Wow…so, we have seen A LOT of water this past week, coming down from the skies anyway, right? While we hope you DO venture out this coming weekend to go fish, we encourage you to check water levels and make sure you remain safe while being out there!
We have great fishing reports to share with you today, but first some quick news “bites”:
- This weekend begins National Fishing and Boating Week (June 2-11, 2018): That includes 2 Free Fishing Days and lots of fun Kids Fishing Events!
- Want to win an amazing fishing trip? Be a new license buyer and you just
might be a winner!
- We have a second person that has gotten a Georgia Bass Slam. Congrats to Brandon Myers of Marietta on his successful Slam. Check out one of his photos in our header above!
- Tired Creek Lake in Cairo, GA opened to the public last weekend. Looks like some good fishing happening there, including Sherry Vann’s catch of this absolute LUNKER (14 lb, 0 oz)!
- Want to fish in North Georgia instead? This amazing trout photo might just encourage you to hit up Lake Burton for the day.
- The Go Fish Education Center is hosting 2 Summer Fishing Camps for Kids.
Check out the reports this week from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Be safe and Go Fish 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, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The increased boating traffic is starting to have its effect on some of the bass. Water temperatures are in the middle 70’s and anglers are still heading up Beaver Dam Creek to catch their limits. Early morning cranking with shad raps both the jointed and suspending are producing in the natural shad and crawdad colors. Look for the channel markers early in the morning up in the creek and start here on the larger flats. Up the Savannah River, look for the same areas and check out the small cuts or bowls on the sides of the flats. The majority of the bass are coming on the cranks and the larger on the jigs and plastics. The water clarity is still in the excellent range so go and practice your clear water techniques. Don’t be afraid to try some new baits and always look for new areas to fish. Jigs and plastics need to be tossed in any heavy brush or trees that are lying on the sides of these flats and points. Any combination of browns and greens seem to be the best colors this week. The grassy areas up near the railroad bridge are producing as well on top-water Chug Bugs and rattle grubs with light weight. If you find the smaller bass, and you will, work the area real good. The larger bass aren’t far away.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. The bass are in a typical summer pattern during the evening hours. The water temperature is warming daily and the creeks are showing stained water. This weekend the highs should return to the high 80’s and the rain will continue to spot the lake. Wind-blown points, if any, will hold the bait fish and quality fish will be scattered in these areas. Some bass will be holding right on the edge of the channel ledges. Fishing the deeper grass beds will also be a good choice this weekend into the first part of next week. Now, expect the bass to move further back into the deeper water ledges where suspending Ito Vision 110 jerk baits and deep diving crank baits like the Rapala DT 10 or the DT 12 with a slow presentation will work. If all else fails, go to the Carolina rig and a lot of patience.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
(Report comes from Capt Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service) –
Bass: Bass fishing is good. Start the day with a white buzz bait. Fish it around mid-lake dock sea walls and bridge rip raps. As the sun gets up switch to deep water docks 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. Deep running crank baits fished off of the deep water humps and deep water points on the south end of the lake have been producing some larger fish. This bite is best when Georgia Power is pulling water. This is when the Lowrance Down Scan can not only cover 4 times more water, but you can count the fish.
Striper: Line side fishing is good. Humps in the middle of the lake have been holding large schools of line sides. An umbrella rig fish over these humps haa been very productive when Georgia Power is pulling water. Because of the water heating up the fish are only feeding when the water is moving. The white bass are schooling on the humps on the north end of the lake from Sugar Creek north. Use your Lowrance to find the schools on the humps and then drop a spoon down to the school.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The fish are staging in the timber from 10 to 20 feet deep. Find the schools on your Lowrance and drop a live minnow down to the school. You can also use a small black and blue 1/32 jig dropped into the schools.
WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, STAINED & 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Fish have really committed shallow early every morning. Continue to focus on the northern end of the lake to take advantage of the warmer water. Fish the main lake pockets in three feet or less until 9am. The fish move to points after mid-morning. Anglers are getting bites later in the afternoon after the sun has had time to warm. Fish have come midway or in the back of spawning pockets on chunk rock or red clay banks. Use mid depth crank baits in a shad pattern for these fish. Crankbaits to choose from are a Bomber 4A, Bandit 200 or a Jackall MC 60. Make long casts to the bank and retrieve with a slow to moderate retrieve. For a bigger fish use a ¼ ounce All Terrain jig in Texas Craw with a green pumpkin Net Bait Paca Chunk. This bite will get better all this month for spotted bass up on shallow rock in the main lake early. Once you have located fish you can catch multiple fish without moving. Use a 1/8 ounce Davis Baits Shaky head with a Zoom green pumpkin trick worms. These spots will be some of the biggest we will see all year preparing for the spawn.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.39 FEET, STAINED, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. The bass are biting but the lower lake is the better area. Look in the lower lake creeks and fish brush and wood. Wind-blown points are a good spring pattern. Fish are on the wood in the lower lake creeks and flipping a Berkley red or black and red ribbon tail worm will work. It’s hard to beat buzz baits on the lake all day. Cast the baits way up on the banks and behind the grass beds and pull them over the grass and hold on. Shoulder Bone creeks is a great shallow water area with tons of shallow stumps. The bass are on the points close to the creeks, shallow docks and ditches. Use the small Deep Wee R Rebel lures in bone, crawfish and baby bass. Work creek’s and cuts off the rivers. Look for old creek beds and follow them with spinner baits and plastic lizards. The fish are roaming these creeks looking for bait schools. Some bait schools are at depths of less than 5 feet. The Lowrance Structure Scan technology spots these bait schools and then you can find the bass close by. On the main lake they are on the points and ledges right off the current flow. Use the short Carolina rig and use a big dark plastic lizard on the lower lake points. Down lake in the creeks, run a bright shallow running Mann’s Baby Minus One on banks and around docks and grass beds.
LAKE JACKSON IS .79 FEET OVER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Weather will be the factor this weekend with a lot of rain on the away. Use the top-water lures early in the morning like a Zara Spook or a Pop R. But once the sun gets high just slow down and work the fish with a lizard or finesse worm. We should have some excellent top-water for another two weeks. Use the Rico’s Sammy’s and Zell Pops. Anything with a white belly and a white feather fished pretty fast will cover a lot of water. There is a lot of bait up shallow and a few shad that looked like they were trying to spawn. Use the white 1/2 ounce spinnerbait top-water poppers like the Rico and swim a white Chatter Bait. Try a white Net Boy Baits Flipping jig with a Zoom chunk around rocks and sea walls. The docks with any brush will be a bonus so scan them with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology. No fish, don’t stop.
MARBEN PFA (More Information HERE)
- Water temps. : Low 80’s
- Remember that Marben PFA is now open 24 hours!!
Bass: June 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. Bass have pulled away from the bank and are targeting schooling shad in open water. Despite the warm days, anglers targeting bass should expect aggressive top-water action in early to mid-morning. Remember that Marben is open 24 hours, so anglers can really target bass during hours just before day break and evening when bass are most aggressive. Anglers should also target lay downs in approximately 5 to 10 feet of water mid-morning into early afternoon. As the day warms up, anglers should target bass in deeper water. Successful anglers mimic lethargic shad by casting jerk 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 should expect catches of bass in the 1 to 2 pound range.
Crappie: Crappie will be most aggressive in early evening, crowded around submerged timber in deeper water. Anglers should see a slight change as crappie become a little less aggressive during the day during warmer months. However, anglers often see the crappie “bite” to be most aggressive in late evening and early morning. Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow/white jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 5-10 feet throughout the day, especially in the evening.
Bream: Bream fishing will continue to be excellent in early June. Look for the “bite” to drop a little in the later weeks in June. Warmer water temperatures play a factor but overall this is just the best time of year. Anglers really see a difference. 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. Bream fishing will decrease during nighttime hours.
