No need to get scared as we feel those temperatures start dropping, there is still plenty of fishing opportunities coming your way!
- Delayed Harvest: Beginning Nov. 1, it is time to start hitting up delayed harvest trout streams!
- Hungry, Hungry Bass: Fall is when Bass put on the “feed bag” for winter. Look for these hungry fish on woody structure adjacent to deeper water. Top-water plugs and soft plastics are excellent for catching lunkers. Find a spot to fish near you using our Interactive Map.
This week, we have reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Get out there 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 DOWN 1.5 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Pop Rs and the small Zara Spooks and a Spro hollow frog can work. Fish the rocky points and the rocks on the bridges. Stick baits and the Spy baits are also working but there needs to be some bait schools in the area. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and sweep the main lake pockets and deeper coves for the bait. Texas rigged worms and finesse worms are best if the fishing slows down. Small Senko’s in pearl or green pumpkin are fair with a wacky rig and small hooks with 6 and 8-pound test line. Watch for any surface action and use the McStick in these area.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 3.4 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. The bass are starting to move shallow with the cooler nights and slight fall in the water level. In the morning, fish shallow points and flats with a SK Pop Grande in Aurora Black or a small buzz bait. As the sun rises and throughout the day try these two options: one is to use a Bandit 300 in CJ Shad or Sparkle Ghost on points; the other is to fish any brush or wood you can find with a Shaky Head or small Texas Rig with a Net Bait green pumpkin worm or Zoom U tail in natural blue. In the evening fish the same flats from the morning to catch top-water fish. Fish steep rock banks with a spinner bait and a Fish Head Spin.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
(Report provided by Capt. Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service) —
Bass: The lake is full and clear over most of the lake, light stain up the rivers. The temperature is 75 80. 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. We are seeing a lot of shad showing up in the coves all over the lake. The fall shad movement has started.
Striper: Striper fishing is poor. The stripers are on their way back from the long summer up the rivers. We are seeing a few fish starting to show up in the mouths of the coves in the mid lake area. This will improve as we get cooler days and nights. Watch for the water to stay below 75 degrees.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair to good. This is the best fishing on Oconee right now. Some better fish have been showing up this past week. 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 and on ledges on the main lake at 10 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 .43 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S
Bass including the largemouth and the spots are moving into an early fall cooler weather pattern. A good pattern for catching a largemouth is to go upriver in the area just below the Franklin Bridge. Fish the stained upper reaches of the lake with Texas rigged worms. Flipping jigs should also be productive for bass fishermen. Spots are located down lake in the mouths of main coves and are scattered in 15 20 feet of water. Use Carolina rigged worms in black, pumpkinseed, dark green and fish road beds McGee roadbed is always one of the best spots. The Wilson Creek area off of Pyne Road Park is also a good area in the late afternoon and the points in Whitewater Creek are always good spots to cast the Carolina rig and a Zoom green pumpkin lizard.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.3 FEET, STAINED, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. It’s still hard to find a consistent bite after 11 am. Fish top-water on seawalls or the edges of grass early. A black or white double-bladed buzz bait with small blades seems to be a consistent bait early. It will work as long as you have shade. Flip docks or fish small crankbaits and 3/8 ounce spinnerbaits near seawalls with rip rap or stumps after you lose the shade bite. The fish and bait are scattered. Look for the fish to move shallow once the water temps finally start to fall into the 70s. The Spy Baits are also catching fish, but most of the bass are small.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 1.26 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S
Before the storms, the fishing was good. Fish are up early on top-water near deep water laydowns and seawalls on the main lake. Use Pop R’s and white buzz baits until the sun comes up. Some of the best areas to start looking in the morning are near the confluence of the South River and Alcovy River and seawalls from the main lake going up Tussahaw to the bridge. Once the sun gets out, head to the boat docks near creek channels or long points and humps on the main lake. Flip or pitch docks with jigs or worms. Use the Weedless Wonder heads and finesse worms around the docks. For deep water the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology can show anglers exactly where the bait and the bass are. So use these electronics to locate schools of bass around deep structure near the ends of deep points.
FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: ˚78.3 F (˚25.7 C)
- Water Level: 4’ 10” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 23”
- Flat Creek Fishing Guide
Fall is officially here and many anglers have seized upon the cooler temps to have an enjoyable fishing experience. Even though the morning and evening still have been the time that anglers are catching the most fish, anglers that are fishing the middle of the day are also catching fish. Anglers are still reporting catches on bass, crappie and bream. Below is info from our regulars on what is currently working for the following species:
Bass: Most of the bass that were caught were caught before 10:00 AM or after 4:00 PM. Yellow-White 1.5 Strike King KVD HC Square Bill Silent Crankbait, 5” Black Red Silver Flake Laminate Yamamoto Senko Worms, six-seven foot of water near cover.
Bream: While some bream were biting at other times of the month, most of the exciting catches were towards the latter half of the month during the full moon. Fish 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: While there has been evidence of people fishing for channel catfish at the time of this writing there were no anglers interviewed that had been pursuing catfish.
Crappie: Live minnows are the best at about 5-feet at the dock; less weight and four-pound test line. Let the minnows swim freely. Watch the line carefully. When the minnow becomes active you will know the crappie are close. Yellow Mr. Crappie line is a must. Change the depth of your minnow between five feet and the bottom. The bigger crappie are near the bottom. Many 7 and 8-inch crappie are at the five-foot depth.
We are deeply grateful to our anglers that not only enjoy fishing at Flat Creek PFA but enjoy passing on their tips to help other fishermen have the same joy of catching fish!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The fishing lull due to deer season has begun, as many folks head to the woods instead of the water. I love the mass exodus each fall, as it reduces pressure on the water during some of the best fishing of the year. I celebrated opening day of deer season on a blackwater river and caught some redbreasts up to 9 inches and bluegill to 11 inches (over a pound) with Satilla Spins (stumpknocker and red/white produced all of them). With this week’s first cold snap, lots of bites should fire off. Saltwater should be great, the Satilla is in good shape, and the crappie bite should be picking up significantly. It’s a great time to hop in a boat! Last quarter moon is October 31st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
The number of anglers was low, but those who went did well, especially considering the high river level. A couple of Blackshear anglers fished limb lines on the lower river this week and caught 6 nice channel catfish and a big softshell turtle. Both the catfish and turtle were part of their seafood dinner. Another group of anglers caught a good mess of crappie by fishing jigs in oxbow lakes. Britney at Jaycees Landing said that the river is a little high, but anglers caught crappie on minnows and curly-tail grubs in the backwaters. J.J. at Altamaha Park said that the fishing was still hot this week. Bream and redbreasts were biting worms and crickets. Coachdog beetle spins and crawfish Satilla Spins were also fooling lots of panfish. Bowfin (mudfish) have been thick for bottom fishermen putting rooster livers and shrimp on the bottom, but they’ve also been catching a bunch of channel catfish. Crappie fishing has been good in the tidal backwaters for those fishing minnows and Tennessee shad grubs. On Sunday, one angler caught 2 crappie measuring 14 inches each. Goldfish fished on limb lines produced some nice flatheads and blue catfish. The mullet bite will slow down as the water cools, so now is the time to go catch your last mess of mullet. The river level was 5.7 feet and falling (69 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.3 feet and rising (71 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on October 23rd.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that anglers reported catching big bream and redbreasts by pitching crickets suspended under a float around steep banks in the upper river. Both minnows and Tennessee shad jigs produced some good catches of crappie. Catfish were fooled with shrimp and rooster livers. In the Atkinson area, crappie were caught with minnows. One angler reported catching bass on Chatterbaits. In the Burnt Fort area, some big bream and warmouth were landed with crickets. The river level on October 23rd at the Waycross gage was 5.0 feet and falling (73 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 4.0 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Bream, redbreasts, and catfish were tops this week. Creels ranged from 15 to 25 keepers per trip. As usual, catfish were caught about anywhere you dropped a bait to the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on October 23rd was 2.9 feet and falling.
