Can we package up the weather from this week and keep it just like this for a little longer? Sure does make it a little easier to get those outside things done (you know…chores for us adults) so we can go do what we actually want to do, FISHING!
Kids Fishing Events (KFE) are a great way to introduce your young angler to the sport and build some powerful, lifelong memories (and see some great smiles!). Still lots of KFEs to come! Find info about upcoming events through our Events system HERE.
Let’s get to those fishing reports! This week, we have news from Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Now, get out 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)
We are definitely in the “dog days” of summer! Instead of detailing all the bites this week, I will run some of my backlogged photos.
FAVORITE BITES: BOWFIN
During the dog days, one of my favorite bites is catching bowfin in the Okefenokee Swamp. While most other fisheries have shut down and you have to work for them, the bowfin bite in the swamp is on fire. I don’t even worry about getting up early, as the fish usually bite best once the sun starts shining brightly. It’s definitely “gentleman fishing.” Like my buddy Ed used to do with his grandfather, you can go have yourself a nice leisurely breakfast (their favorite was Bavarian waffles…) after waking up after the sun is up, stroll out to your boat whenever you get ready, and the fish will be chowing.
My favorite approach is to drift right down the middle of the canal (casting down the middle) with a Dura-Spin, an in-line spinner made on a soft wire shaft so it will hold up to pickerel and bowfin. Sometimes the fish are picky about color, and sometimes they will hit any color. My confidence colors over the last year have been fire tiger, jackfish, and black/chartreuse. Generally, I throw the colored blades on cloudy days and the silver blades on sunny days, but mix it up until you figure out what they want best. While bowfin aren’t much as table fare, you will be constantly pulling on something, and sometimes it’s a BIG something. Folks in my boat have caught a half-dozen double-digit fish from the swamp, and it’s typical to catch an 8 or 9-pounder during a summertime trip. Handling the gnarly fish is the most aggravating part. I usually grab them with a lip gripper (Boga Grip style) and then get the hook out with one of the hook removal tools that has a haft inside a hollow tube. When you squeeze the handle, the shaft grips the treble hook firmly, and you can twist and turn it upside down and the fish flops right off. When it works perfectly, you don’t even have to touch the fish. Give it a try this summer when the other bites are slow.
New Moon is July 21st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
(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 .92 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Start early each day with buzz baits and stick baits and use brighter colors. Work rocky points, humps and bridges. Use pearl chartreuse back Shad Raps in #5 and #7’s sizes and cast them on the rip rap around the bridges and cast parallel to the rocks and bump them with the lures. Watch the Lowrance sonar and Down Scan technology and many of the bass are on the bottom. Down Scan technology with the Fish Reveal up to 89% can spot these fish better than sonar. But, use the HIGH CHIRP to see them too. The fish are small and the big fish are still not biting. The Zoom water melon seed mini lizard and a long Carolina rig can draw a few strikes on road beds and creek ditches.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Find the bass on the secondary points and main lake points to feed on shad. Early in the mornings a square bill crank bait, top water bait and a Zoom Super Fluke are working. Square bill crank baits are now more of a niche bait. The square bill lures have the fastest growing segment of the hard bait industry because they catch big bass. Square bills are like the spinnerbaits of rip rap. The bill shape allows them to crawl over rocks effectively and deflect in a way that the big fish attack. When activity slows during the day, a Carolina rigged Zoom lizard will continue to be productive in these same areas. There will still be some fish shallow in the creeks, and a Texas rigged worm or jig around blowdowns and timber is good for some largemouth.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80’S
(This Lake Oconee Line Side report brought to you by Mark Smith at Reel Time Service) —
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. Buzz Baits fished along sea walls and around docks will produce good-sized fish the first hr. of daylight and the last hr. of daylight. Keep a trick worm tied on and if the fish misses the buzz bait pitch the trick worm in the same spot and hang on. After the sun gets up switch to docks in deeper water. Texas rigged worms fished under the docks will produce. The humps on the lower end of the lake have also been producing when Georgia Power is pulling water.
Striper: Striper fishing is fair. The afternoon bite is the best option. The fish are starting move up the lake toward the rivers. Good fish can be found on humps and points as well as the pipe line. Spoons, umbrella rigs, as well as thread fin shad have been producing well.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The fish are starting to stack up on the trees. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools in the trees at about 10 feet deep. When you find the fish in the trees drop your live crappie minnow down to them and hang on. Long lining down to the top of the trees has been producing over the past week.
WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. In the mornings bass are after buzz baits and Pop R type baits with a feather on the back hook. Make sure you keep your bait right on the bank or up against the seawalls. The fish are exceptionally shallow. This bait can also work with Sufix 10 pound Elite line with the KVD Caffeine Shad Jr. Pearl. Up lake anglers are using a small Alabama rig with all pearl tiny fluke’s trailers. As the sun gets up, stay focused on the shaded areas for the better fish. Watch the Lowrance sonar and Down Scan technology and some bass are hugging the bottom. Down Scan technology with the Fish Reveal up to 89% can spot these fish better than sonar. But, use the HIGH CHIRP to see them too. Once the shade disappears or the top-water bite ends, flip the docks or fish brush piles and laydowns. For the worm rig use the Weedless Wonder lead heads and this bait can get into thick cove and not hang up too bad.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, STAINED, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Small grass frogs in the mornings can work and cast them shallow. Be sure to have a Rapala Ripstop handy. Bass will eat this jerk bait and this style of slash bait works. Try the various X Raps and the Ripstop as this bait creates a fast ripping action that stops when paused. With a flash and a subtle shimmy, the motionless bait gets a lot of attention for all sizes of bass. It can be fished a variety of ways, from jerking, twitching, pausing, and snapping, to a straight retrieve. It’s 3½ inches long and weighs a ¼ ounce. It will achieve depths greater than three to four feet. It comes in 14 different patterns to match any hatch or water condition. Also, it is hard to beat a Rapala shad rap purple descent.