Catfish: Catfish will pick up significantly this time of year. Anglers will find catfish in 7-9 ft. of water and really aggressive. Anglers should target days when it is sunny but patience is necessary when targeting these fish. Anglers are also successful targeting catfish at night! Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Rain, rain, and more rain. The bad news is the rivers are flooded. The good news is that the water in the floodplain helps fish growth and survival. Fishing over the holiday weekend was good for anglers fishing ponds. Other bites were relatively slow. Last quarter moon is June 6th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
The 2018 Wayne County Catfish Tournament will be held this weekend, June 2nd and 3rd. Big bucks are on the line, depending upon the number of entries! For more information, click HERE. Mullet fishing was tops over the holiday weekend. The best catch I heard of was 118 mullet by a group of anglers. An open bass tournament was held out of Jaycees Landing on Saturday, and 13 boats participated. The winners with 5.70 pounds were Ryan Sweat and Don Durr. Big bass (3.56 pounds) and big bowfin (mudfish) were caught by Whitey Hendrix and John Chancey. Channel catfishing was good in the Jesup area. I predict that blue and channel catfish will be easier to find during the high water of the tournament this weekend and will play a significant role in the winner’s weight. Donald at Altamaha Park said that an 80-lb. flathead was the buzz around the dock this weekend. A few flatheads were caught on goldfish. Bluegill fishing was improving before the river started rising again. The river level was 9.1 feet and rising at the Baxley gage, and 8.9 feet and rising (77 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 29th.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that very few folks went to the rising river over the weekend. With the water out in the floodplain, Winge’s staff are excited about the late spring fishing. When it starts falling back out, the catfishing should be the first to fire off. The Riverside Chapel Baptist Church is hosting a panfish tournament June 9th out of Burnt Fort to benefit their youth group. For more information and to register, go to 82 Tire and Lube in Nahunta or call Derek Roberson at 912-614-1655. The river level on May 29th at the Atkinson gage was 10.0 feet and rising. The Waycross gage didn’t appear to be working.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The Shady Bream Tournament Trail will hold a Dylan Browning benefit tournament June 16th out of Traders Hill Ramp. There will be both live bait and artificial only categories for this tournament. Check out the tournament trail on Facebook for more information on this event or their usual artificials-only panfish tournaments. Carley at Okefenokee Sportsman in Folkston said that the river is rising, but a few anglers still caught catfish by fishing worms and shrimp on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 29th was 10.2 feet and cresting.
Some good catches of warmouth were made on the east side by anglers pitching crickets. The quick rise from this week’s rain will probably shut down the bite for this week because of fish spreading out into newly-flooded areas. If you want to give it a try, catfishing on the west side would probably be your best bet.
A couple of anglers fished a Brunswick pond one morning late last week and caught 52 bass up to 6 pounds. Shad and crawfish-colored SPRO Little John crankbaits and copperfield-colored vibrating jigs produced most of their fish. They also had 20 channnel catfish inhale their bass lures. If we get some more hard rains this week, pond spillways are the place to be for crappie, bream, and catfish. If you can safely access the spillway at your favorite pond, you will usually find fish migrating upstream toward the flow. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bass were eating topwater frogs fished over lily pads. Worms produced some good catfish catches, while crickets accounted for quite a few nice bream.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Brian Carter and Jim Page fished the flats off Jekyll Island on Wednesday and Thursday and managed to catch 13 tripletail on live shrimp, even though conditions were far from ideal. Their biggest was 22 inches. The whiting bite in the sounds was good this week for those fishing dead shrimp on the bottom. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting, croaker, black drum, and undersized black sea bass were caught from the pier over the holiday weekend. Some sharks were also caught. Crabbers enticed bucketloads of blue crabs into their traps and baskets. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The next two Saturdays (6/2 and 6/9) are free fishing days, so Georgia residents can fish public waters without a fishing license. Try a local Public Fishing Area or other public water that you’ve been wanting to fish. You will likely find it such good fishing that you will want to go ahead and purchase an annual fishing license so that you can go back all year! Lots of Kids’ Fishing Events are scheduled for this weekend. In Blackshear, the annual Coca-Cola/Winge’s Bait and Tackle event will be held at Brentz McGhin’s Pond (just off Ware Street Extension) from 8am-11am. For more details of that event and a listing of other events in your area, check out the Wildlife Resources Division EVENT CALENDAR. Ponds are going to be great places to fish this weekend. Bass fishing should be good early and late with topwaters. During the day, fish shiners or plastic worms near points, drop-offs, and heavy cover. Bream should be a good option whether you prefer flinging artificials or pitching crickets to shoreline cover and vegetation. If you like catfish tournament angling, check out the Altamaha River section above for details about the 2018 Wayne County Catfish Tournament to be held this Saturday and Sunday in Jesup.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Wow, we got whacked by Alberto! All of north Georgia received at least two to four inches of rainfall, with my home county, White, exceeding 14 inches!
Everyone got a lot of water, but the northeast corner of the state took a much bigger hit. See all of the black dots on this Georgia map and click on some of them to see the river gauges (black = raging!).
There is still some good news to share and some fishing opportunities to promote, but this week’s theme is “safety first; proceed with caution.” For the NE part of the state, your best approach to this weekend might just be to stay home, let the waters recede and allow agency staffs to continue with their vital road repairs and flood controls.
