(Info provided by Fisheries Biologists Tim Barrett and Joel Fleming, and region Fisheries staff)
Striped bass: Late fall and early winter is a great time to go out and catch a few stripers in the lower Savannah River. These fish, particular the large ones, over-summer in the upriver sections of the Savannah during the summer in order to find cooler waters during the summer’s heat. As temperatures start falling, with nights dipping into the 40s, the fish start moving downstream to take advantage of the bountiful estuarine forage. Fish this time of year start gorging on shrimp, menhaden, and mullet gaining some of the weight back that was lost during those stressful summer months. A large portion of these fish will remain in these estuarine waters, primarily downstream of Millstone Landing, until the spring spawn, when fish begin to spread out to find spawning habitat throughout the river. Fishing with the above mentioned forage species as live bait can be effective this time of year. Many anglers are also quite successful with artificial swim baits with weighted heads. Fish will be located near structure such as bridge pilings, currents diverters and submerged trees. Casting upriver near these structures seems to work best in order to be able to pull some of the bigger monsters downstream to avoid getting tangled up.
Redbreast: Good numbers of redbreast sunfish and other panfish species are still abundant during the fall. However, since the rains from Hurricane Matthew subsided, the river basin has been extremely dry and water levels are very low. Finding a landing that has enough water to navigate very far may be a challenge, unless you take a very small vessel and are willing to drag your boast a ways. However, for those anglers that are willing to put forth the effort, a rewarding catch may be waiting over the next sandbar.
Evans County Public Fishing Area:
Crappie: The fall crappie bite has begun. Anglers are catching good numbers of large crappie over the tree tops in the center of Bidd Sands (84 acre) Lake. Fish are being caught on jigs and minnows while drifting or slowly trolling over the structures. This is an excellent time to put several pounds of these mild tasting fish in the freezer!
Largemouth Bass: Bass fishing has been excellent in Bidd Sands Lake this year and the somewhat cooler waters of fall have seemed to increase the bite a bit. Quite a few bass are being caught on topwater lures near the Lilly-pads and while other anglers have been successful with live shiners.
Catfish: Lake Longleaf is consistently producing very good catches of channel catfish. Many anglers are catching their daily limit (5 per person / day) in this pond. Anglers are reporting catches throughout the day with most of the bites on chicken liver. A few of these catfish on top of a mess of crappie from Bidd Sands Lake sure makes for a good day and a fine meal!
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
Pay close attention and memorize this mathematical equation for future use. There will likely be a field test on this new math for many of you on Saturday morning, if not sooner.
This weeks’ equation is: 2c+ st + FSc – taw = ITS
Well, here it is, in longhand:
Cold creeks + stocking trucks + Forest Service copter – time at work = Instant Trouting Success!
While it’s still unseasonably warm, the cold nights are doing the trick. Delayed Harvest season has kicked off and reservoir predators are roaming the banks at low light and sometimes even in bright sunlight. Apparently there’s a run on Y2K’s at fly shops and redfins in tackle stores.
Angling life is good again in north Georgia! Just remember- no open flames, so we can preserve our woods and the fish and wildlife habitat they provide.
Let’s dive right into the week’s reports and the latest crop of tips for the neophytes among our ranks.
- Georgia DH Stockings – The Eagle has Flown!
Many thanks to all of our partners, paid and unpaid, for a great week of trout stocking to open Georgia’s DH waters. Paid folks included our friends with:
1) Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery, which stocked the Toccoa;
2) SCDNR’s Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, which stocks the Chattooga, along with a few of our GA fish,
3) And the U.S. Forest Service which, despite all of its firefighting responsibilities, still found an open window to the fly the copter on 11/2 and repopulate the Chattooga DH for you weekend warriors. The eagle has flown from her nest high atop Glassy Mountain!
This copter stocking video is a few years old, but still entertaining:
Our great volunteers from Georgia Trout Unlimited chapters (https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaTroutUnlimited/)
1) Rabun TU and its “Tom Landreth” copter fund (cash!)
