The scenario…you only have 1 day to enjoy a fishing trip. Where do you go? How about to one of the 11 available Georgia Public Fishing Areas? PFAs make a great place for both new and experienced anglers and even though fishing is the main attraction for most visitors, they also offer other family-friendly activities such as hiking, bird watching, picnicking and camping.
Waters on PFAs vary from lakes several hundred acres in size to ponds less than one acre with some designated as kids-only fishing ponds. Anglers can fish from a boat, along the shoreline, or from a pier at most locations. Many PFAs have picnic tables, nature and wildlife observation trails, fish cleaning stations, archery ranges and restroom facilities. There are camping opportunities on some PFAs (from primitive camping to RV) for those wishing to stay overnight on the area. All PFAs are open seven days a week, and with the exception of Rocky Mountain PFA, also allow night fishing year-round. Find a PFA (or other nearby fishing holes) by using our interactive map.
NEWS TO KNOW
- Trout Stream Stocking – Why? Do you know why Georgia Wildlife Resources Division stocks trout streams? Click HERE for an answer. Then click HERE for more on trout fishing, including a weekly stocking report.
- With a Side of Hushpuppies Please: Catfishing makes for a great fishing trip, and make an extra fun time if it involves a fish fry.
This week we have reports from Southeast, North and Southwest Georgia. Always be prepared for a quick fishing trip and Go Fish Georgia!
(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 southeast Georgia rivers are still at less than ideal levels, but the Altamaha system is falling out and should be fishable before long. Saltwater and ponds will be your best bets again this week.
ALTAMAHA AND OCMULGEE RIVERS
The Altamaha is still full-bank, but the tributaries are falling out. I didn’t get any reports this week, but I’m sure the bass and panfish can be caught on the Ocmulgee system. On the Altamaha, I would not spend much time in the main river, but you should be able to catch fish at the mouths of oxbows and even up in the oxbows by fishing cover. The river level on August 12th at the Abbeville gage on the Ocmulgee was 3.5 feet and falling. The Doctortown gage on the Altamaha was 8.5 feet and falling.
Tyler Finch has been catching a bunch of catfish with the river higher than ideal for panfish. Most of his catch has come on cut bait and catalpa worms fished on limb lines. His biggest this week was a 30-pounder. The river level at the Clyo gage on August 12th was 7.8 feet and rising.
Davis Summerlin has been fishing local ponds and staying with the bass. On July 30th he caught a double-digit bass that inhaled a topwater (it was his 30th bass over 10 pounds). This last week, the cooler temps and rains have allowed to fish to move shallower, and he has been catching some nice bass in as shallow as 2 to 3 feet deep. He’s been fishing heavy cover by flipping and punching black/blue plastic craws. On really calm days, he’s been able to catch them on black/blue stick worms. Davis’ largest bass this week was 8 pounds, and he had several in the 6-pound range. Chad Lee has been fishing frequent short trips to ponds this week. Wednesday morning he caught a pair of 2-pound bass on Ol’ Monster worms. Saturday evening he fooled 8 bass in an Alma area lake while throwing a black Sprinkler Frog (a hollow-bodied frog with a paddle tail). His biggest that evening was 4 pounds.
SALTWATER (GEORGIA COAST)
Capt. Greg Hildreth has been putting his clients on lots of great eating whiting lately. His most recent trip produced 60 whiting in a 3-hour trip. He has been seeing a few tarpon, but it’s not wide open right now. Ed Zmarzly and Justin Bythwood fished the St. Marys Jetties on Sunday and worked for their fish. They pitched Jetty Jigs and plastics to land, tag, and release 3 bull redfish up to almost 3 feet. They had several other species mixed in, but the most notable was a nurse shark a few feet long that thought their Sea Shad looked tasty. My wife, Teresa, fished out of Crooked River with me after church on Sunday. We caught about 30 fish of 11 different species (our target was mangrove snapper) on shrimp and mudminnows. We brought home a dozen (black drum, mangrove snapper, and even a gafftop sailcat) for a fresh fish meal. Almost all of our fish ate a half shrimp fished on a Redfish Wrecker Jighead, but two of the largest snappers (12 inches each) ate a live mudminnow fished under a float. All we did was pinch the shrimp in half (leaving one segment of tail attached to the head half) and thread it on the jighead. We pitched it toward shells or current breaks and set the hook frequently. Our best bite was the first hour of incoming tide. 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.
