While we might not all have a long holiday weekend ahead of us – we do want to wish all of you a very Happy Independence Day! Take time to celebrate, preferably somewhere out on the water with a fishing pole in your hand, with family and friends. We hope it is a safe, memorable and joyful time for you!
Let’s start off with a smile. Check out this sweet girl taking a peek at some trout that are about to be stocked. If you go fishing this weekend, be sure to take a young’un and a camera, memories are sure to be made!
This week, we have fishing reports from Southwest, Central, Southeast and North Georgia to get you fired up and ready to fish! Let’s get to it:
(Fishing report courtesy of Rob Weller, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
The bass fishing at Lake George is slowing a bit from the fast paced action that occurred during the spring but the fish are still biting. Anglers can catch largemouth in the shallows around vegetation and other structure and they are showing up in pretty good numbers on the ledges. Anglers have been catching fish in the 12-20 foot range using large spoons and football head jigs. The lake is currently at full pool and the bass should continue to remain shallow with the water at this level. Frogs seem to be the popular bait in the shallows. Bream and catfish fishing continue to be good if you are in the mood to dunk a cricket or worm. Jug fishing is a great way to relax and catch some dinner during the summer months. Most anglers use swimming pool noodles cut into one to two foot lengths for catching catfish with this technique. Almost any catfish bait will work. Please remember to keep track of your noodles or jugs and retrieve them when you are finished.
Continued rains have resulted in a higher and more turbid lower Flint River than we are used to seeing this time of year. Anglers may want to check one of the river gauges below before planning a trip. However, the River is well within the banks and fishing should be good for almost all species found in the Flint. A rising river typically means good fishing especially for catfish anglers using trot and limb line. Remember when fishing for flatheads, live fish is their preferred meal especially as they get bigger. A reminder that striped bass fishing is closed in the lower Flint River and its tributaries from May 1 – October 31.
The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:
The bass are still biting on Lake Seminole. Anglers are catching them on frogs, crankbaits and worms. Anglers are having success working the grass edges and the morning top water bite is still effective. The lake is at full pool due to all of the recent rains and also the main Flint arm is a bit more stained than usual for this time of year. Channel catfish are biting well and there have also been a few reports of hybrids being caught near the dam. The July 4th weekend means there will be a lot of boats on the water so be careful and courteous to your fellow boaters.
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Start the day with a white buzz bait. Fish it around mid-lake docks sea walls and bridge rip raps. As the sun get up switch to deep water points with a worm. Fish a Zoom u tail worm with some green in it. A Texas rig has been out producing the shaky head over the past week, but both have been good producers. Some fish are also starting to show up on the deep water humps near the dam. Use a Carolina rig with a short one-foot leader for these fish. This is working best during the heat of the day.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 6.4 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair this week and water temperatures continue to rise and the bass are getting very sluggish. Early in the morning, bass will be feeding and chasing shad and herring to the surface. A silver and blue or a shad colored Skitter Pop or a Shad colored Skitter Walk on ten or twelve pound test will catch these fish. Humps and points are the best places to find breaking fish early in the morning. Sub-surface hydrilla near these locations is holding the bait until they are spooked out. The channel ledges are still a late day favorite as anglers continue to pick them apart after about 10:00 a.m. Number 12 Husky Jerks and the Down Deep Husky Jerks worked parallel on the ledges with an occasional pause will get you a strike. Try cranking these baits down then either use a slow, steady retrieve or a stop, go and jerk method. These two retrieves seem to be working the best.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPRATURE 81-86
Bass – Bass fishing is fair. You can catch a lot of fish just on the small side with worms under docks. Use a dark worm Texas rigged for best results. The buzz bait bite at first light has been picking up all week. Look along any sea wall from the middle of the creeks and coves to the back. You can also use a silver black or shad pattern Shad Rap. There is also a shaky head bite under and around docks in the mid lake area. Some fish are starting to move onto the deep water humps late in the day and you can catch them with a Carolina rig green worm. Also large crank baits fished off of the south end humps will produce. Use your Lowrance to locate the humps with fish on them then target the hump with the Carolina rig or the crank bait.
Striper- (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service 404-803-0741) – Striper fishing is good. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of fish in the mouths of the coves and on the humps on the south end of the lake. Live bait (shad) have been the best over the past week. You can also pick up some fish on the pipeline with a spoon when Georgia Power is pulling water. Early morning the spoon bite at the dam has started.
