Don’t “moon” over the fact that it is still hot outside (this is Georgia, after all), let the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing inspire you to try unexplored (to you) fishing territory!

News to Know:

  • Are you signed up? Be sure to sign up to follow this blog, so you will get notifications of new postings. 
  • Angler Awards: Did you know that you can be rewarded for fishing? I mean, that is a win-win if I ever heard one. We have Adult Angler Awards, Youth Angler Awards, PFA Angler Awards and Trophy Bass Angler Awards. Pick the most appropriate category, read the rules (!), and submit your catch! More info HERE
  • Catfishing Tips: Angling for catfish is a great summertime activity plus it can provide one awesome dinner! Check out these catfish angling tips, hot spots and more
  • Cooperative Fish Management: Lake Lanier received some new fish attractors this week thanks to North GA Crappie Anglers Club and GA DNR. 

This week, we have reports from Southwest, North and Southeast Georgia. Now, get out there and Go Fish!

SOUTHWEST GEORGIA 

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

CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER/WALTER F. GEORGE

Our region sampled the Chattahoochee River for catfish this last week and captured a large number of Flathead Catfish over 20 pounds from the upper end of Walter F. George reservoir. There appears to be a high abundance of this size fish in the section up from Florence State Park Marina. We also captured a large number of Blue Catfish of decent size in this same area. It’d be a great section to target right now since shallower waters are pretty warm, and catfish were captured from the deep, middle section of the river.

FLINT RIVER

Water levels in the lower Flint River are pretty low even with the scheduled releases. Southwest Georgia has not had much rain lately, and though the Albany and Crisp County Power are releasing water regularly, it isn’t much. Still, anglers are out targeting catfish and sunfish along banks in shaded areas. This is also a good time to wade fish near downtown Albany and above and below the Highway 32 bridge. If engaging in wade fishing here, anglers need to be aware of the dam release schedule and make sure they wear life jackets in these areas. To monitor the release schedule, click HERE.   For more tips on fishing the lower Flint River, click HERE.

OCHLOCKONEE RIVER

The USGS stream gauge near Thomasville is holding steady between three and four feet, so depths are somewhat optimal to shallow. Anything over five feet tends to make the rivers a little high and hard to fish. Anglers are able to access the river with john boats and trolling motors or paddleboats. The section along River Creek WMA (putting in at the Highway 84 bridge) is higher with floatable water for those looking to kayak/canoe fish or use a small john boat with a trolling motor. Here is an interactive map of the WMA for further information.  Additionally, while it usually takes a bit more work to get bass and sunfish to bite in the summer, catfish are always willing to be caught. Fishing off the bottom with worms or cutbait are a sure bet.

NORTH GEORGIA 

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

We missed last week’s report because of a long road trip.  Several of us drove down to ICAST in Orlando

to thank fishing tackle manufacturers for their excise tax collections.  Those taxes you pay on your new fishing tackle fuel our fisheries programs.

We wanted those industries to know of our gratitude and hear about our angler-oriented projects, from reservoir fish attractors to striper stockings to Blue Ridge smallie restoration. And we had a sneak-peek at the new products for 2020.  Start saving your allowances for those goodies that will show up on the shelves of your favorite tackle shops next spring. Check out these Livetarget spoons!

Now back to JoJa!  Since our dog-day weather hasn’t changed, neither has the fishing.  We are still angling early, late, or in the shade.  The catching has been so-so as the fish remain in summer siesta mode.  We are still dodging those rivers when they suddenly turn chocolate due to intense, pop-up storms in the watershed above them.  Again, the key is to check USGS river gauges and call the local tackle shops to “gauge” river conditions (flow and clarity) before driving to your canoe launching site.  Remember that those hot-water intolerant stripers are now heading toward coolwater refuges down near the dam or up into the feeder rivers, so be ready for some striped surprises in the upper Hooch, Morgan Falls Tailwater, Yonah Dam Tailrace, and the Etowah.

The river Plan B’s, better known as small lakes, are still holding out well, especially along their shady banks. Drop a soft plastic deep and work it slow in the tree limbs.  Or recon for plate-sized bream beds and toss a bream popper on top of them.  To end the trip, sling a bass slider or small floating rapala right next to the bank during the last hour of daylight.  Twitch it once and be patient.  But keep an eye on it, as it just might disappear in a soft slurp.

