Are you using the outdoors to benefit your mental health? Maybe you should. According to a Psychology Today article, “The most common positive benefits were significant reductions in stress and anxiety after time spent in nature, as well as increased positive affect, or elevated mood.” So, don’t let stress weigh you down – try to get outdoors and get a break!
News to Know:
- Public Fishing Areas: Looking for a new local fishing place? Check out one of the 11 available Public Fishing Areas in Georgia. These areas are managed for fishing, and most offer additional experiences to entertain the whole family.
- ICAST2020: Get the latest info on the latest gear in fishing, and hear from experts at this virtual tradeshow HERE. Be sure to also check out the info about the ICAST Cup Online.
- Mackerel Chow Time: How about some nice smoked mackerel? Check out this video tutorial from WRD State Deer Biologist Charlie Killmaster. Check out some game recipes HERE.
- Smiles Make Fishing Even Better: When you get to see a kid’s reaction to catching a great fish, makes it all worth it. Congrats on the lunker Charlie!
- Fishy Funding: What do you know about the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program? It is doing great things for fishing and hunting across the country!
This week, we have fishing reports from Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Remember, getting outdoors has many benefits – take advantage of that and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Fish are settling into their summer “dog days” patterns. Fishing early, late, and at night is most successful for most species. The rivers are at all stages, so find one that fits what you want to fish for and how you like to fish, and give it a try. Catches have been very good when you go for the right species at the right time.
Okefenokee Bass Anglers fished out of Jesup on Saturday. Michael Deen and Justin Bythwood won the derby with a limit weighing 10.75 pounds (included a dead fish penalty). Mike Collins and his son Adam took second place and big fish honors with a sack of 9.42 pounds and big fish of 3.42 pounds. The river rose this week, putting off several bites, but it is falling again. The catfish bite was tops this week. Catfishing should be decent in the main run with livers, worms, or cut bait for channels and blues and live bait for flatheads this weekend. With the falling river, you can probably catch a few bass back in oxbow lakes early then switch to the main river cover for bass as the sun gets up. Plastics have produced best for me during the heat of summer. The river level was 5.3 feet and falling (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.5 feet and falling (89 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 16th.
Donny Riner and his wife Kandy fished the river for a few hours this week and had a great trip. Kandy has just started fishing rivers, and she loves it. She caught the big fish of the day, a 5-pound bowfin (mudfish). During their short trip, the duo landed over 35 panfish, mostly redbreasts using 1/8-oz. catalpa gold Satilla Spins. The river was rising and muddy, but the fish still bit the little spinnerbait for them. The fishing is going to be awesome when the river gets right! The river level at the Eden gage on July 16th was 6.1 feet and rising.
Bucky Buckner had a great trip this week on the river. He caught 10 big bluegills, but the star of the trip was a 7 1/2-pound bass. The river rose but is falling out nicely. It will probably be tough to get a boat around much by the weekend. It went from too high to too low in about 5 days. If we don’t get more rain, a float trip will be in order for next week. 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 16th at the Waycross gage was 6.3 feet and falling (84 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 7.5 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river is fishable again, but I did not receive any reports from panfish anglers. Catfishing has been good this week. Put a piece of shrimp on the bottom and you should fool some white and channel catfish. 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 16th was 6.7 feet and falling.
Wyatt Crews and Scout Carter fished a local pond one evening this week and fished for just over an hour. They caught 6 bass, 4 of them to 4 1/2 pounds on a black Capt. Bert’s buzzbait and 2 smaller fish on Senkos. The bass were chewing that evening. Chad Lee used his new 10-weight fly rod that Ed’s Reel Repair in Pridgen made him and caught a pair of nice bass on a deer hair mouse fly. Bluegill and catfish fishing have both been good in area ponds this week. Most of the bluegill were caught early in the morning, while the catfishing was best at night.
The high water and heat have combined to make the fishing tough in the shallow, blackwater fishery. If you are going, your best bet will be to throw an in-line spinner down the middle of the canal to catch bowfin (mudfish). They are a blast to catch! 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 fishing was very good on the coast before the winds switched to mostly east earlier this week. On Thursday Capt. Teddy Elrod and his crew went 1 for 1 and landed a 50lb.-class fish on live bait. On Tuesday a Waycross angler fished the St Simons area and caught a bunch of bottom fish with dead shrimp. The catch included a couple whiting, 2 keeper black drum up to 17 inches, and a whole host of other bottom species. The east winds forecasted for later this week will make the ocean side bumpy, but wind speeds are not supposed to be too bad. Check the marine forecast before going, as it’s changing regularly. Pier fishing for flounder has been pretty good. Put a live mudminnow or finger mullet near a piling and wait for a thump. Some big trout were caught with live shrimp and a pole float this week. For guide trip information, call Capt. Greg Hildreth at (912) 617-1980 or check out his Georgia Charter Fishing website . 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.
