Did you notice the coolness in the air this morning? It was there, I felt it – fall is a’coming. That means I might need to pack some extra layers and maybe another thermos of coffee before heading to the water.
NEWS TO KNOW
- Spam Alert: Don’t fall for spammers. Companies that claim to be partners with Georgia DNR sometimes are not. Read more HERE.
- Bass Fishing Tips From an Expert: Go Fish Education Center Hosts Pro Angler Clayton Batts for Bass Workshop. More Info HERE.
This week, we have reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Now, throw on a light jacket and let’s Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, Region supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. When the water is moving, set up on main lake structure and wear the spots out by cranking down with a deep diving crank bait, dragging a Carolina rig or vertical jigging with a shaky head or drop shot. The Alabama rig is still working, and small baits are the best way to match the hatch. Rocky points with brush piles, the reef markers around the dam or vertical structure like bridge pilings can all be good. Try picking off a few fish with the crank bait. Then slow down and pick apart the structure with the finesse worm rigs once you locate some fish. Watermelon is always a good color, and redbug will also produce. Finding structure on the ledges near deep water will be best. Use the Lowrance down Scan technology to find more fish spread out across the bottom. An occasional top water bite is not out of the question even with the warm water. Fish the east bank side of the rivers first. As the sun comes up, this will be in the shade longer and hold more bass.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 80S
Bass fishing is fair. The fish will start to school and chase the bait fish to the surface more and more all over the lake. Active fish can be found from Church Cove on the south end to Cherokee Creek on the upper end. The mouths of the major creeks are showing top water activity during the peak feeding periods. After the top water bite leaves go to a jig and Carolina rig on the main lake points. Greens and browns will be the best colors. Medium diving crank baits continue to improve, so always keep one ready. The new Rapala DT8 in baby bass and shad will work. Use the Pop R’s, Fat Free Shad crank baits and Super Flukes.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80S
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. At first light fish a buzz bait on sea walls and rip rap from the middle of the coves and creeks out to the main lake. White or white/chartreuse have been the best color. Find some fish up the rivers on wood structure on the deeper banks. Use a dark color jig around and in blow downs. This area is also a good place to work the buzz bait at first light. As always during the summer fish the rip rap around the bridges when Georgia Power is pulling water in the afternoons. A rattle trap, spinner bait, or a small crank bait will all produce a strike. Deep diving crank baits off the south end humps will also pick up as we move into summer.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is fair. There are some small fish feeding at the dam first thing in the morning. Live bait and spoons will catch these small fish. The next option is umbrella rigs on humps on the south end, but this is not very predictable. Also, they are catching a few up Richland Creek on live shad.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The fish have moved into their summer locations. Look on the creek ledges as well as in the deeper timber. Use the Lowrance structure scan to locate the timber with the crappie in it. Once the fish show up use a jig or drop a live bait into the school.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, 80S
Bass fishing is fair. When the cool down starts the quality fish can be caught on a Bass Hound Crankbaits’ Main Event prop bait in a bream color fished aggressively around the grass and old bream beds. A square bill crank bait and a Buckeye Mop Jig will also catch some quality fish in these same areas. An early fall pattern is starting to show up as the shad have started moving back in the creeks. Use the Lowrance electronics to find these concentrations of shad. Numbers of fish can be found following the shad around the points and flats at the mouths of the creeks. A small Lucky Craft Sammy and a Zoom Super Fluke in shad patterns will catch these fish that are following the shad. Small shad colored crank baits and small Alabama rigs thrown across these main creek points will also produce a good many bites. The clearer water down lake seems to be best for numbers of fish and fishing that early fall pattern. The stained water from mid lake up both rivers has been best for quality bites.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, CLEAR 80S
Bass fishing is slow. Fish are deep on points and humps and they can be caught on Carolina rigs and Net Boy Baits Screwball jig heads with a Big Bite Baits Squirrel Tail Worm or Kriet Kreature. Stay with greens and browns in clear water or June bug or black in stained water. Look for the cooler nights to bring some fish up shallow especially at daylight. They can be caught on top water baits on deeper main lake seawalls. Try a Sammy or Zara Spook. Bait will begin to move toward the creeks at the very end of the month. When the top water bite is on have a weightless Zoom Super Fluke, a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 and a Lucky Craft 125. It will be hard to beat a 1/4-ounce Ol Nelle all white spinnerbait when that move begins.