By design, trout stocking has slimmed down a bit.  We try to get the majority of fish out the hatchery gates by July 4th, during the spring season of cold water, abundant flows, and heaviest trouting crowds.  There are still some good summer opportunities in our higher, colder streams and big tailwaters.  Careful scrutiny of WRD weekly stocking lists will keep trouters in the game. Pay close attention to the asterisks on the bottom of these pages.

While it’s a bit slow, as expected for this time of year, there are still ample opportunities to wet a line and have a real good chance of success.  At least nobody will be worried about numb fingers and toes.  In honor of Neil and Buzz, let’s “launch” into this week’s report.

RIVERS

River Double Header: Striper Times Two

River Tug of War: Striper VS Grampa and Charlie

bass shoal 15in JD upHooch 7-7-19Upper Hooch Bass: Guru and Dredger recently hiked into the upper Hooch.  With a keen eye on their Iphone weather app, they tossed a one-two punch at river shoalies.  During the early evening, Dredger had a lot of hits on a Zman crawdad, rigged on a weedless jig hook and tossed into the shady ledges, deep pools, and under the streamside branches.  He only batted .500 on hookups and needs to be more patient before setting the hook.  Guru’s popper was ignored til 8PM, when the shoalies came out to the shadows and looked for surface snacks.  The duo played their weather cards right, as the bottom dropped out of the sky just as they got back to their trucks.

LAKES

Lanier:

Allatoona: Birthday Frenzy

Hartwell: Fishing Report From Captain Mack 

Hartwell Profile: From Fisheries Technician Tony Anderson – Check out the Hartwell profile of reservoir water temperature and dissolved oxygen.

Lanier Profile: From Hunter Roop, Fisheries Biologist – Water quality profiles obtained on 7/18/19 reveal that coolwater habitat for Lanier’s striped bass population has quickly contracted and is now only suitable below Brown’s Bridge. Surface temperatures are high in the mid-80s which has shut down an excellent top water bite that we experienced in June and the beginning of July. Near the dam, dissolved oxygen levels are excellent, so look to target fish at thermocline depths (20 – 40 feet) where cool temperatures and plentiful oxygen create ideal foraging (and catching) conditions.

Lanier Fish Condos: Enjoy the video

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Thank you Mr. Sturdivant and Lake Guides!

bass LMB Unicoi Lake EthanF July2019
Ethan caught his personal best largemouth while yakking at Unicoi Lake.

Small Lakes: Ethan F recently yakked Unicoi Lake with a buddy.  They did pretty well on shaky head worms, and Ethan caught his personal best LMB (pic).  Following this report, Dredger went up there with some Zman worms on Ned rigs.  He swore that there are no fish left in Unicoi Lake. Float a small lake soon.  While the summer catching may be off or on, the fishing will still be fun.

TROUT

Headwater Trout: This is still a best bet, as the abundant showers are maintain streamflows.  Try some summer favorites: caddis, yellow stimmies, ants, and green weenies.  A great daily (yes, daily!) report with a lot of application to north GA is here and worth a bookmark.

Trout Adventures: Camping and Fishing; Afternoon Adventures

 

trout rbt stocker JoshT 8-29-18Stockers: Nearly 26, 000 stockers head out the hatchery gates this week.  Best bets: Cooper, upper Toccoa, Dicks, Boggs, Rock, Tallulah, Wildcat, upper Smith, Hooch on WMA, and the two big tailwaters.

Insider Info: since we are stocking some surplus fingerling trout this month, tailwater anglers just might try tossing some rainbow trout-colored rapalas under the streamside trees.  Check your knots before casting, for there is no crying in baseball or fishing!

JOE OTTO (left)_resized
Joe Otto (on left) pictured with Lanier fisheries biologist Hunter Roop

New Blood: (From Burton Trout Hatchery Manager John Lee Thomson) — Joe Otto, a seasonal worker at Lake Burton Fish Hatchery, competed successfully and accepted the full-time Fisheries Tech 2 position at the hatchery, vacated when Colt Martin was promoted to manager of the Go Fish hatchery in Perry. Joe comes to us with experience in trout culture that he gained while employed with the Idaho Fish and Game Department.  He is a graduate of ABAC and we are excited to add this excellent new staff member to the team.

Phone Case-Might Be a Great Tackle Box Addition: I saw this post on the web and it sounds interesting.

And the Winner Is: Rabun TU Rod Raffle Winner

MORE NEWS 

walleye 8lb mtn lake July 2019
First Walleye for Jason!

First Walleye: To Anthony Rabern (fisheries biologist) – This is my friend Jason and we got him his first Walleye ever and it was an 8 lb fish!  Once again thanks for all your hard work making that fishery! —Follow The Son Guide Service 

Rangers To The Rescue: Check out DNR LED in action in this Rescue video at Jack’s River Falls.

