East and West-Central Georgia Fishing Reports
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
for most recent updates.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Top water lures like the Zara Spook will work early and late but all the fish have been barely keepers. Work around rocky points and bridges all day. Use the green floating worm on a 2/0 Mustad offset worm hook around any structure. Small crank baits have been fair on light line half-way back in the creeks. Top-water action has been limited to the smaller fish in the mid-lake area around reef poles. During the day fish the main river ledges and they are easy to find. Concentrate on the channel poles all over the lake on these river ledges. Use a large deep diving crank bait all day on light line. Also, try a Carolina rigged finesse worm in motor oil and use a 3 foot leader. Larger crank baits on the ledges and a good depth finder will be best all summer. Find the heavy brush on the ledges and work them all day even in the heat. Look for brush piles in the middle of the mouth of the creeks and at 15 feet of water drop a spoon on and over the brush.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Early in the day run the banks up lake with several styles of top-water lures. Spinner baits, buzz baits and Zara Spooks have been taking bass and skip baits over the grass beds. Top-water baits and even a grass rat in bright colors will work but use a heavy line to get the fish away from the hydrilla. Senko’s and large fat-tailed grubs in bright colors including white and bream colors has been working. The new Bass Pro Shops Stick O in the all-white and sherbet colors on a large Mustard 3/0 offset worm hook has been a new bait the fish have never seen. Never overlook a #7 Shad Rap in shad and baby bass. Also use the jointed Shad Rap and cast these baits on light line. Most of the best fishing has been up the lake on the Georgia side. Little River has been a good area all day long. Continue to cast several baits on the same long sloping points. The fish are there and it may take some effort to find out which bait and presentation they will bite. A large Yamamoto grub has also been fair in white and bream colors.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR, TEMPRATURE 86-89
Bass fishing is good. At first light fish a buzz bait on sea walls and rip rap from the middle of the coves and creeks to the back. Then switch over to a spinner bait and fish the same areas. White or white/chartreuse have been the best color. Another good location has been fishing the grass with a frog. Fishing a Carolina rig on the humps on the south end of the lake has also been producing over the past week.
Striper report by Captain Mark Smith (Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741
email@example.com) Striper fishing is good. Large schools of stripers and hybrids are moving all over the south end of the lake. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools then drop a live bait or a spoon down and hang on. If you do not see the fish on your Lowrance then keep moving until you find them. The water is hot and the bait will not last long so keep fresh bait on and the fish will feed. Spoons will also put fish in the boat.
Crappie fishing is good. The fish are starting to move into their summer locations. Look on the creek ledges as well as in the deeper timber. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to find the fish. With this technology, you can count the fish. Once you locate the fish you can long line (troll) over them or drop a live bait into the school.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 3.8 FEET, CLEAR & 80’S
Bass fishing is fair but it is hot on the lake. Top-water will be good for at least another week until the water gets super-hot. Use a Zara Spook and a buzz baits day and night. All white seems to be the hot colors with a little green in the skirts. These baits have been taking some really good fish early in the day. All white Strike King buzz baits are the ticket. After the sun gets up, slow rolling spinner baits and large crank baits has been the best way to get to the deeper fish on the river. The bass are tight on the creek channels and drop off mid to lower lake. There has been a good top-water bite at night on docks with or without lights. Use all black buzz baits and heavy line and fish every lighted boat dock at least three times a night. Unless you can find the fish with the locator on the river ledges, you will fish in vain. Fish depths are as deep as 20 feet. The Georgia DNR stocked 40,000 black bass into the lake this month.
