Was this week long for anyone else? Whew – glad to see the Friday afternoon horizon peeking at us. Hopefully your weekend involves wetting a line somewhere!
This week, we have fresh reports from North and Southeast Georgia to help you out and/or get you motivated to visit your local fishing hole.
First, let me tell you about a new boat ramp on Lake Chatuge that “officially” opened this past Monday. The Mayor’s Park Boat Landing in Hiawassee, GA will be sure to be a well-used ramp for residents and visitors alike to this beautiful lake. This ramp is part of a larger area planned for development by the City, and is expected to include a pavilion, restrooms, a dog park and more. Looking to fish on Chatuge? Check out this information first!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Hopeful Eclipse Survivors,
Here’s a brief report from north Georgia, where many of us will hunker down until the visiting crowds exit our environs after Monday’s event.
Not much has changed on the fishing front, which always parallels our north Georgia weather. We’re still dodging afternoon thunderstorms and chasing water that is clear enough to fish. Last weekend we were forced to go to Plan B, small lakes, but still had a good time. The good news now is that the larger rivers are clearing and starting to recede, so we’ll have renewed shots at river bass, bream, and stripers.
Good luck this week navigating the roads and rivers in our “path of totality.” Here we go:
Bass: (Lanier Bass Report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley, 770-542-7764) – We’ve had some rain this week and the lake levels are trending upwards once again as a result. The warmer weather has returned as well which has brought an increase to the surface temperatures. The report for this week has not changed much from last week as in general, the patterns remain about the same. Each day is different however, and fish have different preferences in accordance. Remain flexible in your approach. You can catch fish from 15 feet all the way out to 40 and beyond depending on what techniques you prefer. We had some outstanding days last week on swimbaits and topwater for both numbers and size. That is not always the case however. Some days, those bigger fish are out in deeper water (30+) and if you want quality, you need to spend the time out there with the likes of a dropshot or flutter spoon. With all that said, we are still getting some quality fish around brush on off-shore structure such as points and humps. We are still seeing a good schooling bite most mornings and it has been lasting upwards of 2 hours. A smaller swimbait has worked well this week on the schooling fish. Also, a Spybait is a good option as well when the fish are on the move but not eating your larger offerings. Throw that little thing out and let it sink to about a 10 count, then SLOWLY retrieve. On the topwater side, a chug bug, a gunfish, a whopper plopper, and a fluke 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 still concentrating on brush in 18-25 feet of water, but as I mentioned above, the deeper stuff, up to and including timber edges in 35-40 feet on the same type structure, is holding fish as well. In general, focus on the areas that offer close proximity to much deeper water. Those areas will now hold the best numbers and size of fish. I continue to use the Lanier Bait offerings with good success on the drop shot. Apparently Fruity Worms do rule! Make sure to rig your drop-shot with 6 or 8 lbs test Seaguar Fluorocarbon in Invizx or Abrazx. Here are my remaining August available dates: 21, 22, 26, 29, 30. Now is a great time to learn off-shore fishing for summer bass on Lanier! Deep humps, hidden points, and ledges are a focus now – Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun! Thanks to all and May God Bless.
Stripers: Deep Stripers – Good video
Lake Russell: With their bass rivers blown out, Guru and Dredger changed directions. They waited out Saturday afternoon’s storms and then put their kayaks in to 100-acre Lake Russell, near Mt Airy. The fishing was slow during the first hour due to two main reasons: a) they tried the upper end of the lake, which was shallow and weed-choked and b) the sun was high. They still managed a Kodak Moment by capturing a cool pic of a post-storm rainbow in the lake’s background. Enjoy. The fishing picked up as the sun went down and the nearshore water depth increased. At 8PM, the switch turned on and the duo landed a nice batch of bream and small bass. Guru’s hot fly was a blue popper, colored the same as the abundant damselflies. Dredger nailed small bream on a small white popper, and then switched to a white stealth bomber and high-graded bigger bream and cookie-cutter, twelve-inch bass. The best part of the trip is that each yakker had fifty acres of the lake to himself, as the two were the only anglers there on Saturday evening. Give this secluded jewel a try soon.
