If not you, then who?

What are you doing to encourage the next generation of conservationists? While I certainly understand the value of a solitary line-wetting day, I want to urge you to also Share Your Passion about fishing with others. Make an effort to take someone on a special trip – whether it is your child, your spouse, or a friend. Most people pick up fishing because they are introduced to it by someone else. Be That Person. Then, help remind them that anglers, like hunters, were some of the first conservationists. And, that by getting your fishing license, and buying equipment like fishing poles, you are helping ensure that money continues to come to state agencies to help keep public waters managed, fish stocked, and access open.

  • National Hunting and Fishing Day is TOMORROW!: Special events (schedule HERE) will happen statewide on Sat. Sept. 28 to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day. Find one near you! 
  • Free Fishing Day: Tomorrow is also a Free Fishing Day, meaning that on this day, Georgia residents do NOT need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state including lakes, streams, ponds and public fishing areas.
  • Fall Bass Fishing Techniques: Join us at the Go Fish Education Center with FLW Pro-Angler Clayton Batts for this informative seminar!

This week, we have fresh fishing reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Now, Go Fish Georgia!

NORTH GEORGIA 

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

Despite the hot, dry weather of the first few days of fall, fish are still biting and the time is now to enjoy the outdoors.  And what better way than to attend an Outdoor Adventure Day, hosted in part by the Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.  On Saturday, September 28th, three Outdoor Adventure Day events will be occurring at three locations across North Georgia.  In honor of National Hunting and Fishing Day, no fishing license is required to participate in these events.  So, come on out for a fun-filled day of fishing and other outdoor activities at one of these events.

  • Sloppy Floyd State Park (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.): Activities include kids fishing, archery, canoeing, BB guns, climbing wall, snake show, live animal exhibits and face painting.  Hot dogs and drinks provided on a first come, first serve basis. Parking is $5 per vehicle and event admission is FREE.
  • Unicoi State Park (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.): Learn how to catch trout, shoot guns, and watch live wildlife shows. Additional activities include fly tying and casting, airguns, archery, hayrides, and skeet shooting. Door prizes and activities for the whole family! Lunch and restroom facilities available.
  • Lower Pool Park below Buford Dam (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.): Roughly 2,500 rainbow trout will be stocked bucket brigade-style promptly at 9 am, and then everyone is welcome to fish ‘em right back out (please bring a 5 gallon bucket if you wish to participate in trout stocking)! Fly tying, fishing demos, instructional shooting, and food and drink will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Bait will be provided to participants, but you are encouraged to bring a fishing pole as there will be a limited number of loaner poles available.

TROUT

Chattahoochee Brown Trout: If fishing for wild trout is more to your liking, then consider fishing for brown trout in the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam.  Fishing guide, Chris Scalley, reports that the mature browns are starting to color up in preparation for spawning later this fall.

Wild and Scenic: For more on the wild and scenic side, hike along the Ellicott Rock trail for some brown trout fishing on the Chattooga River (Rabun County), which is located near Clayton in the northeast corner of our beautiful state.  Leon Brotherton (DNR Fisheries Technician) and his trout sampling crew  completed some backpack electrofishing  this week upstream of the Burrell’s Ford Bridge and found a number of brown trout in the 12-14 inch size range in the deeper pockets formed by huge boulders.

LAKE REPORTS 

Lake Lanier: Jimbo Mathley reports the lake stands at 3-feet under full pool, and the surface temperature sits at 81 degrees this week. Parts of the lower lake are stained and/or off color. The cooler weather and lower water is helping to contribute to more normal fall like conditions on Lanier.  Bass fishing on Lake Lanier has continued to improve. The cool down this week has really helped to get the fish more active and in general, shallower. Rocky areas at the mouths of creeks as well as main river points are holding fish, and when the wind is blowing, they are up shallow and active. Moving baits are the ticket on these fish. We are also catching spots on points and humps in 15 to 25 feet of water, depending on time of day and conditions. The top water and swimbait bite is picking up!! With cloud cover, the fish tend to be shallower and roaming more. With the sun up, the fish seem to concentrate more around the brush on structure. We continue to see some schooling action mid-morning, which should increase as we see more cooling temperatures.

