When did you get your first fishing license? Did you know that you were doing more when you bought that license than just avoiding an awkward run-in with the game warden? You instantly became a conservationist!
MORE ABOUT HOW YOUR FISHING LICENSE HELPS:
- Hunters and anglers have been funding most of the nation’s and Georgia’s wildlife conservation for over 100 years.
- 100% of license dollars support Georgia wildlife.
- Each license purchase returns up to $45 of federal funding to Georgia (one-day licenses, too!)
- Funds support wildlife, habitat, public access, educational outreach events and more.
- Georgia Fishing licenses can be purchased using the Outdoors GA App on your smart phone, online at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, by phone (1-800-366-2661) or at license vendors.
For this week’s fishing report, we have fresh news from North and Southeast Georgia. Pat yourself on the back for supporting the activity you love to do – I think you deserve a reward – hey, let’s Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, Region Supervisor and Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Lanier Bass: (Report courtesy of guide Phil Johnson) — Bass are definitely in their early summer mode right now and feeding heavily. Top water is still the flavor of the day on most days. A Chug bug or walking bait such as a medium size Spook are working well over the fifteen to thirty foot brush as well as humps. Watch closely when you catch one to see if there are others following it, if so try a frontrunner on the Spook to try and double up. If you see fish following the one you caught and don’t get any more strikes in the area it probably means that you have moved the school from the brush. Leave the area for an hour or so and return, often they will regroup around the brush. If you aren’t getting the top water bite drop down a level with a pearl white fluke or the Spybait. Work the fluke one to two feet under the surface while counting the Spybait down a count of three or foot and slowly working it back. The Spybait is a very subtle bait so you don’t want to work it too fast. There is also a good bite on the dropshot in the same depth brush. I use a medium seven foot six spinning rod with a fast tip spooled with twenty pound braid backing and a six pound test leader. It is important to have the leader long enough that when you get the fish close to the boat your braid/flouro knot is already in the reel. This takes the stress off the knot while playing the fish close to the boat. Currently I am using a three eights weight with a one hook. Be sure to use some type swivel at the hook or above it to prevent line twist. Fruity works have been the meal ticket for these fish with Blue Lilly and Tomato Red leading the pack. Remember no hard hooks sets with this setup, just lift the rod tip to set the hook. The summer night is also starting to roll. Blue, Black or Red crankbaits that run six to twelve feet deep will draw strikes on rocking points and banks as well as shallow humps. Night fishing is a great way to beat the heat. Go Catch ‘Em!
Solid Lanier Bass Bag: Angler Zach Nolan (see pic) recently put together a nice 18.5 lb bag anchored by a 6.25 lb Largemouth kicker!
Lanier Crappie: (Report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton) — Crappie fishing is good. In the last two weeks we have seen our biggest numbers of the year. The water temperatures are in the low 80’s and the hot bite target zone is 8-15 foot deep. The crappie are on the docks and also can be found on deep water brush piles and blow downs. Put out a Crappie minnow while casting your jigs you never know what might take it. If you have live scope or active imaging set the minnows just above the fish. Right now I am setting the minnows around 10’-12’ deep. For best results use a alive minnow! Look under docks that are in 20 to 40 feet of water near a main channel and have brush or structure use your electronic charts to locate these areas. Remember crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows of a dock. Try different jig colors and jig styles. Jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging, trolling or dock shooting. The most productive jigs this week have been the translucent and light colored jigs, or a blue and silver jig. When dock shooting I use a 1/16 Oz painted jig head with a #4 sickle hook. Let your jig sink and give it time to get down to the fish and retrieve your jig slowly. I’m using ATX lure company’s plastics that can be purchased locally at sherry’s bait and bbq or the dam store. I use the k9 5 pound test high visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on an Acc crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app.
Lanier Stripers: (Report courtesy of Buck Cannon Bucktails guide Service) — Lake Lanier Stripers are on the way south to the deeper water, but there’s still fish in pockets, mostly south of Gainesville. Down lines with blue backs has been the most consistent method, fishing over a 50 to 90 foot bottom at 25 to 45 feet deep. Using your electronics to locate bait is a plus, but marking just a couple of fish can result in a big day on the water. Always have a top water plug just in case they come up close.
More Lanier Lineside Info: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — I just got off the phone with Dillan over at Oakwood Bait, who said the stripers are currently scattered in pockets in 35-45 feet of water from Brown’s Bridge down to the dam. Get your bait down to the target zone quickly because it’s hard keeping herring lively this time of year. There are an abundance of fish in the 6 – 12 lb range, and they are readily feeding as they make their annual southerly migration to the deeper, cooler waters in the lower reservoir. Water quality profiles for Lake Lanier will help you determine your best bets for stripers this summer.
