We have fresh fishing reports! Be sure to check them out for the latest on what is biting and where!
Here is some news for you smallmouth bass anglers – A smallmouth bass stocking program (collaborative effort between GaDNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service) recently began at Blue Ridge Lake in Fannin County. This lake is the last major reservoir in Georgia that holds a fish-able smallmouth population which, unfortunately, has declined due to the illegal introduction of spotted bass. in other former smallmouth lakes in Georgia, spotted bass have completely wiped out the smallmouth population. More info on fishing Blue Ridge Lake HERE.
Coming to you this week – reports from Central, Southwest and Southeast Georgia. Grab that pole and tackle box and hang up your sign that says “Gone Fishing!”
CENTRAL (WEST AND EAST) GEORGIA
(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. The bass are out of the main lake up and half way into the creeks and rivers. Slow rolling a 1/2 ounce spinner bait is working on a few bass, but the better bite is coming off the Ito Vision 110 jerks baits, Glass Shad Raps and DT Baits. Try a Booyah Pond Magic Craw 3/16 ounce Tandem Senko Worm 5 watermelon and black. This is a good bait to try after the sun is up. A crawfish color, or type bait, is an excellent choice during these periods. Good baits to use this week include Ito Vision 110 jerk baits, Chug Bugs, jig and pig combinations and plastic 6 inch worms. Continue to fish submerged wood cover and the rocks. The bigger rocks are usually producing the better bass. Fish any bank structure, main lake points and secondary points. The afternoon bite is picking up. Work Carolina rigs on the channel ridges and any area where the bottom makes a sharp drop into deeper water. The best strikes are occurring somewhere between three to ten feet of water. Spots are after any #5 Shad Raps and the perch color has been very good.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 6.0 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair as the water temperatures continue to rise. Bass fishing is best first thing in the morning. Top-water baits and medium diving crank baits seem to be the favorite baits early and then the plastics take over as the day heats up. Bass are moving up on the rocky points to feed by late afternoon. The fish are on the move and most have pulled out a little as well as the bait fish. The Lowrance CHIRP sonar is seeing the bass at the 10 to 15 foot range. Be sure to have the Spro McStick in ghost minnow and go with a more aggressive retrieve than past weeks. Fish can also be caught in that same depth range on bluff walls with a jig head worm and big bite green pumpkin Zoom Finesse worm. The south end bite has been the best this past week.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPERATURE 84-88
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The buzz bait bite is in full swing. Work the deeper docks and sea walls on the main lake. You can still catch a lot of fish under docks with a Texas rigged worm. They will be on the smaller side but a lot of fun to catch. 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. You can also work the grass on the south end early and late with a frog and you might pick up some big fish.
Striper: (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service Call 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 along with the top-water bite on popping corks.
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. Fish early and avoid the main lake boat traffic. There are still some fish shallow in the coves mid lake. Look for any shad activity and throw a shad imitation lure. Rooster Tails, Shad Raps, Rat L Traps and small crank baits are the best lures. Fish Rat L Traps shallow off the deeper points and then on old creek bends early. Bass are tight and still a little deeper on cover. Whitewater Creek is a good area and use the black and red Stanley 1/2 ounce jig and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh. Work the larger stump rows and old creek ditches. Work jigs slowly over cover as the bass settle to the sharper drops on creek banks and points. The fish are hungry and the fish are in pockets looking for shad. Reel the baits with a medium retrieve and use at least a 1/2 ounce bait and cast it on the banks down lake. Zoom Flukes in pearl on a 1/8 ounce lead head will get the spots to bite.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair to good. The shoreline grass hasn’t had a chance to get going yet so a lot of it is still brown and floating. Spinnerbaits and jigs are going to be heavy favorites. With a stained lake, use the chartreuse and white skirts and the baits need to have bright Colorado blade. The best bite is to fish 10 to 12 foot brush piles in the creeks. The Rapala DT10 in fire tiger is working and take along the Rat L Traps and just cast to the banks. Try the Rapala Ultra Light crank baits and forget larger lures. The 1.5 inch Rapala Ultra Light crank bait is a perfect baitfish imitator that can sink to the bottom and get to the fish tight on the bottom. Be sure to use the Lowrance DOWN scan technology to cover 4 times more water than conventional sonar. Be sure to look for the “dots”. With the expanded range it make this much easier to cover more water faster.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .85 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Start in the middle of the creeks and work to the back as the sun heats the water. The fish are following the bait in the creeks. A Rat L Trap fire tiger in stained water a chrome black in clear water. Fish the Rat L Trap around docks and wood as well as sea walls. A number 7 Shad Rap is also producing in the same areas. Be sure to use the Lowrance DOWN scan technology to cover 4 times more water than conventional sonar. Be sure to look for the “dots”. With the expanded range it make this much easier to cover more water faster. Early try the chartreuse spinner bait fished on bridge rip rap and also use the Shad Raps. These fish are moving as the water heats so keep moving until you find active fish. Bait schools need to be in the area.
- Surface water temperature: 86o F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 23”
- Water level: Water level is down 3” from full pool
Largemouth bass: Good– Bass fishing has slowed some due to the high temperatures. Try locating bass in the upper 3 to 8 feet of water. During the heat of the day, fish for bass in and around heavy cover, like the standing timber near the island. Feeding bass will be more active during the early morning or later in the evenings. Remember the lake is only open for fishing from sunrise to sunset, so if you can get an early start, the better your chances will be for getting that * trophy bass!
