Most of us might be watching for more Hurricane Florence updates this weekend, but in the event you do get outside, we hope you are able to throw out a fishing line or two. 

This week, we have  fishing reports from Central and Southeast Georgia. Be safe and if the weather allows, Go Fish Georgia!

CENTRAL 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 DOWN 3.21 FEET, CLEAR, 80S 

Bass fishing is barely fair.  We need some rain.  If we get some rain the bass and the bait fish are both getting more active.  Small Lucky Craft Redemption spinner baits and Sebile Swimmers in the fast sinking shad pattern will work.  The Rapala X Raps, Rapala DT6 and the Speed Shads will work but keep moving.  Fish the long run out points, small islands and main lake humps and use the Lowrance Structure Scan Down Scan to find these gold mine areas.  Fish points with any wood close by.  Bass are up shallow on the points early, but there has to be a deep drop off close by.  Try Trick worms, buzz baits and top-water baits like a Sammy or the Gunfish.  Find the bait and you’ll find the fish. 

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 2.83 FEET, 80S 

Bass fishing is fair.  Early in the morning fish the flats with Zoom Super Flukes and Skitter Walks then move to the ditches while using an X Rap and small crank bait like a Rapala DT6 or #5 Shad Rap.  By afternoon move to main lake humps and ledges and use Rapala DT10, DT14 and Carolina rigged plastics.  A slow presentation and a lot of determination will be necessary.  Any windblown area will work the best along with areas that sport the most shade.  Take along a variety of colors.  During tough fishing conditions, color can sometimes be the one key factor for catching fish.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80S 

(The Lake Oconee fishing report is from Captain Mark Smith at Reel Times Guide Service)–Lake Oconee is full, the water temperature is 83-85 and the lake is clear even up the rivers.  As of today nothing has changed on the lake from last week.  BUT if we get a lot of rain from the storms things will change.  So keep an eye on the weather and hang on.  We could get a lot of water or no water.  We should know the outcome by the first of next week.   With the shorter days the water temperature has stopped rising.

Bass: The bass have started to move out of the deep water and a few are chasing bait into the coves and creeks all over the lake.  A buzz bait at first light will still produce for the first hour of daylight.  Soft plastics fished under docks and around wood structure in the mouth of the coves mid-lake will produce during daylight hrs.  Crank baits fished around bridge rip rap will also produce when Georgia Power is pulling water in the afternoons.

Striper: Striper fishing is poor.  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 off the usual location 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 ft. deep.  Down-lining crappie minnows into tree tops and on ledges on the main lake at 12-15 ft. 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 2.29 FEET, CLEAR & 80S 

Bass fishing is barely fair and the fish are very scattered and roaming.  This is when a variety of baits may have to be used to find a suitable pattern.  But any pattern may fall apart after an hour.  There can be some fish suspended in 12 to 14 feet of water over deeper water down lake.  Look for the bass down lake in the deep water on old road beds and pond dams.  The bass are chasing small shad.  If the lower lake is not working, head up the Chattahoochee River and fish the deep clay points on the outside bend of the river around Ringers and up with a Carolina rig or deep diving Rapala DT10 shad or baby bass crank bait.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.75 FEET, STAINED, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  We need rain.  Use the Zoom Old Monster worms Texas rigged and a jig head and worm on shallow docks in the Optimist Island area of Little River.   A frog bite had started on the grass beds but until the rains come back this is barley fair but could produce a big fish.  Slip a fluke on a jig head under the docks up in Little River and then focus on shallow water docks and points in the mouth of Rooty Creek, Crooked Creek and Beaver Dam Creek.  Also try the ¼ ounce shad pattern Rat L Trap, a spinnerbait and Texas rigged worm.  A small ¼ ounce all white buzz bait will fool the fish on any rocks on rip rap or on bridges.  For a big bite, try the black 1/4 ounce Strike King Bitsy flip jig with a Zoom Speedcraw in June bug around docks in the Little River Park and the marina area just north of Highway 441 to Sinclair Harbor. 