Crappie – Crappie fishing is very good. The fish are moving into the timber on an early summer pattern. Long lining jigs over timber from 8 to 15 feet deep have been the best producers over the past week. Match your color to the color of the water.
WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair and the summer pattern is in effect. A few are being caught shallow on large grubs early. Dark green pumpkin worms on a Texas rig seem to be the bait of choice then fish with a slow presentation on or around wood and brush piles. Some bass are being caught on a Fat Free Shad crank bait mid-lake. Work the baits slowly and move around as the day heats up. There are some biting at night on grass on 10-inch worms Zoom worms. The top-water bite should pick up as the full moon passes. Try a buzz bait or Chug bug in and around the creek bends and standing timber. Throw as far back as you can and work the wood real good. This will be the best bet for any top-water action.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .6 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Try a bream colored prop bait. A Lobbing Lures Rico Popper is also a good bait to throw around the mayflies. When the sun gets up and the top-water bite slows, fish the same seawalls and overhangs with a brown jig with a Z Man chunk trailer. This will get a few more quality bites throughout the day. Find the brush piles in 10 to 15 foot of water with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology. Now, use a Texas rigged Ol’ Monster worm or a Shaky Head Z Man finesse worm. Green pumpkin and red bug colors are both catching fish. When Georgia Power is moving water, make sure to check the ends of points and humps with a Strike King 6xd crank bait in the chartreuse sexy shad color.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is barely fair. Early some small bass are roaming the banks as well as on the ends of points. Square bill crank baits are some of the best hard baits in a long time. They catch big bass. Square bills are the spinnerbaits of rip rap. The bill shape allows them to crawl over rocks effectively and deflect in a way that the big ones can’t resist. The bass are shallow around any wood and cast baits to shadows all day. Use a gourd green Berkley tail worms down lake on Texas rig and use the brass and glass on the rig for more sound. Look in the mid-lake half way back in the creeks and hit any dock and points. Brush is a must and the fish are on the shady sides of docks. Up the river the fishing is still slow but use a 1/2 ounce Strike King Spinner bait and add a large trailer. Zoom Bush Hogs and dark worms in the Zoom u tail worms in reds and June bug will work fished slowly on wood and docks. Use a Texas rig and fish all lures slowly and let them fall. Zoom trick worms in pink or yellow are also fair around the docks in the shadows in the creeks.
- Surface Temperature: 820 F
- Water Level: 6’ 8” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 20”
We are getting into the hot days of summer, but fortunately the best time to fish at Flat Creek lately has been the cooler mornings or evenings and that magical time right before a storm/rain. Bass fishing has been good for those who have been able to get their lures into that six to seven foot water depth where the bass seem be hanging out. The large bream have been biting well during the full and new moon phases. Catfish have been biting well. Crappie fishing has still been slow.
Bass – boat anglers have had the upper hand the past couple months when compared to bank anglers. Here’s what the successful anglers have suggested to catch bass: Plum or June Bug colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumkinseed Culprit worms. Kalin’s Green Pumkin Majic Wac-O-Worms. Crankbaits have not worked well.
Bream: the very best thing to catch bream in July is Catalpa worms. These are available on the area. Look to the tree near the pavilion. Please carefully collect worms as to not cause damage to the tree and only take what you will use for the day.
Channel Catfish – small slivers of catfish are great for catching large catfish. Fresh Catalpa worms and uncooked shrimp are also working.
Crappie – crappie fishing has still been reported to be slow. The last anglers that caught a lot of crappie were using a combination of the following: Jigs (John Deere or yellow and white colored Triple Ripple, or June Bug colored Teaser Tail) and light tackle. If you are bank fishing try dangling a minnow right in the corner of the pier to catch those crappie in the shade created by the pier. If on a boat try cover that creates shade (tree tops) or structure (gravel piles).
- Water temperatures: mid/high 80’s
Largemouth Bass – July weather patterns often bring afternoon showers that brings sudden changes to bass feeding behavior. Anglers should look for bass feeding in early morning and late evening on schooling shad. Anglers have reported a lot of top-water action in the morning especially in Margery, Bennett, and Fox. Anglers are targeting bass on lay downs in approximately 5 to 10 feet of water in early to mid-morning. As the day warms up, anglers will target bass in deeper water. Successful anglers mimic lethargic shad by casting jerk baits and crank baits. Mid-day can produce some big bass but look for these big fish in deeper water (10-15 ft.). Additional habitat to target is submerged timber and rock beds at Marben PFA. Anglers need to be patient this time of year. The water is warm and fish may take a little longer to chase.
