Yep. Still hot outside. But, just think. It’s Georgia, we will be complaining about how cold it is in no time once fall really hits (right?). Let’s make the best of it…and how can we make the best of it? By going fishing, of course!
- HERE are your plans for tomorrow (Saturday): Check Out All the Fun, Free Events Happening Statewide on Sept. 22 for National Hunting and Fishing Day .
- Tomorrow is also a FREE Fishing Day! On this day, residents do NOT need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state including lakes, streams, ponds and public fishing areas.
This week, we have reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Get out there 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)
Congratulations to Waycross angler Justin Bythwood. Justin won the co-angler division of the 2-day BFL bass tournament held on Lake Lanier this weekend. He won by 2 pounds! It’s still river time. Catches were very good from flowing water this week for the few who went. Full Moon is September 24th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Britney at Jaycees Landing said that anglers were catching lots of crappie on minnows. On Monday a group caught over 30 specks fishing treetops in the main river. Catfish were still caught in good numbers, as were bream. Bream were fooled with crickets, while about any usual catfish bait produced the whiskerfish. J.J. the new operator at Altamaha Park said that catfish bite has been on fire. Limb liners did great for channels and flatheads by using goldfish as bait. Rod and reel fishing in the deep holes produced lots of channel cats on rooster liver and shrimp. On Monday, a boatload of anglers limited out on bream by pitching crickets. The river level was 2.2 feet and falling (86 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.9 feet and rising (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 18th.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreasts are killing Satilla Spins and froggy beetle spins. Big bream ate crickets, while Rattling Rogue plugs fooled some good bass. Channel cats were caught on shrimp and rooster livers. In the middle river (Atkinson area), the river is falling and the fishing has been improving. On Sunday an angler tied his boat to a tree limb and fished a deep hole to catch 13 channel cats and a big shellcracker on worms. The key is finding that magical limb to tie up to! The river level on September 18th at the Waycross gage was 7.0 feet and falling (81 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 7.1 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Big redbreasts and bream were fooled with crickets. Creels were typically in the 25 to 30 fish per trip range. Catfish were caught about anywhere you put a shrimp, liver, or worm on the bottom. The upper river in the St. George section is at a perfect level (at the time of writing this) for redbreasts, and I expect that bite to be good late this week. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 18th was 4.9 feet and falling.
WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER (NEAR VALDOSTA)
John Biagi of Covington came south and fished the river south of Valdosta with a friend this week. He finished out his Georgia Bass Slam by catching a Suwannee bass, one of the 10 species of black bass in Georgia. The duo caught a total of 5 Suwannee bass and 4 largemouth bass. The best lures were a shaky-head 4-inch stick worm and a crawfish colored 1/8-oz. Satilla Spin. The river level at the Pinetta, Florida gage on September 18th was 6.9 feet and falling (81 degrees).
Warmouth were caught from the bridges out Swamp Road again this week. The Okefenokee fishing remained slow due to the high water levels on east side. On the west side, the catfish bite picked up some with the falling water.
Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond on Tuesday evening and had 4 bass in the 3-pound range by flinging stick worms (Senkos). He had a couple other smaller bass on hollow-bodied frogs, but that bite was slower for him this week. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, big bream were tops this week. Crickets were the deal. Some bass ate Whopper Plopper topwaters and live shiners. Pink worms produced some good catfish stringers. Bass and bream fishing was reportedly good in Shrine Lake again this week.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
The highly-anticipated J.A.K.E.S/Outdoor Adventure Day will be held at Paradise Public Fishing Area this Saturday as part of the statewide celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. Tons of outdoor activities are planned for the morning, so bring a fishing rod and your favorite bait and enjoy the festivities. There will be activities from sun-up through noon. The catfish bite has been good this week, as have the bream (but they were on the small side). The bass bite has been off and on, with most fish caught on finesse plastics. A few topwater bass were caught in the early mornings.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
An angler fishing one of the many small piers in the St. Simons area caught a 5-pound black drum Tuesday evening using fiddler crabs. In the Brunswick area, anglers reported catching tripletail, trout, redfish, and flounder behind St. Simons Island. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the big bull redfish have arrived. Most were caught with cut bait and shrimp. Trout were caught in good numbers. Whiting, croakers, sharks, and sheepshead rounded out the catches this week. Daniel Malcom fished this weekend and caught 10 sharks, 8 whiting, and 10 croakers and also cast-netted a bunch of mullet from the pier. Blue crabs were still numerous. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The highly-anticipated J.A.K.E.S/Outdoor Adventure Day will be held at Paradise Public Fishing Area this Saturday as part of the statewide celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. For more information, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at 912-285-6094. River fishing should be great again this weekend. The Altamaha system is getting to a perfect level, and the water is greening up. Bass or catfishing on the Altamaha, redbreasts on the middle Satilla, or catfish on the St. Marys would be my top picks for this weekend. In saltwater, it is time to check out the seatrout bite. The fish will be concentrated in the creeks and shell mounds off the Intracoastal Waterway for the next few months, and it is a great time to catch them! On days when thunderstorms are predicted, find a pond to fish for bass or bream so that you can quickly get to cover if a storm pops up.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
September? Where are you? It seems like August hasn’t left yet. Despite the continued heat, we’ve had some good fishing opportunities over the last few weeks. And we were very, very blessed to have Florence steer to our northeast and not drop the buckets of rain on us that our NC neighbors now suffer through.
