Since 2001, there is a somberness to this day that is difficult to get past. As we move through today and this weekend, don’t take anything for granted, cherish the time you have and celebrate the opportunities you are given.
News to Know:
- Need Somewhere to Go? Stay Here: Looking for somewhere to get away from it all? Evans County PFA is a great choice! The RV and tent campground provides you with a perfect opportunity to relax. You can fish, you can read a book, you can hike, you can work on bow skills at the archery range, canoe or kayak, geocache and more!
- Smallmouth Collection: Northwest Georgia fisheries staff collected smallmouth bass from the lower Toccoa River to be used as broodstock in producing future smallmouth fingerlings for stocking into Blue Ridge Lake. More info HERE.
- Different This Year: While we will still celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 26, 2020 (annually on the 4th Saturday of September) with some Kids Fishing Events (check the Events Calendar HERE), there will be no Outdoor Adventure Days this year. However, the Georgia DNR encourages you to continue to explore the great outdoors and seek new adventures at all the great locations (Public Fishing Areas, Wildlife Management Areas, Georgia Shooting Ranges, Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites) that continue to be available to you and your family. #beingoutsideisagreatwaytosocialdistance #socialdistanceoutside
This week we have reports from Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Remember and honor those we lost, love those who are here, and 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 is getting about right. If the level stays stable, the bite for panfish and bass should be great when it cools a little bit more. Right now the catfish and mullet bites are tops. A couple of Waycross anglers fished an open tournament the weekend on the Altamaha, and it took 7 1/2 pounds to win. They caught their fish on SPRO Frogs, Assassin Fat Job worms, and flipping craws. All their fish ate darker colors like black-blue and Okeechobee craw. For mullet, put out a salt block and mesh bag of rabbit or pig chow and fish around it with red wiggler worms. Mullet are a blast to catch, and are good fried or smoked. The river level was 4.7 feet and falling (82 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.4 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 10th.
Shane and Joshua Barber fished the river on Monday. They worked for their fish, but they ended up with a few bass on Trick Worms and Jelly Worms. Joshua caught a couple catfish on worms. Shane said that the river is falling and looks good. The river level at the Abbeville gage on September 10th was 2.6 feet and falling.
The upper river should be right for panfishing this weekend. It should be right at the level where you almost need to drag over sandbars, but should still be able to get over them. The key is going to be how widespread the afternoon showers are. One bad storm and it could muddy the water. The river level on September 10th at the Waycross gage was 6.3 feet and rising (80 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 6.1 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The upper river is right for panfishing, but don’t delay or it will drop out too low. Matt Rouse fished the upper river on Monday and had a slow couple hours in the middle of the day. He caught a big bowfin on cut bait while targeting catfish. Catfish are your best bet in the tidal portion of the river. Put cut bait, shrimp, or worms on the bottom to catch a mixed bag of channels and white catfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 10th was 5.2 feet and steady.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
Several nice bass were caught this week from the 100+ acre lake. Remember bass are catch-and-release…… An angler reported catching two 5-pounders on Sunday. Another angler caught 3 bass for 24.2 pounds. He had an 8.9, 8.3 and 7-pounder. Both anglers were using artificials, but didn’t say which kind.
