Y’all need to seriously take advantage of night fishing at Georgia Public Fishing Areas available through the end of this month!
On to our fishing reports. This week, we have North and Southeast Georgia reports for you. Now, Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Congratulations to Matt Annisworth who was fishing on Unicoi Lake over the Labor Day weekend and landed a largemouth bass weighing 8.3 lb (see picture below). We received other reports of big bass being caught last week from other small lakes in North Georgia. For those of us, like myself, who grew up fishing on farm ponds, these small lakes should not be overlooked during the dog-days of summer.
I should also give a shout out this week to Dredger who “struck trout gold” while fishing out west (see picture above). As many of you know, Dredger provided a wealth of fishing information to North Georgia anglers for many years. Congratulations on having a great fishing trip and may many more fish come to hand in your retirement years. Dredger also reported on the local trout fishing conditions that hoppers with a Pats rubberleg dropper are working well for trout in the fast water and small emergers like PMDs and Baetis are drawing strikes in the smooth water. For additional trout fishing tips, check out GON’s blog page.
North Georgia fisheries staff were busy planting native vegetation in Lake Hartwell last week (see picture above). Plants like maidencane and buttonbush provide excellent year-round habitat for bass and bream as well as provide a buffer against the heavy wavy action and shoreline erosion. Blue Ridge Lake also received a healthy dose of fingerling smallmouth bass as part of the ongoing effort to restore this native species.
The summer trout stocking season has come to a close but that does not mean trout fishing must come to an end. Many of our stocked trout streams received a heavy dose of fish last week and there most certainly are some holdovers that are still waiting to be caught. Last week’s trout stocking list can be viewed HERE.
LAST DAY AND 4 HELPFUL TIPS
On his final day of working as the trout biologist for GA-DNR, Zach Moran offered some advice to those who may want to try their luck for the first time with wild trout fishing. “If you are feeling adventurous, grab your hiking boots, backpack and 3 weight fly-rod and head to the mountains for some trout fishing. A commonly used tactic by many trout anglers is called “Blue-lining” where they pick a stream on the map and hike along it while fishing for trout. Be sure to check out the interactive trout fishing map to find a trout stream to start on. Trout fishing on these little streams can be difficult. Short casts, accurate presentations of your lure, and light line are required to trick a wary summertime trout. Good baits include a caddis, spinner, or copper john. Be sure to practice good fish care when fighting, handling, and releasing fish. Make sure to have a safety plan in place in case you are injured during your fishing adventure.”
Even though Zach is a fishing fanatic, he resigned DNR to pursue a PhD in fisheries management. Bass fishing was at the top of the list on Zach’s fishing passions and he also shared some tips about fishing during the summer doldrums. “As the late Eddie Cochran would say, “there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” For many anglers in North Georgia these lyrics ring all to true. Water temperatures approaching the 90’s seem to have given bass, stripers, and catfish a serious case of lockjaw. Fear not, however, as this post has 4 helpful tips and other various tactics that will bring you success and cure those summertime fishing blues.
Tip #1: Find the Oxygen, Find the Fish – Summertime is super hard on fish as they have to find oxygenated water that is the right temperature for them to be comfortable. Unlike a person who can simply add or remove clothing, fish are forced to move to certain sections of the water column to find optimum temperature conditions. Temperature-oxygen preferences for fish are specific to each species. For example, striped bass are comfortable in water temps of 55-65˚F with oxygen levels over 5 parts per million (ppm). Largemouth bass on the other hand, prefer water temperatures above 65 ˚F and oxygen levels over 5 ppm. Once oxygen falls below these levels, fish feeding and growth will slow down. The good news for anglers is that fish will concentrate in areas of the water column that meet both oxygen and temperature needs. However, success is highly dependent on finding these fish. Two excellent places to begin your search are on the “thermocline” and the “oxygen bubble.”
The thermocline is the section of the water column where the water temperature drops drastically across a small change in water depth. It is important to understand where the thermocline is because the water below this layer is often lower in oxygen. The best place to find fish, especially largemouth and spotted bass, is just above the thermocline as water will be cooler but still is oxygenated. You can find the thermocline using electronics or with GADNR’s fishing forecast website. Simply click on the thermostat and a PDF will appear showing you the temperature oxygen profile in that area. If the thermocline is at 33 feet, anglers should fish in roughly 30 feet of water with a deep diving crankbait, dropshot, or Neko rig.
The “oxygen bubble” is a narrow layer of cold water sandwiched somewhere between the thermocline and the bottom of the lake. Like its name implies, oxygen levels are higher in the bubble than in the surrounding water and the bubble will be home for most coolwater species like striped bass, hybrid bass, walleye and herring. Target the “oxygen bubble” with live herring or large bucktail jigs. Be mindful however that catching a striped bass in the summertime when oxygen levels are low and temperatures are hot can be harmful to their health. Try to land fish as quickly as possible and handle them carefully once they are in the boat.
