(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 during the day is slowly improving. A few bass are still attacking various styles of Shad Raps with the Glass and Jointed Shad Raps working well. Change colors when the bass are small in size or the action gets slow. A great place to find active bass is way up in the Savannah River. While in the moving water, use a small all-black buzz bait on a braid and work it right up next to any shaded areas. Fishing moving water with the #5 Rapala Shad Raps and smaller Rapala DT6 is good on any body of water where good current is present. Points and the back side of rip rap rocks are good places to fish when the gates of the Dam are opened. Run the sensitivity on the Lowrance machines in AUTO. Work the points early in the morning along with the mouth of the creeks and then again in the late afternoon. More bass are beginning to move, especially spotted bass.
Clarks Hill (down 4.5 feet, 90’s) – Bass fishing is fair. The bigger fish are still out in the deeper water during the day and finding the thermocline will be a must. Now is a good time to use a drop shot rig. During the month of August, a slow presentation is a must on both a drop shot and a Carolina Rig. Some bass are still coming off the main lake points early in the morning and then again late in the evening. Slow cranking a number 5 or 7 Shad Rap or a X Rap on the sides of the points will catch the larger bass that move up to feed. Use ten or twelve pound test line and allow the baits to dig into the bottom and bounce off the rocks from time to time. Another key fishing tip is to locate any form of current and fish it. Run the sensitivity on the Lowrance machines in AUTO. Isolated pockets of midday shade is another good idea while searching for those few bites. Don’t forget to look for isolated grass beds and fish them really hard.
Lake Oconee (full, the lake is clear, light stain up the lake into the river, temperature 87-92) – 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. R un the sensitivity on the Lowrance machines in AUTO. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Striper fishing is poor. There are some small fish feeding at the dam first thing in the morning. Live bait and spoons will catch these small fish. The next option is umbrella rigs on humps on the south end, but this is not very predictable. Also catching a few up Richland creek on live shad.
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 2.8 feet, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is poor. The bites offshore have scattered a bit with the higher water, cooler temperatures and rain. The top-water bite in the early morning is good right now. Use top-water walking baits such as Heddon Spook or Lucky Craft Sammy in a shad pattern around lay downs and brush piles lake wide. Once the sun is above the trees, move out deeper on the humps and road beds and use Carolina rigs and shaky head worms in green pumpkin. Run the sensitivity on the Lowrance machines in AUTO. Fish are not deep on offshore structure, so look in depths from 10 to 15 feet.
Lake Sinclair (down 1.2 feet, clear, 90’s) – Bass fishing is fair. Top-water baits and spinner baits continue to produce a few fish during early morning hours. More fish seem to now be using docks as ambush points, with fewer bass along the seawalls and blow downs. Chug Bugs and Pop R’s are both good choices along with buzz baits. If top-water lures aren’t producing strikes from these shallow fish, then it’s probably a day to fish slowly with soft plastics. A good approach is to alternate using about 3 or 4 various type soft plastic rigs. Carolina rigs can be slowly retrieved along the sides and front of docks. Texas rigs are always a good choice, whether pitched with casting tackle or skipped with spinning gear. Texas rigs can be teamed with a light weight and small worms or larger worms and heavier weights. Run the sensitivity on the Lowrance machines in AUTO. A lightweight jig head and Finesse worm can also be the best choice on a given day, even though few anglers fish this rig. Rip rap along the roads and trestle in Little River continues to yield a few bass. Crank baits can be good with current or wind, but soft plastics are more consistent, especially with small and lightweight Texas rigs and the jig head and worm rig. Some bass are still holding along humps, points, and ledges. Carolina rigs and crank baits are the primary producers.
Jackson Lake (down .91 feet, clear, 90’s) – Bass fishing is barely fair. At daybreak, use a small Chug Bug or a Pop R. This is a short period so cover a lot of water. Long run out points that drop off sharply into deep water are some of the key areas to look for. Fish the jointed Shad Rap or the suspending model. There are a few fish moving early and even in the middle of the day looking for food. This when the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology can make finding shad schools so much easier. The Tussahaw Creek is almost always clear. Start with a small all back buzz bait on the banks and in the shadows. Later in the day use a finesse worm on the shaky head and fish these same areas. Added garlic scent is a must when throwing worms or jigs this time of the year.