The heat still has the bite slow, but I did hear of a few nice bass this week from Waycross area ponds. Topwaters in the evening produced the bigger fish. Catfishing was good for a Waycross angler fishing a Brunswick pond on Thursday. He caught 29 channel cats on cut bluegill fished on a Catfish Catcher Jighead (2/0 hook). I didn’t have any reports from panfish anglers, but I imagine you can fling artificials or crickets and catch a good mess if you have permission at a decent bream pond. Until the nights start cooling the water down, 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.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Saltwater fishing was off and on this week, and the east winds kept folks off the big water much of the week. Capt. Greg Hildreth’s charters caught a few tarpon on Saturday, but he wasn’t able to get to the big water the rest of the week. I took my kids cast-netting for shrimp out of Crooked River on Saturday evening, and we had a blast. The catching was a little slow, but we caught a few to about a dozen shrimp on most of our throws. We ended up with 7 pounds of shrimp. Other fun catches in the net were a squid, a small shark, some hogchokers (look like baby flounder but are actually full-grown), and several other fish species. Shrimping has just stared and will get better as it gets colder and the big shrimp “fall out” of the inland creeks and rivers. A Waycross angler fished the Brunswick area on Thursday and dropped dead shrimp rigged on Redfish Wrecker Jigheads(3/16oz – 3/0 hook) around shell mounds, mud flats, and docks and caught 25 fish, including a mangrove snapper, seatrout (14”), tripletail (15”), black drum (15”), and several other “undesirable” 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 Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. All sizes of bass are chasing and striking the top water Pop R’s and Rico’s in shallow water early in the day. The big fish are still sluggish and a slower presentation in the baits will be necessary to get any reaction or bite from these fish. Continue cranking the Shad Raps and Bandit’s in baby bass patterns on the sides of the main lake rocky points. Go deep with Carolina rigs, jigs, or even slow cranking a DT10 or DT14 Rapala crank bait. 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 fish. A slow presentation along with patience is also needed. Four-inch worms and small flukes seem to be the favorite baits to use. Try the Rapala Slab Rap chrome blue back.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The fish are beginning to school and chase the bait fish to the surface more and more all over the lake. Fish from Church Cove on the south end to Cherokee Creek on the upper end. The mouths of the major creeks are showing top water activity during the peak feeding periods. After the top water bite leaves go to the jig and Carolina Rig in the main lake points. Greens and browns will still be the best color choices. Medium diving crank baits always continue to improve so keep one ready. Good baits to use include Rapala Skitter Walks DT6’s and a 1/4 to 1/2-ounce jig. Try the Rapala X Rap Twitching’ Mullet baby bass. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success.
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 and when Georgia Power moves water the fishing is fair. Most fish are being caught on Carolina rigged Zoom finesse or u tail worms in the green pumpkin or watermelon color. Fish these baits on 12-pound test Trilene line with a 2 to 3-foot leader using 10-pound test line. Fish the long main lake points and under water islands. A Norman Deep Little N fished in the same area has been catching some good fish. There are a few good fish being caught under docks using a small pig n jig. Check all areas of a dock to see where the fish are holding then target that area on other docks.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. Fishing under the bridges or in standing timber with lights is still the best bet. Use live minnows on 6 lb. line with a number 6 gold hook to get the best results. You can catch a limit of good crappie fishing deep water brush piles and underwater drop offs during the day. Using live minnows is still the best bait to use. A few crappie in the 1 ½ to 2-pound range are showing up.
WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL CLEAR 80’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are being caught several different ways. A buzz bait is a great lure to start with and to cover water to find active bass. Use the buzz bait by Nichols Lures buzz bait in 1/2 ounce in white fished along the grass lines on the main lake. It’s a great choice to cover water to find active bass. Use a 3/8-ounce Chatterbait in a silver shad pattern and a Zoom Salty super fluke in pearl. Fish in 1 to 5 feet of water around brush with rocks near and fishing the grass in the backs of pockets. Creek feeder pockets are hot in the morning and use Pop R’s and Zara Spooks. Also remember to fish the blow downs and rip rap in Yellow Jacket Creek. Try the Rapala Flat Rap chrome blue back.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.8 STAINED 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Early try the Chug Bug a Rico or a Pop R in baby bass pattern. The short runout points that drop off sharply into deep water are good areas for early fall bass to roam on. There are a few fish moving early and even in the middle of the day looking for food as the water temperatures start to cool down. Try the Rapala Slab Rap chrome blue back. Fish from Oconee Springs to Murder Creek. Do not overlook super shallow stumps that are popping up all over the upper lake. Start with the Shad Raps in black and silver or blue and silver and keep changing colors all day. With any off-colored waters go directly to the fire tiger color. Later in the day use a u tail worm on the Carolina rig and fish these same areas. Added garlic scent is a must when throwing worms or jigs this time of the year. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success.
