Found a new fishing saying today, “If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.”
How about you? Are your fishing sessions all about the catch – or does the activity of fishing provide you with an opportunity to ponder all the big (and little) things in life? Whatever your philosophy, make sure you pass on the love of the outdoors by taking a kid fishing this year – share the experience!
NEWS TO KNOW
- Might be Paradise: David Haire of Tifton GA caught two really nice lunkers at Paradise Public Fishing Area. Check out the photos and more info HERE.
- Take Them Fishing – Find a KFE: Looking for a Kids’ Fishing Event? Check out the WRD Event Calendar.
- What Is That? Ever need help ID’ing your catch? Check out our species identification page on the WRD website.
This week, we have reports from Southwest, North and Southeast Georgia. Let me know what your fishing trips mean to you and Go Fish Georgia!
Thanks to Flint River Outdoors (Brad McDaniel) for the photos!
- Bream: Mayflies continue to make bream fishing exciting on Blackshear. Worms and crickets are still hard to beat but the presence of mayflies opens up a lot of artificial options.
- Catfish: Flint River Outdoors has weighed in some large flathead catfish recently and the channels are biting too. Any smelly bait will work on the catfish but you can’t go wrong with chicken liver and hot dogs.
- Bass and Crappie: Bass and crappie continue to be tough this time of year. If you must fish for them by stay close to vegetation and use top lures and hollow belly frogs.
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
Heavy rain has helped to bring the lake level up making some of the shallow shoreline accessible to bass fishing. Warmer temperatures mean increased vegetation as well and some lily pads have started in the shallow areas and on the flats. Frogs, surface blades, and chatterbaits have been getting a lot of action in the near shore vegetation. For offshore grass, a Carolina rig with a short leader is a good idea. Junebugs, watermelon red, and watermelon candy soft plastics have been golden out there. Deeper water bass have been hitting Carolina rigs with spinner baits and crank baits. The deep water crappie bit is starting to slow down, but look for artificial or natural structure on the ledges and use minnows or jigs tipped with minnows to bring in some dinner.
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Elsa brought rain and cooler temps to the region, which drove surface temps down into the upper 70s and low 80s. Bass are lethargic and most have moved away from their typical holds into deeper water. Slowly working suspending jerkbaits and weightless flukes is a good option for targeting the lazy lunkers.
Fishing the standing timber in Silver Lake is producing quality crappie in depths of 10-15 ft. A minnow tipped 1/8 oz jighead seem to be the bait of choice. Shell Cracker and Bluegill are along lily pad edges and easily coaxed out with a cricket under a bobber or small beetle spin.
Frog Pond continues to produce channel cats in the 10-14 inch range, with a lucky few anglers hooking up on a 10-12 POUNDER.
Note to Anglers: Panic Pond is closed during the months of July and August but will reopen 30 minutes before sunrise on September 1, 2021.
The Flint River is blown out right now due to the large amount of rain we have received. It’s not a great place to fish right now and we suggest looking elsewhere for your fishing needs.
(Fishing report courtesy of Brent Hess, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Get out early or after dark. Start your day by fishing some form of top water. Cast to main lake points and flats with the Jackal SK Pop Grande in a shad color. As the day progresses, fish the same points as well as pole markers with a Carolina rig and a 2 to 3 foot leader with a ½ to ¾ weight. Use a 4 Net Bait finesse worm in green pumpkin watermelon color with the Shaky Head in these same areas. The morning top water bite is a little slow. You can still catch a few fish first thing in the morning on a small Pop R or Bonnie 95. Fish points on the mid-section of the lake. Throughout the day has been pretty tough. Concentrate on fishing around docks and cover with a Net Bait Finesse Worm in Key Lime Pie or Paca Melon on a Shaky Head. Fish very slowly. In the evening fish a Shaky Worm or small jig around the same cover as earlier in the day. It seems like you have to make the fish bite, but just stick with it. If you are in the cover, fish slowly and methodically and it should prove to be a productive way to catch some fish. A few good fish are being caught on big crank baits. After dark, throw a DD22 in midnight blue or a 700 Bandit in Summer Shad. Fish these baits on steep rock banks or rocky points. The best time to fish starts in the evening and continues into the night. The night bite is getting better every night. Fish steep rock banks with a ½ ounce black Punisher Spinnerbait. Be sure to use a very slow Yo Yo retrieve to attract bites. For the crank bait fish after dark fish points as well as flats with a Norman DLN in Midnight Blue color.
