Don’t you just love the guarantee of a weekend happening each week? The lure of those few “relaxing” days can really put some pep in that step as it gets closer. Yes, I know the lawn has to get mowed, groceries must be bought, cars must be washed…all those chores. But still…the thought of an upcoming weekend can really make the mind wander to all the things I WANT to do – like go fish somewhere!
News to Know:
- Stream Stocking: 22 streams across 10 counties stocked this week. More info HERE. Want to keep up with the weekly trout report, click HERE.
- Habitat Enhancing: A milestone – the 1,000th fish attractor placed at the 100th site on Lake Sinclair. More info HERE.
- Get outdoors: Make the best of the current climate situation and get outside for your social distancing! Need some ideas? Check THESE TIPS out.
This week, we have reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Satisfy that weekend wanderlust as you Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The river has jumped back up and muddied some, but you should still be able to find some clearer water in the backs of the oxbow lakes. A group of anglers caught a good mess of bluegills from shoreline cover in the back of an oxbow in the Jesup area on Saturday. They were pitching crickets. Catfishing has been consistent in the rising and falling river. Put shrimp or worms on the bottom for channels, cut bait for blue cats, and live bait for flatheads. You can also run limb lines with good success right now for whiskerfish. The river level was 5.4 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.7 feet and rising (86 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on August 20th.
The river rose again after recent rains and is falling back out to where you can expect to drag a boat over shallow areas for the weekend. Floating is your best bet right now, and you should start picking up panfish again if we don’t get rain between now and the weekend. Unfortunately, it has rained about the whole time I have been writing the report on Thursday night. The river level on August 20th at the Waycross gage was 6.2 feet and falling (81 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 5.8 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river has started falling this week but has a long way to go before its back in good, fishable shape. Expect the tidal area to be the most fishable portion, and catfish would be your main target. Put shrimp, worms, or livers on the bottom for your best chance at success. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 20th was 10.6 feet and falling after cresting at just shy of 14.5 feet earlier in the week.
Chad Lee caught a few small bass on his fly rod over the weekend from Alma area ponds. His best day was Monday during his lunch break, when he fished a swamp crawler worm (baby bass hue). He ended up with 6 bass up to 3 pounds and had 3 others get off. That worm was the ticket in the Camden County pond. The catfish bite has been good for both bullheads and channel cats. Shrimp and worms have worked best for the folks I’ve talked with. During the dog-days, fish early and late in the day for the best bass and bream fishing and at night for catfish.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
The reports slowed some this week from the torrid pace of the last few weeks. I did not hear of any 10’s being caught, and the biggest bass I heard of was only a 4 1/2-pounder. But, I’m sure bigger fish were caught and I just did not hear about them. This area is your best shot at a trophy bass, but remember it is catch-and-release for the bass. Take a quick photo and release them, as it doesn’t take long out of the water to be lethal in this heat.
According to Okefenokee Adventures staff, the swamp is still high and the fishing on the slow side. Bowfin fishing by casting an in-line spinner down the middle of the canal is still your best bet right now. Check the Okefenokee Adventures website for the latest on their services.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Shane and Joshua Barber fished the Brunswick area on Saturday. They had 10 trout and 2 redfish, but only one of each was a keeper. Most fish were on live bait, but the reds ate dead shrimp for them. Fishing around oyster beds was the key for them. Capt. Greg Hildreth’s charters had some great tarpon fishing this week. Jim Mercer fished with him this week and went 2 for 4 with artificials. They caught them on a Bait Buster plastic rigged on a 1/2-oz. Tarpon Tamer Jighead (a jighead designed specifically for the BaitBuster and built on a strong Gamakatsu hook designed to hook and hold a giant tarpon). A pair of Waycross anglers fished the St Marys Jetties on Saturday and pitched bucktails for bull reds to no avail. They moved in some and threw Gulp shrimp on jigheads and caught a handful of flounder and a few black sea bass. Dominic and Luke Guadagnoli and Justin Bythwood fished the St Marys Jetties on Sunday and caught a dozen flounder up to a few pounds and 2 keeper black drum. They were using a 1/2-oz. jighead and mudminnows and live shrimp around the rocks. Luke broke off a MONSTER flounder before they could get the net under it. A Waycross angler fished Sunday afternoon in the Brunswick area and caught 4 black drum up to 18 inches and a whole host of other species on dead shrimp fished on a 3/16-oz. and 3/8-oz. Catfish Catcher Jighead. They fished around shells and docks for their fish. 