If you aren’t THIS excited to catch a fish – are you even fishing? Austin Thornton recently added a Suwannee Bass to his 2021 Georgia Bass Slam. Austin has caught 8 of 10 eligible black bass species, but you only need to catch 5 to qualify. Find out more about eligible bass species, including images, location maps and more at www.BassSlam.com.
Now, get out your calendar, we have dates you are gonna want to fill with some fun outdoor adventures!
NEWS TO KNOW
- Bass Fishing Workshop: Tomorrow, Sept. 18 (10:30 am) at the Go Fish Education Center – join professional angler Clayton Batts for a bass fishing workshop. Entry to the program is included with your regular paid admission.
- National Hunting and Fishing Day: This year, on September 25th, celebrate NHF Day at any of the FREE scheduled events. Events include kids’ fishing events and one Outdoor Adventure Day (at Paradise Public Fishing Area in Berrien County). The KFEs are spread out across the whole state – so there’s likely one close to home! In addition to these events, Georgia residents are allowed to fish for FREE on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. You will NOT need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state.
- Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW): BOW is an educational program offering hands-on workshops to women 18 and up of all physical ability levels and backgrounds that aims to break down barriers to female participation in outdoor activities by providing a safe and supportive learning environment. There is a scheduled upcoming BOW (Nov. 5-7) at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. Deadline to register is Oct. 20. Find out more (including available class options, registration info, lodging, etc.) HERE.
This week, we have reports from Southeast, Southwest, Central and North Georgia. Get those events scheduled in your calendar and then let’s Go Fish Georgia!
(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)
The Ocmulgee/Oconee/Altamaha system is fishable, but other southeast Georgia rivers are high. Pond and saltwater fishing will be your best bets again this weekend.
ALTAMAHA AND OCMULGEE RIVERS
At the time of writing this the middle Georgia rivers are getting pounded with several inches of rain, so expect the rivers to rise. Catfish are usually the best targets on a rising river. Wildlife Resources Division staff collected the last catfish electrofishing samples of the year from the Ocmulgee River this week, and the catfish populations are in good shape. For flathead catfish, live bait is the key, while cut bait, worms, or shrimp will fool blue and channel catfish. The river level on September 16th at the Abbeville gage on the Ocmulgee was 3.4 feet and rising fast. The Doctortown gage on the Altamaha was 5.9 feet and rising.
The catching has been slow this week with the high water. You may be able to fool a few catfish or fliers in the boat basin on the Fargo side, but don’t expect to catch much out in the swamp. The fish are spread out into the prairies with the high water. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.44 feet.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
Thomas Smith had a great trip fishing from his kayak on Monday. He fished the afternoon and caught (and released) 2 bass that weighed 5.6 and 6.8 pounds. A chrome-blue back Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait was the ticket for his fish. The crappie bite has been slow in the heat based on reports, but they will start biting again as the water cools this fall. Remember, bass are catch-and-release on the area.
Chad Lee had another unique catch (or “almost catch”) this week. On Monday he hooked a big bass, and it got hung up in shoreline vegetation. Unbeknownst to him, a big gator was lurking nearby, and it slid over and helped itself to lunch (yep, Chad’s bass). He caught a few other bass, but nothing notable. The spillways of your favorite ponds will likely start flowing again after this week’s rains. The fishing in spillways is usually pretty good after it has been flowing for a couple days because the flow attracts fish from downstream. If you can safely access the spillway, it might be a good option for this weekend.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Capt. Greg Hildreth got on some tarpon this week. His charter went 1 for 3 throwing artificials on Thursday. I fished around low tide on Tuesday in the Brunswick area and had a great day. Keitech swimbaits (figichix and rootbeer/chartreuse back worked best) on 1/4-oz. Flashy Jigheads fooled 4 oversized redfish to 31 inches, and 2 other bull reds screamed drag and broke me off in the shells. I also caught 5 trout (all keepers) to 22 inches on the same Keitechs suspended underneath Equalizer Floats. The key with Equalizer floats is to balance the jighead to the float size so that it will stand up on the pause after you twitch it. The 2 1/2-inch cigar float perfectly matches a 3/16-oz. jighead, while 1/4-oz. is the size for the 3-inch Equalizer. 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 Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
In general, the hot summer weather will eventually be replaced by cooler nights during September and October. The cooling water temperatures cause the fish to increase their feeding before the winter months. Therefore, now is an excellent time to grab the family and head outdoors for some fall fishing at Big Lazer PFA.
Bass: Big Bass fishing has been slow because of the very hot temperatures. However, fall weather is getting closer. When the cooler fall weather finally arrives, bass feeding will increase before they head into the winter. Anglers should try shad look alike baits at several depths. Also, plastic-worms and crankbaits fished just off the channels in the upper end have always produced good bites.