Hartwell: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Hartwell Bass fishing is fair. The Fourth of July weekend coming up, get to the lake early and then leave. There will be large numbers of boaters and fishing will be tough with the boats and jet skis keeping the water stirred up. Bass may bite up lake better with a little cooler waters and anglers are fishing under and around the deep-water boat docks. Small flukes are working and the #5 Shad Raps are also working. Downsize to 8-pound Sufix Elite line on a spinning reel and this lighter tackle and the lighter line will work with the smaller fish. Fish the steep rock ledges especially those that pass under the bridges. The key factor during the heat will be to fish near deep water and the isolated shady areas during the day. If you are using jigs, downsize to a 1/4- or 3/16-ounce jig with a small Zoom twin tail trailer Fat Albert grub in green pumpkin.
Hartwell Stripers (Report courtesy of Captain Cefus McRae. 404 402 8329 or Cefus@NutsAndBoltsFishing.com) — The striper bite is ON! Fish are beginning to show up in their usual summertime haunts on Lake Hartwell. The surface water temps are in the upper 70’s in the early morning and warming up to the low 80’s by noon. Fortunately, we’ve had a few afternoon showers to keep the water from getting into the high 80’s. That will eventually happen, but for now, the cooler water is keeping the bite going later into the day. So, get on the water NOW! In the summer, a lot of our Hartwell stripers and hybrids move south to find deeper water, and food. And there is plenty of bait out there right now. I’m finding bait wads that will literally fill up the screen on my Simrad. If you have SideScan, you can determine which side of the boat you should be fishing on too. Sometimes the bait school will be so large it extends 20 or 30 feet on each side of the boat. If there’s bait around, the line sides won’t be too far away. I’ve even been seeing some top water activity early in the morning, and the fish that are busting the surface will readily take a MirroLure, Zara Spook, or Red fin plug. I actually caught a hybrid on a buzz bait the other day. So keep a surface plug tied on and ready to cast. Make your cast beyond the school and retrieve through it. If a fish hits, but doesn’t get hooked, don’t change your retrieve pace. There will be a dozen or more fish just beneath the lure deciding whether to strike it or not. As the sun rises above the tree line, the fish are going deeper. Downlines over a 50 to 60 foot bottom, with baits hovering around the 25 foot mark is the key. Look for humps on the edge of the main river, or at the mouths of major creeks. Especially humps that have steep drop off. The area south of the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca, including Lightwood Log and PowderBag creek are all holding fish right now. They may be suspended in the trees, or hanging out over a clean bottom. Again, finding the bait schools is a key factor, so set your SideScan on 140 to 200 feet out. While you’re searching for fish, go ahead and deploy a couple of Project X X Rigs loaded with 3/8 ounce or ½ ounce WhoopAss Buck tails and 3-inch Project X Saucertails in pearl or electric rooster colors. Fan the arms out and drop it about 100 feet behind the boat and set your troll speed around 2 to 3 mph. This is a good speed for your sonar to paint a good picture, and it’s a perfect speed to get the X Rig down around 15 feet. Get all your WhoopAss and Project X tackle at NutsAndBoltsFishing.com Keeping blueback herring frisky is a challenge with the warmer water temps. Use the water from the bait stores, and recirculate it, versus drawing in lake water. Freeze a couple half gallon milk jugs filled ¾ with well water (or water you get from the bait store). Drop the jugs in your live well mid-morning to keep the water cool. The water from the jug will refresh the water in your tank. I highly recommend the Keep Alive O2 system. The oxygen keeps the bait frisky, and it also cools the water in your well. I’ve kept baits for 3 days with the oxygen and an occasional water change. The O2 really works. Finally, the jig and spoon bite is beginning to crank up too. Keep a 2-ounce WhoopAss Buck tail tied on for when the school sounds, drop it straight to the bottom, then retrieve it as fast as you can. The Boss Hawg and Parker spoons will get the job done as well. If you’d like to spend a fun day on the water with Capt. Cefus and Buck the Wonder Dog, call or email 404 402 8329 or Cefus@NutsAndBoltsFishing.com