Unicoi Lake: After Saturday’s fun, the duo grabbed another yak for fishing buddy Sautee and assaulted Unicoi Lake on Sunday evening. The fishing was slow for flyrodders Sautee and Dredger, who managed small handfuls of small bream, and then a couple of dinky bass on top at dusk. Cheater Guru snuck in a spinning rod with a six-inch pumpkinseed worm on a shaky head, and he put a licking on his buddies. Every other downed tree produced a chunky bass for the former flyrodder, who has now slipped to the dark side, complete with lead bullet sinkers. Out of sheer bitterness, his former buddies plan to report him to Orvis Quality Control reps…And bring spinning rods themselves next time.
Chattooga: Landon said he braved last week’s high, stained water on the Chattooga by a) wearing PFD and b) only wading at the edge, and he caught a half dozen Bartram bass on small soft plastics (Yum crawdad), bounced in the slow eddies.
Trout Stocking List: As out late season stragglers finally grow large enough to stock, this sneak-previewer knows that WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson will have a longer list of Eclipse Weekend destinations for you. The weekly “trout stocked” list is usually posted by mid-afternoon each Friday, once JLT knows the fish have hit the water. You’ll find it HERE.
Wetfly’s Far (!!!) Eastern Trip: Fishing buddy Moe usually take a trip home, far-east of Atlanta each summer, and finds some time to wet a line in some of the most scenic waters I’ve ever seen in a photo. Enjoy Moe’s annual photo essay HERE.
MORE GOOD STUFF
Toccoa Good Deeds: WRD Fisheries staff joined members of the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce and volunteers from Trout Unlimited to help clean up the Toccoa River on Tuesday (8/15). Together, the group removed around 3,500 pounds of junk from the river bottom behind the Chamber’s new office location in downtown McCaysville. Old tires, engine parts, lawnmowers, school desks, shoes, propane tanks, and kids’ toys were among the items that filled the dumpster when the day was done. HERE is a link to the Chamber’s Facebook post about the cleanup.
Looking for Volunteers! Unicoi Outdoor Adventure Day: I still need a bunch of volunteers to help kids cast a fly rod and tie a pink san juan worm. Please contact me if you’re willing to give up Saturday, September 23, for the sake of your sport and the future of conservation in Georgia. Help save our kids from Iphones and lethargy!
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Fresh on Fridays
Good luck as we all patiently await September’s cooling nights. As always, thanks for buying your fishing licenses and TU brookie license plates! We hope you survive the Monday blackout and “eclipse” your own personal best shoal bass or striper soon.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Saltwater fishing was good this week, and pond fishing has been consistent. New Moon is August 21st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Waycross Fisheries Office staff have been doing their annual standardized catfish electrofishing sampling at 10 stations along the river. They have been dipping, measuring, and releasing lots of channel, blue, and flathead catfish. The population for all three species is high, so go catch you some! The river is swollen and swift, but you should be able to find some backwaters or sloughs to fish. At Jaycees Landing, bream, bass, mullet, and catfish were caught over the weekend. Reports from Altamaha Park were that the bream fishing has been very good, even with the rising water. Crickets, bettlespins, and Satilla Spins produced some good catches. Big numbers of catfish were also caught. Flatheads ate goldfish, while pink worms and shrimp fished on the bottom fooled channels and blues. Buzzbaits and merthiolate Trick Worms fooled some good bass. I heard of a tournament that took 16 pounds to win, and third place was still in the 14-pound range. The bass bit way better this weekend on the river than last weekend. The mullet run picked up this week, with fish being caught on small pieces of green giant worms fished on number 6 or 8 hooks. In the extreme downstream areas, some undersized redfish were mixed in the bass catches. The river level was 6.2 feet and falling (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.5 feet and rising at the Doctortown gage on August 15th.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that buzzbaits continued to do damage this week for bass. Some quality fish were caught with chartreuse versions. The bream and redbreast bite picked up for those pitching crickets. Bush hooks and anglers fishing with rod and reel and pink worms for bait caught very good stringers of catfish. The river level on August 15th at the Waycross gage was 5.9 feet and falling (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 8.8 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river is still out of its banks. The only real option is catfish, but it’s best to fish elsewhere again this week. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 15th was 10.6 feet and rising.