Crappie: A few crappies are being caught but they are difficult to locate and target. For Crappie, try fishing deep around standing timber with live minnows or try bright colored jigs fished at several depths.
Bream: Bream fishing is good and will continue improving as cooler water temperatures arrive. Target shallower areas with woody brush associated with it. Crickets and worms are excellent live bait for bream. Also, small grub like plastic jigs of various colors can work well anytime of the year. Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting. However, make sure the hooks are small because bream tend to have small mouths.
Catfish: The rocks along the dam are always a good spot to try and catch big channel cats. However, catfish are also located throughout much of the lake. Some catfish are being caught on cut bait, worms, livers, and shrimp. Try fishing both on the bottom as well as suspended higher up in the water column. The area around the new pier may be a good spot to try to catch a nice cat.
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Fishing at Silver Lake Public Fishing Area has been challenging these last few weeks with the wild weather. Wide swings in temperature and lots of rain has shallow bass unwilling bite, but those deeper hogs are still hungry.
Bass: Anglers testing their skill and trying their luck on Panic Pond should focus on deep structure; humps, rock piles, and standing timber are all ideal spots. Covering a lot of water with deep running crank and chatter baits is a good option for targeting these reluctant, deeper water big mouths.
Catfish: The channel cats are still on fire in Frog Pond. The old tried and true worm under a cork will still produce a limit for anglers willing to wake up for the early morning bite. Anglers report catching 10+ pounders on live bream.
(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. A lot of small spotted bass are being caught. A variety of baits can be used to bag limits. The bigger bass are still being caught up in the Savannah River and range anywhere from two to three pounds. Use the X Rap in the Moss Back Shiner color. The Rapala DT10 and Rapala DT14 will work while fishing the rock ledges. Limits are easy while working a drop shot rig over the tops of submerged brush and one under the bridge at Pearl Mill. Carolina rigs and 1/2-ounce spinner baits seem to be catching the larger bass especially the few largemouth that are showing up at the scales. Find the flat rocks on points to produce strikes with the Super Fluke. A lot of fish are still showing up on the Lowrance depth finders suspended anywhere from fifteen to thirty feed deep in water that is anywhere from 30 to 55 feet. Watch the fish busting the surface and feeding on small one-inch bait fish. Try the Rapala Flat 3 Otto Defoe and this is a great shallow water lure for active bass. A light top water bite is present, but it doesn’t last for long.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 80S
Bass fishing is fair. The bass are relating to points. Fish these points on both sides with a #5 Shad Rap in the fire tiger color then back it up with a Carolina rigged six-inch finesse worm in red shad color by Culprit. This bait will work after the morning crank bait bite turns off. Concentrate on points and the pockets in the creeks and the side of points throwing the worm in very shallow and working it all the way back. All white buzz baits have been working in the pockets halfway in the back of major creeks. Shadows seem to help keep the fish shallow; then when the sun in is up on the water, they move out of the banks. Late afternoon is the time to pick up the crank bait again and fish on point after point until they bite. Go shallow and pick a long creek bank halfway into the creeks and fish it three times. Use the Pepper Custom Baits jig trailer combo and a 1/2-ounce Pepper Custom Baits Original Pepper Head, Global Warming with a 3.75-inch Bama Bug, for a trailer. Be sure there are some herring close by and see them on the Lowrance down Scan technology. Also use a Rattlin’ Rap up in the rivers around the rocky islands and rocky stretches of bank.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80S
(This Lake Oconee fishing report is by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service phone: 404-803-0741) —
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The temperature is 83-85 deg. The lake is clear from above the I-20 Bridge to the dam. Above I-20 is stained. Up the rivers there is a good wood structure bite with a Texas rig lizard. Look for down falls in the deep bends of the river, with deep water close by. There are still a lot of shad around the bridges at first light. A white and chartreuse buzz bait fished along the rip rap will draw some good strikes. Make sure to have a trick worm tied on and ready with a follow up if they miss the buzz bait. There is also a good crank bait bite on the south end of the lake on the main lake humps. For a lot of bites fish the main lake docks around deeper water with a small Texas rig worm in a dark green color. These are smaller fish but a lot of fun to catch.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is fair to good. A lot of white bass are schooling on top early and late. You can target these fish with a small inline spinner or a small jig head with a paddle tail grub on it. These fish are feeding on very small baits so match the hatch. For the hybrids troll a Mine Mack around the schooling whites. The hybrids are just below the white bass. This bite can happen anywhere on the lake so be ready.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The crappie are in there summer tree tops all over the lake. Use your Lowrance to locate the crappie in the tree and then drop a live crappie minnow into the tree and start loading the cooler.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, 80S
