Congratulations to all the kids as they finish up school this week and an extra hearty kudos to all the Seniors as they cross the graduation stage. We hope that more free time this summer means more fishing trips!
NEWS TO KNOW
- National Fishing and Boating Week: Next Sat., June 3 is the beginning of National Fishing and Boating Week – what a great excuse to get out on the water to celebrate! And…did you know there are TWO FREE Fishing Days as part of the celebration? Find out more HERE.
- Kids Fishing Events: During National Fishing and Boating Week, there will be many Kids Fishing Events (KFEs) held across the state – I bet there is one near you! Check out the Event Calendar to search for one and make plans to attend. Looking for a saltwater KFE on the coast? The Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Division is hosting one on June 3 (for ages 5-12) at Liberty Ship Park in Brunswick – but you MUST REGISTER if you want to attend.
- Winner, Winner Fish for Dinner? Young Georgia artists claim national and state honors as part of the 25th Anniversary Fish Art Contest. Two national winners are from Georgia – great job! Find out more about the winners HERE and see their artwork HERE.
- Truckloads of Trout: Over 50,000 trout were stocked in North Georgia waters this past week. That sounds like a great reason to take up trout fishing to me! WRD posts a weekly Trout Stocking Report each Friday by 3pm HERE (check those quick links at the top of the page), and you can even sign up to have the stocking report delivered to your email each week.
This week, we have fishing reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Celebrate the end of the school year and the start of new adventures and let’s Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, Region Supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. When the fish set up in their summer patterns the bass fishing can be tough. There is no shortage of spotted bass and they can be a lot of fun to catch and have a lot of action from smaller fish. When they are moving water bass will set up on main lake structure and this is a good place for the #5 Rapala Shad Raps in baby bass and shad patters. But use light line to get these baits a little deeper. Cranking down with a deeper diving crankbait or dragging a Carolina rig and a shaky head are all good options to catch fish. Rocky points with brush piles, the reef markers around the dam, or vertical structure like bridge pilings can all be good with the drop shot rigs. Try picking off a few fish with the crank baits here too. Then slow down and pick apart the structure with the Zoom finesse worm rigs. Watermelon is always a good color and redbug will also produce on Russell.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS .77 FEET 0VER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Use the Whopper Popper and Zoom Flukes in white ice and Gunfish. The fish are starting to move to summer locations that are in deeper water. Jigs, Carolina rigs, and crankbaits are still working for some fishermen. The Zara Spooks bone and Pop R’s are good mid-day baits. The largemouth are holding off the sides of points in 12 to 18 feet of water and are feeding heavily on the crawfish. Also, largemouth are mixed in with the hybrids feeding on the herring. As the fish move out over deep structure use the Lowance Structure Scan technology with patented Fish Reveal on Down Scan to locate docks with cover and fish.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Fish are beginning to feed, and anglers need to look for any bait school’s lake wide. They can be easy to find with the Lowrance Side Scan technology. The bass will now be moving out of the shallow areas headed to summer holes. They are hard to predict until they get set up better on points and ledges. Fish secondary points at the mouths of creeks and fish Carolina rigged lizards and worms. You can also catch a few suspended fish on jerk baits, like a Rapala Husky Jerk or a Pointer 78. Some schooling fish could soon be found on the main lake early in the day. Throw a Pop R or Sammy toward these fish. Be sure to rig a Zoom pearl Super Fluke and have it ready and use it at every stop.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .88 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Bass are being caught on several different patterns. Top water baits such as Pop R’s, Zara Spooks and buzz baits can be extremely effective for shallow and aggressive fish especially around bream beds. Another pattern that works well is to look for spawning shad. Watch for these baits to flicker on the surface. Try fishing rip rap around bridges with spinnerbaits, small crankbaits, and Zoom Super Flukes. If all fails, get out the Spot Remover heads loaded with Shaky Tail green pumpkin Zoom U tail worms or just drag a Carolina rigged Zoom Finesse worm or mini lizard around sloping gravel banks.
LAKE JACKSON IS .51 FEET OVER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Consider early or late as the boat traffic can be heavy. Start at first light with a Pop R white 1/2-ounce buzz bait or a Spook near seawalls and visible cover on flats near deep water. Once the sun gets up use medium diving crankbaits like Bandit 300s or No. 7 Shad Raps in crawdad or silver with a black back. Fish on points or over humps near river channel drops. Carolina rigged 6-inch Zoom lizards in green pumpkin, or 6-inch U tail worms will work as well. Flipping docks with a blue and black jig or the same 6-inch lizard can also be effective but concentrate on the ones near deep water with manmade structure. As the fish move out over deep structure use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology with patented Fish Reveal on Down Scan to locate docks with cover and fish. Now try fishing with the drop shot rigs and a small Zoom green finesse worm. Expect the boat traffic and it might increase during the weekends.