AcademyJackAcademy Jack Says…: Our favorite employee at Academy Sports in Gainesville, a.k.a. Academy Jack, says that spotted bass are chasing bait in the cove pockets.  He’s been hooking up with jerk bait presentations under shallow water docks.  Way to go, Jack, and thanks for the tip!

Lake Allatoona: Matt Driver reports that Lake Allatoona is 7-feet down and the water temps are in the 80s.  Lots of small bass are being caught at the surface during mid-morning frenzies.  Also, the pig and jig head bite has picked up some, and a few bass are coming off the drop shot.  The mid-lake area is fishing the best right now.

Stripers on Allatoona: Lineside report courtesy of Joseph Martinelli of Heron Outdoor Adventures, check out his report HERE.

Lake Hartwell: Lake Hartwell is 4-feet below below its summer pool elevation this week.  Ken Sturdivant reports that bass fishing is only fair right now on Lake Hartwell.  Top water baits are working during early morning and late afternoon. The best areas are along the main lake and a short distance inside the mouth of coves.  On days that a buzz bait works, it’s the lure to throw. A buzz bait can be worked faster to cover water faster. It’s a good idea to fish a smaller bait like a 1/8 or 1/4 ounce size and a larger, noisier bait like a ½ ounce size. On some mornings, other baits like Pop R’s, Chug Bug s and Baby Torpedo s are better. After the morning top water bite ends, bass can be caught around or under docks with soft plastics. The best docks will also be located along the main lake and a short distance inside coves. Look for docks with brush under and around them. The biggest key to success is to fish slow, slow, slow. A few fish may be aggressive and hit the bait on the initial fall, but most will take a very slow bait. Try a Zoom Finesse or U-Tale worm with a 1/8 ounce weight.

Anthony Rabern, DNR fisheries biologist, reports that stripers and hybrids have moved up in the water column and anglers are catching them at depths ranging from 25-40 feet.  Fish are also scattered around the lake and looking for the coolest water possible to escape the summer heat.  Some of the cooler tributaries are starting to produce fish.  On Wednesday afternoon, Anthony saw large schools of hybrids feeding at the surface over the main river channel in the Carters Ferry area.

BONUS BASS THANKS TO BLUEGILL

2Bass1BaitI’d like to close this week’s fishing report with a funny but true story that reminds us why it is important to take a kid fishing.  A friend of mine took her son bass fishing in a local farm pond last week.  The little rascal caught a small bluegill and thought he might try his luck at catching a bigger fish using the bluegill as bait.  Sure enough, a nice-sized bass snatched the bluegill offering.  Somehow, the bluegill wiggled its way to the outside through the bass’ gills and was swimming on the outside of the bass when suddenly a smaller bass grabbed the precarious bluegill offering.  Two bass on one bait….. and here’s the picture to prove it!  You never know what kind of fun experiences will happen when you take a kid fishing.  So, get in on the fun and take a kid fishing this weekend.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA 

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

Fishing has really picked up with the cooler nights and more reasonable water temperatures this week. New Moon is September 28th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

A couple of Waycross anglers fished the Jeff Davis County portion of the Ocmulgee River (tributary to the Altamaha) on Saturday. Their biggest 5 bass weighed 9 pounds, but they only caught 7 fish in about 4 hours of fishing. Texas-rigged plastics produced their bass. J.J. and Lance at Altamaha Park said that some good flatheads were caught in the Lewis Creek area on goldfish. Channel catfish ate worms fished in the main river. The mullet bite is still going strong for anglers fishing red wigglers off the back side of sandbars. Bass were caught on Trick Worms and shiners. The bream bite has slowed with the falling river. The river level was 1.6 feet and falling (82 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 1.7 feet and falling (83 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 24th.