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .74 FEET, CLEAR 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The spots are more active than the largemouth down lake.  Fish out on the points out to the 15 foot depth range.  Actively feeding fish are holding in 3 to 8 foot of water.  Bluegill and crawfish seem to be preferred forage.  Try a Bandit 200, in some variety of chartreuse, if natural patterns are slow to produce.  Work your crank through wood, rocks, and around the docks.  Always take the opportunity to work the wood and docks more thoroughly with your plastic and jig of choice.  Use the shaky head rig for all around plastic fishing and trick worms in watermelon seed will work.  Throw the rig in the blow downs and be sure to let it soak a while before working it up and out through the tree limbs.  Try fishing early morning with a chartreuse buzz bait, but you may find a preference for spinner baits or shallow running cranks.  Start fishing main lake banks and points, but continue back into the creeks and pockets from there.  Work docks, brush piles, riprap, rocky banks, and blow downs with a mix of plastic and crank baits.  You should find fish at least half way back in many pockets, if they have favorable depth.  Cover water quickly for best results and crank the shallower diving Bandit 100 during the early hour.  Also, all the lakes deeper sea walls are good targets as well as any rip rap and rocky areas close by.  

BIG LAZER PFA (More Information HERE)  

  • Fun, Free Event: Be sure to check out the list of events, including a fun Kids Fishing event at Big Lazer PFA, for National Hunting and Fishing Day on Sept. 22.
  • Night Fishing: Night fishing opportunities on Georgia Public Fishing Areas will end on September 30.
  • Surface water temperature: 82° F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 28”
  • Water Level: Down -8” from full pool 

Bass: Fair- The mid-late summer heat has slowed the bass fishing a bit.  However, with fall nearing this month, the bass feeding should increase.  As this happens fishing opportunities will also increase.  When targeting bass, try shad as well as other fish look-alike baits at a variety of depths.  Try pitching crank baits and plastic worms near the channels on the upper end as this method has produced quality bites.  

Crappie: Poor- There have been very few reports of crappie catches. Crappie are fairly difficult to pinpoint and target. However, the ability to utilize submersible lights while night fishing may prove to be a valuable and productive tool to catch crappie. Attempt to locate the depth they are hanging out and drop down live bait such as minnows. Remember, only two poles per person are allowed! 

Bream: Good- Bream fishing is generally good this time of year and that trend should continue with cooler weather approaching.  Woody structures in shallower water all around the lake are good target areas.  Live bait such as crickets and worms are extremely productive.  Also, small jigs, grubs or spinner type baits can be used to entice a bream bite.  Bream fishing is one of the more popular fishing experiences for young or beginning anglers so be sure to bring your child with you to the lake!  Bream fishing with light tackle can increase the experience even further! 

Catfish: Fair to Good- The water is still warm so that means the cats are still biting fairly well.  Channel catfish are located throughout most of the lake but for best results try locating the channel in the upper end of the lake or the rip rap along the dam.  You can fish on the bottom or at varying levels of the water column.  Chicken liver, cut bait or even shrimp are successful channel catfish baits. Remember, gas motors are allowed but at idle speed only!!

MCDUFFIE PFA (Additional Information HERE

  • Fun, Free Event: Be sure to check out the list of events, including a fun Kids Fishing Event at McDuffie PFA, for National Hunting and Fishing Day on Sept. 22.
  • Temperature range is hovering between 84.
  • Water Visibility: 15 – 54+ inches
  • Night Fishing: Night fishing at Jones Lake stops on September 30th. Anglers who want to fish in the coolest part of the day are fishing at night. All parking is outside of MCDPFA main gate at Jones Lake for night fishing.
  • Fish Feeders: The fish feeders feed 5 times day, 6 AM, 9 AM, 12 PM, 9 PM, and 12 AM
  • Fish Cleaning Station: The Fish Cleaning Station is open. Please inform MCDPFA staff (Call 706-595-1684 and leave a message ) if it’s not working. 

Bass: Bass action has picked up.  An angler caught and released a bass 8.8 pounds Sunday; another first visit angler caught 2 four-pound bass while another angler caught and released a bass over seven pounds in Willow Lake.  The bass are feeding on shad early mornings and late evenings in Willow, Jones, Clubhouse and Breambuster Lakes.  In Lake Rodbender, the bass activity is still slow.  The bass will begin moving into theirfFall 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.

Bream: 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.  Anglers are moving around in boats or along the shoreline to find feeding bream with some success. 

Channel Catfish: Catfish are being caught across the PFA! The catfish action is steady with anglers catching catfish in every lake. 