CENTRAL (EAST AND WEST) GEORGIA
(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 and there are several different crank baits that are working on light 10-pound test Sufix Elite line. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to be sure you are using the right baits during the higher activity levels. The Rapala DT6 and Rapala DT10 in either the hot tiger or shad colors and the #5 jointed Shad Rap in either the green crawdad or fire tiger will work. Work the main lake and secondary points and the strikes will occur right at the edge of 10-foot line. Top water baits like the Pop R and the Chug Bug will work. Work the Chug Bug fast and do not stop the popping noises as this attracts the spots thinking the bait is a fleeing bait fish. Jigs around rocks and wood is another good choice this week. The 3/8-ounce Strike King jig is a good choice and the colors need to be browns and greens. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan down Scan technology to scan an area and you will see the fish. Use the Ito Vision 110 jerk bait also.
CLARKS HILL IS 1.25 FEET OVER FULL 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The fish are up very early on small top water stick baits. Chug Bugs and #13 Rapala’s will work. Fish the downstream side of any of the major points and the rip rap around the bridges all day. Use the #5 and the #7 black and silver and natural shad color Shad Raps and throw them up stream past the points and crank it down. The bass will stage up on the back side of these areas and wait for the bait fish to come by. If the water still has a little stain stick with the darker black and silver color. With the heat of the day another good area to fish and during generating times will be the back side of the docks located in the deeper water near the channels. Cranking Shad Raps in shad patterns along with Carolina rigged finesse worms will work. Up the rivers, the small spots are still working the secondary and smaller points with scattered spots found back in the coves. Green worms and lizards are taking most of these fish. Fish the rock and docks and any wood with the Zoom Super Fluke in pearl. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to be sure you are using the right baits during the higher activity levels.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 80’S
(This Lake Oconee fishing report is by Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service, 404-803-0741) —
Bass: The bass fishing is fair. The temperature is 86-90. Richland Creek and the main lake are clear, up the river is stained. Use buzz baits at first light on sea walls and rip rap. Start in the middle of the creeks and work your way out of the creeks. Then switch over to a spinner bait and fish the same areas. On the south end there is a good frog bite in the grass early in the mornings. Soft plastics fished under docks and on wood structure in the rivers above I-20 will also produce. When Georgia Power is pulling water check the bridge rip rap areas as well as the humps on the south end of the lake. Use a deep diving crank bait on the humps and a medium running crank bait on the rip rap.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is fair to poor. If there is a pump back in the mornings, then you can have fun catching small hybrids and stripers at the dam. Generation in the afternoon will produce sometimes on humps and points. If you find a school on your Lowrance drop a live thread fin down to the school.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. This is the best and most consistent bite going. 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 80’S
Bass fishing is barely fair. This time of year there is very little change in pattern. Fish have committed to deep water cover so plan to use the Lowrance down Scan and Side technology to search these areas. Once the sun is high focus on old creek channels. Use a Carolina rigged green pumpkin Zoom worm or a Zoon natural blue trick worm. The worm will stand up on a 1/8 or 3/16-ounce Weedless Wonder head. Let this bait soak to catch larger fish. Once the bite slows switch to a 3/8-ounce black and blue jig tipped with a black and blue Zoon Chunk. The deep crank bait bite is beginning to turn on in the afternoon during generating schedules. Look for fish to begin stacking up on long points and roadbeds close to the main river channel. Crankbaits are working best with multiple casts on cover close to the river channel. Cover the twelve to eighteen feet depths with the Lowrance and you will see the fish on the bottom. Turn back and fish these locations. It takes time to find this ideal habitat, but once you do several fish can be caught in this area. The best points to search are from the 109 bridge north going up the river. During generation periods use deep diving crankbaits on humps and roadbeds. You can load the boat quick with some really heavy weights during these periods of generation and cover.