Bass fishing is fair. Focus on shallow docks in the Little River arm from the train trestle to Twin Bridges. Fish a 1/8 ounce to 3/16-ounce Texas rig or jig head with a Zoom June bug trick worm. Between the docks, cast a #5 Rapala Shallow Shad rap in chartreuse and pearl, or a Bomber 2A chartreuse shad. Use the Rapala DT6 Caribbean Shad and find the flat rocks on points to produced strikes. For a nice kicker fish, use a Lucky Craft RC 2.5 chartreuse perch alongside the dock walkways and posts. A spinnerbait bite will work some mornings when we have a ripple on the water in the Cedar Creek and Highway 212 area. But be careful in this area as it is very shallow water. Try the Rapala Flat 3 by Otto Defoe. This is a great shallow water lure for active bass. Spend ten minutes or more searching with the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology in an area and if you haven’t seen shad, it’s probably time to look for more active water.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, CLEAR 80S
Bass fishing is fair and the spots and largemouth like the cooling waters as this bunches up the bait schools. Spend the early morning on points and fish shallow crank baits in 8 to 3 foot of water. Bluegill and crawfish are the main preferred forage. Start fishing main lake banks and points but continue back into the creeks and pockets from there. Work docks, brush piles, riprap, rocky banks, and blow downs with a mix of plastic and crank baits. Fish at least halfway back in many pockets. Largemouth have been particularly interested in mid depth crank baits like the Bandit 200 in black and chartreuse. Work crank baits through wood, rocks, and around the docks. Always take the opportunity to work the wood and docks more thoroughly with the plastics and jig of choice. Use a shaky head rig for all around plastic fishing. Trick worms in watermelon seed will work. Throw the rig in the blow downs and be sure to let it soak a while before working it up and out through the tree limbs. Try fishing early morning with a buzz bait. Sometimes they will bite the spinner baits or shallow running cranks. Cover water quickly for best results and crank the shallower diving Bandit 100 during the early hour. The deep-sea walls are good target areas for Jackson’s summertime top water action, but now is a good time to start targeting more of the riprap and rocky areas.
(Fishing report courtesy of Hunter Roop, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Lots of rain forecasted for the weekend and even into next week. Unless lighting is also on the menu, I promised the girls we would try our luck this weekend, so we’ll aim for a dry window and hope to avoid a downpour. The overcast and mild temperatures should result in some great fishing for those that chose to brave the weather. Otherwise, this might be a good opportunity to prep your gear for the next opportunity accompanied by some sunshine. Early fall patterns are definitely setting in and the real fall frenzy will be here before you know it! Thanks in advance for your purchase of fishing licenses, trout stamps, and TU tags to support fisheries management in North Georgia and throughout the state. Let’s dive in!
Upcoming Kid’s Fishing Events (KFEs): DNR sponsored or supported KFEs are a great way to introduce your kids to the joy of fishing. These fisheries are stocked and managed to promote kids fishing success. The following KFEs will be taking place in the North Georgia area during the month of September, including those that will take place on National Hunting and Fishing Day next weekend! For tricks and tips on keeping your young one engaged while fishing, check out our Fishing with Kids webpage.
- Buck Shoals WMA: Saturday September 18th from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
- James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park: Saturday September 25th from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
- To find other KFEs worth a modest drive, browse your options here.
(This week’s reservoir reports are brought to you by GON, & others as specified below)
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 0.8 FEET, CLEAR, 80s
Bass: Guide and GON contributor Keith Hudson reports, “During September, expect the shallow bite to slowly improve, especially if we get a lot of rain or a little cooler temps. Shallow-water baits such as unweighted Trick Worms, flukes, Senkos, buzzbaits and Rebel Pop-Rs usually seem to catch at least some bass in early fall. The trick is to fish these baits in or near cover. It is usually an early or late bite. Another productive pattern is to fish jigs around blowdown trees. It won’t produce a lot of bites, and you are going to lose or break off some jigs, but a kicker fish may be your reward. A few of the largemouth should remain on some of the deeper structure patterns as the water temps creep downward just a little over the next few weeks. Zoom Ol’ Monster worms either Texas- or Carolina-rigged, or a Bomber Fat Free 7 or 8 crankbait in citrus shad are a couple of the favorite baits for exploring the offshore structures. Old roadbeds, pond dams, channel ledges, etc., especially those with fresh brushpiles, will hold some good bass. Most of the tournament-winning sacks continue to come from brushpiles. The spotted bass can at least keep the day interesting for you. Carolina-rigged finesse worms or a Spot Remover Head rigged with a Zoom Speed Craw are good choices for spots. Try fishing bridge pilings, blowdowns, gravel banks or shoal markers. Also, look for spotted bass to school in packs on small shad at times. Usually when you catch one, there are others in the same area.”