From Corps of Engineers:
From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: due to recent heavy rains, excess sediment deposits have pushed down from the Chattahoochee River leaving silt formations in the lake channel thus narrowing the navigation channel north of the Georgia Highway 219 river bridge. This area is between Georgia Park and Ringer Park. In addition, a large sandbar has formed along the west side of the river channel. To properly mark the river channel, red and green buoys will be replaced with mid channel buoys (black and white vertically stripped) which identify the center of the channel. Boaters should navigate near these buoys to ensure deeper water. Shoal markers will be installed to identify the sandbar. Boaters should proceed with caution in this stretch of river and always be on the lookout for floating debris.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .1.4 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Some are still hitting top-water baits in the early morning. One angler caught a five-pounder and lost a 7 or 8-pounder on a pearl colored Zoom Fluke. Buzz bait. Pop R’s, Flukes, Spooks and other similar baits have all been producing some fish. Small spinner baits are also still catching a few fish. The type cover has been varied between blow downs, boat docks, rocky banks, rip rap, points and grass. If the water is real choppy, try a Pop R or 1/4 ounce Stanley spinner bait with tandem willow blades in chrome. For a rippled or calm water, use a 1/4 ounce white buzz bait, Fluke or buzz bait. After the early bite, a Carolina rig is usually the ticket. Try a Zoom Trick worm or a U Tale around main river points and flats in water 8 to 15 feet deep. The best colors in clear water has been water melon candy and water melon seed and green pumpkin or June bug in stained water. Bass are also using the many boat docks. Flipping or skipping a variety or plastics will catch some fish. Special to the dock fishing enthusiast: Docks are producing every day somewhere on the lake. Two main patterns are working. Try a 6 or 8 inch Zoom Dead Ringer with a 1/4 ounce weight around the dock posts. In the clear water, think light and use a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce weight with light line such as 12-pound clear Stren.
JACKSON LAKE IS DOWN 1.06 FEET, CLEAR & 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Water temperatures are already very warm and largemouth bass are on the bank and wood structure early each day. Small top-water lures and trick worms around blow down and on docks and wood as well as main lake points have been fair. Concentrate on the lower lake points and around any over-hanging wood to find these fish. This cover holds fish all day especially the largemouth. Spotted bass have been schooling early and late and Shad Raps are hard to beat. Just pick your favorite color and run the banks lay down all day. Spots are taking small green crawfish crank baits and Zoom mini craws on light wire hooks mid lake. There has not been much fishing in the rivers. But try at least an hour up the Alcovy and use an all-white jig and pig with the plastic or pork trailer and swim the baits around the creek bends and the stumps.
BIG LAZER PFA
- Surface water temperature: A hot 89o F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 27”
- Water level: Down 8”
Largemouth bass: Fair– Bass have moved out from the banks. Try fishing plastic worms slowly. Fishing at low light with top water might produce a good strike.
Crappie: Poor- With the hot temperatures crappie fishing has slowed. Anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappie using bright jigs and minnows. Also, try fishing deep around cover.
Bream: Good- Bream fishing is pretty good. Try crickets, as well as pink and red worms around the fishing pier. Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it. You may have to try several locations.
Channel catfish: Good- Try using livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam. Low light times may help catch more cats.
In general, June water temperatures at Big Lazer are hot. Fishing in June and early July are still good times to fish Big Lazer PFA. Also, summer is a great time to not only fish but also picnic at Big Lazer with the whole family. Finally, the repair work on the old wooden fishing pier concluded last fall. Some of the fishing pier’s upgrades include sitting benches, rod holders, shelves for tackle, and gaps in the railing for landing fish.
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer
Licenses Required at a PFA
- Angers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license, AND a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license to fish.
- If you have either a Sportsman’s, Lifetime, Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license), 3-day Hunting and Fishing License, or 3-day GORP Plus you are NOT required to have a WMA license to fish.
- A WMA license is NOT required to fish at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.
To access a PFA for non-fishing activities, visitors age 16-64 must have one of the following (visitors under age 16 and/or over age 64 are exempt):
- Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP)
- 3-day hunting/fishing license
- WMA license
- Sportsmen, Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license) or Lifetime license
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener and region Fisheries staff)
Saltwater fishing has been very good for trout and flounder. Freshwater fishing has been great early and late in the day, especially in ponds and lakes. The slug of water is leaving the Satilla, but more rain is forecasted. The Altamaha is getting right. Full Moon is June 20th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – The headwaters of the Altamaha did not get the rains that the coastal plain got from the tropical storm, and the river is falling back out nicely. The Altamaha is going to be the river to fish for the weekend. The backwaters are where you can catch some big bream, and redbreasts should bite in the main flow. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said that catfish of all species are biting. Bream and redbreasts were also caught in good numbers, and the mullet fishermen are showing up again as the sandbars get exposed. Donna at Altamaha Park reported a great flathead catfish bite. A group from Waycross fished Friday night and caught 15 catfish with the biggest weighing in at 35 pounds! Goldfish produced their fish. Channel cats were also eating shiners fished on bush hooks. One angler got into the crappie and fooled them with minnows. The redbreasts and bluegills ate crickets best, while the shellcrackers that were caught ate pink worms. The river level was 4.4 feet and falling (88 degrees) at the Baxley gauge, and 7.1 feet and falling (80 degrees) at the Doctortown gauge on June 14th.
