Summertime fishing. What does that mean to you? Does that bring up memories of heading out with a favorite family figure or friend and staying gone all day with a few poles and a container of worms? Or do you prefer some night fishing opportunities (like can be found at most Georgia Public Fishing Areas)? Maybe summertime fishing makes you think of targeting a particular species – like catfish, so you can plan a big ole fish fry. Well, whatever it means to you – it is definitely time to get out there!
NEWS TO KNOW
- USFWS Conservation Connect: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a live series. They just debuted one on Summertime Fishing! You can give it a watch and a listen HERE.
- Eagle Scout Service Project Focuses on Fish: (Submitted by a proud mom – Martha Turney): John Patrick Turney (known as “JP”), Life Scout with Troop 2096, recently finished his Eagle Scout service project. JP contacted Jackson Sibley (WRD fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division) who suggested they were in need of GA Cubes (a type of artificial fish attractor). The fish attractors were built by JP, with the help of Boy Scout volunteers, leaders and parents. The fish attractors were deployed in Lake Allatoona on Sat., July 10 with the help of WRD Fisheries Biologists (Jackson Sibley, Jim Hakala), a couple of leaders, and Boy Scouts. Way to go JP!
- Lake Closed for Maintenance and Habitat Improvements: Greenhouse Lake at Marben PFA (Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center) is temporarily closed for maintenance and habitat work. Anticipated re-opening is Fall 2021.
This week, we have reports from North, Southeast and Southwest Georgia. Don’t let that summertime slip away before you Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, Region Supervisor and Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
With a summer heat wave upon us and the full moon rising, a major change in fishing strategy may be called for. A change that requires a shift from day to night. Night-time fishing may sound a little spooky for new anglers, but it’s really a lot of fun. I have fond memories of after-dark fishing trips to my favorite farm pond and casting my topwater jitterbug into the light of the rising moon. Seeing an explosion of water when a bass snatched my plug was a thrilling and heart-pounding experience. And when my arm got tired of casting, my buddy Mark and I would grab our homemade gigging poles (a.k.a. broomstick with a nail on the end) and take another lap around the pond to gig a few “croakers” for a midnight snack of fried frog legs. Talk about good times and good eats!
Fishing conditions this week across North Georgia dictate typical summertime patterns for spotted bass with topwater activity in the early mornings and late-evening hours. Stripers and hybrids are headed further down lake in most reservoirs or retreating to the headwaters in search of cooler water. Small lake fishing is holding its own during the hot weather but concentrate your efforts on the shady side of the lake around structure in the early-evening hours. For bass, work a soft plastic bait slowly around visible structure. Around sunset, cast a small floating stick bait next to the bank. Hopefully, a few twitches is all it will take to entice a strike. As sunlight wanes, watch for the little ripples of water that indicate where bream are feeding on insects at the surface. Cast to these ripples with poppers, rubber spiders and rubber ants. The full moon is this weekend and the smoky haze that is settling across North Georgia from the west coast wildfires creates a brilliant color as the moon rises above the horizon. So, it’s a great time for some night fishing.
The summer crowds at our most popular trout fishing streams have started to dwindle down as parents and kiddos get ready for the start of school. The summer heat wave is also causing our trout stream temperatures to warm up, so our trout stocking efforts target the higher elevation mountain streams and reservoir tailwaters. Check out our weekly trout stocking report that is updated every Friday afternoon for the latest intel.
The following snippets from across North Georgia are brought to you this week courtesy of The Southern Fishing Report by Ken Sturdivant, the Cohutta Fishing Company, local fishing guides, and a few of my fishing buddies.
LAKE LANIER IS FULL AND THE MID TO UPPER LAKE AND CREEK ARMS ARE STAINED. SURFACE TEMPS ARE IN THE LOW-80S.