Linesides: Guide and GON contributor Keith Hudson reports, ” Expect the topwater fishing to continue to be the best very early and very late or on overcast or rainy days. A popping-cork rig has been working well on these schooling fish are 1 to 3 pounds. A 3/8- or 1/2-oz. Rooster Tail, a chrome C.C. Spoon and a number of other small shad imitators will produce when the schooling fish go down. The flats near the pumping stations, the mouths of most creeks south of the 109 bridge and the flats around Amity Park have been holding fish. Trolling with mid-depth crankbaits and Flash Mob Jr. umbrella rigs have also been producing some linesides in these same areas. Down-lining with shad or bass shiners should continue to be fairly effective. Freelining a live bait will also work at times. Most of the fish seem to be holding 20 to 30 feet deep when they are not schooling on the surface, and they are moving around a lot.”
LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL, 80S, SLIGHTLY STAINED
Bass: Tournament angler Matt Justice reports, “Higher than normal oxygen levels have kept the fishing better than normal for this time of year. Throwing large walking baits and flukes above brush and canepiles is the predominant pattern. Look for brush in 15 to 30 feet of water on main-lake points and humps. Baitfish are starting their migration to the backs of the creeks. The lake is just above full pool. A lot of shallow cover is available to throw topwater frogs and Zoom Speedworms around. Look for moving and stained water. Night fishing has also been doing very well, with large catches of largemouth and striper around lights. As water and air temps drop, look for fishing to only improve. A squarebill crankbait bite will develop as more bait and fish migrate toward the creeks.”
Bream Tips: Struggling to catch bream in North Georgia’s largest reservoirs? Here’s some GON-tel to improve your success for big water ‘gills.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS FULL, CLEAR, 82
Bass: Tournament angler Matt Driver reports, “The September fishing will not change much from the August report this year. August was a surprisingly good month. Historically, September has been a roller-coaster ride for fishing with some really great days and some days that are really tough. With September water temperatures, we struggle with algae blooms from time to time, which decrease dissolved oxygen levels in the lake and cause the bite to slow. The cooler the temperatures get, the less likely this is to occur. Fishing in the Etowah River arm tends to be the best area to target right now. The morning topwater bite is still great. Start the morning out with a buzzbait along bluff walls and blowdowns. This bite has been lasting until mid morning. Mix the buzzbait up with a topwater popper-style bait, as well. Once the morning bite is over, try switching to a small Kietech swimbait and a 3/16-oz. Picasso round-ball jig head. We are targeting schools of bass at the mouth of the creeks, like Illinois Creek. The schools tend to move around. A good forward-facing, side-imaging sonar helps you locate them. A medium paced yo-yo retrieve seems to work the best to get bit. While using this technique, you will catch an occasional hybrid, as well. As the water cools and bass begin to migrate into the creeks, the hard swimbait bite will pick up. The big swimbait is a great way to catch a big fish this time of year. Fishing will only get better as we get later into the fall.”
Allatoona Mixed Bag on Top (Report and video courtesy of angler Jason Muhlbauer #JasonMFishing) Some schooling action on Toona. Still throwing the Evergreen Shower Blows, but caught most of my fish this time on a 1/4 ounce jighead with a Z-Man 2.5 in. swimbait. Now is a great time to get out and catch them – just drive around and look for the schools on top. Check out this video!
Photo Finish: GON forum contributor Jeremiah highlights recent exploits on the ‘Toona, Lanier, and elsewhere in this GON photo purge.
LAKE LANIER IS UP 1.7 FEET, CLEAR, LOW 80S
Water Quality (courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): We’ve survived the dog days of summer on Lake Lanier, and thankfully surface temperatures are on the decline with the recent cool nights and cloudy days. Water quality data collected at the forebay, Six Mile Creek, and Flowery Branch this week demonstrate that the deep-water habitat is almost completely devoid of dissolved oxygen at this late point in the summer, and this has moved stripers to the upper thermocline (30 – 36 feet) and even to the surface where they are actively feeding on schools of shad. The topwater bite for spots has also sustained throughout the summer, and so this presents an excellent opportunity to take advantage of early morning topwater action for stripers and spotted bass well ahead of real fall weather. Check out the data on Lake Lanier’s Fishing Forecast map, and hold tight for some topwater explosions this weekend!
