Did you feel it this morning? That little touch of fall coming our way? Hopefully, the air was just a little cooler and less humid your way and it put a spring in your step as we head towards the weekend. What is the fishing news this week?
- Need to know where to go when you go fishing? Be sure to check out things like this weekly report, the Fishing Forecast and our interactive map.
- Two more anglers got their Georgia Bass Slam – Congrats to Andrew Savage and Sam Boswell!
Enjoy our reports for this week, coming from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Pretty soon, might have to start dressing in layers to hit up that early morning fishing trip – have a great weekend 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, 80’S
Bass fishing is slow. There is a fair top-water bite early but it dies as soon as the sun hots the water. Try a set of Glass Shad Raps and a jointed Shad Raps but there is not a set color pattern. Change colors often when the bass are small in size or the action gets slow. Since this is a structure lake it is critical to use the Lowrance Down Scan technology to see the fish as they hug the bottom. Head up the Savannah River when the water is moving during generation through the dam. Fishing the moving water with a #5 Rapala jointed Shad Raps and Rapala DT6 is good on any body of water where good current is present. Spy Baits on points and on the back side of rip rap rocks are good places to fish when the gates of the dam are opened. Continue fishing deep with the Carolina rigs and a Zoom green lizard in both 4 and 6 inch sizes.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 1.28 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is slow. The water and air temperatures remain high. The big bass for the most part, have resorted to deeper water during the day and finding the thermocline will be a must. Now is a good time to use a drop shot rig. Use a slow presentation on both the drop shot and Carolina rigs. Some bass are still coming off the main lake points early and then again late in the evening. Slow cranking a Rapala #5 and # 7 Shad Rap or a Rapala DT10 on the sides of points will catch the larger bass that move up to feed. Use Sufix ten-pound test line and allow the baits to dig into the bottom and bounce off the “rocks” from time to time. A stop and go presentation is a good technique to use under these harsh fishing conditions. Any current up lake on the sides of the points and isolated pockets with midday shade is another good idea while searching.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80’S
(Report from Capt. Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service)
Bass: Bass fishing continues to be slow. The lake is full. Stained up the rivers, the main lake is clear. Richland creek is clear. Carolina rigs with long leaders and large worms in dark colors fished off the humps on the south end of the lake along with large crank baits fished off the side of the humps in 15 feet of water will produce some fish. The buzz bait bite is producing the first hour of daylight as well as the last hour in the evenings. White/chartreuse seem to be the best all-around color. Frogs will also produce on the south end in the grass flats early in the mornings.
Striper: Striper fishing is slow. The early morning pump back bite at the dam is the best thing going and it is only fair at best. Spoons, live shad, small crank baits, popping corks are all working. This bite will work as long as Georgia Power is pumping back into the lake. The only other bite is going on with the umbrella rig fished on the usual locations on humps and points from the pipe line to the dam. The oxygen levels in the lake are dropping fast and the fish are heading up the rivers for the summer. Don’t look for much improvement in the striper fishing until fall.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair to good. This is the best fishing on Oconee during these dog days of summer. Some days you can catch big slabs and other days only the small fish will bite. Long lining (trolling) will produce some nice catches. You will need to run your jigs about 10 to 12 feet deep. Down lining crappie minnows into tree tops at 12 to 15 feet deep will also produce a lot of fish. Use your Lowrance to locate the fish in the tree tops and then drop your bait down to the fish.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN .66 FEET, CLEAR & 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. It is time to get the Lowrance Structure Scan technology to work and find the fish that are suspended in 17 to 20 feet of water. This is the summertime pattern. Use the Carolina rigged worms by Zoom in green pumpkin and June bug and dark blue. It’s been tough all week so do not expect a good trip to the lake. Fish in the mouths of the lower lake creeks. Old road beds are good summer locations and cranking main lake and river points with a deep diving crank bait has been barley fair for early morning action. Let the baits sink deep enough before starting to reel it in. The bass might be just a foot or two deeper than you are fishing. Spotted bass are taking all white Rooster Tails over mid lake humps and long points down lake. If the water is moving, run the points down lake and use light line. There will be some hybrids take these baits too.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.66 FEET, STAINED, 80’S
Bass fishing is slow to fair. Top-water baits have just about stopped producing, but it’s probably still worth trying for the first hour after daybreak. The best locations should be along main lake banks and a short distance inside the mouth of coves. Seawalls and blow downs have been best, but grass can also produce, especially if the lake is less than one foot below full pool. Baits like Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, and Torpedo’s have produced most of the summer. If the water is calm, also try a Spook or similar bait. Rip rap along the bridges in Little River are still holding fish, but the angler will have to fish slow and thorough to catch a few. Try a lightweight Texas rig and a jig head and worm. Fish the underwater rocks from shallow to where they end in deep water. Dock fishing is slow but it’s still possible to catch a few fish from around or under them. Dead sticking a Texas rig worm is probably the best chance for success. Work the bait to a likely spot in brush or against a post and allow it to soak motionless for 30 seconds or a whole minute. For crank baits get out the Rapala DT 6 and DT 10 and use light Sufix Elite line and work these baits with a short stop and go technique.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.33 FEET OVER FULL, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Spotted bass are at depths of 15 to 20 feet. There are a few scattered fish coming up on top but they are small and the action is almost not worth rigging for. Try a ¼ ounce white buck tail and cut the hair down so the baits look smaller. The fish are eating tiny baits as this can match up to the forage. Scale down line sizes to 6-pound test fluorocarbon. Look with the Lowrance Down Scan on the long points and humps. If there is brush close the bass can be ganged up to it. But getting these fish to bite is tough. A lot of the fish have moved in mass to the main lake humps and main lake points both day and night. If you cannot read a depth finder, pick 10 to 15 points down lake and run them all at least twice. There are plenty of fish but they are not feeding for some reason. The second trick besides small craws and small worms will be live bait. Small crappie minnows on a drop shot rig will get some bites but you have to almost sit dead still to get them to bite. And, fish straight down and keep your line tight. Use a small Mosquito hook, light 6-pound test and work the baits keeping the line tight at all times. Spots like this rig.
FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: ˚84 F (˚28.8 C)
- Water Level: 4’ 8” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 24”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
The preceding month has been a great month for bass fisherman and is expected to continue through September as the lake starts to cool. A lake record for largemouth bass was recently caught and weighed 11.5 pounds! Most of the catches reported have still been during the cool mornings or late evenings (bass, crappie, and redear) and during the days before and after a full moon (bluegill). New lights have been installed on the fishing pier and the catch rate on crappie is expected to increase during this final month of the year for night fishing. Even before the fishing pier lights were installed several anglers have reported catching several catfish at night.
Bass: Black Zoom Magnum 2 Worms. B Bug Grinder, Smoke Rootbeer Copper Flake, Dark Green Pumpkin Laminate, Gary Yamamoto 4” Yamasenko Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom. June Bug. Green Pumpkin Watermelon, Watermelon Candy, Tequila Shad or Pumpkin Seed Culprit worms. Minnows and worms. Six-seven foot of water near cover.
Bream: Crickets or worms (red wigglers and pinks). Near cover or near the shallower water during a full moon. For larger redear try blue/black or white/yellow 2” Rage Tail grubs with the tail cut down 75%.
Channel Catfish: Chicken livers, worms.
Crappie: Daytime – Bass lures near the aerators; minnow and teaser tails. If on a boat, try cover that creates shade (tree tops) or structure (gravel piles). Nighttime – near the fishing pier using spinners or minnows.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Information HERE)
- Temperature range is hovering between 84 to 85⁰.
- Water Visibility: 17 – 54+ inches
- The Fish Cleaning Station is open. Please inform MCDPFA staff if it’s not working (Call 706-595-1684)
- Night Fishing available May 1-Sept. 30. Jones Lake is the only Lake open to night fishing on McDuffie PFA. All parking is outside of MCDPFA main gate at Jones Lake.
Bass: Bass action has slowed down considerably! Most anglers are coming out early in the mornings and fishing until it gets hot. Anglers are still reporting catching nice bass in Willow Lake. The bass are feeding on shad early mornings and late evenings in Willow, Jones, Clubhouse and Breambuster Lakes. Anglers are using Finesse worms and fishing them slowly, while other anglers are using Jerk baits in shad patterns. In Lake Rodbender, the bass activity has been very slow. The bass will begin moving into their fall pattern and feedings should intensify as the water temperatures drop. The trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer. Bass activity is slow in Rodbender.
Bream: Memorable bluegill and redear are being caught across the PFA and limits of 15 are being caught. One angler said his success is based on patience and fishing slow with hook and worm with no lead on the bottom. Crickets are also a good bream bait and both bluegill and redear will take them. Breambuster Lake has redear bigger than 10 inches on beds but they are especially spooky so a soft presentation will get them to bite. Anglers are catching bluegill and redear fishing worms on the bottom around structure near the shoreline in Beaverlodge, Bridge Lake, Jones Lake, Willow Lake and Breambuster.
Channel Catfish: Catfish are being caught across the PFA! The catfish action is steady with anglers catching catfish in every lake. Night fishing at Jones Lake stops on September 30th. Anglers who want fish in the coolest part of the day are fishing at night. The fish feeders feed 5 times day, 6 AM, 9 AM, 12 PM, 9 PM, and 12 AM. Speckled-catfish a.k.a. bullheads are in Willow and Clubhouse mainly. The old 6E that is located on the East-side of PFA/ Willow Lake also has a good bullhead/speckled catfish population.
