ONE week from tomorrow is a day worthy of a celebration. Each day, millions of Americans work to conserve and improve our natural resources—they are America’s hunters and anglers. That’s YOU! The U.S. Congress and President Nixon established National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1972 to recognize these generations of hunters and anglers for the time and money, more than a billion dollars each year, they donate to wildlife conservation programs.
Won’t you join us at a FREE National Hunting and Fishing Day special event on Saturday, Sept. 24? Events include Outdoor Adventure Days and Kids Fishing Events.
Need more reasons to celebrate? How about a FREE FISHING DAY! On NHF Day, Sept. 24, 2022, residents do NOT need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state including lakes, streams, ponds and public fishing areas.
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.
This week, we have fishing reports from Central, Southwest, Southeast and North Georgia. Now, go enjoy this amazing Fall cool weather and 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 DOWN .5 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Start during the early morning periods with Rapala Shad Raps and Rapala Scatter Raps along the banks. The rip rap rock is also holding fish but only until about 9:30 a.m. at the latest. After mid-morning, the vast majority of the bass are being caught out in the deeper water along the main lake points with Carolina rigs. Fish from 20 to 25 feet deep with the Zoom mini lizards and 6 inch lizards in green pumpkin. A jig or Carolina rig along with six inch U Tail worms will usually catch a limit during the day. The C-Map mapping can be used to highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. Adding scent and a little color to these baits wouldn’t be a bad idea. Use the middle sizes of the Yo Zuri 3DB Crawfish Prism Red and Shad 3DB. Try different colors when the fishing slows down. Keep a pearl Zoom Super Fluke rigged all day.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 4.4 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Deep cranking a Rapala DT14 and DT10 can catch some quality fish but not a lot. Main lake humps are easy to spot on the C-Map map equipment. Now anglers can highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. Use the middle sizes of the Rapala OG8 crank bait in the green gizzard shad. Main lake points fished early in the morning with X Raps, Rapala DT14 and RS Shad Raps are still working. The smaller shoal bass on river bends along with some red eyes are being caught here. Bass Pro Free style spoon can take the deeper fish that are on the bottom. Use the middle sizes of the Terminator stainless 3/8 super spinner bait and Titanium T 1 spinner bait ½ ounce model. Also continue to pick apart the heavy cover along the ledges with those jigs and Texas Rigged worms. Keep a pearl Zoom Super Fluke rigged all day.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 80’S
Bass fishing is fair and the lake is full and stained up the rivers clearing on the south end. There are a lot of smaller fish under deep water docks. You can use a shaky head or a Texas rig worm fished under these docks. The C-Map mapping can be used to highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. The best docks are the ones with structure under them and just look for dock lights and pole holders. The small Zoom lizard in green pumpkin with red flake is a good slow lure. Use a light sinker, light line and be sure to use this bait as close to and in and around the docks. The bigger fish are coming up the rivers. Use the Rapala Skitter Pop, the Shadow Rap Blue Back Herring and Shadow Rap Deep 11 Shad and Blue back and Ripstop 09. Keep a pearl Zoom Super Fluke rigged all day. Fish the soft plastics very tight to cover. A jig with a dark color green or brown craw trailer can work. Also, if Georgia Power is moving water, move to the bridge rip rap and use a crank bait fished on the down river side of the bridge.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5, FEET 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The afternoon bite has been best when Georgia Power brings the water back up. Rising water in the afternoon has these fish up shallow on the sea walls and in the grass beds. A Spro frog in white and a white Tru Trac Lures spinnerbait around the grass have been producing a decent amount of bites with an occasional big bite. Use the Bandit Chrome Pearl White Blue Shad 300 deep diver Spring Craw. The C-Map mapping can be used to highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. The key to consistent bites is making sure you stay around the shad. The shad have started migrating in the pockets and creeks with the cool nights we have been having. Primary and secondary points are ideal as the bass will use these to ambush shad as they move across the points. The mid lake area seems to be the most consistent for this bite. A light shaky head with a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm will also catch a lot of fish in brush piles, lake wide.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 0.4 FEET 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Docks and any set of rocks in depths from 7 to 15 feet are holding the bass and they are tight to cover. A good Texas rigged worm like the Larew Craw and the four inch Zoom finesse worm is fair. The smaller spots are roaming about all day and these fish will be the first to bite. Any small bites just stay put and fish a little deeper. This is an old lake with almost no cover. The C-Map mapping can be used to highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. Always have a #5 Shad Rap on the lake ready with some 8-pound test on a spinning rod. The bigger bass are holding tight to cover and a very slow approach will be necessary as the water temperatures are still up. Stay out of the backs of the creeks and concentrate all your efforts out where there is any current. Small baits and slow retrieves and several casts to each area can work. Keep a pearl Zoom Super Fluke rigged all day.