LAKE JACKSON IS .76 FEET OVER FULL CLEAR 80’S
Bass fishing is slow. The bass are going to move up to the shallows later each day. Use the ½ ounce Rat L Trap and throw it shallow. Work as much water as possible and try to locate areas that contain the most rock. Early in the morning is a good time to throw a buzz bait or a Storm Chug bug off any point. Small bass are taking these baits early and often during the early hours. Also try a 1/4 or 3/8-ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait in either white/blue or all white. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to be sure you are using the right baits during the higher activity levels. Work the same areas as the top water baits and all blow downs and brush piles that are present. After the sun comes up, a 3/8-ounce black jig and pig with a pork trailer is working on isolated stumps and docks. Green pumpkin worms on the Texas rig are also taking bass when thrown into brush piles and around docks. Don’t forget about the dam area for some late day schoolers.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 89 ⁰F
- Water Visibility: 27 – 54+ in
Bass: Bass fishing has continued to be tough. A few nice bass have been caught in Willow and Breambuster Lakes on spinnerbaits and shaky heads, especially late in the afternoon or early in the morning. Beaverlodge Lake isn’t exactly known for big bass fishing, but it may be worth fishing the submerged treetops back there.
Channel Catfish: The catfish action has been good. Clubhouse, Willow and Jones have been the best catfish lakes, with several stringers being caught lately (pictured). Deep water around the siphon drain structures continue to be good spots. Fish feeders at Jones, Beaverlodge and Breambuster are excellent spots to fish for catfish, too. A variety of baits have been effective, including homemade stinkbaits, worms, and even shrimp. Fishing early morning and late into the evening really pays off this time of year. Now is a great time to beat the heat and try out night-fishing in Jones Lake, the night-time catfish bite has been picking up lately.
Bream: The bream bite has been slow with the hot weather setting in. Your best bets are to fish first thing in the morning or late in the evening. Bridge Lake has been the best for bream fishing lately. For a shot at some large bream, Clubhouse is the lake to fish. Fish feeders at Jones, Beaverlodge and Breambuster Lakes are good spots to try for bream, as well as any structure in deeper water.
Striped Bass: Stripers can be found in Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes. These larger fish have been caught on crankbaits, swimbaits or umbrella rigs but smaller stripers are consistently caught on chicken livers.
(Fishing report courtesy of Hunter Roop, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Lake Lanier is 0.25 feet over full pool, the main lake and creeks are clear & mid 80s:
- Bass: Guide and tournament angler Ryan Coleman reports, “Fishing is good for spotted bass right now and should remain good through July. Topwater fishing has been excellent both on points and working man-made brush in 20 to 30 feet of water. I have been using both walking-style baits and poppers, and both have been equally affective. Spooks and Vixens have been my baits of choice for the walking baits, and I have been using a medium-sized Chug Bug for my poppers and just picking either pearl or shad colors. During the mornings, I have been working a 3.3-inch or a 3.8-inch soft swimbait on a 3/8-oz swimbait head slowly over points and brush and have been catching some pretty good fish this way. It has also been pretty effective when the wind lays a little and the lake is still. Just let the bait get down to the 8- to 10-foot range and slowly reel it along.” Read the rest of Ryan’s report on GON.
- Bass: Jimbo Mathley reports, “Bass fishing is good. The majority of our fish this week have come from 25 to 30 feet of water. We have focused mainly on points and humps with brush for the majority of our fish. The brush in 25 to 30 feet is still holding fish and there has been some decent schooling action this week as well, especially in the mornings. Top water and swim baits have been our main pursuit this week and will continue to be until that bite stops. A variety of baits have been working, and the best baits seem to vary daily. Walking and popping baits are all valid options in the top water arena. Swimbaits like a Sebile are in play as well. So stay on the move and remain versatile with your lure choices.”
- Stripers: Ron Mullins reports, “Typically, July striper fishing on Lanier means huge schools of fish in deep water on the south end of the lake, and this will be the case by the middle of the month. This year, however, we are seeing lots of fish north of the 369 bridge up to Little Hall Park and River Forks campground. These fish are in coves and pockets in 35 to 55 feet of water, and they will readily eat a herring on a downline. The thermocline is finally setting up in these areas, and the herring are not living very long down past 30 feet. When you find these schools of fish and they are near the bottom, you can drop your bait down to them, but if they don’t eat, then you will have to change out your bait within a few minutes to keep a frisky herring in front of them. Down below the bridge, the lake is setting up for summer fishing. Look for large schools of fish from Brown’s Bridge to the dam in deep drainages, creek channels and the river channel in 40 to 60 feet of water early in the day to 80 to 100 feet later in the afternoon. The best way to look for these schools later in the morning is to troll with lead core or Cannon downriggers and a 1-oz. Capt. Mack’s Underspin bucktail jig or a Mini Mack. Read the rest of Ron’s report on GON.