Danny Brown and Randy Rigdon have been whacking the bass, redbreasts, and bluegills on the Ogeechee over the past 3 weekends. Crawfish Satilla Spins have been producing their redbreasts up to 3/4-pound and bluegills to a pound, while plastic worms have fooled their bass up to about 4 pounds. Fish the wood cover with current for redbreasts and the slower water blowdown trees for bass.
The east side is still higher than ideal for good fishing (120.47 feet), while the west side is fishable but slow. Catfish and fliers are mostly what have been caught at both entrances. Put a piece of shrimp on the bottom for catfish, and pitch a yellow or pink sally to lily pads to catch fliers and warmouth.
Daniel Johnson and Chad Lee were back at it this weekend in Alma area ponds. Over the weekend, they caught about 30 bass, primarily on senkos, Ol’ Monster worms, and other plastic worms. Their biggest was Daniel’s 6-pounder that inhaled a bluegill-colored spinnerbait. Chad fished Tuesday evening and caught another 5 bass up to 2 pounds on senkos. Morgan and Kent fished during a church event on Sunday afternoon and caught crappie on pink and yellow sallies suspended under a float. Morgan’s was his first fish ever. Other anglers caught crappie and a nice bluegill using sallies during the event. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, lots of bream were caught with crickets and bass were fooled with shiners. Late in the afternoons, minnows produced some good catches of crappie.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, More Info HERE)
Anglers did well this week behind the hurricane. Catfish, bluegills, shellcrackers, and crappie have been biting well. Channel catfish between 5 and 10 pounds have been caught regularly in the shallow coves along with the bluegills and shellcrackers. Offshore wood is where most of the crappie were caught. Bass fishing has picked up, with jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits producing most of the fish during the cooler weather. A few were still fooled with topwaters.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Big tides and winds associated with the strong cold front hampered the trout fishing this weekend, but folks still caught some. The bull redfish were caught in good numbers from the beaches this week, and that should improve as the water temperatures cool. In the Brunswick area, inshore anglers reported good catches of trout, flounder, and sheepshead. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that big bull redfish were around the pier. Most were between 36 and 45 inches, so they were released. Cut bait has been the top offering. Whiting, croaker, trout, and spadefish were also caught from the pier. Shrimp were cast-netted in good numbers this week, and blue crabs were also caught. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
With the latest cold snap, trout and redfishing should fire off as the fish put on the feed bag ahead of winter. This is my favorite time of year to chase those two species inshore. Check creek mouths and shell mounds for feeding fish. My favorite way to chase them is to suspend an Assassin Sea Shad (clear/glitter colors for clear water and brighter colors for stained water) underneath an Equalizer Float. It’s important to match the jighead with the float size so that it stands up on a pause, because that’s when a fish usually inhales it. If it doesn’t set up, you will not get as many hits. Typically, a perfect setup is a 1/4-oz. head and a 3-inch Equalizer Float. The tidal St. Marys and upper to middle Satilla are in good shape for panfishing. Floating the upper Satilla is the ticket with the lower water there, but it is worth some dragging. Bass and crappie fishing in ponds are other good options. This cold snap should get the crappie fired up as the water temps drop into the more normal range for this time of year. Bass fishing in the fall can be hit-or-miss, so keep moving until you find them. We’re in the temperature range where the bass will usually chase a lure, so tie on a spinnerbait, swimbait, or crankbait and cover some water.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It’s full-fledged fall around here, with a few sprinkles of winter tossed in. We’ve had some morning mountain air bumping the thirties and, after tolerating our August in October, it has felt great! Our fish have enjoyed that cooler weather, too, so our catching is finally on the upswing (personal research…) as our north Georgia lakes and streams cool off. Today (10/26) we’re on the tail end of an inch or two of rainfall, so our larger streams and rivers may need an extra day or two to drop and clear before their best fishing. But fall folks should not shy away from these larger streams for too long. While there is a large relative increase in fall flows (large flow spikes) after big rains, remember the absolute values. In other words, fall (Sept-Oct) is our driest time of the year and baseflows for our streams and rivers are low. Storms often bump up these flows, but an October spike might simply reach as high as normal April flows, with fall streams subsiding quickly.