Good luck fishing during the dog days of summer.   Even if the catching is slow, the swimming and floating will be fine.   You know, fifty years ago, our lakes and streams weren’t as crowded this week because most folks’ minds were elsewhere….

But we’ll soon turn them back toward our favorite fishing holes! Stop snoozing, tie some good knots, and be ready for action under the evening shadows.

Sincerely, Short Timer

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA 

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

SE GA Buck Wiggins Bluegill - IMG_0288
Buck Wiggins of Douglas fished the Ocmulgee River and caught the river record bluegill recently. The certified weight was 1-lb., 6-oz., and it ate a cricket fished on a cane pole.

The “dog-days” heat is upon us, but the fishing has been good. Folks are still jumping tarpon on the coast, river fishing has been very good, and Okefenokee and pond fishing have been solid. Fish early and late (or at night) to keep comfortable. Last quarter moon is July 24th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

A trio of anglers fished above Altamaha Park on Tuesday and caught 23 fish on 1/16-oz. copperfield and 1/8-oz. crawfish Satilla Spins. They had a few bass, a gar, and 4 species of panfish (redbreasts, bluegill, stumpknockers, longear sunfish). Fishing the clearer water at the mouths of oxbows was key to their catch. A couple of Waycross anglers fished the tidal portion of the river on Saturday and caught over 20 bass up to about 3 pounds (broke off a couple nice fish also) by pitching Okeechobee craw-colored plastic crayfish to shoreline cover. J.J. and Lance at Altamaha Park said that bream and shellcrackers were caught in the tidewater. The flathead catfish bite is still going strong. The river level was 3.8 feet and falling (89 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.5 feet and falling (90 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 16th.

SATILLA RIVER

The river came up with last week’s rains, but it fell out quickly. It is back to floatable levels in the upper river. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that some big bream ate crickets, and plenty of redbreasts were caught on Satilla Spins. Black Spinnerbaits produced some nice bass catches this week. Shrimp and livers produced some good catfish in the deeper holes. In the lower river (Burnt Fort area), big bream were landed by anglers pitching crickets. The river level on July 16th at the Waycross gage was 5.1 feet and falling (84 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 3.9 feet and rising.

ST. MARYS RIVER

Catfishing were again the best bite this week, but some anglers also reported catching some big bream on crickets over the weekend. The river level at the Macclenny gage on July 16th was 4.4 feet and falling.

OGEECHEE RIVER

Jonathan Guy and Gary Ware had the trip of the week that I heard about. The duo caught over 200 redbreasts and culled for a limit. They caught almost all of their fish on copper juice and yellow 1/16-oz. Satilla Spins. Yellow has been a very consistent color on the Ogeechee so far this year. The river level at the Eden gage on July 16th was 2.6 feet and rising.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The water level came up some this week, and folks can get around a little better now. Right after the rains, the bite slacked off (that is typical when the swamp quickly rises), but the warmouth and bowfin bites have picked back up this week. Several anglers reported catching a good mess of warmouth on the east side.

LOCAL PONDS

Chad Lee caught a couple big bass during his trips this weekend. His biggest two were 6 and 5 pounds, and they ate topwater frogs. Michael Winge reported that in Waycross area ponds, bass ate lizards fished around lily pads and shoreline vegetation. Crickets produced some good bream creels.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The tarpon bite has continued this week. Most anglers are using live bait (pogies or mullet) and anchoring in the sounds. Some anglers followed pogy pods and cast lures at fish, and they jumped several. Michael Winge reported that flounder bit mudminnows and finger mullet well around the St. Marys Jetties. Anglers reported trout, redfish, and a few flounder around the Brunswick area. Some big trout were reported from Gould’s Inlet by anglers using live shrimp. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported that whiting, croaker, sharks, and stingrays were caught from the pier. A couple Waycross anglers fished the pier on Sunday and caught 2 nice keeper flounder on live bait. Blue crabs were thick under the pier, and folks caught a bunch. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The heat is going to set back in this week, so fish early and late. Night fishing on a Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Public Fishing Area is a good option. Fling buzzbaits or big worms at night to catch a quality bass. Soak worms, shrimp, or livers to catch catfish. In saltwater, now is the time to fling lures for tarpon. Keitech Fat Swing Impact swimbaits and Live Target Mullet have been the most successful that I’m aware of. All of our rivers will produce some good panfish catches, whether you use lures or crickets, but the key is to fish early or late.