- Stripers: Clay Cunningham reports, “Lake Lanier is still full of water, and the amount of erosion is unprecedented. The stripers have moved deep, and the schools are getting larger and larger each week. Typically July is one of the best months for numbers for stripers. With the schools of stripers being deep, good electronics and great bait are the essential ingredients to success. With the new graphs like the Humminbird Solix units, you can see your baitfish get devoured by stripers as they feed deep. You should be able to see your bait swim on the hook. After picking up blueback herring at the local bait stores, like Hammond’s, Sherry’s and Oakwood Bait & Tackle, you just need a few key items [read full article for Clay’s recommended striper rig]. You should be able to see your sinker drop into the school of stripers. The stripers will be 35 to 70 feet deep most of July in the creek channels. If you want to try artificials, spool up another Penn Fathom Linecounter with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game line and tie on a Ben Parker spoon or a 2-oz. Capt. Mack bucktail. Some fish are being caught on the Ben Parker Spoon already this summer. Use the Linecounter to drop to the correct depth and reel the spoon or bucktail up past the stripers. Many times they will try to rip the rod out of your hands. Give it a try, and you will be hooked as well. See you on the water!”
Lanier water quality (brought to you by Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): Vertical temperature & oxygen profiles were collected on Tuesday this week at four locations from Browns Bridge down to Buford Dam. Figures of these profiles can be accessed on Lake Lanier’s Fishing Forecast Map (click the most recent attachment on each temperature icon throughout the lake). This information helps resource managers gather information about suitable striper habitat during stressful summer periods, and also helps anglers pursuing summer stripers. The vast majority of Lanier’s stripers (especially larger stripers) are now confined to the lower reservoir from Brown’s bridge to Buford Dam. Target main stem and major creek channels from the Flowery Branch to the dam at depths of 25’ – 40’ to target stripers feeding at the thermocline, and down to 90’ if you see stripers in the deep timber. The best habitat for deep stripers right now will be 80’ – 90’ of water near Flowery Branch. Trolling artificial lures or downlines with live bait (blueback herring or gizzard shad for bigger fish) will work. Vertically working a big spoon can also be productive. Remember that, unless you plan to harvest your catch, minimal handling of stripers and quick releases will better ensure your catch-and-release efforts are successful.
Lake Hartwell is full, 80s, and clear:
- Bass: Ken Sturdivant reports that “Bass fishing is fair. The fish are up very early on small top water stick baits. Chug Bugs and #13 Rapala’s will work. Fish the downstream side of any of the major points and the rip rap around the bridges all day. Use the #5 and the #7 black and silver and natural shad color Shad Raps and throw them up stream past the points and crank it down. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to be sure you are using the right baits during the higher activity levels. The bass will stage up on the back side of these areas and wait for the bait fish to come by. If the water still has a little stain stick with the darker black and silver color. With the heat of the day another good area to fish and during generating times will be the back side of the docks located in the deeper water near the channels. Cranking Shad Raps in shad patterns along with Carolina rigged finesse worms will work. Up the rivers, the small spots are still working the secondary and smaller points with scattered spots found back in the coves. Green worms and lizards are taking most of these fish. Fish the rock and docks and any wood with the Zoom Super Fluke in pearl.”
- Bass: Guide Matt Justicereports, “Boat traffic has been worse than usual this year, so getting out early is the biggest thing. A shallow water topwater bite is still good around bream beds and willows. The canepile bite is getting better and will continue all the way through September. Look for brush on points in 15 to 30 feet of water. Use your electronics to look for fish in these brushpiles. Once located, using a Spook, Sammy or Fluke can draw topwater strikes. Dropping your drop shot directly on canepiles can produce numbers of fish. Try throwing a big worm around piles to get a big bite. The night fishing has been spectacular fishing crankbaits and worms around rocks and lights.”
- Stripers:Guide Preston Harden reports, “July can be hot, but the fishing can be hotter. July means looking deeper and farther down the lake for stripers and hybrids. Look for stripers and hybrids from mid lake to the dam. In June, the thermocline forms in the creeks and up the river arms. The stripers and hybrids migrate down the lake looking for cool, oxygenated water. They group up in big schools. A good sonar unit is important to finding the schools in deep water. They will eat a lively herring lowered to right above the fish. Artificials that will work include a big spoon or a 1-oz. jig and a 5-inch swimbait.”
Burton is full pool, high 70s, and clear:
- Bass: Wes Carlton reports, “The bass bite has been strong for the last few weeks. We have caught fish shallow and deep. The majority of the bass seem to be heading toward deeper water for a summertime pattern. These fish will feed early morning and late evening. Most of the spotted bass seem to be hanging on a 20- to 30-foot bottom. We have caught most of our fish casting underspins tipped with flukes. Working long points seems to be the ticket right now. SpotStickers have also been producing some bigger fish. This pattern should continue for the next few weeks as we near late summer.”
