I am not a superstitious person, but a Friday the 13th THIS year maybe gives me some pause. Just a little. How about you? You already know what I am going to say next. Because I know what can make it all a little better. That’s right. Just go fishing.
News to Know:
- Before you go: Need to find a boat ramp? Click HERE. You can find location info about boat ramps, public fishing areas, and more.
- Boat Ramp Closures: We got word of 2 different boat ramp closures this week – one due to flooding, one that will close next week due to work that needs to be done. If you want to check on boat ramps closures, shooting range closures or other, click HERE.
This week, fishing reports come from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Let’s take a deep breath, then let’s 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 DOWN 2.6 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The bite is getting better and better as temperatures fall. Top water baits are catching bass all during the day way up in the Savannah River. The water will show some color to it, but the bass will move up to feed on the Shad and other bait fish that are still moving up to the warmer water. The spotted bass are being caught all over the lake where wood and rock are present. Use the Shad Raps in pearl and the Zoom green finesse worms. A slower and persistent presentation will be necessary to coax that bigger bite. Several casts with that crank bait and a slower presentation of that soft plastic is the best chance on catching those larger bass. Submerged deep water brush piles or stumps is where the bigger fish are holding. Use the Lowrance down Scan with Fish Reveal so anglers can spot the fish from the structure. No other sonar has this deepwater penetration with Down Scan and Sonar all at one time.
CLARKS HILL IS 1.07 FEET OVER FULL 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are very aggressive and feeding heavily on the blue back herring. During the early morning hours, anglers are relying on their top water baits on main lake points to trigger strikes. Spinner baits are always a favorite primary and secondary bait to use right now. Find a school of blue backs and have the Rapala olive green X Rap to catch a limit of bass. Stay focused on the main lake points and the mouths of the feeder creeks while fishing. Wind is also a factor during the fall and winter months, so make sure those trolling batteries are new and fully charged. Rip rap and long stretches of rocky banks are both always good places to find bass this time of the year. Use a short Carolina rig with a six-inch zoom finesse worm in the red bug color.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair and there is anything from stained to clear water. Much of the lake has a little stain to it but go up the rivers for the muddy water. The largemouth have moved into shallow water holding tight to cover. Look for any structure around the shoreline consisting of rocks, docks or wood. Fish using small Fat Free Shad crank baits in bright colors or a green Texas rigged worm or lizard. Make sure that you fish the bait slow and come into contact with the structure you are fishing. Add some Mega Strike scent to all the baits.
WEST POINT LAKE IS 70 FEET FULL CLEAR 60’S
Bass fishing is fair and it is time for the bass to start moving back into the coves as they follow the shad. The shad and other bait fish are starting to move back into the coves and some can still be found out in the rivers and up around Ringers Access and bridges. Following the bait fish will be the key.as the bass will be all bunched together. Fish will be all over the small points in the coves. Fish Shad Raps and 6A shad Bombers in 6 to 12 feet of water. This will catch a mix of largemouth, spots, whites and hybrids. Small spoons and Fish Head Spins will work. Add a small fluke to the Fish Head Spin and dip the tail in red dye. Take along a variety of Husky Jerk Baits and some RS Shad Raps. With the water good and clear, stay with the natural shad colors.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 4.5 FEET STAINED 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Fish are shallow at 2 to 8 feet deep. Top water baits continue to produce a few fish on some mornings, although this bite has slowed somewhat. Buzz baits, Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, and Torpedo’s are good choices to find out if bass are eating on top. Spinner baits have produced well recently, especially in the dirtier water. Try a Stanley or other similar bait in 3/8-ounce or less size with double Colorado blades, one nickel and one gold. A chartreuse and white bait works well, along with solid white or solid chartreuse. A bite can occur most anywhere, but the bait really shines when targeting wood cover. A Rat L Trap is catching fish along seawalls and across shallow secondary points and flats. Chrome blue is the best choice with the sun shining, while gold or a shad pattern is good during low light conditions. Use a Rapala Shad Rap RS in shad and chrome blue. Try a Zoom U Tale in green pumpkin or June bug with a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce weight. Don’t be afraid to try the dock walkway all the way to the bank. Try a 3/8-ounce Strike King Pro Model in black blue with a Zoom Pro Chunk in green pumpkin.