Please keep our fishing buddies across the border in your prayers as they deal with catastrophic flooding. Hopefully, with their resilience and our support, they’ll get back on their feet soon.
Now back to Georgia. Maybe fall will pay attention to the calendar and emerge soon. And while we are still baking in the afternoons, I’ve felt a few glimmers of hope. First, the days are shorter and Dark30 now happens earlier, around 6:30 or 7PM. We can go hit that evening bite right after work, quit at 8 or 830, and be in bed at a decent hour to tackle the next day without a sleep deficit. Second, the nights are starting to cool off. Do you see these sixties?
That cooler air should start stirring our north Georgia sport fish, so the coming weeks should see some better catch rates among us. Your best bets this week are 1) the great outdoor events, below, 2) headwater trout, and 3) river bass, bream, and stripers. Big lakes will take a lot longer to cool off, so they are still in summer mode and remain very challenging to fish right now.
The big events this week are the BASS-masters coming to Lake Chatuge and all of our activities to celebrate Saturday, National Fishing and Hunting Day. Note that Saturday is also our third and last FREE fishing day for Georgia residents this year. Grab your kids and take advantage of Saturday’s menu of outdoor fun. Plenty of fishing and fish management news follows, so let’s dive into it, early this week, so you can make your own plans ASAP. Here we go:
BASS Masters at Chatuge – – Even KVD! The BASS major leaguers’, its Elite series, is coming to Lake Chatuge this week. Don’t miss this chance to meet the pros and learn some of their top tips. Check out all the news, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
Alternative Activities: National Hunting and Fishing Day – Unicoi OAD Alternatives. Please recall that we had to cancel this year’s event due to Tropical Storm Alberto’s spring damages and ongoing site repairs at Unicoi State Park. Here’s a list of local opportunities to help disappointed Unicoi OAD fans to have a great time outdoors on Saturday:
- Buford Dam Kids Fishing Event
- Trout Fishing – Smith Creek upstream from Unicoi Lake
- Unicoi Adventure Lodge Activities
- Trout Fishing- Wildcat Creek near Lake Burton Hatchery
Headwater Trout Report: Check it out HERE.
“Shocking” Speck News: Did you know Georgia has approximately 4,000 miles of trout streams? A way for biologists to collect fish and assess their abundance and condition in these streams is electrofishing. Here Region 1 fisheries biologists and technicians use backpack electroshockers to collect trout from one of those headwaters streams. Fish are measured, weighed, and safely released to swim another day! Go on your fall hunt for these headwater jewels via our WRD trout stream interactive map, found HERE.
Labor Day Leftovers: Blayne and I decided to fish the Tallulah first when we got there in the morning. We started catching fat rainbows and browns left and right. These Labor Day leftovers were everywhere. Even caught some natives. We decided to hit a trib for more wild fish around 2:30 and entered from the part where it flows out. Managed to catch some nice little wild rainbows to top off our day. -Lumis
Hooch Tailwater News:
- Another big brown HERE
- More News
- More big browns: top secret intel that crossed my Iphone screen indicated that 22-28 inch trophies were in full feeding mode last weekend. Leave your 6X tippet and midge flies at home, grab your big lures and articulated streamers, and go break the twenty-inch mark yourselves this fall.
