Long weekend on the way – what are your plans? Looking at the weather outlook, there might even be a hint, a whisper, of cooler mornings on our horizon. Got a young one in your life – child? grandchild? niece or nephew? Whether they are doing virtual or in-person learning, they are surely ready for a break. So help reward them – and you – with some quality fishing time on the water.
News to Know:
- In memory: Please join us as we honor the memory of a Georgia Department of Natural Resources Family Member, Captain Stan Elrod. This 28-year veteran of the DNR Law Enforcement Division was tragically killed by a motor vehicle the evening of September 3 while physically training in Danielsville, GA. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and his family members. Our hearts and prayers go out to them all.
- Hitting the Water: Over 19,000 trout stocked this week in anticipation of the Labor Day weekend! More info HERE. And check out trout information and the weekly stocking report (see which streams were stocked) HERE.
- Shoal Bass Restoration: Check out this post from the American Fisheries Society Black Bass Conservation Committee about the restoration efforts for shoal bass on a Chattahoochee River tributary stream.
- Want to Help? WRD can use your volunteer efforts. Whether it is helping at an event, cleaning up river ways and wildlife areas, or other opportunities – we need you! Find out more HERE and HERE.
- These Kids are Talented!: Check out the artwork done by kids for the Youth Birding Competition. What wonderful artists!
- Discount Available: Of course fishing is always on our minds, but hunting season is also here (Dove Season begins tomorrow, and Deer Archery begins next week!). Want a discount at Academy Sports + Outdoors? Of course you do! Renew or purchase your hunting license between September 4, 2020 and September 11, 2020, and we will e-mail your discount coupon. Discount valid 9/21/2020 – 9/27/2020.Watch your inbox! Discount coupons will be sent via e-mail on September 15th, 2020.
This week, we have reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Don’t waste your weekend – spend time with those you love – and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Success for Local Bass Fishing Team at Hartwell: Here’s a shout-out to Logan Fisher and Will Hart, from Madison County High School. This high school duo took the top spot the recent Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series event at Lake Hartwell. More details from GON HERE. Nicely done, guys. Good luck at the national tournament!
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Lake Hartwell is 0.80 feet over full, and in the 80s. Bass fishing is fair. The fish continue to stay deeper with the warmer water. Look for some smaller fish in the 15 to 25 foot range on the main lake with the quality fish still staying deep. Try top water baits or a fluke for the first couple of hours. Once the sun gets up work a shaky head or drop shot out in the 25 to 35 foot range. This is a slower bite but has produced some quality fish. The key here is to keep moving work the area no more than 10 minutes then move on till the fish bite. In the upper river arms there is a lot of bait at the mouths of the major creek arms use top water baits for the first couple of hours if that doesn’t work try a fluke. Once the sun gets up work the channel swings in the 15 to 25 foot range with a jig or shaky head for some bites. There are some resident fish in the creek arms but the bite it very slow in these areas producing only 7 to 8 bites a day. Fish the brush around the deeper docks and slowly work the jig or shaky head in and around the brush again. Look for the upper river arms to cool down the quickest and the main lake to follow. Stay patient out there and keep moving. When all else fails get out a spinning reel with 8 pound Sufix Siege clear line and carry several colors of #5 and #7 Shad raps and change colors every 20 minutes.
Lake Hartwell Lineside Report: (This report Courtesy of Captain Cefus McRae) — We’re on the tail end of summer right now, although the outside temperatures are still warm, Lake Hartwell is beginning to cool a bit. The rains of late August have kept the lake full, and have also kept the surface water temperatures in the mid 80’s down from the high 80’s we saw in early August. The rain also adds oxygen to the upper water column and that allows both the baitfish and the stripers to move up from the deeper holes where they have been hanging out. This can result in a ‘over before you know it’ top water bite. And it can happen near the bank, at the back of a cove, or in open water. So be sure to have a MirroLure Top Dog rigged on a spinning reel, just in case. My go to colors are the blue/silver and black/silver. Cast just beyond the surfacing school and walk the bait into the commotion. Sometimes the bigger fish will be just on the edge of all the action. The key to catching this time of year is going early or starting late. Be on the water before the sun comes up. Once the sun gets higher than the treetops, these fish will move deeper. That doesn’t mean you can’t catch them, but if they get comfortable in the treetops, it can be hard to see them on the sonar, and it can be even harder to bring them to the boat once they are hooked. We always use leader material that is lighter than the main line so if we have to break a tangled fish off…he is only dragging a little bit of leader line around until the hook rusts out. We are finding most of the action on the south end of the lake and it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s the Georgia side or the SC side, there’s plenty of fish around. After the sun hits the treetops, move out to deeper water at 60 to 100 feet. Look for distinctive underwater features that provide either bait or ‘highways’ for fish to move. Humps that rise from 100 feet to 60 feet in a short distance are good spots, as are major creek mouths. Put live blueback herring on a #1 or #2 Gamakatsu octopus hook with about 3 feet of fluorocarbon 10# test leader. Use a 1½ ounce egg sinker above your swivel and drop your baits down to the strike zone. Trolling lead core line 7 to 8 colors behind the boat is also effective. A 1 or 2 ounce WhoopAss Buck tail jig tipped with a dead herring or a Project-X 5” pearl saucertail will catch fish in the river channel and in the deeper creeks. Use about 30 feet of 17# test fluorocarbon leader ahead of the buck tail. And of course, you definitely should have some umbrella Rigs on board. A 4 arm fully rigged rigs trolled 75 to 100 feet behind the boat will put both hybrids and stripers in the cooler. Troll these in the same places you’d pull lead core. If you don’t occasionally hang up in the standing timber, you’re either trolling too fast or you have too much line out. Be sure to have an umbrella rig retriever with you. You need to have your rig running just above the underwater timber, so count on getting hung up every now and then. You may look a jig or a leader, but the retriever will save your rig. If you want to fish late…that’s a great option. Anchor over a hump that goes from 80 feet up to about 35 feet. Put out your HydroGlow underwater light and settle in. It will take 30 minutes to an hour for the bait to start showing up, and the stripers will soon follow. Then it’s a matter of dropping smaller buck tails, swimbaits, or live bait and you can really load the boat.
