So, there is a lot of competition on things to do in Georgia this coming weekend…opening day of dove season, football games, Dragon Con…but hopefully, you can find a little bit of time to go throw out a line somewhere!

  • Congrats to all the recent Georgia Bass Slam folks, including our first female Bass Slammer – Rhonda Phillips. Ladies, Rhonda wants to challenge all of you to get out there and get your Slam too!
  • Looking for a little fishing to go with your dove hunting? Flat Creek PFA is having a Cast and Blast event. Go fishing from 8 am to 12 pm before heading over to the youth dove shoot from 12 pm – sunset. The youth dove hunt is a sign-in hunt and open to any youth with a supervising adult. Bait, tackle and lunch are provided at the fishing portion while supplies last. Participation in both portions is not required to attend. C’mon out — we hope to see you there!
  • Maybe you want to fish and get some target practice? Paradise PFA has a new archery range opening Monday (Sept. 3), but several other PFAs also have ranges, find one near you HERE.
  • Start making plans today to attend a National Hunting and Fishing Day FREE event! Schedule of statewide events found HERE.

On to our reports! This week, we have a report from Southeast Georgia and one from Northeast Georgia.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA 

(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

The rivers are dropping out well with this week’s drier weather, and most should be fishable (although not “right”) during the holiday weekend. Ponds and saltwater had the best bites this week. Last quarter moon is September 2nd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Britney at Jaycees Landing said that the catfishing was tops this week. Anglers reported flatheads in the 20 to 30 pound range on goldfish. Bream were caught above Jesup in the clearer areas. Donald at Altamaha Park said that bream and bass were caught in the feeder creeks and backwaters. Some of the bream were large, and crickets worked best for them. Catfish were caught from the deeper, slow-moving holes. The river level was 4.8 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.5 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on August 28th.

SATILLA RIVER

The river is still high but is falling quickly. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts and bream were biting in the upper river just in time for the holiday weekend. Satilla Spins and beetle spins produced most of the fish. At the Highway 158 Bridge, an angler pitching crickets caught some giant bream on a bream-buster pole. Catches of channel cats on bush hooks baited with shiners were reported from the Jamestown area of the river. The river level on August 28th at the Waycross gage was 9.6 feet and falling fast (80 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 11.3 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The fishing is heating up as the water falls. The area below Traders Hill produced some great reports of bream and redbreasts. Catches of 25 to 30 fish were the norm for those pitching crickets. Rooster livers and shrimp were the deal for some big catfish catches. The upper river is still high but is falling. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 28th was 6.9 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The swamp level on both sides is still very high. Pitching pink or yellow sallies in the boat basins will produce some fliers and warmouth, but fishing out in the flooded prairies is like finding a needle in a haystack. Anglers reported catching catfish and warmouth from the bridges out Swamp Road.

LOCAL PONDS

Mallory Robertson had the bass of the week (that I’m aware of) with her 7-pounder that she caught on a 6-inch plastic lizard. Congratulations, Mallory! Chad Lee had a blast fishing frogs over matted vegetation on Saturday. His largest, a 6-pounder, came through the mat and inhaled his frog. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bass and bluegills bit best. The spillway at Shrine Lake was hot for bream and catfish.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

SE GA Chris Baumann Red Snapper 8 18 - IMG_0624
Chris Baumann sampled some of the great Georgia offshore fishing and caught this whopper red snapper during the recent open season.

The whiting bite was good in the Intracoastal Waterway behind Cumberland Island for those putting shrimp on the bottom. Trout, flounder, and reds were reported from creeks behind St. Simons Island. The whiting bite on Thursday evening was great off the St. Simons Causeway bridges. The first of the outgoing tide was key. Tarpon fishing on the northern half of the Georgia coast was off the chain. The big silver fish were crashing through pogy pods each afternoon this week, and quite a few were landed by anglers fishing both live bait and artificials. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the bull whiting bite was the most consistent. Dead shrimp produced the fish. Sheepshead were around the pilings and were fooled with fiddler crabs. Black drum, flounder, and sharks were also caught. Baitfish are all around the pier and are easy to catch with a cast net. Gary Knadler fished with a couple friends from the St. Simons Pier on Saturday and landed 3 keeper flounder up to 18 inches by using finger mullet on the bottom. Several folks threw cast nets and caught decent numbers of shrimp. Blue crabs were caught in big numbers, and a few stone crabs found their way to folks’ baskets, as well. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

Fishing should be very good this weekend if the weather holds as predicted. The rivers are dropping out well and should be fishable over the holiday weekend. They’re not perfect, but they should be fishable. Check the latest river levels and weather forecast before setting a trip in case your favorite area gets some rain late this week. The marine forecast at the time of writing this should be good for the first half of the holiday weekend. Whiting, flounder, and bull redfish would be my recommendation in the brine. Pond fishing for bass and bream should be great, and you will be close to your vehicle for cover if afternoon storms pop up. Night fishing at one of Georgia’s PFAs is another good option, especially if catfish are your favorite target.

NORTH GEORGIA 

(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

Congrats- you’ve made it to Labor Day!   As we begin looking forward to fall’s forest colors, cooler water, and pigskin events, let’s also glance back with thankfulness to our rainy summer of 2018.  Everything has stayed full, from our headwater wild trout streams down through stocker waters, down to our bass rivers, and finally into our ponds and lakes.  More water usually means more fish habitat and more fish food.  The results of our summer rod and reel “sampling” have shown the benefits of high flows, from plump native specks to fat shoal bass.   And our littoral (shallow) spawners, like largemouth and crappie, usually get off a great spawn, with better survival of young fry, when the water is up in the grass and bushes all spring and summer, so their futures should be bright, too

During high flow years we often see warmer surface waters and lower dissolved oxygen levels in the depths of stratified reservoirs, below the thermocline.  Sport fish like trout, striped bass, and walleye will aim for cold water, and tolerate extremely low oxygen levels as they try to survive the summer.  And some won’t survive. Check out the latest lake profiles HERE.