LAKE JACKSON IS .65 FEET OVER FULL CLEAR 80S
Bass fishing is fair. Shallow fishing can be good throughout the day if cloud cover rolls in. The shallow lipless crank bait bite may not hold up under more heated summer conditions, but it may remain viable early late and under cloud cover. Shad Raps can perform well as searching tools in relatively shallow water as well. Try the Rapala X Rap Twitching’ Mullet baby bass. They will take fish on the bottom when burned out to about 8 or 10 foot. Should low pressure, clouds, and wind find us again keep an open mind and look off the main lake. Stay on the main lake for the most part. 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.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 89 F
- Water Visibility: 19 – 45+ in
Bass: Bass fishing has continued to be tough, but few nice bass have been caught in Willow and Breambuster Lakes on spinnerbaits and shaky heads, especially late in the afternoon or early in the morning. Last weekend, a bream fisherman on Bream Buster Lake was surprised to have landed a 21” bass (pictured at right). Threadfin shad are schooling on the surface in Bridge, Breambuster, Clubhouse, and Willow Lakes, especially late in the day. Bass have been aggressively feeding on these schools. Try casting 2-4” super flukes, bucktails, crankbaits or any shad-imitation lure around the schools of shad.
Bream: The bream bite has been slow with the warm weather, though these recent cool mornings have seen some nice bream landed with crickets and worms. Bridge and Bream Buster Lakes have been the best for bream fishing lately. Clubhouse is the lake to fish for larger bream. Fish feeders at Jones, Beaverlodge and Breambuster Lakes are good spots to try for bream, as well as any structure in deeper water.
Channel Catfish: The catfish action has been slow as well. Clubhouse, Willow and Jones continue to be your best bets, with night fishing on Jones doing well. Deep water around the siphon drain structures continue to be good spots. Fish feeders at Jones, Beaverlodge and Breambuster are excellent spots to fish for catfish, too. A variety of baits have been effective, including homemade stinkbaits, worms, and even shrimp. Fishing early morning and late into the evening really pays off this time of year.
Striped Bass: Stripers can be found in Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes. These larger fish have been caught on crankbaits, swimbaits or umbrella rigs but smaller stripers are consistently caught on chicken livers.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Honoring the Life and Work of a Lost Friend and Colleague: Before delving into this week’s report, we’d like to take time to honor and remember 28-year veteran of the DNR Law Enforcement Division, Captain Stan Elrod. Captain Elrod was struck and killed by a motor vehicle the evening of September 3 while on duty and physically training in Danielsville, GA. He was a committed officer and supervisor, having risen to the position of region supervisor over our Region 2 office in Gainesville, GA. He will be remembered for his selfless service and complete devotion to the safety of his fellow officers, fellow Georgians, and his state’s natural resources. His work with the Outdoor Dream Foundation was selfless and heartfelt. We are beyond grateful to have worked with and known Captain Elrod, as he truly made us all better through his example. The hearts of the 1,800 members of the DNR family go out to the Elrod family during this time of great sorrow.
Lanier Bass (Report courtesy of Jimbo Mathley, Jimbo On Lanier) — LAKE LANIER IS FULL. THE MAIN LAKE AND CREEKS ARE STAINED & 80’s. Bass fishing is good. The lake has remained about the same level and temperature as last week. 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 is still holding fish and there has been some increased schooling action this week as well, typically in the mornings. Top water variations have been working well as have spy bait and drop shot options, 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. The fish have come shallow at times with the recent cooler weather, so keep an eye out for shallow schooling activity as well. Full blown top water presentations along with hard swimbaits, like a Sebile, might come into play on some days in the near future with the cooler weather forecast.
Lanier Striper Report: (Report courtesy of Buck Cannon of Buck Tails Guide Service) — Striper fishing is fair. Fish early in the mornings and use lead core trolling a jig 275 feet behind the boat at 3 mph. We look for fish using my electronics that are scattered from 20 feet 40 feet deep and pull over points and zigzagging across creek channels. There have been fish in front of the dam using down lines with bluebacks at 30 to 40 feet deep. Always remember to put out a free line for that extra bite. Keep a buck tail jig ready for any surface action. Remember Buck Tales it like it is!
