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Fishing News to Know – Quite a Few Things of Note!:
- Blue Ridge Lake welcomes some new residents. More info HERE.
- Keep Invasive Species out of Georgia. Find out more HERE.
- Weigh That Fish: Fish submitted for an angler award (in weight category), or for a state record need to be weighed on certified scales (certified by Georgia Department of Agriculture). Find a list of known (at the time of this blog) scales HERE.
- Jay Payne, fisheries biologist working out of McDuffie PFA, featured in an article by Augusta Chronicle.
- Congrats to Cole Holloway and Ryan Thomas of Morgan County High School for placing 2nd in the TBF Student Angler Federation High School Fishing World Finals. Check out this article from GON for more.
- Shoal Bass Bill (House Bill 998) passes legislation: The Georgia Legislature passed legislation designating shoal bass as the official Georgia state riverine sport fish. The bill also recognized the shoal bass’ need for high-quality shoal habitats; clean, flowing water in the Flint, Chattahoochee and Ocmulgee rivers; and the species’ unique spawning characteristics.
- Great American Outdoors Act (SB 3422): The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act on June 17, the House followed suit on July 22 and President Trump signed the bill into law this week. This legislation includes full funding, at $900 million, for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides funding for federal agencies as well as state grant programs including the Forest Legacy Program and the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. The Forest Legacy Program has provided millions of dollars for wildlife habitat conservation in Georgia. The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund provides annual grants for the recovery of federally listed and candidate species.
This week, we have fishing reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Help your kids with new school year jitters by taking them with you for a fun fishing trip as you both Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The number of folks who fished dropped off some with the heat and storm, but those who went did really well this week. We’re definitely in the ‘dog-days’ of summer. In general, the bite is best early and late, but you have less of a chance of thunderstorms in the morning. Night fishing is a great option this time of year.
Jamie Hodge and Danny Grantham won the Joe Belcher Memorial Catfish Tournament this weekend out of Jaycees Landing in Jesup. They amassed a total of 114.30 pounds of catfish by rod and reel for the win. Impressive weight, guys! Bob Preston took second place with 80.20 pounds, and he had big fish of 35.90 pounds. The catfish are in the holes with the water dropping out. For a fun morning of fishing, put a piece of cut bait in a treetop and hold on as a blue catfish grabs your offering. Put out limb lines baited with live bait if you want to catch a giant flathead catfish like those that won the tournament this weekend. An angler fished an oxbow lake above Jesup on Wednesday and caught a limit of panfish, with some of the biggest bluegills pushing a pound. The catch was mostly bluegills but also included chain pickerel (jackfish), warmouth, and even a couple fliers. He used yellow Satilla Spins and crickets for his catch. The river level was 3.5 feet and steady (88 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.4 feet and falling (90 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on August 6th.
Jonathan Guy and Gary Ware fished the river this week and limited out on custom-colored Satilla Spins. They had some real rooster redbreasts in their mix of panfish. Expect to drag the boat over sandbars with the water level low, but the fish will still bite if you can get to them. The river level at the Eden gage on August 6th was 2.3 feet and steady.
Mac and Parker had a great day together fishing the middle Satilla over the weekend. They didn’t catch a ton of fish, but the bluegills they caught were huge. Parker struggled to hold up the biggest one for a photo. Pitching crickets was how they caught them. An angler fishing the upper river for bass had some good trips lately. He caught 8 to 10 bass up to 4 pounds per trip using artificials. Floating is the way to go this week on pretty much the whole river. Expect to drag over sandbars if you fish from a boat. The Highway 158 Bridge is open again, and it looks great. The Dept. of Transportation made improvements to the access road leading to the landing below the bridge. The Dept. of Natural Resources is working on improving the ramp, but that will take some time. The river level on August 6th at the Waycross gage was 4.7 feet and falling (83 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 4.2 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
I did not receive any reports from panfish anglers this week, but I imagine some bluegills bit crickets and artificials downstream of Folkston. Catfishing has been good all along the river. Shrimp on the bottom is a sure-fire way to catch them. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 6th was 5.1 feet and rising.