LAKE JACKSON IS .76 FEET OVER FULL CLEAR 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Small bass are biting with an occasional keeper. The shad are active on the flats and in the coves. Start early in the morning with the top water baits. Stay mid lake to the dam and fish the inside part of the coves with a crawfish red Shad Rap in the #5 size on light line. Color will depend on the clarity of the water. Work the smaller coves on the south end of the lake and be on the constant lookout for any shad breaking the surface. Use a loud crank bait that has a good wide wobble to it like the small Rat L Trap in red colors. Areas of the lake with red clay banks is a good place to try these baits. The creeks and rivers are still producing some bass around the docks and the small, rounded points at the mouths of the smaller creeks. All the favorite crank baits can work this week after the top water bite tails off. Use a stop and go technique and add a storm suspend dot or two to make the baits hesitate a little and then float up.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 73 F
- Water Visibility: 31 – 48+ in
Bass: Bass fishing has continued to be tough. Bites are few and far between as the bass seem to be particularly picky right now. There continues to be large schools of threadfin shad congregating near the fishing docks at Bridge, Clubhouse, and Bream Buster Lakes. Bass have been aggressively feeding on these early in the morning and late in the day. Casting into the feeding frenzies has resulted in a few good fish. 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: Overall catfish action continues to be slow as well. Recent stockings of nice-sized catchable catfish to Bridge Lake, Jones, and Beaver Lodge Lakes has improved the bite in those lakes. 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 Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The river is still full, but I had a couple good reports. Alex Cummins and Thompson Rose camped this weekend and fished the oxbow lakes in the lower river and did well for bluegills. They also caught a couple channel catfish during the night on Friday. Pitching crickets to shoreline cover was the ticket for their bluegills. Other anglers reported catching some striped bass using pilings as current breaks in the lower river. Those fish ate plastics and bucktail jigs, and they should be around all winter. The river level was 5.0 feet and falling (70 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.5 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on November 12th.
The best reports I received this week were from anglers throwing artificial shad plastics in the lower river and catching striped bass. Almost all of them are below the 22-inch minimum size, but they are fun to catch! The upper river will be tough to fish by boat this weekend because it’s getting low, but floating for panfish would be a good option while the temperatures are still warm. The river level on November 12th at the Waycross gage was 5.9 feet and rising (71 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 5.8 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse said that the panfish bite has been good in both the upper and lower river sections this week. Most of the fish he knows of being caught ate beetlespins and small crankbaits. This weekend, Matt caught some nice channel catfish on shrimp on the bottom. He also caught some giant purple-cheeked bluegills (one was over a pound) and rooster redbreasts on mini-crankabaits. The river level at the MacClenny gage on November 12th was 4.7 feet and rising.
A Waycross angler fished a Blackshear pond between showers on Wednesday and managed a dozen bluegills up to hand-sized in about 15 minutes. The fish were biting worms fished under a float. The crappie bite should pick up next week during the forecasted cooler weather.
LITTLE OCMULGEE STATE PARK (More Info HERE)
My family paddled kayaks around the lake and fished a little while on Saturday. The bite was very good considering we only fished about an hour total. We used Dura-Spin in-line spinners (we were targeting bowfin), and we ended up catching 4 bowfin up to 7 pounds, a keeper (13 inch) bass, a one-pound bluegill (yes, it ate the big in-line spinner), and an 18-inch chain pickerel (jackfish). The fish were more around cypress trees than they were vegetation. One of the bowfin ate a fire tiger-colored spinner with a chartreuse blade, while everything else bit the crawfish-colored version with a brass blade.
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 still over 121 feet (I like it in the low 120 range for the best fishing).
