Is your late summer filling up with “fall-like” things to do already? We hope you can still find time to get out there and wet a line or two this next week! Here is some recent news to know:
- New Saltwater State Record! Scott Funderburk landed a 3 lb, 11 oz vermilion snapper on Aug. 18, 2018.
- Looking for things to do in September? We have a few great recommendations!
- We had a few more folks get their Georgia Bass Slam! Congrats to Wesley Daniels and Blake Smith on this achievement. Will you be joining them on our list of successful anglers?
Let’s get to our reports! This week, we hear from Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Have a great weekend and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The Altamaha River was in great shape this weekend and provided some excellent fishing. The St. Marys has been good, and the Satilla is dropping out and should be improving over the next couple weeks if we don’t get significant rains. Get ready for some terrific river fishing this fall! Ponds and saltwater produced solid catches this week. New Moon is September 9th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
A group of renowned Waycross anglers fished the Altamaha Park area over the holiday weekend and whacked the fish. On Friday evening they did well, catching 42 bluegills and redbreasts. They ended up with 67 more fish (including some shellcrackers, channel cats, and warmouth, in addition to their redbreasts and bluegills) on Saturday morning. Their fish ate crawfish Satilla Spins (including a 3/4-pound warmouth that inhaled the little spinnerbait), crickets, and worms. On Saturday night the group ran limb lines and put it on the flatheads and channel cats. On Sunday they put 6 dozen minnows to work and fooled 24 nice crappie. They managed a few bass during the weekend, but they were on the small side. Britney at Jaycees Landing said that the bite out of the Jesup area was good over the weekend, and redbreasts, bluegill, channel catfish were tops. Donald at Altamaha Park said that about everything was biting, and that the river looked as good as it has all summer. The river level was 3.0 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.4 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on September 4th.
The river is still high, but a few fish were biting. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that some redbreasts and bream were caught in the section between Jamestown and Highway 158. Channel catfish were also landed in good numbers in the same area. The river level on September 4th at the Waycross gage was 8.0 feet and falling (80 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 10.0 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The bream and catfishing has been very good. A Waycross angler threw Satilla Spins on Friday in the Traders Hill area and caught 17 bluegills and redbreasts in a couple hours of fishing. His biggest, a purple-cheeked 3/4-pound bluegill ate a catalpa gold Satilla Spin. Catches of 20 to 30 fish per day were the norm for those pitching crickets and worms. Catfish were tearing it up again wherever you dropped rooster livers or shrimp to the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 4th was 7.6 feet and rising.
The swamp fishing remained slow this week with the high water levels on both sides. Pitching pink or yellow sallies in the boat basins will produce some fliers and warmouth, but getting out in the flooded prairies is still like finding a needle in a haystack.
Chad Lee continued with his frog pattern this weekend, catching a bunch of bass on the hollow-bodied lure in weedy Alma area ponds. His biggest was about 5 pounds. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, the bream bite was great this week for those flinging artificials and pitching crickets near shoreline vegetation. Expect the crappie bite to pick up in area ponds on cloudy and rainy days as the nighttime temperatures start to cool a little this month.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Brentz McGhin and a friend fished the St. Marys Jetties on Thursday and brought home a nice mess of fish by fishing live shrimp under a float. They ended up with 5 keeper trout (and 5 shorts), a keeper sheepshead, 3 croaker, and 4 short redfish. Trout, flounder, and reds were reported from creeks behind St. Simons Island. Tarpon fishing was slow for most this week on the southern half of our coast. Anglers in the Brunswick area caught some nice sheepshead on fiddler crabs fished around pilings. I did not receive any reports of good whiting catches, but I’m sure folks who put shrimp on the bottom caught them. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that some big sheepshead were caught under the pier this week. Toward the end of last week, a group of anglers landed 40 trout from the pier while using live shrimp. A few bull redfish showed up this week, and a few nice flounder were caught. Blue crabs were caught in good numbers again this week. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The weather was breezy and stormy over the holiday weekend, but lots of fish were caught. Look for the trout fishing to pick up this month as fish move around from the beaches and chow down on shrimp and baitfish in the estuaries. My favorite way to catch them is to put an Assassin Sea Shad under an Equalizer Float and work it around creek mouths and shell mounds along the Intracoastal Waterway. Tons of trout will be caught with live shrimp fished under a pole float, also. The rivers are getting right, and this is the first weekend where I would give it a green light to try it if you are itching to get at the panfish. My first choice would be the Altamaha, followed by the tidal St. Marys (below Folkston), with the Satilla falling in third for the upcoming weekend.
