If you had to get your kids out of bed at 5:30 am on a Saturday morning…do you think they would be happy and excited about it? What do you think would motivate them? Chris Daniel knew EXACTLY what would get his two sons, Mason and Logan, out of the bed – participating in a youth fishing tournament (sponsored by the North Georgia Crappie Club) with him and their granddad. Chris reports that the crew wore out the bluegill and bream, catching over 30 of them. But the catching of two bass got them across the “finish line” and helped them secure 1st and 2nd place for bass. Chris even said that after fishing all day, the boys still wanted to throw out a line from the boat ramp before leaving. Three generations on the water together, making memories to last a lifetime!
NEWS TO KNOW:
- Trout Creel Survey: WRD has instituted a self-report Trout Angler creel survey on the Toccoa Tailwater in Fannin County to help biologists evaluate current angler use, guiding, revisit rates, effort, satisfaction, catch rates, trout harvest sizes and harvest rates. Anglers can quickly access the short survey on site by scanning the QR code on the signs posted at each public river access point.
- Harvest Time! Fall is harvest time for 6-8” channel catfish and 4-6” bluegill at DNR fish hatcheries and this year’s harvest has started off great. So far, more than 80,000 catfish have been stocked with a
goal of stocking more than 300,000 catfish and 100,000 bluegill this year. These fish will be used to provide fishing opportunities at public fishing areas, community fishing lakes, and kids fishing ponds.
- Fall Sampling Ongoing: Annual fall standardized sampling for fish populations is ongoing across the state. Fishery managers use a variety of techniques to conduct their sampling including electrofishing and gill nets. The data collected provides information about fish population health, changes in fish populations and fish communities, and helps guide future management decisions. Additionally, by performing regular sampling, early detection of invasive species introductions is possible.
(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 .84 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair, fish the lower part of the lake right now until the upper end and main lake clear. The water temperature has cooled down and the bass will be moving up into the coves and will start hitting buzz baits and Redemption spinnerbaits. The early morning periods are good with the 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, most 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 work and add some Jack’s Juice garlic scent and add some Spike It red dye for a little more color to these baits. Look for largemouth and spots on points, roadbeds and back in the coves; gravelly areas are the best bet. Mid lake creeks are hot spots this month and fish any point in this area.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 4.3 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. The cooler water is moving the fish shallow longer, as they feed on the bait under pad cover and shore cover. Top water frogs, blade baits and top water poppers are doing well. Chatterbaits and lipless crankbaits worked on the edges of the cover will work when the top water bite slows. Deep trash piles and structure will work with crankbaits and Carolina rigs. Later in the month the cooler water temperatures will push the bass tighter up on ditches and deeper drops. Use the Lowrance Down Scan with Fish Reveal electronics to locate these fish and drop a Flex It or Hopkins spoon down to them.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 70’S (This Lake Oconee Fishing Report is By Captain Mark Smith, ReelTime Guide Service) —
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The fish are starting to move into their fall pattern. Start on the main lake points with a square bill crankbait. Work the points from shallow to deep. With a Ned rig fish the mouth of the coves and pockets on the main lake docks. Match the color of the worm or crank bait to the watercolor you are fishing.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor. Most of the top water action has stopped in the mornings. Some afternoons you can find some fish in the mouth of Sugar Creek. The mini Mack trolled will pick up some fish in this area.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The crappie are in the trees about 10 to 15 feet deep. Drop live minnow down and start catching.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.7 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The shad are moving to the shallows in the creeks and coves and the bass are right behind them. Bass will be gorging themselves about to get ready for the colder weather. Shad will be the primary forage for the bass all month. Shad imitating lures such as top water baits, crank baits, spinner baits, and flukes will be most productive. White or chrome colored top water baits such as a Lucky Craft Sammy will be hard to beat walking them back over stumps or brush on shallow flats. Bigger fish will also fall victim to a white Buckeye Lure DH2 buzz bait fished around heavy cover. Mid-morning and throughout the rest of the day, cover a lot of water in the creeks and coves with a Spro Little John 50 crank bait or an Aruku Shad Jr. lipless crank bait. Nasty shad will be the best color on the Little John and chrome/blue will work great on the Aruku Shad. If the bite slows and the fish get finicky, try a weightless Zoom Super Fluke in the pearl white color on a 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook. This will get many bites throughout the day by finicky fish. On some post-front bluebird days, the fish will not chase a bait. On these tough days, try a Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head with a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm around docks, brush piles and stumps. Fishing will be good all over the lake but concentrate efforts around the larger creeks.