Chad Lee initiated his new Capt. Bert’s custom fly rod this week by catching a chunky two-pound bass while flinging a chartreuse bug. Over the weekend, he also caught 4 other bass up to 2 pounds on the bug and had a few BIG bluegills, as well. An angler reported catching some bass from a Waycross area pond on buzzbaits. Night-fishing is a great option right now for bass. Catfishing was good in a pond that had brown bullheads. Worms on the bottom caught them. Bream were bedding around the full moon, and both crickets and artificials fooled them.
Bowfin are your best bet right now in the heat. In-line spinners fished right down the middle of the canal work great for them. 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.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
An avid bass angler had one of his best week’s bass fishing so far on the relatively new PFA. He fished several times and landed 4 bass over 8 pounds using artificial lures (he didn’t share what style). Crappie fishing has been slow, but you can still jig up a few nice fish if you can graph them and figure out where they are suspended. This area is your best shot at a trophy bass, but remember it is catch-and-release for the bass.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
The bream fishing has been pretty solid at the area. One angler caught his 15-fish limit of bluegill and shellcrackers in Lake Patrick. His biggest 2 shellcrackers were pushing a pound apiece.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The storm messed up the early week fishing, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when it stayed offshore. Late last week the fishing was good. A group of anglers fishing the St Marys Jetties on Friday with mudminnows brought home 18 flounder to about 18 inches. They were fishing the mudminnows on jigheads of various styles (all had Gamakatsu hooks). An angler fished the St. Simons area also on Friday and cast netted a few pounds of shrimp to bottom fish with. He turned the shrimp into a 24-inch redfish that he photographed and released, a keeper black drum (that ended up being the guest of honor at supper), and about 25 other bottom fish including croaker, spot, yellowtails, and other species. He threaded the dead shrimp on a 3/16-oz. Catfish Catcher Jighead and tightlined his offering. For guide trip information, call Capt. Greg Hildreth at (912) 617-1980 or check out his 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.
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The Great American Outdoors Act – Victory! (From Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker): What is it and what does it mean for Georgia anglers? The Great American Outdoors Act establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands. Additionally, the bill makes funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent. Learn more about this important victory HERE and HERE.
Walleye Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer): Anglers have been reporting consistent catches of walleye all summer. Try Carters, Blue Ridge, Rocky PFA, or any of the Lakes in the Tallulah River chain. If you are new to walleye fishing and want to figure them out yourself, start by reading our Anglers Guide to Walleye Fishing in Georgia then be prepared to put in the time. If you want to increase your odds of putting these delicious fish in your cooler, there are several fishing guides that specialize in walleye fishing in North Georgia that would love to take you out and show you how it’s done.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant): Lake Allatoona is full, clear, and in the 80s. Bass fishing is slow. It’s hot. The top water bite is fair and some fish can still be caught fairly shallow early in the morning. The bass have moved to deeper brush and rock piles. This is a good time to beat the crowds and head out fishing after sunset. To locate bass after dark make long casts over main lake points with a Strike King 6XD or a Rapala DT10. Once fish are located slow down and use a Picasso Rhino head and a green pumpkin Trick Worm or a Texas rigged worm to get into the brush piles. The drop shot is always a go to for good numbers as well as the jig headed swimbait. Use the Picasso round ball jig head and a 4 inch Keitech swimbait most of the time. Try Galts Ferry north to the Delta for best results.