- Trout: Wes Carlton reports, “The trout bite has been steady all week. We have caught some bigger fish in the last few days trolling Strike King deep divers. These fish seem to be spread out a bit. I have been focusing on the main-lake channels trolling from Timpson Cove toward the dam. They seem to react to the brighter color lures. This pattern should continue for the next few weeks and get better as we head toward August.”
Lake Allatoona is 0.7 over full, 72 F, and slightly stained:
- Bass:Tournament angler Matt Driverreports, “Fishing is good. The night bite is best on crankbaits, swimbaits and Ned rigs. Fish are being caught in the mid-depth ranges.” Matt was our guest for this month’s Map of the Month series. Turn to page 34 in the June 2020 issue of GON for 10 spots to go bass fishing in July—also available to members online here: Allatoona Summer Spotted Bass, Mapped for Day And Night Bite.
- Bass: Ken Sturdivant reports, “Bass fishing is fair. Lots of boat traffic means go early or fish after dark Fish docks and reef markers as well any main lake point. Early morning feeding periods may show some top water action. Keep top water bait ready in the event that they feed. There are still some really big spots feeding on top on bone Super Spooks on the deep main lake points and use clear 8 pound Sufix line. Scrounger heads with a small Zoom Fluke on a spinning reel will take some big spots. Just let the bait hit the bottom and drag it slowly and hold on. The drop shot rig is still working and the fish are really close to the deeper brush. After dark spots are biting big June bug Bill Norman crank baits and the larger Strike King night bite spinner baits. Fat Albert dark grubs on a 1/16 or 1/8 lead head and a single or twin tail grub can work on main lake structure.”
- Stripers:Guide Robert Eidson reports, “Fishing is off the charts crazy good! The summer bite has taken hold, and boy is it great. Both the mid-lake and the south end of the lake are fishing extremely well right now. Downlining threadfins and shiners has been producing really big numbers of fish for our boats for the last three weeks. We look for this bite to continue through the month of July. As the water warms, the bite will move within eyesight of the dam. But for now, Kellogg’s, Clear Creek, Bartow Carver, Clark Creek, Tanyard Creek and the Blockhouse are fishing extremely well.”
Carters Lake is full, low 80s, and clear:
- Bass: Carters Lake Guide Service reports, “summertime fishing is in full gear on Carters Lake. Spotted bass are schooling throughout the day all over the lake. Throw your favorite topwater as soon as you see them boil. Fish are also being caught in and around brush from 19-25ft. A drop shot with a Robo Worm in green pumpkin or morning dawn colors is working well. Early morning stripers can be caught 40-60ft deep. Down-lines with live bait seems to be working best. As the sun comes up fish will move deeper. Idle long tapering points and steep edges over 70+ft deep to locate fish.”
- Spotted Bass: Joseph Heron of Heron Outdoor Adventures reports, “The Spotted bass bite has definitely been wonderful, particularly in the early morning hours. Just before sunrise we have continually watched these fish break chasing bait on points each and every morning. When we can reach to them they are typically quite willing and able to give you a run for your money. We’ve Been seeing increased numbers of two and 3 pound spots this summer. They’ve grown a little from the 3/4-1.5 pounders and we had a great crop/spawn this year to strengthen the population. Okay, so here’s the thing-take the kids fishing! Maybe it’s just you and your best friend, maybe it’s a solo excursion but do get out and enjoy the sounds of nature here on lively Lake Allatoona when time and space permits this summer. Tight-lines, friends!”
- Stripers:Guide Eric Crowley reports, “Until this week we have been targeting fish in no more than 30 to 35 feet of water. Small schools of three to four fish have been the norm for stripers. The bigger fish have all come on big alewives on flatlines. Watching fish come up off the bottom to crush a terrified bait is hard to beat. The hybrids are more prone to successfully eat smaller baits, so if you’re in the creeks chasing hybrids, try threadfins in the 3- to 4-inch size. Slightly weighted flatlines are my go-to setup early and lightly weighted downlines with long leaders after daylight.”