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The shad are starting to move into the creeks and pockets. Top water early in the mornings around any cover or isolated cover will produce. Keep an eye out for schooling fish as the shad are making the move to creeks and pockets. Top water baits like the Whoppler Plopper and the Pop R’s, and Torpedos in shad colors are best. A Spook around shallow humps and in the pockets are producing some quality largemouth and spotted bass. Shallow, rocky points with a variety of baits will yield some fish, as well. A 1/4-ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait in white or white/chartreuse with gold or white blades are catching some fish, as well. Alabama rigs are catching some also. A 3/8 to 1/2 ounce black and blue or green pumpkin jig fished around docks, rocks and rails will be a way to catch fish all winter. Later in the month the cooler water temperatures will push the bass tighter up on ditches and deeper drops. Use the Lowrance Down Scan with Fish Reveal electronics to locate these fish and drop a Flex It or Hopkins spoon down to them. A Fish Head Spin can be dropped or cast to these fish, as well.
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
The weather is cooling down the water temperatures, but the bite in Panic Pond at Silver Lake Public Fishing Area is heating up. We are seeing large bass move into deeper water chasing gizzard shad. These big girls are holding shallow on standing timber looking for large forage. Large swim baits and crankbaits should coax a response from a trophy. An angler caught 3 nice fish totaling almost 15 pounds in Panic last weekend. The water level is down some so please be cautious of submerged obstacles.
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Remember, gas motors are allowed but at idle speed Only!!
Bass: When targeting bass, try shad as well as other fish look alike baits at a variety of depths. As the water cools, try pitching crawfish and plastic worms in deeper waters, particularly near the picnic area as this method has produced quality bites. In cooler waters, try slowing down your plastic baits to increase chances for bites. During a recent sampling event we conducted we mostly noticed these fish hanging out further from the shoreline in 5-6 ft of water.
Bream: Bream fishing is generally good this time of year and that trend should continue with the cooler water temperatures. Woody structures in shallower water all around the lake are good target areas. Live bait such as crickets and worms are extremely productive. Also, small jigs, grubs or spinner type baits can be used to entice a bream bite. Bream fishing is one of the more popular fishing experiences for young or beginning anglers so be sure to bring your child with you to the lake! Bream fishing with light tackle can increase the experience even further!
Catfish: The water is still warm enough that the cats are biting fairly well. Channel catfish are located throughout most of the lake but for best results try locating the channel in the upper end of the lake or the rip rap along the dam. You can fish on the bottom or at varying levels while remaining low in the water column. Chicken liver, cut bait or even shrimp are successful channel catfish baits.
Despite the cooling weather the crappie bite is still going strong on Lake Blackshear. Many large crappies pushing 2 pounds have been reported being caught near brush piles. Try targeting these fish in 6 to 8 ft of water. Minnows and sugar bug jigs are the local favorite to land these bigger fish. Try following the shad up into the mouth of creeks to find yourself on a school of fish and take advantage of this bait fish feeding frenzy. When you get a nice fish be sure to stop by Flint River Outdoors and get your fish weighed in to enter their monthly big fish contest.
Water temperatures continue to drop as we have these cold nights. The lake is at full pool after the rain last week and the Flint and Chattahoochee arms have a slight stain at 74 degrees. The fishing at lake Seminole is great right now. It doesn’t matter what fish you are targeting; they are sure to be biting.
Bass and Crappie: The bass and crappie are following schooling shad and staying mostly on those grass lines. According to Chris Taylor of Seminole Guide Services jerk baits, shad raps and flukes are almost guaranteed to get you a bite. If he had to pick one bait to throw all day, he would go with a fluke on a shad color. For those crappie, shad colored jigs 16th oz head are where its at. Chris likes the twister tails but says and shad look a like will do the job.