GAR-gantuan Catch at Allatoona: (From Fisheries Supervisor Jim Hakala) — Check out this longnose gar caught last week at Allatoona. These dinosaurs are great fun to catch, but are sometimes difficult to hook because of their bony, toothy mouth. Try using a rope lure and turn off the part of your brain that’s wired to set the hook. Check out this LINK for a good primer on gar fishing and rope lures.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Jimbo Mathley, Jimbo on Lanier) — Lake Lanier is 0.31 feet over full, the main lake and creeks are stained & 80s. Bass fishing is good. The majority of our fish this week have come from 25 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 of water is still holding fish and there has been some limited schooling action this week as well, typically in the mornings. Swimbaits have been working as has a Drop Shot with the Lanier Baits offerings, so stay on the move and remain versatile with your lure choices to see what level of the water column in which the fish are willing to feed. Want more detailed information on the bite this week including a detailed review of the baits I have been using, presentation keys, and the specific locations I have been targeting? Then you should SUBSCRIBE to my weekly video fishing reports HERE.
Lake Lanier Striper Report: (This report Courtesy of Buck Cannon at Buck Tales Guide Service ) — Striper fishing is good. Chestatee bay has been productive for a couple of weeks pulling lead core 275 feet at 3 mph. Using your electronics locate the fish trolling around 4 to 6 mph and when you mark your fish slow down to 3 mph and let the bait sink to the fish. Use the chipmunk 1 and 2 ounce with either a live herring or char truce trailer. The Shaddelious with red nose and tail has worked very well. The top water pops up fast so have a top water lure ready and if you get close pitch beyond the splash and don’t set the hook just let the fish do it. Remember Buck Tales it like it is.
Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report Courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton, 770-530-6493) — Crappie fishing is fair. The early morning bite is good so enjoy it while they are hitting because the bite slows down to a crawl around 10am. The water temperature is 88+ this week so the fish are deep. The fish are holding tight to the brush pile to the point that if you don’t lose a hook or two, your bait is not getting to the fish. You will see them on your graph in 15 to 18 feet of water but they are not very active. The fish we are catching are in 30 to 40 feet of water. Look for a combination of bait and Crappie they are more likely to be active. Deeper docks with structure are producing decent fish. Because the fish are deep, you need to be focused on your line. When you feel even slight movement or see your line moving around set the hook. Minnows are producing well we like to cast a ATX lure while we are waiting on our live bait. We are having the best luck with “Dory”. It’s a royal blue and chartreuse spilt tail. Try not to spend more than ten to fifteen minutes at a spot if it’s not producing. You’ll notice the bigger fish react early. Best bet is to fish early morning.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Lake Hartwell is full, and in the 80s. Bass fishing is slow. It’s been tougher this summer compared to years past. Boat traffic and high water temperatures give the fish shallow cover and keeps them spread out. Your typical run and gun top water bite with flukes and walking baits has been key. The more offshore brush and humps run in a morning you can target the greater your chances. The bite has been better early unless they are pulling water then it goes to offshore fishing most of the day. When the fish get bunched up in the mid day and they do not come up go to the drop shot rigged with a Wackem Baits Big Sissy. Sensitivity in your rods is key for drop shotting so use 8 pound braid and a fluorocarbon leader. As the water temps rise even more fish should move out. The bass really set up in the summer pattern. The spotted bass right now are on a drop shot bite in 15 to 25 feet of water using a Zoom Z Drop or finesse worm. Keep a close watch on your electronics on the points and humps. Also watch for schooling activity late in the evenings and use a Zoom Super Fluke and top water hard baits.
Lake Weiss Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service )– Weiss Lake is at 0 feet 1 inches below full pool and clear and 85-87 degrees. Bass fishing is fair. Our fish 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. Crappie fishing is fair. The fish are on deeper cover in the main lake and bays, spider rigging, over brush, with live minnows and jigs is catching fish. 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 lines are fair.
Lower Etowah Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Etowah River below Allatoona Dam has been fishing well, and we anticipate August to be fantastic for Striper and Bass. For Striper, I’m fishing an 8 or 9 weight rod with an intermediate clear tip fly line and using a tapered, 7 foot 20lb leader. Flies that imitate threadfin and gizzard shad will work, so Lunch $’s, Flashtail Whistlers, big Lefty’s Decievers, and Popovic’s hollow fleyes. For Spotted Bass, a 7 weight fly rod with a floating fly line should be the weapon of choice. We’re throwing Gurglers in white and olive, Boogle Bugs, big cherynobyl ants, and other topwater flies at these fish. If topwater doesn’t produce for you, switch to clouser minnows, Galloup’s mini dungeons and Nancy P’s in craw, white, or natural colors.
