Fall Football season. Fall Deer Hunting season. Fall Fishing season – well, not so much a season because it is always a great time of year to go fishing.
Know someone that needs a little fishing instruction? Invite them to participate in a Fish-N-Learn Oct. 18-20, 2019 at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center! At this event, children, ages 8–15, and their supervisors are invited to a weekend of learning about fishing. The program will focus on the basics of fishing, equipment, casting, and cleaning your catch. Participants will stay and dine at the Charlie Elliott Conference Center. The weekend will include fishing on one of our ponds as well as educational programs on equipment, fishing regulation, and basic fish biology. For each child attending, a parent/guardian must attend and be registered. Cost is $220.00. Register HERE.
On to our reports! This week, we have Southwest, Central, North and Southeast Georgia. Enjoy the cooler weather that is coming and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Amy Cottrell, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
(This report provided by Brad McDaniel of Flint River Outdoors) — Despite the slow arrival of fall, the fishing is starting to pick back up on Lake Blackshear. Black Crappie are mainly being caught on 15′ brush piles with minnows. Plenty of Channel catfish are being caught on worms and Flathead catfish are being caught on small bream. Largemouth Bass are scattered everywhere and sluggish – plastics and vibrating jigs are the ticket. The Bream/Sunfish bream bite is slowing down as it always does this time of year, but fish are still being caught in decent numbers with crickets and worms.
(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 .31 FEET CLEAR 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. There is an early morning bite but it dies off around 10:00 a.m. If the wind is blowing, move to the points and the mouths of the creeks and coves and use top water and crank baits. This week the jigs, worms and Rat L Traps are the best baits; pick the rocks and any wood apart. Stick with the shallow bite at about five feet deep on the sunny days. If the wind is blowing now is the time for the Rapala DT6’s, the jointed Shad Raps and Bandits. Cast the Livingston SgredderS3 Sxee Shad Jerkmaster 1 AYU. Watch for signs of bait fish during these windy days and fish in these locations. Hit the Savannah River from Richard B. Russell Park and North. River fish will be a little smaller but seem to always bite during the tougher conditions. Look on the main lake points for brush with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology. Scanning five times the depth is a good rule for this technology. Check those feeding tables before heading out.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 4.6 FEET 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. There are some top fish after tiny baits and a small Rat L Trap on light line will get them. These are small fish but this will continue to improve once the weather gets cooler. There are some good bass to come out of the Savannah River, as well as the Little River and all the areas in between. Have a 3/8 ounce white double leaf Georgia Blade spinner bait and a good top water bait like a Thunder Dog or Skitter Walk. Color will really depend on the weather conditions for that day. Use the Shad Raps in both sizes. Windblown points are still good producers, especially on the Fort Gordon side of the lake. Ditches that run on the outer edges of the submerged grass are still holding good fish. This is where the practice comes in. Jigs, worms and lizards along with Carolina Rigs or Texas Rigs will work while picking apart the wood cover up in the rivers and even out on the main lake. Fish the windblown banks and points with Glass Shad Raps, DT6’s and Rattlin’ Raps. Find the rock and the bass will be close by. Crawfish are in good numbers now, so fish accordingly. Use the smaller Lucky Craft Square Bill Live Threadfin Shad Blue Gill 5/8 ounce. Watch the Lowrance Structure Scan side scan technology looking for the baitfish in the area before going in to fish. If you find the baitfish spend some time fishing there, if not, move on to your next point until you find the baitfish.
LAKE OCONEE IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, CLEAR AND 80’S
(Lake Oconee Line Side report brought to you by Mark Smith at Reel Time Service) — The lake is 1 foot low. The water temperature is 84 to 86, clear on the main lake, stained up the rivers with a light stain.
