As we all continue to recover from the most recent Georgia losses, let’s get outside and let the water and nature do the healing!
NEWS TO KNOW:
- New State Record: Did you see it? This monster blue catfish, weighing 110 lb, 6 oz caught on the Chattahoochee River (near Omaha, GA in Stewart County), secured angler Tim Trone a new state record.
- New Coastal Fishing Guide: Looking for the best fishing hot spots in coastal Georgia? You’ll find them and more in the Guide to Coastal Fishing in Georgia map series, recently updated by UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant thanks to a Coastal Incentive Grant from the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
- Georgia Bass Slam: We have had several anglers recently complete their 2020 Georgia Bass Slam. Are you next?
This week, we have reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Pack up the gear and the family, get out there – go heal – 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 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Smaller bass are after the shad schools in the lower lake creeks. Pick a larger creek down lake and ride it with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and find these bait schools. A few bass have moved up a little this week. Shad Raps are still catching a few bass along the rocks and if the sun is out the bait schools will be there too. Plastics are working around the submerged wood in the deeper water. Some smaller bass have been caught way up in the Savannah River on top water baits. Pick some river bends and skip a jig on any wood. If they will not bite, try the Storm Stick 18 Sexy Shad. It is hard to beat a Zoom pearl Super Fluke and it can work almost all day. Add a glass rattle in the head of the bait after it is on the hook.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN .39 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Buzz baits and spinner baits are still catching bass along with medium diving crank baits. Fish the south end of the Savannah River and move up to Fort Gordon in the Little River area. Ned rig the Power Baits Meaty Chunk Green pumpkin 3-inch. Try the Bass Patrol 3/8-ounce jigs with Mustad Hooks. Also try the old Bomber Model A shallow and Deep Model A. Jigs and plastics still rule along the grassy edges and rocky bottoms. Put the two together and a good limit can be caught.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 70’S
(This Lake Oconee fishing report is by Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Service. 404-803-0741) —
The temperature is 73-76. The rivers are stained. The main lake is clear.
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The bait is starting to stack up in the middle of the creeks and large coves in the mid lake area. Small crank baits fished on the secondary points and boat docks in this area will draw some strikes. Also, soft plastics fished under docks and around wood structure will also produce. When Georgia Power is pulling water, fish are staging on the bridge rip rap in Sugar creek as well as Lick creek. Small crank baits fished down the rip rap will draw a strike.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is fair. Some fish are showing up around the bait in the river bend area. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and drop a minnow into the school. Also put out a flat line or two for an extra fish. Trolling the Mini Mack as well as shad raps and rattle traps have been producing.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. This is the best and most consistent bite going. The summer down line bite on top of timber and brush piles has produced large numbers and size over the past week. Find the fish in the top of the timber with your Lowrance down scan and drop a minnow or a jig into the school and hang on.
WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL CLEAR 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Fish are shallow in the mornings and can be caught on a Pop R or buzz bait. Keep a white Zoom trick worm tied on as a follow-up bait if the fish misses the top water. Mid lake to up-lake has tons of shad in the backs of pockets so throw small spinnerbaits and Rooster Tails to catch these fish chasing shad. Find the bait schools with the Lowrance Side Scan technology and there will be fish close by including line sides. Use the smaller Lucky Craft Square Bill Live Threadfin Shad Blue Gill. Also, a Shakey Head rigged with a small green finesse worm has been working around the boat ramps and rip rap lake wide. Fish are on the smaller size, but limits are easy. If they won’t bite, try the Storm Stick 18 Sexy Shad.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.3 STAINED 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Many bass are shallow. Buzz baits and other top water lures are producing well for all size fish, including large bass. This bite may last for only an hour or two each morning, but can last much longer, especially on cloudy days. Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, Torpedo’s, and the buzz baits will work. A few fish are also hitting spinner baits, especially around wood cover. Docks and boat houses are holding bass that are hitting soft plastics and jigs mostly. Try a 6-inch Zoom Dead Ringer in June bug with a 3/16-ounce weight fished on 12 to 16-pound mono. A 3/8-ounce jig and chunk in black and blue or green pumpkin is another good choice. Shallow bass will also bite a ¼-ounce Rat L Trap or Mann’s Baby One Minus. Use the smaller Lucky Craft Square Bill Live Threadfin Shad Blue Gill 5/8 ounce.