Stripers and Hybrids: The striped bass and hybrid striped bass are schooling out on the main lake. Keep an eye out for bird sigh as that’s your best bet to find these guys. Chris says that a lot of the schools are focused down where the two rivers meet in the main body of the lake. He suggests Rattle traps hair spoons and jigs are you best bet for targeting those hybrids.
Catfish: Big catfish are hot right now as well. Cut bait is where its at. If you don’t have cutbait try some hot dog or chicken liver. Drift those channels with a deep line for best results.
(Fishing report courtesy of Hunter Roop, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 3.1 FT, 70S
Bass (courtesy of Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report): Bass fishing is fair. Big cold front this week. With the temperature drop of more than a few degrees it affects fishing whether it’s good or bad. As these cold fronts over the next few weeks roll in fishing is great on the own set. Bass are holding on main lake points in the lake due to the consistent water generation. A mixture of whites, spots, and hybrids are schooling below Hwy 109 Bridge on the west bank in 6 to 8 feet of water. Fish the mouths of the coves using a popping cork, Rat L Trap, or Shad Raps. Some fish are still hitting top water early and late watch the gulls and that is where the top water action is taking place. Try a white buzz bait later in the day on the lead in banks to the coves for large mouths and spots.
Crappie & More (courtesy of Fishbrain’s Uncle Jay): The crappie bite has been on fire at West Point reservoir and anglers are loading down their tailgates with slab crappie. While minnows on a downline will do the trick to pull crappie out of shallow brush in most instances, sometimes they prefer jigs. GON’s Krappie Krane goes with both, and recommends a Bobby Garland Monkey Milk and Sugar Bugs hair jigs tipped with crappie nibbles or minnows. Expect to land an occasional blue catfish, striper, or white bass as well.
WEISS LAKE IS AT 0 FEET 7 INCHES BELOW FULL POOL, CLEAR AND 72 – 75 DEGREES
All species (courtesy of Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report): Bass fishing is good and they are still on the creek and river channel ledges. Deep running crank baits and Carolina rigs are catching fish. A lot of Bass are starting to move shallow on secondary points. Crappie fishing is good and they are moving to the Coosa River channel 14 to 20 feet deep. Use the spider rigging techniques with minnows and Jiffy Jigs, Some Crappie are still being caught shooting docks with jigs. Striper fishing is poor and no reports in the last few weeks. Catfish are biting well. Fish in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water and cut bait is working best.
LAKE HARTWELL IS 4.8 FEET BELOW FULL, 70’s
Bass (courtesy of Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report): Bass fishing is good. As the water gets cooler bait fish are becoming more active. Big cold front this week. With the temperature drop of more than a few degrees it affects fishing whether it’s good or bad. As these cold fronts over the next few weeks roll in fishing is great on the own set. With this front the bait will start piling up in the creeks in search of warmer water. The morning bite has been tough to figure out. Large single shad ae roaming around the banks in the coves. Use the shallow running Shad Raps when fishing in tight. Skeet Reese Redemption spinner baits are also working early and then again around mid-day. There are some real shallow water fish, but they are smaller bass. The bigger quality bass are coming from five feet of water and deeper. Use the #5 Shad Raps on the windblown points and rocky banks. Follow the wind and find the fish. Make long casts and use a slow but steady retrieve. Slow cranking a #10 Husky Jerk, working mid depths with a Zoom Super fluke or the Ito Vision 110 jerk bait will also work. Try to find areas where either a channel or ditch runs close to the points or banks. Bass are using these deep-water channels as highways on roads to get to their feeding grounds. Use your GPS to mark the sharp drop offs. The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will make finding the bait, the structure and the bass.
Note: With the early arrival of winter-like weather, maximize your chances of success for shallow largemouth on Hartwell by fishing shallow ditches during the during peak sunlight hours between noon and 3 pm.
LAKE CHATUGE (courtesy of GON Fishing reports): Level: 3.5 down. Temp: mid-to-low 70s. Clarity: Clear.
