Happy Fishing Friday! Let’s bring you the news to use out on the water!
- Let’s Hook ’em! Do you have a kid who wants to learn to fish? Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center will be offering a Fish-N-Learn 1 class for children age 8-15 on Oct. 10-12. The class will cover the basics of fishing, equipment, casting, and how to clean your catch. Click HERE for more details and registration info.
- Raisin’ em right: Rainbow trout fingerlings seen here at the Summerville Hatchery are fed a high protein diet to get them growing for next year’s stocking season. This trough holds about 20,000 fish hatched in the spring from eggs provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The fish are fed four times a day until they reach two inches before being transferred to outside raceways to keep growing. At 4 inches, more than 300,000 of these trout will head on to the Burton or Buford hatcheries. Next year, they’ll be ready for stream in North Georgia.
Today, our fishing reports come from North and Southeast Georgia. Get out there and Go Fish!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It’s mid-August and we’re still dealing with hot, muggy weather, so our dog days continue. At least we had a little break in humidity over the last two days and it got me thinking: we’re in the humidity home stretch. We are close to making it through our hot and humid summer marathon, which we always experience here in Georgia. The good news this year has been all of the consistent rainfall that recharged our waters, especially our trout streams.
And now September is in sight. All we have to do is find a few more summer fishing spots to tie us over to cooler nights, dropping water temperatures, and a few more sport fish waking up from their summer siestas. Hang in there; we’re in the humidity home stretch. Here are a few reports and tips to get you through Mile 26 and across the Summer of 18’s finish line. Here we go:
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Fresh every Friday
Where’s the Oxygen? Enjoy the latest reservoir temp/DO profiles (look for them in the “Profiles” column HERE) from our super fish tech, Chris Looney. Find the right combo and you’ll find your deep summer stripers.
River Bassin’: Dredger snuck out Saturday evening to the upper Hooch and found flows just low enough to wade (500 cfs) and visibility of about three feet. He lost more bass than the measly three fish to 13 inches that he was able to fondle, but it was still a nice break. The summer sun had dipped behind the trees, the humidity was low, and the wet-wade was refreshing. More fish were chummed up by the hairy fodder than the surface popper, which works a whole lot better in crystal-clear water.
River Striperin’: From Chris Scalley of RiverThroughAtlanta.com – Chattahoochee Stripers: Striper migration has been excellent this year which is another benefit of high flows. Striped bass populations are spread out nicely from Morgan Falls through Standing Peachtree Creek and when the water levels are moderate to low and clear double digit days are doable. We are excited about the striped and shoal bass opportunities this late summer and early fall season!
Stocker Best Bets: John Lee Thompson’s top-secret Saturday hotspots are: Lanier and Blue Ridge tailwaters, Cooper, Hooch on WMA, Wildcat, Rock, Dicks, and Tallulah. Hint: park at a bridge or a turnout next to the streams. Walk 200 yards down the road and then get in the creek. Stick and move- toss two casts into each shady nook and cranny that might hold a holdover, then take a couple steps upstream to the next fishy spot and cast again. Keep moving upstream. When you get to the car, drive up to the next spot that might have fit a stocking truck, and repeat. Carry some ice and stop at eight trout!
Cooking Up Next Year’s Stockers: While the 2018 stocker program winds down, that doesn’t mean the hatchery guys can take much of a break. It’s back to the kitchen to cook up some more! Summerville Hatchery manager Josh Tannehill and his staff are busy finishing up this year’s batch of rainbow fingerlings and getting them out the door to Burton or Buford. Soon it will be time for the September start of our four federal egg shipments (Ennis National Fish Hatchery and Erwin National Fish Hatchery) to Summerville each year, and the cycle will repeat itself. Enjoy the video of Fish Tech Danny Edwards in action.
Bluelines Still On Fire: With great flows this summer, there’s more water and more food in those stream channels, and the trout reflect these better living conditions. Here’s a fresh report from “Sautee’s” Saturday excursion to IDBIS Creek, “somewhere above Helen.” Saturday looked to be rain free in the AM and since it didn’t rain the evening before I felt sure that the blue lines would be easily fishable. Hit the creek about 9:20 not worrying about getting there early because I was going high and counting on the hills and healthy rhododendron to keep temps low until early afternoon. Decided to try for brookies in the upper reaches first, hoping to catch them still feeding. Tied on a #16 yellow elk hair caddis and on my third drift through the first pool I fished hooked my best fish of the day, a 10” native brook trout. Over the next 45 minutes, I landed 4 more brookies. Of the 5 brook trout, 3 were 7+”. Then decided to head downstream to test the action of the wild rainbows that can’t get above the last barrier falls in the stream. They were very accommodating. I landed 25 rainbows over the next 2.5 hours staying with the #16 caddis the entire time. The rainbows ranged from 3”- 9” and provided a lot of action with several giving aerial displays of lateral color in sunlight. With plenty of water this summer, the action on our blue line streams has remained consistently good later in the season than has been the case for several years.
