Sure, night fishing at a Georgia Public Fishing Area is improved by all the installed lighting at docks and piers. But tonight, the full moon may just make it even better – what a great opportunity to pack up your tackle box and rods and give it a try! Night fishing is available at all PFAs (with the exception of Rocky Mountain PFA).
- Can you feel it? It’s Almost Time…Game Day in Georgia. Nope, not the pigskin version. The venison version. Will you be in the woods tomorrow for the start of archery season?
- National Hunting and Fishing Day – One of the best ways we (hunters and anglers) can create a better public understanding of hunting and fishing is to create a better public awareness of the important role that hunters and anglers have played in conservation and improving our natural resources. Together with hunting and fishing license fees, federal aid programs have funded game animals and sport fish conservation, habitat acquisition and outdoor recreation opportunities both in Georgia and throughout the country. This year, NHF Day events will take place on Sept. 28, 2019 and provide opportunities for everyone to learn more about outdoor skills and activities. See the statewide event schedule HERE.
On to our reports, this week we offer Central, Southeast and North Georgia reports. Read ’em, make your plans, and then 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)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN 3.3 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Early and late fishing jumps with a top water lure like a Pop R or a Sammy. Try some braid on a spinning reel and the casts can be a lot longer. Just be sure to tie the lures directly to the braid, no leader, with a double Palomar knot. This has kept the fishing going some all week. Some of the smaller more aggressive bass are chasing and striking the top water Pop R’s in the shallow water early in the day. The big fish are still sluggish and a slower presentation with your baits will be necessary to get any reaction or bite from these fish. Continue cranking those Rapala DT6 and Rapala RS Shad Raps on the sides of the main lake rocky points. The key to catching bass will be to find good current up in the rivers. Fish with the Carolina rigs, jigs or even slow cranking a Rapala DT10 or Rapala DT14.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 2.4 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Find any cooler water on a windblown point and get out the Husky Jerk Baits or the Rapala DT10. The Ito Vision 110 with a slow retrieve seems to be working the best. Slow crank the ledges for the best results. Bass are still biting up in the narrow part of the rivers on top water, cranks and plastics or small jigs. The earlier you fish, the better the results. Pop R top water baits and the Rico are worth a few casts on any point or on any rocks formations. After the top water dies off, go to the Rapala DT6 or the Fat Free Shad in shad patterns and take the #5 Shad Raps along as well. Try using jigs and plastics around wood during the midday period. Expect bites to be slow, for the most part, all during the day.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, CLEAR AND 80’S
(Lake Oconee Line Side report brought to you by Mark Smith at Reel Time Service) —
Bass: Bass fishing is slow. Buzz Baits fished along sea walls and around docks will produce the first hr. of day light. Also fish the buzz baits along the grass beds on the south end of the lake. Some fish are under the deep water docks. A Texas rigged worm fished up under the docks will produce some fish. The humps on the lower end of the lake have also been producing when Georgia Power is pulling water. Use a Carolina rigged worm on the humps.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor. There is a sporadic top water bite that is there one day and not the next. There are some small hybrids showing up at first light at the dam. Use a popping cork or a crappie jig. Not much size but a lot of fun on light tackle.
