Info Provided by: Jeff Durniak, GA DNR North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor and North Georgia Region Fisheries staff
Summer’s here and so are its fishing challenges. We’re stuck in a heat wave and also have occasional thunderstorms to deal with; a tough mix for rookies to deal with. Those newbies should just get adopted and look to the seasoned vets for tips.
Such savvy, veteran anglers will once again adapt to current conditions, like their quarry does, and will continue to have some great catching days thru the heat wave. Those anglers will first adapt to the heat by fishing early, late or even after dark on our reservoirs, as they “chase the shadows” that are coveted by their summer quarry. They’ll even avoid some great springtime targets such as our large, wide trout streams that, due to lower elevations and a lack of tree canopy over the entire channel, are now warming up too much for a good trout bite. They’ll avoid places like the Chattooga, the lower Amicalola, and the Stephens County trout waters, and head higher into the mountains or below Buford Dam. They’ll note that streams with a northern aspect stay cooler than the ones draining the south slopes of a mountain, and will have a lot more trout action due to those couple of degrees of cooler water.
They’ll also watch the summer storms and either chase them or avoid them at all costs. The chasers are the trouters, who know that a good summer rain is like turning on the air conditioning and emptying a well-stocked refrigerator into the “crick” (more below). River bassin’ fans will avoid their favorite big waters, where the turbidity will knock down their catch rates for a least a couple days until those rivers start to clear. Then they’ll fish the shallows against the bank, where fish can still see what falls from the tree limbs. In contrast, the catfishing can get really good. Watch for all those forked sticks on the sandbars of the lower Chattooga. They’re not meant for fly rods! Muddy water means safety for the whiskered gang that can smell their way to a meal.
Summer brings on a whole new set of “hatches” for north Georgia anglers, especially those always too concerned about the “right” fly or lure. (Editor’s note: the “how” (technique) usually trumps the “what” (fly or lure pattern)). Many folks only think of hatches in the traditional spring sense of mayflies, caddis, and stones. Really good anglers are, first, good hunters and are extremely observant. They notice these new, summer hatches and adapt their baits and techniques to them. The results from matching these new hatches can be outstanding (photo).
What hatches? Well, there’s the wind hatch (ants and beetles), the pasture hatch (hoppers), the streamside wood hatch (crickets), the overhanging limb hatch (caterpillars, bees), and the lobster hatch (baby crayfish). But the favorite summer hatch for Georgia hillbillies has gotta be the thunderstorm hatch! Look down on the pavement after a good, heavy rain and what do you see? The refrigerator door is open and the spaghetti is heading toward every pasta-loving trout in there! Try one of these in your favorite trout stream when you think it’s too darn muddy to fish. Pound some traditionally good spots with cast after cast. Your meal is tough to see, so give those trout a lot of chances. When the water is really muddy ( a foot of visibility), hot pink is hot. And as it clears and you start seeing your toes in 2-3 feet of water, try the more subtle “shell pink” color.
Maybe you’ll be as lucky as the young dude pictured.
Good luck as you beat the heat by fishing early, late, and after dark. Enjoy the wet wading and the long hours of dawn and dusk. Keep the fish in the water until you get your camera focused, then hold them up for only a second or two for your trophy shot. Better yet, leave them in your net in the water, with their gills soaked, and take your summer shots that way. Then they’ll be around to battle you again on that next trip to your honey hole.
Good luck. Here are some more reports to take your mind off the heat and on to your planning for a July fishing trip. Just remember to match the hatches of this hot weather season.
Fishing at Don Carter State Park
Park manager Will Wagner is excited to announce two new developments. His park recently enrolled in the loaner pole program. He now has a handful of spincast outfits that are available for free loan, on a first-come, first-served basis to visiting families.
Second, he’s completed a kayak rental venue. Will said, “We have eight kayaks for rent on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 6 tandem, sit-on-tops (great for fishing) and 2 solo boats for the more experience paddler. All are rented out of the park office from 8AM-4PM. Boats can be rented for a half day (4 hours from time of rental) for $25 or full day (due back by 8PM) for $35. We provide all the paddles and PFDs.”
If you plan to be in the upper Lake Lanier area soon, where boat traffic is minimal and the kayak cover is serene, give Don Carter State Park a try! http://gastateparks.org/DonCarter
Detailed reservoir reports – Thanks Ken!
River Bass – The Guru, Nita, and Jake have been having a blast on the Hooch above Lanier. Yakking and wading, when the river has cleared of storm water, has produced real good numbers of spots, shoal bass, and bream, with an occasional small striper thrown in. Spinning rods and small plastic worms have produced the numbers, while poppers and stealth bombers at dark created the “dry fly” action. Landon has also found a few stripers up another north Georgia river, where they’re sitting in some coolwater refuge habitat. Striper action is hit-or-miss trophy hunting, and not a numbers game.
Small lakes – The Guru and Dredger have chilled after work on Unicoi Lake. A nice yak ride and some small poppers against the bank have produced a mixed bag of bream and small bass from suppertime til sunset.
Trout- stocker best bets – Best bets this week include the Hooch Tailwater and the higher elevation mountain streams where the water is colder, especially before the sun gets high in the sky. Try: Dicks, Holly, Hooch on WMA, Rock, Cooper, Wildcat, Tallulah, Hartwell Tailwater, and the Blue Ridge Tailwater if/when the TVA generation schedule allows (see above; be careful). Hit them at daylight.
Trout – Bluelining
Tip – Landon said he had a great day on Stream X with a #16 soft hackle pheasant tail dropped way off the back of a yellow stimulator, which is better known as the “summer stealth strike indicator” to most Rabunites.
Summer’s here, so go enjoy it on Georgia’s lakes and streams. The fishing is good all day, but the catching might be a bit better early, late, and even after sunset. Have some fun with your kids now and maybe they’ll end up rowing the boat for YOU in the future!