Bass: Bass fishing is slow. Some fish are showing up on the road beds on the south end of the lake. You can catch them on a Carolina rigged worm. 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. Up the rivers look for fish on wood structure. Fish a soft plastic in dark color; a jig or a worm will work.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor. 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. This is the best bite on the lake. 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 should pick up as the water cools.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 3.0 FEET CLEAR 80’S
Bass fishing is getting better every day. The lower part of the lake is clear and the bass are moving and scattered. Bass are mixed in with the hybrids and whites and moving and feeding. Try the small Rat L Traps on light line and run them through the schools with a fast retrieve. During the early morning and late afternoon the bass are moving into the coves and can be caught with shad imitation lures like Rat L Traps and rooster tails. During the day the bass are moving out deeper and may take a crank bait or a Carolina rigged worm. There is some top water action early and late up in the coves of the main lake. Pop R is the best bait and make a lot of noise with it.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.7 FEET STAINED 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. First thing in the day use a Pop R and fish it fast. Once the sun gets up the fish are very tight to cover. Flipping under docks with a worm or a pig and jig will bring you a few bites but you will need to fish a lot of docks to get a limit of fish. Use the Carolina rigged Zoom finesse or u tail worms in the green pumpkin or watermelon color. Fish these baits on 12-pound test Trilene line with a 2 to 3 foot leader using 10 pound test line. Fish the long main lake points and underwater islands where you have deep. water nearby. If they won’t bite try the Storm Stick 18 Sexy Shad. Bandit Chrome Pearl White Blue Shad 300 deep diver Spring Craw all in shad patterns.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .47 FEET, CLEAR 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Try the Mann’s Baby One Minus and an all-white buzz bait. Bites have come from main river banks to near the back of coves. However, most have come from seawalls instead of visible cover. But that can change quickly. Try the Storm Stick 18 Sexy Shad and baby bass patterns. Look on the main lake points for brush with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology. Scanning five times the depth is a good rule for this technology. Stop for a few casts on the main lake points but stay with the shallow running baits. Then fish secondary points into the pockets.
FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 81.0˚ F (27.2˚ C)
- Water Level: 4’ 6” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 14”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing GuideThe lake will remain open for night fishing as we go into October; this should produce better catches for those that are using the early/late cooler hours to fish. The temperatures are still hot, but hopefully as we round the bend into October the longer nights will start to make fishing more enjoyable with some cooler daytime temperatures. As this shift in temperature occurs expect the fishing to get better as the fish that have been hanging out in the deeper, cooler depths start feeding in the shallows. Bass fishing has been good for those lucky enough to have a kayak or small boat to fish from. Bream are still the fish most anglers reported catching. Crappie have been biting around the lights at night.
Bass: Headbanger Shad. Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumkinseed Yum Finesse worms. Crank baits. Most dark colored worms. Lures that resemble a bream like the Prop Sunfish by Lunkerhunt or Castaic BD Bluegill. Minnows and worms.
Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Near cover or near the shallower water in the late evenings or early mornings. Crickets.
Channel Catfish: Frozen catalpa worms, chicken livers, or red wiggler worms.
Crappie: Hopefully the crappie fishing will improve as we transition into fall. The lights around the fishing pier should start to hold some crappie. Try cover that creates shade (tree tops), structure, and deeper water with a small crank bait or jig with a slow retrieval.
MARBEN PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water temps. : low 80’s
- Remember early morning and late evenings remain the best times at Marben PFA.
- Temperatures are cooling so fishing success will increase in late October.
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: Fall brings a significant increase in bass feeding behavior. Anglers will find bass behaving much like spring, gorging on shad. Cooling water temperature as well as shorter days trigger this behavior. Early morning will most likely be the best time. However, if anglers are patient and can mimic what bass are targeting, do not be surprised to catch bass throughout the day. Unfortunately, this behavior will not be seen until late October. Extremely hot temperatures in the fall have led to the delay in this aggressive behavior. Anglers should be patient and pay close attention to the changing weather. Top water lures are typically used in morning and late evening hours. Crank baits and other deeper water lures are typically the most popular during mid-day. Look for bass to be in the 6 – 10 ft. range, even in early morning and moving deeper as mid-day approaches. Early morning and late evenings are still the best times for anglers targeting bass. Shad have been seen schooling in early morning so anglers should take advantage of this by targeting bass around the schooling shad.
Crappie: This is the time of year when crappie fishing begins to increase, especially after mid-October. The crappie “bite” remains the best in the evening but anglers should find early morning a good time to target these tasty fish. Anglers need to be prepared using live minnows and yellow/purple jigs, as these tend to be the most popular. Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet in the evening, while targeting the shallows around flooded timber in the morning.