Striped Bass: No reports of stripers being caught this week. Each angler can keep (15) stripers but only two of them can be over 22 inches. That means all stripers under 22 inches and all 15 stripers can be kept.
MARBEN PFA (More info HERE)
- Water temperature: HOT!
- Remember early morning and late evenings remain the best times at Marben PFA.
- Mid to late September expect the “bite” of all species to pick up
- Temperatures remain hot at Marben PFA. Sunscreen, plenty of water and ice are necessary. Don’t forget the picnic lunch!!
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: Similar challenges for anglers targeting bass remain at least for the first part of September. However, anglers willing to test the waters in early morning (before sunrise) or right before sunset might be surprised with a bass being caught in the shallows. Anglers are reporting 3 lb-5 lb bass being caught in 5 to 6 feet of water. Shad are still schooling on cloudy days and are seen near the boat ramps in early morning hours. Hot water techniques are still recommended if targeting bass until mid-September. Popular lures anglers should try are crank baits and other deeper water lures. Anglers should target bass in the 8 – 12 ft even in early morning and moving deeper as mid-day approaches. Early morning and late evenings are still the best times for anglers targeting bass. As temperatures cool in the later part of September, look for bass to remain in the shallows longer and most importantly the “bite” to pick up.
Crappie: Crappie fishing remains slow and most likely will until October. Anglers may see the crappie “bite” tends to pick up as late evening approaches. Even though the “bite” picks up, the window for catching crappie in the evening is small. Anglers need to be prepared using live minnows and yellow/brown jigs, as these tend to be the most popular. Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet. Remember, once the crappie start biting keep at it, this frenzy will be short-lived in these warm temperatures!
Bream: Bream are the most popular fish targeted at Marben PFA. The best thing about bream is that this fish will hit a variety of bait. Meal worms are proving the most successful bait. However, do not be afraid to experiment, you never know what bream are targeting that day. There have also been reports of anglers using micro lures to catch hand-sized bream. Most of the bream caught have been in six to eight feet of water.
Catfish: When the other fish begin to slow, anglers will often turn their attention to catfish at Marben PFA. Catfish are reported being caught throughout the day. Based on angler reports, Bennett still remains the “hot” lake. Anglers are most successful using worms, liver and stink bait. A handy shade tree seems to be important too!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Ponds produced the most consistent catches this week. The Satilla, St. Marys, and Altamaha rivers are still high, but the tidal St. Marys is getting in decent shape. Saltwater has been good for whiting and trout. Full Moon is August 26th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Catfishing has been the best bite on the Altamaha. New Life Church in Jesup held a successful bush hook tournament this past weekend out of Jaycees Landing, even with the high water. First place was 123.69 pounds (5 fish), while big fish was 59.1 pounds. For more information, check out the church website at newlifejesup.com. Donald at Altamaha Park said that a few bream were caught with crickets in the backwaters out of Altamaha Park. Catfishing was the most consistent, though, with channel cats topping the catch. The river level was 6.3 feet and falling (83 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.1 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on August 21st.
The river is still very high. Your best bet is to fish elsewhere, but you might be able to catch a few catfish in the extreme upper river. That area didn’t receive quite as much rain this week as the middle river. The river level on August 21st at the Waycross gage was 12.5 feet and falling (79 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 12.4 feet and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The Traders Hill area of the river is getting fishable again. Creels of 20 to 25 redbreasts and bream were reported this week in the Folkston area by anglers using crickets and beetle spins. The catfish bite picked up again for those putting shrimp and rooster livers on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 21st was 8.7 feet and falling.
The swamp level on both sides is still very high. Even so, I couldn’t stand it and took my son to the west side on Saturday. We ran around a bunch and only fished about an hour. In Billy’s Lake we only caught 1 flier. But when we moved to the SC Foster State Park boat basin, the flier bite was on for 15 minutes until it started raining and we left. We caught a total of 9 fliers, all on pink sallies. The biggest was 8 inches. It’s still going to take a lot of dry weather for the fishing to get good in the actual swamp, but it was a fun, quick fix to pitch sallies and bend our bream buster poles! In the Folkston entrance boat basin, a few small warmouth were caught with worms. At the bridges out Swamp Road, anglers were catching warmouth and catfish on worms.
