Georgia heat and humidity certainly seems to be in full swing right now, so be careful out there during all your summertime activities, including hitting that favorite fishing hole!
Team Work Makes the Dream Work – Thanks E3 BassMasters Club!: 300 native button bush plants recently were transplanted to new, larger pots at Arrowhead WMA to maximize growth, thanks to the E3 BassMasters club and Armuchee Fisheries staff. These larger pots will allow the button bushes to grow out until they reach 2-3 feet tall. Later this year, they’ll make their way to their final home in Lake Allatoona, where they will provide shallow water fish habitat for years to come. Special thanks to E3 BassMasters Club who secured funding for the project through a grant awarded them earlier this year.
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Now, on to our fishing reports! This week, we have Central and Southeast Georgia news ready for you. Put on your sunscreen, grab (several) water bottles 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)
BIG LAZER PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface water temperature: 89o F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 22”
- Water level: Water level is down 1” from Full Pool
- We are looking for a certified lake record Largemouth Bass. Check out the information we have available at the sign in kiosk. The fish should be either 26” long or over 10 lbs. to qualify, good luck!
- The new pier is currently under construction and should be ready soon!
Bass: Good– Bass fishing has been slowed by high summer temperatures. Try locating bass in 3 to 8 feet of water. During the middle (hottest) part of the day, fish for bass in and around heavy cover, like the standing timber near the island. Feeding bass will be more active during times around sunrise and sunset. Because fishing is permitted anytime of the day this time of year, dedicated anglers on the water at right before sunrise may have the best chance of getting that trophy bass!
Crappie: Poor- Warm summer water temperatures have caused crappie to move into deeper water as well as scatter themselves over much of lake. Try fishing standing timber by presenting live minnows and/or brightly colored jigs at different depths to increase your chances for catching some slabs.
Bream: Good-It is common for bream to be close-in to the banks during spawning season. Crickets, as well as pink and red worms are excellent live bait for bream. Also, small, brightly colored spinning lures will be hard for those spawning fish to resist. Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting, especially for kids. However, bream have small mouths so fish with small hooks for the best results
Channel catfish: Good- Chicken livers, night crawlers, or shrimp fished at or almost at the bottom near woody structures and the rocks around the dam should produce a good bite. You may also want to try catching some small bream and use them as cut bait, some good size cats have been caught using this method
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 88⁰F
- Water Visibility: 22 – 54+ in.
- The Fish Cleaning Station is open.
Bass: The bass bite has been up and down lately, but nice bass continue to be caught early in the mornings and later in the evenings in Jones, Willow and Breambuster on jigs and baits that imitate shad. The jig bite has been especially good in Willow lately. In Breambuster, shad are schooling where the siphon drains flow into the ponds (especially after a rain) and schools of nice bass are aggressively chasing them.
Bream: Quality bream are being caught in Jones and Bridge Lake in the mornings and evenings. Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge Lakes are excellent spots to fish for bream. Fish a spot for 30 minutes or so then try another if it hasn’t worked out. The anglers really catching bream right now seem to be moving around a lot to find them.
Channel Catfish: The catfish action has been really good lately, with many anglers having a lot of success fishing in the mornings and evenings. Nightfishing in Jones Lake has been excellent, with many catfish around 10 lb being caught recently. Many nice catfish have been caught in Bridge Lake and Beaverlodge Lake lately and numerous smaller catfish have been caught in Jones Lake during the day. Trophy-sized catfish have recently been caught in Willow Lake as well. Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge are excellent spots to fish for catfish. Remember, the PFA record catfish has not been set! Any channel catfish caught on McDuffie PFA that exceeds 12 lb. 2 oz. will qualify as an official PFA record fish. Please see application at kiosk for details.
Striped Bass: Stripers can be found in Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes. It may seem funny, but try using chicken liver and worms. It works.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Fishing over the holiday weekend was good from the reports I received. Tarpon were biting on the coast, while redbreasts bit in the rivers. Bass and bluegills were caught in ponds, while the Okefenokee Swamp produced some good bowfin and warmouth catches. Full Moon is July 16th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Buck Wiggins of Douglas fished the Ocmulgee (a tributary to the Altamaha) and caught the pending river record bluegill last week. The certified weight was 1-lb., 6-oz., and it ate a cricket fished on a cane pole. Don’t you know, that line was singing! Way to go, Buck! A couple of Waycross anglers fished the tidal river and landed 15 bass by pitching plastic craws to shoreline cover on Independence Day. Their biggest 5 weighed 10 pounds. Their biggest bass weighed 3.17 pounds. Their most impressive catch, though, was a keeper flounder that ate their crawfish WAY upstream of saltwater. J.J. and Lance at Altamaha Park said that some redbreasts and big bream were caught off the new dock and from the bank by anglers fishing crickets. Mullet were caught in good numbers by anglers fishing green worms on the back sides of sandbars. Flatheads were fooled by anglers using goldfish on limb lines. The river level was 3.0 feet and falling (89 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.4 feet and falling (89 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 9th.