Bream: Bream fishing will vary a little this time of year. Look for bream to be the most active mid to late morning, especially as the temperatures cool during October. Often times, cool fall mornings will slow activity but this will increase as the water temperature warms with the rising sun. The best thing about bream is that this fish will hit a variety of bait. Meal worms are proving the most successful bait. However, do not be afraid to experiment, you never know what bream are targeting that day. Look for bream in four to six feet of water.
Catfish: When the other fish begin to slow, anglers will often turn their attention to catfish at Marben PFA. Catfish are reported being caught throughout the day. Based on angler reports, Bennett and Fox remain the “hot spots” but look for the smaller lakes to increase this time of year. Anglers are most successful using worms, liver and stink bait.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Finally, it looks like the record-breaking heat that ushered in “fall” will relinquish its punishing grip on north Georgia this weekend! Not only is a moderation in temperatures forecast, there is actually a chance liquid will fall from the sky early next week. While this rain will likely not be a “drought-buster”, the trend will hopefully start to chip away at the extreme drought conditions that have developed across parts of north Georgia. With that said, let’s return our focus to the promising outlook of a weekend with temperatures in the 80’s and not the mid to upper 90’s! So take advantage and hit the water this weekend. Here is some great intel to plan your weekend reprieve from the heat…….
Lake Lanier: LAKE LANIER IS 3.3 FEET BELOW FULL POOL THE MAIN LAKE AND CREEKS ARE CLEAR & DEGREES – (This report bass fishing report brought to you by Jimbo Mathley ) — Currently the lake stands at 3.4 feet under full pool, and the surface temperature sits at 83 degrees this week. Parts of the lower lake are stained and/or off color. The lake level continues to drop, which should make for some good fall fishing. The bass fishing on Lake Lanier has been fair this week. The record temperatures, along with the lack of wind, have really made the bite more difficult. Luckily, that is about to change!! Rocky areas at the mouths of creeks as well as main river points are holding fish, and at daylight these fish are up and chasing bait. Moving baits are the ticket on these fish top water, Spybait, underspin, etc. We are also catching spots on points and humps in 15-25 feet of water, more towards the mouths of the creeks. The top water and swimbait bite should really pick up with the cool down this weekend. Note that with cloud cover, the fish will tend to be shallower and roaming more. With the sun up, the fish seem to concentrate more around the brush on structure as the day goes on. We are seeing some good schooling activity from daylight until around 10 am in the mornings, which should get better as we see more cooling temperatures. Top water walking baits and spy baits have been the best option this week.
Lanier Crappie Report (This crappie fishing report is by Captain John McCalpin) — Even though the water temperature remains high the fish are getting hungrier and the bite has begun to improve. Even though the best bite is in the early morning hours beginning before first light and extending to mid-morning we’re also seeing a decent bite in the late afternoon and early evening. The recommended approach is to fish deep (20 to 30 feet) with a slow retrieve around open water brush piles and covered docks near creek channels. Use Lowrance Downscan and SideScan scanning type sonar technology to locate open water brush piles and drop a marker buoy nearby as a reference and not directly on the brush to accurately present your bait or lure. Jiffy Jig JJ20 or Bobby Garland Baby Shad in Blue Thunder colors are good choices to start, then adjust colors based on how the fish respond. These 1/24 ounce jigs can be used equally well for vertical jigging or dock shooting presentations. As we move into middle and late October we expect lake water levels to continue dropping and cooler weather will reduce surface water temperatures. This will improve the bite further as the crappie are more comfortable with the cooler water. Make certain to have freshly tied line and sharp hooks to maximize success and always remember to wear a life vest when boating.
Allatoona: LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 7.5 FEET CLEAR AND 80S. Track Allatoona’s lake level HERE. (This fishing report is from Matt Driver) — As in weeks past the fishing is fair. Lots of very small schooling fish. You can look across the lake and see bait pods most of the time if the wind is calm. On occasion you will see spotted bass and white bass feeding in them. Those sporadically feeding fish are a pain in the backside to catch, you will chase them all day for very little results. With water temperatures in the low 80s, this late summer pattern will continue for the next few days until we start to see the water temperature lower somewhat. We have been catching more fish shallow than in weeks past. Several fish have come off smaller fluke type baits and shallow crankbaits. We will see the schooling activity increases tremendously when the water temperature gets into the lower 70s. We will start to see the size get a little better too.