So don’t simply look at these current flow spikes on the internet, but check the actual values (CFS or gauge height) to see how far up your boots that these streams really are. You might find a few extra fall fishing days that you’ve been missing. Also, the Delayed Harvest Season begins on November 1 for trouting fans, and we have some annual intel below.
Lakes are cooling off and coolwater species like walleye, stripers, hybrids, and even our big spots are finally emerging from the depths of summer thermal refuges. While the fishing will be challenging because fish will scatter over the entire reservoir, a renewed shallow-water bite should bring us back to our favorite lakes. Check out the Capt Mack report and watch the guide reports in Ken’s latest Southern Fishing Report, where you’ll see some shallow patterns re-emerging. And remember, when you hook that big one, square your shoulders!
Enjoy our latest tricks and treats as we head into Halloween week. Here we go:
Fall Trout – Stockers: While the “catching” may not be as fast and furious as April and May, when a lot of stocked fish are hitting the water weekly, this is a great time of the year for fishing on the national forest. We have cool, weather, healthy stream flows, and fall foliage to enjoy along with our “hunt” for leftover stockers. The key to fall success is to cover a lot of water in our search for summer survivors and the bonus fall fish stocked two weeks ago. More Trout fishing info HERE.
Crickets, worms, and spinners might outfish corn and powerbait in many streams, since they were stocked this month with some chunky Buford Hatchery browns instead of the normal rainbows. Streams near Chattahoochee Forest National Hatchery did receive some nice rainbows, so carrying some salmon eggs and powerbait to streams in the Suches region will be a good bet. Lake Burton fans might notice some naïve, eager eleven-inch brown trout attacking their bass lures, too. These recent stockers are a nice catch, but they’re even more fun if released to grow two pounds a year on blueback herring, and then to mount on your wall as a true trophy. Just ask Cam!
Fall Trout – Wild: Dredger wandered north last week in a last-ditch effort at some river bass. Alas, they were suffering from smallie-shock due to the strong cold front and sudden plunge in river temperature to 60 degrees. But he came prepared with a Plan B. He holstered his 6-weight, ditched his sling pack, drove farther north, and then pulled out his fly vest and 4-weight from the car trunk. There were a bunch of like-minded fans on the lower end of his favorite creek, so he went high. Big pools were few, competitors were nonexistent, pockets were plentiful, and so were the little bows and browns. With his ten-foot Euro rod, he basically tenkara-ed (canepoled) up the creek with a dry/dropper combo of a bushy #14 October caddis on 6X, with a #16 tungsten Euro nymph dropped two feet off the rear on 7X. The light tippet made a difference in the gin-clear, 54-degree waters. He missed more than he nicked, but better than a dozen still came to hand during Plan B’s late afternoon session. None were bigger than 8 inches, but all were spunky, colorful and wild. Few posed long enough for a pic.
He quit just before dark to hunt another quarry, this one with his camera. He struck out on all the usual fields except the very last one. There, at midfield near the park visitors center, stood the home team. In stadium fashion, fans from a dozen states surrounded the field and enjoyed the spectacle.
Try a road trip soon. You own that stadium and others like it. It’s called the National Park System.
