Did you feel that “hint” of coolness in the air this morning? Could it be that the sweltering heat of summer is fading into fall? Maybe! That little bit of a temperature break might be all you need to make a fishing trip last just a little longer into the day. Let’s roll, or REEL, with it!
NEWS TO KNOW
- CoastFest: Mark your calendars for CoastFest 2022, coming October 1st! CoastFest, in its 28th year, is the largest outreach event hosted by the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This free, family-friendly event features educational programs, touch tanks, wildlife viewing opportunities, and exhibitors from partner agencies and nonprofit organizations.
- National Hunting and Fishing Day is Sat. Sept. 24: Make plans to attend one of the many fun, family-friendly outdoor events celebrating NHF Day. Events include Outdoor Adventure Days and Kids Fishing Events. Find out more about NHF Day (why do we celebrate?) and what events will be happening HERE.
This week, we have fishing reports from North, Southeast and Southwest Georgia. Ride with the windows down as you head out to Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Kyle Rempe, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
End of Stocking Season: Labor Day marked the end of the trout stocking season for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources this year. If you’re trying to chase this last batch of stockers be sure to check out the stocking report to see what all got hit at the end of last week. More trout fishing information found HERE.
Trout Report: (courtesy of Jeff Durniak, Angler Management Blog from Unicoi Outfitters) — For trout, tailwaters and stocked streams remain your best bets right now. Yesterday’s recon showed that our headwaters are really skinny and transparent but are finally cooling a bit. Wild trout have renewed appetites but remain super-skittish. Stealth and long leaders remain the keys to success.
Wes’ Hot Fly List:
- Dries: micro chubby, yellow humpy, fathead beetle, para-ant, tan caddis.
- Nymphs & Wets: Squirmy worm, copper John, red tag jig, hares ear, green weenie.
- Streamers & warm water: Finesse changer, soft chew, sparkle minnow, sweet baby cray, Boogle bug in the shade.
Etowah Tailwater:(courtesy of Connor Jones, Cohutta Fishing Company) — While Striped Bass fishing is just about done with for the year, the fall spotted bass fishing is cranking up. I almost always start with topwater – Boogle Bugs, Stealth Bombers, and Gurglers. These flies can be put into snaggy places and sat for a period of time without getting hung up (as long as you can get your cast there). Shad/Baitfish imitations are always on the menu here. Size 2 Kreelex’s in Copper/Silver/Gold or Gold Sparkle Minnows are both my top picks, but anything in that 2 1/2 to 3 inch range imitating a shad should work. Another option is to keep a crawfish pattern like Galloup’s Nancy P/Dungeon or Whitlock’s Near Nuff Crayfish tied on a sinking line or under an indicator. If the fish are in shoals and riffles, dead drift or drag these flies through the runs.
Toccoa Tailwater (courtesy of Connor Jones, Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Toccoa Tailwater has been fishing well due to the cooler nights and overcast, rainy days that we’ve had on and off for the last two weeks. Water temperatures are good but a bright, sunny day will put us right back in to summer tactics and put the fishing down mid-day. We’re still seeing tan caddis on the river and have been doing well on streamers and stoneflies on those awesome overcast days. While we have been getting rained on a decent amount, water levels are receding quickly. When things get low and clear, downsize your line and lengthen your leader. Be sure to watch the Blue Ridge Lake generation schedule daily – TVA will begin the draw down to winter pool if they haven’t already on the lake.
Patterns: Pat’s Rubber Legs 8-12, tungsten Rainbow Warriors size 16-20, Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear 14-18, Holy Grail Hare’s Ear size 14-18, Galloup’s Dungeon, Maraciever, Sparkle Minnow, Chubby Cherynobyl 8-12 (Black or Golden), Elk Hair Caddis or X-Caddis Tan, 14-18.
Bass (courtesy of Matt Driver; report via Georgia Outdoor News) — As the water drops into the high 70s, we will see fishing get a little tough until the water drops into the low 70s. When fishing gets tough, I move shallow on Lake Allatoona. September and October are my favorite months for shallow buzzbaits around cover. Rocky bluffs and river banks produce the best. I mix it up with a buzzbait, squarebill crankbait and a fluke-style bait. In the month of September, we will start to see a shad migration later in the month into the first part of October. We will see shad move more into the creeks. During this time, I like to target floating boat docks and blowdown trees as well as shallow brush. I fish a jig and a larger swimbait.