(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 hits 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 2.05 FEET, 80S
Bass fishing is fair. There is a bite on shallow water baits. Try the Spro Poppin Frogs, Zoom Super Flukes and top-water baits such as Zara Spooks and Pop R s. After the sun is up the bass go deeper. The summer structures such as rocky points close to the current and the deep brush piles are producing some fish. Big crank baits like the Model 7 or 8 Bomber Fat Free in citrus shad color or a football jig are good choices for deeper fish. A Carolina rigged Trick worm in green pumpkin will also catch fish. Try the brighter silver buzz bait or Strike King spinnerbait in shad patterns around patches of rip rap rock near the bridges first thing in the morning. Carolina rigs are main-stay lures and any Zoom lizard can work so try a few colors until the fish react.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80S
Bass fishing is fair. Look for the fish to be tight on thick cover. Get out the jerk baits, Flukes and the jigs. The bass are up in shallow water early. Use the top-water baits first and after mid-morning go out on the main lake with the crank baits, a jig, and Carolina rigs. Start off early with small shad top-water baits and slowly fish the water column down during the day. Creeks and small cuts are showing improvement and the main lake points are still good producers. Take along a variety of colors and a variety of Rapala Shad Raps, Rapala DT10’s and McSticks with three or four colors of si- inch worms. Zoom Super Flukes in pearl and the McStick jerk baits can be fished slower during the day and will get more strikes. Pick the mid-lake docks in thee cuts off the river and small point’s right in the creek mouths for the best action all day. The backs of the creeks are not producing well.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN .87 FEET, CLEAR & 80S
Bass fishing is fair. There is still a shallow bite on the Spro Poppin Frogs, Zoom Super Flukes and top-water baits such as Zara Spooks and Pop R s. With the hot days the fish will show up on the deeper, more normal summer structures such as lake dams, road beds and deep brush piles. For spotted bass use the Weedless Wonder head with a Zoom worm in greens around bridge pilings, brush piles or rocky banks with blow downs. A green pumpkin finesse worm on a Carolina rig will continue to produce fish throughout the summer. The Spy Baits are also working on 8-pound test fluorocarbon line. Try fishing the mouths of the larger creeks gravel points and shoal markers.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.76 FEET, STAINED, 80s
Bass fishing is fair. The fish are really scattered as the water temperature is cooler than normal for this time of year. Fish the backs of creeks and pockets all the way out to the main river sea walls and points. Cover a lot of water for the scattered fish. Top-water baits are still producing early and late in the day. Try a Pop R back in the pockets in the bream pattern. A small Lucky Craft Sammy in a shad color has been working best across the points and shallow flats near the mouths of creeks. The midday bite has been best with Weedless Wonders shaky heads and the jigs. A green pumpkin Zoom Trick Worm has been hard to beat in shallow brush piles around docks. A jig in green pumpkin color will get fewer bites during the day, but the fish can be bigger. Fish this jig around blow downs and docks near the main river for best results. The Oconee River arm has been better this week.
LAKE JACKSON IS .63 FEET OVER FULL, CLEAR, 80s
Bass fishing is slow. There is very little top-water action except at daybreak. Use a Pop R or a Sammy. Run main lake humps and points with Texas rigged worms and jigs. The best bite is after dark. To catch spots, downsize to a small worm fished on a Net Boy Baits 1/4 ounce. Also, use the Spy Baits on light line on the sea walls and main lake docks. Use Screwball jig heads and fish rocks near the dam. You can find a few magnum spots slow rolling an all-black Strike King spinnerbait over brushed up and rocky ledges, points and humps. A big black buzz bait can also catch a few nice largemouth after midnight.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
We hope that everyone made the most of their long, warm, and dry Labor Day weekend. We had a lot of streams stocked with trout and the larger rivers were low and clear enough for some great wade and float fishing. While the rain chances are increasing slightly for our week ahead, there should still be plenty of dry hours and clear waters to accommodate your fishing plans. Here we go:
Labor Day Monster: Check it out HERE.
Headwater Trout: Headwater trout remain a best bet. Streams are lower and clearer due to the lack of rain over the last week, so your summer stealth technique will be much more important than the fly pattern or lure brand that you’re throwing. More news HERE and HERE.