Satilla River – Price Carter fished with his grandfather on the upper Satilla before the tropical storm last week (I didn’t get his information in time for last week’s report) and caught some really nice channel catfish on limb lines. They also whacked the redbreasts with red/white Satilla Spins. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the catfish bite is on. Rod and reel anglers landed lots of them with pink worms fished on the bottom. A few reports of flatheads caught on limb lines baited with goldfish came in this week, as well. Topwater plugs and soft plastics produced some fair bass catches. The water is still stained, but some redbreasts were still caught on Satilla Spins and Beetlespins. Bream ate crickets best. The river level on June 14th at the Waycross gauge was 7.2 feet and falling (81 degrees) and at the Atkinson gauge was 5.7 feet and rising.
St. Marys River – Anglers fishing early reported that the redbreasts and bream were biting well from daylight until about 10:00 in the morning. Crickets produced 25 to 30 keeper fish per trip. Catfish are still plentiful and are eating rooster livers and shrimp. The bass bite was slow this week. The river level at the MacClenny gauge on June 14th was 1.9 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – A husband/wife team headed into the swamp at daylight over the weekend and caught 31 warmouth on crickets. The warmouth bite was good for almost everyone who went this week. Crickets and worms produced most of them. Anglers reported catching lots of bowfin on Dura-Spins this week, with jackfish and black/chartreuse colors producing best. The flier bite has been surprisingly slow (40 to 50 fish per trip instead of 100 per trip), but they can still be caught by pitching sallies. The yellow flies have been pretty bad from the folks I have talked with, so wear a nylon long sleeve shirt and nylon long pants to keep them off and still stay decently cool (I’m not sure that the word cool can even be in the same sentence as south Georgia during June….)
Local Ponds – It is time to go “jugging” for catfish if you are so inclined. A group of anglers fished a Brunswick area pond with pool noodles on Tuesday and caught 14 channel catfish in 30 minutes using cut bluegill for bait. They used braided line as the main line and a small number 4 baitholder hook and a split-shot about a foot above the hook. This kind of trip is a blast for kids and adults. It is exciting to approach a moving noodle and not knowing what will be there when you grab hold of the line! Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bass were caught with live bait, spinnerbaits, and plastic worms. Bream (some were so big you could not get your hand around them) were eating crickets and pink worms. Shrimp produced some good catfish catches from ponds with good whiskerfish populations.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – A couple of Waycross anglers fished Hampton River this week and landed 16 trout up to 19 inches and 4 dinner-plate sized flounder. They were using jigheads and electric chicken bodies. A Waycross angler fished from the beach at St Simons Island on Sunday around the evening low tide and landed a nice flounder on a finger mullet. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers caught flounder on mud minnows and finger mullet. Drum were caught in the Brunswick area on shrimp, and whiting ate cut squid or shrimp fished on the bottom. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported that the flounder are here. On Sunday two anglers caught 19 keeper flounder on bait shrimp. Their biggest flatfish was 20 inches. Trout are also being caught on dead shrimp intended for black drum. Sharks are around and are eating cut bait. Crabbers are doing well from the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: It’s time to fling small spinnerbaits (such as Satilla Spins or Spin Dandy spinnerbaits) to backwaters and willows and catch some slab bluegills and even a few big redbreasts on the Altamaha River. With the full moon coming up, a wave of panfish should push shallow to spawn this weekend. In saltwater, it is time to fish a live baitfish near a bridge or pier piling or a creek mouth for a flatfish. Flounder are great eating. Catfishing with jugs (or pool noodles) is a fun activity for the whole family, and the components are relatively inexpensive.
North Georgia: Blue Ridge Lake
(Walleye Creel Limit Change: Q&A)
In April, the Wildlife Resources Division asked anglers to complete a survey about walleye fishing at Blue Ridge Lake (Fannin County). Here are answers to some of the most common questions received from the anglers who were surveyed.
