates.

Harbor Light Marina

Featuring luxurious deck boats and pontoon boats, the marina invites you to explore the charming shoreline of Lake Hartwell.

The marina offers a wide range of services such as boat and slip rentals, fuel sales, an expansive ship store, and a restaurant.

You have to book your boat two weeks in advance for holiday weekends. However, for a large group of seven people, prices are as low as $179 for half-day touring.

Hartwell Marina

This is another one of Hartwell’s famous family-owned businesses. Hartwell Marina has 70′ wet slips, dry storage, and a servicing boat facility.

Their professionals offer to haul, store, tow, and launch your boat.

Tourists can rent the latest 24′ Pontoon boats from 8:30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. In addition, you can rent a boat for two days or a week and bring your pet along.

A total of five marinas are on the main lake, including the said two and the less crowded Clemson Marina, Portman Marina, and Big Water Marina.

Lake Hartwell Map

Popular Places to Visit Near Hartwell Lake

Hartwell has exciting things going on for all kinds of people regarding outdoor activities.

You can visit Hartwell’s art galleries, cruise the lake in a boat, sign up for a bass fishing tournament, or find your way to an exclusive annual regatta. 

According to visitors, these are the top spots you must visit near Lake Hartwell, any time of the year!

Where to Visit in Hartwell, Ga:
  • Hart County Botanical Garden 

  • The Art Center at East Howell Street

  • Cateechee Golf Club 

  • Live Music at Boathouse Grill 

  • High Cotton Music Hall 

  • Hart County Community Theatre 

  • Southern Hart Brewing Company 

  • Tilly’s Tiki Bar & Grill at Harbor Light Marina

  • Jack’s Night Club & Music Venue

  • Hart County Public Library 

If you visit Lake Hartwell during football season, pay a visit to Clemson University and the Stadium Tower on the lake. In addition, Clemson football tournaments attract boaters and campers from all over the southeast to Lake Hartwell.

Lake Hartwell Boat Ramps 

There are many public boat ramps at Hartwell Lake. But the best, spacious ones may require a personal use permit. 

If your next destination is Lake Hartwell’s Ga side, you’ll find these four ramps particularly useful for their size and amenities.

Gum Branch Mega Ramp 

This is a 6-lane concrete ramp at 1352 Vanna Waller Road, Hartwell. It offers enough parking space for 200 trucks and trailers. Here you’ll find many single parking spots and nice restrooms.

Besides a roomy boat ramp, they have a huge pavilion for fishing events and weigh-ins.

The Gum Branch Mega Ramp will host two big fishing tournaments this April.

Reservations can be made through the Hart County Chamber of Commerce. You can reach them at 706-376-8590.

Crawfords Ferry

This is a standard boat launch for the anglers and campers at Lake Hartwell. It’s near the Boat House Grill and the local pub and eatery. 

Elrod Ferry 

The Elrod Ferry area is a 39-acre day-use public area overlooks Lake Hartwell. It has a boat launching facility, and the picnic shelters have restrooms and electric service. 

Mary Ann Branch Boat Ramp 

The most popular boat ramp is in Hart County, Georgia. A simple route from Chandler Street Highway makes the area easily accessible. There’s no fee for using the ramp, and it’s open year-round for tourists.

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