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 Hunter Roop, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Surprise, surprise, it is hot! Actually, it’s really hot, and the afternoon thunderstorms are making late-day fishing excursions a challenge. Best bet for calm, successful fishing has been to hit your favorite local waterbody early before the sun and the waves get up. The forecasted rain this weekend might put a damper on your fishing plans, but the heat and humidity will no doubt return and stick around for several more weeks, so plan to fish the summer patterns a while longer. Mountain trouting opportunities are plentiful thanks to abundant rains this summer, so if still water is not your thing, aim high and find some mountain jewels among the shady rhododendron. Or, you can hit up your local tailwater (think Blue Ridge, Lanier, or Hartwell) for a lower elevation trout fishing excursion. The typical summer patterns are in motion on the North Georgia reservoirs: catfish and panfish are active and fishing well, black bass are taking cover or seeking deeper structure, and the linesides are trying to find their comfort zone amidst an evolving summer environment. The options are there, and below are a handful or proven tactics to put fish on in the summer. Good luck to the kiddos returning to schooling this week, it’s obviously not going to be a “normal” school year, but it can still be great, fun, and productive. A fishing trip might be the perfect way to reward the kids (or, yourself) after a long week of in-person or virtual learning. Thanks for your purchases of fishing licenses, trout stamps, and TU vehicle tags. It’s anglers like you that help conserve and protect Georgia’s fishery resources for now and generations to come, and that’s something worth celebrating (see Sarah’s “Ode to Anglers” in the trout section below)!
(North Georgia reservoir and reports are brought to you this week courtesy of GON and other contributors specified below)
LAKE LANIER IS 0.35 FEET OVER FULL POOL, THE MAIN LAKE AND CREEKS ARE SLIGHTLY STAINED & 80S.
- Bass: Guide and tournament angler Ryan Coleman reports, “Fishing has slowed some over the last couple of weeks, and fish have started to feed early in the mornings on top and then a little later in the day. In between, you are having to pull these guys off structure like man-made brushpiles and deep timber. Look for brush in the 25- to 35-foot range on the main-lake humps and points. Work around and on top of these brushpiles with a jig or a drop-shot rig. For a jig, I like a 3/8-oz. casting jig in either a Georgia craw or herring color. For my drop-shot rig, I like a heavier weight, so I typically use a 3/8-oz. weight on 6-lb. line with a No. 2 drop-shot hook. For plastics, I prefer a 6-inch SpotSticker Drop Shot Worm in either crushed herring or cinnamon purple. These are go-to colors on Lake Lanier when the bite gets tough. Just use a 15- to 18-inch leader, and drop this rig around fish or structure that you mark on your Lowrance sonar. Be patient. In the mornings, you can still work topwater over humps and points for the aggressive fish, but be there early. Once the sun gets up, that bite slows dramatically and the fish lock on the structure. This bite will more than likely hold strong for us through August.
- Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins reports, “Summer fishing on Lanier is awesome. We are starting to see huge schools of fish in their normal summertime haunts. They are moving out of the pockets and into the south end creek channels like Big, Shoal, Two, Four, Six Mile and Bald Ridge. In early August, there will still be some fish in main-lake pockets in 50 to 70 feet of water first thing in the morning, but as the sun gets up, they will move out to the creek channels and the river channel in 90 to 120 feet of water. Read more on GON.
- Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “The best fishing is on the south end of the lake due to deeper, colder water, which means higher oxygen levels for the stripers. The schools are getting larger and larger. Look in the creek channels near patches of timber. The primary pattern is the downline. The primary setup for the downline is a Shakespeare Striper Rod paired with a Penn Fathom II 15 Linecounter reel spooled with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game line, the Captain Mack 2-oz Swivel Sinker, a 6-foot section of Trilene 100 percent Fluorocarbon and a 1/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook. Add a live herring to the hook and you are good to go. Take plenty of herring since they will not live long on the hook. Great electronics like the Humminbird Solix are the keys for success right now. The trolling bite is also picking up. Read more on GON.