Blueback herring are often seen bunching up in the depths right in front of the dam, and are often washed through the turbines at Hartwell and Lanier during these summers of low oxygen at their preferred temperature range.

Your reservoir bite may be off a little right now, but as fall approaches, reservoirs begin to cool off and eventually de-stratify and things should start turning around.  In the meantime, take advantage of all those waters that benefit from the wet water year.   We have a long holiday trout stocking list and a neat weekend video (planned for Facebook) to entertain you, too.

Here we go with this week’s intel:

TROUT

trout rbt Hooch TW 8-23-18 Jack
Academy Jack with a mighty fine rainbow trout from the Hooch

Headwater Trout on Top: News HERE and HERE

Hooch Tailwater: News HERE, HERE and HERE. Early afternoon water release allowed me to go back to the Hootch and fish a few hours this morning below Hwy 20 Bridge.  Using Inline Spinners I caught 2 nice Rainbows for dinner.  Regards, Academy Jack

Toccoa TW: News HERE

Stockers: Big Surprise ; and First One! Attached is a photo of my four year old grandson, Tripp. He just caught his first trout ever, from the Tallulah River. He was so excited. Thank you for what you all do! -Martha R. Hamilton, GA – See “awwww” photos below!

Best bets: John Lee and our fine federal partners  suggest these holiday hotspots: Blue Ridge and Lanier tailwaters, Mountaintown Creek, Nimblewill, Cooper, Hooch on WMA, Wildcat, Johns, Dicks and Tallulah. Complete list found HERE.

RIVER AND LAKE NEWS

River Bass: Borders’ Bigun! Okay, okay, Borders can brag.  Here’s a congratulatory note to longtime friend and supporter of GAWRD fisheries programs, Fannin angling addict Chris Borders! PS- we told y’all last week to go try river bassin.’  It looks like a few folks listened.

Ken’s Detailed Reservoir Reports: Find ‘em HERE. And just to get you interested, here is an excerpt: LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 80’s-Bass fishing is barely fair during the day mid lake and up. Early top water action has been fair up the rivers. At daylight, the bass head to the shallows and are feeding on small thread fin shad. This shallow action will last until the sun makes its way onto the water. Start the day with an all white buzz baits, cast all white, spinner baits and small ¼ ounce chrome Rat L Traps. The chrome and black back Crazy Shad silver top water lures right on the bank. Use a white Lunker Lure buzz bait to draw strikes from bass. The fish are shallow at and before daylight and so get on the water as early each morning as possible.

Hartwell: Lake Hartwell Fishing Reports

Lanier Bass: News HERE and HERE 

Lanier Stripers: Got a few reports for you, including Capt. Mack, Jeff Blair and Capt. Clay

Toona News: (Lake Allatoona Fishing Guide Report is provided by First Bite Guide Service of Lake Allatoona. When you’re ready to catch stripers and hybrids, contact Robert at 770-827-6282 or by e-mail):  Line-side fishing is getting better. The full moon we had earlier this week made fishing a little tough for a few days, but it also triggered the top water bite . We are starting to see a pretty good top water bite both early morning and again at sun down. Mid lake is fishing best right now. Look for these fish between the mouth of Kellogg’s and Clear creek. These schools are a mix bag of Stripers, Hybrids, Whites and Spots. They will eat almost anything when they come up. But our better fish are coming on Threadfins and small Gizzard shad fished on free lines. Striper Soup has both in stock. Remember this is a slow time of the year for both tackle stores and fishing guides. Please support our locals Mom and Pops business this time of year. They – We can use your business. Trolling – Good !!! The trolling bite has been my go to bite after the sun comes up. I am pulling nothing but umbrella rigs right now. Color doesn’t seem to matter. It is more of a reaction bite right now. I have been having my best luck at 145 feet behind the boat at speeds of 2.4 – 3.1 miles an hour.

IN OTHER NEWS

Outdoorsy Women News: Gals, would like you like to learn some of these outdoor sports? Here’s are two great opportunities. Becoming an Outdoors Woman (November) and Women in the Outdoors (September).

Thank You Danny!!! After 35 years of exemplary service with DNR, Armuchee District fisheries technician Danny Johnson will head into a new chapter of his life – retirement!  Danny started his DNR career in the Parks Division, working at Richard B. Russel, Bobby Brown, A.H. Stephens, and Little Ocmulgee State Parks.  In 1993, he joined the northwest Georgia Fisheries Section of WRD, where he has worked ever since.  His contributions to the Section were extensive and far-reaching.  He worked on lakes Allatoona, Blue Ridge, Carters and the major rivers of the Coosa River basin.  He assisted with fish stocking, striped bass, white bass and walleye brood fish collections, water quality monitoring, served as the kids fishing event district stocking coordinator and was responsible for the hundreds of fish attractors now dotting the lakes he worked on.  His can-do attitude, dependability, ingenuity and willingness to assist others will be greatly missed by his co-workers.  We are thankful for his years of service to the agency, the resources and the anglers of north Georgia.  For that, we congratulate him and wish him the best in retirement.   And I, his supervisor, will miss him as a dear friend and a fun guy to work with.  Congrats Danny!

Good luck over the long holiday weekend that even includes a football game or two.  Be safe on the roads and popular lakes with their holiday crowds.  Bring us back your own fish tales to celebrate next week.