For the Gals: More women are enjoying the sport, and the fishing literature is reflecting such. Enjoy a few recent stories to fire up the fisher-gals among us: Check ‘em out HERE, HERE and HERE (see “Christine and Jackie”)
Good luck during the humidity home stretch. Get out and wet wade or canoe while you still can do it without blue lips and chattering teeth. From cool tailwaters and small lakes to stocker streams and headwater wild trout, there are still plenty of excuses to skip some lawncare and wet a line after work and on the weekends. As always, thanks for your purchases of fishing tackle, fishing licenses, and Broderick’s pretty brook trout license plate. We appreciate those operating funds. Tight lines to y’all and remember to smile!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Rains have been stealing the spotlight this summer, and this week was no exception. We had over 5 inches of rain at my house for the week. Rivers are in poor shape, but saltwater and ponds have been producing good catches of lots of different species. First quarter moon is August 18th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
With the river level, school starting back, and the heat, almost nobody fished the river this week. New Life Church in Jesup is holding a bush hook tournament this weekend, August 18th-19th. It will be run out of Jaycees Landing in Jesup. Click HERE for more information. The river level was 7.2 feet and rising (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.8 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on August 14th.
The river is very high and nobody reported this week. However, the extreme upper river is falling. The river level on August 14th at the Waycross gage was 13.6 feet and rising (79 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 13.4 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The extreme slug of water from a couple weeks ago has subsided, but the river is still too high for a good bite of everything but catfish. The cats should start biting this week if we don’t get more significant rains. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 14th was 9.3 feet and falling.
The swamp level is 121.1 feet, and good fishing is in the 119 feet range. The water is spread out so much that finding a concentration of fish is unlikely.
Isaiah and John Bittle from West Virginia visited family and fished a Brunswick area pond on Wednesday and Thursday this past week. They caught 11 bass the first day. Most of their fish were on junebug and green pumpkin candy Keitech Mad Wag Worms, and junebug lizards. On Thursday the bass were biting better, and they caught 35 bass up to 3.88 pounds. Copperfield-colored vibrating jigs, midnight blue Keitech Mad Wag Worms, and Texas-rigged junebug and black-red flake lizards produced most of their fish. They caught a couple fish on NED rigs and crankbaits. On evenings after big rains (like Monday night around Waycross), the best fishing is often in the spillway of the pond. If you can safely access the spillway, give it a try, as the flow from the pond attracts fish upstream to the base of the dam. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, the best bite was bream that ate crickets.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton-more info HERE)
A couple anglers put out lights for crappie at night over the weekend and ended up catching 20 slabs on minnows. Bream fishing has been good early and late for those pitching crickets. Catfishing has been good at night for those using mullet gut (if you can find it), livers, and cut bait.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman-More Info HERE)
The high temperatures have pushed most anglers into fishing early, late, or at night. Catfish have been the main draw at the area during the summer night fishing (allowed until the end of September). An assortment of different dead and live baits have all worked for whiskerfish. Deep holes near the dam have produced some big catfish for boat anglers. Deep crankbaits and jigs accounted for some nice bass catches recently. Most bass have been in the 1 to 3-pound range, but fish up to 7 1/2 pounds have been reported. Bluegill and shellcrackers were caught in good numbers by bank anglers fishing worms, crickets, and a variety of soft plastic lures. Crappie fishing has been good around deep wood.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Brentz McGhin and a friend fished the St. Marys Jetties on Thursday and had a good catch of inshore species. They used live shrimp for their 8 trout (half were keepers), 11 redfish (10 were undersized and 1 was a keeper), 3 flounder (2 keepers), and 4 jack
crevalle. They also had a bunch of other various species inhale their irresistible shrimp. Jeremy Robertson and 4 buddies fished offshore of St. Marys on Friday and caught their limit of red snapper, a nurse shark, and 9 black sea bass. On Monday, Don Harrison and I fished the St. Marys Jetties and had a very interesting day. It started with a pair of manatees surfacing right by the boat while we were near the dock and scaring the dickens out of both of us. We thought one of the Trident subs from Kings Bay was surfacing beside the boat…lol. I’ve never seen them surface that quickly before. When we arrived to the 4 to 5-foot swells at the end of the channel, we noticed that tarpon were surfacing all around, and jack crevalle were cutting through the waves crashing over the rocks. We hooked a half-dozen of mixed species on Top Dog plugs, and each one took us through the rocks and either straightened the hooks or broke us off. We knew what the result would be with the super-strong current going through the rocks, but it was so much fun watching them slam it and tear off that we just kept tying on new plugs. Don almost landed a 30-lb. class crevalle after working it around the end of the jetties and into open water for almost an hour. Once we burned through our plugs and our cover of the rocks dissipated with the top of the tide, we moved in closer to shore and started pitching plastics to runouts. Don had a few bites on Sea Shads suspended underneath an Equalizer Float, but I started catching smaller (up to 4 pounds) jack crevalle on Flashy Jigheads and Keitech 3.3-inch Fat Swing Impact Swimbaits (sight flash color). When we got in water deeper than 8 feet we switched to pitching bucktail jigs so that we could get them down near the bottom. That was a good call, as we ended up catching 2 bull redfish (28 and 32 1/2 inches), 2 keeper flounder, and an 18-inch seatrout on 1/2-oz. bucktails. Both mullet and electric chicken-colors worked. Surprisingly, the black sea bass did not bite that day. A few tarpon were reported from the beaches and inshore rivers. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the crabbing was excellent again this week, with the big blue devils filling baskets. Some nice sized sheepshead were caught with fiddler crabs. Dead shrimp produced some nice whiting creels. A few Spanish mackerel were fooled with Gotcha plugs. Cut bait was the ticket for sharks. Trout and flounder were caught with finger mullet and live shrimp fished on float rigs. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
On good weather days, chasing tarpon, sharks, jack crevalle, and bull redfish at the St. Marys Jetties is a blast. Watch the marine forecast closely, though, as winds can make the area miserable in a hurry. Catfishing is a great option at our Georgia PFA’s since night fishing is an option. Bass and bream in ponds will likely be your best bet in Waycross area ponds.