2) Blue Ridge Mtn Chapter’s Toccoa bucket toters and canoe sprinklers,
3) Gold Rushers releasing on Amicalola,
4) and the Foothills gang spreading Smith DH fish.
Given the low water this year, spreading out this first DH stocking was very important to the quality of everyone’s early season angling trips. We GAWRD folks really appreciate these longstanding partnerships and extra sets of hands that benefit all of our trout anglers.
- Trouting Tips for Newbies
These tips should help our new anglers to catch more trout this fall… and beyond!
- Trout Harvesters
Remember, our DH stockers are pretty, but not smart enough to read our special regulation signs. Migrants who wander beyond the protective boundaries of our DH waters can be invited home to supper. Just ensure you are, indeed, fishing in the stream sections where bait fishing and harvest are legal. DH maps are on our website (gofishgeorgia.com, fishing, trout), with a link in last week’s report, I believe. Grab a kid, some nightcrawlers, and a camera, and have some fun this fall.
- “Shocking” Hooch Tailwater Report
Last Friday we were able to get out and sample the Chattahoochee River at Jones Bridge. We saw decent numbers of 13″ to 15″ Brown Trout and plenty of 9″ to 12″ Browns and Rainbows. Our biggest fish was a Brown Trout just over 20″ and 3 1/4 lbs! It’s a great time to hit the river and take advantage of the Chattahoochee River’s incredible wild Brown Trout population below Buford Dam, or hit the Delayed Harvest section below Morgan Falls Dam from Sope Creek downstream to Highway 41.
For more information on trout fishing in Georgia be sure to visit http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout
If you plan on going out this weekend be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know! http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/AnglerAwards
Good luck and tight lines,
-Pat Snellings, GA WRD Fisheries Biologist, Gainesville
- Hooch DH Report and Stocking Pics
- Toccoa Tailwater
Damer had some pics of a few more big browns he found last week. Here’s one (attached) that also shows off the great gift from TVA –a new launching ramp at Tammen Park. Thanks TVA!
- Blueline Report
Sautee, suffering from a month-long angling deficit, treated his affliction “somewhere above Helen, before the leaf lookers arrived” on Saturday morning. His bluelining trip was very productive. Despite the extremely skinny water, eager wild rainbows smashed his #16 tan elk hair caddis in just about every niche with water depth or overhead cover. Most fish were small (4-7 inches), but he got a nine and a ten-inch fish among the 21 brought to hand during his Gilligan (3-hr) tour. Enjoy the “fall colors” of his attached photo of a headwater rainbow trout.
So, Dry Fly Blueliners – be on alert for a window of opportunity to visit the mountains SOON before their water temps dive and you’re stuck dredging til the March stream bug thaw.
- Trout Tag Thanks
Thank you all for your Brookie tag purchases! We’ve put your cash to good use.
- Lanier Stripers
Terry at Sherry’s Bait and BBQ said he’s almost sold out of surface swimmers and shallow runners, like redfins and bombers. He says the striper and spotted bass bite is good “when the sun is behind the trees.” Get out there early or late, during these low light conditions, to take advantage of fall surface action on Lanier. Capt Mack provides even more details here:
- Lanier Bass
Subject: Lanier Bass Fishing Report
Water Temp: 69 degrees
Water Level: 8.66 feet below full pool
This report brought to you by Jimbo On Lanier 770-542-7764 www.jimboonlanier.com
The fishing on Lake Lanier has been good this past week! The water temperatures have stabilized around 69 degrees but the water level continues to drop as the corp continues to pull water. We have a cold front coming this weekend which should change things out there. The info below is what has been going on, but look for changes in the bite as the conditions change. I look for the topwater bite to slow down, and the jig/worm bite to pick up with the front. I also look for the jerkbait bite to get stronger, and potentially the SuperSpin bite as well. With the lake down, I look for a great ditch bite as the water gets cooler, so keep an eye out for the bait making their way into the creek arms. We are starting to see some schooling activity early each morning around shallower humps both on the main lake and mouths of creeks. When the schooling bite is slow, we have been heading out to main lake humps early in the morning and working a jig and shaky head for some solid fish. 8-12 feet seems to be the magic depth this past week. As the day progresses and the sun starts to get up, we have been working humps and long running points with brush. The fish have been relating to brush in 12-18 feet of water on most sunny days. The topwater and swimbait bite over the brush has been good this week – make sure to check out the pictures on my Website or my FaceBook account – Jimbo On Lanier. If you get no response on top, switch to a SuperSpin and Spro Jerkbait around and over the brush. Also a Picasso Swim Jig slow-reeled over the brush has been a good option. The jig bite has been picking up over the last few days as well, and as I mentioned above, it should get stronger with the cold front. If you have been waiting for the fall bite, its here, and its time to FISH! Thanks to all and May God Bless.