Big Lazer PFA
Surface water temperature: a Hot 87o F
Water visibility: Visibility is about 23 inches
Water level: Water level is down about 6 feet
Largemouth bass: Slow – Bass fishing has slowed because of the very hot temperatures. However, a few can still be caught in deeper water. Anglers should try a shad look-alike in 3 to 8 feet of water and fish out from the bank at least five feet. During the day fish for bass in and around heavy cover. Sometimes, several larger bass can be found in the shade of the fishing pier. Feeding bass will be most active during the early morning and later in the evening. Try bass fishing with a shallow presentation of dark colored crank baits and plastic-worms during the low light periods.
Crappie: Poor- Crappie are difficult to locate and catch this time of year. Fishing deep around standing timber with live minnows is your best bet. Anglers may have to fish several deep water locations in order to locate the scattered fish.
Bream: Good – Bream fishing is good. Most bream are close-in to the banks and seeking shady cover to keep cool. 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, cat fishing has been good in deeper water over much of the lake. Some catfish are being caught on cut bait and shrimp as well as worms and livers.
In general, August and September hot temperatures and lack of rain make fishing at Big Lazer challenging. But, cooler temperatures are on the way, which will improve the bite. Look for improved fishing in middle to late September.
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer
Average Morning Water Temperature: 68 ⁰F – 88 ⁰F
Water Visibility: 17 – 54+ inches: Lake Water levels across McDuffie PFA are down a foot or more but boats can still be launched.
Largemouth Bass: Action is picking up during early morning and late evening. Bass have continued biting in several lakes on McDuffie. 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 close the evening of August 15th and reopen September 1st. The bass action has been consistent in Rodbender. This lake has been set up 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 like most of McDuffie PFA lakes.
Bream: Slow: 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: The Catfish bite is still going strong. Jones, 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 have been big catfish hot spots.
Striped Bass: The striper bite has slowed down in Bridge Lake due to the hot weather. 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 topwater 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/ 4hours 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.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
The bowfin bite in the Okefenokee has been hotter than the temperatures. In saltwater, trout have started biting, sharks are numerous, and the redfish have started showing up. Redbreasts and bluegills are still eating up lures and crickets in the rivers, but getting around is the biggest challenge. Full Moon is August 18th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said that very few anglers fished with the low water and heat. Donna at Altamaha Park reported that the channel catfish bite was on fire. Goldfish fooled channels and some flatheads in the 10 to 15 pound range. A 45-pound flathead caught on Sunday was the biggest weighed in this week. Bream and redbreasts were caught on crickets. Crappie ate minnows. She said that overall, the fishing has picked up. The river level was 2.1 feet and rising (86 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 2.6 feet and rising (83 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on August 9th.
Satilla River – The Camp Tatum Satilla River Showdown benefit tournament was a big success on Saturday, even with the river level very low. More than 60 anglers fished the event, and it took 2.85 pounds to win the 5 biggest redbreast category. The biggest bluegill weighed 0.87 pounds, and big bass was 1.88 pounds. The event is over, but don’t forget to keep Camp in your daily prayers! My son Timothy and I fished the tournament but got on the water late in the morning. We managed several nice redbreasts and a half-pound bluegill, all on 1/8oz. black/yellow Satilla Spins. Our fish came from shaded runs with some current and wood cover. We fished from kayaks – floating and fishing the deep stretches and wading and fishing from the sandbars in the shallow areas. Dragging was a lot of work but was a great time. Lane and Kevin Steedley, Craig James, and several other friends waded the upper Satilla and bass fished after the service on Sunday. They ended up catching 7 nice bass on floating worms. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the river fishing has been fair. Redbreasts and bream were caught on crickets and pink worms. Bream have also been killing crickets pitched close to the bank. A few anglers reported catching crappie on minnows. The river level on August 9th at the Waycross gage was 4.1 feet and falling (82 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.0 feet and rising.
St. Marys River – Reports were scarce this week, and the catfish bite was the most consistent. Put a shrimp on the bottom, and you should catch whiskerfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 9th was 1.9 feet and rising.
Okefenokee Swamp – Alan Thomas and Scotty McPherson fished the swamp last week and barely missed the cutoff for last week’s report. They had a great trip, catching 41 bowfin (mudfish) up to 4 1/2 pounds and lost lots of fish, as well. They started with black/chartreuse Dura-Spins and caught a few fish, but did better when they switched to the jackfish color. As the bite slowed mid-day, they tried fire tiger and wish they had tried it earlier. It was their best color all day, and they caught lots of fish toward the end of their trip. They had several “doubles” during the day. I took Kuff Thrift and Wyatt Crews on Tuesday morning, and we had the best bowfin trip I’ve ever had. We fished for 3 1/2 hours and boated 123 bowfin (that is not a misprint!) and 6 gar. Our best color Dura-Spins were jackfish and fire tiger. The key was a silver blade that day, even with the cloudy conditions. I typically fish a painted blade in cloudy weather and a flashy blade when the sun is out, but the fish flip-flopped their behavior that day. Wyatt caught our biggest fish, an 8-lb. 0-oz. whopper, and we landed several 5 to 7-pounders. Bowfin are not held in high regards by most anglers, but they will provide an unforgettable trip if you take the time to target them. We were some of the only anglers fishing the swamp over the week, as the heat has kept most anglers away. On the west side, catfish were caught with shrimp fished on the bottom.
Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that the bass bite has been the talk around town this week, with several hawgs being reported. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, topwaters, and shiners all produced some big bass. Quality bream were caught during the growing moon, and crickets were the bait of choice. Some of the good catfish ponds produced messes for those fishing rooster livers and worms.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – The saltwater bite picked up this week. Andy Trochek and Blake Yarbrough fished the Sapelo Island area over the weekend and caught redfish of all sizes. Both cut bait and artificials produced their spottails. They caught a few sheepshead on fiddler crabs and barnacles, and their biggest fish of the weekend was a 7-foot lemon shark. Last Wednesday, Brentz McGhin fished the Crooked River area and caught 15 throwback trout and 4 keepers on live shrimp and mudminnows. He also caught a keeper tripletail and a whole host of “baitstealer” species. Tarpon have moved inshore and are numerous when you find them. The big bull reds have started to move toward the sounds for their annual fall spawning ritual. This is the time of year I love to pitch bucktail jigs and Jetty Jigs with Sea Shads to jetties for the bull reds. Michael Winge reported that flounder are still abundant in creeks and rivers. Live shrimp and white swimming mullet grubs produced the flatties. Black drum were caught with dead shrimp, as were whiting. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported that flounder, trout, croakers, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel were caught from the pier this week. Sharks were also caught in good numbers. Big blue crabs were around the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: At the time of writing this, the marine forecast looks like saltwater should be fishable for the weekend. With the low tide mid-morning, I would fish the jetties for bull redfish if the wind forecast allows. If winds are higher, inland trout drops would get my attention. After having my most successful bowfin trip ever, I would have to recommend catching the feisty battlers in the Okefenokee. It is extremely simple to cast an in-line spinner right down the middle of the canal and set the hook (every couple of casts) when a bowfin inhales it.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Rob Weller and region fisheries staff)
Lake Walter F. George and the Lower Chattahoochee River – The summer heat has definitely settled over South Georgia which often results in slow fishing except for catfish and bream. However, the catfish fishing continues to be hot on Lake George and in the lower Chattahoochee above George and in the river above Lake Seminole. The Fisheries Section has recently begun their standardized catfish electrofishing surveys in the Chattahoochee River and have seen some very impressive numbers and sizes of flathead catfish. Two sites anglers should concentrate on are around the Hwy 91 Bridge just West of Donalsonville. This area had very good number of flathead catfish in the 10-20 pound range as well as a large number of blue catfish in the 2-10 pound range. Another great location for large flathead catfish is upstream of Lake George near the Hwy. 39 Bridge just West of Omaha. A 42 and 38 pound flathead catfish were sampled at this location.
Flint River – There have reports of good fishing for bream, shoal bass and catfish. The water level in the southern portion of the Flint is low and there has been little fluctuation. The low stable clear water should be excellent for shoal bass and bream fishing. Unlike some other species of fish, shoal bass are almost strictly sight predators so fishing during the middle of the day when the sun is overhead is often the best time to catch these fish. It is also the time when other fish are being less cooperative. The size of the bluegill and redbreast reported being caught this summer are up from the last few years and there are also good numbers of bream being caught. Crickets below a float adjacent to flowing water near rocks and shoals have produced good catches of redbreast. The flathead catfish fishing has been good recently with anglers reporting catching 2-5 fish in the 5-15 lb. range on each trip using a rod and reel and live bream for bait. The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip.
The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:
Montezuma above Lake Blackshear
Highway 32 below Lake Blackshear
Lower Flint River below Albany
Lake Seminole – According to Lake Seminole fishing guide Steven Wells the fishing for bass has been a little slow. However, a few fish can still be caught. A six pound fish caught while flipping won a night tournament last Tuesday. The bream fishing continues to be good for both bluegill and redear (shellcracker). Steven knows of two reliable sources that have been reporting catching upwards of 50 redear sunfish a day and these fish have been big. Anglers are having to net the fish to keep from breaking their lines.