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. Dropping a jig into the trees has also been producing as well as the minnows.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN .82 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The upper lake fish are feeding better with the cooler waters from the river. Down lake fish the long steeper deep points on the main lake. Early look for the fish on the clay banks and throw Carolina rigged worms or pig and jigs. There are some bass schooling. Fish the jumps with a top water lure like a Pop R or a Sammy. Try some braid on a spinning reel and the casts can be a lot longer. Just be sure to tie the lures directly to the braid, no leader, with a double Palomar knot. From mid-morning the best baits by far will be a Zara Spook and the Sebile Swimmers. Also try the Spotsticker jig heads rigged with Zoom finesse worm and Spotsticker hand poured worms. Fish your moving baits out to 20 feet and get back in the creeks as soon as the sun is up on the water.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, STAINED, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The action has started to pick back up with few good fish being caught. Most fish are being caught on Carolina rigged Zoom finesse or Zoom U tail worms in the green pumpkin or watermelon color. Fish these baits on 12-pound test Sufix Elite line with a 2 to 3 foot leader and a Carolina keeper. Alabama rigs are also fair and the fish are active right at daylight on the lower lake points. If there is any top water use a top water lure like a Pop R or a Sammy. Try some braid on a spinning reel and the casts can be a lot longer. Just be sure to tie the lures directly to the braid, no leader, with a double Palomar knot. Use the Fat Albert pearl grubs on the Alabama rig with a ¼ ounce plain lead head jig. Fish the long main lake points and under-water islands. A Norman Deep Little N fished in the same area has been catching some good fish. The best bite is at daylight and then at dusk.
LAKE JACKSON IS .49 FEET OVER FULL, CLEAR, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Start the day with a buzz bait. Fish it around mid-lake docks, sea walls, and bridge rip raps. As the sun gets up switch over to a crank bait and work the main lake docks. You can also pick up fish in the main lake creeks especially Tussahaw Creek with the same pattern. Run the Lowrance Structure Scan beams past the docks and run the beam out to 80 feet. Deep running crank baits fished off of the deep water humps and deep water points on the south end of the lake have been producing some larger fish. You can also pick up extra fish on the bridge rip rap with a square billed crank bait. Most of these fish are coming off of the down-lake side. Follow up with plastic and be willing to move on. Try the same areas again, later in the day. Throw small cranks and a Shad Rap in baby bass or pearl.
BIG LAZER PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface water temperature: 86°F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 21”
- Water level: Water level is only down 12” from full pool
In general, the hot summer weather will eventually be replaced by cooler nights during September and October. The cooling water temperatures cause the fish to increase their feeding before the winter months. Therefore, now is an excellent time to grab the family and head outdoors for some fall fishing at Big Lazer PFA. The new pier and walkway are now ready to be used! Also, Big Lazer PFA will be hosting a kid’s fishing event on September 28th from 8:00 to 11:00 am for children age 15 or younger.
Bass: Fair – Bass fishing has been slow because of the very hot temperatures. However, fall weather is getting closer. When the cooler fall weather finally arrives, bass feeding will increase before they head into the winter. Anglers should try shad look-alike baits at several depths. Also, plastic-worms and crankbaits fished just off the channels in the upper end have always produced good bites.
Crappie: Poor- A few crappies are being caught but they are difficult to locate and target. For crappie, try fishing deep around standing timber with live minnows or try bright colored jigs fished at several depths.
Bream: Good – Bream fishing is good and will continue improving as cooler water temperatures arrive. Target shallower areas with woody brush associated with it. Crickets and worms are excellent live bait for bream. Also, small grub-like plastic jigs of various colors can work well anytime of the year. Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting. However, make sure the hooks are small because bream tend to have small mouths.
Channel Catfish: Fair- The rocks along the dam are always a good spot to try and catch big channel cats. However, catfish are also located throughout much of the lake. Some catfish are being caught on cut bait, worms, livers, and shrimp. Try fishing both on the bottom as well as suspended higher up in the water column. The area around the new pier may be a good spot to try to catch a nice cat.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 81⁰F
- Water Visibility: 21 – 54+ in.
Bass: The bass bite is improving as the water temperatures begin to drop. A nice five-pounder was caught in Breambuster on a shad-imitation lure. I’ll bet we see even more nice bass caught in Breambuster soon as bass continue to school and aggressively chase balls of threadfin shad that seem to congregate around the boat dock. Lures that imitate small (1-2”) threadfin shad have been effective at catching these fish, especially earlier in the mornings. Jones Lake is loaded with shad as well. Also, the jig bite has been good in Willow lately. Patient jig anglers fishing slowly in deeper water have had some luck lately.