SATILLA RIVER

Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that anglers wading in the Waycross area caught redbreasts on Satilla Spins and bream on crickets. Dead shrimp fished in deep holes fooled some good stringers of channel catfish. The river level on September 24th at the Waycross gage was 4.0 feet and falling (78 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 2.6 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

In the tidewater area around Browntown, anglers fishing with crickets caught some big bream and warmouth over the weekend. Most anglers caught between 15 and 20 keepers. Catfish were caught about anywhere you dropped a worm or shrimp to the bottom. The river level at the Macclenny gage on September 24th was 1.9 feet and falling.

WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER (NEAR VALDOSTA)

SE GA IMG_6609
Jody Swearingen caught this Suwannee bass on the Withlacoochee River near Valdosta on Tuesday by pitching a black-blue 2.8-inch Texas-rigged Keitech Crazy Flapper crayfish.

A group of anglers fished the river near Valdosta on Tuesday and landed and released 41 bass (26 Suwannee bass and 15 largemouth bass). Their top lures were watermelon-red and black-blue Texas-rigged plastic crayfish and blue craw Satilla Spins. They also had 54 panfish (a dozen of the redbreasts were between 9 and 10 inches) that ate their lures. The river level at the Pinetta, Florida gage on September 24th was 5.9 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

Julius Conner fished with a friend in the swamp on Friday for 2 hours right in the middle of the day and did great for bowfin. They landed 36 bowfin up to 5 pounds in the 2 hours of fishing. Along with the bowfin, they had 5 warmouth inhale their Dura-Spins. Their best Dura-Spin colors were fire tiger-chartreuse blade and crawfish-brass blade, but they caught a few fish on about each color they tried. Randy Hendrix fished the swamp’s east side on Thursday. He had about 30 bowfin, about the same number of warmouth, 2 fliers, and 2 gar.  His bowfin ate chartreuse-white snagless sally spinnerbaits.

LOCAL PONDS

An angler spider-rigging black/chartreuse and Tennessee shad Specktacular Jigs tipped with minnows caught a limit of filet-sized crappie on Tuesday morning. He said that with the heat, the fish bit first thing then slowed down. A Blackshear angler fishing a local pond from 1 to 4pm used minnows on Hal Flies on Sunday afternoon to catch 16 big crappie. Every color of jig they tried worked, so the fish were not picky that day. Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson caught 15 bass over the weekend from Alma area ponds. They caught most of their fish on Rat-L-traps and Christie Craws. For their biggest, they each had 6-pounders on jointed snake plugs. The morning bite was best for them. Michael Winge reported that in Waycross area ponds the best bite was for bream in the late afternoon. Crickets fooled most of the fish.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The big news is that the bull redfish showed up on the beaches this week. The seatrout bite out of Crooked River remained good this week. An angler fishing a Brunswick area pier caught between 6 and a dozen nice sheepshead each evening on fiddler crabs fished on a jighead. Steve Hampton caught some keeper flounder from the Jekyll Island Pier on Saturday. Other anglers also caught flounder, reds, and trout. The biggest flounder he reported caught during the trip was an 18-incher. A Waycross angler reported catching a big black drum from the pier using cut mullet. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the redfish bite is on. Big reds were caught off the pier on cut mullet. Trout, flounder, and croakers were also caught from the pier. Crabbers did fair this week for blue crabs. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The great fall fishing has started. Floating a river in a kayak or canoe is an excellent option. The fish are concentrated with the low water, but it’s a challenge to get to them. In saltwater, it will be hard to beat redfishing for the next few weeks if the winds allow you to get out. You can pitch bucktails to the jetties, fish cut bait around the rocks, off the pier, or on the beach and you should catch some bull redfish. You have to release the big bulls, but they are hard-pulling and a blast to catch!