Is it time to start complaining about how hot it is in Georgia yet? Asking for a friend. Well, it might be hot – but at least the opportunity to get out and fish is getting a little better as the deluge of recent waters subside. Let’s start with a few quick news bites, in case you missed’em:
- Redhorse Study: Robust Redhorse are a species of suckerfish thought to be extinct until rediscovered by Georgia wildlife biologists in 1991. Find out more about how biologists are studying this fish through research and survey efforts HERE.
- Fish Kill: A few fish floating in a lake as large as Jackson may not raise interest. However, when that turns into a few hundred dead fish, Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division offices start to get some calls. Fortunately, the recent die-off of common carp seen currently at Jackson appears to be a natural occurrence.
- National Fishing and Boating Week: NFBW wraps up with another free fishing day for Georgia residents tomorrow- Saturday, June 9. Grab a non-fishing friend and introduce them to your sport, for free!
On to our reports! This week, we have a VERY brief report from Southeast Georgia and then one from North Georgia.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
I have a backlog of bass photos, so this week we will brag on the nice catches over the last month (check ’em out below – click on each photo to get more details). The rivers are still flooded due to recent rains. Saltwater has been decent for whiting if you go early and get back before the thunderboomers start. New Moon is June 13th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Welcome to flood recovery. The sun is shining, air temps are soaring, and our northeast Georgia streams are very slowly receding. While mountain trout streams are full and high, nearly all are fishable for this weekend – – for smart bank anglers and extremely careful waders. The big rivers are slowly clearing, but are still ripping. I stopped by the Hooch at Highway 115 last night (7th). It was flowing at about triple the normal volume for this time of year, but visibility had stretched to about three feet. While it’s not wadeable, it might be fishable for experienced, safety-conscious floaters who know where to portage.
On reservoirs, the good news is above the dams and not below them. The reservoir tailwaters are still high from agency flood management, so they are out for at least another week (See post below re: the Hooch Tailwater). Most reservoirs are above full pool, but are clearing.
Careful Out There: Watch for floating debris and check first on whether your favorite ramp is open, but the big lakes should provide plenty of opportunity. Click on “Ramp and Bridge Elevations “ here for Lanier.
Best Bets: Your very best bets this week continue to be the higher elevation, smaller trout streams and the small ponds and water supply lakes.
Don’t Forget About This Contest: GAWRD also has a nice contest going for a chance at free guided fishing trips, so check out that news HERE.
Kids Stuff: Finally, it was apparently “kids week” up here, and we’d like to thank all of the adult mentors at these kids camps who gave freely of their time to introduce our youth to sport fishing and aquatic resource conservation. Enjoy the pics! And don’t miss the kids rodeo tomorrow at Vogel State Park. We stock a bunch of trout to support it.
Too Hot to Touch: “Hot, hot: don’t touch,” as Momma would say. This fishing report is fresh out of the oven! Live (1126 hr on 6/8), from the Etowah, it’s Damer on his Iphone and WRD Armuchee fish tech Mark Bowen on the striper grip-n-grin! Live from the river. Etowah striper. 20lbs. Good numbers of stripers in Etowah. Too warm elsewhere. Yes, its boatable for anglers. We didn’t get nearly as much rain as NE GA over here. Everything’s back to normal. Back to shocking.
Big Hybrid: WRD Fisheries Tech 3 Tony Anderson, officed at Burton Hatchery, weighed
in a really nice Lake Russell hybrid bass for Daniel Wild of Hartwell. It measured 26.5 inches long, weighed 8 pounds, ten ounces, and fell for an artificial lure.
Small Lakes: Not wishing to fight raging currents on headwater bluelines, Guru and Dredger took the lazy man’s approach to a Lake Russell trip on Sunday afternoon, and employed the trolling motor on Guru’s Lanier bassin’ rig. Without the need to paddle a yak while balancing a fishing pole, they spent much more time casting and were rewarded with a nice bunch of 10 -14 inch largemouths. Most were caught on a white popper, but a few were dredged on small, Texas-rigged worms on spinning rods. The funny thing was that most were caught in the middle of the lake, where they seemed to be “rising” to a hatch of young-of-year fish, possibly schools of bream fry? It was a nice, dry end to an epically wet week in northeast Georgia. More on Russell HERE.