Bass: Guide Eric Welch, of Welch’s Guide Service, reports, “Fishing is good. TVA has been lowering the lake for the winter, and the cooler weather we’ve been having is dropping the water temp. We’ve been seeing more fish breaking in the mornings and throughout the day. This time of year, I like throwing a Berkley Cane Walker, a Strike King Sexy Dawg Jr. and a Lucky Craft Gunfish. The baitfish we’ve been seeing is only 2.5 to 3.5 inches long, so if you are throwing swimbaits around this size, you’re going to get more bites. There are a good number of fish out on the offshore structure. I’m using my Garmin LiveScope to find the fish in these areas and will drop a drop-shot rig down on the fish I see. You can run this pattern and catch fish on a shaky head. We’ve been catching fish in and around laydowns throwing a Texas rig and a 3/8-oz. jig. Anything in green pumpkin has been working. With October on us, you should start to see a lot of topwater action on the main body and in the pockets. They normally will be pushing bait hard. One great thing about forward sonar is that you can keep contact and follow the baitfish after they have gone down. Good luck.”
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 6.2 FEET, 70S
Bass (courtesy of Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report): Bass fishing is fair. Big cold front this week. With the temperature drop of more than a few degrees it affects fishing whether it’s good or bad. As these cold fronts over the next few weeks roll in fishing is great on the own set. Running main lake and secondary points where wind is blowing in is the best deal right now. Find a blowdown tree or break in the wind. Use a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a white or chartreuse painted blade and cast it as far as possible and burn back to the boat will draw good bites. It’s also becoming the perfect time to throw a larger swim bait such as this Spro BBZ or gliding gizzard baits in 6 in models fished on Sunline Sniper 20-pound test fluorocarbon and a Cashion 7-foot swimbait Rod. Find a concentration of fish several dates will work such as a Shakey head worm Drop shot and even a jerk bait. Continue using the buzz bait first thing in the morning and even a popper style bait. Have fun and remember keep moving and looking for active fish.
LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 3.8 FEET, 60S
Bass (courtesy of guide Phil Johnson via Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report): Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is fair. Finding the bass on Lake Lanier has not been hard to do but getting them to commit to a bait has been the challenge. The water temperature has been hanging in the low seventies to high sixties for the last week with the water level continuing to drop. The shad are starting to school up and there is some top water action happening, but it is scattered and often just a single fish chasing bait. We have been able to draws strikes on the moving baits but often it just a swing and a miss. I had one bass this week hit a Gunfish six times on one retrieved without hooking up. The fish we have caught have come on a variety of lures. The Jerk shad has been steady for drawing strikes all week. A Slick Stick, Sebile and Gunfish have also caught fish. When you see suspended fish the Spotchoker with a three three Keitech is a good bait to count down to the depth of the fish. We have been working these baits over humps and long points for most of our bites. There has been a jig bite on shallow rocky points as well as around brush. Don’t forget to try the drop shot around the deeper brush piles and humps using a Sweet Rosy or a Morning Dawn color. With the colder weather forecast to come in there should be some changes coming to the lake. The true fall schooling activity should be steadily picking up as well as the shallower jig and worm bite. The shad will continue to migrant to the backs of the creeks so be prepared to follow them. It seems that there is turnover going on across the lake so if you are in an area that you are seeing bubbles, or the water is a dark dingy color move to a different area for more success. It is scattered so there are still clean areas to fish. Look for it to pick up by the end of this week and Go Catch ‘Em! (Zach Nolan LMB photo accompanying)
Stripers (courtesy of angler Jack Becker): Fishing for Stripers on Lake Lanier again this week—the wind challenged me, but I found success a number of times. Water temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees F. I did better this week in the early evening a couple of hours before dark when the wind died down. Seeing a lot of bait balls coming up to feed on the plankton late in the day. Free lining live, “small bait” on a redi-float worked best for me drifting with the wind or moving very slowly with my electric motor. I’m catching fish in the 12 to 14 lb range. I don’t know why, but I did not catch a single fish on down lines this week. Thanks to GA. DNR for their efforts to help restore this striper fishery after a few years of rebuilding. (Two Becker Lanier photos accompanying)
Water Quality (courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): The summer temperature-0xygen squeeze is long gone and surface temperatures are dropping rapidly and mixing with deeper water layers. If this cold weather sticks around, we can expect fall turnover to occur earlier this year than its typical completion date near Christmas. If you want to gauge the progression of turnover in the reservoir, you can actually look to the USGS gauge at the Chattahoochee River below Lanier and monitor the water temperature trends there. I run the calendar back a year or two (i.e., Jan 1, 2020) to get an idea for the temperature trend I’m looking for. The inflection point where the water temperature at the bottom of the reservoir begins to drop again tells us turnover is fully complete. A warm and wet Autumn requires more for time Lanier’s surface waters to cool and sink to the bottom of the lake. Conversely, a dry, cold Autumn like the one we are experiencing speeds up the turnover process a bit. This impacts your fishing by shortening the “fall transition” window for many gamefish, and we will likely see species likes spotted bass, largemouth, striper, and crappie settle into winter patterns a few weeks early this year if the cold trend continues.