- Hooch Tailwater Extras: Thanks to a great year of fingerling trout production at state and federal hatcheries, we had some extra fish available this fall, after keeping enough fish to grow for next year’s catchable (10-inch) trout stockings. Yesterday, Buford Hatchery staff stocked surplus rainbow trout fingerlings (3.5 inches) into the upper Lake Lanier Tailwater. Hopefully some of them will survive and grow on a steady supply of midge larvae, and show up on the end of anglers’ lines over the next few years. Lanier Tailwater trouters should on the lookout for small rainbow trout that will start looking like wild fish in the months to come. We appreciate their purchases of fishing licenses and Trout Unlimited license plates that help fund the Georgia trout program.
River Bassin’: Hi Jeff, I floated from XXX to XXX Bridge today on the upper Hooch. The big fish today were a 19+ shoal bass that I caught and a 20+ spot that my buddy caught. There were many other smaller, mostly shoal bass, that we caught too. I was with the group last week tagging fish on the Chattahoochee and contributed to their count. From Alex W
Rabunite Recipe for River Bassin’: Check it out HERE.
Dredger’s Fly-Bass Slam: Dredger reported last night (17th) that he finally found success with the Georgia Bass Slam, on the fly. He has submitted his catches to Rookie Biologist Roop and awaits the final DNR referee ruling. He offered a few hints to y’all on the “where and how” of a successful Fly Bass Slam and they follow:
- Shoal: Dark30 on the upper Hooch a couple weeks ago had shoal bass eating white poppers. As they ate, Dredger remembered this Bass Slam contest and decided to pull his tape measure from his sling pack. His slam had started! First up – a chunky 9-10 incher. Taped and photographed. Check. He culled the pic about ten casts later when an 18-inch pig inhaled his big white popper, dead-drifted in a flat, glassy pool. The Chestatee, when clear, is also a good spot to check off this species from the list.
- Chattahoochee: on that same shoalie trip, a nine-inch Chat inhaled the popper in a slick behind a midstream boulder, and Dredge checked his second box. Chat’s are usually higher in the watershed than shoalies, so aim for the Hooch above Highway 115, even through Helen and up into Smith at Unicoi Park. It’s hard to find a big one, so be ready to persevere.
- Bartrams: They are THE bass of the Tooga drainage. Dredge found his in a big Tooga trib, and muttered something about “a park with a big hole in it.” He also mentioned the number “76” regarding his past highway travels to Bartramland.
- Spot: this was actually a consolation prize during last week’s failed smallie mission to the Toccoa DH. Local intel has it that the smallies are found in better bass water above and below the DH section. Dredge had caught a couple smallies in the DH reach while trouting in the fall and winter, but none of them came out to play last Saturday. Luckily, local buddy DialDrew was home, and the young flyrodder salvaged Dredger’s day by putting him on a chunky spot that inhaled a brown hairy fodder, stripped through a pool. Spots are all over most of our north GA reservoirs; try the mouths of cool streams entering the lakes.
- Largemouth: the easiest, most abundant, no-brainer species turned out to be the hardest! And an obsession. Dredge went yakking two weekends ago to Unicoi Lake to seal the deal and bring home his Slam Certificate. And his white stealth bomber attracted many bass- all runts. He went through six shorts before landing a 12.5 inch bass that was so anorexic, he was too embarrassed to submit a photo. Last Sunday evening, he returned for a rematch in the misty rain and only caught two runts. Guru accompanied him with a spin outfit and did slightly better on dredged soft plastics, thus pouring salt in the wound of the defeated flyrodder. Monday (9/17), after work, found Dredge back in his Yak, on a revenge trip. This time he pulled out a bigger white popper and popped it to call up big’uns from the depths. The first fish was 11.5 inches. Is this a joke? Unicoi Lake was yanking his chain and laughing at him. Finally, right at dusk, a chunky 13-incher took a bullet for his team and inhaled the popper. Mission accomplished. Obsession over. Certificate to come??? With Dredger’s Bass Slam luck, it will likely be lost in the mail, or sent to the wrong address….…. probably Unicoi Park. May you have better luck with your own Bass Slam!
Georgia Bass Slam How-To: Here’s everything you need to know to achieve the Bass Slam yourself. It’s a lot of fun, so give it a try before November’s cool water starts to cool off the bite for many river bass species.