Crappie – The crappie continue to be aggressive in early evening, crowded around submerged timber in deeper water. Anglers should see a slight change as crappie become a little less aggressive as the water warms in the summer months. Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 10-12 feet throughout the day, especially in the evening. Bennett Lake remains a hot spot for anglers targeting crappie.
Bream – Bream fishing will slow in July. Look for the “bite” to continue to drop as late July approaches. Even with this drop in aggressiveness, bream will remain the most sought after fish on Marben PFA. Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best throughout the day but a little slow when temperatures get really hot. Remember bream are shallow when spawning this time of year so to be successful anglers will have to fish shallow areas (4 to 5 ft.) in order to increase your chances. Early morning is a great time to target bream at Marben PFA.
Catfish – Catfish will start to slow a little this time of year. However, Fox is producing some nice stringers and is a popular destination for anglers targeting catfish. Anglers will find catfish in 7-9 ft. of water and most aggressive in the morning and late evening. Anglers should target days when it is sunny but patience is necessary when targeting these fish. Catawba worms, livers, night crawlers and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.
- Water temperature range across lakes: 81 ⁰F
- Water Visibility: 10 – 54 inches
On June 24th McDuffie PFA hosted “Heroes on the Water”- Fort Gordon Chapter. There were 19 participants and over 20 guides and support staff. All fishermen fished Lake Willow in kayaks.
Largemouth Bass: On June 24th an angler caught a 24-inch largemouth bass in Lake Willow. Overall, bass fishing has been spotty. Willow Lake is still proving to be a producer of large bass.
Bass – Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer. This regulation is strictly enforced. Rodbender is a great lake to fish with the opportunity to land an above average largemouth bass.
Bream – Slow action; both bluegill and redear are being caught in shallow water across the PFA but no lake is a hot spot currently. On the next full moon anglers should be able to find spawning beds again. Rodbender also has bragging-size bream both bluegill and redear.
Channel Catfish – the channel catfish bite has slowed. Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes. Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish from Bridge Lake using Catawba worms on the bottom. Lake Willow is producing a few limits of catfish. The best fishing is on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made catfish bait concoctions. Catfish can be caught in shallow water less than two feet using a bobber and crickets.
Stripers – Stripers have been biting slowly in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse Lake.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The rivers are fluctuating with the rains, but ponds have been stable and have provided good fishing. Saltwater has been productive this week. I pray that everyone has a relaxing and safe 4th of July weekend! First quarter moon is June 30th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Mullet fishing was excellent over the last week for anglers fishing red wiggler worms, but the fast rising and muddying river will probably slow that down somewhat. The channel catfish bite was excellent for those fishing worms and chicken livers on the bottom. That bite will probably stay good with the rising river. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that mullet are plentiful. Blue and channel catfish were fooled with goldfish. Anglers who had their own “honey-hole” did well for bass. You can usually just bank beat likely-looking main river spots this time of year with a Texas-rigged worm and catch some bass. Donna at Altamaha Park said that catfish were caught on goldfish. Bream were biting everything thrown at them (beetlespins, crickets, and worms) before the river level spiked. A few crappie were caught with minnows. Spinnerbaits were producing bass. The river level was 7.6 feet and rising (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.1 feet and rising at the Doctortown gage on June 27th.
Ronnie Gaskins fished the river over the weekend and caught 10 keeper redbreasts and bream. He said that the water looked great, but the bite was a little slow. Several folks reported catching a few fish on bugs and crickets. Craig James reported catching and releasing a couple dozen panfish on Tuesday by pitching spiders. The summer heat is here, so catch expectations should go down a little when the water temps are well into the 80’s. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts and bream were caught on crawfish Satilla Spins and topwater flies. Buzzbaits produced some nice bass this week (congratulations Ryan!). The river level on June 27th at the Waycross gage was 5.0 feet and falling (82 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.3 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The catfish bite was the deal this week. Shrimp and rooster livers fooled most of them. The river level at the MacClenny gage on June 27th was 5.8 feet and rising.
I did not receive any specific reports from the swamp, but I’m sure the bowfin were still chowing Dura-Spins and fliers and warmouth were eating sallies fished under a float. Warmouth will also chow curly-tailed grubs and crayfish dabbled around cypress knees and stumps. The catfish bite has been surprisingly slow recently, but I’ve only heard from a couple of people who tried it. All entrances are open at this time, but call ahead of time to confirm that any entrances you plan to fish out of are still open. On the east side, you can all Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156. Staff at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side can be reached at 912-637-5274.
