Is there part of you that can’t believe it is the end of August…and yet another part of you that says thank goodness it is the end of August? What a long, strange year it has been. But, you know what is always a good thing no matter what time of the year? Fishing!
News to Know:
- Lunker Time: Have you been to Ocmulgee PFA yet? Might want to plan a trip if you are looking for some lunkers. Check this out!
- Special Event Location: Looking for a place in SE Georgia to host a special event? Evans County PFA has a wonderful new event center ready for you. This gorgeous building is set right next to Bidd Sands Lake and is fully equipped to handle your family reunion, wedding or other occasion. Need overnight accommodations? There is an RV and tent campground available!
- Invasives: Everything from pythons to tegus…critters that are not native to Georgia often have a devastating effect on established wildlife and habitat. Help keep invasive species OUT of Georgia!
This week, we have reports from Central, North and Southeast Georgia. Get ready to flip that calendar to September soon and Go Fish 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 good. The lake is clear, and the bass are moving and scattered. The largemouth and spots are mixed and moving and feeding. A good crank bait bite will become a reality over the entire lake in just a few weeks. Some better fish are coming from the south end of the lake. The mouths of larger feeder creeks are still producing a lot of bass. Swimming an X Rap and Husky Jerk bait will catch those shallow water bass and the Glass Fat Raps and Shad Raps will catch those bass a little deeper off the points. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success. There are plenty of stumps in 25 to 50 feet of water all over this lake. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan the creeks up lake for the stumps holding the fish. This is a typical summer-time pattern. A slow presentation along with patience is also needed. Four-inch worms and small flukes seem to be the favorite baits to use.
CLARKS HILL IS .44 FEET OVER FULL 80’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are after recently hatched small shad and small sunfish right on banks both up and down lake. After the morning action head to the up-lake creeks. Cast Zoom u tail worms in June bug and gourd green on a Texas rig on the bank cover. Keep baits in the structure if possible. The bone and parrot Deep Wee R cranks baits in the rivers and creeks are good choices and again cast these lures right on the bank. All lures should be worked in a stop and go technique and move around often. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success. The early morning bite is good, and it dies off around 10:00 a.m. If the wind is blowing move to the points and the mouths of the creeks and coves and use top water and crank baits. Use the jigs, worms, and Shakey Heads and pick the rocks and wood apart. Fish these baits shallow at less than about five feet deep on these sunny days.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 80’S
(This Lake Oconee fishing report is by Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Service. 404-803-0741) —
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair. At first light fish a buzz bait on sea walls and rip rap from the middle of the coves and creeks out to the main lake. White or white and chartreuse have been the best color. Then switch to a shaky head and fish it under the deep-water docks. Some fish are starting to move into the creeks from the 44 bridge south. Target them with the same shaky head.
- Striper: Striper fishing is poor. There are some small fish feeding at the dam first thing in the morning. U se the spoons. There are also some fish showing up on the pipeline in the afternoons when Georgia Power is pulling low water. The same spoons are working there.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The fish have moved into their summer locations. Look on the creek ledges as well as in the deeper timber. Use your Lowrance structure scan to locate the timber with the crappie in it. Once the fish are located use a jig or drop a live bait into the school.
WEST POINT LAKE IS .79 FEET OVER FULL, CLEAR 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The water temperatures will cool down and this will bring the bass shallow moving up into the coves. Use the top water baits like the Zara Spooks and the buzz baits. Look for largemouth and spots on point’s roadbeds and back in the cove’s gravelly areas. Wehadkee Creek is a good area to fish and this lower lake area is clear. This week the mid lake area around Highland Marina up to marker #95 is a great all-day area. Be sure to fish any wood on the banks. Wood can hold bait fish and the bass will go after them when there is any wind blowing across them.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.69 FEET, STAINED 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Top water lures and buzz baits are working every morning. Use both a small and large buzz bait, and perhaps a standard Pop R and a large Chug Bug. Try a Mann’s Baby One Minus reeled fast. The bites have come from main riverbanks to near the back of coves and the seawalls. Docks and boathouses are holding fish that are hitting jigs soft plastics and some on crank baits. Primary points and flats along creek runs and secondary points in coves are beginning to hold fish that are slowly headed farther in. Crank baits or Carolina rigs will usually catch a few of these structure holding groups of fish. Depths of these fish are varying from about 6 to 12 feet deep up the lake to 10 to 20 feet deep down the lake. Rip rap continues to hold a few fish also. Crank baits lightweight Texas rigs and jig head and worm rigs are good. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success.