Very few folks fished this week with the high water, and I did not receive any reports. Sightseeing is the activity of choice right now in the swamp. Catfishing on the west side or catching bowfin in the canal on the Folkston side are your best options, but it probably won’t be very good fishing. The fish spread out into the prairies when the water is high, and it is hard to find a concentration of them. The water came up another almost half-foot this week. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.80 feet.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, Fisheries Biologist and Region Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Nottely Mixed Bag (Reports courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop and Fisheries Technician Will Sims) — The latest water quality profiles for Nottely are now available on WRD’s Lake Nottely Fishing Forecast. The oxygen diffusors are running and fish can be found actively feeding below the thermocline, which is currently setting up around the 23’ mark. While on the water collecting these data, we ran into an angler who reported catching a 15 lb striped bass, as well as several good channel catfish, and several spotted bass. He said all his fish were caught on herring. He also indicated he was catching a lot of smaller striped bass within the 12 in range, which could mean good things to come for Nottely’s Striped Bass population.
Lanier Bass (Report courtesy of guide Phil Johnson) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. Oh where, oh where have all the big fish gone. The bite on the lake is still good for numbers but the size has gone down on the fish. This is typical of this time of year when the water temperature gets in the high eighties. We have caught a lot of fish this week but the average size is in the two and a half pound range. Still a lot of fun but I miss those days of a bunch of three pounds. Come on fall. With some wind there is still a decent top water bite on a small Chug Bug or a Gunfish. On sunny days the chrome ones are working better and on the cloudy days white ones. The fluke bite is still good with a fast retrieve one day and a slower retrieve the next. Just test the retrieve to see what mood they are in for the day. The Spybait has also been producing a lot of fish over and around the brush, Long cast are a must and counting it down to ten before you retrieve seems to be working well. Be sure to use either six or eight pound fluorocarbon with the Spybait or else you will kill the action. This is a very subtle bait with small hooks so enjoy the fight and don’t over fight the fish. Drag is your friend. For the fish in the brush and drops the drop shot has been a steady producer. Fruity worms in Blue Lily and Morning Dawn have been the colors of choice for the week. Beginning to catch a few fish on The Spot Choker underspin with a small fluke on it. Work these with the rest of the above baits over brush, humps and long points. The magic depth for the week was in the twenty five to thirty five foot range. Fishing is still fun and they are biting so Go Catch ‘Em.
GON-bass-tel from Lanier Jim: Click HERE.
Lanier Crappie (Report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton) It’s the dog days of summer and the fishing is feast or famine. The water temperature is 84+ on the surface. We have been catching fish in shallow water and we have got them in deep water. I have found crappie on docks, blow downs and brush this week. This week’s catch was 99% minnows. 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 jig color combination this week was atx monkey milk or the atx blue grass. 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 companies 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.
Lanier Stripers (Report courtesy of Buck Cannon Bucktails guide Service) Lanier Stripers are still moving in their summer pattern, using your electronics locate the River channel or anywhere they intersect with a creek. The down lines with blue backs fishing 30 to 40 fet deep over 60 to 130 foot bottom. You won’t mark a lot of fish or schooling fish but slow trolling .05 mph will test your patients but hang in there and Mr. Stripers will make you happy.
Lanier Lake Level: Track Lanier Lake Level at Buford Dam HERE
Allatoona Crappie (Report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright) — As for the crappie, the deep water brush pile bite is about to be on fire using minnows or trolling over the top using red rooster jigs tipped with a minnow. Jigs in blue and orange or purple and chartreuse are good bets.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) Bass fishing has slowed a bit this week. Slowed with techniques moving to a drop shot and a small swim baits targeting suspended fish off long points. Use small heads to “match the hatch”. Baits like the tiny fluke and big bite 3.75 jerk minnow fished on 5lb Sunline fluorocarbon with a Gamakatsu drop shot hook. Nose the boat into the breeze and searching with sonar for fish. Sometimes there may be only one a spot. Try vertically jigging the bait just over the fish. Use the small Keitech swim bait on a Picasso round ball swimbait head and make long casts, counting it down to the depth the fish are ranging in. Sometimes the fish will hit the bait several times before getting it. Be patient. Mid lake and south is best for me right now.