Tip #2: Change Your Sleep Schedule – An effective tactic for catching summertime fish is to fish at night. Bass, especially big ones, will stay in cover during the day to avoid being exposed to the sun and heat. Once the sun goes down, these large predators will come out of the cover to hunt in the shallows. Lures that produce lots of vibration or noise will work best for catching these nocturnal feeders. Adding a glass bead in front of your Texas rigged plastic worms or a rattle to your black and blue jig will help ring that dinner bell for a hungry bass. Other good nighttime baits include a black and blue spinnerbait with an oversized Colorado blade or a traditional black Jitterbug.
Catfish can also be found at night on flats adjacent to deep water. Cut shad, nightcrawlers, or chicken livers are all proven baits to catch these whiskery predators. Detect night bites by taping glow in the dark tape to the end of your rods.
Night fishing can be fun, but also dangerous. Be sure to have a good float plan in place, appropriate navigation lights, safety equipment, and operate at a conservative boating speed within the marked navigation channel. Have fun and be ready to lose some sleep catching some nighttime fish.
Tip #3: Trust Your Electronics – Electronics are incredibly useful during the summer. They can help you see what depth fish are in, if they are feeding, and what is the underlying structure. Often we hear professional fisherman talk about fishing deep structure during the summer. They are not referring to sunken logs or brush, but rather the underwater topography. Remember, there is a difference between cover and structure. Your electronics can help you find points, shelves, and bottom transitions that fish use in the summer months.
Tip #4: Up a River with a Paddle – Rivers serve as vacation destinations for fish in the hot summer months because the flowing waters are typically cooler than the lake and offer higher oxygen. Because many reservoir species of fish head upriver in the summer to seek out these cooler well oxygenated habitats, awesome fishing opportunities are just a short paddle away. Grab a kayak and head to the river to fish for shoal or one of the other river bass species highlighted in the Georgia Bass Slam, or wade out on a riffle and cast a fly for a brilliantly colored Chattahoochee Bass. A Texas-rigged finesse worm, whopper plopper, or jig will help you catch not only numbers but also some quality fish. Fish often hold in the slack, or eddy water behind boulders, waiting to jump out and grab prey as it passes by. Make sure to cast upstream of these eddies by several feet and let your bait drift into the slack water and hold on!
(The following North Georgia reservoir fishing reports were compiled by Ken Sturdivant and his ally of friends and fellow anglers)
LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, CLEAR AND 80’S
(This report brought to you by Jimbo Mathley) — Currently the lake stands at 1.1 feet under full pool as the Corp has been pulling water this week, and the surface temperature sits at 83 degrees this week, which is a significant drop for this time in August. It is nice to see the return of some cool mornings! I can’t wait for more!
Bass: Bass fishing has again been a little tough this week. The fish we are catching have been on points and humps in 15 to 25 feet of water, depending on time of day and conditions. In general, we are noticing that the fish have moved shallower with the cooler weather in recent days. The mouths of the creek in the lower lake has been our focus area. We continue to see some schooling fish each morning as well. A Spybait and a drop shot have been my best options this week, post front. We are using the Lanier Baits Fruity worms for drop shot. There are several fish also in the 25 to 40 foot depth range between the brush and the timber these fish are often best targeted with the flutter spoon and a drop shot.
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie Report is by Captain John McCalpin) — Lake Lanier is 0.9 feet below full pool and rising slightly due to recent rain. Moderate stain exists for most of the lake, and the surface water temperatures currently range from the mid to high 80’s. With these typical late summer conditions, there is an opportunity to thoroughly test your crappie fishing skills and your patience, as the fish are relatively stubborn at present. The best bite has been in the early morning hours beginning at first light and extending only to mid-morning. Crappie guide Don Whidby of DW Crappie Guide Service suggests fishing deep at 25 to 32 feet deep and slow around open water brush piles near creek channels. Use scanning type sonar technology like the Lowrance Structure Scan and Downscan technology to locate these brush piles and drop a marker buoy nearby as a reference (not directly on the brush) to accurately present your bait or lure. Be prepared to present both artificial lures and small minnows to coax these tasty rascals into your boat. Bobby Garland’s Baby Shad pattern in Blue Thunder colors in dark blue on silver or Mo Glo Slab Slay’r in Outlaw Special in green on chartreuse are my go to plastics for vertical jigging in these conditions. Using these with 1/32 or 1/24 ounce jig heads will be slow yet may be the most productive.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 2. 9 FEET, CLEAR AND 80 S
(This Lake Allatoona Bass fishing report is by Matt Driver) — Bass fishing is good. The bite is steady and a variety of baits are working. Small swim baits like the Keitech 3 inch paddle tail fished on a 3/16th ounce Picasso 2/0 round ball head. The bait can be fished around blowdowns or open water for schooling Fish. Both areas are producing right now. The key is a count it down to the Depth you are marking Fish and retrieve at slow/medium pace. There is also a good shaky head worm bite around red top this month. Areas around the mouth of stamps creek are producing. Use a 1/8 or 3/16 Picasso shakedown head and a Big bite bait 6 inch green pumpkin finesse work. We use 7 pound test Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon and a medium heavy 6’6 Shimano spinning rod. Flat points have been best early and late in the day and the stiff breeze has been positioning the fish lately. Typically only 2 to 3 Fish caught per point and the school moves off or slows down. Keep moving to find active Fish and always keep an eye on your sonar for baitfish and active bass. When the water drops into the mid to high 70’s will experience some slow periods of fishing as the bait and bass begin to transition toward fall locations. Shallow will be the most consistent bite when fishing gets tough.
LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 1.81 FEET, 80S
Bass fishing is slow. Try fishing the bridges and points by some deeper water and maybe you can catch some good fish. Fish a Weedless Wonder heads with a Zoom red bug or green pumpkin finesse worm. Fish points and ledges with deep water near by and watch the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology. Mid lake and south bass are being caught a Lucky Craft Sammy’s and a suspending jerk baits in silver or shad pattern. Deep cranking is still catch fish however not the hottest pattern going. Try a Poe’s 400 in the shad and Crawdad pattern. Make sure you feel the bottom and change your retrieve every so use a slower retrieve especially midday.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
At the time of writing this, we are mourning the loss of life and extreme damage in the Bahamas and bracing for impacts of Hurricane Dorian. Fishing reports were few and far between this week, but a record catch was made. First quarter moon is September 5th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
J.J. and Lance at Altamaha Park said that the “Waycross Crew” fished at the park this weekend and had a great catch. They had over 200 mullet on Jolly Green Giant worms fished on the back sides of sandbars. They also caught bream, redbreasts, and warmouth on crickets. Channel cats ate pink worms, while a few ate cut shad. Another angler fishing a backwater creek landed over 30 redbreasts on crickets in an afternoon. Limb-liners using goldfish as bait caught some nice flatheads, and the biggest one reported pulled the scales down to just over 30 pounds. The river level was 2.8 feet and rising (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.8 feet and steady (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 3rd.
Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that bream and a few redbreasts were caught with crickets and worms. Shrimp fished in the deep holes caught a few catfish. The river level on September 3rd at the Waycross gage was 5.8 feet and rising (81 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 4.2 feet and falling.
Alan Thomas and his friend Scotty fished the east side last Saturday and caught a bunch of fish. The water was up, so they didn’t have any trouble getting around. In 5 1/2 hours of fishing they landed 45 bowfin, 3 chain pickerel (jackfish), and 6 panfish (warmouth and fliers) using Dura-Spin in-line spinners. They caught fish on numerous colors, but Scotty’s best was red-silver blade, while Alan’s top color was jackfish. They noted that the size was not as big as they were used to catching. They had a few fish in the 3 to 3 1/2 pound range, but must were 2 pounds or a little more.
Chad Lee had a mediocre week (by his standards), except for one big bite. He caught about 20 small bass from several different ponds on several lures (mostly plastics). The bite of the week for him was a double-digit sized fish that inhaled a junebug Keitech Mad Wag worm he was swimming near vegetation. He said that he saw the monster boil at it and then it buried him on what he figured was a stump and broke off. He has caught some big fish on that junebug worm lately.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
A lake record white crappie was caught this week from the area by Andrew Laney. He fooled the 2-lb. 1.97-oz. slab with an artificial jig on Wednesday. He also had several other fish up to 1 1/2 pounds that day with jigs. On Thursday he went back and caught 17 more crappie up to 1 1/2 pounds using live minnows. Also on Thursday, an angler caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds on a swimbait. You will see this area in the fishing reports frequently later this fall when the crappie start biting well and in the winter when the trophy bass (that are just pushing double-digit size) start being reported. If you get a lake record PFA catch, be sure to let us know as we have a new angler award program that recognizes these catches.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Wind was the story….. I did not receive any truly good reports. A few whiting, sheepshead, and flounder were all I heard about. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
Behind the storm, the bite is usually pretty good in saltwater. I’ve caught good redfish at the jetties behind a blow. By the weekend the swells from the storm should subside to fishable levels, and you should be able to catch some bull reds by pitching bucktail jigs to the rocks if winds allow you to get out. Extreme heat is forecasted for late in the week, so warmth-loving fish should bite well (ie bowfin, catfish, bream, and mullet). Mullet fishing on the Altamaha is pretty much a sure thing as long as the river doesn’t rise and muddy up. Put a small worm behind a salt block and bag of pig or rabbit chow on the back side of a sandbar, and you should catch all the mullet you want to clean.