ANDERSON, S.C. — Lake Hartwell will host its fourth B.A.S.S. championship event in the last four years with the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship scheduled for Nov. 6-8.
The 56,000-acre lake situated along the South Carolina/Georgia border was the site of the 2015 and 2018 Bassmaster Classics and the 2017 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
“It is a great fishery and it should be good that time of the year,” B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart said. “The biggest thing, though, is it has great facilities and a community that is a big B.A.S.S. supporter and wants us to be there.”
The championship field includes the top boater and nonboater from each state — determined by three regional championships — along with qualifiers from 11 foreign countries affiliated with the B.A.S.S. Nation.
The full field will fish the first two days, and a nonboater champion will be crowned after the second-day weigh-in. Fishing on the final day will be the Top 10 boaters and the nonboater champion, along with the Top 2 boaters from each region who failed to make the Top 10 and any nonboater who had enough weight to have finished in the Top 10 on the boater’s side.
The Top 3 finishers from the Nation Championship earn berths in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk to be held March 6-8, 2020, weigh-ins in Birmingham and fishing at Lake Guntersville. The overall winner of the Nation Championship will also receive an invitation to fish the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series.
Nation Championship contenders can expect to catch Hartwell bass a variety of ways, according to Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Cobb.
“Early November is kind of a strange time at Hartwell,” Cobb said. “Bass should be biting decent, but it is kind of the time of the year anything you want to do can work. It is just a matter of getting the right bites.”
Warmer-than-usual fall weather has kept Hartwell bass from following their typical fall routines.
“Normally, we are looking at a lot of fish getting bait-oriented, moving off the bank and following the bait around. But it has been so hot this year everything is a little hung up,” Cobb said.
The South Carolina pro predicts lots of bass will still be shallow in the creeks, so power lures such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and crankbaits will be productive.
“I think there will be a lot of guys junk fishing, just covering water down the bank catching largemouth,” Cobb said.
Nation contenders can also try a deep pattern, especially if cold weather arrives before the Championship. Cobb suggests they can catch a mixed bag of spotted and largemouth bass in clear water drop shotting finesse worms.
“I actually look for spots to play more if it gets colder,” he said. “The biggest spotted bass will be in depths of 20 to 30 feet.”
The best spotted bass fishing will be from the mid-section of the lake to the dam area, while largemouth bass can be caught anywhere at Hartwell. “One good thing about Hartwell that I truly believe is if somebody can put a pattern together, they could win on any part of the lake,” Cobb said.
The lake level has been dropping the last couple months, which Cobb considers good news for the Nation contenders. Cobb notices bass are easier to target when Hartwell is low, so he expects better weights for the championship.
“Hartwell has a lot of 3- to 3 1/2-pound fish but it is not a true giant fish lake,” said Cobb, who estimates the winning weight will be around 45 to 47 pounds.
Visit Anderson will be the host for this year’s Nation Championship.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with our friends at B.A.S.S. and host the Nation Championship again in our community, which will generate a significant economic impact for Anderson County, Green Pond Landing and Lake Hartwell,” said Neil Paul, Visit Anderson executive director. “When you consider that this grass-roots event will feature anglers from 47 states and 11 foreign nations, the Nation Championship provides the ultimate platform for anglers to pursue the biggest bass on the biggest stage and to realize the biggest dream of competing in the Bassmaster Classic."