- Stripers: Joseph Heron of Heron Outdoor Adventures reports, “Lake Allatoona is fishing fantastic again this month and we are so blessed to have this wonderful fishery in our backyards .You will note that water levels have remained at full pool level overall this summer and current surface temperatures are around 85 even in the a.m. It’s real nice to be on a fishing hole before sunrise and get off the water by eight or nine when you can to maximize your early a.m. hours before work or other daily tasks. The evening bite is beginning to shape up nicely and we’ll concentrate our efforts in the early evening hours especially when the Linesides start boiling on the surface later in August and September. Let the topwater shad-chasing and feeding begin! Truly, downlining Threadfin and gizzard shad has been the most productive technique but we are also hooking a lot of good quality fish on freelines. Our biggest fish this week (a beauty at ~20lbs. caught by young Corbin) took a 3.5″ threadfin dropped at 13′ down and ran like a bandit for another 250! We are finding a lot of “elephants eat peanuts” on our adventures lately. Just an absolute key to either technique is matching your hook size and line diameter to your bait size for best results. Sure, we’ve had some fish make a monkey out of us on the light line but we sure hook up a lot 🙂 The early morning working of a large topwater has also been showing us some love with quality fish. Those these are fewer and further between opportunities but the “swirl” is worth the time spent. Spooning has its moments too – it’s a lot of work though. With a lot of the bait holding on the upper 20 feet of water, trolling a u-rig or casting the Alabama rig/mini Mack’s across points has also begun producing. This pattern will continue to increase in effectiveness as we transition into a late summer striper pattern. The Gar-gantuan bite will begin here shortly and we are excited for the early afternoon sight-fishing adventures targeting these river/reservoir monsters. If you think you’d like to experience hooking into one or more of these 36-60” monsters, let’s get together.”
- Walleye:Guide Eric Crowley reports, “The walleye are out on the main lake and feeding. These fish are in schools and cruising the points waiting on schools of bait to swim by. Slow natural presentations with live or artificial baits have been key. Sometimes just letting live bait swim around and find the fish is the best approach. These fish are not aggressively chasing bait, instead mostly just waiting on the bait to come to them. As the temps warm up, we do more and more night trips. Fishing over the Hydro Glow lights is always a good time. Having fresh bait is key. This is where having a quality livewell is a must. A quality heavy net like the Humpback will make quick work of the bait catching task. Keep a good variety of sizes in the well for the day.”
Lake Weiss at full pool, mid 80s, and clear:
- Bass: Guide Mark Collins reports, “Bass fishing is fair. The bass are on off shore structure, and the river and creek channel ledges, spinner baits, Carolina rigs and medium running crank baits are working well, the Spotted Bass are doing well on deeper structure and the creek channel ledges, Carolina rigs and crank baits are working well.”
- Bass: Guide and tournament pro Mike Carterreports, “Weiss is finally in its full summer patterns, which have arrived late due to the odd spring we had this year. We had several later than normal cold fronts and flooded conditions that has put a lot of normal patterns for this time of year behind. The normal summer patterns finally seem to be in full swing, and it looks like a great month for some very aggressive action. Finding the ledges and deep humps with deep crankbaits can show some very aggressive action quickly. When things slow down, going to Choo Choo football-head jigs and Carolina rigs can be the ticket to pick up where the deep cranking leaves off. One of the most fun and aggressive patterns for this lake this time of year is fishing at night. Slow-rolling big 1/2- to 3/4-oz. Choo Choo spinnerbaits at night can create some very aggressive action with some big Coosa River spots. The hit on these big spinnerbaits from these fish can be extremely habit forming and exceptionally enjoyable. Nighttime is the right time for Weiss, with more comfortable temps and feeling the jar from a massive Coosa River spotted bass.”
- Crappie: Guide Mark Collins reports, “Crappie fishing is fair. They are on deeper cover in the main lake and bays, spider rigging with live minnows and jigs is catching fish.”
- Striper: Guide Mark Collins reports, “Striper fishing is good. The fish are being caught in the upper Chattooga River, the Cave Hole and Little Spring Creek on live shad, down lined about 8 feet deep and free lined.”
Lake Chatuge is full, low 80s, and clear:
- Bass:Guide Eric Welch reports, “We are seeing some topwater action at first light. I’ve been throwing a Strike King Sexy Dawg and a Whopper Plopper. The fish have moved out deep around brush, long points and steep banks. We’re targeting these fish with a shaky head, a Strike King 3.25-inch Rage Swimmer and by drop shoting a Roboworm in morning-dawn color. There have been some fish around deep docks that have brush around them. Try throwing a Texas-rig worm, a drop shot or a jig. With the summertime bite going on, your electronics are key. If you pull up on a point or a pocket and you’re not marking any fish, it’s time to move. The night bite has been getting better. We’ve been catching most of our fish on a Texas-rigged worm in brush. Stay safe on the water over July 4th. Good luck.”