Bream: Bream are still being caught throughout the area but especially in Beaverlodge and Bridge Lakes. Our catalpa trees have been loaded with catalpa worms (pictured) that are excellent bream bait! Be sure to check out the tree by the office. The afternoon bite is improving as water temperatures begin to cool off. Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge Lakes are excellent spots to fish for bream. The feeders at Jones Lake have been shut off to help improve water quality but they should still be good spots to fish. 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 good lately. Our catalpa trees have been loaded with catalpa worms which are excellent catfish bait! Be sure to check out the tree by the office. Nice fish have been biting in Willow. A four-pounder was just caught off one of the ADA piers on the peninsula. Deep water around the siphon drain structures continue to be good spots for catfish, but shallower areas are improving as well. Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge are excellent spots to fish for catfish. The feeders at Jones Lake have been shut off to help improve water quality but they should still be good spots to fish. Remember, the PFA record catfish has not been set! Any channel catfish caught on McDuffie PFA that exceeds 12 pounds will qualify as an official PFA record fish. Please see application at the 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. We’re getting into the time of year where the larger stripers start biting crankbaits.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
All of us were breathing a sigh of relief this week as the deadly Hurricane Dorian passed offshore! We were spared…. With the extreme heat behind the storm, extremely few anglers hit the water. Of the reports I received, the best freshwater bite was in the Altamaha River, where J.J. and Lance at Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) reported anglers catching quite a few bream, redbreasts and warmouth in the feeder creeks. Catfish of all flavors were also caught in the lower river on bush hooks and rod and reel. Additionally, the mullet fishing has been great with the lower water.
GEORGIA COAST “SURF-AND-TURF”
The neatest story I heard of this week was an adventure of Mike Sellers from LaGrange. Mike drew an alligator tag in the Altamaha region for this fall. He set up his trip for September 10th and headed east at about midnight. His first stop was at a friend’s house in Waycross, then they headed to the St. Mary Jetties. They launched as the sky was just starting to crack daylight and continued their eastern progress into the gorgeous sunrise. Tarpon were not where Mike’s friend had left them just a few days before, so they started pitching bucktail jigs to the rocks. By the time the mercury soared to an uncomfortable level, the duo had landed 2 1/2 redfish on 3/4-ounce fire tiger bucktail jigs. The first two were 32 and 26 inches, and the third was 12 inches. Or at least, that’s all that was left after the giant shark grabbed it during the fight, screamed drag, and then cut two-thirds of its body off the tail end. Mike threw the remains back in, and a bull shark about 7 feet long gulped it off the surface within minutes. When the heat got too much to take, Mike headed back to a motel room and sought respite in the air conditioning.
That evening, he headed to a private pond in Glynn County to try to fill his gator tag. After passing on a few smaller gators and having his hook pull from a 9-footer, the crew spotted another gator they wanted to try for. A perfect cast over the lizard’s shoulder, and the fight was on. When they made the cast, they thought it was a 9-footer, but when it surfaced and they approached to try to harpoon it, their estimate grew to 10-feet. For over an hour, the gator would pull drag, sit on the bottom, crawl on the bottom, sit on the bottom, and bite the harpoon whenever they prodded the beast to get it to move. After a dozen attempts to bite the harpoon in half, the gator figured it wasn’t going to hurt him and stopped biting it. So, using the harpoon one of the hunters found the gator on the bottom and gave a desperation heave and stuck the gator perfectly where the harpoon would lodge, and the fight was over. As the head came over the gunnel, everyone realized it was even bigger than what they had thought. After blowing a goozle getting it over the gunnel and the ride in to the ramp, they stretched it out and found that the little 9-footer that they were stalking was actually 11-feet, 1-inch long. Mike started the day at midnight in LaGrange and ended the day at the motel at midnight. During those 24-hours he had covered about 500 miles, caught 2 new species for him (redfish and jack crevalle), and had harvested his first alligator, a trophy in anybody’s book! What a day, Mike! Congratulations!