Rocky PFA Attractors: Rocky PFA manager Dennis Shiley said they made 13 new brush pile sites spread between Antioch East and West. Most of the new piles are visible at the surface and were holding fish within 2 days of deployment.
Lanier Stripers: (Report from Steve Scott of TeamLanier.com) – Tropical storm Alberto brought the threats of lots of rain and storms over the Memorial Day weekend. Trying to pick the best day to go was tricky but we guessed right. Sunday morning was clear with the best chance at a beautiful day on the lake. The skies were clear at the bait shop. We loaded up with Blueback Herring and headed to East Bank park next to the dam. We were going to start here on a tip from the bait shop. Right after launching we put out a couple of Flatlines weighted and out 100’ & 130’. Before we could get another rod baited up it was Fish On. As we were bringing that 1st one the other rod started ripping off line. We got them both in for measurements and pictures. After letting them go we hung around the area in hopes of getting a third but the Stripers were moving out to deeper water. We too moved out. We did our myriad of rods in addition to the 2 Flatlines which consisted of a couple of Downlines, a couple of weighted Planer Boards and one more weighted Flatline out about 30’. Our target was main lake points. The first 2 Stripers we caught were in 78 degree water around 6:45am. The first fish Don brought in with a fiercesome fight was a nice fish at 27”. I know Don really enjoyed that fight. The second Striper was only 25” but it too felt good bring him in. As we came out of East Bank bay into Shoal Creek another Striper hit our Flatline. Another exciting fight bringing in this 8 pound female. She was only 24” but weighed more than the others. It was close to 9:30am when we started see more boats cruising. We knew it was close to the time to leave. We decided to fish the area where we had caught the Stripers earlier but that area too was buzzing with boats.
Lanier “Slam”: News HERE.
Jimbo on Lanier Report: More Reports HERE. I go away for a week to the Indy 500 and come back to a whole new lake! The lake is starting to come back down from a high of 3.7 feet over full pool. The Corp is reported to be pulling water 24/7 for the next couple of weeks. The waters above Brown’s Bridge remained slightly stained in the main river areas and creek arms toward the backs. The lower main lake is clear, and there is still some stain in the lower end creeks in places. The top water and swimbait bite is on! The baits of choice seem to vary each day, but we are now enjoying an all day top water and swimbait bite! Baits like a Sebile, fluke, Chug Bug, Pencil Popper and a Vixen have been working well each day. We are focusing on points and humps with brush in anywhere from 15 to 30 feet in both the main lake and creeks. That’s the whole story! As many of you know who have followed me over the years, when this bite is on, that is what we do and that’s all we do until we can’t catch them anymore. I hope it lasts all summer! The high water does not seem to be affecting this bite. The fish do change positions on the structure each day, but this is normal on any day and with varying conditions. I like focusing on the open water bite as it seems to remain fairly consistent even in the face of multiple changing conditions. Please get with me soon if you would like a trip this summer. Following is a list of my upcoming open dates June: 25, 26, 27, and 28. I am also starting to book for July. Give me a call NOW and book your top water trip for June it has been awesome don’t miss it!
Stripers: (This report is from Big Fish on Guide Service) –Striper fishing is good. The lake hit a high water level of over 4 feet above full pool last week. The Corps of Engineers are continuously releasing 6,000 to 9,000 cubic feet of water per second! Despite the high water level the fishing remains good. The stripers are related to Points Lake wide. The down rod bite has gotten better and is out fishing the free lines. We are using down rods with blueback herring, top water baits and buck tail jigs as our primary technique to cover points. Target 30 to 40 bottom with baits at 20 to 25 feet down. The Umbrella rigs are working and is a great technique for fishing points. Target a 30 to 40 foot bottom with your rigs at 60 to 70 feet back. Vary your speed to avoid the brush piles and trees. Do not waste a lot of time making multiple passes on any given point. Once you find a productive point you may have to leave it and come back in a couple of hours. The fish have a tendency to scatter when you catch one. Long sloping points seem to be holding more fish than the deep water points. If it is cloudy you can catch fish on points all day; if not fish deeper as the sun rises. The point’s lake wide from Little River to the Dam are holding fish with the north end a little more productive than the south. The lake level is 2.9 feet above full pool. The current water temperature is in the low 80’s.