LAKE JACKSON IS .78 FEET OVER FULL CLEAR 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Bass are starting to move and use the top water baits crank baits and the plastic worms. Start off the morning up in the rivers or large creeks and try to find moving water. Throw Pop R’s and Zara Spooks into the shallows along the smaller feeder creek areas. The larger coves are producing the better bass and they are still hanging around the docks and wood found in these areas. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success. Look in the mid lake halfway back in the creeks and hit any dock or on points. Brush is a must and the fish are on the shady sides. This is the lake to use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan the docks before stopping the boat and use the palette #9. Use the Shad Raps in fire tiger or silver gold color. Cast these baits alongside the docks and lay downs especially those near deep water. Work the end of the lay downs with the top water first and follow it up with the RS Shad Rap. Some of the bass are taking the top water but most of the bites are coming on the follow up Shad Rap. Vary the retrieve and find out which one works best. Another good method to use this week is a Texas rig red shad color Zoom U tail worm, green pumpkin for sure.
FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 84.2˚ F (29.0˚ C)
- Water Level: 3’ 10” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 20.5”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
As we progress into September hopefully the heat will abate, and we will have some enjoyable fishing weather once again. Although warm temperatures have kept many fishermen away, those that tried their luck, were happy with their catches. Those fishing the lake via canoe, kayak or bank fishing have relayed to us that live bait options have not been as successful as their plastic companions. The one live bait that remains successful for a variety of fish is the red wiggler worms. Bass fishing has been good with several four-plus pounders being caught. Bream remain the go-to fish for those wanting to catch a lot of fish. Crappie fishing has been hit or miss.
Bass: Shad colored Crankbait 2.5 diver by Senko, Mike Bucca’s segmented Baby Bull Shad (lure by Catch Co.). Plum colored Ol’ Monster worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumpkinseed Culprit worms. Most dark-colored worms. Live worms.
Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Near cover or near the shallower water during a full moon. Catalpa worms. Chicken cut into small pieces were working great for one angler. Crickets have not worked well.
Channel Catfish: Frozen Catalpa worms, chicken livers, red wiggler worms.
Crappie: The only angler that has been catching crappie was fishing the dock lights several hours prior to sunrise.
MARBEN PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Level: All bodies of water are at or near full pool with Otter pond being the only exception.
- Water Clarity: 18” – 36”
- Surface Temperature: 75 – 85. Temperatures will decrease as the month progresses.
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: The bass will begin to move into more shallow water as the temperatures cool throughout the month of September. Many anglers are taking advantage of the cloudy days. The best bite is still really early or several hours after sunset when the water has had time to cool on hot sunny days. Swim baits, plastic worms, and creature baits have been productive.
Bream: The bluegill and shell cracker bite should be like the August bite. The bluegill may even get off an extra spawn this September with the full moon being early in the month. Wax worms, pink worms, and small in-line spinners work well for bream. We have seen a few fly fishermen targeting bream.
Crappie: The crappie bite is slow. Your best bet is to fish for suspended fish over brush piles in deep water. Jigs tipped with minnows is a good choice of bait.
(Fishing report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Although it’s been another soggy week across Georgia, we should count our blessings that hurricane winds and floods did not blow our way. Our prayers go out to the folks in Louisiana and Texas that are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. With full ponds and full streams in our state, there are plenty of waterbodies to enjoy; however, several folks called into the office this week to report a “rotten egg” smell in their favorite lake. This unpleasant smell is the result of a natural process caused by common bacteria that live in the oxygen-deficient bottoms of lakes and swamps. These naturally occurring and helpful bacteria utilize decaying organic matter, which usually contains small amounts of sulfur, and release hydrogen sulfide gas as their waste product. You may notice this obnoxious smell at the water’s surface when you are walking on a mucky lake bottom in the summer time; however, the most common place you will notice this “rotten egg” smell is when water is released from large reservoirs, like Lake Lanier, especially around this time of year. So, if you notice a “rotten egg” smell coming from the water, you can thank microscopic bacteria for doing their job to clean up the environment.