Jimbo Mathley reports, “The majority of our fish this week have come from 25 to 30 feet of water. We have focused mainly on points and humps with brush for the majority of our fish. The brush in 25 to 30 feet is still holding fish and there has been some decent schooling action this week as well, especially in the mornings. The Drop Shot Bite has really been improving as well, so stay on the move and remain versatile with your lure choices to see what level of the water column in which the fish are willing to feed.”
Stripers: Buck Cannon Buck Tails Guide Service reports, “Stripers fishing is good. The fish have been active from Gainesville to the dam using the seasonal methods like down line, spoons, trolling umbrella rigs and lead core. There are pockets of schools in and around the creek channels. Using your electronics to search for the schools and once you have the fish under your boat use the drumming methods to activate the bite. The herring is the live bait of choice but they won’t last long in this hot water so change often, after ten or so minutes you need to check out the bait. When you put fresh bait down is when the fish seems to be working. Lead core has been very good using 1 and 2-ounce chipmunk jigs and a variety of trailers have been working. Try a variety of colors trolling 3 mph and 250 to 300 feet behind the boat or 7 to 9 colors if you don’t have line counter reels. The fish have been in the river channel breaks or when they change direction look to the points and underwater humps. Lead core sinks around 4 feet per color so watch your electronics to avoid hanging on the trees.”
Lanier water quality: Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop posted his most recent temperature/oxygen profile data on Lake Lanier’s Fishing Forecast Map (click the most recent attachment on each temperature icon throughout the lake). This information helps resource managers gather information about suitable striper habitat during stressful summer periods and also helps anglers find the appropriate depth to fish for stripers. The vast majority of Lanier’s stripers (especially larger stripers) are more numerous on the lower end of the lake from Brown’s bridge to Buford Dam. Target main stem and major creek channels from the Flowery Branch to the dam at depths of 25’ – 40’ to target stripers feeding at the thermocline, and down to 90’ if you see stripers in the deep timber. Trolling artificial lures or downlines with live bait (blueback herring or gizzard shad for bigger fish) will work. Vertically working a big spoon can also be productive. Remember that, unless you plan to harvest your catch, minimal handling of stripers and quick releases will better ensure your catch-and-release efforts are successful.
LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL AND THE MID TO UPPER RIVER CHANNEL AND CREEK ARMS ARE STAINED. WATER TEMPS ARE IN THE LOW-80S.
Bass: Ken Sturdivant reports that “Bass fishing is fair until mid-morning. The rock ledges where the channel comes in really tight is a favorite during the summer months. These areas hold a little bit cooler water and plenty of places for bass to hide along with good amounts of oxygen. A 1/8 ounce or ¼ finesse style jig with a twin trailer or a six inch finesse worm will work. Also use a very short Carolina rig with no more than ten pound test line and a very light weight. The bigger the rock and steeper the bank, the better the fishing will be. Vertical jigging bridge pylons is another good hot weather technique to use but downsizing is the key. It is hot and the bass are going to be sluggish so fish really slowly.”
