Surprise! Here we are – getting you all that need-to-know fishing info a day early so you can use it during the upcoming holiday weekend!
News to Know:
- Be Safe and Be Smart on the Water: Operation Dry Water is July 3-5, 2020. This is a national boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign during the Independence Day weekend. During the campaign, cooperating agencies will increase BUI awareness and enforcement on waterways within their jurisdictions. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents nationwide. Boating under the influence is not only dangerous to the operator of the vessel and their passengers, but the operator may be arrested, and the boat impounded. Penalties vary by state but can include fines, jail time and the potential loss of boating or driving privileges. Boat sober. Boat safe.
- Hillabahatchee Creek Shoal Bass Stocking: Check out THIS INFO about a shoal bass stocking in Heard County.
This week, we have fantastic fishing reports from North, Southeast and Central Georgia. We wish you a very happy, safe and wonderful Independence Day weekend – and make sure that you find time to get out there and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Burton’s Trophy Burton Bass (From Fisheries Supervisor Anthony Rabern) — Nine-year-old Matthew Burton was fishing on Lake Burton on Monday when he landed this incredible monster largemouth! The fish reportedly weighed 11 pounds on a certified scale. Although Matthew’s fish fell a bit short of the lake record (14 lbs.), it is nonetheless an exceptional fish that most anglers will never best in their lifetime. Congrats on the trophy fish, Matthew, and don’t forget to submit your info for an Angler Award!
Northeast Georgia Walleye Report: (This report courtesy of Follow the Son Guide Service ) — Small (nice to eat) size walleye are scattered throughout the deep water. Covering water and depth changes will put some fish in the boat along with an occasional bigger fish. Yellow perch are also in the mix when working the same areas, like this nice Georgia Youth Angler Award-winning yellow perch caught by Ford Beard. Surface temps are on the rise and fish are moving deeper.
Redeye Bass Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — As we move through the summer past July 4th, many of our low elevation trout streams in northwest Georgia become too hot to stock with trout. But that doesn’t mean you should put away your small stream rigs until next year. You might try to target the native redeye (Coosa) bass that call many of the local streams home. I took a trip to a redeye stream near Dalton last week and it was an absolute blast. I caught fish on small dry flies, terrestrial flies, and inline spinners, but the spinners seemed to work best. Redeyes are very spooky with the low water we’ve had, and I needed to make long casts to stay out of sight. Focus your efforts early in the morning or late in the evening when the bright sun is not beating down on the water. My best action was just before heading home toward dusk. Some of the bigger ones are quite a handful on light tackle, and will rip some drag off a microlight rod spooled with 4-lb test.
Lower Etowah Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Etowah River cranked up the flow today to 1980, so it might be borderline downstream of the creeks to fly fish effectively. If you go and chase striper, fish heavy. Keep an eye on the flow as it could drop quickly as soon as the Corps of Engineers levels out the lake and the rain subsides. Boogle Bugs, baitfish patterns, and craw patterns should work for the spotted bass. July is looking like it’s going to be prime time for river striper and bass, so call us if you want to set up a trip!
Striped Bass Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Armuchee staff have been sampling striped bass in the Coosa River basin to gauge relative abundance at several key thermal refuge areas. Stripers like the 20-pounder pictured must find refuge in cool tributary streams/rivers during the summer months outside of their primary habitat in the mainstem Coosa River and Lake Weiss because these mainstem areas get too hot. Anglers can target them in the refuge areas, but pay attention to water temps and know that these fish are likely stressed if temps get above 75 degrees. Play them fast and release quickly to make sure they survive to fight again next spring.
Toccoa Tailwater Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Toccoa River has been fished hard for the past couple months, but don’t let that deter you! We had enough rain to slightly stain the river earlier this week, and the generation schedule will probably crank up a little more to maintain the lake level. If you plan on wade fishing, the clarity should go back to normal below Hemptown Creek by Saturday or Sunday. I would mostly nymph or throw dry-dropper rigs unless you see a hatch come off. For dry-droppers, try big dries imitating stoneflies and terrestrials – these flies are buoyant and can stand to float one or two nymphs with split shot. I like these big dries on a shorter, 7.5 foot 4x leader and use 4x or 5x fluorocarbon tippet to connect your dropper flies. Try dropping stonefly nymphs (Pat’s Rubber Legs, Double Bead Stones), smaller pheasant tail or hare’s ear variants, small rainbow warriors, caddis patterns, etc. Use the same flies for a nymph rig, but I would change to a 9ft 4x Fluorocarbon leader.
