Fall is coming. No, really….at least the calendar says it is…sometime….next month. What are you most looking forward to with its arrival? Fishing (without sweating so much)? Football? Hunting season? Let’s combine all those things to dream about sitting around a nice bonfire after a tasty fish fry and venison steak dinner, while watching a football game with friends. That sounds like the good stuff. 

News to Know:

  • Ocmulgee PFA Road Construction: Pardon the progress if you are visiting the Ocmulgee PFA and WMA today, they are paving the road! 
  • Cast and Blast! This combination Kids Fishing Event and Opening Day Dove Shoot will happen at Flat Creek PFA on Sat., Sept. 7. Kids fishing will start at 8 am, and shooting will start at 12 Noon. Check out this flyer for more info.
  • Volunteers are Awesome! Want to volunteer with Wildlife Resources Division? There are all sorts of opportunities, including helping with kids fishing events, outdoor adventure days, trail maintenance, fish stockings and so much more. This volunteer was able to help fisheries staff on Lake Walter F. George this past June. Work got done and fun was had! Learn more about volunteering HERE.

On to our fishing reports: this week, we have reports from the North and the Southeast. Now, Go Fish Georgia!

NORTH GEORGIA 

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

As the dog days of summer drag on, the subtle drones of our hardworking air conditioning units is music to our ears! Without question, our lives have become even more accommodated by technology and innovative products that make living relatively effortless, and I often wonder: “what did they do in the days before modern luxuries like central heating and air, Ipads, and Alexa-integrated smart TVs?” The answer? They fished, of course! I know it’s tempting after a long week of work, school, or whatever else life has been throwing your way, to kick back inside our thermally depressed dwellings and digest all of the positive breaking news scrolling across the ticker this weekend. But let’s face it, there’s still plenty of fishing to be done before our Saturdays are understandably occupied by pigskins and pigs-in-blankets. With kickoff just a week away, we’re here to convince you to trade in your lounging pants and casual weekend plans for a concerted effort to get outdoors and get a fish in your hands! How will we do it? The same way we always have—by offering you reliable North GA fishing intel that’s so intriguing you can’t help but try your luck. With a serving of WRD fishing intel and a sprinkling advice from our trusted professional anglers in the industry, you might even be able to leave your luck at home in the A/C: 

LAKE ALLATOONA 

Lake Allatoona Fishing Report (courtesy of Joseph Martinelli of Heron Outdoor Adventures) — What beautiful days we’re enjoying for August! The bite is surely slower than the “rockstar” spring and early summer that we enjoyed, however it is still on!  Multi species catches are common and the fish are reacting well to a natural shad or minnow presentation, and the topwater bite is on fire when timed just right. Trolling is a great technique to cover a lot of water and find an active strike zone. If you’re on the fish and one bait isn’t producing, mix it up.

*Downlining frisky threads and small gizzards at 15′ has been productive.  Key here is keeping frisky bait on the hook at all times. That’s every 5-10 minutes tops in most cases this time of year.  A gizzard shad will give you extended play and could last until a larger Hybrid, Striper, Spot, Gar, etc. bites.

*Freelining shad or minnows with a #1 or #2 hook on light line might produce the very best during your trip. If you notice the freeline hooks up best, have at least 2 going. Try with and without a small 3/0 split shot a few feet up your mainline to hit the sweet spots.  The best drift speeds overall have been up to 1/2 mph but if you’re over fish and they aren’t biting, try slowing it down first and even hover. If you went through all of this and didn’t get a hit, it’s likely time to change your bait. Fresh or cured, threadfin shad with any added weight/ resistance are staying frisky about five minutes.  Always have a topwater or distance- reaching spoon handy.  This bite is fire when you are in the right place at the right time and can reach the fish . I love a Whopper Plopper, a Zara with a bucktail, and even the old Heddon style topwaters. These are good to just blind cast and grind a little , and especially effective when the fish bust the surface within casting reach. The surface bite has overall been quick. The longest sustained Hybrid/Striper boil we’ve witnessed this past month still hadn’t been 10 seconds in front of the dam.  The Spots will give you a few seconds to target and place, but that’s it.  When you get a strike on the top, all is right in the world.  Remember that the fish looking at your down or free line baits are ready to pounce those as soon as you pick up that that topwater lure setup and fire to a surface swirl or boil. Catlike reflexes help a lot.