Jim “JIMBO” Mathley
Spotted Bass Fishing Guide – Lake Lanier
Mobile – 770-542-7764
· Lake Burton Sampling Report (10/28)
We completed our annual fall sampling on Lake Burton this week. The water temperature was 68 F, which is about 10 degrees above normal. Spotted bass ranging from 1 to 3 pounds were superabundant in 20 to 30-feet of water around downed trees. Sounds like a perfect time to test out your sonar and shaky head skills. We also saw some limited surface feeding activity. The topwater bite should pick up a bit more as the water temperature cools down.
Senior Fisheries Biologist
Wildlife Resources Division
- Road Trip Reports
- From Brian, who learned his craft from the Unicoi Guru, and evidently forgot his razor when he crossed the Mississippi. Enjoy these great pics and also his free web magazine. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111539
- “In Search of Water” Enjoy T23’s quick trip to the Smokies: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111658
*** EVENTS EVENTS EVENTS ***
- Reminder- Saturday Open House – Buford Hatchery
It’s NGTO’s “Fall Fling.” Notice the free, instream lessons for folks who sign up soon.
- November 10 Event in Alpharetta
Gear up and Give Back!
Check out the Columbia’s instore party next Thursday evening (event flyer attached). Part of the proceeds from your purchases boomerang back to help our Fisheries program, which means it helps you. That’s a pretty good return on your “investment” in fishing Georgia.
- Far Off – “Rabunites, They are Called”
Here’s how Rabunites resupply their copter stocking account so that you can make more memories on the Chattooga!
Save your pennies and mark your calendars now for this legendary hillbilly shindig in January.
Here’s your speaker:
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Fishing this week was very good from most accounts. Crappie fishing has been great but will probably slow some behind the forecasted cold front late in the week. By the end of the weekend it should pick up again. Okefenokee fishing and seatrout reports have been good. First quarter moon is November 7th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Bass reports from the middle river were excellent. Several anglers reported catching limits of typical-sized (1 to 2-pounders) bass on plastic worms. The biggest was from a pair of anglers fishing a tributary to the Altamaha. They had a 6-pounder on a plastic worm. They also caught and released 21 other nice bass that ate green pumpkin jigs, shad-colored unweighted super-flukes, and spinnerbaits. The water is as clear as it gets on the Altamaha and its tributaries. Anglers reported catching lots of channel catfish and shellcrackers in the middle and upper Altamaha, also. The low water puts the fish in predictable places, and they should feed actively until the cold front hits late in the week. Donna at Altamaha Park said that a group of anglers from Waycross fishing Friday and Saturday caught crappie, bream, and catfish on minnows. They took home over 60 crappie, 25 bream, and 21 channel catfish. That will make many a fish fry! Flathead catfish anglers caught fish from 15 to 35 pounds on goldfish. The river level was 1.1 feet and falling (73 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 1.5 feet and falling (72 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on November 1st.