Stockers: Our trout trucks are taking a break this week. Stocker fans’ best bets will be chasing the leftovers from weeks past, especially in remote stream reaches where some fish should have washed down: Tallulah’s boulder fields, Wildcat in the gorge below the campgrounds, Cooper Creek Scenic Area, West Fork Chattooga away from the road, and many of the small streams on our master list that are stocked lightly and fished even lighter.
Smithgall’s Good News: The main road culvert project is moving along very well as we repair our infrastructure from the damages incurred during Tropical Storm Alberto last May. We should be re-opened by the time of the first fishing day on Wednesday, October 3rd. We have resumed accepting 15 anglers for each reservation. -Will Wagner, manager, Smithgall Woods State Park
Hooch Tailwater: Hey Jeff, Last week, prior to Labor Day weekend we finished up our trout stocking on the Chattahoochee River. Fish were stocked from behind the Buford Trout Hatchery downstream to the Don White Park (under GA 400) in Roswell. We have not been stocking at the Lower Pool Park, right below Buford Dam, due to low dissolved oxygen readings, which are typical of this time of year. Anglers have been catching trout below Bowen’s Island, behind the hatchery, and areas downstream where oxygen levels are higher after the river re-oxygenates through some shoals. (report from Andy Wentworth, Fisheries Technician, Buford Hatchery)
Editor’s Note: with some occasional outmigration of bluebacks at Hartwell and Buford dams, it’s a good time to toss some six-inch white streamers or silver Rapalas. The turbidity from lake stratification will hide the predators and have them come out to feed. And it will also hide YOU from them!
Big Hooch Fan: We had a great time this week, landing three different species of bass, a pickerel, a striper, a gar and two kinds of trout from the Hooch from downtown Atlanta to above Lanier. The fishery really is nuts though. Not many places you can go catch a few 16 to 20 inch wild browns in a couple hours. That just shows what an incredible resource it is. We are blessed! –NGTO’s “Browniez”
Another Hooch Fan: Decided to hit a Hooch trib and look for natives. Found them- shoalies. –FishinBub
RIVERS AND LAKES
Slamming River Bass: Dredger capitalized on his long weekend by trekking across the northern border for some smallies and then hanging close to home for some fine Georgia natives. He had so much fun, he pulled out the long-forgotten tape measure in his Orvis sling pack and began his own journey toward a Georgia Bass Slam- on the fly! A chunky nine-inch shoalie started his documentation, but that photo was deleted from the Iphone when his BIG brother inhaled the white popper at dark and stretched the tape to 18 inches, the best of his summer shoalie season. A fat nine-inch Chattahoochee bass added to the Monday evening fun. Two down, at least three more species to go! Do you wanna try, too? Our Bass Slam rules are HERE.
Dredger also shared his successful fly flinging tips with us. He said that most bass took siestas during the high sun and the midriver bite was nonexistent, especially while tubers and canoeists floated through. He found some sparse activity under the streamside shade or in deep, dark water. If the water was shady and shallow, the fish would look up. If it was deep, he did much better dredging.
But when the shadows started falling at 6PM, it got a whole lot better and he flowed those shadows across the river for success. And the last hour of dark was great on top. If the water was fast, fish hit a stripped popper. If it was slow and glassy-slick, they ate the dead-drifted popper or Kent’s stealth bomber.
Ole Dredge felt that river bassers only need three bugs for summer success: a white popper (or stealth bomber) for the surface, a big (#4) black woolly bugger for midcolumn, and a #4 brown hairy fodder for bottom bumping. And when he gets greedy, he’ll drop the bugger two feet off the back of the fodder and double-up his offerings to deep bass. See the pic of his go-to bugs and their affordable, waterproof home.
Lanier Bass: News HERE.
Lanier Stripers: (From Steve Scott of TeamLanier.com) – With Stripers staying down 40′ deep in their comfort zone per the DNR Dissolved Oxygen reports getting an Umbrella Rig down to them was a challenge. Discussions with Capt Mack Farr brought new light to the topic of getting deeper than the usual 22′ depth using his 9 arm Umbrella Rig. I took off all of the 1oz jigs and used 9 – 2oz jigs instead on a 3oz rig making it a total of 21 ounces and then let it out only 100′ at 3 mph. That put us down to 40′ and voile Fish On. It was an incredible fight even though the Striper was only 25″. Reeling in all that extra weight along with the fish was intensive. I threw the boat in neutral, struggled to get the rod out of the holder and handed it to Don, frantically reeling in the other Umbrella Rig before it could get hung in a tree. I reached down and grabbed the rig hoisting it up into the boat fish and all. Don and I high-fived, took some pictures, measured him then released the Striper with the Seaqualizer back into his comfort zone. We found Stripers at 40’ deep around main lake submerged plateaus marked by hazard markers dropping off to 90’. You should troll the Umbrella Rig along the drop off. Be sure not to bury your rod in the holder as it is difficult to get it out since you are not used to this much weight on the Umbrella Rig.