Bonus Bass GON-tel: Click HERE
Allatoona Linesides (Report courtesy of Joseph Martinelli of Heron Outdoor Adventures) — Lake Allatoona is currently .6′ below full pool of 840′, and it is nice to have water deep into the creek backs and coves. Current water temperatures are between 84° – 86° lake-wide, as we are starting to see a subtle cooling-off of surface temperatures this past week. The fishing has been pretty great overall, and while there will be ups and downs on any given day, it is noted that we are enjoying good fishing throughout the day as the fish tend to feed a little more frequently during daylight hours throughout the new moon phase. Striped Bass, Hybrids and White Bass have still been quite cooperative, and it is noted over the past week that it’s not just that early morning bite that has proven fruitful. We’ve had some good fishing in the heat of the afternoon, as well as into the evening hours. While there has been a little bit of top-water action, most of these fish are still feeding under the surface and casting spoons, Mini-Macks, bucktails and select jerkbaits have been producing some fish. There is a lot of bait lake-wide, and heavy concentrations can be around the mouth of most major creeks, and all through the channel during the day.
For the Linesides specifically, it is hard to top a live bait fish presentation. We are currently targeting these fish from 12 to 20 feet down with threadfin and gizzard shad and even shiners at slow speeds of .3-.5 mph. While a threadfin shad may only last five minutes tops on a hook, it behooves you to have more live bait than you think you might need as you will be changing baits frequently if you wish to present a frisky threadfin at all times. The gizzard shad and shiners are considerably hardier, and are also quite tolerable of being set down below that 15 foot mark and for an extended period. Similar baits presented on a free-line and with even a small sz. 3/0 or 7 split shot and a #1-2 octopus hook have also been producing well on any given day, so keeping one or two in your presentation is a definite advantage.
On a recent adventure this week, we found a large concentration of young of the year bait swarming into the mouth of a little cove south of Bethany Bridge. Though we did not initially mark any fish or see any visible feeding activity, we thought to simply stay put and see what would happen. Luckily for us the game fish were not far behind and within 10 minutes they came in and started crashing through the bait balls, granting us an excellent top water and sub-surface bite for a solid half hour. While it was the spotted Bass crashing bait closer to shore, the middle of our little inlet produced some nice white bass and a couple of hybrids. Find the bait, and you will often find the fish, whether they are feeding or not. Their primary job is to keep custody of the bait. Sometimes you may find yourselves in a spot where it is loaded with bait and you may even see some fish on the graph, however they are not feeding at that time. This is an excellent opportunity to work a large flutter spoon (6-8″) or even a crankbait through those bait balls to elicit a reaction strike. He or she who takes the time to do this often boats a few more fish than others that may give up and continue to search for “feeding” fish. This does take a little extra effort but the rewards can be bountiful. Tight lines, friends!
Allatoona Lake Level: Track Allatoona Lake level HERE.
Hartwell Bass: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. The heat and humidity came back in full force this past week. South Carolina got hit hard in places, so expect to see some stained water up in the creeks and rivers here. The key to catching the bigger bass will be to find the schools of suspended fish and use your big bass lures to go down and catch them. A T1 one ounce spinner bait by Terminator in the skeeter color and a 7/8 ounce Clackin’ Rap in either the Silver or Purple Gold color can be fished in deep water with great success. Rapala DT10 and DT14 are great too, when fished on ten pound test Sufix Pro Mix line. Carolina Rigs along with jigs are still catching the majority of the bass. Find the best current and/or submerged structure and mark the suspended bass with the buoy markers and take the time to catch the bigger bass. Ledges under or near the bridges are still producing some quality bass and these areas will get better as the boat traffic eases up.