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Ed Zmarzly and Justin Bythwood fished the Crooked River area on Wednesday and caught 16 trout (10 keepers) on slammin’ chicken and Calcasieu brew Sea Shads under Equalizer Floats. They also broke off an oversized redfish. An angler fishing in the wind out of a kayak in the Brunswick area on Friday found a protected area, but he couldn’t produce any trout or redfish. He did manage a big 4-pound bluefish on a figichix Keitech rigged on a 3/16oz. spring lock jighead. He tried for black drum and dropped shrimp rigged on Redfish Wrecker Jigheads to the bottom and caught several dozen big pinfish and pigfish. The big tides this weekend will muddy most areas. For trout success, the key is going to be finding the clearest water possible. 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 John Damer, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Northeast GA Lakes Report: (From Fisheries Region Supervisor Anthony Rabern) — Good luck to everyone trying to pattern fish this week! The floodwaters from last week and resulting high flow emergency discharges from our dams coupled with the abnormally warm weather will likely have the fish confused. Is it summer or is it fall?? On top of that, most of our lakes are in the process of turning over. With that said, a lot of folks are asking me about walleye fishing. I’m telling them to fish close to shore along deep banks with brush in 20 to 30 feet of water. Techniques that work for crappie will also work for walleye.
Lake Chatuge Sampling Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Last week, Burton Hatchery Tech Kevin Thomas joined up with Gainesville fisheries staffers to conduct gillnet samples on Lake Chatuge, a 7,200-acre reservoir nestled among the Blue Ridge mountains in Hiawassee. Water temperatures were in the mid-60s and clear with nearly 8 feet of visibility throughout the lake.
- Spotted Bass: Spotted bass dominated our sample, and there were an abundance of spots in the 14- 16″ size range as well as plenty of young-of-year (born in 2020) fish, indicating successful reproduction this year. Spotted bass, though popular with many bass anglers, are not native to Lake Chatuge and have displaced populations of other desirable native black bass species like largemouth and smallmouth bass since their introduction. Spotted bass can be found throughout the lake right now, but bass anglers appeared to be honing in on dropshots along on mainstem features like points, humps, and ledges off the river channel. A variety of techniques for spotted bass will work this time of year, and don’t forget to bring a topwater lure like a Sammy or Whopper Plopper as well.
- Hybrid Striped Bass: Lake Chatuge also sports a healthy population of hybrid striped bass which were prevalent throughout our samples. Hybrid striped bass are a hatchery-reared cross between a white bass and a striped bass, and Lake Chatuge once boasted the world record hybrid striped bass, caught back in 1995 in Chatuge’s primary headwater during the spring. Two pound hybrids were abundant this fall, and a separate year class of 5-6 lb hybrids were also well represented. For both spotted bass and hybrids, larger fish were still occupying relatively deep water between 40′ -60′ depths while smaller fish found safe haven in the shallows anywhere from 10 to 20 feet of water. Once this abnormally warm weather moves through, cooling temperatures will draw large predators into the shallows in the early morning and throughout evening periods. Best bet for targeting schooling hybrids right now will be to simply use your electronics to locate a school, downline some live bait, and hold on tight.
- Walleye: A final noteworthy observation from this fall sample were a good number of walleye. Native to the Tennessee River basin, walleye in Chatuge are maintained thanks to stockings by North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Larger walleye like 3.5 pounder pictured here aren’t super common, but can be successfully targeted with specific walleye fishing techniques (for example, trolling deep crankbaits or jigging) and by identifying preferred habitat like tributary mouths, transitional flats, humps, and island shelfs. Keep in mind, walleye are crepuscular (low light) predators, so fishing early, late, or on overcast days are best bets. We netted a good number of young-of-year walleye, likely indicating successful walleye stocking this year.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — The bass bite is definitely picking up as the surface temperatures cool down. Rocky areas at the mouths of creeks and main river points are holding bass right now. Moving baits are the ticket for the early morning topwater bite. Humps, brush piles and deep points are productive all day. Crank baits like the Rapala DT 6 in shad and the under spins are working well. Zara Spooks and Chug Bugs along with Sammy’s are working mid-day. Schools of spotted bass are chasing tiny baits right on the bank around the mouth of the major creeks. Early and late each day, the main lake reef marker points, especially on the east side of Shady Grove Park, are holding some good fish.
Lake Lanier Striper Report: (This report courtesy of Buck Tails Guide Service, 404-510-1778) — Lanier striper fishing is really good. Clients are catching good numbers of fish before 10 a.m. on downlines over 30 to 50 ft bottom.
Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton, 770-530-6493) — Captain Josh Thornton (770) 530-6493 reports that crappie fishing is excellent. Fish brushpiles in 10 feet to 20 feet of water, but plan on losing several jigs and minnows in the process. Also, look under docks that are in 15 to 30 feet of water and have brush or structure nearby. Downlining small crappie minnows with a BB-sized sinker or try a free line minnow without a sinker. Jigs are also producing, especially in the baby shad green over chartreuse color pattern or baby shad white with a chartreuse spit tail.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) Bass fishing is good. Bass are targeting shad as they a school into the creeks. Good numbers are being caught on a drop shot in brush along creek channel ledges in 20 to 30-ft of water. In the afternoon, switch over to a short Carolina rig with a six-inch Zoom finesse worm in the red bug color. Also, be sure to have a Rat L Trap and a Shad Rap rigged and cast them up on the banks on the upper end of the lake. Also work the shallow flats and any visible cover on those flats with the Mini Me. Retrieve the Mini Me with a very fast retrieve to trigger the strikes. Don’t forget to use a trailer hook.
Lake Allatoona Striper Report: (This report courtesy of Robert Eidson, www.firstbiteguideservice.com) — Striper fishing is good. A variety of techniques are working right now including live bait, spoons, umbrella rigs and Alabama rigs. The north end of the lake from the mouth of Kellogg’s to as far north as Fields Landing offers the best bite.
Lake Weiss Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) — Bass fishing is good. Fish have moved shallow as the water cooled down. Spinner Baits, flat crankbaits and Rat L Traps are working well anywhere you can find bait in the shallow pockets. Crappie fishing is also good. The fish are hiding in deeper cover at 14 to 20 feet on the main Coosa River channel ledges from Cedar Bluff to Leesburg. Spider rigging over brush and river channel ledges with live minnows and jigs is catching fish. Shooting docks with Jigs is also producing some fish.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is good. Target the points on the upper end of the lake. Start off the morning with a blue and chrome Chug Bug or hot mustard Rapala DT10. Fish both sides of the points while making long casts. In the afternoons, switch to a ¼-ounce jig and fish the rock wall and all of the lay downs.
SMALL LAKE REPORTS
Rocky Mountain PFA Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — We completed our fall gill netting samples at the three Rocky PFA lakes last week. Rocky Mountain is the only PFA in the state that is stocked with walleye, and we found good numbers of these tasty fish up to 4 pounds at Antioch Lake (they are not stocked at Heath Lake). Walleye numbers were best on West Antioch, even though angler reports are often better on the East side. The crappie population seems to be doing well, and we found some slabs around 2 pounds. Try fishing the offshore rock piles around the fishing jetties. If you are looking for big channel cats, don’t discount the PFA either. I am always surprised how many big 10-pound channels we find here each year.
New Public Water Supply Reservoir – Coming Soon: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — WRD staff stocked 122,000 bluegill into Richland Creek Water Supply Reservoir in Paulding County this week. Richland Creek is a brand new 305-acre lake constructed to supply local area residents with drinking water. It has only recently started filling and is only about 2/3 full at this time. The bluegill stocked this week were from our Steve Cocke Fish Hatchery and are the very first fish ever to be stocked in the lake! These bluegill will be accompanied shortly by redear sunfish, channel catfish, and later by largemouth bass. County officials plan to open the lake to recreational anglers in 2-3 years, once the lake is completely full and the fish population has time to settle in.
Small Streams Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — I fished several small wild trout streams yesterday. The recent rains from the outer bands of Eta were very localized, which meant some streams were low and clear while others were high and stained. The Toccoa River DH section was definitely blown out as I drove by, but the headwaters had receded to fishable levels. I went above some barrier falls looking for brookies on the first stream. I caught one brightly colored 9-incher with crimson fins, but unfortunately this beauty was camera shy and slipped back into the water before the iPhone could come out. I also caught a couple small rainbows, then I moved downstream to another tributary looking for a brown to complete the “slam”. I was unsuccessful, but did move one big shadow that was probably a brown. On my drive out of the National Forest I took a few quick casts on a third stream with a small floating Rapala and hooked a couple bigger rainbows. In retrospect, my catch rates might have been better if I had started out with the spinning rod, but I still had a great time.