Fall Trout – DH Tricks and Treats: Georgia Delayed Harvest trout waters open once again on November 1. As always, we’ll have some fish in each of them by lunchtime on the first. We appreciate the help of Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery staff and key volunteers with local Trout Unlimited chapters (HERE, HERE and HERE are just few) in our season-opening efforts to spread out the first crop of stockers. Wanna help? Join a club.
For the first couple weeks after release, these DH fish are naïve and podded up. Try something flashy and/or with movement to attract their attention (small buggers, squirmies, and Pat’s rubberlegs are good). Cover some ground until you find the jackpot, where a Buford Hatchery bucketful has landed. I call this “famine and feast fishing.” Toss a few casts into each pool. If no luck and no lookers, even after a split shot or two to get your fly down, move out of that famine hole and search for the feast hole. If you see or catch one, stick around and pound it. His bucketful of buddies might be right behind him.
Soon, after one or two big rains, high water and hunger will redistribute these first DH stockers throughout the special regulation reaches, and the fishing will be more challenging. Here’s an oldie but a goody for our Toccoa noobs.
Dredger was nice enough to share his early season DH tips with us. He said the subscription price is for you to take one kid or trouting newbie with you, find a “feast” address, and stick them in that honey hole. Why share your bounty? You’ll make a fishing friend and conservation ally for life!
ALL IN THE FALL
Fall Bass: The cooler days of fall are a great time for bass fishing in Georgia. Bass are gorging on small shad, herring and bream. Fisheries staff across the state are surveying fish populations this fall.
Fall Fling: Fly flingers, old and new, always enjoy these semi-annual gatherings at Buford Hatchery. It’s the NGTO Fall Fling on November 3. Details HERE. Breaking news: our two awesome, new WRD fisheries biologists, Zach and Hunter, will be there to say hello.
Fall Road Show: Zach’s second stop: UNG. The young gunslingers up there evidently wanted a young speaker!
Fall Walleye Intel: Finally broke the walleye jinx (except for the spawning run, have caught some then) yesterday. Walleye was 22”, 4.25 lbs. Interestingly the walleye hit a minnow and the perch a crankbait. –Matt E.
Way to go, Matt! We completed our annual gill net sampling yesterday on Lake Yonah. Walleye were relatively abundant in the 1 to 3 lb size range from midlake upstream to where the lake takes a sharp bend to the right, especially on the South Carolina side. Our biggest walleye was about 6 lb but it flopped out of the net before I could weigh and measure it. Most of the walleye seemed to be in about 30-feet of water near the ledge of the river channel. Hope you have the opportunity to catch some more walleye soon; however, GA Power will be drawing the lake down starting on Monday and will keep it down for about a month, which means the lake will be inaccessible during that time period. Lake Tugalo will be your best alternative, especially on the points within sight distance of the South Carolina boat ramp. (Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist)
MORE NEWS BELOW
Small Stream Surprise: Click HERE.
Capt Mack’s Reports: Notice bomber and dock light bites. Report HERE.
Ken’s Southern Fishing Report: It’s Friday, so his reservoir reports should be refreshed shortly.
Hurricane Relievers: Kudos to WRD’s North Georgia Fisheries Region staff members Leon Brotherton, Colt Martin, Kevin Thomas (Burton office), Travis Taylor (Buford Hatchery) and Mark Bowen (Armuchee office) for working some hot, 12+ hour days in south Georgia to clear county roads, WMA’s, and state parks from hurricane debris and restore some essential services and hope to that impacted region.
Fishing Overpowers Hunger! Here is a photo from our fishing trip to the Lake Burton Hatchery! When I told Carsyn it was time to leave because we needed to grab some lunch, he said “Fishing over powers hunger…” —WRD Gainesville Fisheries secretary Lauren Long
Good luck this week. Thanks for buying your fishing licenses, tackle, and TU-Brookie car tags. As Carsyn and Splatek have discovered, we need more tackle boxes and less Xboxes!
Happy Halloween on the water. May our tricks provide you with some finned treats!