Bass (Jimbo, from Jimbo’s Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Guide Service) —“At Lanier as we’re heading into September, the water has generally been above full pool and trending lower in water temperatures than in recent years. The condition of the water is near normal for this time of year, with the beginnings of the turnover in sight on the calendar. These factors, along with what I believe to be a recently rejuvenated population of the blueback herring in the lake, have led to a very productive summer, which I expect to continue into September. We have found the bait and fish to be suspended higher in the water column than normal this time of year (through August) and a better quantity of good fish staying in shallower depths, as well. Historically speaking, you have to go down to the fish in August, but conversely, this year the fish have been willing to come up to us. Topwater baits and lure presentations higher in the water column have remained very effective for numbers and quality of spotted bass so far this summer. I also expect this to continue in September, as well. In consideration of the recent trends, targeting offshore structure such as points and humps with brush in the 25-foot zone should remain the focus as we push through September. A major late summer heat wave or a big storm that raises the lake dramatically would be the only foreseeable deterrents to that game plan. If we stay consistent with recent trends, targeting those aforementioned areas from Gainesville Marina south to the dam on both the main lake and in the mouths of creeks will keep you around the majority of the spotted bass. A sustained heat wave would likely concentrate the bait and fish deeper on humps and points, and perhaps relating to timber lines and treetops around those areas. A rapid rise in the water level will scatter the fish and make shallow water fishing more viable. Topwater baits, such as a Chug Bug and a Zara Spook, can be an excellent way to catch these fish. The new CAST OG Herring 30 and 40 Gram baits are a new saltwater stick-bait option that are working well also on Lake Lanier. Check those out at local tackle stores like Hammonds Fishing. If the fish are resistant to the full-blown topwater offerings, try fast-retrieving a fluke over brush. The Georgia Blade Shad Spin is an excellent producer on Lanier. Fish the bait at the depth you see the fish suspending near bait balls or brush. A jerkbait is another great tool for targeting suspending fish, particularly as the water begins to cool toward the end of September. Choose a bait that suspends at the depth the fish are holding and experiment with your retrieve cadence until you zero in on what the fish are looking for on any given day. The SPRO McStick or McRip are great options here. The spy bait is a great option when the fish are not hitting your topwater or jerkbait presentations. Cast this bait out, count it down to 10 or so, and then begin a very slow retrieve. I like the Duo Realis offerings in the G-fix 80 size, which you can purchase at Hammonds Fishing or through Lanier Baits. A drop shot is a great tool to target deep fish. This presentation can be made vertically into cover or it can be cast toward the target and slowly retrieved. I prefer the Lanier Baits Fruity drop-shot worms. Light line is a must…” Read the rest of Jimbo’s extensive Lanier report here.
Crappie (courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton call to book a trip 770 530 6493): Crappie fishing is good. The hot bite zone is 10 to 15 feet deep. Don’t be afraid to look at your shallow-water spots. You might like what you find. Just because someone told you crappie only bite in deep water in the summer, they might not have told the fish. The crappie are on the docks and also can be found on open-water brushpiles and blowdowns. I always put out a crappie minnow. Sometimes the crappie just want a minnow. If you have LiveScope or Active Imaging, set the minnows just above the fish. Right now I am setting the minnows 10 to 15 feet deep. For best results, use an active minnow. Look under covered docks that are in 20 to 40 feet of water and near a main channel. Look for brush or structure, using your electronic charts to locate these areas. Remember that crappie love the shade, so cast into the shadows of a dock. Try different jig colors this time of year. I am using a solid white jig in clear water and a dark-colored jig in muddy water after the rain. Jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging, trolling or dock shooting. 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 plastics. I use 5-lb. test high-visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on an ACC Crappie Stix. I use Garmin LiveScope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my pages @crappieonlanier and @fishingwitheverydayheroes.
Stripers (courtesy of Capt. Ron Mullins): The most important tip this time of year is to get the fish back down as quickly as possible and limit the amount of pictures you are taking unless you are taking fish home to eat. The dissolved oxygen content in the upper layers of water is very low and the last 20 feet that you are fighting your hooked fish through is very stressful to the fish. Get them back down by ‘shooting’ them face first down or even invest in a SeaQualizer that will drop the fish down to depth on a weight and then releases the fish. This month we will be looking for large groups of fish with our Humminbird Solix electronics. There will be lots of looking, and the only way to catch a striper while you are looking is to be trolling with lead core or with your Cannon downrigger. The Striper Tackle HAWG jig series Super Spin Shad in 1.5- or 2-oz. sizes in white head/white body, white/glo or chartreuse/chartreuse glitter has been great this year. The Fat HAWG spoon in nickel, nickel/silver scale or pearl/silver scale has also produced a lot of fish this summer. Both of these baits can be purchased at Oakwood Bait and Tackle or at Hammond’s Fishing Center. The HAWG series of spoons is also available at captmacks.com. After you find the big schools of fish that will be present from Big Creek and Two Mile Creek south to the dam, go ahead and drop your downline herring to them. Change your setup to at least a 1.5- to 2-oz. Capt. Mack’s swivel weight or a 1.75-oz. pencil sinker and 10 to 12 feet of 8- to 10-lb. fluorocarbon leader to a No. 2 Gamakatsu circle hook this month. The pitch bait rods are still getting bit as well, so keep at least two of these spinning rod setups with 12-lb. mono or 20-lb. braid main line with a 3-foot 10-lb. fluorocarbon leader and a No. 2 circle hook tossed back behind the boat. This year we have not put any split-shot on the line at all as the fish are coming up pretty shallow to eat a lone herring. ‘Have no other gods before me and make no images to worship.; God does not want to be ON your list of priorities as much as he wants to be IN your list.