Delayed Harvest Trout Streams: (From Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — Whether you’re brand new to trout fishing, or have been fishing since you were three, delayed harvest (aka DH) streams offer an excellent chance to practice and hone in on your skills. Another bonus is the incredible fall foliage to enjoy (the Chattooga is a personal favorite)! Anglers fishing DH streams must release all trout immediately and use and possess only artificial lures with one single hook per lure from Nov. 1–May 14 annually. The use of additional “dropper” lures on one line is permitted as long as each lure contains one single hook. The following streams are delayed harvest streams:
Amicalola Creek from County Road 192 (Steele Bridge Road) downstream to GA Hwy 53.
- Chattahoochee River from Sope Creek (off Columns Drive) downstream to US Hwy 41 (Cobb Parkway).
- Chattooga River from GA Hwy 28 bridge upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek.
- Smith Creek on Unicoi State Park from Unicoi Dam downstream to the Unicoi State Park property boundary.
- Toccoa River on U.S. Forest Service land from 0.4 miles above the Shallowford Bridge upstream to a point 450 feet upstream of the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access.
Lauren Long (Gainesville Fisheries Admin Staffer) got her first fly fishing lesson on Amicalola Creek last week. The Ami is wide, and can be easily waded, providing the perfect place for beginner anglers to learn/practice on. The DH section has beautiful deep pools, runs, and shallow riffles. Another great thing about fall fishing is that you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn! Wait until midday for stream temperatures to warm a bit (50-64F); especially with the cold snap coming up this weekend. To get started, try rubber legs, or squirmy wormies. One of the most important aspects to consider when fishing these streams is “drag-free drift”. Here are some tips from Unicoi Outfitters for how to achieve a successful day:
- Tie on one or two of your favorite flies
2. Add just enough split shot a foot above the first fly to drift it along the bottom. Carry several sizes of small shot (#4, #1, B) to match depth and velocity.
3. Add a strike indicator up the leader from your first fly, at a distance of 1.5 times the water depth. Adjust the indicator often to match the depth of each spot you fish. (Airlock indicators make this quick and easy)
4. Study the pool briefly and predict where you think the fish are holding.
5. Sneak up to the pool slowly, like a heron, and get in a good position to make a short upstream cast and get a good drift.
6. Make a short (5-15 feet) cast upstream, toward your opposite shoulder. Aim for the “seam” where slower water meets the fast main current.
7. As your indicator drifts downstream toward you, strip in fly line and raise your rod to gather slack and keep most or all of your line off the water.
8. Ensure your indicator drifts naturally: match the leaves and bubbles around it. Make sure you don’t have a downstream “U” shape of fly line or leader in the water, which catches the current and makes your fly travel faster than naturally drifting food.
9. Put 2-3 good drifts through one spot or lane, then take a few steps and try another piece of the pool. We call this “painting the pool” as you cover the water with good, short drifts.
10. Instead of casting farther, move your body and keep the casts short. Why? Long casts cross multiple currents and it’s hard to get a drag free drift when your line catches those currents.
11. Set the hook any time the indicator pauses or jumps. Hooksets are free!
12. We like to set the hook with a sidearm, downstream wrist snap. If we yank the fly out of the water, it will snag behind us in a low, streamside bush and we can retrieve it. Upward hooksets leave many more flies up in the trees!
13. Get your net and your camera ready!
GA Trout Unlimited Fundraiser – Dream Trip 2021: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Our partners at Trout Unlimited have started their annual sale of tickets for the 2021 “Dream Trip” Raffle. The grand prize is a fishing trip for two to Northern Idaho near the Madison River, Yellowstone National Park, and the Henry’s Fork. The winner also receives top of the line fly fishing rods, reels, and other gear. This is one of TU’s biggest fundraisers every year, and all proceeds go to coldwater conservation and the Georgia Trout Camp. Purchase tickets and find out more details here HERE.