Crappie (courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton via Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report): The water temperatures are in the upper 60s and the fishing is good we are catching a lot of fish and they are getting bigger. Crappie are suspended 12 to 20 feet. Any structure, blow downs, and brush piles are producing well. If you are using jigs, I would try bright colors in clear water and dark colors after the rain. I have had success the ATX monkey milk this week I am setting minnows 10 to 12 feet deep most of the time just above the suspended fish. This week 90% of my catch came on minnows 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 ATX lure company’s jigs on a lip thrashing lure jig heads. 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.
LAKE BURTON (courtesy of GON Fishing reports): 0.5 FEET DOWN AND 70S
Bass: Guide Tyler Clore, of Georgia Cast & Blast, reports, “With the lake turning over, fishing has been hit and miss. We have had the most luck using a drop shot in 20- to 25-foot brushpiles. We have been rigging the drop shot with a morning-dawn Roboworm. Also, we have been catching them on the deeper ends of points with a Spro McStick jerkbait and a Mini Me spinnerbait. I prefer a white spinnerbait with double willowleaf blades. As the turnover ends and water quality stabilizes, look for fish to be chasing pods of bait as they fatten up for the winter. I prefer throwing the McStick or a white fluke into the schooling fish. We have caught a few trout deep in the channel off the points using blueback herring. October is a great month to fish. The water has cooled down and the fish are feeding for winter.”
Lanier Tailwater Trout (courtesy of Orvis Fishing Reports): Fishing Report for 10/14/22 Reservoir stratification continues in Lake Lanier and it is causing the Chattahoochee river to be cloudy and off-color. The further south on the tailwater you go, the more fresh water will be provided to the main stream from feeder streams. The wild brown trout are beginning to feed more actively as the days become shorter and we approach fall spawning season. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has discontinued their weekly stocking program for the year and will only stock the tailwater once per month until spring. Delayed Harvest stocking should begin in November south of Morgan Falls Dam if the rain does not make the water unfishable for an extended period of time. If you have any questions at all, feel free to come in and we will be happy to get you set up! For the Chattahoochee, state regulations require a certified personal flotation devise be worn by all anglers from Buford dam south to highway 20. Pay special attention to water release info online or call the number below for release schedules. Make sure to call the Corp of Engineers release hotline at 770-945-1466 before making your trip.
Tailwater Trouting Tips (courtesy of RTA’s Chris Scalley): With murkier waters due to Lake Lanier being stratified all summerlong, fly fisherman should bump their average size nymphs by one or two hook sizes to gain a larger profile that’s easier for the fish to see. With limited water visibility, anglers can get away with heavier tippet allowing for stronger breaking strength for their line. As the days get shorter and the evenings cooler, water temperatures will start to drop, making the fish more active during the day. Fall is brown trout spawning season, so look out for some better-than-average brood fish to come out of the woodwork for a good streamer bite.
Toccoa Tailwater Report (courtesy of PFS online fishing reports): We received two good reports from customers fishing this past week. Discharges and stream levels are near a normal level and the river in good shape. There are still a lot of insects hatching.