Enough of the fun facts and on to this week’s fishing reports. In general, fish are holding in their typical summertime patterns. Lineside species like striped bass and hybrid bass are generally holding in deep water just below the thermocline but as the bubble of oxygen where they call home during the summer dissipates, they will scatter to shallower depths of 30-40 feet near the main river channel. Largemouths continue to hold tight to structure at depths of 20-25 feet but spots are chasing herring and shad to the surface in late-afternoons. Crappie are hanging out near hard structures and submerged trees at 20-30 ft, but I’m seeing more and more stringers of catfish coming out of several reservoirs. Our favorite Public Fishing Area – Rocky Mountain PFA near Rome – has been producing some good largemouth recently (see photo), but there seems to be a running debate on the GON fishing forum about which lake is better – East or West Antioch or Heath Lake. So far, it’s a toss up, but local reports are that Heath Lake is doing especially well this week. If bass is not your thing, Rocky Mountain PFA also offers excellent bream fishing and opportunities to catch walleye (check out those below photos).
Our trout hatcheries at Buford and Summerville along with the federal hatchery in Suches are still putting a lot of nice fish into many mountains streams across North Georgia and below lakes Lanier, Hartwell and Blue Ridge. This week, about 19,000 were stocked for your fishing enjoyment, and next week is looking even better. Be sure to get out with the kids and enjoy these late-summer gifts (see Tallulah River photo). Three boys trout fishing in the Chattahoochee River below Buford Hatchery certainly did. Not only did they catch a mess of fish for dinner last Saturday, but one of the boys landed a nice 7 lb, 4 ounce brown trout (see Chattahoochee photo). Not a bad way to kick off the weekend. Enjoy!
Below are the local reports from our friends and fishing guides for many of your favorite fishing holes across North Georgia.
WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL CLEAR. TEMP MID-80s (by Ken Sturdivant Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass continue to hold in their summertime patterns. Fishing deep or near deep water is best using one of the following patterns. First, use a Carolina rigged worm fishing the deeper end of long points or under water islands. Just start at Highland Marina and head south to the dam picking every point as a target for summer time fishing. If the water is moving, watch for the baitfish to be on the move, too. If there is no current, a good tip is to fish worms and jigs slowly. On these same points fish a Norman Deep Diver 22 in the glimmer shad color pattern on 10 pound test Sufix line. Get the bait down to the bottom and bump the bottom all the way back to the boat. The third pattern is flipping under docks that are near deep water with a Zoom U-Tail in the red shad color. You may have to work several points on the main lake but you should be able to catch some good fish.
WEISS LAKE IS AT FULL POOL AND CLEAR. TEMP MID-80s (by Mark Collins Guide Service, 256-779 3387) –Most of the bass are on offshore structure and along the river and creek channel ledges. Most anglers are using spinner baits, Carolina rigs and medium to deep running crank baits, and all seem to be working well. Spotted bass are also biting well on deeper structure and the creek channel ledges. Carolina rigs and crank baits are the hot spotted baits right now. Crappie are on deeper cover in the main lake and bays. Spider rigging over brush with live minnows and jigs is catching a few fish. Striped bass 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 on free lines.
LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL. TEMP MID-80s (by Captain Mack, 770-235-8135) –
- Bass: There continues to be no shortage of bass boats fishing on the weekends and most are still focused on shallow points and around underwater islands, shoals, ditches and old road beds. We are catching quality bass on humps or in ditches near the main river channels before the sun gets up above the tree line, but as soon as the sun gets up the bass move deeper or into cover. Bass are still in the back of coves and places where there are a lot of deep water docks. I’m seeing a lot of bass suspended in the trees on my Humminbird down imaging and these fish will charge a live bait if I drop one, so I would have to believe that they would attack the right artificial bait if fished correctly. Largemouth and spotted bass are still being caught on Weedless Wonders rigged with several different plastics. Steel Shads, Mini Mack’s as well as your various crankbaits, spinner baits, topwater baits, jerkbaits and swimbaits are also catching bass. My personal bait of choice is the Weedless Wonder rigged and fished off the bottom near docks or in the backs of coves. The evening bite is still fair and the fish are pulling up on the points and around dock lights after sunset.