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 87 F
- Water Visibility: 22-48+ in
Bass: Bass are biting well in both shallow waters and in deeper waters near structures across the PFA. Fishing late in the afternoon in the shallows of Willow Lake, while for Bridge lake casting near the pumphouse and peninsulas on Bridge consistently yield good bites. Black worms and shad look-alike lures can produce.
Bream: Bream bite has been slow, but nice sandwich-sized bream are being caught around the area. Fallen trees and docks on Clubhouse and Bream Buster are doing well, while working the dams on Bridge Lake has landed some nice bream. Pink and red worms are having the most success for bait.Recent bream caught with a red wiggler
Channel Catfish: Catfish bite has been slow but steady. Best bets are chicken liver and the usual stink baits in the deeper waters. Catfish are stocked across the area.
Striped Bass: Striped bass bites have been slower. No recent reports of striped bass being caught in either Bridge or Clubhouse Lakes.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Region supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
As I write this our blackwater rivers are headed back up from mid-week rains, but I don’t think they will go very high before starting to fall out again. They almost got fishable…. Pond and saltwater fishing will be your best bets for this weekend.
ALTAMAHA AND OCMULGEE RIVERS
The Altamaha and its tributaries were dropping out well, and I don’t think the rains from Topical Storm Mindy will make the big river system jump much. An angler fishing the Baxley area on Sunday had a good catch of bass. He fooled about a dozen fish with plastics and crankbaits. The river level on September 9th at the Abbeville gage on the Ocmulgee was 3.0 feet and falling. The Doctortown gage on the Altamaha was 6.9 feet and falling.
Mary Mead came down this weekend to sight-see and fish on the East side with friends. The sight-seeing was great, but the fishing was slow. She caught a 5-pound bowfin, and the group caught 3 other bowfin on Dura-spin inline spinners. All of them ate the jackfish color (red/white/yellow). They tried for fliers, but could not find any with the high water. Until the water drops out some, the fish will be scattered over the prairies. It should be awesome fishing when it pulls out into the canals, though. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.42 feet.
Chad Lee caught 10 bass in the 2-pound range this week from Alma area ponds. The most interesting catch was the double hook-up he had on a plug. He landed two bass on the same cast. He caught almost all his fish on crankbaits and plastic stickbaits. Tim, Kim, and Lily of Blackshear fished a Blackshear area pond on Monday and caught a bunch of crappie. They pulled minnows around the pond to fool 15 crappie up to 1 3/4 pounds. The fish were on mid-depth brush piles in about 4 feet of water, shallower than they expected to catch them. Lily even caught one big enough to earn a youth angler award from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Don Harrison and a couple of friends fished out of Crooked River over the weekend and caught fish. On Friday they had about a dozen mangrove snapper, 2 flounder, and 15 undersized trout. They pitched shrimp on a Catfish Catcher Jighead on the bottom and on jigheads suspended under Equalizer and Cajun Thunder Floats. On Saturday they caught some larger trout, fooling 14 (4 keepers) first thing in the morning on the live shrimp under Equalizer Floats. They also had a short redfish. Later in the afternoon they added another half-dozen trout (6 keepers total), some mangrove snappers, and several other species. Jim Page of Blackshear and his family fished a Brunswick area pier over the holiday weekend and caught a handful of sheepshead, a couple of black drum, and some spot and croaker. They had enough for a good meal. I fished Crooked River on Tuesday for a few hours and caught 12 trout (2 keepers), an undersized redfish, and a couple other species. My fish ate figichix, rootbeer, and new penny Keitech 4-inch Swing Impact Swimbaits under Equalizer Floats. I missed as many trout as I caught. Mike, Sue Ellen, and Kaylan Collins and Dillon Metz fished the Brunswick area over the weekend and caught trout and reds. They fished finger mullet under slip floats to land 4 keeper trout and a couple of keeper redfish. They released the redfish. Capt. Greg Hildreth said that he got on some good tarpon this week on both DOA Bait Busters and live bait before the winds moved in with the storm. He only made one trout trip this week, but it was a good one. They caught lots of trout, but only a few keepers. Early indications are that it’s going to be a good fall for trout fishing! 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 George Gavrielides, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
With no rain and cooler temperatures in this weekend’s weather forecast, the timing is perfect for outdoor activities. Fish are also sensing the change in weather conditions and adjusting their daily routine accordingly. Our folks are hearing reports from reservoir anglers that more fish are feeding on the surface in the early mornings, and the late-afternoon bite over humps and points is picking up. Fishing for river bass has also been explosive lately. For those who like to sit or wade streamside, this weekend will be a perfect time to fish for wild trout. Whatever you are itching to fish for, North Georgia has a variety of fishing opportunities that will scratch that itch. Check out the information below on current fishing conditions as reported by our friends, colleagues, and local fishing guides.