Lanier Crappie (Report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton) — Crappie fishing is still fair. The early morning bite is good from 7 am until 10 am. The fish are deep and holding tight to the brush piles to the point that if you don’t lose a hook or two, the bait is not getting to the fish. Livescope is a great tool to use. When you can watch the jig on the screen going down and see when the jig or minnow is just above the fish. Watch the crappie on the Lowrance graph in 15 to 18 feet of water, but they are not very active. The fish we are catching are suspended 18 to 24 feet deep over a 25 to 40 foot bottom. The bite is slow, but most everything we are catching are keepers over 10 inches. Look for bait and the crappie are more likely to be active. Deeper docks with structure are producing decent fish. Because the fish are deep, anglers need to be focused on the line. When you feel even slight movement or see the line moving around, set the hook. Minnows are producing well. Be sure to use the smallest crappie minnows available. Try not to spend more than 10 to 15 minutes at a spot if it’s not producing. Notice the bigger fish react early. The best bet is to fish early morning. We like the ATX Lure Baby Shad and Wicked Shad, and good colors are milk and green tail and bluegrass. They are good for clear and stained water. We use these 90% of the time.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is fair and the morning bite is really starting to pick up. Fish main lake points flats and around schools of bait fish. Throw a Super Fluke in pearl white or a small buzz bait. Be sure to cover water and maximize the time to catch these top water fish. There is a pretty good crank bait bite on steep rock walls. Cast a Bandit 300 in sage ghost or a Norman Deep Little N in lavender shad parallel to the bank. The better fish are still being caught in brush. Fish a Shaky Head with a Net Bait T Mac Worm in green pumpkin or a Davis jig in root beer green. Be sure to fish any wood cover shallow or deep. After dark, fish points with a Nite Bite spinnerbait and a Deep Little N in midnight blue. Use a stop and go retrieve to entice strikes. Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster and fish the major feeding period during the day for better success. Cooler nights are in the forecast.
Allatoona Linesides (Report courtesy of First Bite Guide Service) — Lineside fishing is great! We’ve marked some really big schools of fish on my Lowrance. At one time the schools blacked the Lowrance screen out for over an hour. We caught fish this week from the Blockhouse and as far north as Victoria Landing. The live bait bite is great right now. Shad, shiners and bream are all working well. The trolling bite is also good. We caught fish this week trolling umbrella rigs, Storm deep diving plugs and we also caught a few on lead core. There is also a great white bass bite. Look for schooling whites from Kellogg to the dam. Cast to breaking fish or drop a jigging spoon.
Carters’ Spots and Cats (Report courtesy of Carters Lake Guide Service) — Spotted Bass & catfish are showing up in big numbers. Catching 20 fish average on most days. Great time to be on the water. Fish are still in summer-time patterns: brush piles 17-23ft deep. Drop shot, shaky heads, and Carolina rigs are all producing in these areas. When you see fish schooling on the surface throw a white fluke or a small swim bait like the 3” Keitech swim bait in the Ayu or Alewife colors.
Hartwell Bass: (Report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL, 80’s. Bass fishing is fair. The main lake points are the best all day patterns. Throw crank baits and plastics or try the Rapala Slab Rap in chrome blue back. Look for schooling bait fish and feeding bass in the mouths of the larger creeks and coves. Top water baits like Chug Bugs and Skitter Pops are fishing fair. Deep water docks are holding bass too. Use a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce jig or Texas rigged worms on 12 to 14 pound Sufix fluorocarbon line. Target the edges of the deep water docks. Wind-blown points are beginning to produce some good keepers on jigs and Carolina rigs. 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 Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) — LAKE IS 1 INCH BELOW FULL POOL AND CLEAR, 85-87 DEGREE’S.
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair and most are on offshore structure along 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 working well.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. They are on deeper cover in the main lake and bays and spider rigging over brush with live minnows and jigs is catching fish.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good. Fish are being caught in the upper Chattooga River, the Cave Hole and Little Spring Creek on live shad downlined about 8 feet deep. Free lines are producing some bites as well.