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; which means if all stripers are under 22 inches all 15 stripers can be kept.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

It’s time to fish one of our awesome rivers. Whether you choose the Altamaha, tidal St. Marys or upper/middle Satilla you should catch some fish this weekend. Saltwater has been good, but Hurricane Florence will likely squelch that late this week. Ponds produced some good bass and bream catches. First quarter moon is September 16th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

A group of anglers fished limb lines last Saturday above Jesup and caught 5 good channel catfish on cut baitfish. Britney at Jaycees Landing said that the shellcracker bite is on. Pink worms produced the fish. Redbreasts and bream were also biting, and they ate mostly crickets. The crappie bite fired up this week, with anglers fooling them using live minnows. Catfishing has been good, but the size has been on the small side. Donald at Altamaha Park said that bream and redbreasts were caught with crickets, Satilla Spins, and beetlespins. Some big roe mullet were caught on the sandbars by anglers using green giant worms. The river level was 2.5 feet and falling (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.6 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 11th.

SATILLA RIVER

I took my son to the Jamestown area on Saturday. The river level was perfect for getting around in a motorboat, and the water clarity was decent (still like coffee with cream, but light on the cream). We ended up catching 9 redbreasts (3 were big roosters), 2 bluegill on the small side, and an 11-inch bass, all on Satilla Spins. We tried several colors, but the fish primarily ate red/white and crawfish 1/8-oz. versions. We caught the first redbreast on a rainbow, but that was it for that color. The river has stayed fairly level, so you should be able to get around decently again this weekend. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreast and bream bites were very good. On Saturday an angler fishing the Hwy 121 section of the river caught some of the biggest redbreasts he has ever caught using crickets. He also caught some big bream. Good numbers of panfish and catfish were caught from the Blackshear Bridge area, as well. The river level on September 11th at the Waycross gage was 7.2 feet and falling (80 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 9.1 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

Crickets produced some great bream and redbreast catches, while shrimp was the ticket for catfish. The upper river is still a little high, but the tidal portion below Folkston is at a good level. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 11th was 7.7 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

Warmouth were reported by anglers fishing crickets around the bridges out Swamp Road. The Okefenokee 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.

LOCAL PONDS

Chad Lee had some good bass catches again this weekend, primarily on hollow-bodied frogs. His biggest was a 7-pounder! Mallory Robertson caught another big bass that pulled the scales down past 7 pounds. She fooled it with a plastic crawfish. The nighttime trophy bass bite is still going on. Fling a black buzzbait, especially on dark nights, and hold on. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bass bit in the mornings, then bream took top honors during the day. Bass and bream were caught in Shrine Lake in good numbers.

PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (NEAR TIFTON) – More Information HERE

The catfish bite is hot right now. An angler fishing over the weekend on Lake Patrick limited out (5 fish) on big channel catfish (5 to 10 pounds) by fishing right before and slightly into dark. I didn’t catch what their bait was, but it was probably chicken livers, cut bait, or worms. Anglers reported catching some big catfish from Lake Beaver, also. If you have considered night fishing at the area, you’d better go soon, as the area will be open to night fishing through the end of the month. Be sure to check out the list of events, including an amazing Outdoor Adventure Day at Paradise PFA, for National Hunting and Fishing Day on Sept. 22.

SE GA BJ Hilton Sheepshead 9 18
BJ Hilton caught this 6 1/2-pound sheepshead from a Brunswick pier this week using a fiddler crab on a jighead. Sheepshead fishing will pick up as the weather cools.   

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

Hurricane Florence will be affecting the southeast coast this weekend, so check reports before fishing the brine. Bull whiting, trout, flounder, and reds were reported from creeks behind St. Simons Island this week. Sheepshead up to 7 pounds ate fiddler crabs fished around pilings in the Brunswick area. A Waycross angler flung a fly and sight-fished an oversized redfish in the Brunswick marshes during the big tides on Friday. A big tarpon was caught off the beach over the weekend, but tarpon fishing was slow for most. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the flounder have arrived. On Tuesday an angler caught quite a few flounder in the 2-3 pound range on finger mullet. Croaker, whiting, and bull reds were also caught from the pier. Blue crabs were still numerous. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

I would have to recommend river fishing for the weekend, as long as we don’t get lots of rain from Hurricane Florence. My favorites for this weekend would be anywhere on the Altamaha for bass or panfish, the upper Satilla for redbreasts, or the tidal St. Marys for bluegills or catfish. The marine forecast winds aren’t too bad for the weekend at the time of writing this, but I would give it a few more days to calm down. Usually the churn has saltwater blown out (muddy) for several days. Pond fishing for bass or panfish should be good again this weekend.