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
Bass: Bass fishing on Walter F George reservoir has been great recently! A lot of fish in the 3.5-5lb range have been pulled from the water. You need to keep moving to find them but when you get a bite it’s a good idea to work that are for a bit. Shad colors are always a good bet on George and plastic worms and crank baits will also land you a fish. The top water bite has been a bit more finicky, but a frog worked slowly near topped out grass has the potential to land you a nice one as well.
Catfish: The catfish bite has also been good! The north part of the lake has been producing a lot of big flatheads. Suspend your bait part way down in the water column and float the channel for best results. Cut bait as well as chicken breast soaked in Jell-O should do the trick.
Water temperatures are coming down and are sitting around 83-84. Water levels are fluctuating a bit with rain coming down from the north. Fishing has been great! The bass are working the shad on the ledges right now. Jerk bait, spooks and rattle traps will all be good choices. Look for action on the surface and hints like cormorants in a specific area. If you see action or are getting bites it a good idea to stay in that are because the fish are not moving a lot right now. Even if the action slows down. Stay there and give it a bit of time before running off to find a new spot.
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
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)
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. Water levels are very low right now so watch out for stumps and other obstacles.
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 Bert Deener, Region Supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
We FINALLY have a fairly dry forecast for the next week, and there has been a nip in the air the last couple mornings. The fall bite is about to bust wide open.
River gages on September 15th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 4.1 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 3.9 feet and falling FAST
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 7.7 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 12.4 feet and rising (77 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 12.5 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 11.7 feet and falling
The river is still very high. Fish elsewhere. If you think you must fish the river, try for catfish in the Burnt Fort area.
The recent rains have the level as high as it’s been since last winter. Very few folks fished this week according to Okefenokee Adventures staff. I would let the level start dropping again before planning a trip, but catfishing should be decent on the west side. Put shrimp or worms on the bottom and you should be able to catch enough for a meal. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.36 feet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The big full moon tides had the water muddy this past week, but tides will be fishable this week. I talked with two different anglers who saw a few tailing and cruising reds and sheepshead in the marsh, but neither could make them bite. The only decent report I had was from an angler who said that he caught a few small keeper sheepshead with fiddler crabs fished by the pilings at a Brunswick area dock. The shrimp cast-netting should pick up over the next couple weeks in the Crooked River area. The trout fishing will pick up with the cooling water and the population moving back into the tidal creeks after the summer spawning period. That bite is ramping up right now and will be firing off starting this week behind the big tides.
Jimmy Zinker fished on Tuesday night and fooled 2 nice bass with big jitterbugs in a Valdosta area pond. The bream bite was good around the fool moon. I didn’t hear of any giant bluegills, but folks had a good mess of hand-sized fish. They bit both artificials and crickets.
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 NHF Day and all of the fun, free events, click HERE.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala Region Fisheries Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Keep a pearl Zoom Super Fluke rigged all day. The lower lake fish are shallow to mid-depth and are starting to school in the creek mouths over deeper water, as smaller pods of bait are starting to form. We have been catching these schooling fish on pearl white Flukes, chrome Super Spooks and the Swarming Hornet Fish Head Spin. When the bite slows, switch to a drop shot finesse worms in morning dawn red or a green pumpkin craw jig. Focus on bridge pilings or points on the side that drops the sharpest for this bite. The C-Map mapping can be used to highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. Try the smaller sizes of the Rapala Rip Stop in albino shiner. This is a good middle of the day bait. There are also fish being caught on a Spot Choker. Try the Alabama rig in the late afternoon hours. Have a weightless Pearl White Fluke or a jig for some good hook-ups too.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770-366-8845 via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is fair to good. It is definitely the time of the year for the summer grind in bass fishing. The good news is we have had some heavy rains lately, and cooler temperatures are soon to be here. For now, be prepared to work for your fish. The Jerkshad has been a steady producer, but you will have to work a lot of locations. Work this bait with a steady retrieve and then a pause to let it fall. Many of the strikes will come on the fall. With this and the other baits look for fish on the ends of long points, over deep humps and over brush in twenty-five to thirty-five foot range. The drop shot has also been producing fish in these same areas. The Lanier Baits Sweet Rosie, Blue Lily and Morning Dawn colors have all produced fish this week. Look for the shad to begin there fall move to the creeks with the bass to follow. Check out the areas right now with the stained water and you may come up with a good largemouth bite. Green Pumpkin and June bug trick worms worked around the docks and blow downs can be the ticket on a tough day.
Lanier Magnum Spot (This report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Angler Mike Dyer caught this magnum Lanier spotted bass in the Ball Ridge Creek area of the lake this past Monday. The hard fighting fish took a live herring fished on a weighted free-line.
Lanier Bass GON-tel: Lanier Bass Info – Read About It HERE.
Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton, 770-530-6493 via www.southernfishing.com) — The water temperatures are in the low 80s temperatures are dropping we have a lot of rain coming this weekend that should help lower the water temperature even more. We are catching big numbers but still waiting on the big fish to come out of hiding. Crappie are suspended 10 to 15 feet deep at most for the docks we are fishing. Docks with structure are producing well. If you are using jigs I would try bright colors in clear water and dark colors after the rain. I am setting minnows 10 to 12 feet deep most of the time. Crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows or shaded areas of dock. When dock shooting the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I use 5 pound test high visibility yellow k9 braid for my line unless I am using a bobber then it’s the k9 6 pound high vis line k9fishing.com and a Acc crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my pages #crappieonlanier & #fishingwitheverydayheroes to book call or go to http://www.crappieonlanier.com.
Lanier Stripers (This report courtesy of Buck Tails Guide Service 770-530-6493) — Lake Lanier stripers are being caught with a variety of methods. Water temp is 83.6 degrees and with all these afternoon rain showers it should be falling. The trolling umbrella rig and lead core seem to be having some luck over the main channels and the secondary points that lead into the channel. Hadn’t seen any top water to speak of, but it should start any day now. The afternoon bite seems to be more active when they release water. The mini Mac on lead core has produced some nice fish pulling around 240-300′ at 2.5-3.5 mph. Remember to wear your life jackets.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Spotted bass fishing is good. The water is clear in most of the main lake and still a little muddy up the rivers. Largemouth, a few in the 5 to-7 pound range, are being caught even with the high water, along with a pretty decent number of spots. Most fish being caught are on a 3/16th ounce Camo Spot Stalker Jig head with a watermelon Yamamoto Cut Tail worm. The key is working the points and pockets near the bluff walls. During the day look fish rocky banks or deep pockets and throw a 6-inch green pumpkin lizard on a Carolina rig. Look for water falling off to at least 10 feet or simply the deepest water with available cover in the rivers. Use the Rapala OG8 crank bait in the green gizzard shad. The C-Map mapping can be used to highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. A Texas rigged finesse worm pegged with a ¼-ounce bullet weight and a bead has been working also. The Spot Stalker bite is good because of the wedge head design, so it can ease in and out of the cover without getting hung. It will weave in and out of the brush piles and rocks very effectively without hanging up and it will also skip well under docks for those fish seeking some cooler water. It also has a double barb keeper to prevent plastics from falling down.
Allatoona Topwater Action (This report courtesy of tournament angler Matt Driver) — The bass schooling activity is off the charts right now! Poppers, whopper-ploppers, and spy baits are where it’s at. Main lake points and wind-blown pockets are the best areas to target these school-ies.
Lake Allatoona Crappie Report (This report courtesy of the “Crappieman,” Jeff Albright) — The crappie bite is starting to pick up! We fished this past Saturday and caught 36, with 14 good keepers slow trolling Red Rooster Custom Baits. Water temps were 77-79F. Most of the fish we caught were in 7-15 ft of water. Trolling speeds were 0.8 to 1 mph using 1/16 oz jig heads. Monday was a bit slower, but we did catch 26-28, which included a 2+ pound white crappie and another white crappie weighing 1.5 pounds. The more the water cools, the better the bite is going to get. Brush piles in deeper water are holding lots of fish. By mid-October the trolling bite should take off! It’s gonna be a good fall for crappie.
Carters Walleye (This report courtesy of Lake and Stream Guide Service via GON Magazine) — August and September walleye fishing on Carters is about big fish. Getting down deep and getting them in the net can be a trick, but the reward of flaky white fillets is worth the effort. It might not be a numbers game here, but the numbers on the scales don’t lie. We are seeing a good number of walleye heavier than 5 pounds come to the boat a few times a week. For this reason, we choose to target these bigger fish, which can sacrifice numbers, but the bigger fish totally make up for it. Here you have to contend with the pump-back schedule. If it’s on and running, look for the fish to be super deep. If they are generating or the dam is closed, the fish will pull up a bit and get on humps and ledges versus hanging in treetops. We are still fishing spoons, trolling crankbaits and fishing some live bait, depending on conditions. When looking for these bigger fish, a larger presentation is key. Big spoons or lures or even big live baits are getting the most attention. Presentation is more vital than location right now as the fish are scattered out over the entire lake. Move from spot to spot quickly, target fish on the sonar vertically, and you should see some nice eyes in the box this month.