- Crappie: For crappie, Blue Ice jigs seem to be the go to color on Lake Hartwell right now. You may want to move up to bigger jig heads as the fish move deeper. When every other color fails, we find that chartreuse will still catch fish. Small minnows under floats also work anytime of year. This may not be your cup of tea but it still works and the bigger Crappie will take live bait when they won’t take anything else.
- Stripers and Hybrids: Stripers and hybrids are hanging out in thirty five feet of water before the sun comes up and right at sunrise. This is not typical but I have seen this before on Lake Hartwell and when the bait will only stay alive at thirty feet below the boat but dies on the bottom so guess where you are going to catch your fish before the sun get up above the tree line.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS FULL AND CLEAR. TEMPS MID-80S (by Ken Sturdivant Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass are schooling in the main lake areas. Small top water baits and the Mini Mac will work on the schooling fish. Most of the schooling fish are in the 1 to 1.5 pound range. If the day is overcast, bass will be bust baits at the surface during the morning. Good alternatives include a drop shot, fish head spin and small swim baits. Keep a Zoom Super Fluke ready all day just in case fish pop to the surface.
LAKE LANIER IS FULL AND STAINED. TEMPS MID-80s
- Bass Report (by Jimbo Mathley, Jimbo on Lanier, 770-542-7764) — Bass fishing is good. The majority of our fish this week have come from 15 to 25 feet of water. We have focused mainly on points and humps with brush for the majority of our fish. The brush in 20 to 30 feet of water is still holding fish and there has been some increased schooling action this week in the mornings. Swimbaits have been working as well as a drop shot, so stay on the move and remain versatile with your lure choices to see what level of the water column the fish are willing to feed.
- Striped Bass Report (by Buck Cannon Buck Tails Guide Service, 404-510-1778) — Striper fishing is good. I’ve been trolling from Flowery Branch to the Dam with lead core line and letting out eight colors. Fish are hitting a variety of jigs and trailers. The Mini Mac and the Ben Parker spoon have been productive.
- Crappie Report (by Josh Thornton Guide Service, 770-530-6493) — Crappie fishing is fair. The early morning bite is good and early morning seems to be the most productive times. The fish are holding tight to the brush piles to the point that if you don’t lose a hook or two, your bait is not getting to the fish. You will see crappie on your graph in 15 to 18 feet of water but they are not very active. The fish we are catching are suspended in 15 to 20 feet deep over a 25 to 40 foot bottom. Most everything we are catching are keepers over 10 inches and not many throw backs. 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, so 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. Be sure to use the smallest minnows that you can get. Try not to spend more than ten to fifteen minutes at a spot if it’s not producing. During these hot slow days it a good time to be using your side scan to be locating new honey holes. Spend some time looking for brush piles and blow downs holding fish.
River Rundown (Report from the Cohutta Fishing Company) —
- Etowah River is still off-color due to the rain from the past week. Water conditions will hopefully stabilize by the weekend as long as the rain holds off. Be sure to check generation! The corps of engineers has completed the work at the dam, so they’re generating again. If the water remains stained, I would still throw boogle bugs and other topwater flies, but I would try and throw some flashy patterns like sparkle minnows and kreelex’s, or flies that will push water like Galloup’s Dungeons, Popvics bulkheads, etc. The spotted bass fishing should be fair to excellent for the next two months, so call us if you want to take advantage of the best fishing we’re going to have for a little while!
- The Toccoa River is clear and fish-able. Take a 9 foot 5 weight rod for all around use, rigged with a 4-5x leader and have some tippet down to 6x just in case the fish get finicky. A four weight rigged with a dry fly wouldn’t hurt to have on you if you can carry it with you! For subrsurface, I would try to throw some smaller patterns imitating Blue Winged Olive and Sulphur Nymphs, Midges, and Caddis. Split Case nymphs, Holy Grails, Peeping Caddis, RS2’s, WD-40’s, etc. Pat’s Rubber Legs, TungStones, and San juan Worms should all work as well. Be mindful of the generation schedule!
- Small Streams conditions should clear by the weekend if they haven’t already! I would recommend dry-dropper rigs, so Yellow Sallies, Beetles, Hoppers, and golden stone dries trailed by small pheasant tail and hare’s ear soft hackles, small stonefly nymphs, and holy grails. A 3 or 4 weight rod rigged with 5x and 6x leaders with matching tippet should work. Stay back off of pools, fish methodically, and wear drab colors!