Crappie: Poor- Because of the warm summer temperatures crappie tend to move into deeper water as well as scatter themselves over much of lake. Try easing through the standing timber presenting live minnows and/or brightly colored jigs at different depths; this may be your best bet for catching some slabs.
Bream: Good- Many bream are close-in to the banks during spawning season. Crickets, as well as pink and red worms are excellent live bait for bream. Also, small, brightly colored spinning lures will be hard for those spawning fish to resist. Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting especially for kids. However, bream have small mouths so fish with small hooks for the best results.
Channel catfish: Good- Chicken livers, night crawlers, or shrimp fished at or almost at the bottom near woody structures and the rocks around the dam should produce a good bite. You may also want to try catching some small bream and use them as cut bait, some good-size cats have been caught using this method.
*We are looking for a certified lake record Largemouth Bass. Check out the information we have available at the sign in kiosk. The fish should be either 26” long or over 10 lb to qualify, good luck!
- Water temperature range across lakes: 86 ⁰F
- Water Visibility: 10 – 54 inches
Largemouth Bass: Overall, bass fishing has been steady with most of the catch being bass less than 14 inches. Willow Lake has great shad hatches which provide some steady action. Beaverlodge has produced a nice bass and the angler reported he was using a purple worm with no weight. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer. Anglers are still catching and releasing bass caught in Rod bender. This regulation is strictly enforced.
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 really picked up. Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes but Lake Willow and Jones are the hot spots. Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish using stink bait on the bottom. One angler said they were using stink bait called “Hogwild” and had caught over 30 pounds and released them. The best time to catch catfish is early morning or late evening 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.
Striped Bass: Stripers have been biting slowly in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse Lake.
(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 has settled into the typical summer time pattern for this reservoir. The fish are still biting and can be found on the ledges and in the grass shallows early in the morning. Anglers have been catching fish in the 12-20 foot range using large spoons and football head jigs. Frogs continue 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.
Click HERE to take you the Army Corps of Engineers website which has lots of useful information about access, fishing attractors, camping and more.
The Lower Flint River continues to be higher and more turbid than usual. 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 recent sample by WRD Fisheries in the Albany area noted good numbers and sizes for shellcracker and some hand sized redbreast. Beetle spins, crickets and worms are all successful techniques for catching summer time bream in the Flint. 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 as we settle down into the heat of summer. 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. This is a good time of year to fish top water after dark to beat the heat and find some actively feeding fish. 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. Click HERE for Ken Sturdivant’s Lake Seminole Fishing report.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
I’m going to take a different approach this week. Instead of describing what happened on the water 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 are not picky about what you catch. Last quarter moon is July 16th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
REDFISH, TARPON, TROUT, AND FLOUNDER AT THE COAST
The fishing around 4th of July weekend was about as good as it gets at the St. Marys Jetties, and it should continue throughout the summer. As water temperatures hit the mid-80’s the summertime bite is in full swing. Being from a bass fishing background, my favorite way to fool them is to pitch bucktail jigs or Jetty Jigs (heavy jigheads) rigged with Assassin Sea Shads to the St. Marys Jetties. I cast near the rocks and let it fall on a slack line (keep an eye on your line and set the hook if it twitches or stops earlier than it should) and then work it slowly back along the bottom. The bite is usually like a Texas-rigged worm bite, just a tick. But, sometimes the fish smoke it as you pick it up off the bottom. To fish this way, big tackle and lures are a must. I like flipping stick – sized gear (Abu-Garcia Veritas Toro 7ft 9in) and 20-30-lb. test braid on a stout reel (Abu-Garcia Revo ALX). I try to stay as light at possible so the line cuts through the water better and doesn’t allow as much bow in the line. But, when trying to tug on 40 to 150-pound fish, you don’t want to go too light. In the swift current at the jetties, you will want larger jigs – at least 1/2-oz. bucktails and jigheads and as heavy as 1-oz. if the current is really ripping. If there is almost any wind blowing, the jetties can get very choppy, so pay attention to conditions. On the half of the jetties closest to the beach, you can scale down your gear and lure size and chase trout and flounder around the rocks. I use a 7 1/2-foot medium action Ugly Stik Inshore Rod paired with a Penn Battle reel and spool it with 17-lb. test Nanofil braided line. I use the same lures (Sea Shads) but on smaller heads or even Flashy Jigheads that have a little willow blade (flounder like bling!). Cast to any nook and cranny and expect your jig to get inhaled.
BOWFIN (MUDFISH) IN THE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP
The fishing in the swamp was non-existent due to the fires, so the fish have seen very little pressure. With the recent rains, the water level has come back up, and you can get around well. The flier and warmouth bites have been a little slower in the heat, but the bowfin have been tearing it up. While most folks would argue they don’t eat well (although they’re not bad if you ice them immediately and eat them the same evening you catch them), they make up for it in their battle. Bowfin fishing is REALLY simple and extremely productive. My daughter went bowfin fishing with me on the east side for Father’s Day, and we landed dozens of the feisty fish in just a couple of hours of fishing. 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!). It typically takes longer to unhook a bowfin than it does to throw out and hook another one.
MULLET FISHING ON THE ALTAMAHA
At the time of writing this, the Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers are high, but they will probably fall back out again this summer. Mullet are 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 (or maybe even two of them if they are small). 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 most popular landings from which to chase mullet. You can catch mullet from a boat while the water is up, but the best fishing is when the river level is below about 4 feet at the Doctortown gage and the water starts to clear up.
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.