(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)
Big Lazer PFA – Largemouth Bass: Slow – Bass fishing has been slow because of the very hot temperatures. However, fall is finally here. Because of the cooler fall weather, bass feeding will increase before they head into the winter. Anglers should try shad, look alike, baits at several depths. Also, plastic-worms fished around the rocks on the dam and around the fishing pier may produce a few good bites.
Crappie: Poor- A few crappies are being caught but they are difficult to locate and target. For crappie, try fishing deep around standing timber with live minnows or try bright colored jugs fished at several depths.
Bream: Good – Bream fishing is good and improving with the cooler water temperatures. Target shallower areas that also have some woody brush associated with it. Crickets and worms are excellent live bait for bream. Also, small grub like plastic jigs can work well anytime of the year; try black, white, and chartreuse colors. Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting. However, make sure the hooks are small because the bream have small mouths.
Channel catfish: Good- The rocks along the dam are always a good spot to try and catch big channel cats. However, catfish are also located throughout much of the lake. Some catfish are being caught on cut bait, worms, and livers. Try fishing both on the bottom as well as suspended higher up in the water column.
In general, the hot summer weather will be replaced by cooler nights during September and October. The cooling water temperatures cause the fish to increase their feeding before the winter months. Therefore, now is an excellent time to grab the family and head outdoors for some fall fishing at Big Lazer PFA. Also, Big Lazer PFA will be hosting a kids fishing event on September 26 from 8:00 to 11:00 for children age 15 or younger.
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer
Clarks Hill Lake (down 4.4 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is fair but is improving a little each week as cooler temperatures roll through the area. The grass mats and humps are still getting a lot of attention from anglers this past week. A few bass are just now starting to move up on the edges of the flats and out of the deeper water in the creeks and rivers. Suspended fish are showing up all over the graph in about ten to fifteen feet of water. Rapalas DT10 and DT14 will get the baits into this zone and catch good fish. Shad Rasp along the edges of the flats along with Bandit 200 and the Glass Raps will work also. As the bass start to feed on the small bluebacks and shad, a white 3/8 ounce spinner bait on the wind-blown points will work. Be sure there are some herring close by and you can see them on the Lowrance Down Scan technology. Also use a Rattlin’ Rap up in the rivers around the rocky islands and rocky stretches of bank.
Jackson Lake (down 1.2 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing has been picking up but it’s still slow. All the fish are small and the best action lakewide has been close to the dam. Jigs in combinations of browns and greens are fair but use small ones. Work the jigs slowly around any and all wood in both shallow and deep water and don’t forget to work the docks from all sides and angles. Use small 1/4 and 3/8 ounce jigs with small pork or Zoom salt trailers. And don’t forget to add some Jacks Juice garlic scent in the bags. Carolina rigged worms off the points are catching a few small spots and greens are the right colors. Pumpkinseed, green pumpkin and watermelon seed are fair and use a Carolina rig with 1/4 to ½ ounce weights. Later in the day fish with the #5 Shad Rap at the small points along the main channels.
McDuffie PFA – Largemouth Bass: Poor due to hot weather – All legal Bass on McDuffie PFA must be 14 inches in length. Overall, most of the bass on McDuffie PFA have been biting very little with only young bass being caught. Overall, Bass fishing has been slow to pick up and probably will really pick up as the weather cools. Fishermen are still catching keeper bass in Willow. Willow Lake remains the lake with most potential for quality and quantity. Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month. Rodbender is currently opened until the evening of September 15th. This lake has been setup with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass. Many of the PFA’s fishermen are trying new baits or fall back on the old standby plastic worms to catch feeding Bass.
Bream: Fair – Best ponds have been Bridge, Willow, and Jones for good catches. The fishermen were fishing on the bottom. The Bream should be on bed during next full moon in September and can be found around structure and aquatic plants where there is a firm sandy bottom. The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under floats. Patience is the key when fishing for bream on beds. Bream fishermen may also have success using small hard baits, jigs, and beetle spins on ultralight tackle during the waning dog-days of summer.
Channel Catfish: Good – Best ponds have been Bridge, Beaverlodge, and Willow in order of best catches reported or seen by area staff. A 12 pound channel catfish was caught on Sunday September 6th. Catfish are biting well as they like warmer water temperatures. The catfish bite is really hot during the last hours of daylight. The best fishing is on the bottom in shallow to deep water using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets.