Chris Nugent walked the upper Satilla River on Saturday just before it started rising and whacked the big redbreasts on 1/16-oz. zebra-colored Satilla Spins. He said that he lost track at 25 fish but kept catching them well. The river jumped up and muddied after his trip, but it should be fishable again by the weekend, barring significant rains. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreasts were “killing” crickets this week. Catfish were also caught in the deep holes by putting shrimp or livers on the bottom. The river level on July 9th at the Waycross gage was 4.9 feet and falling (83 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 3.2 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Catfishing has been the best bite this week. Anglers pitching crickets also caught some nice bream in the tidewater section of the river. The river level at the Macclenny gage on July 9th was 2.1 feet and rising.
On Thursday, Dustin Nail hammered the redbreasts, bluegills, and even a pickerel on stumpknocker Satilla Spins. He caught 50 fish. Jess Anderson had a 60-fish catch (kept 20 of them) on yellow Satilla Spins this week. He only fished 3 hours to catch his fish! Both groups were fishing the lower river. The river level at the Eden gage on July 9th was 2.9 feet and falling.
LITTLE RIVER (NEAR ADEL)
Freddie Dell caught redbreasts on his first 5 casts in the river with a white-red dot beetlespin on Saturday. His fishing partner quickly switched from crickets to a beetlespin after Freddie got the quick start, and both of them went to catching fish. They ended up catching over 25 panfish during their trip.
WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER (NEAR VALDOSTA)
Corey Tripp and Marty Vedas fished the Withlacoochee on Saturday and caught a limit of redbreasts and bluegills by flinging a black-yellow beetlespin with a gold blade. Some of their fish were true roosters. I love fishing that river because with that same bait you can catch several species of panfish and even a Suwannee bass every now and then.
Glen Solomon had a great day on the east side (Folkston entrance). He managed to catch (and release most of them) over 200 fish. Most of the bowfin ate fire tiger Dura-Spins, and the warmouth ate both Dura-Spins and a 4-inch plastic worm. Look for his article about fishing the Okefenokee in the August issue of Georgia Outdoor News. Other anglers fishing the east side reported catching LOTS of warmouth on crickets. On the west side an angler reported catching 20 warmouth and a half-dozen fliers and even a bluegill from the Sill over the weekend by pitching yellow sallies. Catfish reports were also good from the west side at the Sill and in the SC Foster State Park boat basin. Remember to renew your duck stamp that expired June 30th before your next trip to the swamp.
Most of the reports from ponds this week were small bass and quite a few bream. The most surprising report was the 16-pound bass from a Hazlehurst area pond. The fish was supposedly caught on a plastic worm, and they released it to fight again another day. From the photo it was a MONSTER, but the weight was uncertified. Michael Winge reported that in Waycross area ponds, the bream bite was tops. Crickets were the most consistent bait.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Capt. Teddy Elrod landed his first tarpon of the year by flinging a 7.8-inch (no that’s not a misprint – it’s a monstrous bait) sexy shad colored Keitech Fat Swing Impact rigged on a Capt. Bert’s bladed Swimbait Head built around a 12/0 Owner Beast wide gap hook. From its length and girth, he estimated it at 150 pounds (the tarpon, not the lure….lol). He jumped several other tarpon during the weekend, as well. Other anglers along the coast reported catching tarpon this week. The fish I heard of being caught were on artificials, but I’m sure other anglers caught them on live pogies. Around St. Simons Island, anglers reported catching redfish and flounder around shell mounds on the outgoing tide. Michael Winge reported that in the Brunswick area, tripletail were caught around the markers in the rivers. Anglers fishing the Cumberland beach caught a bunch of seatrout on days when the wind allowed them to get out. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported that flounder, bull whiting, black drum, croakers, sharks, and stingrays were caught from the pier during the holiday weekend. Some “doormat” flounder over 23 inches were landed. A couple of friends fished the St. Simons Pier on Sunday and landed 7 keeper flounder and some throwbacks. All of their flatties ate live baitfish. A few ate the minnow fished on Capt. Bert’s jigheads, while the balance ate the bait fished on a Carolina rig. Blue crab catches were good over the holiday weekend. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The water levels on the rivers are fluctuating with the daily rains, so you will have to track your favorite location to determine when conditions are good. The upper Satilla should be in great shape for a float trip by the weekend if we don’t get significant rains late in the week. The Okefenokee fishing is excellent, with warmouth, bowfin, and catfish chowing down. Flounder fishing has been tops in saltwater. Winds have been from a mostly easterly quadrant this week, and that makes the beach and the sounds bumpy (ok…unfishable). Watch the wind forecast before venturing into the big water.
How about a report on Ochlockonee in Thomasville, GA? I was out there last weekend with friends. Counted five gators at night in the pond adjacent to the river. Next morning, we spotted a 5 footer and 7 footer on the surface cruising. The speckled cats were biting hard and fast, but we couldn’t get black crappie or bass to hit anything. Keep up the great work+
Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division
Bobby – Checked in with staff in SW GA and we will have a short report on the Ochlockonee tomorrow (7/19) – keep your eye out, and thanks for commenting!