Trouting in North Georgia Headwaters: (From Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — There is nothing more special to me than being in a stream at dawn and getting to witness the natural world come alive. A salmonfly graced me with its presence this particular morning. I knew that I had only a few hours before the August sun would pierce through the overhanging mountain laurel and rhododendron leaves and warm the rushing stream. Once the water warmed, I knew the bite would slow as the trout made their way to cooler undercut banks to hide out for the remainder of the day, and I would find my way to cooler places too. (This Georgia humidity! Will I ever be able to handle it?) I am still learning how to use a fly rod in these headwater “vegetation tunnels”, and so my excursion included several successful landings of leaves and twigs. Eventually, I got into a good rhythm, and moved up the stream- fishing the perfect plunge pools, and looking forward to a break in the tunnel where I could sneak in an overhead cast. I have the tendency to get very excited about a fish grabbing my fly, and come straight up to set the hook, and end up spooking and missing the fish. Here are some really helpful TIPS on setting the hook (specifically at minute 7). I settled down some and reminded myself to set the hook in a downstream manner. I was rewarded with several wild, little Rainbows. Gosh they’re pretty. It was 11, so I snuck out, swapped fly boxes, and made my way to a larger river way downstream to try my hand at “River Bassin” following Jeff Durniak’s techniques in Coastal Angler Magazine – Atlanta Edition (page 16-17/60). There is such a wide diversity of fishing opportunities in this great state.
Wild Trout Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — I fished my favorite wild trout stream recently. I fished mid-week to avoid the weekend crowds and got out there fairly early to beat the heat. I landed many nice cookie cutter 8-9 inch browns on a #14 X-caddis. The stream flow was in great shape for this time of year, with regular showers keeping the groundwater recharged. In fact, a small shower came through the area as I was fishing which added a slight stain to the otherwise crystal clear water and probably helped my catching a little. Fish were still spooky as always. Long casts, stealth, and 5x tippet were essential for success.
Burton Hatchery Renovation Update: (This report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) — Our friends at Unicoi Outfitters stopped by Burton this week to see first-hand the ground up renovation work being done at Lake Burton Trout Hatchery. Check it out HERE.
Toccoa Tailwater Report: (Report Courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Toccoa Tailwater is still crystal clear from the dam down to at least Hemptown Creek. I recommend downsizing your flies and tippet if you’re fishing this end, so longer than average, 5x leaders with size 16-18 unweighted pheasant tails and hare’s ears, midges, clear water emergers, etc. I’m throwing these flies under size 10-12 chubby chernobyls in golden stone, Black Foam PMX’s, or Foam Stimulators in Yellow Sally colors. There isn’t a high chance of rain the next few days, so I would anticipate the water staying clear. Go as early as possible! The fishing shuts down as the sun gets over the water.
Small Streams Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — Small Streams have been productive, especially higher in elevation where the water is heavily canopied. Bring a 3 weight fly rod, a 9 foot 5x leader, and a cup full of yellow dry flies, and stay back off of pools and use cover to your advantage. Low and Clear water makes for spooky fish! These fish concentrate in the highly oxygenated water this time of year, so anywhere you see bubbles, there’s a good chance there’s a fish in that spot.
Trout Stocking Teamwork: (From Summerville Hatchery Manager Josh Tannehill) – Staff from Buford and Summerville State Trout Hatcheries worked together this week to stock trout into North Georgia’s trout streams. The fish in these photos were raised at Summerville but stocked by staff from Buford. Examples of teamwork like this occur frequently among Georgia’s three state and one federal trout hatcheries, as everyone pitches in to produce fish for the enjoyment of Georgia’s trout anglers.