Labor Day is the official end of our weekly trout stocking season. For those who enjoy catching stockers, your best bets will be chasing the leftovers from weeks past, especially in remote stream reaches where some fish might have washed downstream after our recent heavy rains. Good areas to target include the boulder fields in the Tallulah River, Cooper Creek Scenic Area, West Fork Chattooga (away from the road), and many of the small streams on our master list that are stocked lightly and fished even lighter.
The transition from summer to fall coupled with the end of the weekly trout stocking season is a great time to try your luck fishing for wild trout. Click on the link to our interactive trout stream map to find a trout stream near you. If you need a little motivation, check out this wild brown trout report that was posted this week.
Now that surface temperatures have dropped a couple of degrees, fishing guides are beginning to see higher catches of bass and linesides on our North Georgia reservoirs. Check out this great report from Extreme Stripers Guide Service on Lake Allatoona, “The top water action was insane this morning! The key is trying to find what they will eat. They’re keying in on very small baitfish right now. If you’re using artificials, find the smallest thing you can throw!”
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Top water in the morning is doing well in the mid-section of the lake. There are schooling fish to be caught. They seem to be heading south of Victoria and Kellogg. Both the schooling fish and top water fish can be caught on top water baits such as Bonnie 95’s or Rebel Pop R’s in shad colors. As the day progresses, fish the main lake points and steep rock banks with crankbaits. Cast a Bandit 300 in sage ghost or a Norman DLN in lavender shad. The Shaky Head bite and jig bite are doing well. Use a Zorro Bait Co. Flipping Jig with 3 inch Zoom Big Salty Chunk trailer, Flippin Blue. A white and chartreuse 3/16-ounce Zorro Wesley Strider Bingo Blade Spinnerbait also produced strikes. Fish any cover or points with a 1/8-ounce Shaky Head tipped with a Green Weenie Robo Worm or a Root beer or Brown Crawfish colored jig. There are also some fish on the flats and the lipless crank bait bite has started. Cast any small ¼-ounce lipless crank bait on flats where shad are abundant. Use a Stop ‘N Go retrieve to attract bites.
Lake Allatoona Lineside Report: (This report courtesy of Robert Eidson, First Bite Guide Service ) — The fish are on the move and aren’t staying in one location for very long. Down lining shad is still working, but shad are dying very quickly on a hook. Be sure to take plenty of bait with you. Down lines fished at 14 to 21 feet deep is working best right now. The dissolved oxygen level is so low below 21 feet bait is dying in less than five minutes on a hook. Trolling is good and has been our better bite the last few weeks, and this will probably hold true into the middle of September.
Lake Lanier Bass Report:
Similar patterns are also working well on Lake Lanier — Check out the this GON post on how anglers are catching good numbers of bass on drop shots and jerk baits.
Captain Phil Johnson (Pjohnson15@hotmail.com (770) 366 8845) provides the following bass fishing report: Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good to very good. The activity is much more like late-fall than early September. The cooler weather along with the recent rains have the bass up and active throughout the day. The creeks are becoming more active than the main lake but the humps and long points on the main lake are still holding fish. On days with wind the top water baits are the first choice. The Spook, Gunfish, Jerkshad and Chug Bug are all good producers. Work these baits over structure in twenty to thirty feet of water around windblown points or humps. On cloudy days I have been using the darker colors and on clear days either white or chrome baits. With the Jerkshad, be sure to try different retrieves to see what they want for the day. You need to keep what I call a reach bait on your deck as the fish are subject to school at anytime and anyplace. You need a bait that you can throw for distance to reach this fish that always seem to be a half cast too far away. Currently I am keeping a three eights Spot Choker underspin with a pearl fluke on it to be able to quickly reach schooling fish. Another good choice is a Green Georgia Blade five-inch flutter spoon. With both these baits I make long cast to the schooling fish and either just reel the bait or pump it. I’ve also been working these to bait with a pumping action over humps and on the end of long points to catch fish. When the lake is calm, I am going to the drop shot around brush in the twenty five to thirty five foot range and on ledges in the same depth range. I’m primarily using Lanier Baits Blue Lily and Morning dawn with a two-foot leader between the weight and the bait. By utilizing your electronics, especially Live Scope you can determine where on the structure you need to be working the bait. On brighter days the fish tend to bury deeper in the structure and on cloudy days they scatter around it. The fish are active most days right now, but you will need to be flexible with the baits you choose. They’re biting so Go Catch ‘Em!