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.2 FEET OVER FULL CLEAR 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. The bass are transitioning toward their fall migrations to shallow water. It is not full swing fall fishing, but you should find shallow fish often. Fish can be found extremely shallow at times. Small amounts of shade will hold fish shallow even under bright skies. Bait fish are beginning to migrate into the creeks and pockets. Try fishing in shallow water whether it is in the main lake or in the creeks and pockets. Some of the best structure to look for is rock and docks. Main lake points should not be ignored but stay shallow; also fish secondary points as you work into the pockets. Rat L Traps and shallow cranks are great baits for covering water and locating both species. The Bandit 100 is a productive shallow running crank bait. Rat L Traps and Bandits will do best when fished on rocky bottom up shallow. A Shad Rap #5 and #7 should always be on hand and will cover a little deeper water. Spinner baits and chatter baits will take fish particularly early in the day, and under overcast and windy conditions. Shaky heads and jigs will take fish off the docks. Fish these baits under and around docks, as well as other shady structure during bright skies. Also work and swim jigs on shallow rock.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 78 F
- Water Visibility: 22 – 48+ in
Bass: Bass fishing has continued to be tough, but a few nice bass have been caught in Willow on spinnerbaits and shaky heads, especially late in the afternoon or early in the morning. Threadfin shad are schooling on the surface late in the day, especially in Bream Buster, Bridge, and Willow Lakes. Bass have been aggressively feeding on these schools, especially near the dock and boat ramp on Bream Buster and on the far side of Bridge Lake near the Spring Pond. 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. On some recent cool mornings nice bream were landed with crickets and worms. Bridge and Bream Buster Lakes are still the best for bream fishing lately. Clubhouse is the lake to fish for larger bream. Fish feeders at Jones, Beaver Lodge and Bream Buster 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. Bridge, Willow and Jones are the 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, Beaver Lodge and Bream Buster are excellent spots to fish for catfish, too. A variety of baits have been effective, including homemade stink baits, 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 Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
I went over the river on Thursday and it was really muddy. You can fish it if you want, but the other rivers will likely produce better bites. If the river comes down before it cools off, the bluegill and redbreast bites should be off the chain with all the high water we have had this year. The river level was 6.1 feet and rising (71 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.5 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on October 22nd.
Donny Riner and Eddie Andrews skipped hunting on Thursday and fished the Ogeechee instead and were glad they did. They fished the Millen area and had a blast. They caught them on Satilla Spins, specifically colors that had green in them. Donny’s favorite is catalpa gold. They noticed that when the sun came out the fish bit well, and then they would shut off when the sun went behind the clouds. They had fun catching about 30 redbreasts during the day. They said that the river was a little full but still very fishable. The river level at the Eden gage on October 22nd was 4.0 feet and steady, and the Midville gage was 2.3 feet and falling.
The upper river is in great shape for a float trip. Expect to drag a bunch if you fish from a boat. The middle river is where you want to concentrate from a boat this weekend. The river level on October 22nd at the Waycross gage was 5.1 feet and falling (74 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 4.5 feet and falling.
Tyler Finch and a friend fished the river on Tuesday and Wednesday and had an awesome catch. They flung Satilla Spins to land 144 fish during the two days. Many of their bluegills were approaching a pound. They had about all the species of panfish that live in the river, and they even convinced several keeper bass to eat the small spinnerbait. The river level at the Clyo gage on October 22nd was 5.3 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse said that the upper river is right for fishing. He fished from the bank near his house and flung a red/white Satilla Spin on Thursday evening. He caught a keeper bass and a 3-pound bowfin in just 15 minutes of fishing. Catfishing should be good in the lower 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 October 22nd was 4.8 feet and rising.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
Cason Smith bass fished on the area for a couple hours Friday afternoon and caught 3 bass up to 15 inches. He lost a 3-pounder right at the bank, as well. His best lure was a green pumpkin 4 1/2-inch Keitech Mad Wag worm Texas-rigged with a 1/8-oz. weight. The catfishing in the entrance ponds and Horseshoe 1 and 2 has remained good this week. A few bream were caught with crickets in Lake Patrick from the pier and in the Horseshoe series of lakes from the bank. The crappie fishing has been a little slow, but expect it to pick up during the next cool snap.
