(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)
Lake Russell (full, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is fair and the fish are very scattered and they are roaming all day. The fish are not on any particular structure as they just seem to be roaming the banks and humps. There are lots of shad and the bass have plenty to eat and are not looking for artificial lures. To catch them, head up the river and creek points for bass suspended in 15 to 18 feet of water. Carolina rigs and worms and crank baits are just about the only lures to use. There is a limited amount of top-water action due to the high temperature of the surface water. Use a Pop R and a 1/2 ounce white Rooster Tail for best results. Black bass and spotted bass are feeding sporadically lake-wide. Bass are on the main river points and are holding on the sides of the points. They run up on the points and feed and then move back to the sides of the points. Use a Carolina rigged worm in any color or a medium diving crank bait and fish at a depth of 10 to 16 feet.
Clarks Hill (down 4.1 feet, 90’s) – Bass fishing is fair. Early in the mornings, head up into the rivers and bigger creeks. Remember downsizing will be the key during the hot summer months. Small Storm Finesse worms on a drop shot rig and light Carolina rigs along the channel ledges are a sure bet on getting a strike. Number 5 Jointed Shad Raps are working along the banks from day break until mid-morning. Throw in shallow water and use a slow retrieve. Use a Trick worm in green pumpkin weightless and finesse jigs. The fish are small so fish deep water structure during the heat and fish slowly. Strikes will be nothing more than added weight. Line movement from side to side may also indicate a strike.
Georgia Outdoor News will host the BLAST! at the Infinite Energy Center, formerly known as the Gwinnett Center, just off I 85 north of Atlanta. The address is 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, GA 30097. The Outdoor Blast will begin this year at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 29 and runs through the weekend until 5 p.m. Sunday, July 31. Meet Lowrance Pros Ken Sturdivant and Captain Mark Smith.
Lake Oconee (full, clear, 85 to 90 degrees, river temperature 85 to 92) – Bass fishing is fair. At first light fish a buzz bait on sea walls and rip rap from the middle of the coves and creeks out to the main lake. White or white/chartreuse have been the best color. Fishing a Carolina rig on the humps on the south end of the lake has also been producing over the past week. As always during the summer fish the rip rap around the bridges when Georgia Power is pulling water in the afternoons. A Rat L Trap, spinner bait or a small crank bait will all produce a strike. Deep diving crank baits off the south end humps will also pick up as we move into summer.
Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741
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 the 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. The early morning bite at the dam has also started. Live shad have been the best producer. Some spoons as well as rooster tails have been catching a few.
Crappie fishing is good. The fish have moved into their summer locations. Look on the creek ledges as well as in the deeper timber. Use your Lowrance structure scan to locate the timber with the crappie in it. Once you locate the fish you can use a jig or drop a live bait into the school.
West Point Lake (down 2.6 feet, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is fair. The fish are in their summertime pattern. Some are still suspended in 17 to 20 feet of water and are moving and chasing shad. Old road beds, such as the one at McGee Access, are great locations to fish with Carolina rigged worms in ANY color. Cranking main lake and river points with a deep diving crank baits is still productive for early morning fishermen. Check out the mouth of Whitewater Creek and fish deep for those bass that have gone to the bottom for the summer. Up in New River, go past the bridge and use Riversides lures dark jig and a Hales Craw worm on the heavy bank cover can get a strike. Stay close to the river current on points. Buzz baits can be good all day in the pockets right off the river. Up past the 109 bridge, hit every pocket no matter how small. Cast right on the edges of the pockets points and work the bait to 13 feet.
Lake Sinclair (down 1.4 feet, clear, 90’s) – Bass fishing is barely fair. The fish are small and it is best to get out early and then leave by 10 am. A Texas rigged Zoom U Tale worm fished in brush piles or on long rock points will bring a few good bites. The better bite is up the river off the main river in the small coves with small grass. Use small all black buzz baits. You need to work the bait slow and be a line watcher. Carolina rigged worm fished on the deeper end of long points or under water islands will also work for a few bites. Working the bait from all sides of the points will help you find how the fish are holding. A drop shot rig is also catching a few fish in brush. Make sure when you feel the brush slow down and let your bait stay in the strike zone as long as possible.