Carters Linesides (This report courtesy of Lake and Stream Guide Service via GON Magazine) — The striper bite has been either really good or non-existent, depending on the schedule from the dam. We are either fishing big spoons and big live baits around schools of fish in the creek mouths and main-lake points when they are deep or pulling Captain Mack’s umbrella rigs and bucktails in the backs of the creeks early or when we are marking fish suspended over deeper water later in the day. The bigger fish are in the smaller schools of five to six fish, and the bigger schools seem to be the smaller fish in the 6- to 8-lb. class. Trolling, deep dropping or power reeling can all be used right now for striped fish from Worley Creek to Fisher Creek. The daily rain has the water above the big island pretty nasty right now.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service and www.southernfishing.com) — The lake is very muddy from all the rain and fishing is slow, it will pick up as the water clears.
- Bass: Bass fishing is good, and they are on the creek and river channel ledges. Use deep running crank baits and Carolina rigs.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is poor. They are on deeper brush in 10-18 feet of water and can be caught spider rigging with minnows and Jiffy Jigs. Some Crappie are still being caught shooting docks with jigs.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good, and they are in the lower Chattooga River, the Cave Hole, and Little Spring Creek. Live Shad down lined and free lined is the way to catch these fish.
- Catfish: Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8-15 feet of water, cut bait is working best.
West Point Lake Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. The bait of choice will be the Rapala #5 Shad Raps and the Rapala DT10 crank baits. Soft plastics must be green pumpkin. Up the river the water is stained so try the pearl or the red shad color. Rig this bait with a tube jig head or peg a Texas style bullet weight and cast to isolated targets like rock and wood. An occasional dok won’t hurt as numbers can gather on the docks. Also, fish lay downs located all around the lake. Fish the deeper end for best results. Try the fast retrieve with the Chug Bug. The C-Map mapping can be used to highlight depth ranges anglers might otherwise miss. Also rig one of these tubes on a Carolina rig and fish off the rocky points. The steeper the drop coming off the point the better the results will be. Work the bait slow and make at least two casts at each location. Shake the plastics in any cover to wake them up. This will allow the fish to locate the baits and even draw a strike in some cases. Concentrate on the rocks and wood and work the deeper water especially when the sun gets high.
West Point Fish Attractor Sites Growing (This report courtesy of Fisheries Technician Cody Somsen) — West Point Fisheries staff recently finished installing more fish habitat sites throughout West Point Reservoir. New sites were concentrated in the 16 to 25 ft depth range, which is nearly devoid of any natural habitat. Dozens of new fish attractors have been deployed at West Point this year, which is great news for both fish and anglers alike. Find these and other fish attractor locations at West Point HERE.
September Trout Report (Report courtesy of Tad Murdock, Georgia Wild Trout) — September has arrived. The bug diversity is rising as the hatches have begun to increase once again. Caddis and midges continue to be the most abundant in the streams I have visited over the past few weeks with the occasional mayfly here and there. The trout have been incredibly active and temperamental at times but can be caught on just about any nymph or junk pattern in the box if it’s presented correctly. The trout activity has been tied closely to the rains. If you manage to catch the timing right, the dry fly bite can be excellent. Larger dry fly patters (caddis, stimulators, and hoppers) have done well at these times when the fish are looking up for a meal. A dry dropper has become a go to when sight fishing trout in skinny water with a stealthier presentation. The lower water levels on days without rainfall can be difficult as the trout become skittish. If you can get into position without spooking the fish, chances are you can get a good shot at the trout. Get more reports on trout fishing around Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Dahlonega, and Helen HERE.
Parting Trout Note: Want to do more to support trout fishing in Georgia? Consider upgrading to a Trout Unlimited license plate this year. Aside from being a great looking tag, each purchase or renewal of a Trout Unlimited license plate directly supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs. Hatcheries and wild trout efforts both benefit from the trout tag.
Coosa River Lake Sturgeon in the News — Researchers studying lake sturgeon in Northwest Georgia’s Coosa River have found evidence that the fish may be reproducing for the first time since they were wiped out in the 1970s. The discovery was made earlier this year, as a team of researchers prepared for a project of tagging and tracking sturgeon in the river system. It’s part of an ongoing effort to assess the population of lake sturgeon since they were reintroduced by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 2002. Continue Reading HERE.
What did I catch? With well over 300 fish species (mostly freshwater) calling Georgia “home”, it can sometimes be tough to identify your catch. Is it a green sunfish or a warmouth? What kind of minnow is this? The next time you find yourself in such a situation, check out the “Fishes of Georgia” website. The site’s color photos and state range maps may just help you figure out what you’ve caught!
Georgia Bass Slam! Do you have what it takes to complete a Georgia Bass Slam in 2022? The idea behind the Georgia Bass Slam is to recognize anglers with the knowledge and skill to catch at least five (5) different species of black bass in a variety of habitats across the state. This program was created to stimulate interest in the conservation and management of black bass and their habitats and the anglers that pursue the fish. North Georgia anglers have a great opportunity to complete a slam, as seven of Georgia’s ten program eligible bass species can be caught in various waters from Atlanta north. Give it a shot and maybe you too will make the distinguished list of successful “slammers” in 2022!