Lanier water quality: (brought to you by Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): Vertical temperature & oxygen profiles were collected last week at three locations from Flowery Branch 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 Flowery Branch 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. Tom Becker, President of the Lanier Striper Club, recently reported the deep bite has fallen off and this past week all of his stripers were caught in ~30’ of water over a shallow bottom (40’ – 50’). The recent cooler weather and rain might even open up some shallower habitat as the surface has cooled a bit, but expect to continue catching stripers at the thermocline until we start to see consistent fall-like temperatures, especially at night.
LAKE HARTWELL IS 0.75 OVER FULL AND 80S.
Bass & Linesides: Guide Preston Harden reports, “Hybrids and stripers have migrated to colder, oxygenated water from mid to lower lake. Good electronics are important to locate the schools of fish in the deep water. It is mostly hunting until you get on top of the school. A lively herring is hard to beat. Big spoons and swimbaits on a 1-oz. jig head also catch them. Bass also move to deeper water. Look for bass around brushpiles put out by other fishermen. You can make your own and have fish around it within days. Good places to look are around long points and humps. Look from 15 to 30 feet deep. The spots rule the lower lake. As the water gets hotter, the spots school up like the hybrids and stripers. They are very aggressive and are easy to catch. The afternoons can be better than mornings as the dam releases are usually in the afternoons. When water is generated, it gets the fish more active.”
BURTON IS FULL POOL AND LOW 80S.
- Bass: Capt. Wes Carlton reports, “The largemouth bite has been good the last few days. Seems to be an early morning to mid-morning bite. Frogs in pockets have been working well. We have also been catching some nice lips on Senkos, working these in and around logs and rocks. The spotted bass bite has been great the last week or so. We have been catching most of our fish on a 25- to 30-foot bottom. Underspins tipped with Arkansas shiner flukes seem to be working best. We have caught some really big spots trolling Lucky Craft Staysee 90s while trolling for trout. This pattern should continue for the next few weeks and as we head into September.”
- Trout: Capt. Wes Carlton reports, “The brown trout bite has been a little tough lately. We have caught a few fish trolling mid lake on spoons. I have been using Luhr-Jenson Locos No. 2 spoons from my archive collection. Any color spoon should work this time of year. Catching these fish early in the morning at daylight seems to be the ticket.”
- Yellow Perch: Capt. Wes Carlton reports, “The yellow perch bite is on! These fish seem to be everywhere in the lake this year. We have caught some healthy 14- to 16-inchers in the last few days. Look for the perch in 15 to 20 feet of water close to structure, especially grass. Panfish jigs seem to work good this time of year.”
LAKE ALLATOONA IS FULL, 80S.
- Bass: Tournament angler Matt Driver reports, “Bass fishing is the same as it’s been, and August will be more of the same. 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 July’s Map of the Month series. Check out 10 places to catch bass in August: Allatoona Summer Spotted Bass, Mapped for Day And Night Bite
- Linesides: Guide Robert Eidson reports, “Very good, especially for late July and early August. The oxygen levels are falling fast. The fish are migrating south in search of cooler water. The better bite has been over the river channel from Clear Creek to Bethany. Downlining shiners and shad are working equally well right now. We are fishing our boats 18 to 40 deep. Shad are dying quickly on the hook right now, so take some shiners as back-ups. Trolling is extremely affect right now. A Captain Mack fully loaded 4-arm rig pulled 100 feet behind the boat at 3.1 mph within sight of the dam is working well.”
CARTERS LAKE IS NEARLY FULL AND LOW 80S.
- Bass: Guide Bill Payne reports, “With this rapid rise in the water temp, fishing has begun to change. Schooling activity appears to be slowing, but keep that topwater bait on deck and ready for any surface action that takes place. My primary bait after the sun gets up is the 3/16-oz. Picasso Rhino Head with the Softy Lure green-pumpkin finesse worm. We’re also using this same worm wacky rigged on a drop shot. The key places we’re focusing on are long points or humps breaking into 25 to 35 feet of water with natural or man-made cover. As is typical in the dog days of summer, fishing very slow and keeping your bait on bottom is key. It can make the difference in having a good catch or catching nothing. If you think fishing slowly is boring, well not getting bit is more boring. Slow down, and as you move your bait, go slow and deliberate. Early morning and the last 30 minutes before dark is a good time to get on the trolling motor and quickly cover as much bank as you can with your favorite topwater lure. Read more on GON.