Crappie: (This report is from Dan Saknini of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Normally we suspend our fishing reports around this time of the year, but as long as our members continue reporting good catches, we will keep you all in the loop. Water temperature is in the low eighties, and fishing has been good to excellent over the past week. The Lake level is about 3 ½ feet above full pool. Our fish have gone deep and the bite is much harder to detect. If you see any unusual line movement at all, set the hook! I think some fishermen are missing the bite because they are waiting for more movement than is going to show. The fish we are catching are holding tight to the bottom around deep brush piles in or around docks. When you cast your line, take a bite of your donut, sip on your coffee, and then just start reeling. Sometimes you have to let the jig fall all the way to the bottom, click the bail, then wait and watch the line very carefully for the slightest movement before reeling. Some people say Polarized sunglasses help them see the line better. Personally, I can see my line better without sunglasses, but experiment and see what works best for you. If you are using live bait under a slip cork, this does not apply, because the cork will go under with a bite. We are targeting docks with structure (brush piles) on the Chattahoochee side North of Gainesville Marina and on the Chestatee side North of Little Hall and Duckett Mill. The night bite remains good, and should continue all summer. Fishing will be better on overcast days this time of the year. Sunny days with blue skies may be tougher. Even so, the early morning bite and late afternoon/evening bite is best. The cooler nights may keep the fish around our brush piles a little longer instead of heading deeper into the natural timber, but water temps can rise quickly, so my advice is to get out and fish while the fishing is good! Stay safe wear your life jacket, and watch out for all the crazy boaters and jet skiers!
Bass: (The following report is brought to you by The Southern Fishing Report by Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is fair. The best thing going for the spots is the drop shot. We are seeing more fish taking smaller baits on the drop shot. Tiny Flukes and Baby Sluggos in shad colors on the steeper banks for the spots. Use 4 pound fluorocarbon line and a #4 Drop shot hook and a ¼ ounce quick drop shot sinker. It’s ultra-finesse time on the lake and watch for some scattered top water. It is fair but the action w limited all dat. A baby Zara Spook in bone is a good choice. If fishing is tough, get a heavy action 7 foot rod, spool a Johnny Morris bait casting reel and add a full spool of 14 pound Sufix clear line. Add a one ounce egg sinker, very important, and a 4 foot leader. Now add a Zoom pumpkinseed lizard on a 3/0 offset Mustad worm hook and fish every point you see. But, sit the boat in 30 feet of water before you make the cast. Fish this rig all the way back to the boat. If you make 15 casts and do not get a bite, move.
More News: (This report is from Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Grab your kids, get the boat and go fishing because it’s absolutely insane great right now. This is probably the best bite I have seen 10 years. The shad kill we had this winter probably contributes to a lot of the better bite we’re seeing this year. Fish are coming back down out of the rivers, starting to stage off the humps and flats from Kellogg Creek back over to Allatoona Creek. Threadfin shad and small gizzards fished off any of the ledges, the flats, and the river ledges, the mouths of the creeks and the main lake points have been working really well. Our boats have been averaging anywhere from 25 to 70 fish a day right now. After the sun gets up, they are moving over the river channels and can still be caught on down lined threadfin and small gizzard shad. The key is to stay on the edge of the river channel. That is key! You have to be within 10 feet of where the drop off point is on those ledges. Look for big schools to start to move south as the water warms into 80s. For those of you who don’t want to get up at 3 a.m. to catch bait, Striper Soup has plenty of shad in stock. The top water bite will be getting better. There is limited top water action right at sun up right now, but you have to be in the right place at the right time. It really isn’t worth targeting just yet. Trolling is fair at best but should heat up in the coming weeks.