If you reduce the walleye limit, would that reduce harvest and increase the population, and then we still wind up with small walleye?
Our data suggests that reducing the creel limit will not actually result in any change in the walleye population. Walleye are a difficult fish to target in our lakes, and very few anglers can catch more than a handful of walleye in an outing. Using the results of the present survey as an example, only 2 out of 154 walleye anglers (1%) said they harvested more than 8 walleye in any trip last year at Blue Ridge Lake. If keeping more than 8 walleye is such a rare occurrence, then reducing the limit to 8 will have very little effect on anglers or on the walleye population. To clarify, the primary goal of the proposed regulation change would be to simplify fishing regulations for Georgia anglers by removing an outdated and poorly-functioning special regulation.
Would this change increase the size of the catch?
No. We don’t expect that the change would impact walleye numbers or the average size of walleye caught. However, it should be noted that blueback herring have provided additional forage for walleye, and Blue Ridge Lake now grows larger walleye than it did prior to the introduction of blueback herring.
Will restocking the lake with walleye do any good?
Since the walleye population in Blue Ridge Lake has sustained itself since the 1960s without stocking, we had hoped stocking walleye would not be necessary. However, our most recent net survey data shows that walleye numbers continue to decline, and supplemental stocking may be necessary to maintain the walleye population in the future.
Sure would be nice if there was a way to eliminate or reduce the amount of bluebacks on many lakes. But how could that be done?
Unfortunately, we are not aware of any successful methods for completely eliminating blueback herring (“bluebacks”) from a large reservoir once they are established. Now that bluebacks have been illegally introduced, they are probably here to stay. Blue Ridge does have plenty of predator fish including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, walleye, flathead catfish, channel catfish, crappie, and even a few brown and rainbow trout. With the abundance of predator fish already present in Blue Ridge Lake we hope to keep the population in check.
Would an increase or introduction of spotted bass and/or hybrid bass help with overpopulation of bluebacks?
Spotted bass have already been illegally introduced into Blue Ridge Lake, and their population has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. They are now by far the most common bass species in the lake, and they compete and hybridize with the native smallmouth bass. The illegally introduced spotted bass now pose a serious threat to the native smallmouth bass fishery at Blue Ridge Lake. Increasing the spotted bass population would only cause more trouble for the smallmouth fishery. Blue Ridge Lake is one of the only major reservoirs in North Georgia that has never been stocked with any striped or hybrid bass. We prefer not to stock these species in Blue Ridge to maintain a diversity of fishing options across our lakes. We also have concerns about these species potential impacts (or perceived impacts) on the trout fisheries of the Toccoa River above and below the lake.
Do anglers fish for the blueback herring?
No. Blueback herring are generally small in size and not considered a game species, so there is little angling for them. However, many anglers do use bluebacks for bait when pursuing other fish. These anglers often use cast nets to capture herring for use as bait, but there are just not enough people cast-netting the herring to make an impact on the population. Possession or use of live blueback herring for bait is illegal except in certain lakes, like Blue Ridge, where they have already been established.
Are there other means to reduce the herring populations?
Blueback herring are sensitive to cold temperatures, and can die during severely cold winter weather. Such a herring die-off occurred at Blue Ridge during the winter of 2009-10. This die-off reduced herring numbers enough that walleye spawned successfully and produced a strong year class the following spring. Unfortunately, we have no control of the weather or how cold the water is in Blue Ridge Lake, so we cannot use the cold-intolerant nature of the herring to our advantage.
Has DNR stocked pike, muskie, trout, largemouth, or smallmouth bass?
Yes. DNR has stocked many species of fish into Blue Ridge Lake in the past, including muskellunge (muskie), rainbow trout, walleye, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, gizzard shad, and threadfin shad. All of these stocking occurred prior to 1991. We are currently considering stocking smallmouth bass and walleye to restore these two fisheries.
Georgia has really good fishing. How can anglers help the DNR?
The best way you can help keep Georgia’s fishing great is by purchasing your fishing license every year. Another thing anglers need to know is they should not move fish around from one waterbody to another. Blue Ridge Lake is a prime example of what happens when anglers illegally move fish around without considering all the consequences of their actions.