Lake Level Lanier: Track Lanier Lake Level at Buford Dam HERE.
Allatoona Crappie (Report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright) — The lake is busy, so get out on the water early. Spider rigging with minnows is working great! Target 15-30 ft. depths around brush piles, especially those located near old creek edges. If you don’t want to spider rig try dropping jigs, like Redrooster Custom Jigs, directly into the brush piles. Any jig with “purple” in it has been best, but blue and orange jig bodies have also produced well.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. The fish are solidly in their deeper summer haunts and the brush pile bite is starting up. The Sammy top water bite is good early. Once the sun gets high the main lake fish are going deep at 15 to 18 feet. Use a 3/16th ounce camo colored Spot Stalker with a 4.5 inch Yamamoto Cut Tail worm in pumpkin and green colors. Also a small drop shot using a ¼ ounce drop shot sinker and a #4 Splitshot Dropshot Gamakatsu hook. Nose hooking a 3.5 or 4 inch Yamamoto Cut tail in either Blue Pearl, Cinnamon Brown or Smoke color to mimic the small threadfin and spot tail minnows will work. The key is still small baits and this will continue throughout most of the summer. Be patient and be sure your bait is in at least 15 feet of water. Also, a weightless Senko skipped under docks and let them sink down a few feet will produce some fish as well as the water under the docks is quite a bit cooler. It takes some patience but it will get you bit. The spot stalker head is a great tool for fishing the brush piles due to its specific design.
Lake Level Allatoona: Track Allatoona Lake level HERE.
Hartwell Bass: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. As the water continues to warm the fish have moved back to deeper water, where they are staying for the majority of the day. The best times to fish during the hot months are early in the morning until about 10:00 a.m. and then again later in the afternoon until dark. Use the Carolina rigs, jigs, jerk baits and green pumpkin Zoom finesse worms on a light Texas rig on the docks. Smaller older docks can be great isolated gold mines this time of the year.
Hartwell Stripers/Hybrids (Report courtesy of Captain Nathan Key, Shad Slingers Charters) — The last two months have been the best striped bass and hybrid bass fishing I’ve seen in 2 years. With the hundreds of thousands of striped and hybrid bass fingerlings stocked in Lake Hartwell this year, the future of the fishery looks bright and promising for anglers wanting to catch a nice fish.
Hartwell Stripers/Hybrids Part 2 (Report courtesy of Captain Cefus McRae) — This is the time of year when the stripers and hybrid bite in Lake Hartwell should be on fire. And depending on where, and when you’re fishing that may be the case. The lake is about a foot over full pool right now, and the water temps range from the mid 70’s to the low 80’s. This has been a crazy year, for a lot of reasons. And I believe the fish are a little crazy too. Our top water bite should have started in May, and be at the tail end of that bite by now. However, things seem to be happening a little later this spring, and I’m just now starting to see large schools showing up for surface feeding early in the morning and around dusk. Occasionally, on an overcast day, the top water bite can last well into the morning. And I’m also seeing a lot of shallow schools during the day, when they should normally be moving out into deeper water. Go figure? So, this spring I’ve had to learn the lake all over again. My go to spots for spring fishing have not been producing the numbers I would normally anticipate. The fish haven’t moved to another planet, they have just moved to a different part of the lake. I don’t know how long this particular pattern will last, or if they will actually begin to take on their typical summertime habits in a few weeks. But that’s fishing. What I can tell you is you need to be on the water early. The bite does slow down when the sun gets high in the sky. You can still catch a few on the umbrella rig and deep dropped live baits. But you’ll also be doing a lot of searching, so trolling with umbrellas is a great search technique. Depending on the water depth, either use a fully loaded 4 arm rig in the main channels, or a 3 arm rig with lighter buck tails if you’re in shallower creeks. Don’t be afraid to start at the very back of the creeks and coves, and troll your way out to the mouth. Another technique that has been producing good numbers is to pull 2 or 4 Perfect Planer Boards with live baits about 20 feet behind the board. Keep an eye on your sonar, and if you see schools, you can mark the spot and swing around to drop live bait or buck tails on them. What you see could be a big school of hybrids, stripers or spotted bass. And by the way, I’ve been catching some of the biggest spots ever this year. I’ve also seen a lot of carp in the backs of the creeks, so don’t be fooled by hearing a splash and think it’s a bass busting. Keep looking in the direction and if you see a gold flash, then it’s a carp. The majority of the stripers are in the mid lake area right now, and they are moving south….slowly. There’s plenty of bait mid lake and I think that’s what is keeping them concentrated in the area. You can find stripers and hybrids just about the entire lake, but the best activity seems to be up the first couple miles of either the Seneca or the Tugaloo. Right now, my preferred bait is still blueback herring, but you’ve got to be on the schools for downlinking to be effective. If you don’t see anything on the sonar, but you feel good about the area you’re fishing, then give it some time. And, use your drumming stick to bring the fish to the boat. It definitely works. If you strike out in an area, don’t give up. Just move to another creek and try the same techniques. It will eventually pay off.