Jackson Lake (down .67 feet, clear, 90’s) – Bass fishing is fair. Concentrate on flats close to the creek bends at 12 to 17 feet deep. Sea walls are fair early with e small Red Fin. A small Fat Free shad in pearl or all white on ten pound test line will get these baits to dig the bottom. Bass seem to be relating to the edges of the creeks, so use the Lowrance and mark these edges with several marker buoys so you can stay on the ledge. Shad schools will be important as the bass will follow the shad. Use a Carolina rig and work a finesse worm or centipede in watermelon, June bug or pumpkinseed with a 3 foot leader ahead of a full one ounce weight. With the larger number of spots in the lake, these fish like smaller baits like finesse worms, small crank baits and small grubs on light line.
Flat Creek PFA
Surface Temperature: 91.0˚ F (32.8˚ C)
Water Level: 9’ 10” Below Full Pool
Water Visibility: 13”
We are approaching the dog days of summer, the time of year that it’s so hot that you can’t even call the dog out from under the cool shade of the porch. During these hot days the fishermen that dare to go soak a line are being rewarded by actually having success in catching fish at Flat Creek. Ideally the better times of the day to fish have been in the coolness of the morning or the not-quite-Hades temperature in the evening. The best time of the month is still during a nice fat full moon. The fisherman that have been interviewed have said that when fishing during those times the bites have been quicker and more frequent than they expected. Bass fishing has been great with an eight pounder and plenty of two-four pounders being caught. Bream have been the go-to fish for those wanting to leave with big stringers. Crappie fishing has not been great except for those that have a lot of patience.
Bass: Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumkinseed Culprit worms. Minnows and worms.
Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Near cover or near the shallower water during a full moon. Catalpa worms. Chicken cut into small pieces were working great for one angler. Crickets have Not worked well.
Channel Catfish: Fresh Catalpa worms are the go-to bait right now.
Crappie: Try cover that creates shade (tree tops) or structure (rock piles).
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek
Average Morning Water Temperature: 68 ⁰F – 88 ⁰F and rising
Water Visibility: 17 – 54+ inches
Largemouth Bass: Action is picking up during early morning and late evening. There is a shad hatch in Willow and the bass and catfish are actively feeding on them. Bass have continued biting in several lakes on McDuffie. Lake Willow produced a nine pound bass about a week ago. Several reports of multiple bass under the slot size (14inches) are being caught as they feed on the shad in Lake Willow. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond, will be open August 1st and will close the evening of 15th August. The bass action has been consistent in Rodbender. A CSRA kayak club member has been catching several bass. Another kayak member advised that his spinner baits are being broken in Rodbender. This lake has been setup with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass. Bass tags from Rodbender must be sent to the Thomson fisheries office (address on web) or use the drop box at Rodbender boat ramp. Reward tags must be turned in for the reward to be sent to the fisherman. Breambuster has a nice population of 2 to 5 pound bass with plenty of bank access, as is the case with most of McDuffie PFA lakes.
Bream: No reported hot spots on the area. Bream are being caught near shore and by fishermen in boats who are fishing deeper. Bream can still be found near shoreline structure and aquatic plants but also suspended over deep water. These pan fish make their spawning beds near weeds and logs in shallow water which requires the fishermen to find the fish, so search for the bedding areas.
Channel Catfish: Catfish in the 4 to 6 pound range are also chasing the shad in Willow. J ones, Willow, and Bridge are known to have some catfish capable of busting heavy tackle. The best fishing is on the bottom in medium to deep water using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made baits. The catfish feed best early in the morning or just before sundown. Willow and Jones has been big catfish hot spots.
Striped Bass: The striper bite has slowed down in Bridge Lake due to the hot weather. A CSRA kayak club member caught and released a nice seventeen inch striper late Sunday evening. There are still no reports of Clubhouse stripers being caught. Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse Lakes. Stripers are biting on cut bait and chicken liver fished on the bottom. Umbrella rigs, diving crank baits and top-water plugs are very effective on McDuffie’s stripers during the colder months.