Bass (from WRD Fisheries Supervisor Jim Hakala): Topwater bass action has been hot on Lake Allatoona! Check out this video from Bearded Beast Fishing showing one effective technique to cash in on some great surface action, especially on cloudy days.
LAKE BLUE RIDGE
Bass (courtesy of guide Eric Welch, Welch’s Guide Service; report via Georgia Outdoor News): Fishing has been fair. With all the rain we’ve had lately, the water temp has started coming down. There has been a little topwater action going on throughout the day. I would recommend having a Whopper Plopper or Strike King Sexy Dawg Jr. tied on for quick access. We’re still catching fish on deep, rocky banks and points using a drop shot with a 6-inch Roboworm and also a shaky head with a 5-inch finesse worm. Once the sun gets up, I will start my way up the river targeting bluff points and deep, rocky banklines that the river runs next to. When they start dropping the lake, these areas will start holding more fish. Next month you should start seeing an increase in breaking fish due to the water starting to cool off. I always like using a Pop-R in the upcoming fall months. Also try a shad-patterned crankbait off rocky points.
Walleye (courtesy of guide Eric Crowley, Lake and Stream Guide Service; report via Georgia Outdoor News): As the month goes on and the water starts to cool off a bit, the bait will start to move back nearshore or move down to the bottom of the lake where temps are more stable. Both these scenarios are good for walleye fishing. The jigging spoon is the weapon of choice this month for us, and we fish a variety of colors and sizes depending on the reaction from the fish. The fish will start to hug the bottom on the points with bait. Mark the fish and drop the spoon straight down to them on a light fluorocarbon leader and give it 10 or 15 jigs. If they don’t eat, move on. Don’t waste too much time on non-responsive fish. You can replace the spoon with a nightcrawler for a live-bait option. First light is going to be the best time as this is when the bait will start to move.
Striper (courtesy of Captain Brandon Davis, Bent Rods Charter Company; report via Captain Mack’s) —The lineside fishing pattern is remaining steady and strong as we enter September. The downline Herring bite is still a staple to all day catching. Other patterns that are showing up more often is the excellent top water bite throughout the afternoon on the south end of the lake.
Live bait bite in the mornings is still strong in the mouths of the lower pockets and creeks. Use your depth finder and trolling motor to ease around these areas to locate the larger schools of fish to drop the live Herring on them. If you are mainly seeing a lot of scattered fish in a close proximity, go ahead and drop your lines down and I like to use some cut up herring and chum the water and watch for the fish to congregate under the boat.
Trolling is one of the best ways to cover water and find the active fish. The Captain Mack’s umbrella rigs are becoming a stronger pattern for me as we move to fall. I am pulling these in the mornings and later afternoon over the 30’-45’ humps near creek channels and ditches. I start from 120’-135’ behind the boat. In the middle of the day, I am still pulling lead core with a Mini Mack or 1oz underspin Captain Mack Buck tail and start at 8 colors touching the water. Keep your speed from 2.6-3.2 mph and see what speed the fish like best that day. As I mentioned earlier, a topwater bite is getting stronger and have a Super Jig tied on the cast to those fish. I prefer the 1/2oz profile to reach fish at a distance on a spinning combo. Go by and see Michael at The Bait House to grab your bait and tackle. See you on the water.
Striper (from WRD Fisheries Biologist Kyle Rempe): Profiles done on the lake show that heightened water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen values are putting a squeeze on Striped Bass in the reservoir. Despite this, anglers we talked to were still having success trolling for stripers around 40 or 50 feet deep, with one catch even weighing in at 10 pounds. Trolling the deeper channel during morning hours and trying to target that depth sweet spot for water temperature and dissolved oxygen could prove to be successful for others as well.
Bass (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s) — The Bass bite remains tough, but improving in recent days. The standard summer patterns are still in place, with a couple of secondary patterns showing up as well. Drop shot rigs with finesse worms and Roboworm Alive Shads in the brush remain a consistent producer and tossing a jig to the brush can also be a good technique. Keep a Fluke tied on, Flukes over the brush, or cast to the schoolers, has been a solid technique. Worms on the docks will also catch decent numbers, lots of singles on this pattern but if you’ll fish enough 20-to-30-foot docks you should get the bites.