Stripers and crappie fishing is also good on Lanier. Check out Ken Sturdivant’s report at www.southernfishing.com.
Time for Turnover? Not yet!: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — As we approach the end of the summer, we routinely start to receive reports of brownish-colored water with a rotten egg smell on the tailwaters below big dams, especially the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. Many anglers refer to this phenomenon as lake “turnover,” but as our retired colleague Bill Couch describes in this post on NGTO, turnover won’t happen until around Christmas.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: The topwater bite is working well for the first couple of hours in the morning. Once the sun gets up, work a shaky head or drop shot in brush, humps, and points in the 25 to 35 foot range. Stay patient and keep moving. When all else fails get out a spinning reel with 8-pound Suffix Siege clear line and carry several colors of #5 and #7 Shad raps and change colors every 20 minutes.
Lake Hartwell Lineside Report: (This report Courtesy of Captain Cefus McRae, email@example.com ) — We’re on the tail end of summer right now, although the outside temperatures are still warm, Lake Hartwell is beginning to cool a bit. The rains of late August have kept the lake full and have also kept the surface water temperatures in the mid 80’s down from the high 80’s we saw in early August. The rain also adds oxygen to the upper water column and that allows both the baitfish and the stripers to move up from the deeper holes where they have been hanging out. This can result in a ‘over before you know it’ top water bite. And it can happen near the bank, at the back of a cove, or in open water. So be sure to have a Mirror Lure Top Dog rigged on a spinning reel, just in case. My go to colors are the blue/silver and black/silver. Cast just beyond the surfacing school and walk the bait into the commotion. Sometimes the bigger fish will be just on the edge of all the action. The key to catching this time of year is going early or starting late. Be on the water before the sun comes up. Once the sun gets higher than the treetops, these fish will move deeper. That doesn’t mean you can’t catch them, but if they get comfortable in the treetops, it can be hard to see them on the sonar, and it can be even harder to bring them to the boat once they are hooked. We always use leader material that is lighter than the main line so if we have to break a tangled fish off, it is only dragging a little bit of leader line around until the hook rusts out. We are finding most of the action on the south end of the lake and it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s the Georgia side or the SC side, there’s plenty of fish around. After the sun hits the treetops, move out to deeper water at 60 to 100 feet. Look for distinctive underwater features that provide either bait or ‘highways’ for fish to move. Humps that rise from 100 feet to 60 feet in a short distance are good spots, as are major creek mouths. Put live blueback herring on a #1 or #2 Gamakatsu octopus hook with about 3 feet of fluorocarbon 10# test leader. Use a 1½ ounce egg sinker above your swivel and drop your baits down to the strike zone. Trolling lead core line 7 to 8 colors behind the boat is also effective. A 1- or 2-ounce WhoopAss Buck tail jig tipped with a dead herring or a Project-X 5” pearl saucertail will catch fish in the river channel and in the deeper creeks. Use about 30 feet of 17# test fluorocarbon leader ahead of the buck tail. And of course, you definitely should have some umbrella Rigs on board. A 4-arm fully rigged rigs trolled 75 to 100 feet behind the boat will put both hybrids and stripers in the cooler. Troll these in the same places you’d pull lead core. If you don’t occasionally hang up in the standing timber, you’re either trolling too fast or you have too much line out. Be sure to have an umbrella rig retriever with you. You need to have your rig running just above the underwater timber, so count on getting hung up every now and then. You may look a jig or a leader, but the retriever will save your rig. If you want to fish late…that’s a great option. Anchor over a hump that goes from 80 feet up to about 35 feet. Put out your HydroGlow underwater light and settle in. It will take 30 minutes to an hour for the bait to start showing up, and the stripers will soon follow. Then it’s a matter of dropping smaller buck tails, swimbaits, or live bait and you can really load the boat.