Small Stocked Stream Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — My former co-worker, master boat salesman, and avid angler Robby Carron broke away from wedding venue hunting in Helen this past weekend to pursue some mountain trout. He hit Low Gap Creek for about an hour, and while the water was up and had a slight stain, he had no trouble finding stockers that were easily enticed by small silver rooster tails and gold Joe’s flies in the riffles and smaller runs. He slowly fished the deeper holes with salmon eggs and trout dough. He walked out with a handful of brown keepers to present to his soon-to-be bride, who was again reminded that she had a keeper herself, as they enjoyed a mountain trout dinner that’s not so easily attainable for these middle Georgia dwellers.
Summerville Stocking Report: (From Summerville Hatchery Manager Josh Tannehill) — Nearly 10,000 catchable trout will be stocked out of Summerville Hatchery this week. Check out the weekly stocking report every Friday afternoon HERE to see what streams received stockers this week.
Wild Trout Sampling: (From Fisheries Supervisor Anthony Rabern) — Our wild trout crew is busy most days during the summer sampling small wild trout streams in the mountains using backpack electrofishing gear. This gear type works best when streams are at their lowest flow, which typically happens about now. Last week we were working on a small stream in Rabun County and found this trophy native, which was about 10 inches. Low productivity in our headwater streams means you don’t see too many wild brookies larger than this in Georgia.
Small Streams Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — Small streams should have received a welcome amount of rain this past week, but none of the streams higher up should be blown out. If the water is a little high still, try high sticking heavier tungsten flies like March Brown Jigs, Jigged Hare’s Ear Soft Hackles, and big stonefly patterns and wooly buggers. As the water levels out, any yellow dry fly, beetle pattern, or small terrestrial should do the trick. 5x and 6x leaders on a light 3 or 4 weight rod will provide a lot of fun.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Full Moon is July 5th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.
Wayne Battles fished the Altamaha river basin this week and landed 70 panfish (mostly redbreasts) using Satilla Spins. His best colors were black/chartreuse, coachdog, catalpa gold, and chartreuse bruiser. The river is going up and down but not by much. It is fishable, but still pretty offcolor and swift. The greenish summertime color has not started setting in yet. Anglers caught panfish in the sloughs and creeks off the main river on both crickets and artificials. The lakes around Altamaha Park are a good choice if you want to panfish this weekend. Bass are both in the oxbow lakes and in the main river, so take your pick. Plastics will catch you numbers of fish, but buzzbaits will give you a shot at fooling a bigger bass. Catfishing has been good for channels and blues on rod and reel and flatheads on limb lines baited with live bait. I haven’t gotten any mullet reports yet, but they are around. The bluegill fishing should be spectacular when the river gets right. The river level was 5.7 feet and falling (83 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.5 feet and steady (85 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 2nd.
The river is getting low and getting around can be challenging, but some great catches came from the small river this week. The best report I received was from Donny Riner. He and Lewis Beasley fished this week and ended up keeping about 40 panfish. Mostly redbreasts ate their Satilla Spins, and catalpa gold and crawfish worked best for them. The river level at the Reidsville gage on July 2nd was 2.8 feet and falling.
I took off work on Wednesday and floated the upper river with Don Harrison. The area got an inch of rain the night before, and it cooled the river, muddied it slightly, and started it rising. The bite started slowly with Satilla Spins, but a black/chartreuse Bert’s Bug was drawing vicious strikes. During the first couple hours, we caught a dozen redbreasts and bluegill on the bug and a fly rod and had twice that many hits. As the water warmed, though, the spinnerbait bite picked up. We didn’t tear them up, but we steadily caught a fish here and a fish there. When the smoke cleared we had caught and released 62 fish. Most were redbreasts up to 9 1/2 inches and bluegills to 10 inches. We also had some stumpknockers, crappie, bass, warmouth, and bowfin. The best color Satilla Spins were bruiser and slaw, but was also caught a few fish on crawfish, bruised banana gold, black/chartreuse, and fire tiger. The river is going back up slightly, so motorboats may be an option on the whole river by the weekend. The middle and lower river sections are a little high and stained, but folks will catch fish this weekend. In the upper river, floating will be the way to approach it, unless we get signficant rains the next couple of evenings. Take note of the Highway 158 Bridge landing being closed due to construction of the replacement Hwy 158 Bridge. This will affect anglers fishing that upper river area, so plan accordingly. The river level on July 2nd at the Waycross gage was 6.0 feet and rising (83 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 6.5 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river has come back down into its banks again, and the tidewater below Traders Hill is fishable. You will catch a few panfish, but catfishing will be the ticket this week. Put a shrimp on the bottom, and you will be rewarded with a whiskerfish. Shady Bream Tournaments holds artificial-only panfish tournaments on the St. Marys River. Check them out on Facebook for future tournament information. The river level at the MacClenny gage on July 2nd was 4.9 feet and falling.