McDuffie Hatchery will host this year’s last Kids Fishing Event on September 24th during Outdoor Adventure Day. Starting at 8 AM to 12 PM/ 4-hours in duration. Kids ages 2 through 15 years old are allowed to fish during this Kids Fishing Event with parental/grandparent/family supervision and training.
Families are camping out since school is out in the Dearing area.
Additional Information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
The effort has been low during the heat, so I’m going to take a different approach this week. Instead of describing what happened this past week, I am going to give a quick description of the peak bites during the dog-days of summer. You can go out there to your favorite place where you usually catch them in the spring and fall and do your usual things and you will likely catch a few fish. But, if you pay attention to the peak bite, you can absolutely whack the fish right now if you do not care what you are fishing for.
Warmouth and Bowfin (Mudfish) in the Okefenokee Swamp – The fishing in the swamp has been excellent this spring and summer, and while the flier bite has slowed a little with the heat, the warmouth and bowfin are still chowing. Pitch sallies against wood cover for warmouth. Some days yellow is best, while pink outproduces the rest on some days. You need to try the different colors each day to see which one works best for those conditions. Slowly work every nook and cranny around cypress knees and blowdown trees to extract the tasty panfish. Bowfin fishing is REALLY simple. Get in the middle of the canal on the east side or near a lily pad field on the west side and cast an in-line spinner. Retrieve the lures slowly so that it is near the bottom half of the water column, and a bowfin will jump on it. Braided line helps you feel the fish, but make sure to not set the hook too early. I like to just keep reeling – don’t set the hook until the fish actually takes off and goes the other direction. Change colors if you are not catching them. Silver blades typically works best when it is sunny, while chartreuse or white blades have worked in all light conditions. Make sure to take a lip-gripping tool to attempt to subdue the fish and pliers to remove treble hooks (you definitely don’t want to forget pliers while fishing for bowfin!).
Mullet fishing on the Altamaha – This is the ultimate angling experience for triple-digit temperatures. Why? Because you get right in the water with your quarry. Put out a salt block (like the ones for cows – you can get them at feed stores and farm equipment stores) and a bag of rabbit chow (some folks prefer pig pellets) in about 3 feet of water on the back side of a sandbar. Choose an area with just a tiny bit of current. Let the concoction sit for a half-hour or so while you get everything ready to fish. Then, wade out near the salt block (I usually put the chow in a mesh bag and hang it from a PVC pole so I can tell where the salt block is located. For outfitting, I use a crappie jig pole, which has a spinning reel that will give and take line. Many folks use bream busters, but big fish will often break off. My rig consists of a small hook, then a split-shot a foot above, then a small balsa float. I usually use a #8 or 10 Mullet Master Hook (that 2x hook will not bend as easily as an aberdeen hook, so you can actually land a big catfish that inhales your worm). The most popular bait for mullet is a red wiggler worm. Skewer the whole thing on your hook. Pitch your offering behind the bait station (try to get it close to the salt block, as the fish will sometimes be nosed right up to the block) and look for a slight wobble of your float (mullet bite softly). Jaycees Landing in Jesup and Altamaha Park in Everett are two of the best landings from which to chase mullet.
Bottom fishing at the coast – The croaker bite has been very strong off the St. Simons Island Pier, and those fish should be around the rest of the summer. I like to use a double-rig and bait the hooks with a small strip of squid AND a small piece of shrimp. The shrimp is deadly, but the squid is there as a back-up if a fish steals the shrimp (squid is much harder for them to get off the hook). I use a 7 1/2-foot medium action Ugly Stik paired with a Penn Battle reel and spool it with 17-lb. test Nanofil braided line. Use just enough weight that you can stay in contact with bottom. You can fish the offering around pilings, rocks, or just along the beach and catch fish….lots of fish. Your catch will be skewed toward croakers and whiting, but you will also likely catch yellowtails, spadefish, spot, an occasional flounder, and a whole host of other species.
Don’t just stay in the house because of the heat this summer. Try these ideas if you want to get on a peak bite.