Ken Sturdivant Report: (The following report is brought to you by The Southern Fishing Report by Ken Sturdivant) – LAKE HARTWELL IS 2.76 FEET OVER FULL, CLEAR, 70’S – Bass fishing is good. Day fishing has been a little better early in the day with Zoom worms in natural blue and natural greens are good choices on the Texas rigged worm. Anglers that are using the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology are using this product to start fishing when they find the fish. Anglers that fish in deep structure at 20 feet have been catching a few more fish. The middle of the down lake creeks are fair and standing timber and deep natural structure is holding most of these fish. The water is cooler at 30+ feet and this means the fish are little more active. Using the #5 and #7 silver black back Shad Raps and 8 pound line, trolling the main lake creeks mouths has been working. It’s a great way to read the lake bottom as trolling and watching the Lowrance will disclose a lot of great detail.
Mark Collins Service Report: WEISS LAKE IS AT 0 FEET 3 INCHES BELOW FULL POOL AND HEAVY STAINED AND 82 84 DEGREE’S BY MARK COLLINS SERVICE (Mark Collins Service, mark@markcollins service.com)
Ken Sturdivant Report: (The following report is brought to you by The Southern Fishing Report by Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is good. The bass have started moving to a deeper, summer pattern, docks and brush piles in deeper water near spawning areas are producing fish, point’s road beds and creek channels are also producing fish. With all the rain some Bass are still in the grass. Get buzz bait and cast away.
Striper fishing is good. Our fish are showing up in the lower parts of the Coosa and Chattooga Rivers, some fish are starting to show up at the Cave Hole also.
Crappie fishing is good. A lot of fish are starting to show up on deeper brush piles and creek channels ledges. Spider rigging with live minnows is the way to catch these post spawn fish. Shooting docks is producing fish.
Headwater Wild Trout: Here’s your best bet for the weekend. String up that six or seven foot road and spelunk thru the rhododendron tunnels soon, while high, cold water has those colorful creek residents hungry and feisty. More HERE and HERE are some great pics from a couple of hikers.
Stocking Continues, But Not Hooch Tailwater: WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson said that state and federal trout stocking trucks were back at it, in full force this week, after skipping some streams last week due to the floods. WRD is still not stocking the Hooch Tailwater while the Army Corps continues heavy releases from Buford Dam to bring Lanier back down to normal pool.
Best bets this weekend: Hooch on WMA, Smith above Unicoi Lake, Dockery Lake, Stamp, Wildcat, Tallulah (upper), Panther, Middle Broad, Rock, Cooper, Dicks, Holcomb, and Vogel after the kids rodeo. The complete, weekly stocking list will appear HERE on Friday afternoons, once all fish have hit the water.
Got a Shovel? Rain is good. It brings high, cool flows into our mountain hatcheries and helps to us to grow some plump rout for stocking. But heavy rains carry a lot of junk with them: logs, branches, and leaves to clog intake pipes and raceways screens, and sand and silt to settle on the bottoms of the concrete raceways where the fish are grown. And to be careful around the fish, our hatchery staffs carefully shovel out the sand from those raceways. It sure isn’t as fun as stocking trout, but it’s a necessary step in fish farming at our mountain trout hatcheries. Got a shovel???
Campers in Action GATU: Congrats to camp planners Rodney Tumlin and Charlie and Kathy Breithaupt and all their volunteers from Trout Unlimited chapters across Georgia, as they hosted another successful, weeklong TU Trout Camp for 24 teenagers. The planning trio and partner agencies (State Parks, Coral Hospitality, WRD, USFS) all practiced “adaptive management” around the floods, to pick places and dates that were safe for the kids. A special thanks goes to Unicoi Lodge program manager David Norboge, who accommodated the big fishing group and their Tuesday night supper at Smith Creek Shelter 6, above Unicoi Lake. While the camp’s normal stops (Tallulah, Hooch in town) were still flooding, the park was a great spot for the kids’ stocking exercise with Burton Hatchery staff and their evening fishing lessons. Kudos to all on overcoming adversities and scoring another Trout Camp Touchdown.