West Point Green Thumb (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) Personnel from the West Point fisheries office, Armuchee fisheries office, and the DNR Stream Team planted 500 native water willow plants at West Point Lake earlier this week. The water willow were planted at seven shoreline sites. Once established, water willow provides excellent fish habitat for species like bream and bass. Native aquatic plantings like this have been conducted at West Point Lake for the last several years. All the plants used for this program have been produced at the Walton State Fish Hatchery Greenhouse in Social Circle, Georgia.
Arrowhead WMA (Report courtesy of Fisheries Supervisor Jim Hakala) — The bream were biting for two year old Sophia Petty of Southside Alabama while on a Labor Day weekend excursion with her uncle and cousin to Arrowhead WMA. A Barbie fishing pole, a size 10 hook and a small worm fished on the bottom was all it took for Miss Petty to land her first fish ever. She set out to catch “Nemo” and about one minute into her trip, a respectable bluegill “became” that sought after “Nemo” on the end of her line. A few photos to document the classic first catch and Mr. Nemo was released to rejoin his cast of underwater movie characters.
The weather remains warm (i.e. kid friendly) and the fish are still biting, so take some time to introduce a youngster to fishing this weekend. Tips for taking a child fishing found HERE. It doesn’t matter what kind of fish or how big (or small) the quarry, it’s all about the experience and memories made. And don’t forget, you can immortalize that first catch with a customizable “First Fish” certificate.
Wild Trout: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist John Damer) I celebrated Labor Day on my favorite wild trout stream, and had a fantastic day. The stream was cold and clear, the water level was perfect, and the fish were smashing the dry fly. As usual, I tied on a size 14 X-caddis and never even thought about changing. If you are like me you’ll find that Georgia’s wild trout are not picky about what fly you use, but how you present it is key. Long casts from the tail of the pool, light tippet (5x), and a generally stealthy approach are of utmost importance. If your knees and back aren’t at least a little bit sore on the drive home, you’re doing it wrong! I landed around 15 fish of varying sizes with many more missed takes, but the highlight was the 12-inch brown that clobbered my fly in a small deep pocket behind a suspended log. He gave me a huge fight on the 2 weight as I muscled him out from his hole for a quick pic. Several of the fish were already starting to darken up as we approach fall spawning time. The fall colors should only get better as things cool off.
Scouting for Hunting….and Trout: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — Thankfully, there’s a little rain in the forecast, which will raise and muddy the water just a bit- making for the perfect creek conditions when dealing with clever wild ones. Brookie love will be in the air in just a few weeks, so look forward to some bright colors… those magenta spots are incredible! The underside of sexually mature Brookies, especially the males, can range from yellow-orange to intense crimson. My husband and I have been doing some scouting for this upcoming hunting season, which makes for a perfect opportunity for scouting out some new bluelines too! (I wear hunter orange for precaution). I’ve discovered some excellent new creeks that I’ll be sure to return to in the spring. We’ve been using the DNR interactive hunting and fishing maps, a national forest map, this book, and this book as resources.
Stocked Trout: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — Head out to the larger mountain streams that received a whole lotta of fish during last week’s Labor Day stocking runs. You might have to spend a little extra time and exert a little more patience, but you’ll be rewarded. Target those tricky log jams.
Trout Info Found At: (Courtesy of Trout Stocking Coordinator John Thomson) Did you think you missed your opportunity at some freshly stocked trout streams? Well you are still in luck! There were a few trout in our hatcheries that still needed a home. Look HERE to find the latest intel on our Weekly Trout Stocking Report. Remember, there are plenty of holdover trout from our spring and summer stocking efforts – so productive trout fishing trips are still possible. We do plan some other small fall stockings in concert with managed deer hunts on WMAs and good weather weekends, so keep an eye out for future stocking reports. Make sure your fishing license and trout stamp are current before your trip.
Want to do more to support trout fishing in Georgia? Consider upgrading to a Trout Unlimited license plate this year. Aside from being a great looking tag, each purchase or renewal of a Trout Unlimited license plate directly supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs. Hatcheries and wild trout efforts both benefit from the trout tag.