Lanier Stripers: (From Steve Scott at TeamLanier) — Bait shop didn’t have the large Gizzard Shad I wanted to use up river today. I had to settle for large Rainbow Trout 15” long. I also got a dozen and a half Blueback Herring and a couple bags of ice to keep the trout at 55° in the bait tank. We stopped at Rabbitown for some nourishment on the way to the Clark’s Bridge ramp. When we came up on the ramp the area was closed due to a large scale regatta that was to take place this morning. Having no other choice we headed for Don Carter state park to launch the boat. Of course this put us way up the river from Clark’s Bridge. We launched and headed north. We put out a small spread including 2 of the large trout out on Planer Boards and a couple of unweighted Freelines with the Blueback Herring. After pulling only ten minutes the port side board went under. Dave grabbed the rod and started reeling like a fiend and pumping the rod. BIG MISTAKE. I tried shouting out commands but was too late. It had to be a big Striper to take that 15” trout. Lesson learned. We continued heading north. Water temperature was 84° and the average water depth was only 13’. Shortly after we started getting Stripers on our Freelines. When we reached the rock wall it was time to either go on to Lula or turn back towards Clark’s Bridge and run our Lead Core lines in the 50’ depths. We chose the latter and pulled 2 two ounce Bucktail Jigs with Lime Ice paddle tails out 5 & 6 colors. This was a good bet as we got another Striper. It was a short run with the Lead Core so we decided to go back to pulling boards and Freelines. Almost out of bait and a few rain clouds heading our way we decided to call it a day. We caught 5 Stripers today and had a lot of fun doing so.
Lanier Bass: Click HERE.
Big Nottely Cat! Check it out HERE.
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Check HERE for his Friday updates
Future Toona Bass and Crappie Habitat: More than 1,000 aquatic plants were planted in the Tanyard Creek area of Lake Allatoona last week. Nearly two dozen volunteers, US Army Corps of Engineers staff, and WRD- Fisheries biologists and technicians completed the work. The plants were obtained from the aquatics green house at WRD’s Walton State Fish Hatchery (funded by a grant from Yamaha Corporation) and included a mixture of native species such as American water willow and button bush. They were planted in the shallow drawdown zone of the lake, which will be inundated by 1-3 feet of water when the lake returns to full pool next year. The plants are expected to naturally spread along the shallow shoreline and will provide beneficial habitat for young bass, bream and crappie in this aging reservoir. A similar planting conducted last year in the Coopers Branch area of Allatoona yielded positive results.
Hatchery Sturgeon Video: Watch it HERE.
Free Fishing Classes In October: Ken Sturdivant will be hosting FREE Fishing classes at Forsyth County Library Branches. These seminars will cover Bass Fishing, Striper Fishing, Crappie Fishing, Fly Fishing and Sonar. Anglers DO NOT need to pre-register. Please come to the event 30 minutes prior to start time. All events are subjects to change without notice. These are the dates, times, topics and locations:
- Thursday, October 4, 2018: Post Road Branch (5010 Post Road, Cumming, GA 30040): 7 pm, The Basics of Striper fishing.
- Sunday October 14, 2018: Hampton Park Branch (5345 Settingdown Road, Cumming, GA 30041), 2 to 4 pm, Basics of SONAR.
- Sunday, October 21, 2018: Sharon Forks Branch (2820 Old Atlanta Road, Cumming, GA 30041), 2 to 4 pm, Basic Bass lures.
Missed a Past Edition of the WRD Weekly Fishing Report? Don’t worry, our past reports and nice photos are right HERE. In fact, the past is often a great predictor of the future. Before my quartet goes West on our annual summertime trout treks, we often peruse past summers of Blue Ribbon Fly Shop fishing reports to prepare for our forthcoming Yellowstone trip. Keep that same strategy in mind for your Fall 2018 Georgia fishing calendar. Just look back at WRD’s fall 2016 and 2017 reports to get a taste of what’s to come. Have you stocked up yet on October caddis???
Get Ready for Fall Fishing: Join a local club to creel some fishing friends and timely intel. Both will get you on more fish this fall. Here are a few local examples: Lanier Crappie Anglers, and Oakwood Striper Club
Good luck this weekend as we celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day and Chatuge’s special tourists, the Bassmaster Elite anglers. Fishing isn’t everything, but it’s right up there with breathing!