- Hybrids:Guide Shane Goebel reports, “Hybrid and striper fishing is explosive for us right now. The fish are schooling in large numbers, and we are catching some big quantities. We’re catching between 30 and 50 hybrids and stripers in just a couple of hours. Most of our fish are averaging 6 to 8 pounds. We’ve had several stripers in the 20- to 30-lb. range, as well. The early morning bite has been prime. Look for schools of fish off shallow humps along the main channel, clay banks and off points in the 20- to 40-foot range. Downlining live blueback herring has been the best technique. Search out your areas and watch your electronics. When you mark fish, drop your lines. Fish will be slightly shallower in the early morning hours and will move to deeper water by mid-morning. The topwater bite remains very good, as well. When these fish start busting on bait, it’s always a good idea to have a plug, Spook or Red Fin at the ready. These hybrids should hold this same pattern for the next month or so before heading to deeper water.”
Lake Blue Ridge is 1 ft above full pool, high 70s, and clear:
- Bass: Guide Eric Welchreports, “The fish have moved out deep. We’re still seeing some breaking fish early in the mornings, so I’ve been throwing a Pop-R and a Whopper Plopper and picking up a few fish before the sun comes up. After that, we’ve been fishing deep docks, banks and points. I try keeping my boat in 40 feet of water, and most of the fish I’ve been marking are around 15 to 35 feet deep. We’re still throwing a 3.5-inch tube, a drop shot with a 6-inch Roboworm in morning dawn and a shaky head with a 5-inch Strike King green-pumpkin finesse worm. I fish a lot of the main-lake points first thing in the morning, but once the sun gets up and it starts warming up, I head up the river and fish the deep banks and brush with a shaky head or a Texas-rigged worm. With the summertime bite happening, you may need to move around a lot until you find some active fish willing to bite. Our lakes have so many blueback herring that the fish don’t have to feed far. For the nighttime bite, I’m throwing a Norman DD22 crankbait, a Texas-rigged worm and a 3/8-oz. pb&j jig. Good luck.”
West Point is full, clear and 80s:
- Bass: Ken Sturdivant reports that “Bass fishing is barely fair. This time of year there is very little change in pattern. Fish have committed to deep water cover so plan to use the Lowrance down Scan and Side technology to search these areas. Once the sun is high focus on old creek channel. Use a Carolina rigged green pumpkin Zoom worm or a Zoon natural blue trick worm. The worm will stand up on a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce Weedless Wonder head. Let this bait soak to catch larger fish. Once the bite slows switch to a 3/8 ounce black and blue jig tipped with a black and blue Zoon Chunk. The deep crank bait bite is beginning to turn on in the afternoon during generating schedules. Look for fish to begin stacking up on long points and roadbeds close to the main river channel. Crankbaits are working best with multiple casts on cover close to the river channel. Cover the twelve to eighteen feet depths with the Lowrance and you will see the fish on the bottom. Turn back and fish these locations. It takes time to find this ideal habitat, but once you do several fish can be caught in this area. The best points to search are from the 109 bridge north going up the river. During generation periods use deep diving crankbaits on humps and road beds. You can load the boat quick with some really heavy weights during these periods of generation and cover.”
- Bass: Guide Keith Hudson reports, “After an unusually comfortable spring, it looks like July and the heat are here. Fishing can be tough during the summer months. One factor in particular could make it extra tough is that we had a tremendous hatch of threadfin shad this year. Predator fish are kind of spoiled—there is just too much of the real thing. Try pitching jigs or Texas-rigged worms around blowdown trees or under boat docks. This pattern seems to work best when the sun is out. The fish like the shade and coverage just like we do. Although it will never be like it was in the good ole’ days, a deep-water pattern can still produce some good fish on the roadbeds and pond dams, especially those with cover. Finally, some decent fish can be caught above the 219 bridge in the Chattahoochee by fishing the grassbeds, especially if the lake remains full. Try a frog-style bait or a jig around thick cover.”
- Linesides: Guide Keith Hudson reports, “I am expecting a really good topwater bite this summer because of all the newly hatched shad. Have a popping cork ready, and watch for schools of fish on the surface. Trolling, especially in the late afternoons, during periods of water generation, can be very effective.”
- Crappie: Guide Keith Hudson reports, “Good catches of crappie should continue all summer. Most people kind of forget about them this time of year, but the guys who do their homework, putting out brushpiles and downlining with live minnows in the thick brush, do very well. Another pattern that works is shooting docks or pitching to docks. Crappie like the shade, and often a single dock can produce a limit of fish. Also, night fishing is normally very good during the summer months, and it keeps you out of the heat.”
- Catfish: Guide Keith Hudson said, “Although they’re kind of overlooked, catfish provide a steady bite all summer. Try using live worms, cut bait or chicken liver fished on bottom. Jug fishing is also really productive and a fun way to get the whole family involved. Best of all, catfish are really tasty!”