Allatoona Striper and Hybrid Fishing (This Lake Allatoona Fishing s Report for Striper and Hybrid report fishing report is from Robert Eidson of First Bite Service) — Line side fishing is great! I really didn’t think the top water bite could get any better than it was last week, but I was wrong. The bite this week was off the charts good. Flukes, Roostertails spooks were all working well. The best bite is right at sun up and then again at sun down. Just ride the lake from Kellogg’s to Allatoona landing and watch for busting fish. It just doesn’t get any easier than it is right now. Call and book your outing today 770 827 6282.
Allatoona (More lineside intel courtesy of Heron Outdoor Adventures) — These warm October days have not allowed for any cooling of the overall 83° surface temps, but glimmers of rain and cooler temps are on the horizon – with some relief being seen as early as this weekend. The lineside catching has been sporadic on our recent trips, and peak daytime feeding hours still seem to be from 6:00-8:00 a.m. After this time, the bite seems to slow considerably. We’ve seen very little topwater action from the hybrids and stripers since last week. The Spots have been quite active throughout the entire day, and are quick to take an offering if properly placed when feeding on top or below. We had a blast chasing them early this afternoon in the channel from Kellogg Creek to Victoria Harbor, and hooked up with quite a few aerial acrobats. The hybrids and stripers have been caught primarily on threadfin shad swimming on a freeline with 8lb test. No weight to only a small 3/0 spilt shot. This method has out-fished others nearly 3:1 again this week. While we haven’t taken the plunge into full-time trolling, it has produced a few fish when scouting since last week as we pulled a Captain Mack’s mini weighted with a 1.25 oz egg sinker about 120′ back. We have been stopping to fish the schools with live bait once located. Think summer patterns for the linesides and adapt accordingly. There’s a fair amount of schoolies being found on the sonar from Bartow Carver to the Dam. While you’ll see fish relating to structure off points and channel edges, we’ve run across them in open water of 100 feet just relating to schools of bait. They are moving around and one might move around with them if possible or simply find your best spots and wait for them to come. This weekend should be decent fishing and we are even hoping for a stellar session or two ourselves. Tightlines!
Lake Hartwell: LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 3.7 FEET 80S (Report courtesy of the Ken Sturdivant Southern Fishing Report) —Bass fishing is fair. At first light a white or chartreuse buzz bait fished along sea walls and around the bridge rip rap can produce a good fish. Once the sun gets up there are a lot of smaller fish under deep water docks. You can use a Weedless wonder head and green pumpkin worm fished under these docks. The best docks are the ones with structure under them. The bigger fish are coming from up both the rivers. Fish soft plastics very tight to any and all cover. A jig with a dark color green or brown craw trailer. Also fish the rip rap on bridges and use a crank bait fished on the down river side of the bridge. A small Rat L Trap on light line can fool these fish but they are mostly small.
Lake Hartwell (Courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern): The Lake Hartwell Striped Bass Tracking Project yielded some interesting results this week. At least two cool water refuge areas were identified by our mobile tracking efforts. One location is a small stream on the South Carolina side of the lake where about 25% of the tagged fish are currently residing as they wait for lake temperatures to cool down.
Lake Arrowhead WMA: (Courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist John Damer) Armuchee Fisheries staff recently assisted with a special-needs kids fishing event at Arrowhead Lake. Seventeen kids from Model Middle School (Floyd Co.) attended. The midday sun and hot weather made for some tough fishing conditions, but everyone still had fun. The highlight of the day was when Donovan Holsonback reeled in a monster channel catfish. Congrats on the catch Donovan!