We do have a topwater bite, it is marginal but improving. You can pull some fish up to the top by casting over the brush, or casting to surfacing fish. Popper type baits seem to be the preference, with walking baits catching fish as well. There are a few shallow fish that will take top waters cast to secondary points and deeper blow downs. The latter pattern is stronger in the upper parts of the lake, and early or late in the day. Perhaps the cloud cover projected in next week’s forecast will enhance the topwater patterns?
Striper (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s) — The Stripers are showing up in some bigger schools, but still reluctant to bite some days. Try moving the down lines, a slow reel may trigger a bite. Simply reeling the bait up 5 to 10 feet may get the bite. It may also help to drop the bait down a few feet below the fish, and then try reeling it back up through the fish with a slow retrieve. It’s basically a modified form of power reeling, but it can be effective on those stubborn fish. Supplement the down lines with the pitch lines as they are also effective right now. If you have fish that are on the bottom, try dropping a jigging spoon to them. I know it seems out of “season” to fish the spoons, but they are matching up well with the small baits the Stripers are focusing on and may get some extra bites.
Trolling is very good pattern and pulling rigs over the humps has been a solid producer. While there are a few fish being taken over creek channels and over the river channel, targeting the humps is probably the best strategy. 30-to-40-foot humps and are holding some nice groups of fish that will respond to both the full-size rigs or the Mini Macks. 130 feet behind the boat is a good place to start out with the full-size rigs, 8 colors back on the Mini Macks on the lead core. You may need to adjust the depth of the rig based on the depth of the fish on an individual high Spot, or the willingness of the fish to chase down the rig. Keep your Umbrella retriever handy, often, you ‘ll have to hit ‘em on the head to get the bite and you need to get the rig very tight to the bottom.
WEST POINT LAKE
Bass (courtesy of guide Keith Hudson, Lake West Point Fishing Guide Service report via Georgia Outdoor News) — As the days start to get a little shorter and the temps cool just a little, expect a slow improvement in the bass fishing. A few largemouth and spots are still being caught on deeper brush piles, ledges and roadbeds in the main-lake area, basically holding more to a summer pattern. Try big, deep-diving crankbaits or Texas-rigged Ole Monster worms. Also fishing a drop shot can be effective in these areas. Best fishing is around brush piles or other structures in these areas, if you can find them. Water generation always improves this bite. Downsize baits in these same areas and improve your chances for spotted bass. With the unusually high water from this summer’s rains, some fish choose to remain shallow, and this pattern should improve as the water cools, and we move toward fall. Topwater baits such as flukes, Whopper Ploppers and popping frogs can still be effective for shallow fish, especially around grass and weed beds. Try targeting the mouths of feeder creeks north of the 219 Bridge in the Chattahoochee. Also have a jig handy to pitch into wood cover in these same areas. Slower than normal, but still consistent, spotted bass are still your best bet on the south end of the lake. Spots are being caught by casting Spot Remover heads loaded with Zoom Finesse worms at bridge pilings or just dragging a Carolin
a-rigged Zoom Finesse worm around shoal markers. Also, try a small Texas-rigged worm or a jig around blowdown trees. Actively schooling groups of fish will also hit the Flash Mob Jr. rig, a personal favorite in the early fall.
(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 southeast Georgia rivers are blown out from recent rains, and more rain is forecasted for late this week and into the weekend. Ponds will likely be your best bet this weekend. Tides are big this week in saltwater due to the Full Moon.
River gages on September 8th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 4.9 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 5.1 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 7.6 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 13.4 feet and falling (79 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 11.8 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 12.7 feet and falling
The river is very high. Fish elsewhere. If you think you must fish the river, try for catfish in the Burnt Fort area.
The almost daily rains have caused the swamp level to creep up more than 2 inches this week. It doesn’t sound like much, but those 2 inches have put water way out over the prairies again on the east side. Expect the bite on the east side to be slow, but you can catch a few bowfin, pickerel, and fliers. On the west side, target catfish by putting shrimp or worms on the bottom. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.30 feet.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
The bass fishing has been good this week at the area. The biggest bass I heard of this week came from the area. Troy Davis of Cochran caught and released a 10.60-pounder on Friday. That would have likely been a new lake record if he had put it in the holding cage to get it certified. A couple of Blackshear anglers fished the area on Wednesday and caught 4 bass. They had two 4.5-pounders, a 5-pounder, and a 6-pounder.