Fly fishing for stripers on Lanier or other North Georgia waters? Check out pg. 12 of September’s issue of the Coastal Angler Magazine for best bets and fly flinging techniques for linesides this month brought to you by famed striper fly fishing guide Henry Cowen.
Blue Ridge is 6.4 feet over full, 83 F, clear
Bass: Guide Eric Welch reports, “The bite has been fair. Once we get past Labor Day weekend, everything should start getting back to normal. TVA will start lowering the lake for winter pool, and hopefully we will start seeing cooler weather. This means we should start seeing more breaking fish. I will normal stay with the same pattern I fished in August by starting the first hour in the morning throwing a Whopper Plopper, Strike King Sexy Dawg Jr. and a Pop-R. Once the sun gets up, it’s time to start looking for offshore humps with deep drops or brush. I’m targeting these fish with a drop shot, using a 4.5-inch Roboworm or some type of minnow-looking bait. My next choice is a Ned rig with a TRD worm. I’m using St. Croix spinning rods, 7-foot, medium light and medium, spooled with Sunline Sigun 12-lb. yellow braid with Gamma Touch fluorocarbon 7-lb. leader. I will fish laydowns and deep brush with a shaky head, Texas rig or a wacky-style worm.”
Walleye: Capt. Eric Crowley reports, “It’s hot, sunny and there is lots of boat traffic on the lake this year, and that has the fish scattered. Little pockets of fish here and there seems to be consistent with all species. The walleye have been caught from Tilly Bend to the dam. There are fish in 25, 35, 55 and 70 feet of water. Most are holding pretty tight to the bottom on rocky points or on the bends in the river near bait balls. There’s also been some fish caught on grassbeds early and late in the day. Crankbaits are still the go-to. Overcast, low-light, rainy days are still best. If it is going to be a pretty day, you better fish early or at night. We had a few really nice fish this past month in the 24- to 25-inch class and heard reports of a few fish larger.”
LAKE CHATUGE IS 0.5 ABOVE FULL, CLEAR, AND LOW 80s F
Bass: GON contributor and fishing Guide Eric Welch reports: “Lake Chatuge has been fishing good. We’ve only been out early in the mornings. There has been some topwater action going on and fish breaking out in open water, and we’ve also caught some around laydowns using a Strike King Sexy Dawg, Zara Spook and Whopper Plopper. You want to keep a topwater handy because you never know when bass will blow up on herring. I’ve been finding good numbers of fish on offshore humps, points and deep brush. I’ve mostly been catching my fish on the Z-man Ned rig with a TRD worm and drop-shotting a Roboworm and 3-inch minnow pattern baits. I’ve been catching most of my fish using my Garmin LivesScope, not just to locate them but also catching groups of suspended fish. I’m also mixing in some 3-inch swimbaits, spoons and a shaky head. If I have a good windy day, I will throw a spinnerbait some. When we get past Labor Day weekend, TVA will start to lower the lakes, and hopefully we will have some cooler weather and have some awesome fall fishing.”
LAKE NOTTELY IS FULL, 80’s AND CLEAR
Linesides: GON contributor and fishing Guide Jeremy Seabolt reports, “Striper fishing has been off the charts. This has been probably been the best August I have ever seen. We have been on some nice schools of fish. We have had a lot of 20- to 40-plus fish days. We have been catching most of our fish on downlines and trolling, but the downlines have been catching more fish. We are finding schools of fish all over. Most fish are holding 30 to 70 feet deep over a 100-foot bottom. Going into September, not much should change the first few weeks, but we should start catching fish some on topwater the last few weeks of September, so keep a topwater bait handy for schooling fish. Downlines will still be the go-to fishing method, and don’t forget the Bait Shack has all your striper candy needs.”
Lake Nottely Water Quality: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Water quality profiles were collected on Lake Nottely this week to assess habitat availability for coolerwater species like striped bass. These data can be viewed on Nottely’s Fishing Forecast map. While other popular sportfish on Nottely like black bass and crappie easily tolerate warm water temperatures, stripers prefer cooler waters (generally less than 80 F) which can become oxygen deficient during summer stratification. Thankfully TVA’s oxygen injection system, intended to improve water quality in Nottely’s tailwater, increases dissolved oxygen in Nottely’s forebay which attracts stripers and other species to the seasonal “bubble party.” Target offshore features like points and humps within proximity of these bubbles to improve your chances of fishing success.