Chad Lee went punching beaver style plastics with 1-oz tungsten weights and catching bass. He and friend Quinn Brown caught 15 bass up to 5 pounds with the method. Hill Fort caught and released an 8-lb class bass on Tuesday. Michael Winge reported that bream bit well on crickets. Pink worms fished on the bottom produced some great catfish catches. Live shiners were tops for bass.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The tarpon have arrived in good numbers. Capt. Andy Gowen landed two silver kings this week. Trout should be thick on the beach, but I haven’t gotten any specific reports yet this year. I received a report that quite a few flounder were caught over the weekend from the Jekyll Pier. Mud minnows and finger mullet were the ticket for the flatties. Michael Winge reported that anglers are catching trout inshore. On Monday an angler reported catching over 20 trout on jigs. One was over 23 inches (he released that one!). Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simon’s Bait & Tackle said that trout, flounder, whiting, croaker, and black drum were caught from the pier this week. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
If you want to catch a redbreast, you should be able to do it on the Satilla. The Altamaha and St Marys should be best for catfish with the rising water, but I would fish elsewhere for panfish. Ponds should produce the best bream fishing over the weekend. The tarpon have arrived in catchable numbers, so give them a try if you don’t mind not eating what you catch.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Our pre-holiday weekend news covers three main topics: 1) lots of rain, 2) lots of hours in the day, and 3) a longer weekend for many anglers. It’s been raining consistently up here in north Georgia. In fact, it rained a lot last night and throughout the day today. The continuing rain is both bad and good news for north Georgia anglers, while we biologists are simply jumping for joy. The bad news is that the bass rivers and our larger trout streams may be too muddy to fish right now, and will require us to wait a few days for the turbidity to clear. I just returned from Amicalola and it was high, red, and ripping (see the Hwy 53 photo above). But consider the bright side through all of these storm clouds. High, muddy water and overcast skies are also good news: our stream and river flows are recharged, trout streams are a bit cooler, mountain trout hatcheries have more cold water for fish production, stocked trout get scattered bit better as they wash away from release sites, and Lanier has more opportunities to head back toward full pool.
For those of you bummed about the muddy water, consider giving these places about 3 days to clear enough to fish. That time might be shorter for high elevation streams in smaller, protected watersheds, like US Forest Service lands, where the amount of disturbed soil and the density of unpaved roads is much less and the total volume of runoff is smaller. Larger watersheds like the lower Ami, Hooch, and Coosa might take even longer to clear. Call local tackle shops or fishing buddies for the latest intel, and don’t forget that the Hooch-Helen USGS gauge even has a river cam.
Look for three days of flatlining after each big slug of water pegs those online river gauges, then grab your bass poppers.
Enough of the alleged bad news. The great news is that daylight lasts half the night right now. Sunset is around 9PM and many of us can fish effectively for some time past that mark. And then we have July 4th on Tuesday, which means that many of us will slip in a vacation day on Monday, too.
It’s a great weekend ahead of us, with many fishing opportunities at our hands. Our very few complications are some muddy rivers and maybe some heavy midday boater/tuber traffic at popular tourist sites like our big reservoirs and major rivers near population centers, like the Hooch in Helen and the Ellijay rivers. That’s not a bad deal, overall, so pick a weekend trip destination and make plans tonite to get outside in the days ahead.
Here’s a nice menu to choose from:
BIG CAT! This beast of a blue catfish pulled Chance Coffman around for about 30 minutes in his johnboat before he landed it at Brushy Branch off the Coosa River last Sunday. When Chance finally got it in the boat, it weighed about 65 pounds on his handheld scale. He knew the current (unofficial) Coosa River record blue cat stands at 61 lbs 4.8 oz, and he had a chance to beat it. He tried to keep the fish alive to release but the fish did not make it. He finally brought the fish to the Armuchee WRD office on Tuesday, and the fish weighed 59 lbs 9.6 oz on a certified scale, just missing the record. Regardless, this is still a true monster and trophy. Congrats, Chance, on the great catch!
New DNR Websites – Websites for Georgia DNR (click HERE) and Georgia WRD (click HERE) have new looks. Feel free to navigate them when you have the chance. For most of you anglers, our key fishing information can now be found HERE (a great one to bookmark on your computer!)