*Trolling with an A-rig or larger umbrella as well as Bomber Long A-style and shorter shad/baitfish crankbaits will get hit. The sweet spot has been between 10-22′ at around 2.8mph. We pulled a #CaptainMacks Mini last week 100′ back on 20lb.test and ran over 50 fish and didn’t get touched. It was suggested I may only be 5-7′ deep and likely so.  Added a 1 oz. egg sinker and a bead at the nose and made the same pass – stripers on!

As in all cases, adjust your depth zones as needed. I’m spooling a couple trolling rigs with leadcore later this week and hopefully we’ll have a report on this technique. Let others know what’s working for you – there’s plenty of fish to go around.

*Please continue to help us keep our waterways clean and calm. Take out one thing besides your own when possible.  If you are fishing, you likely even have a net to catch some floating plastic bag or bottle. Thanks in advance!  Please continue to be respectful of others whatever their preferred watersport/past time or watercraft type.  Love one another.  Tightlines – Joseph 

LAKE LANIER

Lanier water quality profiles: A new set of profiles should be available next week. In case you haven’t viewed temps and DO on Lanier’s Fishing Forecast map, check them out here!

Southern Fishing Report (report brought to you by Jimbo Mathely): Check out the Latest Lanier bass report here!

Oakwood Bait and Tackle Striper Report (brought to you by Dillan Greeson): Fishing has been steady and really good on Lanier this summer. Linesides are grouped from Flower Branch and Big Creek south to the dam. Groups of striper are honing in on the mouths of creek channels in 80 – 130 feet of water. Trolling lead core at 8-9 colors, down lining, and power reeling live bait, spoons, and 1-2 oz jigs are all effective methods. This is the time of year where good electronics are essential to locating schools of stripers and putting fish in the boat.

Captain Mack’s Lanier Report (brought to you by Mack Farr): Fresh spot and striper intel here! 

Brief Roop report (brought to you by Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): With the linesides and spots having been covered, let’s talk warmwater species. Quality crappie, largemouth, channel catfish, and bluegill are taking cover in the creeks and secondary channels in 25 – 30 feet of water. Whether it’s the shade, structure, or the curious drones of vehicles passing, fishing around bridges and pilings can be especially productive this time of year. Dropshot, Carolina, or Ned rigs with plastic worms or lizards, buzzbaits, and crankbaits fished hard and deliberately around pilings will produce for bass. Live minnows or a Bobby Garland baby shad in their aptly named natural colors on a 1/32 oz jighead dropped down to the bottom and slowly retrieved should put crappie in the boat. My recent experiences with Strike King’s Bitsy Minnow in Chartreuse brought some beautiful redbreast to hand, and I’ll bet the bluegill will be equally intrigued. And hey, if all else fails, at least you fished smarter (not harder) by keeping your cool and staying in the shade!

TROUT

Wildcat Creek Trout Fishing Report: Check it out HERE.

Buford Tailwater notice (brought to you courtesy of Pat Markey, Buford Trout Hatchery Manager): Each summer Lake Lanier stratifies and, as a result, the deep water released at Buford Dam becomes more deficient in oxygen and higher in metals.  Dissolved Oxygen (DO) has now dropped below 3.5 parts per million in the Chattahoochee River immediately below Buford Dam and as a result, trout have not been stocked there since the July 31st. Not to worry though, those fish are being stocked every week to other sites downstream up to the Labor Day Holiday weekend.

Terrestrial Techniques on the fly (brought to you by Matthew Phillips, Fisheries Technician): Summertime is terrestrial time on Georgia’s many trout streams! One effective fly-fishing method to target trout during the summer is to fish a “hopper-dropper” rig, which allows an angler to target fish feeding on terrestrial insects on the surface as well as fish feeding on aquatic insects on the bottom. This two-fly rig consists of a foam grasshopper fly (the “hopper”) with a nymph (the “dropper”) suspended below. Pheasant tail nymphs, prince nymphs, and hare’s ear nymphs are all great patterns that imitate a wide range of aquatic insect larvae found in Georgia’s trout waters. Tie the hopper to end of your leader/tippet, then tie a length of tippet to the hook of the hopper fly to attach the dropper. The length of tippet needed to tie on the dropper depends on the depth and velocity of the water you are fishing. Faster flowing water and deeper water will require a longer length of tippet to keep the dropper close to the bottom. While looking like a tasty meal, the hopper fly also serves as a strike indicator! When a trout eats the dropper nymph, you will see the hopper twitch, get pulled in one direction, stop completely, or get pulled underwater entirely! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and sizes of your hopper and dropper either. If you see a grasshopper jumping out of the way of your wading boots on the way to the stream, try and match your fly to its size and color. 