LAKE BURTON IS FULL, STAINED, AND 82 F
Bass: GON contributor Capt. Wes Carlton, of Georgia Lake Fishing, reports, “The bass bite has been decent the last week or so. We have not been catching a lot of numbers but have been catching some quality fish. Drop-shotting Roboworms in brush and grass seems to be the ticket. Most of the quality fish seem to be hanging around the yellow perch and bream. Try working the backs of creeks in the 16- to 20-foot depths. We have seen a little topwater action on cloudy days and mid morning. These fish are biting a chrome Super Spook or a Sammy. Work these lures in a very fast retrieve. Look for this pattern to continue and get better over the next few weeks as we near September.”
Brown Trout: GON contributor Capt. Wes Carlton reports, “The brown trout bite has been slow this month. The few that we have caught have come off blueback herring and trolling white Super Rooster Tails 20 feet deep 60 to 80 feet behind the boat. This bite should pick up in the next week or so. We have been focusing on the main-lake channel points and humps. This seems to be where the biggest concentration of brown trout are.”
CARTERS LAKE IS 6 FEET BELOW FULL, 80S, CLEAR
Bass: Capt. Eric Crowley reports, “I haven’t been targeting the spotted bass much with the good walleye bite going on, but there’s a decent topwater bite right at dawn all over the lake when the schools of little baitfish are up on the surface. Lure selection really doesn’t matter that much. Just make a good cast at busting fish and twitch it. If I have leftover bait from my morning trips, I can pull up to almost any secondary point and catch a few spots. Most are in the 2-lb. range and about 20 feet deep. Another great way to beat the summer heat or keep cool waiting on the evening bite is to pick up some trash. The lake has been very busy this year, and not everyone left it the way they found it. I try to pick up at least one piece a day. Just take a second and grab something. Every little bit helps, and the fishing community benefits from it in the long run.”
Stripers: Capt. Eric Crowley reports, “Carters Lake in the dog days of summer can be a miserable place if you let it. My advice is to fish early, fish late or fish in the dark. As many of you know, I typically don’t target stripers in August and September as it’s almost certain death for the big fish we have. The fish are deep for a reason, and pulling them up from that depth isn’t great for the fish or the fishery. However, there are a few things you can do in the heat of summer and still chase striped fish. One thing is fishing at night under the Hydro Glow. Set up in 60 feet of water, and let the fish come to you. Allowing the fish to come up shallow on their own lets them adjust to the depth change slowly versus being cranked up. Fish baits 30 to 35 feet deep on downlines with a 14- to 20-lb. leader just out of the lights. Another thing is targeting smaller fish. These fish are 3 to 4 pounds and fun to catch. I use No. 2 or 4 circle hooks exclusively for these fish and release them ASAP. Live threadfins about 2 1/2- to 3-inches long is a perfect bait. Too big and they can’t eat them and too small they swallow the hooks. Using 10-lb. braid makes casting easy. There is a school at every boat ramp on the lake basically. They tend to hunt the edges of the parking lot lights. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s a thing on a lake with no artificial light. You can throw a pearl white fluke and draw strikes, as well.”
SMALL POND REPORT
Due to their relatively small size, small ponds can serve as sentinels of fall transitions in fishing patterns for bass and bream as these waterbodies cool and turnover more quickly than large reservoirs. So if the word on the big ponds suggests fall patterns are emerging, you can bet that they are probably in full force on your local farm pond. Small ponds offer easy access and (often) high catch rates for bass and bream, making them ideal for fishing outings with the kids. Enjoy this GON success story between a dad and his son seeking some late-summer solace and getting more than they bargained for in the best way possible.
Lanier Headwaters (courtesy of Bowman’s Guide Service by way of WRD Fisheries Tech William Sims): . I spoke to two guides that work for Bowman’s Fly Fishing based out of Dahlonega on the way out of Mossy Creek. They reported that fishing for shoal bass has been great on the upper Chattahoochee, they were catching lots of fish on topwater poppers, large foam grasshoppers, and streamers in the morning. I also had some luck catching redbreast this weekend on the upper Chattahoochee, they were pretty keen to take small streamers worked slowly around woody debris and undercuts in the bank.