Satilla River – The river is so low you will be dragging as much as you are floating right now. But, the fish will tear it up if you are willing to put in the work. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that river fishing is still good for those going. Redbreasts were caught on crickets, worms, and spinnerbaits. In the lower river, Satilla Spins (crawfish color) caught hand-sized and larger fish on Saturday. One angler had over 30 redbreasts along with a good number of bream. In the Waycross area, anglers fishing the bank and wading did the best, with bream, redbreasts, and catfish topping the creels. A few crappie were caught with minnows fished in the deep holes. Some bass still ate buzzbaits in the warm afternoons this week, but that will likely slow with the cooler weather forecasted for later in the week. The river level on November 1st at the Waycross gage was 4.1 feet and falling (71 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.2 feet and falling.
St. Marys River – The upper river is about dried up. Wading and fishing the bank are the best approaches there. Even in the tidal water, not many anglers fished this week, and those who did only caught 5 to 10 fish per trip. Even though the panfish bite was slow, catfish were caught in decent numbers. The river level at the MacClenny gage on November 1st was 1.7 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – Ron and Nathanael Johnson and my son Timothy and I fished the Folkston entrance on Saturday afternoon. Within a few casts in the boat basin using a crawfish Dura-Spin, we caught a 16-inch chain pickerel (jackfish). In the first hour out in the canals, we were able to fool 19 fliers up to 8 1/2 inches on pink and yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies. Pink caught most of them. After that we switched to bowfin (mudfish) for about 2 hours and managed 22 of them up to 4 pounds. All of them came on jackfish, white, or fire tiger Dura-Spins. The fire tiger version with the silver blade worked best for us. If you want to learn the finer details of swamp fishing, attend the Pioneer Days Celebration at the Folkston entrance and participate in the fishing opportunity. The event will be held from 9am to 2pm on November 19th and there is no cost, except the refuge entry fee.
Lake Mayers (near Baxley) – The crappie bite is still on. A couple anglers reported catching a double-limit of crappie (averaging 10 inches) by spider-rigging minnows in the deeper water on Friday evening. The bite was on fire from 5 to 6pm and then slowed. Once it slowed, one angler started casting tan shad-colored “Speck”tacular Jigs suspended 24 inches under a float and outproduced all 12 minnow poles for the next hour. My favorite approach for crappie there is to fish 3 or 4 rods rigged with Assassin 2-inch Curly Shads out the back of my boat and troll at about 1 mph. Shad or chartreuse hues typically produce the best catches. Look for an article on crappie fishing at Lake Mayers in the December issue of Georgia Outdoor News (GON).
Local Ponds – Chad Lee caught a nice 6-pound bass last Thursday evening on a Whopper Plopper topwater. Another angler reported catching a 12-lb., 8-oz. monster bass from a Valdosta area pond on Friday. I saw the fish and it was a mammoth! A bladed umbrella rig fooled the 27 1/2-inch giant. He released her back to keep growing…. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds crappie were caught with both minnows and jigs. With the new moon over the weekend, the bass fishing was solid. Shiners consistently produced bass from 3 to 4 pounds for an angler fishing Saturday morning. Bream and catfish were fooled with worms fished on the bottom.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Michael Winge reported that trout fishing was strong over the weekend. Jigs and live shrimp both produced. Creels ranged from 15 to 20 fish for most groups. Most of the keepers are in the 15 to 17-inch range. Flounder were also reported, with some close to doormat qualifications. White Gulp swimming mullet have been producing many of the bigger flatfish. Slot-sized redfish were caught in the creeks in the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that big flounder were caught from the pier this week. Some fish 21 inches and above were caught with shrimp. Trout have also been plentiful from the pier, and they have eaten both shrimp and jigs. Most of the trout caught from the pier are keepers. Bull redfish were numerous from the pier, and blue crab catches were still great. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: We are going into a low tidal fluctuation cycle for the next week, so trout fishing should be great if the winds are fishable. Fish live shrimp or Assassin Sea Shads around oyster mounds and creek mouths along the Intracoastal Waterway to catch a mess of the tasty fish. Crappie fishing should be good late this week before the front and again early next week once the weather stabilizes, but they will probably have lockjaw for a couple days after the strong cold front forecasted for late this week. Rivers or ponds will likely be your best bet to get away from the high winds behind the front. Welcome to fall! If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours and it will change.