Linesides: Hartwell Striper Guide, Cefus McRae reports, “The stripers and hybrids have settled into their typical summer pattern, meaning they’ve moved to the south end of the lake and for the most part…they have gone deep. Although you might find them feeding throughout the water column during the heat of the day, the best time to catch lineside now is going to be early morning or just as the sun touches the treetops in the evening. By the way, if you choose to fish into the evening, be sure to drop a HydroGlow underwater light over the side to attract baitfish…and it won’t be long until the stripers show up. Start your search in the morning from the Seneca River Tugaloo River fork and work your way south on the river, all the way to the dam. Creek mouths and mid lake humps that rise to 25 feet, which also have a main creek arm nearby would be good places to drop a live herring on a #1 or #2 Gamakatsu octopus hook with a 3 to 4 foot fluorocarbon leader. We typically spool reels with 17 to 20 lb Stren mono and use 10 to 12 pound fluorocarbon leader. That way if a fish gets hung up in the standing timber, the leader will break below the egg sinker and the fish can swim away. Also be sure to have a MirroLure Top Dog rigged for top water just in case a school of hybrids comes up to munch on a wad of baitfish. If you want to fish mid-day, pull out your lead core rods. Run 8 colors of lead core with 30 feet of 15 pound mono as a leader. Tie on a 2 ounce WhoopAss Buck tail jig that is tipped with an expired herring, and pull the rig along the edges of the river channel and deep creek channels. If you get hung up in the trees occasionally, then you know you are fishing in the right spots. Capt. Mack’s Pro Briella rigs are also catching fish in the river channels. Be sure you have an Umbrella Retriever, because you will definitely catch a tree, and you don’t want to leave your umbrella rig to the murky depths. SideScan technology by Lowrance/Simrad is a huge help when trolling, to let you see the schools that may be just beyond your trolling spread. Make a wide turn to move laterally toward the schools and you should have rods bending in a few minutes. Set the drags on your reels a little past the point where no line leaves the reel at your trolling speed. With too much drag, you may get a bite but the speed/power of the boat pulls the hook from the fish’s mouth. And a screaming drag also sounds cool! The Power Reeling bite is starting to fire up as well. You’ll be fishing in 60 to 90 feet of water that’s close to standing timber. Again, a 2-ounce WhoopAss buck tail with a Project X Pearl Saucertail will trigger the reaction strike. Free spool the jig to the bottom and then wind up at a reasonably fast retrieve rate. The key to catching here is you need to see fish on your sonar. This is a great way to put some extra fish in the box once the trolling or live bait bite has slowed down. Stay safe on the water. Use your SiriusXM Marine weather app to keep you informed on the afternoon pop up storms so you don’t get caught in them. And be sure to stay hydrated. Tight lines, Captain Cefus McRae and Buck, The Wonder Dog”
To zoom in on the best depth of water to find stripers and hybrids, check out the most recent temperature/oxygen profile by clicking on the following link: Lake Hartwell Temperature/Oxygen Profile. Profile data are collected routinely by Fisheries Biologist George Gavrielides and Fisheries Technician Tony Anderson.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS FULL AND THE TRIBUTARIES AND UPPER LAKE ARE STAINED. WATER TEMPS ARE IN THE LOW-80S.
Bass: Ken Sturdivant reports, “Bass fishing is fair. Small keeper fish are being caught. The best bet for spots are brush piles in the 20 to 25 feet range where the thermocline now resides. The Lucky Craft CB D 20 deep diving crankbait in any shad color is working well after dark. Small jigs such as the ¼ ounce in a solid brown color and a also a ¼ ounce jig head tipped with a Yamamoto Cut tail worm in green pumpkin is working during the day. The drop shot tipped with a 3 ½ or a 4-inch Cut tail worm in a blue pearl color is also a very good choice. Sit on these deep off shore brush piles. The top water bite is very slow. Try the up lake creeks and try the river bite. Go into the backs of the river creeks and rivers and fish the creek heads that have cooler water running into the lake. Try the Flash Minnow 95 by Lucky Craft in Nishiki color on these fish in the backs of the creeks and rivers.”
Linesides: Joseph Heron of Heron Outdoor Adventures reports, “Down-lining threadfin and gizzard shad has been the most productive technique but we are also hooking a lot of good quality fish on freelines. Our biggest fish this week (a beauty at ~20lbs. caught by young Corbin) took a 3.5″ threadfin dropped at 13′ down and ran like a bandit for another 250! The early morning working of a large topwater has also been showing us some love with quality fish. Those opportunities are fewer and further between but the “swirl” is worth the time spent. With a lot of the bait holding on the upper 20 feet of water, trolling a u-rig or casting the Alabama rig/mini Mack’s across points has also begun producing. This pattern will continue to increase in effectiveness as we transition into a late summer striper pattern.
CARTERS LAKE IS FULL AND CLEAR. WATER TEMPS ARE IN THE LOW 80S.