Lanier Bass (Report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770 366 8845 www.pjsfishing.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is very good. Not a lot has changed since last week on Big Sid. The water temperature is slowly rising and the bass are headed to their summer homes. Brush is the key right now whether it is located on humps or long points. The key is about depth now and as long as you stay in the twenty to thirty foot range you should find fish. It seems that there has been more activity showing up on the main lake as we have moved through the week. A variety of top water lures are producing fish if you get in the right areas. The fish are schooling early in the morning and sporadically throughout the day with Chug bugs, spooks and a variety of walking baits producing bites. Often the bass will hit it several times before they finally get the bait so you need to be patient with your hookset. Probably the steadiest bite has still been the fluke. The white fluke along with the Lanier Baits Blue Ghost fluke are working great. I’m running it on a spinning rod loaded with ten-pound braid with a leader of ten-pound fluorocarbon. The rhythm I’m using is just a smooth pull and let it fall. If you find these bites slow then move to the Dropshot. The Blue Lilly Dropshot worm by Lanier Bait has been my go-to this week on the drop shot. This is a great way to put numbers in the boat but you may need to run several brush piles to find one that is loaded with fish but once you do they are usually aggressive. The night bite is still good using either the half ounce spinnerbait or a medium depth crankbait. This week the blue and black spinnerbait along with a red crankbait have steadily produced. If you are on Lanier at any time, but especially at night, watch for the heavy boat traffic. It seems everyone bought a boat during Covid and are now on the lake whether they know how to run a boat or not so be careful, this is the Lanier busy season. Good luck and Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Stripers (report is courtesy of Buck Cannon, Buck Tales charters 404 510 1778) — Lanier striper report this week indicates that you can use your electronics to locate bait from the dam to Gainesville. Down lines with blue backs has produced fishing over a 50-foot bottom in pockets, put bait 25 to 35 feet deep and keep a top water lure ready to throw into the eruption of fish. The lead core is back fishing 8 colors with a five-inch swim bait. Last but not least the umbrella rigs are productive over humps and points 89 120′ behind the boat. Buck Tales 404 510 1778 bookings available for July.
Lanier Crappie (Report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton 770 530 6493) — Call Captain Josh Thornton to book a trip 770 530 6493. Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures are in the low to mid 80s. The hot bite target zone is 10 to 15 foot deep. The crappie are on the docks and also can be found on open water brush piles and blow downs. I always put out a Crappie minnow some days the crappie just want a minnow. 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 an active minnow not a dead minnow. Look under covered docks that are in 20 to 40 feet of water and near a main channel look for 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 Jigs colors and jig styles. Jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging, trolling or dock shooting. The most productive jigs this time of year have been the translucent and light-colored jigs. When dock shooting the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. 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 I use 5-pound test high visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on a Acc crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app.
Lake Weiss (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) —
- Bass fishing is fair and a most fish have moved to a summer pattern on main lake points, roadbeds and the creek and river channels, Crank baits and Carolina rigs are working well. Flipping docks with jigs is also catching fish.
- Crappie fishing is fair and they have moved to deeper brush. Spider rigging with live minnows over brush is the way to catch these post spawn fish. Some Crappie are still being caught shooting docks with jigs.
- Striper fishing is good and they are in the upper Chattooga River, Little Spring creek and the Cave Hole, live Shad down lined and free lined is catching fish.
- Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water, cut bait is working best.
West Point Lake Fishing (Report courtesy of Brent Hess Fisheries Biologist) — Bass fishing West Point Lake after the 4th has a lot to do with finding the fish. Your best shot is still early in the morning or late in the evening. Fishing will improve on overcast days if you locate pockets or points holding bass that may move up to feed in the darker skies.