Striped Bass: Poor due to hot water temperatures –Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse. Even the Smaller stripers are not biting yet in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse Lake. During the fall the stripers will begin to feed heavily on whatever forage species are present in the lake and should provide some exciting fishing.
Additional Information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie
Lake Oconee (full, stained up rivers and on main lake, 85 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair. There are still fish showing up on the south end humps. Large crank baits fished down the side of the humps will produce a few fish. A Carolina rig will also draw a strike. The deeper boat docks on the south end of the lake are still producing some fish. A shaky head fished under the docks in 10 feet of water in the shade have been productive.
“Striper fishing is slow. Look for schooling fish in the late afternoon. There are large schools of bait on top every afternoon. You will need to do a lot of looking with the Lowrance until you find the fish chasing these baits. Use a popping cork or an inline spinner. Another good choice is a silver or white spoon fished into the schools that are blowing up on the top.” – Cpt. Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service
Crappie fishing is good. The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves. They have moved into the timber and you can find them with your Lowrance in the top of the trees. When you find them drop a live minnow into the school and start catching.
Drawdown information: Oconee/Sinclair Land Office: 706-484-7500 Lake Sinclair: Oct. 18 Dec. 1, 2015: 4.5 feet
Lake Russell (down 2.4 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is fair and the weather will change again and cool down. The water is slightly stained in the creeks to clear in the main rivers. Bass are starting to roam shallow lake-wide with the most fish being taken on main lake points. Fish these points on both sides with a #5 Shad Rap in the fire tiger color then back it up with a Carolina rigged Zoom six inch finesse worm in red shad color. This bait is working with great results after the morning crankbait bite turns off. Concentrate on points and the bowl areas on the side of points throwing the worm in very shallow and working it all the way back. The late afternoon is the time to pick up the crank again and stay on point after point until you get the bite. Swim the Zoom Fluke of the Fish Head Spin across the main lake and the secondary points and be sure to let the bait drag as close to the bottom as possible.
Lake Sinclair (down 1.1 feet, stained up river, main lake clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is fair. The points down lake heading towards the dam are the best areas. The river channel comes real close to these points and there is plenty of structure on the channel ledge. The Super Fluke in pearl will work on a 3/0 Mustad hook and 10 pound test Sufix line on a spinning reel is excellent with the water a little stained. Fish it also with the Carolina rig and with the Texas Rig. Smoke and pearl are the color of choices here. Add the Rapala DT10 in either the silver or shad color. Hot mustard is good with the lake rising as bass will look for bright colors of lures. On the channel bends and any point close by at or near a major point are good places. Any current will be the helping factor here. Any place you find current the bass are sure to be close by. Have a Strike King 3/8 ounce spinner bait ready all day also.
Drawdown information: Oconee/Sinclair Land Office: 706-484-7500 Lake Sinclair: Oct. 18 Dec. 1, 2015: 4.5 feet
West Point Lake (down 2.6 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is slow. Fish can be very difficult to locate offshore with consistency because of these continual drops. Look for little change over the next few weeks until outside temperatures begin to drop. My primary pattern has been working humps and roadbeds offshore. We are using the Lowrance electronics to locate fish and bait and then turning back to fish these areas. If bait is not there continue moving to your next location. You may have to check multiple locations at different times throughout the day. Start by throwing deep diving crankbaits in a shad pattern such as a Strike King Series 6XD in sexy shad. After a few casts then switch to a green pumpkin Zoom ten inch Ole Monster Texas rigged with a ¼ ounce lead and 5/0 worm hook.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
The Okefenokee Swamp and saltwater produced the best reports again this week. The Satilla and St Marys rivers are high, but the Altamaha is getting right for the fall panfish bite. The Outdoor Adventure/J.A.K.E.S Day will be held again this year on National Hunting and Fishing Day (September 26th). All events, such as fishing, shooting, and nature shows will happen at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton. During the event, I will be taking teens (ages 12-16) two anglers at a time on a boat and teaching them how to bass fish. For more information or to register a teen for the bass fishing excursions, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at 912-285-6094. New Moon is Sept. 13. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – Chad Lee of Alma fished the upper Altamaha over the holiday weekend, and he and his crew caught a cooler of mullet. They cleaned 40 of them and enjoyed a great meal of smoked mullet (I like making smoked fish dip with the leftovers). Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said that the flathead catfish fishing was great over the holiday weekend. Goldfish worked best as bait. Dannet at Altamaha Park said that crappie were the most consistent species this week. Anglers targeted them in the main river cover and primarily used minnows. Channel, flathead, and blue catfish were caught in good numbers. Limb lines fished at night produced most of the flatheads, several of which were in the 50-pound range. The smaller catfish were hanging out at the mouths of cuts. The river level was 3.3 feet and falling (83 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.5 feet and falling (82 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Sept. 8.