Hartwell Striped Bass (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist George Gavrielides) — Good results are coming from WRD’s striped bass tracking project on Lake Hartwell. The availability of coolwater habitat this summer has been more typical for Lake Hartwell and more tagged fish are migrating toward the lower end of the lake where the best summer habitat occurs. Currently, striped bass are below the river forks at depths ranging from 40 to 60-feet deep. Catch and release mortality of striped bass has also been relatively low for this time of year.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) —
- Bass: Bass fishing is good. Our bass are on a summer pattern on main lake points, road beds and the creek and river channels. Shad patterned crank baits and Carolina rigs are working well. Slow rolling spinner baits is also working. Flipping docks with jigs is also catching fish.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. They are on the deeper brush and the creek channel ledges, 12 to 20 feet deep. Spider rigging with live minnows and jigs over brush and stumps is the way to catch summer time crappie. Some crappie are still being caught shooting docks with jigs.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good. They are in the lower Chattooga River, Little Spring creek and the Cave Hole. Use live shad down-lined or free lined to catch fish.
Trout and more (Report Courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) – 8/12/21 report – For this week, think “storms.” Recent pop-up thunderstorms have been localized, abundant, and intense. One watershed might be blown out for a day, while a nearby stream on the other side of the ridge might remain low and clear. It all depends on where these storms track.
We also have a storm brewing in the Gulf and possibly headed our way. That radar track is worth watching for stream conditions early next week.
Muddy storm surges are bad for dry fly action, good for stockers, bad for river bassing, and good for striper hunting. Pack a raincoat and have a plan of whether you will head toward or away from the storm surges.
Regardless, we’re thankful for the north GA storms as they recharge our rainforest, reduce forest fire danger, briefly boost streamflows, and drop air and water temps. Now on to the full report, which covers headwaters to lakes!
Blue Lining (Courtesy of Trout Biologist Sarah Baker): What is it? Click HERE to find out! Then click HERE to check out Georgia’s Interactive Map and help you explore new water. The narrow trickles of streams hidden in rhododendrons are the perfect place to escape to 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.
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 Emilia Omerberg, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
All female trophy bass Panic Pond is closed until the start of September. However, you can still get a bite in Cutoff Pond using light colored crankbait and rubber worms. Cutoff Pond is also hosting several bluegill beds! Get some action with crickets, worms, and split tail grub jigs. Beetle spinners are also showing some success. Over on Frog Pond the Channel cats are hitting hard! Come early in the morning before 8am with some nightcrawlers, chicken livers, and stink bait to land a monster.
Water levels are finally down on the Flint River and temperatures are rising. This is a good time of year to fish for catfish. Flathead and Channel cats are abundant in the Flint drainage and can be caught with a wide variety of baits. Chicken liver, stink bait, and hot dogs are just some suggestions, but your imagination is truly the limit when it comes to bait for catfish. Be safe out on the river by remembering to wear your life jacket and to bring along plenty of water to drink on those hot days!
LAKE WALTER G. GEORGE
Lake George is full right now and water temperatures are in the mid 80’s. The bass fishing is decent. For success with shallow water bass fishing, try using popping frogs in the outback color or a prime rib colored fighting frogs. There has also been a good amount of success using Buddha Baits in-Seine swim jigs. Try dragging these baits through the grass or lily pads to mimic natural prey for bass. This trick is most effective in the early mornings or evenings and if your boat is set up properly this can be very effective at night. When fishing deeper water off ledges use a crankbait and a ½ ounce swim jig threaded with a 5-inch blue flash Big Bite Bait fighting frog. Carolina rigs are often successful as well.
The water temperature in Lake Seminole is creeping up. It has been about 85 degrees but warming to around 87 later in the day. Bass fishing continues to be good at Lake Seminole. According to Captain Paul Tyre of Lake Seminole Fishing Adventures the early mornings and late evenings are the best time to try your hand at bass fishing. Top water lures such as buzz baits or any walking baits are a good bet especially if worked through the vegetation on the edges. There are still reports of bream on the bed and crickets and worms are your best bet for catching a mess for dinner.