I mentioned last week that redfishing with bucktails at the St Marys Jetties was a good bet, and it was. Don Harrison and I caught 3 big redfish up to 41 inches on Saturday and Mike Sellers caught 3 more on Tuesday. Winds are forecasted to kick up by the weekend, so check the marine forecast before you go. Make sure to keep hydrated in the extreme heat! The Altamaha is a great place to fish in freshwater this week, whether you fish for catfish, bass, mullet or panfish. Navigate carefully, as it’s getting low, and sandbars will jump out and grab you….
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Outdoor Adventure Day: (From WRD Administrative Assistant Lauren Long) — Come to the annual Outdoor Adventure Day at Unicoi State Park on Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm. Learn how to catch trout and shoot a gun, and watch live wildlife shows. Activities include wildlife shows, trout fishing, fly tying and casting, airguns, archery, hayrides, and skeet shooting. Door prizes and activities for the whole family! Lunch and restroom facilities available. Call the Gainesville WRD Fisheries Office for more info (770-535-5498), or visit Unicoi State Park.
Lake Allatoona Bass: (This report courtesy of Matt Driver) — Lake Allatoona is down 3.6 feet, clear, and in the 80s. Bass fishing is fair. Small swim baits like the ketch 3-inch paddle tail fished on a 3/16th oz 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. Fish the mouth of stamps creek are producing. Stick with the jigs 1/8 or 3/16 Picasso shakedown head and a Big bite bait 6-inch green pumpkin finesse work. We use 7 lb. test Sunline sniper fluorocarbon and a Med/heavy 6’6 shaman 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.
Lake Allatoona Hybrids and Stripers — An extensive “Heron Report” this week courtesy of Joseph Martinelli from Heron Outdoor Adventures.
Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Jimbo Mathley) — Lanier is down 1.5 feet, clear, and in the 80s. Bass fishing is fair. Parts of the lower lake are stained and/or off color. 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. There are still a significant number of fish shallow, particularly on rocky areas. 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. We found a return of top water action with these schooling fish over the last few days, which is encouraging. There are several fish also still in the 25 40 foot depth range between the brush and the timber. These fish are often best targeted with the flutter spoon and a drop shot. Want more detailed information on the bite this week? Subscribe to my weekly video fishing reports HERE.
Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Captain John McCalpin) — Crappie fishing slow. The fish are small and hard to catch. The best bite has been in the early morning hours beginning at first light and extending only to mid-morning. Fishing deep at 25 to 32 feet deep around open water brush piles near creek channels is fair. 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. As we move into late September and early October, be prepared for the bite to become a bit easier as the water temperatures begin to decrease, and the crappie begin to feed in preparation for the spring spawn season. Make certain to have freshly tied line and sharp hooks to maximize success, and always remember to wear a vest when boating.
Updated Lanier Fish Attractor Locations: (From WRD Biologist Hunter Roop) — Earlier this summer, Gainesville Fisheries section staffers along with North Georgia Crappie Angler club members deployed “plastic pallet tent” habitat structures at ten locations near Don Carter State Park. The locations of these structures are now available on our Fishing Forecast map for Lake Lanier HERE. We encourage anglers to fish these structures with vertical presentations for crappie, bream, and bass. Let us know how they fished!
Lanier Profiles: (From WRD Biologist Hunter Roop) — Water quality profiles on Lanier were obtained Tuesday of this week. Coolwater habitat for striped bass is becoming marginal as deepwater oxygen continues to decline and the epilimnion remains very warm. The thermocline has moved shallower thanks to consistent warmer weather over the last week, and we observed topwater activity routinely during our sampling. Best habitat is we identified were at the Six Mile and Flowery Branch stations. Profiles can be located on our Lake Lanier Fishing Forecast GIS map, HERE.