Okefenokee Swamp – I took neighbors Kaylon and Angelo to the Folkston entrance on Monday during the heat of the day, and we whacked the bowfin. The boys caught 2 nice fish from the dock as I prepared the boat for launching. We ended up fishing the canals and caught 45 bowfin, 2 gar, and 9 fliers. All of the bowfin and the gar ate Dura-Spins in several colors. The lure that caught the biggest, an 8-lb., 3-oz. monster (way to go, Kaylon!) and most was the fire tiger version. After eating lunch, we pitched yellow and orange sallies in the little current break where we stopped to eat, and caught 9 fliers in about 5 minutes. Pink was the better sally color that day. The little panfish were not exciting enough for the boys, so we headed off for more of the big, toothy, feisty bowfin. Most of the fish we caught were 2 to 3 pounds, but several topped the 4-pound mark. Both boys caught their first bowfin on the trip. At the end, while I was preparing the boat for the road, they fished from the dock and caught another bowfin. Needless to say, they’ll be ready for a return trip to the swamp. For the most part, other anglers have been staying away from the swamp during the heat. The water rose almost a half-foot with the rains this week, so that will likely put the warmouth and pickerel bites off as they move to newly-flooded flats. We did not having any trouble finding flier with the higher water. The key was to find moving water and fish the current breaks. The west side continued to produce great catfish catches, with shrimp being the primary bait.
Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the fishing around Waycross has slowed with the rising water. A few anglers reported catching crappie in backwaters out of the Jamestown Landing. Before the big rains, anglers were doing well for bream and redbreasts in the Hwy 158 area of the river. Crickets, worms, and red/white Satilla Spins produced the best catches. Shiners and plastic worms fooled bass. The river level at the Waycross gage was 10.8 feet and falling (78 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 9.0 feet and rising on Sept. 8.
St. Marys River – The river is high, but it has not stopped the catfish bite. Some bream were also reported over the weekend upriver from Traders Hill. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 10.8 feet and rising on Sept. 8.
Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds bream ate worms and crickets well. Catfish ate rooster livers and pink worms. Shiners and topwaters fooled bass. Fish late in the evening for bigger bass. An angler fishing a local pond caught 12 bass between 2 and 5 pounds on the new Dura-Spin. The black-chartreuse model worked best for him.
Best Bet – I know that most folks turn their noses up at the thought of catching bowfin (mudfish), but to me catching a bunch of them sure beats beating your brains out in the heat to get a few bites from a largemouth bass (I’m not a tournament angler anymore and quite frankly like something pulling on my line…). If you decide to try it, pick up some black-chartreuse or fire tiger Dura-Spins or other in-line spinners and fish them in the canals and around lily pads at any of the swamp entrances and hold on. It’s a good idea to have a lip-gripping tool and pliers or fish hook extracting tools.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Saltwater – Jesse Ivey and Justin Bythwood fished the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday and caught some oversized redfish (to 34 inches) by pitching Assassin Sea Shads on 5/8-oz. Jetty Jigs. They boated 2 monsters and broke a third one off. They also caught several black sea bass. The fish showed no color preference, as the fish ate a variety of colors. They saw a bunch of tarpon busting through mullet schools but could not get any to bite. On Monday a Waycross angler paddled around the Brunswick area in his kayak and pitched finger mullet for flounder. He caught two, with the largest measuring 17 1/2 inches. Yummy! Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers reported that flounder were eating mudminnows fished around oyster mounds and grass points near the mouths of feeder creeks. Whiting and croakers were caught in good numbers. Trout ate artificials for a few anglers reporting this week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that some big flounder were lurking around the pier this week. On Monday a local angler caught 5 flounder ranging in size from 3 to 5 pounds…definite doormats! Spanish mackerel, bull whiting, trout, and redfish were also caught from the pier. Blue crabs were caught in fair numbers. Monitor the marine forecast.
Best Bet – In saltwater, tarpon are a good bet, as are redfish in the sounds. If you want a shot at both species, fish around the St. Marys Jetties. Shrimp or mullet on the bottom have produced, but my favorite is working a Jetty Jig and Assassin Sea Shad near the bottom.