Chad Lee had a great day on Saturday, ending up catching 8 bass that were 5 pounds or more. He knew it was going to be a good day when he had a 5-pounder on his first cast of the day (with a Rat-L-trap). He picked up the others throughout the day on a variety of lures, including a sexy shad crankbait, pink flukes, a copper-colored spinnerbait with gold blades, and frogs fished in slop. He also caught several smaller bass on Senkos. I didn’t get any good crappie reports, but that bite should fire off any time now. Fish the last two hours of daylight and you should get on some fish by trolling curly-tail grubs or drifting minnows under floats.
Okefenokee Swamp staff said that nobody reported catching anything this week and very few went because of the high water level. The current level is 121.37 feet (I like it in the low 120 range for the best fishing).
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
This week’s wind and huge tides were the bane for most trips this weekend and early week. Capt. Greg Hildreth and his daughter Logan got into the bull reds in the sounds last Friday. Their fish were in the 20 to 30 pound range. Cut bait worked best for them. Conditions are improving at the time of writing this, and it looks like a pretty good weekend with reasonable tides and fishable winds. Hopefully that will materialize. The bull redfish bite should continue at its torrid pace before the high tides this week. Fish the sounds and jetties with cut bait or bucktails to full the tough-fighting fish. Seatout fishing in the inshore rivers should pick up this weekend, as well. 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 Sarah Baker, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Very few things are more magnificent than a fall day of fishing. Witnessing the gold and mahogany leaves reflected on the glassy water’s surface is an incredibly special experience. I hope you’re able to sneak out to a nearby river, stream, or lake this week as fish are on the move to actively feed in the shallows. Our fishing forecast ought to help you snag a few!
Chatuge & The True Colors of Turnover: (From Senior Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Each summer, typically in September, a handful of anglers raise questions regarding the Chattahoochee River’s “pea soup” color. As previously noted in a recent fishing blog, the term “turnover” is often misused to describe this byproduct of prolonged reservoir stratification. So what’s the telltale sign of turnover? If stratification looks like pea soup in the tailwater, then what does turnover look like where it is actually occurring (i.e., in the reservoir)? The anticlimactic answer is: subtle. One visible sign of turnover can be the water’s slight tinge of green, signifying the final efforts of photosynthetic algae to exploit upwelling nutrients from the lake bottom. Or, if the bottom holds very fine silt, you could see a tinge of brown or red. But more often than not, you’ll see a whole lot of nothing in the lake itself to let you know that it has turned over. We collected water quality profiles on Lake Chatuge this week, and we were somewhat surprised to find that this reservoir had already turned over thanks to the cool recent weather including nightly lows dipping into the 40s. The water reflecting the deep blue sky appeared crystal clear, and without the numbers you’d never know by the color that the top-to-bottom difference in temperature was a meager 3°F. So there you have it, the color(less) colors of fall turnover. But, don’t let me make it sound too boring, because in the coming weeks you can prepare to see the colorful reflection of vibrant foliage along Chatuge’s shoreline, and enjoy the pull of a hard fighting spot or a feisty hybrid on the end of the line as well. Hope you can enjoy the fall turnover soon!
Lake Rabun: (From Region 2 Fisheries Supervisor Anthony Rabern) —The scenery around the mountain lakes is always spectacular in late-October and the fishing is not too bad either. Our crew did a little bit of sampling this week and found spotted bass and walleye in fairly good numbers and feeding actively. Our depth finder located a school of bass with some walleye mixed in feeding on a large school of blueback herring that was sandwiched against a long point near the dam on Lake Rabun at a depth ranging from 30 to 40-feet (see graph photo and bass photo). We also found walleye near structure from 40 to 50-feet deep along the deeper banks on the outer bends of the main river channel (see walleye photo). Working crappie minnows in and around deepwater structure is a great way to catch walleye during the fall months.