More Lanier Info on GON Forum:
- Lanier spots heating up
- Keep the topwater baits handy
- Intel and video on Lanier black bass presentations working late-summer
- Trolling for deeper fish works, too
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) — Lake Hartwell is down 2.03 feet, and in the 80s. Bass fishing is slow and the bass are very sluggish. Fish the Rapala DT6, the Rapala RS and Jointed Shad Raps in the early mornings. The bite picks up again from about 6:00 p.m. until dusk. Concentrate your efforts on the smaller main lake points and the banks between points. Look for two small points that are close to each other for better results. During the day, also look for and fish rocks and wood structure that have shade on them. Fish the jumps with a top water lure like a Pop R or a Sammy. Try some braid on a spinning reel and the casts can be a lot longer. Just be sure to tie the lures directly to the braid, no leader, with a double Palomar knot. Shady docks are also holding an occasional bass. Take along those jigs and light weight Carolina Rigs for the mid-day bite. By 10:30 a.m., the bass will be retreating back to the deeper water and holding tight to cover. The best pattern for this week is to stay in close and fish the shady side of the lake.
Weiss Lake Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) — Weiss Lake is down 3 inches, clear, and between 89-91 degrees. Bass fishing is fair. The bass are on a deeper, summer pattern on road beds and main lake points, and creek and river channel ledges. Crank baits and spinner baits are catching fish. With the latest heat wave the water has heated back up, and the fishing has got a lot tougher. A good cooling trend in September should trigger some better fishing. Any time they are generating power, the point at the mouth of the canal is producing some good fishing. Crappie fishing is fair. The fish are out deep, showing up on deeper brush, spider rigging with minnows is producing some fish. Night fishing under lights, in the main river channel, is the ticket for catching.
Lake Nottely Profiles: (From WRD Biologist Hunter Roop) — Oxygen diffusor systems installed by TVA are maintaining coolwater habitat for Nottely stripers in the forebay. Outside of the lower forebay area, dissolved oxygen has completely dropped out below 25 feet. Temperature changes with depth are small, resulting in no real thermocline to speak of. Check out the profiles at each site by clicking the thermometer icon at the forebay and “point 3” station.
Lake Chatuge Profiles: (From WRD Biologist Hunter Roop) — Lake Chatuge is showing good late-summer water quality. There is a thermocline from 30 to 50 feet. We observed topwater action multiple times during our data collection, and saw schools of bait skimming the surface as well, so feel out the pattern and consider topwater or trolling to put fish in the boat.
Blue Ridge Lake Profiles: (From WRD Biologist John Damer) — We collected new profiles at Blue Ridge yesterday and they are available on the Fishing Forecast page. Just click the thermometer icons on the map. Temperatures at both sites remain above average, owing to the crazy hot weather. Oxygen levels are still dropping in the main lake, but the O2 diffuser system has done a great job boosting oxygen levels near the dam.
North Georgia Mountain Lakes: (From WRD Biologist Hunter Roop) –Fish are still biting, albeit slowly, on our smaller N. GA impoundments. Academy Jack fished a small 100 acre public impoundment yesterday. Two caught on topwater in the shade during the morning light, and three more were landed on deep-diving crankbaits off points once the topwater bite turned off. These smaller mountain lakes can be great fishing opportunities for both catching and seclusion, so if you’re looking to get away from boat-induced wave pools this weekend, consider scanning public access points to some of these reservoirs HERE.
Etowah River Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Etowah is fishing well for bass, but striper fishing is pretty much done for the year. Target bass with topwater flies like boogle bugs and swim frogs early and late in the day. If you’re willing to brave the midday heat, streamers imitating shad/baitfish will produce well: Clouser Minnows, Lunch Moneys, Flashtail Whistlers, Sparkle Minnows, etc. Bring lots of water and sunscreen!
Toccoa Tailwater Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Toccoa Tailwater is good when generation allows. If you have a thermometer, bring it along and keep an eye on the water temperatures especially on the access points further downstream. Keep in mind that trout need cool water and mishandling or playing a trout too long can result in mortality this time.