- Linesides: Guide Eric Crowley reports, “The bite on Carters has been great for weeks. The stripers are spending most of the day in deep trees coming up shallow (50 feet) at night and early morning. We have been focusing our efforts on the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. time frame fishing the low light, low temp and low boat traffic part of the day. Fishing over the Hydro Glow lights this time of year can be productive as it’s bringing the bait and fish to your area versus chasing them around. If you have a livewell on your boat capable of keeping shad alive, a couple throws with a quality net, like a Humpback deep water net, and you can load up on the bait you’re looking for. We typically fish baits staggered from 20 to 60 feet and hold the boat over some type of bottom contour near 80 feet watching the Humminbird for activity and adjusting baits to where the active fish are. After the sun is up and the stripers go deep, we are looking for hybrids with Capt. Mack’s umbrella rigs. I like the heavier rigs on Carters, and I like to shorten the tails about 2 inches. Colors will shift day to day, but yellow, chartreuse or white are my top-3 options. Pulling rigs in the creek arms in 50 feet of water or clipping main-lake points are great options for locating hybrids on Carters.”
- Walleye: Guide Eric Crowley reports, “July was our best month ever targeting and catching these tasty creatures, and August is setting up to be the same. We boated over 40 last month and have them dialed in for success. Many of these fish were in the 23- to 28-inch class weighing up to 6 pounds. Live bait and artificials fished vertical over the fish near points in the main river has been paying off greatly. Being able to locate and positively identify them before you ever start fishing is key. Early morning and dusk have been best, but we have also been catching plenty midday. It’s taken a couple years, but we have finally put together a pattern for these fish for success from March until November.”
LAKE WEISS AT FULL POOL AND 80S.
- Bass: Guide and tournament pro Mike Carter reports, “Weiss has turned into a tough lake with this extremely hot weather. Staying focused on deep river and creek ledges has been the most productive pattern thus far. The main lures have been soft plastics on shaky heads and Carolina rigs, and also Choo Choo Lures football head jigs. Taking soft plastics and covering a few hundred docks can also produce the best numbers with fish in the shade trying to escape the heat. The best pattern and also the most fun pattern for this time of year is getting out at night and going after those mean Coosa River spotted bass. These bad dudes get aggressive at night and can show you a fantastic time while slow-rolling big Choo Choo Lures spinnerbaits paired with Fishbites Bob’s Frogs trailer. This a great way to catch late summer bass, and it gets you out from the crazy heat. It’s immensely hot right now, so take care of the fish and most of all take care of yourself by staying hydrated with plenty of water. Have some fun!” Guide Mark Collins reports, “Bass fishing is fair at Weiss with most fish on offshore structure and the river and creek channel ledges. Spinnerbaits, Carolina rigs and medium-running crankbaits are working best. The spotted bass are doing well on deeper structure and the creek channel ledges, with Carolina rigs and crankbaits are working best.”
- Crappie: Guide Mark Collins reports, “Crappie fishing is fair, and they are on deeper cover in the main lake and bays. Spider rigging with live minnows and jigs is catching fish.”
- Striper: “Striper fishing is good,” Mark said. “Fish are being caught in the upper Chattooga River, the Cave Hole and Little Spring Creek on live shad downlined about 8 feet deep and also on freelines.”
LAKE CHATUGE IS 1.40 FT BELOW FULL AND 80S.
- Bass: Guide Eric Welch reports, “I’ve not seen any breaking or schooling fish. All the baitfish I have been marking has been deep. We’ve been catching spotted bass off main-lake points, deep banks and docks with deep water access. The bait of choice has been a drop shot with a 6-inch morning-dawn worm, Z-Man Ned rig with a TRD worm and a shaky head with a 5-inch finesse worm. With the water temp being as warm as it has been, I tell everyone you need to fish like it was cold weather and water temps are cold. The bite is real light, and you have to set the hook before they spit it. I’ve been catching fish from 8 to 45 feet deep. When fishing is like this, you need good electronics and know-how to use them. The water temp up the river has been cooler, and we’ve been catching some largemouth up there on a Strike King Ocho rigged wacky style.”