Bass: Like many lakes, schools of spotted bass are attacking bait at the surface in the early-morning hours so this is prime time for topwater presentations. When the sun’s rays hit the water, that’s the signal to switch over to jiggling soft plastics in the brush piles, over humps and along points in 20-25ft of water.
Carters Linesides and Bass (Report courtesy of Carters Lake Guide Service) — Fishing is good! Stripers are settling into their deep water summer-time pattern. Catching stripers with herring, shad & shiners on down-lines 45-60ft over a 70-100 ft bottom. Quality spotted bass are showing up as well. Long tapering points, humps & steep rocky banks are great areas. Shaky heads, jig/craw combo will get you bit.
LAKE WEISS AT FULL POOL AND WATER TEMPERATURE IS IN THE MID 80S.
Guide Mark Collins reports, “Bass fishing is barely fair. Bass have moved off shore to the old channels and creeks bends. Small Ra L Traps in chrome black back and chrome blue backs slowly cranked will get a few bites. Also try the Bagley baby bass crank baits as well as the green trick worms and be patient. The crank Rapala DT 10 and Fat Free Shad baits are good deep runners also.
Crappie fishing is poor and a few fish are being caught on the river ledges in 14 25 feet of water bumping bottom with minnows and Jiffy Jigs on the ledges of the old Coosa River channel. Fish are being caught shooting docks with 8 feet of water or more under them with the chenille Jiffy Jig. Crappie will tend to be schooled tightly and in only one small location under the dock, pay most attention to the darkest shaded areas. Striper fishing is good and fish are being caught in the upper Chattooga River, the Cave Hole and Little Spring Creek on live shad, down-lined about 8 ft deep and free lined.”
WEST POINT IS FULL. WATER TEMP IS IN THE LOW-80S.
Bass: Ken Sturdivant reports that “Bass fishing is slow. Up lake the water is slightly stained and fish are holding in 12 to 15 feet of water. Use a Shakey head rigged with a small 3/8 ounce jig and a Bama Bug color trailer can work. Fish around deep blow downs on the main river and also target rock piles with bait suspended around them. Deep crank baits work and a Bill Norman DD 22 or the Lucky Craft D 20 crank baits are good choices. There also has been a fair morning top water bite on a Rico or Pop R but the fish have been blowing up and missing the bait. Try a stinger hook if this happen and follow up any missis with a Scrounger head and a bay pearl Fluke.”
BURTON IS AT FULL POOL AND THE WATER IS CLEAR. THE WATER TEMP IS IN THE LOW-80S
Bass: Capt. Wes Carlton reports, “The Largemouth bite has been good early-morning to mid-morning. Frogs in pockets have been working well. We have also been catching some nice bass on Sinkos working these in and around logs and rocks. The Spotted Bass bite has been good lately. We have been catching most of our fish on a 25 to 30-ft bottom. Underspins tipped with Arkansas Shiner flukes seem to be working best. We have caught some really big Spots trolling Lucky Craft Staysees 90’s. This pattern should continue for the next few weeks as we head into September.
Yellow Perch: Yellow Perch are biting and folks are catching fish up to 14-inches. My old fishing buddy, Paul Turman, taught me almost everything I know about catching yellow perch. Paul and I typically trolled for perch using a homemade version of the Lindy rig and for bait, he threaded a small piece of nightcrawler onto the hook. Paul’s “secret tip” was incorporating a chartreuse in-line spinner in front of the bait. This time of year, Paul and I would usually drag our baits near hard bottoms along the main lake channel in the mid-section of the lake in 30 to 35-feet of water. R.I.P., Paul, and thanks for the great memories.