A couple of Brunswick anglers fished a good bass pond early this week and landed over 40 bass in the 1 to 3 pound range with a couple pushing 4 pounds. Crankbaits and plastics were the ticket for them. The fish were in an area that had shad schools. Another angler near Valdosta caught some nice bass pushing double-digits this week by punching plastics through dense vegetation. That is a good way to find the bigger bass during the heat of summer. I remember punching up a nice bass several Julys ago at Banks Lake when the water temperature on my fish-finder was reading 101 degrees. Night-time trophy bass fishing is heating up with the temperatures. This is when a friend of mine (the late Pat Cullen) used to catch most of his double-digit fish. He flung black buzzbaits all night long, and I knew of him catching as many as 5 over 10 pounds in a night when the bite was good. If you like chasing catfish, this is the time to fish at night for them, as well.
Staff at Okefenokee Adventures said that the bite has been generally slow lately. The recent rains have the water out into the prairies and the fish spread out, but the bite will pick up as it pulls back into the canals. A few warmouth, fliers, and bowfin are what you can expect to catch right now. Chris “Turtleman” Adams caught a 9-pound bowfin in the boat basin this week. The fish tore up his rooster tail, but he had fun doing it! The refuge and Okefenokee Adventures have returned to their usual summertime hours (1/2 hour before sunrise until 7:30pm). Check the Okefenokee Adventures website for the latest on their services.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Tarpon are around, and Capt. Greg Hildreth’s charter on Saturday hooked up with a 150-pound class fish on artificials. The fish’s bony mouth cut through their leader, but it was an exhilarating fight! There is nothing quite like fighting a giant silver king. I won a battle with my first tarpon during this week back in 1998. It was a 2 1/2-hour battle that left my body sore, knees bloody, skin sunburned, and mind in mush. Then I released the fish after a photo and tried to catch another one….. Ed Zmarzly and a friend fished Sunday at the St. Marys Jetties and pitched Jetty Jigs (a heavy round jighead built on a heavy-duty Gamakatsu hook) rigged with Z-Man panddle tail grubs and managed to catch 8 flounder (to 21 inches), 4 keeper trout, a couple of slot redfish, and a nice black drum by pitching the artificials around the rocks. Their fish of the day was a 4.85-pound trout! A Kingsland angler fished several days this week in the Crooked River area, and his best day was Wednesday when he and his friends caught 18 trout up to about 20 inches. Live shrimp were the ticket for them. Check with the Jekyll Island Fishing Center (912-635-3556) for the latest on the Jekyll Island Pier or St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Find and fish biggest cluster of rocks in the shade and fish with a ¼-ounce jig while using no more than 10-pound Suffix Line. Also, use a Rapala DT6 or DT10 along these same areas and be sure to bounce the baits off the rocks. After the sun comes up, head to the bridge pylons. On a spinning rod use a ¼-ounce Strobe Tear Drop Spoon by Blue Fox on 8 to 10-pound test Suffix line. Use a Robo worm in morning dawn and fish this vertical jig on all the pylons under the bridges starting at one side then move to the other. Most strikes will come on the fall of the bait and watching your line is a must. These hot summer patterns will work until the water cools back down. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology while fishing the bridge pylons.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Start fishing around the Mistletoe State Park with the Carolina rigs. Use anywhere from an eighteen to twenty-four-inch leader and a watermelon seed Zoom lizard out to ten to twenty feet deep. The submerged river humps are still producing some good bass. Bass are holding very tight to deep structure when they aren’t generating water. When current is available, crank baits on the back sides of the humps, rip rap and main lake points seem to be the most productive. Also, fishing rip rap around bridges with spinnerbaits, small crank baits, and shaky head rigs is effective. There still could be a few shad spawning first thing in the mornings. Later in the month some bass should start showing up on deeper brush piles and roadbeds as the water warms. Try deep crankbaits or Texas rigged Ol’ Monster worms.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
(This Lake Oconee fishing report is by Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Service. 404-803-0741) –