- Hybrids: Guide Shane Goebel reports, “We’ve had one of the most productive and exciting hybrid bites in years, and now that August is here it should remain the same. Hybrid fishing has been phenomenal lately. The fish are schooling in large numbers, and we are catching some big quantities (40 to 60 a morning.) Most of our hybrids are averaging 5 to 8 pounds. The early morning and mid-afternoon bites have been prime. Look for schools of fish along the main channel and off points from marker 5 to the dam. 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 has slowed down considerably, but you can still find a few busting. When these fish start busting on bait, it’s always a good idea to have a plug, Spook or Red Fin at the ready. Look for this same pattern to continue for the next month or so until water temps begin to fall.”
Lake Chatuge Water Quality: Hybrid striped bass, like stripers, are confined to cooler waters with minimum oxygen concentrations near 2.0 mg/L. Water quality profiles on Chatuge were collected this week, and these profiles can be view on Lake Chatuge’s fishing forecast map (click HERE). Near the dam, there exists a wide column of suitable hybrid habitat from 25 feet down to 80 feet. Contrast the profile at the dam with the profile obtained near the stateline, and you’ll see that the thermocline (25’ – 35’) is the best depth to troll from hybrids.
NOTTELY LAKE IS 2.68 FT BELOW FULL AND 80S.
- Stripers: Guide Jeremy Seabolt reports, “Fishing has been off the charts on our boats. The fish have shown up finally, and there are some nice schools. We have been catching fish about every way possible, but the herring bite is the best. We are finding fish all over the lake from Point 8 all way to the dam. Most of the schools are holding over a 40- to 80-foot bottom, and we are dropping baits down to them. The thermocline is trying to set up. The u-rig bite is starting to get good, also. We have been catching fish pulling 90 to 140 feet back at 3 mph. Going into August, the fish will be heading to the deep, cold waters. We will be doing the same fishing tactics as we are now but only looking for fish a little deeper. Please remember the summertime is hard on the fish. Get a picture, and let them go back fast.”
Lake Nottely Water Quality: Water quality on Lake Nottely is supported by TVA’s oxygen diffusor system, which was operating this week when we collected water quality profiles. This oxygen boost supports a greater volume of habitat for stripers, and many other species in the reservoir and the lake’s tailwater benefit from this system. Check out Nottely’s water quality profiles HERE, and keep an eye out for the bubbles on your electronics next time you are on Nottely!
LAKE BLUE RIDGE IS 3.2 FT ABOVE FULL POOL AND 80S.
- Bass: Guide Eric Welch reports, “I’ve been targeting main-lake areas the first couple hours in the morning. There’s been some small spotted bass breaking in the mornings. I’ve been throwing a Whopper Plopper and a small Pop-R hoping to see some bigger fish. A drop shot with a 6-inch Roboworm in morning dawn or a 3-inch minnow bait has been the main go-to baits. I’m using these baits around deep banks and long deep points. The Z-man Ned rig with a TRD worm or a small finesse worm on a shaky head has been catching some. Once the sun gets up, I will target some key docks with a Zoom Fluke or a Strike King Ocho. Then it’s time to run up and fish the deep, rocky river walls. I like to target all the sides the river hits, and my baits of choice are the drop shot and a shaky head. Blue Ridge can get tough. You just have to move around and use your electronics and see if you find any fish. Main depths range from 8 to 40 feet. If you night fish, try a 3.5-inch tube and a 1/4-oz. jig. This time of year, I like to downsize some of my baits and line size.”
WEST POINT IS FULL, CLEAR AND 80S.
- Bass: Guide Keith Hudson reports, “August is usually a tough month for bass fishing on most lakes. There are a few patterns that can still produce. 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. Old roadbeds and pond dams, especially those with cover or man-made brushpiles, can produce some good West Point bass in the late summer. Try big diving crankbaits or Ol’ Monster worms dragged through the thickest cover you can find. Some decent fish can still 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 or aquatic grasses.”
- Linesides: Guide Keith Hudson reports, “I am expecting a really good topwater bite this summer for West Point hybrids and stripers because of all the newly hatched shad. Have a popping cork ready, and watch for schools of fish on the surface. If we have a tropical depression come through, they usually go nuts on top. Trolling big plugs with a bucktail in front, 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 even during the heat of August. 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 on West Point crappie. 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, “Catfish provide a steady bite all summer. Try using live worms, cut bait and 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!”