Cherokee County Fishing Camp! Two dozen summer campers at the annual Cherokee County Fishing Camp had a big time last week. To top the week off, the kids enjoyed helping WRD’s Buford Hatchery staff scatter fish along Stamp Creek for all of its angling fans. They were even allowed to hang around after helping to stock it and catch a few fish themselves. Program director Jay Worley celebrated his 12th year of fishing camp success!
Camping Freebie: Finally, something for us adults… Did many of you get this note, too? To thank you for your support of wildlife, we are offering a deal on Georgia State Parks. When you use promo code WRDAUG18 you will receive: Camp 2 nights consecutively receive the third night free August 1-31! A few terms and conditions apply:
- Valid for camping only
- Monday-Thursday only
- Does not include the First Time Camper Program or Group Camps
- Valid August 1st, 2018 through August 31st, 2018
- Valid for new reservations only
- Not valid with any other promotions or discounts
- Not valid at Smithgall Woods, Unicoi, Amicalola Falls, Little Ocmulgee, George T. Bagby and Georgia Veterans
- All other park rules apply
- Reservations can be made online or by calling the park
For the Billy Goats Among You: My Blue Cross deductible is too high for this trek myself, but other quick-healers among you might consider this bucket list (death wish?) trip. At least we can all enjoy the video!
And For Non-Billy Goats: Got a bum knee? Have you already celebrated a big bunch of birthdays? If your mobility isn’t quite what it used to be, don’t quit yet on mountain trouting. Please keep in mind our list of accessible trout fishing locations. Take a look here and check out a pier or a low stream bank soon.
You Go Girl!: Cool video HERE
Summer Activities?: Need some ideas to keep the kids, or yourselves, entertained? Remember Georgia’s great state parks and lodges. Click on the “Adventure Activities” video HERE
Don’t Let the Big’Un Get Away: How We Have All Felt After a Big One Got Away.
New US Forest Service Fishing Maps: Steven Bekkerus with the USDA Forest Service shares that there are some new PDF trout stream maps available from USFS. Look HERE for a list of developed recreations areas along streams and rivers that provide easy access to fishing areas.
Free Fishing Seminars: Ken Sturdivant will be hosting FREE! Fishing seminars at 4 Forsyth County Library Branch’s. These seminars will cover Bass Fishing, Striper Fishing, Crappie Fishing and SONAR! Lake Lanier Bass guide Phil Johnson will be at the Bass seminars. Stephen Knight will be at the STRIPER seminar July 10, 2018. Anglers DO NOT need to pre-register. Please come to the event 30 minutes prior to start time. These are the dates and times:
- Cumming Library Branch Cumming 585 Dahlonega Street, Cumming, GA 30040 Session 1 Tuesday, June 12 at 7pm Bass Session 2 Tuesday, July 10 at 7pm STRIPERS! With Striper Guide Stephen Knight
- Cumming Library Sharon Forks Branch Sharon Forks 2820 Old Atlanta Road, Cumming, GA 30041, Session 3 Sunday, June 24 at 2pm Crappie Session 4 Sunday, July 22 at 2pm SONAR!
- Cumming Library Hampton Park Branch Hampton Park 5345 Settingdown Road, Cumming, GA 30041 Session 5 Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Crappie Session 6 Saturday, July 7 at 2pm SONAR!
- Cumming Library Post Road Branch Post Road 5010 Post Road, Cumming, GA 30040 Session 7 Saturday, June 2 at 2pm BASS Session 8 Saturday, July 14 at 2pm STRIPERS!
Good luck as we all dry out, warm up, and pull out our summer techniques from our angling bag of tricks. Be safe, as the water is still high and the currents are strong. As always, thanks for buying your fishing licenses and Trout Unlimited brookie car tags. We hope the end of National Fishing and Boating Week is more hospitable to you than our soggy beginning!