West Point Bass (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) — I bass fished a few hours on West Point Lake last Saturday morning before the tropical storm moved in. Other than getting soaked, I was able to catch a few small bass on topwater baits, but only by covering large areas of water. Last weekend’s tropical storm and the heavy rain earlier this week has the water level on West Point Lake at full pool.
This weekend, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-80s with the chance of rain below 50%. However, thunderstorms may pop up in the afternoons given the warm humid air that will be in place. Because the bass seem to still be spread out, I suggest fishing a lot of water to locate fish. Fish topwater early in the day or if overcast. Once, the temperatures start to rise, around mid-morning, you may want to switch to fishing shady areas with subsurface baits. Also, fishing later in the day should be productive, especially following an afternoon rain shower. Most of the pleasure boats stayed clear of the lake last weekend because of the tropical storm; however, it is unlikely that will be the case this weekend. Therefore, watch out for other watercrafts and as always BOAT SAFELY.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) —
Bass: Bass fishing is good and most fish have moved to a summer pattern on main lake points, road beds and the creek and river channels. Crank baits and Carolina rigs are working well. Spinner baits and chatter baits in and around the grass beds are still producing a few fish.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair and they have started moving to deeper brush. Spider rigging with live minnows over brush near the spawning areas is the way to catch these fish.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good and they are in the upper Chattooga River and the Cave Hole, live shad down lined or free lined is catching fish.
Catfish: Catfish are biting well in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water. Cut bait is working best.
Etowah River Bassin’ (Report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Etowah is firing on all cylinders right now. As long as the rain holds off, striper and spotted bass fishing is good right now – think baitfish, so 2.5-4inch streamers like Lunch Money’s in Shad or Tan, Olive/White or Chartreuse/White Clouser Minnows, and Cruiser Shad/Major Sardines. We’re taking a 7 weight rigged with Scientific Anglers Bass Bug so we can throw both baitfish and poppers/divers at the spotted bass followed up with a 9 weight rigged with a Scientific Anglers Tropical Clear Tip Intermediate for stripers. For the 7-weight, we like a 9 foot 0x Powerflex Leader and build our own 7-8 foot striper leaders with Seaguar Premiere Leader Material (40lb/30lb/20lb).
Coosawattee River Record Striped Bass on the Books: Check out GON’s full story behind the behemoth (30 lbs. 12.8 oz) catch HERE.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — Fishing is on fire at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area! Around noon on Sunday I got a text from fisheries technician Collin George. “You free to do some fishing today?” I believe Collin knew the answer to his question before he hit send, and in about an hour we were launching the boat into East Antioch Lake. With low barometric pressure and hot, muggy conditions we figured our best bet was to target deeper water around structure and shade. When we found this cocktail of habitat types, bass from the 2 to 4 lb range were hungry and plentiful. A black and blue ¾ oz jig with a 4” paddle tail swimbait was the offering of choice, outperforming crank baits, drop shots, and spinnerbaits. The bite was hot for an hour or so before slowing considerably, which provided the perfect opportunity to switch to some summertime catfishing. A bream fillet on a bare circle hook and a little riprap were all that was required to summon the fish to the net. In just a couple hours, Collin and I boated 5 catfish, the largest going over 11 lbs. By day’s end, we had put about 40 lbs of fish in the boat–not bad for a spontaneous afternoon trip!
Pond Report (Courtesy of Fisheries Supervisor Jim Hakala) — The super moon is overhead and the bluegill are on bed! I noticed bluegill beds pop-up last weekend ahead of the full moon in a couple Floyd County ponds. As of Thursday, they were still fanning their nests in the shallows. Crickets, worms or catalpa worms should be all that is needed for those wanting to get into a mess of ‘gills this weekend.
Lake Arrowhead (Courtesy of Fisheries Supervisor Jim Hakala) — With schools out for summer, visitation and catches at Lake Arrowhead, located on Arrowhead WMA in Armuchee, GA, continues to be good. Arrowhead provides youth-oriented fishing opportunities, but adults can fish as long as they have a child with them. Anglers, like the trio pictured, have been catching a mixed bag of quality bream, catfish, and bass in recent weeks.
Stocker Strategies: (Courtesy of Trout Stocking Coordinator John Thomson) — This weekend should be a great time to get out and wet a line in your favorite trout stream. With the warm weather forecasted, the trout fishing in low elevation streams will become less productive. Anglers should focus their efforts on high elevation streams at the coolest part of the day.