Recommended Trout Flies:
- Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin and Articulated streamers, size 6/4
- Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6
- Blue-winged Olives: size 16 nymph, emergers, duns and spinners
- Aquatic Worms, size 12, pink, red, and others
- Midges: Blood, Creamsizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
- Cinnamon Caddis, size 16/18, pupa and adults
- Great Autumn Brown Sedge: size 10, pupa and adults
- Green/brown sandwich hoppers, 4,5,8,10,12
- Japanese Beetles, size 14/16
- Carpenter ants, size 16/18
Strategies, Techniques and Tips: Be sure to check the TVA release schedule shown above. Different species of Blue-winged olive nymphs are very plentiful and available for the trout and various species can hatch on warmer, cloudy days. Still, a good strategy is fishing a tandem Midge rig under a small strike indicator with the midge lava as the bottom fly and the midge pupa as the top fly. Fish the adult midge only when you observe trout feeding on the surface. Fish the Brown Sculpin, White Belly Sculpin and articulated streamers anytime during low light conditions or higher water levels. Aquatic worms are working. Cinnamon caddis are hatching. Great Autumn Brown sedge caddis are hatching.
Stocking Update: Though we are well beyond peak trout stocking season, there is still an opportunity or two to land some recently stocked trout, especially if you are leafing in the North GA mountains this weekend. Be sure to check this week’s weekly stocking report to narrow down your options, and if you want to receive this stocking report as a regular communication, be sure to subscribe. Delayed Harvest season begins November 1st and runs through May 14th annually, so get ready to stow away your stringers and break out your favorite single hook artificial lure for catch and release trout fishing opportunities throughout the fall and winter. Delayed Harvest regulations apply on the following trout waters:
- Amicalola Creek from County Road 192 (Steele Bridge Road) downstream to GA Hwy 53.
- Chattahoochee River from Sope Creek (off Columns Drive) downstream to US Hwy 41 (Cobb Parkway).
- Chattooga River from GA Hwy 28 bridge upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek.
- Smith Creek on Unicoi State Park from Unicoi Dam downstream to the Unicoi State Park property boundary.
- Toccoa River on U.S. Forest Service land from 0.4 miles above the Shallowford Bridge upstream to a point 450 feet upstream of the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access.
Guide Report: The Unicoi Outfitters blog is fresh every Friday and can be found HERE. Unicoi’s “Moment of Chill” post from Thursday might deter cold-averse anglers from trout pursuits this weekend, but if you “look to the bright side” (i.e., the opposite side of the road) you’ll surely be encouraged. The views clear skies, crisp air, and spectacular fall foliage are definitely worth the extra layer required to stave off the cold. Here are some tips from former UO’s Jeff Durniak to help your prepare for mountain trout fishing this weekend:
“We thought we’d borrow a concept from the Orvis main office. Here’s a southern version of their “Moment of Chill” social media posts. May y’all find it relaxing.
And for trout prospectors, here are your “current” conditions. Our waters are low, clear, cold, and leafy, so you’d better bring your best summer drought game with you this weekend. That means drab clothes, a stealthy approach, long leaders, light tippets, and small, soft-landing bugs. And a warm hat and gloves for the early risers among y’all…”
If you’re planning to visit Ye Ole town of Helen this weekend, read up on this great article by Jimmy Jacobs to ensure you don’t drive past (or, walk over) a nearby trout fishing adventure.
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 goes directly toward trout management in 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)
Fishing was great just about everywhere before the strong cold front mid-week. The best reports I received were from the rivers and saltwater.