West Point Bass (Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing has been good. Fish are really spread out in two groups this week. The top water bite is on fire first thing in the morning on points and lay downs. Buzz baits, Spooks, and Pop R’s are producing when cast very close to cover and then slowly worked back to the boat. During the mid-morning, pitch jigs close to overhanging limbs with bream present. These fish have been highly pressured so work the bait slowly. The strike zone will be in the first five feet of the overhanging limbs. Once the sun is high focus on docks and lay downs near the mouth of pockets with green pumpkin a Z Man floating worm. The Z Man floating worm will stand up on a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce shaky head so do not be afraid to let this bait soak to catch larger fish. The deep crank bait bite is beginning to turn on in the afternoon during generating schedules. Look for fish to begin stacking up on long points and roadbeds close to the main river channel. The best points are from the 109 bridge north going up the river. During generation periods use deep diving crankbaits on humps and roadbeds. Spro has a Little John Type R shallow running crankbait that works well over shallow water submerging vegetation. It has a computer chips style lip for a fast wobble and several great colors.
West Point Lake Level: Lake Water Level Information can be found HERE.
Trout Fishing Narrative (courtesy of “Academy Jack” Becker) — This week I was invited by a friend to fish a tributary of the Chattahoochee River in the North Georgia Mountains. He has been fishing these public waters for over 25 years. The weekly trout stocking report showed this stream had been stocked July 2nd. We parked 1 vehicle 1/2 mile downstream from where we were going to start. Saved us walking back upstream to where we started. There was a half dozen people fishing along the first 100 yards of the stream, and then we had it all to ourselves! We caught a combination of Rainbows, Browns, and Brook Trout. Here is a picture of one of the beautiful Brook Trout. My friend said he was sure this stream received a lot of pressure over the Holiday weekend, but he knows you can still catch fish if you are willing to do some walking. He was right. We fished dozens of nice pools and the only company we had was a family of River Otters….. Academy Jack
Gracelyn’s First Trout (courtesy of John Thomson, Trout Stocking Coordinator) — You don’t have to be an expert fly-fisherman to take advantage of stocked trout in north Georgia. Gracelyn Love Carrell (age 3) of Ball Ground, Georgia landed her first trout at Amicalola State Park in Dawson County. Other great places to take kids on a first trout fishing trip include Moccasin Creek in Rabun County and Smith Creek in White County. You can also sign up to receive our stocking report HERE. Make a kid’s day and take them fishing!
Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report: (From our friends at Unicoi Outfitters) — As the tropical storm draws near south GA today, we are rooting for some rain events up here. Then we will aim for the rain! Summer storms often cool north Georgia streams and deliver a slug of groceries to hungry predators, which have had slim pickings in this season’s low, clear waters. The stormflow’s stained waters also provide angler advantages. First, we can sneak up closer to our targets. Second, we can use bigger bugs. Third, we can use heavier tippet to winch in our trophies. Summer stripers sulk, but come alive on storm surges. They like to intercept stocked trout washed downstream during floods. Toss big rainbow trout-colored streamers or 6-inch long, black game changers to tempt them. Remember, fifty bucks and your 8-weight rod will get you a shot at Nacoochee Bend’s summer stripers. Call the shop (706-878-3083) for details and reservations. Resident, high-elevation trout relocate to soft pockets and bankside eddies. You’ll find them with bulging bellies as they take advantage of washed-in terrestrials (especially the spaghettti hatch) and dislocated nymphs. Try a red squirmy, # 10 tungsten tan mop, or a #12 sexy Walts in those slow spots. So watch weather forecasts, check USGS flow gauges, and call your favorite fly shop. (We know some good ones in Helen and Clarkesville.) Then grab your Goretex jacket and aim for the rain this summer!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Fisheries Biologist and Region Supervisor with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
ALTAMAHA AND OCMULGEE RIVERS
The river was right on the cusp of good fishing….then Elsa happened. It will rise at varying rates, but the bottom line is spend your time on flat water during the next couple of weeks and let the water flush out. You can still catch a few panfish in the oxbows in the lower river and some catfish as it’s rising, but don’t expect to load a cooler. The river level on July 8th at the Abbeville gage on the Ocmulgee was 4.2 feet and rising. The Doctortown gage on the Altamaha was 7.5 feet and rising.