Tim Bonvechio landed 5 nice bass on senkos on Saturday while fishing for just an hour. His biggest was a 6-pounder (see photo). Chad Lee found a decent frog bite on an Alma-area cypress pond. He caught several on the hollow-bodied lure. On evenings after big rains, 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, crappie were caught in the evenings after the storms subsided. Minnows produced the specks.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, More Info HERE)
The bream and catfish bites were tops this week. Anglers caught their 15-fish bluegill limits primarily with crickets. Catfishing has been consistent for anglers bank fishing at night. Night fishing will continue through the end of September.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Brentz McGhin and Greg Nelms fished the St. Marys Jetties on Thursday and had a mixed creel. They used live shrimp, mudminnows, and fiddler crabs. They ended up with 6 keeper trout, 3 keeper sheepshead (on fiddler crabs), a few jack crevalle, a Spanish mackerel, and a 5-foot nurse shark. Tripletail were reported from the buoys in the sounds and inside. Trout and reds were reported from creeks behind St. Simons Island. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the crabbing was fantastic over the weekend. Big bull whiting were caught on dead shrimp. A few Spanish mackerel, sharks, sheepshead, trout, and flounder were also caught. The shrimping was decent for folks throwing a cast net. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
During the dog-days of summer, catfishing is always a great bet. With night fishing allowed on most of Georgia’s Public Fishing Areas through the end of September, beat the heat, grab your favorite catfish bait, and head to Paradise, Dodge, or Gillis PFA in south Georgia. In saltwater, the trout bite should be picking up inshore during the next couple of weeks.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
We have a short spell of cool, dry weather, so run out and take advantage of it soon! Finally, our large rivers are low and clear and very fishable, so redirect those canoes and kayaks from ponds to rivers this weekend. Here are some more posts (HERE and HERE) to get you motivated to get out on the water!
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
WE’RE GONNA MISS YOU CHRIS
Our champion Gainesville fisheries technician, Chris Looney, leaves us this week for the private sector. He will join Pat Snellings on the staff of Humminbird Corporation as it creates the latest/greatest sonar to help put us all on fish. Chris, a 21-year DNR veteran, was invaluable to our operations here and even statewide. He worked for our legendary Lanier biologist, the late Reggie Weaver, and then helped me break in and let loose a string of young biologists (Nick, Patrick, Pat, and now Hunter) to manage Lanier and its tailwater. Our sampling boats, fish transport tanks, and boating accesses are top-notch due to his specification and construction skills. His other, specialized skills served both the DNR Search and Rescue Team and the WRD Critical Action Teams well, as they found lost folks in the north Georgia woods and cleared hurricane debris to reopen roads for emergency responders, from the coast to the mountains.
We had a nice going away luncheon today for Chris at the region office. UGA’s Habersham County extension agent Steven Patrick had a fitting tribute for Chris. Steven presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his efforts to secure hundreds of used rods and reels from Bass Pro Shops- Lawrenceville and provide them to Steven’s office. The outfits have helped Steven to maintain a 4H Youth Fishing Club and the Southeast Youth Kayak Fishing Trail for the last six years. That’s a lot of smiling kids!
Chris will be missed, not only by his DNR cohorts, but by many of you north Georgia anglers who have come to know him as an information source and a friend. Please join me in congratulating him on his new position, and get in line behind me for Humminbird sonar discounts! Thank you Chris, and good luck!
Headwater Trout: Frequent rains have made this the best summer in a long time for blueline fans. Go soon and try terrestrials! . More motivation HERE, HERE and HERE.
Stocker Best Bets: WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson’s weekend best bets are: Lanier and Blue Ridge Tailwaters , Tallulah, Rock, Dicks, Wildcat, Cooper, and Hooch on WMA. Sign up to have the stocking report delivered to you weekly HERE.
Stocker Satisfaction: Let’s go by “STIT”; Reading Pays Off
Tailwaters: Info HERE and HERE. And from our friend Academy Jack- Another good day this week on the Hootch below Buford Dam. Limited time to fish due to water release schedule but I caught my limit in about 2 1/2 hours. Trout magnets, Panther Martens & Rooster Tails all caught fish when I found the right color.
LAKES, RIVERS AND MORE
Slow Lanier Bass: News HERE.
Rivers: Hi Jeff, Just a note to let you know a friend and I floated from the Duncan Bridge to Mossy Creek Thursday with good results. We caught 30+ bass both Alabamas and shoals with the largest an 18″ Alabama and an 18″ shoal bass. Recreationists need to do a better job of picking up their own trash @ Mossy access!!! Below are a few pictures. –Alex Weissman
Summer Vacation: Deadly Damer escaped again for his annual Dad/Brother, dry-fly only junket to the far west. I don’t have any details yet, but did receive some nice photos of our Armuchee biologist gripping and grinning and totally setting aside work responsibilities for a week. It looked like a great respite. Enjoy the photo. Good luck getting intel out of him. I’ve been trying for years!
Good luck in this break in our wet summer of 2018. There’s more clear water to explore this weekend!
Why is SW GA almost never covered? I have ask this question several times? Kinda looks like you guys are chasing money like politicians. The most populated areas spend the most money so they get the most info.
Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division
Hey Doug. We report on the areas we receive reports for. Whenever we receive reports from SW Georgia we make sure to get them out though!
Doug, I think sometimes it is worse to have a solid report from your favorite spot.