River gages on October 20th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 4.0 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 0.4 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 3.4 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 6.6 feet and steady (65 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 5.5 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 3.4 feet and falling
The river ticked up a little with the heavy rains last week, but they fell right back out and stayed clear the whole time. It will be tough getting around, so be careful navigating. A Fitzgerald angler went to the lower Ocmulgee on Thursday and fooled 41 bass up to 7 1/2 pounds. Junebug Texas-rigged worms worked best in the slightly stained water, but they also caught a few on crankbaits. He and a friend went to another Ocmulgee River landing on Sunday and stopped fishing mid-afternoon after they had caught 54 bass. Their biggest that day was 6 1/2 pounds. The water had cleared, and they caught essentially all of their fish on Texas-rigged worms (green pumpkin primarily, but they caught a few on other colors). Lester Roberts and Hunter Strickland won a bass tournament out of Altamaha Park on Saturday with a 5-fish limit that weighed 18.9 pounds. They also had big fish – a 4.2-pounder. A couple of Waycross anglers fished the Baxley area of the Altamaha on Sunday afternoon and caught 7 bass up to 3-lb., 5-oz. Their two biggest bass ate white-chartreuse River Rat Spinnerbaits, and their other 5 bass ate green pumpkin candy Keitech Mad Wag Worms and speed craws (green pumpkin with orange).
Last week’s rains brought the river up enough that you should be able to get around in a motorboat if you want to, or it’s still low enough to float. The lower river produced some good reports of anglers catching crappie on both minnows and jigs. I’d fish the oxbows in the Burnt Fort area if I were going to the Satilla this weekend.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse fished the upper St. Marys on Monday for a half-day and had a blast. He caught some giant bluegills, a few redbreasts, and some nice channel catfish. The panfish ate white Satilla Spins, while the catfish bit shrimp fished on the bottom.
Fishing on the east side was slow, but the west side has been producing good catches of pickerel, bowfin, and catfish. Darren Sexton fished out of Stephen C Foster State Park this past week and did well. He flung crawfish Dura-Spins on Thursday evening for two hours and caught 5 pickerel and 4 bowfin. On Friday, he fished for 4 hours and landed 5 pickerel, 9 bowfin, and a largemouth bass while using crawfish and jackfish Dura-Spins.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
The crappie bite was strong this week with the cooler weather. The best report was from an angler fishing off the pier on Wednesday evening. He caught 8 crappie averaging about 3/4 of a pound apiece. Anglers reported catching a few bass each trip this week, but nothing big was reported. Plastic worms worked best. Expect the peak bite to be in the afternoons and evenings after the water warms.
The crappie bite was wide open in ponds and lakes. A Baxley angler fished a local lake a couple times this week and caught his limit each time by spider rigging 1/16-oz. Tennessee shad Specktacular Jigs tipped with minnows. His biggest crappie this week was 2.9 pounds.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Trout fishing has picked up this week. Jody Gill fished with a friend at Crooked River on Friday and caught 20 seatrout (7 keepers) up to 20 inches (most of their keepers were 16 to 17 inches). They caught a couple on gold Fighter jerkbaits, but the vast majority of their fish were on 4-inch Keitech Swing Impact Swimbaits under Equalizer and Cajun Thunder cigar-shaped floats. Their biggest fish ate a sexy shad color, but they caught most of their fish on rootbeer and rootbeer-chartreuse back versions. Don Harrison and Rob Weller fished the Crooked River area on Friday and caught 10 trout (4 keepers to 17 inches) and a keeper flounder. Most of their fish ate a Texas roach Assassin Sea Shad suspended under an Equalizer Float. They returned on Saturday and had a better bite. They landed 24 trout (7 keepers) using electric chicken Sea Shads under Equalizer Floats. Andy and Susie Heisey fished out of Crooked River on Friday and fooled 8 trout (4 keepers) with Keitech swimbaits under Equalizer Floats and live shrimp. Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had a great day trout fishing around Cumberland Island on Monday. They were mostly throwbacks, but his charter set the hook a bunch using live shrimp under a Harper Super Striker Float and also Gulp lures on jigheads. They did manage some keepers and also keeper flounder, sheepshead, and reds. On Tuesday, his charter fished around St. Simons and caught almost 50 redfish (all small slot-sized fish). Live shrimp and Gulp fooled those fish, as well. On Wednesday, they fought the wind for 6 bull redfish fishing cut bait in deep holes along the Intracoastal Waterway. All anglers didn’t do well, as I heard 2 reports of folks getting skunked for trout this weekend, as well. A Waycross angler fished the Jekyll Island Pier with several friends on Friday and had a really slow day. The four anglers only caught 2 short flounder and a stingray during their trip, and they didn’t see other folks around them catching fish either. 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).