Trout Hunting Maps and Apps (courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters Facebook Page):
Like good bird dogs, UO is here to help you hunt for good trout waters. Today we’ll “point” you toward success with some not-so-secret treasure maps. While they might not be secret to veteran trouters, they are news to our rookie “fin-atics.” Take a look at these maps and apps and you just might find some new honey holes this fall.
First, let’s start with the apps, the online stream maps. These are great for research and trip planning at home, where your chair is comfortable, your internet connections are strong, and you’re not behind the wheel of a vehicle. For Georgia trout waters, it’s hard to beat the virtual maps by the U.S. Forest Service and GADNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. Check these out when you have time:
- Chattahoochee National Forest map: As an example, click on the Chattooga District map, which covers the northeast corner of our forest. Zoom in to view the road and stream networks.
- WRD’s online trout stream map: Zoom way in to see the creek names and access roads.
- WRD’s online Wildlife Management Area maps: Choose your favorite WMA, then click on “interactive map” in the upper right corner.
- WRD’s “Go Outdoors Georgia” smartphone app Find many fishing destinations, directions, and additional fishing info on this app.
And if you’d rather look on your computer than on your smartphone, try this link: Interactive Fishing Map | Department Of Natural Resources
Next, let’s put some good “paper” maps inside your vehicle. Why? Because high mountains and cloudy weather often hinder satellite signals, so you shouldn’t rely solely on internet maps to navigate these parts. We always have hard copies of these “treasure maps” with us on our own fishing trips!
Some of the best fishing maps for the Southeast are the National Geographic series of topo maps. They have an excellent level of detail and are a real bargain at about fifteen bucks each. Look at NatGeo maps #777 (western half) and #778 (east) to cover the Chattahoochee Forest, maps #784 (west) and #785 (east) to guide you through the Nantahala Forest, and map #229 for adipose-finned treasure hunts in the Smokies. We have several of these maps in stock, so give either UO store a call if we can help you select the best maps for your next trouting adventure.
Research, trip preparation, and the stalk are all part of the fun of hunting. Use these maps and apps to plan your own stalks of secret trout waters. That next speck that you earn on your own, rather than by simply Googling, will be a true trophy in your eyes – for the rest of your life. Good luck!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Recent rains have the southeast Georgia rivers swollen and muddy. Some areas are at a decent level for catfishing, but all stretches are too high for good panfishing. The Okefenokee is also high, and fishing will be tough in the heat if you go. For the best potential catches, spend your time this week on a pond or saltwater.
Before the Alapaha River rose this week, Garrett Mullis was fishing with some of his buddies on the river near Lakeland, and he had a trip to remember. He and his friends were catching panfish well, but Garrett wanted to try for bass. He started flinging his old trusty pink Trick Worm, and a monster inhaled it. A tense battle ensued, and Garrett landed an 8.66-pound largemouth that is being processed as the Alapaha River record for the species. Way to go, Garrett! The river has since risen over 5 feet, so it will be awhile before the fishing improves again.
Chad Lee caught quite a few bass this week from area ponds, but his biggest were a pair of 7-pounders that he caught on the same hollow-bodied frog on Saturday and Thursday evenings. He also had a great evening on the same lure on Tuesday. Bream reports were a little slow this week, probably due to the heat. Catfish reports were good from anglers fishing livers and worms on the bottom. During the dog-days of summer, fish early and late in the day for the best bites.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Greg Hildreth reported that the tarpon fishing was slow with the bad weather this week. The shark fishing behind the shrimp boats has been on fire, though! Some Waycross anglers did great on the coast this week fishing Redfish Wrecker Jigheads and fresh dead shrimp. The heads are great for pitching around docks and shell mounds for redfish and other fish. The Waycross anglers fished Crooked River on Monday for a couple hours before the storms ran them off and caught 24 mangrove snapper, 4 trout, a flounder, and a whole host of bottom grubbers. They were using the 3/16oz version with 3/0 Gamakatsu hooks. On Wednesday, a Waycross angler fished the Brunswick area and landed 5 redfish up to 28 inches and 4 black drum up to 18 inches on the 3/16 (3/0) and 3/8 (5/0) models. 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.