Mountain Lakes (brought to you by Follow the Son guide service): Walleye are scattered and in deep water. Don’t rule out what you see on your fish finder some of them are suspended in the water column. Look for depth changes and watch your screen. Perch are also biting and angler Ford Beard landed a perch this week that qualified him for a Youth Angler Award!
Etowah River (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): The Etowah River is running at 1020 cFs from Allatoona Dam. This flow is great! If you plan on targeting bass, I would bring a 7 weight with a floating line, a 9 foot 0x leader, and try boogle bugs and gurglers under shaded banks. If that doesn’t work out for you, tie on a baitfish pattern like a Clouser Minnow, Sparkle Minnow, Kreelex, or Lunch $ and fish tight to cover, but beef up that leader! For Striper, a 9 weight with a sinking line, heavy leader, and bigger baitfish patterns should produce. July is looking like a banner month for the river, so call us if you want to book an Etowah Trip! We’ve got availability in July, and will run striper trips as long as these migratory fish are in the river, but will continue to run bass trips through to October.
Toccoa River (this report by Fisheries Region Supervisor Bert Deener) — An angler really never knows if a fish will bite or even what kind of fish might bite. An angler fishing on the Toccoa River this week thought he was fishing for trout but what he actually caught was a beautiful and quite large Tangerine Darter.
Chattooga (from Trout Biologist Sarah Baker): While larger flies may still turn fish, they will likely receive a short strike and ultimately spook fish. Try selecting smaller fly patterns and lowering your profile so trout don’t detect your presence. Anglers can find good success searching the likely water with dry dropper rigs and fishing Euro Style. The water temperatures are in the 60s and the fish are moving into the shallow riffles to find food and oxygen.
Chattahoochee River (above Lanier): A friend of Game Management secretary Rachel Luse fished the Chattahoochee River in Helen this week and had another beautiful and unexpected encounter with a big brook trout. The straight fins, patterns, and beautiful vibrant colors suggest this brookie is likely a wild fish.
Tallulah River (from Trout Biologist Sarah Baker): Yellow spotted Panther Martin’s are the trick! This is an excellent place to spend the day with the kiddos catching some Rainbows.
Moccasin Creek (from Trout Biologist Sarah Baker): While the Burton Hatchery is under construction, head across the street and check out fishing the hiking trail that parallels the creek. Remember that fishing downstream of the hatchery’s intake is reserved for youth under 12 and holder of Honorary Licenses.
Blue Lining (from Trout Biologist Sarah Baker): What is it? Click here to find out! Then click here to check out Georgia’s Interactive Map and help you explore new water. The narrow trickles of streams hidden in rhododendrons are the perfect place to escape to from this mid-summer heat. Our regional crew has been busy sampling mountain trout streams for the past few weeks, and it has been exhilarating to see such beautiful and wild treasures in Georgia. Try common dry-fly patterns such as elk hair caddis, parachute adams, or nymphs like pheasant tails. I highly recommend reading Nick Carter’s blue lining adventure for some Brookie inspiration. And if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs this summer and really need some self (or spousal) justification to pick up a fly rod for the first time, here are eight pandemic-friendly reasons to try fly (and, right now, high & dry fly) fishing, today (thanks for sharing, Dredger)!
Toccoa Tailwater (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): The Toccoa Tailwater below Blue Ridge Dam continues to fish well early and late in the day. We’ve had to switch almost entirely to small, natural patterns and light tippet to fool these fish in the gin clear water up top! Try small soft hackles (pheasant tails, hare’s ears, etc), size 16-18 WD-40’s, zebra midges, and unweighted flashback hare’s ears and pheasant tails under medium to large dry fly. I’m fishing 5x leaders to my dry, and dropping 5x or 5.5x (Trouthunter does 1/2 size tippet) Fluocarbon tippet to my subsurface fly. I specify fluorocarbon because this material has the same density as water, and will help you get small, unweighted flies in the strike zone quicker than nylon. Don’t forget your split shot!
Small Stream (NW) (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): Small Streams are a cold water refuge this time of year. Find streams that are heavily canopied and higher in elevation, and you can spend an entire day out on the water and find success. Take a light 3-4 weight rod, a spool of Trouthunter 5.5x Tippet, and a cup full of yellow dry flies! We’re fishing dry dropper rigs when the fish don’t want just the dry – try small soft hackle pheasant tails and unweighted flash back hare’s ear nymphs. Target riffles where the water flows over rocks – this is the most oxygenated water, and the trout will move into these spots. Stay back off the water and be mindful of line placement, etc.!