Bass: Bass fishing is good. The temperature is 80 to 84 degrees. Richland Creek and the main lake are clear. Up the river is stained. Buzz baits at first light on sea walls and rip rap are effective. Start in the middle of the creeks and work your way out of the creeks and coves. Then switch over to a spinner bait and fish the same areas. Soft plastics fished under docks in the middle of the coves will produce some good fish. If there is structure under or around the dock it will increase your chances. Carolina rigs fished on points have also been producing. Some fish are starting to show up on the humps on the south end of the lake. Carolina rigs fished with a short leader will draw strikes. Also, start looking for the grass beds on the south end and work a frog in and around the grass.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is fair. Live bait, shad have been working on down lines all over the south end of the lake. Find the schools off points and humps on your Lowrance and drop a lively shad to them and hang on. Some trolling action is also happening in the same location. There is a good spoon bite in the afternoons when Georgia Power is pulling water. The striper fishing is almost over. The dissolved oxygen levels are dropping fast.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The summer down-line bite on top of timber and brush piles has produced large numbers and size over the past week. Find the fish in the top of the timber with your Lowrance Down Scan and drop a minnow or a jig into the school and hang on.
WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, CLEAR 70’S
Bass fishing has been fair to good and several baits and patterns are working. Early and late use spinner baits and buzz baits in the shallows and shadows then get to the humps and use larger crank baits. Work the main lake humps and check out the rip rap on bridges and main lake points early morning and use a # 7 or # 5 Shad Rap in baby bass or shiner and the spinnerbait. There has been a good bite up lake in the cooler river waters. Use larger Zoom Bush Hogs and green lizards on a Texas rig. The river points down lake have been best in the middle of the day using a 200 all-white Bandit. Use the Lowrance and fish off the points out to 50 feet away from the banks and points on the main lake.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 STAINED 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. There is some top water action there early until the water gets super hot. Use top water Devils Horse lures and all white buzz baits. All white seems to be the hot colors with a little green in the skirts. These baits have been taking some really good fish early in the day. After the sun gets up, slow rolling spinner baits and large crank baits has been the best way to get to the deeper fish on the river. Carolina rigged Zoom green pumpkin Trick worms or the same color in the Zoom lizard in the six-inch size will work and some extra Mega Strike scent will help the fish hold the baits longer. There has been a good top water bite on docks on the shady side. Use green frog and white buzz baits. Go up the river and work the points and small cuts up to and past Murder Creek. There is good fishing in these areas as the day warms up. Take the Carolina rig and fish the points out to 20 feet deep.
LAKE JACKSON IS .80 FEET OVER FULL CLEAR 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Go early and late and the bass are mostly small spots. With this fish in the lake, forget seasonal black bass patterns now that the spots are taking over. Fish for spots with smaller baits and anything green in a soft plastic of a spotted bass favorite. Fish the dam area and work the shallow ledges. Use DT6 crank bait and shad raps on points in the middle of the lake. After dark, larger worms work and keep the smaller fish out of the way. Jitterbugs in black after dark as well as a 10-inch red shad Culprit on a Texas rig will work for largemouth. Black and other dark colors are working and add some red dye with crawfish scent on the tail end of the worm. Night fishing around lighted docks down lake with a June bug Zoom trick worm is fair and use a tiny weight.
MARBEN PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Level: All bodies of water are at full pool.
- Water Clarity: Clarity ranges from 16” to 36”. Fox Lake typically has a visibility of 36”.
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: As water temperatures heat up the bass will be holding in deeper water. However, early mornings after the nighttime cool down will bring fish up into shallower water. Margery has produced many nice 2-4 lb. bass, but you will have to work for them. Top water at day light and deeper water crank baits throughout the day seem to be more productive.
Crappie: Few crappie are being caught this time of year. However, we do see an occasional successful veteran group fishing Bennett around the full moon.
Bream: Crickets, Wax worms, and Pink worms are the bait of choice for bream fishermen this time of year. Bluegill will be spawning during the full moon, so look for beds in 2-4‘ of water.
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