Many of you have likely seen the Atlanta TV news coverage of the Hooch raging through the town of Helen. The excessive rain has caused some problems that you need to know about, especially for your safety in the days ahead. I took the long way to work today via a northern loop through the upper Hooch and Chestatee watersheds and will share some fresh intel and photos with you. Here’s a brief summary of the bad and good news to date (6/1) and even some enjoyable, old news from the last week.
On the bad news front, the heavy rains have caused some road washouts, small landslides, and fallen trees. Natural resource agencies, GA DOT, and county emergency services staffs are working hard to assess damages, ensure public safety, and repair what they can on short notice. Some examples:
Kids Fishing Events – Some Postponed: Some weekend kids fishing events have been postponed, while a few others are still scheduled. See the updated events list on the bottom of this report.
State Park Info:
- Smithgall and Hardman Farm Park manager Will Wagner said that Smithgall Woods Park is closed due to road damage. The new Helen to Hardman trail is also closed. Will’s note this morning: “Hello All, The Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail is closed until further notice. Also, Smithgall Woods State Park is closed to day-use activities such as hiking, biking, fishing and hunting until further notice. However, the Hardman Farm Historic Site is open for tours and Smithgall Woods Cottages are open to overnight guests. Thank you.”
- Unicoi Park was open today, but some of their infrastructure took a big hit. See my pics (below) of the Smith Creek fishing deck upstream from Unicoi Lake and the washed-out bridge on the gravel road just below the dam. The lake is chocolate milk and Smith Creek below the lake is still raging. The stream above the lake has dropped and is almost fishable.
National Forest Road Survey: The US Forest Service is assessing damages on its national forest roads due to landslides and fallen trees. It is not a good time to be wandering those gravel forest roads in search of headwater trout, especially if more rain falls and takes more trees with it.
Stocking Plans Altered: GAWRD and USFWS trout hatchery staffs have altered our stocking plans this week, in reaction to high flows. Some fishable waters were stocked as planned, others were pushed back until yesterday and today to let the waters recede, and some stockings have been postponed altogether due to flood flows. We are going to hold back on our Hooch Tailwater stockings as long as possible while the US Army Corps institutes its continuous discharges from Buford Dam, in an effort to drop Lanier back to a safe level. The hatchery folks have worked hard for 18 months to produce nice stockers for your enjoyment, and we don’t want you to have to travel to Appalachicola Bay to fish for them. See this week’s stocking list, which will likely get posted on our website late today, for those waters where we could get some fish into them. Hopefully we’ll back be on schedule for all mountain streams next week. Thanks for your patience.
Beware Boating Hazards: Large reservoirs have many more boating hazards, especially on their upstream ends, due to logs, dock parts, and other large, floating debris washing into them. Big portions of the upper ends of reservoirs are also very muddy.
Ragin’ Waters: Bigger rivers and tailwaters are raging. Stay away from them. Tim Rainey and his fine US Army Corps of Engineers staff have to generate Buford Dam around the clock for 2 weeks to drop Lake Lanier back to a safe level, so fishing on the Lanier tailwater will be curtailed for a while. We’ll hold on to our stockers and wait as long as possible for fishable flows to return.
Trout Hatchery Inventory: The diligence of hatchery staffs saving our trout hatchery inventories during these stressful times of high, muddy, debris-choked water and power outages. There was some lost sleep this week, but it paid off.
Repairs Done: The small landslide and Spoilcane Creek stream bank failure on GA Highway 75 north of Helen (at the airstream trailer park’s tornado site) has been repaired and the highway has been reopened in both directions.
Still Fish-able: Our smaller streams and lakes are fishable. Their smaller basins have shed much of this week’s rainfall already. To give you some perspective from this morning:
- NO GO: Hooch mainstream; GO: Upper Smith, Spoilcane
- NO GO: Lower Dicks, Chestatee; GO: Boggs, Upper Dicks
You just have to ensure that the roads to these “go” sites are safe. Smith and Spoilcane are near paved roads, and the main road to Dicks was fine, at least to the first ford.
A HUGE Burton Brown!: Do you want to see what a new lake record looks like? The only thing matching the size of this fish is the size of the smile on young Cam’s face!