Rocky Mountain PFA: (Report courtesy of Manager Dennis Shiley) —This 7 ½ pound channel catfish was caught last week at Lake Antioch at Rocky Mountain PFA. With the fall nights cooling water temperatures, the channel catfish are starting their fall feeding frenzy. There are numerous areas around the lake that you can bank fish from or you can drift-fish from your boat for the chance at catching a lake record channel catfish! If you get a channel cat over 12 pounds, please let the PFA staff know and we will bring scales to get an official weight and get the fish registered if it qualifies for the PFA Angler Award program.
- (Report courtesy of “Academy Jack” Becker) —This week I only had a couple of hours to fish one afternoon and with the high water I decided to try a rip rap bank behind a Marina on the North end of Lake Lanier where I caught some nice fish last year with similar conditions. I fished a variety of baits. Kietec swim-baits, Jerk-baits, & Crankbaits with no luck. I switched to a Texas rigged, weightess, Senko (Green Pumpkin) and caught 3 Spots in about 20 minuets. The fish were suspended 10 to 12 feet deep over 20 ft of water. One was 3 .75 pounds. All the bites came while the bait was sinking. Good Luck. —Academy Jack
- Also be sure to check out this detailed Lanier report on GON.
Lake Weiss: (Report from Mark Collins)—Weiss Lake is at 2 feet 5 inches below full pool and clear. 68-71 degrees. Bass fishing is good, and a lot of fish have moved shallow as the water has cooled down. Spinner baits, and flat crank baits are working well anywhere you can find bait in the shallow pockets, flats and coves. Rat L traps are working well also. Crappie fishing is fair; they are on deeper cover 14-20 feet on the main Coosa River channel ledges from Cedar Bluff to Leesburg. Spider rigging, over brush, with live minnows and jigs is catching fish. Shooting docks with jigs is also producing some fish. Book your fall trip now to get the best dates. It looks like November and December are going to be good months. Striper fishing is poor and there are no reports on any fish being caught in the last few weeks. Catfish are biting good in the bays and creeks in 8-15 feet of water. Cut bait is working best.
Lake Burton: (Report courtesy of “Academy” Jack Becker) — This week I ventured up to the North Georgia Mountains and fished Lake Burton for the first time. I launched at Murray Cove and was greeted by fog. You could not see more than 100 feet. I fished the docks along the shore line with topwater baits, crankbaits and jerkbaits while I waited for the fog to clear. The water was 68 degrees. I did not see any bait or topwater activity. I have heard good reports on Billy Goat Island. It is close to the boat ramp. When the fog lifted I went to the back side of the island and found laydowns everywhere. Looked like Largemouth Heaven. Spinnerbaits, drop shot worms, Shakey head and jerk baits, all failed to get a bite. I was limited for time and went to a long cove on the other side of the lake and found fish chasing bait on a long flats in 10 to 12 foot of water. I only caught 2 fish but one was a nice 3 lb Spot on a Spinnerbait. The other was a 2 lb Largemouth on a Crankbait. Like all the Georgia Power Lakes the scenery was beautiful and I only saw 1 other boat. Catching a couple of fish was a bonus. —Academy Jack
Chattahoochee Tailwater Trout:— Chris Scalley with River Through Atlanta reports that the Chattahoochee River below Lanier continues to run very HIGH. They will be continuing to push water downstream for the foreseeable future. The flows are dangerously high, and constantly changing. Best to stay off until things slow down. Check out North Georgia Mountains as the Delayed Harvest kicks off. The Toccoa is a good option soon if you need to get your tailwater fix. Stay posted or call the shop for updates. For the Chattahoochee, state regulations require a certified personal flotation devise be worn by all anglers from Buford dam south to highway 20. Pay special attention to water release info online, or call Corp of Engineers release hotline at 770-945-1466.