Forget it again this week. The river level increased and will continue to do so. Catfishing on the lower Satilla (White Oak Creek) is the only thing I would consider for the next week or two. The river level on July 8th at the Waycross gage was 13.3 feet and rising fast (76 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 10.1 feet and rising (it came up almost 6 feet for the week).
ST. MARYS RIVER
The next Shady Bream Tournament trail event is this Saturday (July 10th). It is a co-ed event, so bring your better half to fish it. With the rising water, the winner will earn their award, as the bite will likely be challenging. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for information on upcoming tournaments. The river level at the MacClenny gage on July 8th was 15.4 feet and rising fast.
On Sunday a couple of Pierce County anglers fished a pond and caught 21 bass up to 3 1/2 pounds. They caught them on lots of different lures, but crankbaits, worms and stickbaits fooled the majority of them. Brody (10 years old) fished with his dad (Anthony) on Tuesday, and Brody caught his personal best bass – a 5-pounder. He fooled it with a Rat-L-trap. Also on Tuesday, David Freeman caught a 9-lb., 6-oz. bass from a pond while using a green pumpkin Bandito Bug rigged on a shaky head.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
Troy Morgan from Dublin caught the biggest bass I heard of this week. It was a 24-incher, and he caught it from his kayak on Monday.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
David Haire of Tifton had a great day while fishing with his family on Friday. He landed a 9-pound bass, took photos, and released it.
Warmouth reports have been slow, but Zane, Timothy, and I went to the Folkston side on Saturday and had a blast. We casted and trolled Dura-Spins in the canal and caught a couple dozen bowfin and some pickerel. The most notable pickerel were the 18-incher and 22-incher that both Zane and Timothy caught that earned them Youth Angler Awards from the Wildlife Resources Division. Zane caught his on a crawfish colored spinner, while Timothy’s ate a red-white version. Zane lost a 10-pound class bowfin at the boat, but he did catch one just over the 20-inch minimum for an Angler Award. It was a really fun day, except when we got into a really shaded area with overhanging trees. You could hear the hundreds of yellow flies laughing as we approached the shade. Once we left that area and killed the several dozen flies that hung out in our boat, the bugs weren’t bad at all. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.0 feet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Before the storm, saltwater fishing was pretty good oceanside. Don Harrison and I fished the St. Marys Jetties on Friday and flung bucktail jigs to the rocks. We had one of the best days I’ve ever had for bull redfish. We boated 10 redfish from 30 to 44 inches (3 over 40 inches), broke off 3 that powered us into the rocks, and pulled off one. All of the fish ate either electric chicken or mullet-colored bucktails. Along with the bulls, we caught a trio of black sea bass just under the legal limit. We did not bring back anything except sore muscles, mangled rigs, awesome photos, and some memories that will last forever…. Priceless! Ed Zmarzly and Justin Bythwood fished the St. Marys Jetties on Sunday and had a great day, as well. They pitched bucktail jigs and Assassin Sea Shads rigged on Jetty Jigs to the rocks and caught, tagged, and released 9 bull redfish (they ran out of tags), broke off 3 other bull reds, and Ed caught his biggest Spanish mackerel ever – a 5-pounder. Their best colors of Sea Shads were pearl white, fire tiger, and several other colors with a chartreuse tail. They moved closer to the beach to catch some fish for the cooler and ended up with 4 flounder a keeper black sea bass, and a trout to go with the mackerel. Capt. Greg Hildreth said that he found a few tarpon this week and the inshore trout bite improved before the storm. I got a few reports this week of some sheepshead and a few flounder inshore. I got a good gigging report this week – the group passed on several smaller fish but brought home 9 nice flounder. 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.