We DNR folks would like to thank each one of you who came out on a rainy Saturday to help with our National Hunting and Fishing Day events. The overcast skies and cool air temperatures helped the appetites of our stocked fish, and they accommodated our kids all day long. For those of you who missed volunteering or just attending these events, please mark your calendars now for the fourth Saturday in September 2016. You’ll be glad you did.
Now on to the fall fishing news:
The fall fishing is gearing up. Big redfish are swarming the sounds. Bass are feeding more aggressively, and panfish are tearing it up on rivers that are at a good level. Of course, the bowfin are still chowing in the swamp. What a great time of the year! Last quarter moon is October 4th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Rabunites Dredger and the McFalls duo sampled the Tallulah on Sunday afternoon and caught a couple of nice browns during the younger dude’s instream flyfishing lesson. I’ll bet there are still some north Georgia leftovers for many of you this weekend.
Bluelines Still Great- http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=108243
Blast from the Past- https://www.gon.com/fishing/brook-trout-are-georgias-native-gems
Gotta Luv Rain! These Dukes noobs sure do – http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=108285
For Any Northbound Travelers – Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Stocking Dates Map
Ken’s Reservoir Reports – http://www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html
Good Atlanta Bookmark -Steve’s in Alpharetta. His Facebook page might be of interest to many of you north Metro folks, especially those with kids who are new to fishing. Add it to your bookmarks!
Caption– Kaylon (left) and Angelo of Waycross fished the Okefenokee on Labor Day and whacked the bowfin on Dura-Spins. This 8-lb. 3-oz. monster was their biggest, and it inhaled a fire tiger spinner.
Dannet at Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite is still hot. Both minnows and jigs fooled them. Anglers reported catching creels of 15 to 35 crappie per trip. On Tuesday, an angler fishing by himself caught 35 crappie, several dozen big bream, a warmouth, and a redbreast on a black-yellow Satilla Spin. The flathead bite is still great. Over Friday and Saturday nights, an angler using goldfish as bait on bush hooks caught over 200 pounds of catfish, with a 38-pounder being the biggest. The river level was 2.3 feet and falling (78 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.3 feet and falling (77 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 29th.
Craig James went with his kids and friends to the upper river last Thursday and Friday and pitched jigheads and curly-tailed grubs, as well as Satilla Spins and caught some nice messes of redbreasts, bluegills, and shellcrackers. Yes, he got the ‘crackers to hit the curly-tail! Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the crappie fishing is picking up. Minnows are catching decent-sized fish in the Waycross area. He had reports of bream eating crickets and worms in the river between Jamestown Landing and Blackshear Bridge. Catfish bit well in the Hoboken area of the river. Shrimp and rooster livers produced the fish. The bass bite has been fair on topwater plugs and Texas-rigged soft plastics. The river level on September 29th at the Waycross gage was 6.1 feet and rising (75 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.5 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The catfish bite is the only action on the river, but it is fast and furious.
Channel and white cats are hitting shrimp and rooster livers. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 29th was 5.5 feet and falling.
I didn’t hear any specific reports this week, but I’m sure the bowfin bite is still on fire. Throw in-line spinners like Dura-Spins and hold on. Fliers can be caught by pitching yellow or pink sallies to current breaks. Little islands of weeds that jut out into the canal are all you need. The current is slow, but you will notice a little eddy behind the point. Pitch the fly to the eddy and expect your float to bobble when a flier inhales it.
Chad Lee of Alma was hammering bass on local ponds this weekend. His biggest was a 6 1/2-pounder on a ribbit frog, and he caught 10 smaller bass on plastic crayfish and creature baits. He had his line broken twice, also. A few crappie inhaled his beetlespin, as well. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds the bream bite was fair on crickets. Crappie ate minnows and jigs, but the bite was a little slower with the hot weather. Expect the crappie to fire off with the forecasted cooler temperatures this weekend. Most of the reported bass were fooled with shiners. A few catfish were caught with pink worms and shrimp.
SALTWATER AND GEORGIA COAST
A couple of Waycross anglers fished the St. Simons Pier over the weekend, and a bunch of big redfish hit the deck (and went back over the rail) while they were there. Cut mullet has been the ticket for them and others fishing the pier over the last few weeks. Brent Tatum and Craig James fished the St. Marys area Saturday and roped the trout and redfish. They caught fish on both live shrimp and Assassin Sea Shads (their best colors were goldfish and chicken-on-a-chain). They had 2 oversized redfish, 8 keeper reds, 16 keeper trout, a flounder, and a bunch of throwback trout. The inshore bite is firing off as the fish start schooling for the fall. Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers reported that in the Brunswick area the whiting bite has been excellent on shrimp and squid. The red and flounder bites were also good. Over the weekend, a group of anglers fishing the Crooked River area caught flounder on the Savage Gear artificial shrimp in natural and light pink colors (even though the water was stained). On the Jekyll Island Pier, big sheepshead were caught on fiddler crabs. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that it has been reds, reds, and more reds. Big bull reds were caught every evening this week. The big fish ate cut bait and begin biting right before low tide. Most of the bulls are 36 inches or bigger. As you are aware, all redfish over 23 inches must be released. In the daytime, slot redfish were caught, but the evening and night were when the trophies bit. The whiting bite from the pier was fair for those using shrimp. Flounder were landed in good numbers, and that should pick up with the clearer water coming around the last quarter moon. Finger mullet or mudminnows are the ticket for the flatfish. A few croaker were around, and blue crabs are still under the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: The tides will bring clearer water this weekend to saltwater. With the trout bite picking up, a trip to the coast would be a good choice this weekend (weather permitting). Check the winds late in the week, as a cold front is supposed to come through. If the winds are unruly for the brine, hunker down in the river or a pond and try for redbreasts (Satilla) or crappie (Satilla or ponds). I’ve been wanting to get back to the Altamaha and fling little spinnerbaits for panfish. Fall is my favorite time to do that, and it is extremely simple to cast to all available shoreline cover until you determine what kind of cover they are favoring that day. For bigger fish, bowfin in the swamp are hard to beat. Expect to catch 15 fish an hour by throwing in-line spinners.
LAKE WALTER F. GEORGE
According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula” Catfish and crappie reports are good. Shell cracker have been slow. Bass have been very slow. However, Richard is not sure how accurate that report for bass may be since he has not had the opportunity to talk with many bass anglers recently.
Some nice stringers of crappie are starting to be caught along the old river beds of the lake. A few shell crackers are still being caught but there have not been many bream beds spotted. Catfish in the main body of the lake are doing very well. Bass are being caught along the hydrilla line, which is very easy to determine this time of year. An angler recently reported catching crappie in the Chattahoochee River last Saturday morning and caught several fish in the 13 to 14 inch range. They also caught 4 bass which were 12 inch or better while crappie fishing, all in 14 – 18 feet of water.
The Lower Flint River is currently low and clear and although you will need to be careful navigating around the rocks and shoals, the shoal bass fishing should be excellent. Some of the best baits to try in and around the numerous shoals in this part of the river are top water plugs, jigs, and flukes. The current river condition should also be good for bream and catfish. A recent grandfather and grandson son team recently caught a cooler full of ½ to 1 pound channel catfish fishing worms on the bottom near some woody structure in a bend of the river.