Chattahoochee River (courtesy of Orvis Atlanta’s fishing report): Midges, soft hackles, emergers and the Dirt Snake (worm patterns) are the go to’s in this area. Never be scared to throw a streamer! Look to smaller flies when fishing the upper section of the tail-water. Have a great selection of zebra midges from size 18-24 in red, black, and olive and 6X tippet for that gin clear water. For prospecting, a Pat’s Rubber-leggs Stone Fly imitation with a size 16 tungsten bead Rainbow Warrior as a dropper is hard to beat, Fish them under an indicator and it is sure to fool the timid of trout. The fishing lower on the river will start to fish well in the later afternoon, often when the generating begins at the dam. When the water below Morgan Falls gets down around 1500 CFS and below, the Shoal Bass fishing has been good too. Look to find them around Cochran Shoals. 7 Weights, crawfish patterns and gold and copper streamers are usually the ticket.
More Chattahoochee River (courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): Chris Scalley with River Through Atlanta reports that the Chattahoochee River below Lanier has been fishing really well lately. First, don’t be alarmed by the yellow-greenish discoloration of the water—this phenomenon occurs like clockwork during late summer each year. Why? Lanier has been stratified (i.e., layers of water are separated according to temperature-driven density differences) since early summer, and the oxygen-deficient lake bottom causes solid forms of natural metals (like iron and manganese) to dissolve and go into solution. The resulting outflows are distinctly discolored, reflecting high concentrations of chemically reduced compounds in the water. Ok, limnology lesson over, back to fishin’: Chris reports that a precisely placed and dead drifted dry-dropper combo has been very productive recently, but with the reduced visibility the key is to get your presentation right in front of the fish. Other productive artificial presentations have been in-line spinners like Panther Martins or large black rooster tails. A well-presented black rooster tail was enough to entice this stocky male brown to take a bite recently. Look for pre-spawn trout like these to be staging shallower as the cooler weather sets in. Setting up fishing lanes in a shallow run can be great a target this time of year. The shorter photoperiod signals the ‘Hooch browns to begin readying for the great fall dance, so expect an aggressive bite and challenging fight to the boat. Given all the recent rain Sally brought with her, be sure to check Buford Dam’s generation schedule before you go.
Scouting for Hunting….and Trout: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — Thankfully, there’s a little rain in the forecast, which will raise and muddy the water just a bit- making for the perfect creek conditions when dealing with clever wild ones. Brookie love will be in the air in just a few weeks, so look forward to some bright colors… those magenta spots are incredible! The underside of sexually mature Brookies, especially the males, can range from yellow-orange to intense crimson. My husband and I have been doing some scouting for this upcoming hunting season, which makes for a perfect opportunity for scouting out some new bluelines too! (I wear hunter orange for precaution). I’ve discovered some excellent new creeks that I’ll be sure to return to in the spring. We’ve been using the DNR interactive hunting and fishing maps, a national forest map, this book, and this book as resources.
Headwater Trout (courtesy of Jeff “Dredger” Durniak with Unicoi Outfitters): “Headwaters are still running a bit higher than our normally low summer baseflows – – and that’s good news. With cooler nights returning, that will make high-elevation wild trout a best bet once again. I checked a small Hooch trib above Helen today. It was crystal-clear, about 64F at midday, and flowing well. Instream residents should easily spot and pursue your surface fodder, so grab your short rod, a fluffy dry, and best stealth game and hike high for wild bows and specks.” Be sure to check out the rest of Jeff’s timely intel on UO’s “Angler Management” blog. For another great tip on spook-proofing your topwater popper presentation this fall, check out Jeff’s pg. 20 column in the September issue of the Coastal Angler Magazine.
Wild Trout: (Report courtesy of Senior Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — I celebrated Labor Day on my favorite wild trout stream, and had a fantastic day. The stream was cold and clear, the water level was perfect, and the fish were smashing the dry fly. As usual, I tied on a size 14 X-caddis and never even thought about changing. If you are like me you’ll find that Georgia’s wild trout are not picky about what fly you use, but how you present it is key. Long casts from the tail of the pool, light tippet (5x), and a generally stealthy approach are of utmost importance. If your knees and back aren’t at least a little bit sore on the drive home, you’re doing it wrong! I landed around 15 fish of varying sizes with many more missed takes, but the highlight was the 12-inch brown that clobbered my fly in a small deep pocket behind a suspended log. He gave me a huge fight on the 2 weight as I muscled him out from his hole for a quick pic. Several of the fish were already starting to darken up as we approach fall spawning time. The fall colors should only get better as things cool off.
Get Hooked: For those of you seasoned veterans that know the ins and outs of planning and executing a successful fishing trip, consider passing along this link to the novice anglers in your life. WRD has been working hard to provide meaningful resources that will teach and guide new anglers hoping to take advantage of the fun and adventure that Georgia’s fishery resources have to offer. And for those of you who are competent anglers hoping to take your fishing game to the next level, check out the Fly Fishing International’s new online Learning Center. Anglers can learn simple methods to jump right into fly fishing, and discover a whole new world of fishing tactics and techniques. We hope this info will help spark an interest and appreciation for fishing that will last a lifetime.