LAKE JACKSON IS .81 FEET OVER FULL, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The lake is full, stained in the rivers, light stain to mid lake, clear on the south end. The bass are off the banks to their summer locations. There is still a top-water bite early. Target sea walls with a buzz bait. As the sun get up switch to a shakey head with a dark green worm fished under the docks in 10 feet of water. Try the Strike King Super Finesse worm in green pumpkin and KVD Perfect plastics Bull Worm bold blue. Georgia Power has been pulling water in the afternoon; when this happens a spinner bait fished at the bridge rip raps can be productive.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Y’all enjoy this final North Georgia report from our good friend Jeff Durniak, who (happily for him, sadly for us) retires next week.
Reminder: go to our website and sign up for the GAWRD weekly fishing blog and trout stocking lists. After my exit, this page will continue delivering you some great north Georgia fishing and conservation news.
It’s still summer up here and the fishing is about the same. A few new reports follow. I’ve also added some of my favorite photos from the decades (see below this post). They are memories of great experiences with great friends. That’s why we go, to have a good time and to have these keepsakes etched in our minds for the rest of our lives. Enjoy them and go make some more of your own, soon!
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Check out the Current Fishing Report HERE.
Lake Lanier Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): Jeff, Lanier is still fishing really well this time of year. The recent humidity drop and falling heat index has restored the topwater bite for spots, but we shouldn’t expect that to sustain as summer lingers on and we get into the “dog days”. Our water quality profiles (submitted last week) show an excellent combination of cool temperatures and plentiful oxygen at the thermocline depths (20’ to 40’), so trolling at depths around 30’ should put your presentation right in the middle of the action as long as you are fishing below Brown’s Bridge. Deep (hypolimnion) water quality is good, cold (55 F) and with sufficient oxygen (~3.5 mg/L), so down lining and power reeling live herring and spoons are working really well deep if trolling isn’t your thing. Good electronics will help greatly in identifying the appropriate depths and locating fish. We also had a rare opportunity to sample the Chattahoochee River above Lanier this past weekend. The [electro]fishing was slow in those seemingly barren runs that comprise a good portion of the habitat upriver from Belton Bridge until you start seeing some more obvious current, eddies, and foam. Once there, we observed stripers, shoal bass, spotted bass, flathead catfish, and channel catfish as the bulk of species we saw. Carp were high abundance around nearly any woody structure we sampled. Heading back downriver, those peculiar rock outcrops comprising the river bank in various locations make fine targets for bass and catfish. Throwing jerkbaits, crankbaits, or spinners perpendicular to flow or in the upstream direction is a great way to feel out where the fish are. Dropping weedless jig heads or Texas-rigged worm, craw, or lizard around holes, in eddies, or around woody structure can put fish on the line without the worry of snagging every other cast. The river is relatively low and clear thanks to a break in the weather, so wherever you’re fishing this will be a great weekend to get out and enjoy some mid-summer fishing success on Lanier.
Trout Stockers: WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson said that nearly 26,000 trout are hitting north Georgia waters this week. Best bets include Lanier and Blue Ridge tailwaters (remember the Papala…), Cooper, upper Toccoa, Dicks, Tallulah, Wildcat, Rock, Soque, and Hooch on the WMA. The complete weekly list will soon be posted HERE.
River Runners: How do you spell E-P-I C?????
This week’s report concludes our current chapter, and soon another will start. I am signing off from the WRD North Georgia blog report and letting the other great authors here in Region 1 write the next chapter. After 34 years, I will hang up my DNR uniform after helping to shock the Chattooga on 7/31. Then I plan to get into fishing clothes a bit more often and maybe fish on weekdays, when all of you are still stuck at work (ha-ha) and hopefully paying for my Social Security checks…
This career with a magnificent agency, working with great federal partners and angler groups, has been a true blessing. My staff and I have appreciated your involvement in north Georgia fisheries management through the decades. We could not have survived the Great Recession without your support and funding, from your rallies to save Burton and Chattahoochee hatcheries from closure, to your TU license plate purchases, and to your fishing license dollars. Please continue your involvement with your Wildlife Resources Division through your financial support, emails, calls, visits, and cooperative ventures like Outdoor Adventure Days, Chattooga River sampling, DH trout stockings, brookie stream structures, national forest planning, Lake Allatoona fish attractors, and Hooch shoal bass research. Our partnership is stronger with all of us pulling together, and YOU anglers make a BIG difference in fisheries management when you stay engaged with us government types.
So thank you. I wish you tight lines with good friends together on the water. May there be rainbows in the skies and also on the end of your lines in the days ahead. May we meet a-stream and celebrate clean water and memorable catches together. I will leave you with a great lesson that my recently departed fishing buddy, Doug, taught me:
Make some more memories soon. Have fun and then pass your love of fishing to our next generation of angler-conservationists. You’ll be glad you did. I know that I am.
Sincerely, Yellowstone-bound and Blessed