Trout Stocking: The trout stocking trucks continue to roll! Are you still wondering where they stocked trout ahead of this coming weekend? If so, you need to check out the weekly trout stocking report (updated every Friday afternoon) before you head out. You can even sign up to have those updates emailed directly to you every week!
The narrow trickles of streams hidden in rhododendrons are the perfect place to escape from this mid-summer heat. Try common dry-fly patterns such as elk hair caddis, parachute adams, or nymphs like pheasant tails. I highly recommend reading Nick Carter’s blue lining adventure for some Brookie inspiration.
The Last Dragons: Cool video on a unique Appalachian gem can be found HERE. Healthy mountain streams provide niches for all critters, from trout to hellbenders. Anglers should be conscience of their ecosystem stewardship role and how that influences successes on our National Forest lands.
Parting Trout Note: 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.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Region Supervisor and Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
ALTAMAHA AND OCMULGEE RIVERS
The river was in decent shape last weekend and early this week before the tropical rains started on Tuesday. Brentz McGhin and a friend fished an oxbow lake in the lower river this weekend and caught a bunch of bluegills, warmouth, catfish and redbreasts. They fished crickets and worms on the deep drop to fool their fish. My daughter (Ellie) and I went to the lower Altamaha and fished oxbow lakes on Monday evening and caught 12 fish (5 different species) in a 3-hour trip. We flung bugs a little bit but ended up catching everything on 1/8-oz. Satilla Spins. We caught several on chartreuse bruiser, the biggest bluegill on bumblebee (black/yellow), and the most fish on pink mouse. The mullet bite was consistent before the rains, but I imagine the rising, muddier water will slow that bite over the coming days. The river level on June 24th at the Abbeville gage on the Ocmulgee was 5.7 feet and rising. The Baxley gage on the Altamaha was 6.6 feet and rising (78 degrees).
I didn’t talk with anyone who fished the rising river this week. It’s still fishable, and you should be able to get a boat around this weekend, but don’t expect to catch much other than catfish. Put a worm on the bottom and you should do well for whiskerfish on the rising river. The river level on June 24th at the Waycross gage was 7.6 feet and rising (79 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 4.7 feet and rising.
Tyler Finch put it on the panfish on Saturday, catching 40 nice ones (mostly bluegills) before his motor gave him trouble. White Satilla Spins with a cricket (his go-to bait) was the ticket. The Clyo gage was 8.3 feet and rising on June 24th.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Catfishing in the tidal area below Folkston is your best option. Put shrimp or worms on the bottom to catch a bunch of white and channel catfish. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for information on upcoming tournaments. The river level at the MacClenny gage on June 24th was 6.0 feet and rising fast (4 feet in 2 days).
On Friday night, Steel and Chip Lafferty put it on the bass in a Brunswick area pond. It was one of those magical evenings where they ate everything that they threw at them – vibrating jigs, lipless crankbaits, square-bill crankbaits, wacky worms, and lizards. They ended up catching 20 bass during the evening. I walked a pond with Matthew Page for an hour Saturday evening, and with his expert guidance I was able to catch several big bluegill up to 10 inches, bass up to 2 pounds, and a 9-inch redbreast. All of them ate lime-colored Bert’s Bug flung with a fly rod. Ron Altman had a few good trips for bass this week at a Brunswick area pond. He and his fishing partners caught 15 to 25 fish per trip, and the bass ate moving baits – mostly squarebill crankbaits, chatterbaits, and spinnerbaits.
Warmouth reports were still good out of the Folkston entrance, but the rains this week will likely slow the bite some. The summertime bowfin bite is going on for anglers flinging in-line spinners down the canal. Pickerel are jumping on the spinners also. Yellow flies have been bad in the shady areas but bearable in the open sun. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.5 feet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
I heard reports of a bunch of sheepshead (most are on the smaller side) being caught this week and several 16-18 inch flounder, as well. The inshore bite has slowed other than those 2 species. Gilbert Ellis and his dad fished the Jekyll Island Pier on Saturday and caught a total of 22 fish on shrimp. They had several whiting and croakers and a bunch of other bottom fish. Another angler fishing the same day had 8 flounder from the pier. The sharks have shown up, so expect to catch them when bottom fishing. Capt. Greg Hildreth said that the big jack crevalle have arrived on the beaches and in the sounds. His clients got on a bunch of 20 to 30 pound fish this week. Dillon Metz and Alex Cummins fished offshore and caught a keeper cobia and kingfish on nearshore reefs by trolling pogies. The tarpon are on the beaches, jetties, and sounds. Time to stock up on DOA BaitBusters and Tarpon Tamer Jigheads built with extra-strong Gamakatsu hooks if you like catching them with artificials. 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.