RIVER AND TROUT REPORT
Etowah River (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): “The Etowah River is fishing well for Spotted Bass and Striper. As with anywhere you go right now, fish as early as you can or late in the evening. As soon as the sun gets over the water and the air temperature heats up, the fishing slows down. For spotted bass, bring a 9 foot, 6 or 7 weight fly rod with a matching, floating tropical or warmwater core fly line. Boogle Bugs and Gurglers are working well, but if topwater doesn’t produce for you, switch over to small 2.5-3 inch baitfish imitations like Lunch $’s, Clouser Minnows, and EP flies. For the striped bass, I typically bring a 9 weight rigged with a tropical clear tip intermediate fly line and a tapered, 20lb striper leader or I build my own leaders. I use 40lb, 30lb, and 20lb fluorocarbon to build these leaders.”
Toccoa Tailwater: Blue Ridge Dam’s generation schedule is unpredictable right now due to some turbine issues inside the dam. Fishing guide, David Testerman, says that fish are biting like crazy the last hour before daylight. Use smaller, natural patterns such as WD-40’s, Disco Midges, Zebra Midges, small soft hackle Blue Winged Olives, unweightwed hare’s ears and pheasant tails, and clear water emergers under a medium sized dry fly with enough split shot to get the flies down. 5x tippet should work well in the clear water up towards the dam, but you can probably get away with 3x and bigger streamers and nymphs in the dirtier water downstream!
Fishing Turbid Waters: (Courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters from their Angler Management blog) – This week’s rainy forecast spawned today’s UO fishing tip: use your personal turbidity meter! Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. Clarity dictates the species we aim for and the techniques we employ. While scientists use fancy meters, we can simply look down upon our natural meters: our submerged toes! How many feet of visibility do you see? Then adjust your own techniques to enhance your success. In blood-red flows, with visibility less than a foot, it’s hard for fish to see anything. Cast big, dark flies on heavy tippet into soft shallows for a small shot at river stripers and trophy stream trout. With vis at 2-3 feet, you have a great shot! Again, toss big and dark or very bright streamers for river bass and stripers. For trophy trout, try big, dark buggers and leeches, big rubberleg stonefly nymphs, or bright pink San Juan worms. This is trophy time!!!
As streams clear and vis jumps to 3-4 feet, get more subtle and use more natural flies. For example, I’d look down at my shoes after a few hours at Smithgall and see that had Dukes already cleared a bit. I’d switch my San Juan from hot pink to shell (soft) pink and restore my catch rate. As the stream cleared further, I’d change to a small leech and then small hare’s ears and pheasant tails on thinner tippet to stay in the game. So let your toes be your turbidity meters as welcome summer rains recharge area streams. Judge a fish’s ability to see its forage and use the right bugs to match the water clarity. And, if the stream has some stain to it, remember a big net and a friend with a camera!
GON-tel: Awesome Fly-Fishing!
Need a fishing license? Visit www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com to purchase a license online or to view a list of retail license vendors, or buy a license by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
(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)
The rivers are still high, but they should be fishable in a couple of weeks if we don’t get significant rains. Ponds, lakes, the Okefenokee Swamp and saltwater are your best bets this weekend.
Danny Brown and his buddy Scotty fished the lower river on Saturday for 4 hours and had a good trip flinging bruiser-colored Satilla Spins. They caught redbreasts, bluegills, and bass. I counted 25 in the photo, but they caught quite a few they threw back. The river level at the Midville gage on July 22nd was 4.4 feet and rising.
Forget it again this week. The river is too high to effectively fish. The river level on July 22nd at the Waycross gage was 11.0 feet and rising (80 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 12.6 feet and falling.
Tyler Finch had a great weekend of flinging white gold Satilla Spins with cricket trailers. He and a friend caught 150 panfish (mostly bluegills) and a flathead catfish between the rain showers over the weekend. The river level at the Clyo gage on July 22nd was 7.5 feet and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The Shady Bream Tournament trail held their last points tournament of the year on Saturday. For that tournament, bait was allowed – not just artificial lures. When the smoke cleared, Dale and Emma won with 7.90 pounds (10 fish limit), while Quentin and Will took second with 7.30 pounds. Josh and Kenny rounded out the top 3 with 7.26 pounds. Dale and Emma took the top points honors for the year and won the coveted custom Shady Bream Tournament Champion cups and a pair of Omega reels donated by Callie-Kays. The trail’s last Friday evening tournament (artificials only) will be held this coming Friday evening (7/23). Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information. The river level at the MacClenny gage on July 22nd was 9.9 feet and falling.