The better reports have come from ponds this week. Jimmy Zinker caught another nice bass this week on a black quad-bladed buzzbait. He caught the 6-lb., 1-oz. bass just after midnight on Wednesday from a clear water Valdosta area pond. Daniel Johnson and Chad Lee each had nice bass this weekend from Alma area ponds. Chad caught his 4-pounder on Friday with a junebug Ol’ Monster Worm, while Daniel caught a 5-pounder on Saturday. His ate a Christie Craw. They didn’t catch many fish in the muddy water, but the ones they caught were solid.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Tommy Sweeney fished the Brunswick area on Monday and caught 5 trout. He had 3 on hard jerkbaits and 2 on topwaters. He had several other fish swipe at his plug but not commit. When the water temperature drops another 5 degrees or so, that bite is going to bust wide open. The bite will probably slow around the full moon this week because of the big tides (most of the week there is more than 8 feet of difference between high and low tide). For the latest fishing information or live shrimp in the Brunswick area, check with J&P Bait and Tackle on Hwy 303 (912-282-9705).
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
The annual Outdoor Adventure/J.A.K.E.S. Day event will be held on National Hunting and Fishing Day, September 24th. Different outdoors events will be held throughout the morning. If teens age 12-16 would like to learn to bass fish, they can sign up for 1-hour time slots to go out with me in a boat and learn the ropes of how to fool a bass. To sign up for one of the bass fishing time slots, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at 912-285-6094. For more information about National Hunting and Fishing Day and all the scheduled events, click HERE.
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Bass: Bass fishing in Lake Seminole is great right now! Water temperatures are starting to drop, and the fish are warming up. Fish are biting frogs all around the lake. Try working that frog pretty slowly near grass mats with nearby deep water. Alabama rigs and spinner baits will also get the job done if the frog isn’t your cup of tea. According to Chris Taylor of Seminole Guide Service jerk baits and small crank baits are deadly right now.
Hybrid Bass: The hybrid striped bass bite is picking up as well. They are running in spring creek and easy to catch. Almost any set up will get you a bite. Alabama rig, crank bait, jerk bait, rattle trap, or spinner bait. It’s hard to go wrong here so get out there and give it a try. These are feistily little fish and put up a nice fight.
Catfish: The catfish bite on Chattahoochee arm is also boasting some great fish. Big blues and flatheads are just out there waiting to be caught. The experts suggest cut bream as bait. Sink that bait deep in the channel and drift along till you get a bite. Most of the luck is from nigh time fishing so make sure your lights are set up and get out there when the sun is down to escape the heat and catch a fish or two.
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. Hybrid bass have been stocked in the lake recently and should provide an exciting catch! Check out the Big Lazer PFA Fishing Guide for extra information.
Bass: 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.
Channel 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 next KFE will take place on September 24th from 8-11am!
The mayflies are out! It should be easy to bag the limit and put dinner on the table! Worms and crickets continue to be the bait of choice out there to catch some beautiful bream. Anglers are having success in the early mornings and evenings and with the mayfly hatch it should be even easier at those time. Blackshear Catfish are also hot right now! Cane poles are a local favorite and cut bait is the best choice here. The crappie bite is slow but there are still some to be caught if you are patient. Try by the railroad trestle and by Georgia Veterans State Park ramp in boy scout slough.
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
There are two bites to catch on Lake George right now. The first option is the shallow water bite. For this try using small top water lures and dragging them through the grass and other vegetation along the edges. This works well in the early mornings and on days with lots of sun. The other option is the deep-water bite. These fish are mostly hanging out on the ledges of channel bends and places with stumps or other natural and artificial structure. In places with current, use a deep crankbait or a slow rolled 1 to 1.5 oz spinner bait. Areas without current will benefit from a classic Texas rig. Watermelon candy, greens and Junebugs seem to be the best producing colors out there. If the water is muddy due to all the rain, be sure to use a reddish brown shad colored lure to mimic the fish in the natural habitat.