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Get Ken’s Latest Reports HERE.
Small Lake Intel: News HERE.
Blue Ridge Smallie Conversation:
John – Attached is the Trip Sheet for the last group of SMB that we produced this year. We had a good year and we hope to do even better next year! –Carlos Echevarria (Hatchery Manager), Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery
Carlos – Absolutely great job with the smallmouth this year! Our fisheries technician, Mark Bowen, stocked your last batch of 7,000 fingerlings into Lake Blue Ridge on September 6. FYI, I got a text message just yesterday from a local angler on Blue Ridge saying that he’s starting to see our young stocked smallmouth (last year’s fish). Very encouraging! Hopefully they will start to show up in our sampling as well. I’ll let you know. Thanks for the partnership. –WRD fisheries biologist John Damer
We ARE Family – The DNR Family: Working for GADNR has been a blessing because of the caring and selfless professionals who surround me. One such team member was Game Management Technician Coley Cooper. Big ‘ole Coley was the longtime area manager of Cooper Creek WMA. Then he was promoted to the manager of Clybel Farms WMA (you may know the place as Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center), where he got our wildlife programs up and running very well before retiring. Coley is a nice guy, a friend, and a great family man. And now our DNR family is returning his caring through our own thoughts and prayers for his family. You see, his son, Matt, was injured this week in the line of duty as a Covington police officer. Our DNR cohorts down there with the family this week said that the outpouring of Georgians’ thoughts and prayers is making a positive impact on both Matt and his immediate family. Feel free to offer your support to the family of Matt Cooper, too. I know that my friend, Coley, will appreciate it.
Sturgeon Long Haul: Jeff, Here are a few pics from our sturgeon stocking trip last Friday. We stocked 3,500 St Clair River (Michigan) fish, grown from eggs to fingerlings at Genoa (WI) National Hatchery, into the Coosawattee River below Carters Lake. Fish looked great and hauled back to Georgia well for our region transport crew, which took the 16-hour (one-way) drive. We’ll hopefully see the fish back there, as adults in our river samples, in 15-20 years! For more information on GA WRD’s sturgeon restoration program, click HERE.
Looking Ahead: Start getting ready for fall and early winter stripers, up shallow. Here’s something to encourage you to change out lines, sharpen hooks on your Bomber Long A’s, and tie up some more Something Else’s. Enjoy Henry’s spaghetti on his charts! How come my graph never looks like this?
Another Big Win for Our Team! We want to end this week on a high note – so here’s our
big win for the week: thanks to License Revenue funds, we welcomed Zach Moran to our staff! Zach fills the recently restored trout biologist position, stationed at Burton Hatchery . He has a BS from VA Tech, a MS from Arkansas Tech, and a nice dose of excitement over his new job. He loves to hunt and fish, and will pursue anything from wild trout on dry flies to big ole New River muskies on jerkbaits as long as my forearm. Zach filled out paperwork on Day 1 (Tuesday), took the grand region tour with me on Wednesday, and then shocked specks yesterday with Anthony and Leon as part of his work unit’s annual, standardized trout stream sampling program. Until we get him his own phones, you can track Zach down via Fish Tech Leon Brotherton’s office phone at 706-947-1503. Congrats and welcome, Zach!
Special Note-We also would like to thank senior biologist Anthony Rabern for voluntarily assuming the trout biologist duties during our darkest days of the Great Recession, and handling that job so well for a decade!
Good luck this week. Let’s lift up Matt Cooper and his family, and also welcome young Zach to the DNR family. Let’s s also hope for a few showers and some cooling nights to put our hot summer of 2018 to bed. Don’t miss September’s opportunities for river wade & yak fishing trips while the water’s still warm enough for swimming and for a great Dark 30 bass bite. Good luck, remember your headlamp, and thanks for buying your fishing licenses!