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 good. There is some daily of surface activity and schooling. The creeks and deeper pockets are productive. Get out the swim baits. Use the Triple Trout and the Spro BBZ. Make sure to use a proper rod reel and line. Paralleling bluff walls is a great technique to use with a swimbait. The soft plastic jerkbait is good. A white or pink 5-inch Big Bite Jerk Minnow fished with a fast erratic retrieve is working well. The upper lake from Galts to Little River has been the best area. This area should stay good until the water drops a few more feet. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success. Cooler nights are in the forecast.
Lake Allatoona Lineside Report: (This report courtesy of Robert Eidson, First Bite Guide Service) — Line side fishing is fair. We are still catching decent numbers but we are having to run and gun right now. The fish are on the move and aren’t staying in one location for very long. Down lining shad is still working, but shad are dying very quickly on a hook. Be sure to take plenty of bait with you. Down lines fished at 14 to 21 feet deep is working best right now. The dissolved oxygen level is so low below 21 feet bait is dying in less than five minutes on a hook. Netting bait isn’t that hard right now. But if netting isn’t your thing Joe’s Mart on Bells Ferry Rd normally has shiners and shad in stock. We caught fish the pass couple of weeks as far north as Kellogg’s Creek and as far south as Allatoona Landing. These fish are on the move and never seem to be in the same place the next day. Hopefully this is just a minor setback in what has been a great summer live bait bite on Lake Allatoona. Trolling is good and has been our better bite the last few weeks. And this will probably will hold true into the mid of September. We are pulling nothing but umbrella rigs right and the colors do not seem to matter. It is more of a reaction bite right now. We have been having our best luck at 145 feet behind the boat at speeds of 2.4 to 3.1 miles per hour.
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 and some fish have moved shallower a lot of bass are still on deeper cover under deeper docks and on the creek and river channel ledges humps and submerged road beds they are being caught on medium to deep running crank baits 1/2 ounce spinner baits Carolina rigged plastics and jigs. 20 plus pound stringers have been winning the $ all year. Striper fishing is fair. Fish the lower Chattooga River at the Cave Hole in Little River and Little Spring Creek. Down lining and flat lining live shad 8 to 10 feet deep in the river channel. Crappie fishing is good and most fish are on the main Coosa river channel ledges and Little River in 12 16 feet of water on cover and they can be caught spider rigging with live minnows fished 2 4 feet above the bottom. Some fish are being caught under docks in the main lake shooting jigs a 1/24 ounce Jiffy Jig in colors JJ13 and JJ17 is working.
Lower Etowah Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Etowah River is fishing well when weather and generation permits. Popper fishing on the river is on fire right now! Rig up your favorite 5-7 weight with a floating, tropical core fly line (Rio’s Bonefish, Scientific Angler’s Grand Slam) and a 0x Rio Powerflex Leader and bring a cup full of boogle bugs. We’re also throwing gurglers, frog flies, and mice patterns at these fish. If the topwater bite isn’t happening for you, take some baitfish patterns in the 1.5-3 inch size range and another rod rigged with intermediate tip, tropical fly line. We like Clouser Minnows, Lunch $’s, etc. Spotted Bass fishing should only get better as the temperature cools off and we move into fall, so if you would like to take advantage of the best thing we’ve got going, call us at the shop to book a float!