Lots of little bows and bonus fish at Buford Dam (reports from NGTO members): The Haw Creek TechniqueBig T sees the bows and raises 20 browns

ETOWAH RIVER 

Lake Sturgeon Stocking update (brought to you by WRD Fisheries biologist John Damer): WRD Fisheries staff stocked 2,140 fingerling lake sturgeon into the upper Etowah River near Canton this week.  These fish were raised at Summerville State Fish Hatchery (Chattooga Co.).  It is hoped that some of these 3-inch fish will survive and grow much larger before they find their way onto anglers’ lines many years from now. 

MISCELLANEOUS

Aquatic plants for Georgia’s Reservoirs: Take a gander at the greenery as you’re en route to your next fishing hole, it might have been brought to you courtesy of WRD!

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA 

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

We lost a great outdoorsman and writer this week, as Glen Solomon went to be with the Lord on Friday. Friends and family laid his body to rest on Sunday, but his mark on the woods and waters of south Georgia will not be forgotten. For more about his impact, read Brad Gill’s article HERE.

New Moon is August 23rd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

SE GA Brentz McGhin Catfish 8 19 - IMG_3002
Brentz McGhin fished the upper Altamaha River this past week and caught catfish on rod-and-reel and limb lines. This nice channel cat ate cut baitfish fished on bottom with a rod-and-reel.

Brentz McGhin fished the upper Altamaha late last week and caught 13 catfish (kept 9 – 1 blue cat and 8 channel catfish). He fished both limb lines and with rod-and-reel. Cut mullet and shrimp produced his fish. J.J. and Lance at Altamaha Park said that mullet were biting well on the dropping river. Worms fished off the back sides of sandbars produced the best. Crickets fooled bream and redbreasts, while crappie ate minnows. The flathead catfish bite has been good, with anglers fooling 30 to 50-pounders using goldfish as bait. The river level was 2.7 feet and falling (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.8 feet and falling (87 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on August 20th.

SATILLA RIVER

Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that with the river rising this week the catfish bite was best. Limb lines baited with shrimp or livers worked best. Redbreast and bream reports were non-existent this week. The river level on August 20th at the Waycross gage was 8.7 feet and falling (80 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 6.1 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

Catfish were king this week with the high river. Rooster livers and shrimp worked great. In the Browntown area, warmouth and bream were caught with crickets. The river level at the Macclenny gage on August 20th was 5.2 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

Check out Glen Solomon’s last article about fishing for bowfin in the Okefenokee in the August issue of Georgia Outdoor News. Glen will be missed! Alex from S.C. Foster State Park reported that catfishing was good on the west side of the swamp. Most folks used shrimp on the bottom to catch their whiskerfish in both the boat basin and in Billy’s Lake. On the east side, crickets worked for some warmouth.

LOCAL PONDS

Chad Lee fished some Alma area ponds over the weekend and early this week and landed 11 bass. His biggest (5 pounds) ate a buzzbait on Saturday morning. Most of his other fish were 2 to 3 pounds. Some of his other productive baits were red square-bill crankbaits, black/blue Christie Craws (tips dipped in chartreuse dye), and sexy shad crankbaits. Michael Winge reported that in Waycross area ponds crickets worked for big bream. Topwater flies (bugs) caught some big bream late in the evenings and into the night. Zoom watermelon-red speed craws fooled some nice bass.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The big redfish have shown up in several Georgia sounds this week. Cut bait produced most fish. At the St Marys Jetties, flounder were caught on pink Gulp Swimming Mullet plastics. In the creeks around Brunswick, redfish were all around shell mounds and flats. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, flounder, croakers, and whiting were caught from the pier this week. A couple Waycross anglers fished the pier over the weekend and fooled 15 sheepshead (kept a couple of them). They watched folks catch a few flounder and some BIG trout on live shrimp. Crabs were still caught in good numbers under the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The Satilla and St Marys rivers have another pulse of water working its way downstream. Catch the level right and you should catch a bunch of catfish, and then the panfishing should pick up by the weekend. In saltwater, take your pick. You should be able to catch your favorite species, whether it is trout, flounder, redfish, tarpon, sheepshead, sharks, whiting, or a myriad of other bottom fish.