BEAR CREEK RESERVOIR (brought to you by Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) Bank fishing from the public access at Bear Creek has been productive lately. It’s not a huge area to spread out and fish, but the evening fishing has been worth the short pause required to identify a respectful and socially distant fishing spot. Quality largemouth bass can be caught when water is moving in from nearby feeders, and when the water is calm, bluegill are abundant and biting. The bluegill in particular are a great opportunity to introduce young kids to fishing. I’ve taken Lulah and Paisley to Bear Creek many times recently, and they are thrilled when I hand them the rod to reel in endless numbers of bluegill (we are catching big numbers on a foam ant fly, but crickets and worms are just as effective). Consider Bear Creek as a viable option, especially if you have a young one you’d like to introduce to fishing.
Etowah River (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): The Etowah River below Allatoona Dam is fishing great right now. Popper fishing for spotted bass is hot! Take a 6 or 7 weight rigged with a tropical floating line like Rio’s Bonefish or Scientific Angler’s Grand Slam and a 7.5 foot, 0X Powerflex Leader and a cup full of Boogle Bugs. We’re also throwing white and olive gurglers, clouser minnows, Lunch $’s, and Sparkle Minnows in gold or copper. Bass fishing should remain good through October on the river, and this time of year and topwater activity is a guide favorite. There are still some striper around, so if you want to catch one of these fish you can take a 9 weight with you and some bigger patterns, but the striper fishing should start tapering off.
Toccoa River (this report by Senior Fisheries Biologist John Damer) Armuchee WRD staff were on the lower Toccoa River this week collecting smallmouth bass. These smallmouth were taken to the Go Fish Education Center where they will be used as broodstock in producing future smallmouth fingerlings for stocking into Blue Ridge Lake. While on the Toccoa we saw healthy numbers of rainbow, brown, and brook trout, along with some yellow perch and a few monster walleye. Walleye like the 9-pounder pictured are rare on the Toccoa, but seem to be most common directly below Blue Ridge Dam. More helpful information on the Toccoa tailwater fishery and its history can be found here.
Chattahoochee River (courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) The river may be high and muddy this weekend, but keep an eye on the USGS gauge of relevance to you and as “low & clear” becomes a descriptor again, it’s time to hit the upper ‘Hooch for black bass (shoalies, hoochies, spots, and the occasional largemouth). Recaptured fish from the Upper Chattahoochee Shoal Bass project study are becoming more frequent this past week, indicating that the bite is heating up. A number of approaches can be used to target bass in the section of river from Helen down to Mossy Creek: trick worms, ned rigs, Texas rigs, spinning tackle, jerkbaits, shallow crankbaits, swimbaits, and any crawfish-patterned presentation will be successful. Try a popper or bomber if fishing high on the fly, or a clouser crayfish for subsurface presentations. If you catch a tagged fish, note your location, grab a quick (but accurate) length if possible, and give our Gainesville Fisheries Office a call with your data.
TROUT REPORT (courtesy of trout biologist Sarah Baker)
Ode to Anglers: “Angling is a sport for the novice or the wily veteran. No one is likely to forget that first or thousandth quiver of the rod, the sudden strike, the thrash of a catch in the boat’s bottom, the glint of sun on colorful scales and distant headlands. These are some of our most satisfying joys. Sport fishing is enjoyed by most people, but some participate only incidentally, while devoted anglers believe fishing is the highest form of recreation known to humankind. Many use spinning rod or bait-casting rod; others, a fine flyrod or simple cane pole or handline, or bow and arrow. But all enjoy the whole experience; not just meat and trophies but sun and fresh air, the birdsong and squirrel’s bark, the meditation and the peace of [Lake Burton], or the cold sting of wind and spray in a challenge to the angler” (National Survey of Fishing and Hunting, 1965).
How thankful I am that I decided to pick up a rod and reel and join millions of others in the quest to land a fish. It truly is an exhilarating and rewarding pastime. If you have a friend who doesn’t fish, I challenge you to invite them to join you on your next fishing adventure. Maybe it’s hard to believe, but many people haven’t gone fishing before, or haven’t gone since they were a kid, and have yet to experience the tranquility and excitement that fishing offers. Reach out, connect on the water, and share your fishing passion with someone else. It can be a lot more frustrating of an experience when you’re out on the water alone getting tangled up in fishing line, having your knots come loose, or simply not catching any fish because you’re not quite sure where to throw your lure. Maybe it’s a little more work for you (moms and dads know this too well), but I promise it’ll mean the world to the person who you’re enjoying the river with.