Know their Niches: (This report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) — Welcome back to “Thursday Tips” by Unicoi Outfitters. How’s your aim this fall? UO is here to help you sight-in your fly rods and hit your targets! Check out Jeff’s latest column, “Know their Niches,” in the newly released September issue of The Angler Magazine-Atlanta Edition. It’s free and available online and in print at most north Georgia fishing tackle stores and fly shops. Remember, he cheated for 30 years and used electricity, so he caught a lot of fish and studied a lot of niches. Good luck this fall. Feel free to call or email either one of our stores if we can help with your “hunts.”
Wildcat Creek Reopened: (From Trout Stocking Coordinator John Lee Thomson) — Have you been missing the trout fishing at Wildcat Creek? Well, you are in luck! The road to this popular stream had been closed due to storm damage, but the U.S. Forest Service has restored access and it received a heavy load of stocked trout for Labor Day Weekend anglers. If Wildcat is not where you want to go, look HERE to find other great trout fishing opportunities this weekend. Make sure you have a fishing license and a trout stamp, and good luck!
Time for Turnover? Not yet: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — As we approach the end of the summer, we routinely start to receive reports of cloudy greenish-brown water and a rotten egg smell on the tailwaters below big dams, especially the Hooch below Buford Dam. Many anglers refer to this phenomenon as lake “turnover”, but as our retired colleague Bill Couch describes in this post on NGTO, turnover won’t happen until much later in the year when the weather cools off. Click the link to find out what is really happening.
Toccoa Tailwater Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Toccoa River has been fishing well with decent numbers coming from our guides on float trips. Getting out early is key right now. In the morning, fish are willing to come up for size 16 and 18 Parachute Adams, but Smaller hoppers and chubby chernobyls have also been producing fish. From the dam to the first tributary creek, water is crystal clear so light 5x and 6x tippet on a longer leader and a 4 or 5 weight rod will work well for fishing dries and light dry-droppers. You can up-size your line and leader downstream of some of the tributary streams, as they add a little bit of stain to the water – 4x or 5x. Once the sun is over the water, switch to nymph rigs on top, dropping a smaller midge or Blue Winged patterns have been doing well. By 11 AM, the fishing really starts to slow down.
Small Streams Report: (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — Small streams are fishing great in high elevation areas where the water stays cooler. These streams are low and clear, so 5x and 6x tippet is a must. Dries and smaller terrestrials like beetles, ants, and smaller hoppers are producing good numbers of fish from pocket water and faster runs. A shorter 3 or 4 weight rod works best in these tighter settings. The thick canopy around these streams keep the air and the water cooler throughout the day, making fishing a blast all day long.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Last quarter moon is September 10th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.
The river has been high for a couple of weeks now, but the backwaters are fishable. With the high heat, expect the bass to bite early in the morning in the oxbows, but close to the mouth of the river. The fish will use the little cuts and oxbow mouths as current breaks while the river is high. Catfishing is your best bet right now. Put shrimp, worms, or cut bait on the bottom for blue and channel cats and fish live bait for flatheads. The river level was 6.2 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.8 feet and rising (87 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 3rd.
The river is still high and hot, and catfish will be your best bet on the holiday weekend. The extreme upper river might be fishable for panfish if we do not get rain between now and the weekend. The river level on September 3rd at the Waycross gage was 7.9 feet and falling (82 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 8.0 feet and rising.
The heat has slowed the bite. I haven’t heard of a big bass caught this week. Catfishing has been decent at night and bream fishing has been ok first thing in the morning for anglers pitching crickets to shoreline vegetation and cover. During the dog-days, fish early and late in the day for the best bites.
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.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse fished a creek off the upper river early this week and caught a warmouth and channel catfish on a white beetlespin. He also caught a giant bluegill on a mini-crankbait from the main river. He said that the upper river should be fishable this weekend. The tidal river should be ok for catfish, but it’s still high. Put a shrimp on the bottom for catfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 3rd was 7.4 feet and falling.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Saltwater fishing was good from most accounts this week. Capt. Greg Hildreth’s charters had some good fishing for sharks behind shrimp boats. Their most exciting moment was when a big bull shark came up and bit a huge chunk from the tail of a big shark that they were fighting. Wyatt Crews and a friend fished the Brunswick area on Friday and caught about 100 fish of all flavors by dropping a shrimp tail threaded on a Redfish Wrecker Jighead (3/16 and 3/8-oz. sizes) to the bottom. Their most notable fish were a half-dozen nice black drum up to about 5 pounds. They also had a slot redfish and a bunch of croakers, several seatrout, whiting, and spot. Scout Carter and a friend fished the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday and did not do much out at the rocks. They caught a couple small flounder on dead shrimp on Redfish Wrecker Jigheads. They then came inshore and fished an Equalizer Float and candy corn Sea Shads rigged on a jighead and caught 9 trout (1 keeper) off shell mounds. 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.
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