Reservoir Fishing Reports – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
North GA Morones – http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=899080
- Good video: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=900420
(This Report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley, 770-542-7764) – The fishing on Lanier remains very good. The lake level and water temps have remained fairly stable over the last week. The topwater bite is still strong and as long as we don’t get consistently hot temps, it should stick around for awhile. The rains we received over the weekend from Cindy as well as the cool overnight temperatures since have helped keep the water temps from soaring. We have been working topwater and swimbaits again over the past week. A chug bug and a sammy have been my main choices for topwater, and a sebile for a swimbait. Focus on offshore structure with cover, such as brush on humps and points, for this approach. We are focusing on brush in 15-25 feet of water. The bite seems to be better in the middle of the day than any other time, but we have are still seeing some good morning schooling activity once again this week as well, for which topwater and swimbaits have worked well. Wind blown points have been the best places for this action. The fluke has continued to produce well also in the same type places. Work it fast and then kill it and let it settle. Vary the cadence until you find what the fish want. The fluke can also be a good option when there is no wind. We are starting to get some drop-shot bites as well and we are going to this when the topwater bite slows. I have been using the Lanier Baits offerings. Candy has seemed to be the best color this week. Here are my upcoming open dates: July: 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun! Thanks to all and May God Bless.
Lake Burton Trout – (Fishing Report From Rabun) – I was up on Burton last weekend and managed to get a couple hours of trolling in on Sunday morning. I hooked two fish…the rainbow (pictured below) that found the net and the fish that pulled the hook and got away. The one pictured went 3.8 lbs at 22″ long. The one that got away….well it must have been much bigger than this one…always is, right 🙂 It did rip drag off so I think it was bigger. I was trolling two pointer 78’s at 21 and 25 feet deep about 100′ behind the boat. Speed was about 2.8 mph. I caught the first one and circled back around and ended up hooking the second one in the same location…lesson learned…always return. I had a lean Spring with the lake trout, so maybe this is a sign of things to come…hope so.
Wild Trout Streams – They’re still fishing great. Bring a shot rod, a few#16 elk hair caddis, and a creelful of stealth. Trip reports on North Georgia Trout Online.
Stockers – Since “long” is our theme this week, we have a very long list of streams stocked for the holiday weekend. Click HERE.
River Bass – Dredger again watched the USGS Hooch gauges and found a window on Tuesday night. This time he took the light spinning rod. He landed a few shoalies to 14 inches on a small (3 inch) slider worm, rigged Texas-style, but he missed a lot of strikes with a crummy hookset technique. He switch to a small white spinnerbait and caught two more. Then, in the waning daylight form 8 to 9 PM, he caught a nice bunch of ten-inch shoalies on a small floating Rapala, tossed into the quiet eddies in the shoals and twitched a time or two before a steady retrieve. Dredger loves long spring days, where an evening fishing trip makes him completely forget about a full day’s worth or work.
Road Trip – Dredger took advantage of a free Sunday afternoon and the abundant spring daylight to travel north. His Plan A was a smallie river recon to prepare for summer fishing opportunities, but the river gauges had him worried: it had been only two days since a big slug of water went through. To be safe, he packed some Plan B equipment, too.
Arriving at his river, he was bummed to see Yoohoo and knew that smallie pickins would be slim. So he kept going north. It was a good call. Breaking out his four weight and a dry/dropper rig, he fondled three chunky browns that inhaled the Pat’s rubberlegs, and celebrated one nice rainbow that crushed the Yellow stimulator dry. Quitting early, he drove the field roads around the Luftee visitors center and tallied about a dozen elk seen in three locations. The biggest herd, with two young, spunky bulls, was right at the visitors’ center.
He then took the long way home, still holding out hope for just a little bit of clarity in his smallie river. He arrived at “chosen site” at 8PM, a shallow tail of a big pool, and found about two feet of visibility. He switched to the 6-weight rod and dead drifted a white stealth bomber across the shallows. http://www.flyfishga.com/stealth.htm And caught zip!
Then he started popping and gurgling the bomber, and lit up the little bass! They simply had to have the dinner bell rung for them to locate their prey. He landed about a dozen bass from 8 to 11inches long to end an excellent “half day” of road trip opportunities. He thanked Kent Edmunds and the National Park Service!
Enjoy your Independence Day holiday time together. Be safe on the water and enjoy these abundant, LONG days of sunshine. You’ll need lots of them to cover all of the great fishing opportunities across north Georgia. Hopefully they’ll make you feel pretty darn good about dropping a few dollars on your fishing licenses. Good luck. Take some pics and share them with us!