Our hatchery staff has recently stocked some streams which can help increase your odds of landing a fish- be sure to check out which streams were stocked this past week to plan your trip. If you have the time to make it up there, I recommend the Tallulah River in Towns/Rabun counties, along Tallulah River Rd. It’s a gorgeous river, and typically very productive. Remember that this August heat really nips the bite- so get there early. Thankfully, it looks like it’s going to stay a little bit cooler which will help out. Use Panther Martins (my personal favorite is yellow body with a silver blade) or if you’re using flies- go with anything a little flashy like a white Beadhead Flash Zonker. Another location to try out is Cooper Creek in Union County. But if you aren’t able to get up into the northern most part of the state to fish for trout, there are plenty of fishing opportunities closer by than you think. Poppers, streamers, or Pat’s Rubber Legs seem to be working well (GON-tel: Middle Oconee fishin’ recipe ). If you are taking someone on their first fishing trip, (or even if you’re not) remember to pack some good snacks (GON-tel: favorite fishing snacks ) . Food helps keep positive attitudes. 😊
Best of luck fishing and thanks for being Georgia anglers! Time on the water is never a waste.
Dredger’s UO report: He worked and fished hard for 30+ years as a biologist and region supervisor for North Georgia Fisheries. In retirement, the scale rightly tips more towards fishing, and his reports reflect his decades of experience working with trout and their habitats from headwater trickles to tailwater riffles. Check out UO’s Friday fishing report courtesy of Dredger HERE.
Toccoa Tailwater (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): The Toccoa tailwater is still fishing well in the early morning, but the fishing slows down as the sun gets over the water around 10-11 o clock. You may be able to get some good fishing in the afternoon if you don’t mind fishing in the weather, as we’ve had fairly consistent afternoon showers that cool things off a bit and give us some cloud cover. Take a 4 or 5 weight fly rod rigged with floating line and a 5x 9 foot leader (or lighter), and try smaller, natural patterns like unweighted soft hackle pheasant tails and BWOs, TungStones, Flashback Hare’s Ears, Wooly Buggers with no flash, and Tungsten Jig Assassins. If the water stains from rain, switch to bigger profile patterns (stonefly nymphs, streamers, squirmy worms) and beef up your leader to 4x. Bring some yellow sally dry flies, midge patterns (Griffith’s Gnat), and Blue Winged Olive imitations in case of a hatch!
Small Stream (NW) (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): Small streams are probably your best option to fish all day long for trout. Go up to higher elevation streams that have enough canopy to keep the sun off the water. We’re fishing 8 foot 3 or 4 weights, small 5 and 6x leaders, and wearing drab colors to camouflage our profiles when the water is low. Stay back off of pools and fish methodically – start at the tail out of the pool and work your way up, rather than casting to the very top of the pool immediately. You can get away with a dry-dropper consisting of a small Parachute Adams, Purple Haze, Yellow Stimulator, or small 12-14 Chubby Cherynobyl for the top fly, and drop an unweighted pheasant tail or hare’s ear below! If you’re using split shot, use the foam flies (chubby) and the largest shot you can get away with to keep the fly in the strike zone but without sinking these small dry flies, if possible. If the water level jumps from the rain, high stick wooly buggers and pat’s rubber legs with split shot in eddys near fast water, and don’t forget a net!
WALTON’S GREENHOUSE IN ACTION
Armuchee (courtesy of Fisheries Biologist John Damer): Armuchee staff collected seeds from American lotus plants this week. These seeds will be sent to WRD’s aquatic greenhouse at Walton Hatchery to produce young plants for planting in Georgia’s large reservoirs. American lotus is a native aquatic plant that can thrive in shallow water areas. It has distinctive seed pods and large bowl-shaped leaves. WRD Biologists hope to improve fish habitat by establishing new lotus stands in large reservoirs like Lake Allatoona.
Gainesville (courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): Gainesville fisheries staffers recently teamed up with another green-thumbed cohort of Region 2 and guest planter Craig Sowers, Park Ranger for the USACE on Lanier, to distribute 1,800 waterwillow and 30 buttonbush plants along the shoreline near Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier. Once established, these plants will serve as beneficial fish habitat and shoreline erosion control in years to come. These plants were provided and reared by the Region 3 Fisheries staff at the Walton Greenhouse.