On the west side, SC Foster State Park staff said that anglers have been fishing the boat basin with success. Catfish have been the primary catch, and shrimp or worms on the bottom have been consistent bets. Okefenokee Adventures staff reported that essentially nobody has been fishing on the east side this week. They did have a 5-pound class chain pickerel (jackfish) jump in their tour boat this week, though. So, the fish are there, just nobody is fishing for them. If you want to simply catch fish (and lots of them), take an in-line spinner and cast down the middle of the canal or cast around the boat basin. Bowfin (mudfish) will inhale spinners during the heat of summer, and it is possible to catch dozens of the hard-fighting fish per hour. Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross reported that very few folks fished the swamp, but a few caught warmouth in their honey-holes.
Wyatt Crews and a friend fished a local pond on Saturday night and caught 5 bass – 4 on black flat-blade buzzbaits with black blades and one on a black jitterbug. They saw over 30 shooting stars, also (there was a meteor shower on Saturday night). Chad Lee fished Alma area ponds and caught 20 bass over the weekend. Most were on YUM crawfish, but one of the biggest (a 4-pounder) inhaled a Pop-R topwater plug. Daniel Johnson and Logan Deen fished along with Chad Lee on Tuesday evening and caught a few nice bass. Logan’s 2 1/2-pounder that inhaled a rage craw was their largest. Michael Winge said that Whopper Plopper plugs were fooling some nice bass in Waycross area ponds. Shiners and topwater frogs also produced some bass strikes.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The St. Marys Jetties were rough on Friday when John Biagi fished with a friend. The wind was blowing in some big swells from the east, but they still managed to catch a 33 1/2-inch redfish, a 17-inch flounder, a couple jack crevalle, and several black sea bass around the rocks. All of their fish ate electric chicken 1/2-oz bucktail jigs, even though they tried other colors. When the tide got up, they came inshore and fished the marshes and creeks around St. Marys and landed a half-dozen seatrout up to 18 inches, 3 small redfish (one was a small keeper), and a 4 to 5-foot bonnethead shark. Their inshore fish came on limetreuse and Texas roach Assassin Sea Shads suspended underneath Equalizer Floats. Steve and Brenda Hampton have been fishing the coast all summer and have been doing really well on flounder. Most of the their fish have come from the Jekyll Pier on mudminnows or finger mullet. They caught their biggest so far this year, a 21-inch doormat, this past weekend. During their trips, they have caught from a couple to 18 flatties per trip. Some tarpon were reported from St. Simons area inshore rivers. Lots of bull redfish have shown up on the beaches. A big chunk of mullet on a surf rod is a great way to target them. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simon’s Bait & Tackle said that sharks, trout, flounder, whiting, jack crevalle, and croakers were caught from the pier. Bait, including finger mullet and pogies, were also cast-netted from the pier in good numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
Flounder fishing has been very good this week at multiple locations. The size of the flounder has really picked up over the last couple of weeks, and that should continue as we head into the fall. The St. Marys Jetties is my favorite place to fish, and I love to pitch artificials to them. I’m usually pitching a Jetty Jig and Assassin Sea Shad or a bucktail jig. Along with flounder, you have a great shot at a bull redfish, tarpon, or shark. Seatrout fishing should be decent around the daylight high tide, but the afternoon will probably be fairly muddy with the big new moon tides. Bass fishing either at night or early in the morning is a good option in local ponds. Topwaters or swimbaits at first light should get crushed. Slow down with unweighted stickworms or Texas-rigged plastics once the sun gets up.