Oostanaula River: (Report courtesy of WRD fisheries biologist John Damer) – Armuchee Fisheries staff recently sampled the Oostanaula River in Armuchee (Floyd Co.). We found lots of quality flathead and blue catfish, up to 20+ pounds, especially in the slow, deep sections near the banks with some type of woody cover. Spotted bass were abundant in areas with current along rocky banks and shoals. Some of the spotted bass we saw were in the 3-4 pound range, but most were about 10-12 inches. River levels all over the Coosa basin are extremely low right now, so use care when navigating. River map available HERE.
“Blueline” report: (Courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) — Small streams are extremely low and clear right now. If you’re going to hit these streams, dress in natural, drab colors . Right now, the approach of these streams will make or break the day, so be mindful of your presence on the water – walk softly and fish methodically. I would recommend fishing dries and dry droppers, so 14-18 Parachute Adams/Purple Hazes, 14-16 yellow stimulators/PMX’s, small chubby chernobyl’s, and simple pheasant tail and hare’s ear nymphs lightly weighted with or without a soft hackle.
Intel On the water: (Intel from Steve Hudson) –– Steve took some time after volunteering at Outdoor Adventure Day to chase some small-water trout. The water was low (see photo), but he was able to get in on some native trout action (see photo). Thanks Steve!
Trout During Drought: Some GONtel on recent fishing and recommendations for trouting during the north Georgia drought.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
First Quarter Moon is October 5th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
There were few reports from the Altamaha this week because of the low water. Take your time getting around so that a sand bar doesn’t jump out and grab you. The Altamaha Park area is where most of the effort occurred. Anglers reported catching panfish, catfish, and mullet in good numbers (several groups fished for mullet). Check with J.J. or Lance at Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) for the latest information. The river level was 1.5 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 1.6 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on October 1st.
An angler reported fishing the low, green river on Sunday and whacking the bass. He caught and released 46 bass while fishing by himself. He tried crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but Texas-rigged worms were the ticket. He found fish in heavy cover and coaxed them into biting the worm. The river level at the Lumber City gage on October 1st was 0.4 feet and falling.
Colin Swinea caught a catfish while fishing with his father, Taylor in the middle part of the river. Way to go, Colin! Check with Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle (912-283-9400) in Waycross for the latest on the Satilla. The river level on October 1st at the Waycross gage was 3.9 feet and falling (80 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 2.4 feet and falling.
ST MARYS RIVER
The only report I got from the St. Marys was from Matt Rouse. He fished Friday on the upper river, and what he lacked in numbers he made up for in size. He had a mammoth redbreast that ate a red/white Satilla Spin. He also had a small bass that ate the miniscule spinnerbait. The river level at the Macclenny gage on October 1st was 1.7 feet and falling.
PARADISE PFA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
Bass fishing was very good this week, especially for a group of 5 teens that fished from a boat as part of the Outdoor Adventure/J.A.K.E.S. Day on Saturday. The teens caught 22 bass up to 4 pounds. Their hottest lure was a 6-inch Keitech Mad Wag Worms (junebug was best, but black-blue caught its share). They also caught several bass on 2.8-inch green pumpkin Keitech Crazy Flapper crayfish, black/yellow Spinnerbaits, and buzzbaits. Catfishing was great on the area during the event! Anglers landed 13 channel catfish that qualified for Angler Awards (6 pounds or bigger in the youth category) through the GA Wildlife Resources Division. There are also a few rods in the lake from anglers who were not holding their pole tightly enough – or holding it at all- and the fish yanked it in the lake when it hit.
A Baxley angler has been spider-rigging black/chartreuse and Tennessee shad Specktacular Jigs tipped with minnows again this week and catching limits of crappie. It is surprising the crappie bite has been so good in the heat, but it’s key to get there early while the fish are biting well. Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson caught a few small bass up to 2 pounds on Tuesday evening by casting jigs.
SALTWATER (GA Coast)
Capt. Teddy Elrod guided an angler to 4 redfish on the fly one afternoon this week. An olive pattern fooled the reds that were tailing in the grass. Steve Hampton caught 3 keeper flounder up to 16 inches from the Jekyll Island Pier over the weekend. Trout fishing has been good in the Crooked River area, with most anglers catching about 4 throwbacks to every keeper. Some good redfish catches were made in the Crooked River area, as well. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.