Davis Summerlin fished a public pond on Saturday and had a fun hook-setting day. He and friends caught 32 bass up to 2 pounds, and then a monster 10.42-pounder. Most of their fish were caught with small crawfish and Trick Worms around the grass. The big fish ate a creature bait. Chad Lee fished a pond on Wednesday morning before work and landed a 6 1/2-pound bass. He fooled it with a junbug Ol’ Monster Worm.
Blake Edwards and a friend fished the east side of the swamp on Saturday morning for a few hours and had a blast catching a dozen bowfin and pickerel by flinging Dura-Spins. He caught his first warmouth – a 10-incher that inhaled a white-white bladed Dura-Spin. Their best colors were white-white blade and crawfish-brass blade. They caught pickerel up to 18 inches and bowfin up to 4 pounds. Mike Chance made the trip down from Burke County to fish the swamp, and he fished with a friend on the east side. In just a couple hours, the pair caught 9 bowfin (up to 3 pounds) and jackfish (up to 20 inches). Crawfish was their best color. The water was high, and the catch was about half of normal for this time of year, but they had a blast. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.0 feet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The growing tides muddied the water some, but folks still caught fish. An angler walking the grass flats Wednesday fooled a tailing redfish with a fly. An angler fishing a Brunswick area dock Thursday during his lunch break caught a couple sheepshead while dabbling fiddler crabs on a Sheepshead Slayer jighead. Capt. Greg Hildreth said that he caught a bunch of trout this week. There weren’t many keepers, but his charters had lots of action. The tarpon fishing ware really good early in the week, but it dropped off later in the week. I heard of one good flounder report from Ossabaw Sound. An angler caught a dozen flounder all on artificial lures, and he missed a couple of other bites. This is the time of year I’ve done well at the St. Marys Jetties for flounder, but I haven’t been or heard from anyone who has gone lately. 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 Emilia Omerberg, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Worms and crickets continue to bring in the bream on Blackshear. Plenty of anglers have had lots of success in the early mornings and evenings bring in a full cooler for dinner. The mayfly hatch also opens some artificial options that can be fine to try.
Blackshear Catfish are good this time of year, the standard smelly baits will get you bites. Hot dogs, chicken liver and stink baits are all good options.
Bass and crappie are a hard sell this time of year. Try using top lures and hollow belly frogs near aquatic vegetation and you just might find a lone fish or two. You can also try in 10-15 feet of water, slowly working suspending jerkbaits and weightless flukes might get you a bite if you are lucky.
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Lots of rain continues to keep surface temperatures down despite the rising temperatures. Bass are sluggish and continue to be hard to find as they move out to deeper water this time of year.
When targeting bream, you cant go wrong with crickets and worms. Focus near the edges of the lily pads and other aquatic vegetation near shore. Crappie can still be caught if you focus on standing or fallen timer that creates good structure on the water. Try 10-15 feet of depth and a minnow tipped 1/8 oz jighead and you should have some luck
The Flint River is still blown out due the heavy rain we have been getting in southwest Georgia. However, some of the smaller tributaries present some good fishing options. One angler caught this shoal bass in a Flint tributary using a white crappie jig with a spinner.
The Chattahoochee River is way up and moving swiftly. Look for areas of deep slow-moving water to target those catfish. A weighted line to get you near or on the bottom is the way to go. A wide range of bait will work on those flathead and channel cats, but fishing will be difficult because of the conditions. Please be safe out there and wear a life jacket when out on the river.