Lake Weiss Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service ) — Bass fishing is fair and some fish have moved shallower a lot of bass are still on deeper cover under deeper docks and on the creek and river channel ledges humps and submerged road beds. These fish are being caught on medium to deep running crank baits 1/2-ounce spinner baits Carolina rigged plastics and jigs. Striper fishing is fair. Fish the lower Chattooga River at the Cave Hole in Little River and Little Spring Creek. Down lining and flat lining live shad 8 to 10 feet deep in the river channel. Crappie fishing is good and most fish are on the main Coosa river channel ledges and Little River in 12 16 feet of water on cover and they can be caught spider rigging with live minnows fished 2 4 feet above the bottom. Some fish are being caught under docks in the main lake shooting jigs a 1/24-ounce Jiffy Jig in colors JJ13 and JJ17 is working.
River Reports Courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company.
Etowah River: We’re at the tail end of striper season, but spotted bass fishing is only going to get better from now till October! If you do plan on striper fishing, the first and last two or three hours of the day are key periods. Try throwing an intermediate clear tip line with a long 7/8 foot leader consisting of 40/30/20lb fluorocarbon with white or white/chartreuse bucktail flies, EP baitfish in tan/white, olive/white, or gray/white, and Major Mullet or Major Sardine patterns. You have to hunt these fish: persistence and stamina are the name of the game.
Keep a 7-weight rigged with a floating warmwater line like Scientific Angler’s Bass Bug in the boat – size 4 Boogle Bugs, Dahlberg Divers, Gurglers, or any of your other favorite topwater bass bugs will produce fish even during the hottest part of the day. Base your leader size on the fly – generally I fish a 0x or 1x 9-foot leader with boogle bugs and gurglers, but on the diving frogs I like to beef up to a 12lb saltwater tapered leader. Target shaded eddies with laydowns and brush and put the fly in the deepest part of cover and hold on! If topwater flies don’t seem to do the trick, switch to staples like Clouser Minnows, Sparkle Minnows, and Finesse Gamechangers on a warmwater intermediate fly line like Scientific Angler’s Tropical Titan Clear Tip.
Toccoa Tailwater: TVA is still working on the dam, so we’re seeing flows higher than normal until further notice. Today, August 3rd, the TVA is running 750 cfs. This flow is too high to wade, but a float trip out of a stable boat like a drift boat or raft can be productive at this level. Fish early and late and take a couple rods for different scenarios and types of fishing – try throwing hoppers, beetles, and big stoneflies on the bank or streamer fishing if you don’t feel like nymphing! I like to rig a 5 weight with a 3x leader and a single hopper, but it may be more productive to drop a couple nymphs off the back, and don’t forget the split shot since the current is moving a little faster.
For the streamers, take a 7 weight with an intermediate or fast sinking fly line rigged with your favorite streamer. I like Galloup’s Dungeons, Sparkle Minnows, and Clouser Minnows, but if you want to hunt one big fish all day try big white or rainbow trout colored Gamechangers and T&A Bunkers in Olive/Yellow or Olive/White. I’m tying my own streamer leaders out of 30/20/15/12 lb fluorocarbon, but you will be equally as well suited with a Scientific Anglers Absolute Fluorocarbon 0X leader.
Small Streams are going strong! If water conditions are low/clear, use a 3 or 4 weight with a 9 foot 5x leader and a cup full of yellow dries or terrestrials. Think Yellow Sallies (Stimulators), Light Cahills, Sulphurs, Beetles, Ants, Golden Stoneflies, and Hoppers. Lengthen your leader another foot with 5x or 6x, wear drab colors, and stay back off of the targeted water! Fish will hold in the more oxygenated water through the hotter months of the year, so don’t leave an area without drifting a dropper nymph through the riffles and white water. I like to use unweighted soft hackle hare’s ear or pheasant tail nymphs in 18’s and 20’s for droppers under small dries, but if you’re throwing a foam terrestrial you can add a light #4 split shot through the deep or swifter water.