The story: Seven-year old Camden Rinckey of Commerce had a day to remember over the holiday weekend. Fishing with his father, Joel, young “Cam” dropped a blueback herring into the depths of Lake Burton at dawn and reeled in what might be the biggest brown trout ever caught from the reservoir. The 29-inch monster weighed 11 pounds, 14 ounces on the certified scale of WRD’s Lake Burton Hatchery. It surpassed the current Georgia Outdoor News lake record by 12 ounces. GAWRD Senior fisheries biologist Anthony Rabern confirmed the catch and said it was a great return on GAWRD’s investment of ten-inch brown trout, grown at Lake Burton and Buford hatcheries. Rabern said that those fall-stocked trout can grow two pounds per year on a steady diet of blueback herring. His Lake Burton annual fishing prospects and trout fishery guide detail all of the great opportunities on this Georgia Power Company Reservoir. Proud papa Joel said, “I’m blessed to have a kid willing to wake up at 4:30AM to go fishing. I couldn’t be more proud of him.” The smile says it all. Congrats Cam.
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Check ‘em out HERE
Fishing Trip Contest: Watch the video HERE and check out the trip menu. Maybe our
notorious Buford Dam poacher, Mr. Ard Herodias (see pic), will consider a license and even have a shot at a free fishing trip.
Before the full brunt of Alberto was felt this week, we had some windows of opportunities over the
Last weekend’s theme was rain, lots of rain, so many folks took the dry, conservative option and stayed home. But a significant number of dedicated anglers checked the weather radar for openings among the clouds, donned raincoats, and risked some trips to north Georgia. And they made lemonade out of lemons, with plenty of fish caught between the heavy showers! It was true for bluelines, stocker streams, ponds and even the big reservoirs. As we all dry out a bit from the last couple weeks and hopefully see the sun again, there should be some good fishing ahead of us. Let all of these soggy, lemonade stories fire you up and get you back outside next week, with or without a raincoat.
Stockers: News HERE
Smokies: Click HERE
Lake Winfield Scott: Guru and two accomplices yakked it Saturday evening after enjoy the Sautee/Nacoochee BBQ and bluegrass festival. The fishing was fun, but the catching was slow for the two flyrodders. Guru caught a few small bass and a handful of bream. Accomplice was bassless, but loaded up on bream in the last hour of daylight, right before a deluge drenched him while loading up the yak.
Unicoi Lake: Dredger studied the Fox 5 TV weather app and the intellicast website and suspected a two-hour window between rain bands on Monday evening. He drove up to Unicoi Lake and found it dry! He launched the yak and had a great time on a popper/dropper rig. The front fly was either a #4 white popper or stealth bomber, while the dropper was a #10 black foam beetle. He caught a bunch of bluegill on the dropper and a small handful of small bass on the big fly. Best bass was fifteen inches and a good pull on the old six-weight fly rod. As storm clouds brewed again at 7:30, he got off the lake in time to stay dry, and thanked Intellicast for the predicted window of opportunity!
- News HERE
- Robert Eidson of FirstBite Guide Service said the “Allatoona lineside bite is wide open right now and the best I’ve seen in a number of years”. Robert said the fishing is best from sun-up until about 11:00am. He’s slow trolling live threadfin shad or small gizzard shad on downlines set to depths of 20-30 ft. deep. Live shiners may work too. He’s using 20 pound line with a two ounce in-line weight and a 12 pound fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 circle hook. Both hybrids and stripers are schooling in main lake tributary mouths like, Kellogg , Illinois, Clear, Stamp, Clark and Tanyard Creeks. Robert said the schools are big, so finding them hasn’t been hard.
Lanier: News HERE
Given our north Georgia flooding, please check with kids fishing event sponsors prior to the event to ensure it is still scheduled.
June 1 UPDATE:
- USFS Tallulah River –postponed
- Chattahoochee River at Jones Bridge Park (Gwinnett) – Postponed.
- Rock Creek (USFWS Hatchery) – ON.
- USFS Lake Winfield Scott- ON.
- Rocky Mountain PFA– ON.
- Dellinger Park- Cartersville– June 4 -ON.
- Vogel State Park – June 9 – ON.
June 2: Rock Creek KFE: Here’s another great event sponsored by our federal hatchery partners:
Find a KFE: Events can be found HERE. You can select “Kids Fishing Event” under the “Event Type” drop-down menu and further query for events close to you, by date, etc.
In summary, we were flooded, but we are now drying out and recovering across the north Georgia rainforest. The best summary of our bad news/good news week might be the last photo of Mr. Snapping Turtle, who knew that Boggs was so bad, he even scurried to higher ground. When I met him this morning, he shared our good news by scurrying back into his stream. Be safe, be cautious, and be happy that the sun is shining once again in north Georgia. Thanks for buying your licenses, even if they aren’t used during the next few days of caution.