Bass Slam Challenge: There’s still time to participate in the Georgia Bass Slam! Anglers who wish to get recognized for a 2020 Georgia Bass Slam must catch 5 of the 10 eligible black bass species and submit their information by midnight December 31, 2020. Be sure to study this map to help you narrow in on which species you’d like to chase after. Also, keep this excellent article by Jimmy Jacobs tucked in your back pocket for your Shoalie search. Jake Darling, general manager of Unicoi Outfitters, says baitfish or crawdad patterns are the ticket now. When fishing these, particularly in the fall, the trick is to get them down deep and fish them slow. An intermediate sinking line is ideal for this fishing. If you are a podcast subscriber- give a listen to Fish North Georgia Episode 33: The Georgia Slam, Fall Transition and The Cast with Andy Middleton, for some awesome tips!
Mountain Trout: (From Trout Stocking Coordinator John Lee Thomson) — Are you hunting or just leaf looking in the mountains this weekend? If you answered yes, you are likely a short drive from some excellent trout fishing opportunities. With cooler weather trout will be active and you should look for holdover and wild trout in higher elevation streams. Or look HERE for a list of freshly stocked waterbodies that should produce lots of hits this weekend. Please thank our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this fall opportunity to catch some rainbow beauties. Remember to purchase your fishing and trout license and Go Fish Georgia!
Fly Fishing for Trout: (Report from Unicoi Outfitters) — Welcome to your “second last chance.” All streams have dropped, cleared, and warmed during these bright, sunny afternoons, so plan your social distance destinations before we turn cold around Halloween. Bring a raincoat for the 50% chance of weekend showers and remember that cloudy weather might actually help your catching. The region’s warm and low waters should give you another season-ending shot at river bass (deep) and small stream trout on top. An expected half-inch of weekend rain might bump up streamflows, which should rebound quickly with another run of warm, dry days next week. (Remember my rainfall tips in The Angler magazine- Atlanta edition’s October column) You will, however, have to deal with falling leaves, especially if there’s some wind.
Match your bugs to the stream conditions. If the water is big/high/stained from a rain, use bigger and brighter bugs to get their attention. Great trout treats are globugs (egg flies), rubberleg stones, squirmy worms, and big (#10 or 12) sexy walts or mops. For river bass, drag the bottom with big crayfish, worm, and helgrammite imitations. Rivers are warm, but not warm enough for topwater bass action.
When trout water is low/slow/crystal clear, the fish can study your bugs and casually decide whether or not to eat, so you oughta scale down. Use smaller versions of the above bugs as your first fly. The second, dropper fly should be even smaller and natural, like #16 or 18 hares ears, pheasant tails, lightning bugs, frenchies, and sexy walts. I’m partial to silver tungsten beads if there’s a decent current. I think the beads catch the trout’s attention while leaves and twigs clutter the water column. For river bass, shrink your lure and lighten your line: try 10-12 lb fluoro. Remember to aim for any shade, which hides the shoalies and spots from the herons.
Note the time change overnight on Saturday (Oct. 31). This means we can fish the evenings easier, since they’ll arrive sooner and allow us to return home earlier for a good night’s sleep. That will be a nice change from our spring sleep deprivation after chasing Dark30 hatches! Check out Unicoi’s full report HERE.
Preparing for DH Season: Are y’all getting ready?! Put in on your calendar! Delayed Harvest (DH) season starts on these Georgia rivers Monday, November 2: Amicalola Creek, Chattahoochee River, Chattooga River, Smith Creek, and the Toccoa River. As you prepare for the DH season, check out this excellent resource by Jeff Durniak, of Unicoi Outfitters, for some helpful tips.
Stocking Opportunity: WRD is excited to invite volunteers to help stock trout in the Toccoa and Amicalola River. If interested in participating, please sign up here (for the Toccoa) or here (for the Amicalola). This is an excellent opportunity for kiddos too!
Chattooga River: (Intel courtesy of Chattooga River Fly Shop) – www.chattoogariverflyshop.com Big difference from 2 weeks ago when we had a big flood from the hurricane rains. The water is pretty clear and back down and fish are starting to bite. 59 degrees, water level at Burrell’s Ford Bridge HERE, and local weather on the Chattooga River HERE. Your weekend starts here!