(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)
I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and are able to work some fishing into your plans. Saltwater will be rough early in the weekend with very strong winds forecasted, but it should calm down late into the weekend. The Okefenokee and ponds are your best bet for the holiday weekend, but a few rivers are fishable. Some are flooded, so check the gages near where you want to fish if planning to fish a river this weekend. Be safe and have a blast on the water!
River gages on May 25th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 10.5 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 6.0 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.8 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 12.5 feet and rising
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 7.7 feet and rising
- Statenville on the Alapaha – 5.5 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 5.1 feet and falling
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 3.8 feet and rising
Don Harrison paddled around and fished out of a middle river landing on Saturday. He caught 8 redbreasts, 2 bluegills, and 2 spotted sunfish. Two of the redbreasts and one of the bluegills were big fish. Bruised banana gold and crawfish Satilla Spins produced his fish. It appears from the gages that the Alapaha basin did not get much rain. It came up just enough to make it decent to get around in a boat but is falling out again. Expect some off-color water, but the river should be fishable. Paddle crafts are perfect for the river this weekend. Take note that the Highway 129 Bridge boat ramp (near Lakeland) will be closed beginning May 30th. It will be closed for a couple months while the ramp and parking area are rebuilt.
The rivers are barely within the banks, but I got good reports of bream fishing back in the oxbow lakes and bass fishing as well. A Fitzgerald angler fished twice and caught 14 bass one trip and 8 bass another trip. Texas-rigged plastic worms were the ticket for him. He fished junebug in the more stained areas and green pumpkin in the few clearer backwaters that he found. He had a 4-pounder on one trip, but most were 1 to 2 pounds. Another angler fished some backwaters way up a creek and wore out the big bluegills with crickets. He caught a few with worms on the bottom, but crickets were best. A pair of anglers fishing the lower Ocmulgee around Lumber City eased up into a small creek and caught a great mess of bluegills, shellcrackers, and redbreast sunfish on Satilla Spins and crickets. The main river is swift, but you should be able to catch some fish in current breaks and backwaters. For bream, try spinnerbaits, but you may have to resort to pitching worms and crickets if they’re not active enough to chase. Fish are shallow, so you should be able to find some panfish, catfish, or bass willing to bite.
The numbers reported this week were not high, but I heard of some really nice fish being caught, especially redbreasts. John and Lisa Morgan came down from Alabama to fish, and they had a total of 48 good-sized fish (30 were over 10-oz.) in 3 days of fishing. On Friday they had 2 big fish that weighed 15.45-oz apiece. They caught most of their fish by pitching lime green bugs, but had about 1/4 of their fish on Satilla Spins. It wasn’t the numbers of fish they’re used to catching, but they had a blast and enjoyed the big fish. Capt. Kyle Meyer and a friend fished the middle Satilla on Wednesday and caught 20 panfish and bass on Satilla Spins and some on poppers (with a fly rod). Their biggest was a 10-inch rooster that ate a catalpa Satilla Spin. I learned that Steve Nettles caught a 6.91-lb. bass on a jackfish-colored Dura-Spin in the Satilla backwaters along with a few warmouth.
Tyler Finch fished a smaller tributary to the river on Friday and did well for panfish before the river came up fast. He had 45 panfish on 3/16-oz. Satilla Spins tipped with crickets.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The only report I got this week was from the Shady Bream Tournaments event on Saturday. They had 14 boats entered, and Chris and Troy won it with 8.77 pounds (10 panfish). Second was Daniel and Darwin with 8.40 pounds. Ernie and Charlie placed third with 8.33 pounds. Big fish was a 1.34-pound crappie caught by Bo and Clay. They will be holding a co-ed tournament on May 27th, so check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook for more details.
Chuck Dean fished the east side on Friday and only took his fly rod. He flung a chartreuse streamer and caught 5 bowfin to 3 pounds and 2 chain pickerel (jackfish). He went back with a friend on Sunday from 10 until 1:30 with spinning tackle and Dura-Spins and caught 65 bowfin and a big jackfish during the short trip. Their best colors were fire tiger-chartreuse blade, crawfish-brass blade, and red/white-silver blade. They trolled until one of them hooked up, then the other cast around while the original person fought the fish close to the boat to net it. They caught fish both casting and trolling, and often they were both hooked up before the first angler could get the fish close enough to the boat to net it. Their biggest fish was 5-lb., 4-oz., but they had a dozen right at 5 pounds. They said that the yellow flies were bad in some areas. Cover up when you fish the swamp from now through about the 4th of July. If you can avoid thickly wooded areas and stay in the open, it will be more pleasant. Steve Nettles reported catching warmouth, bowfin, and jackfish on both the east and west sides on Dura-Spins in the jackfish color. This weekend on the east side he had 40 panfish (warmouth and fliers) and 10 jackfish. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.50 feet.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
Ken Burke fished the area on Friday and caught 7 bass. His biggest was 3 pounds with a couple more 2 1/2-pounders. His fish ate plastic worms rigged on a shaky head. The water temperature climbed to 82 degrees during the day. He also fished the lake on Wednesday and caught 6 bass up to 5 pounds with 3 others in the 2 to 2 1/2-pound range. Crankbaits were the key to getting bit that day.
HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin, more info HERE)
Ken Burke reported having a good trip to the area on Saturday. He caught 16 fish total (14 bass). The oddballs were a 3-lb. pickerel and 2.5-lb. brown bullhead. His biggest bass was 2 pounds. He caught all but 2 fish on a crankbait, and those 2 ate a shaky head worm. The water temperature was 82 degrees.
Bud Gray came down from Nashville, Tennessee to fish visit Chip Lafferty, and they fished a Brunswick area pond on Friday. Bud caught his first bass ever during the trip. They caught 17 bass up to 4 pounds in 2 hours of fishing, and a copperfield vibrating jig was their best lure that day. Lily fished with her dad in a Blackshear area pond on Friday, and they caught 6 crappie (kept 3 of the larger ones) and a bass by trolling minnows. Another pair of anglers fished a pond on Saturday and trolled minnows and pitched crickets for 9 crappie up to 14 inches (1 3/4 pounds) and a handful of big bluegills. Tommy Davis fished a Waycross area lake on Tuesday and caught 9 crappie (slow for his standards). Six of them were good fileting size, but 3 were topping a pound. He caught them by spider-rigging a Tennessee Shad Specktacular Jig tipped with a minnow. A couple of anglers fishing a Baxley area pond flung Satilla Spins and pink worms and caught exactly 50 bluegills up to 9 1/2 inches and a 1-pound shellcracker. The pink worms were suspended about 18 inches under a float and the best color Satilla Spins were cracklehead crawfish and black/chartreuse. They tipped the small spinnerbaits with green pumpkin magic 2-inch Keitech swimbaits. Chad Lee caught 4 bass this week while fishing in a Camden County pond for a short time. He had a couple 2-pounders on Senkos and a couple one-pounders on Red-Eye Shad lipless crankbaits. Tripp Vick of Guyton caught a nice bass in his pond on Sunday by flinging a 4-inch green pumpkin ZOOM lizard.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Tommy Sweeney fished the Brunswick area but only caught small trout this week on artificials. He did have a big tripletail inshore on one trip. It ate an electric chicken Keitech on an 1/8-oz. prototype Capt. Bert’s jighead. Some Brunswick anglers fished inshore with live shrimp and caught a few big trout in the Brunswick area around current breaks. Steve and Brenda Hampton fished the Jekyll Island Pier on Saturday and caught an 18-inch redfish, 3 keeper flounder (12 1/2, 13 1/4, and 19 inches) and a big whiting. They caught them on hoodwink plastics and mudminnows. Brenda’s big whiting had three 8-inch long eels in its stomach. Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) said that the winds were terrible this week, but he was able to duck into some backwaters and find trout, redfish, and flounder. They caught 10 to 12 keepers per trip this week and caught them on Keitech swimbaits and live shrimp under Harper Super Striker Floats. Most of the fish were caught near or in fallen trees, but a few oyster shell mounds produced, as well. Tides this weekend should be a good height, but the wind forecast is terrible early in the weekend. It should improve some late in the weekend, but check the forecast before heading to the big water.
(Fishing report courtesy of Sarah Baker, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
School’s Out for Summer! Taking your family fishing is a wonderful way to bond with one another, spend time in nature, and create lifelong memories. Put Saturday, June 3 and June 10 on your calendar! They are free fishing days to celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week! Check out these 10 tips to Catch All the Fun on Your Family Fishing Trip. For tricks on keeping kiddos engaged while fishing, check out our Fishing with Kids webpage.
Upcoming Family Fishing Events: DNR sponsored or supported fishing events are a great way to introduce your family members and friends to the joy of fishing. These fisheries are stocked and managed to promote kids fishing success. The following will be taking place in the north Georgia area during the month of June.
- Vogel State Park: Saturday June 10th from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM (for kids 12 and under)
- Buck Shoals WMA: Saturday June 17th from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
- Find more Family Fishing Events HERE
State Park Lakes: Small lakes can offer great fishing opportunities close to home too. Here are a few north Georgia State Parks with small lakes you may consider fishing this holiday weekend.
- James H. “Sloppy Floyd (Chattooga Co.).
- Fort Mountain (Murray Co.)
- Vogel (Union Co.)
- Unicoi (White Co.)
- Black Rock Mtn. (Rabun Co.)
- Fort Yargo (Barrow Co.)
- Sweetwater Creek (Douglas Co.)
Quick Trips to Your Local Pond: Got an hour? Head to the pond for a little hydrotherapy. As we move into June, bass are moving into deep water. Bass fishing begins to slow as summer temperatures begin to increase. It’s best to avoid sunny, late afternoons. However, early morning anglers might be surprised with a bass in the shallows. Successful morning tackle include truck worms and top water baits. Catfish can be caught all day; chicken livers, stink bait, and worms are popular when targeting catfish. Bream are the most popular fish anglers target this time of year. Bream are typically easy to catch and will hit a variety of baits. The most popular are worms and crickets fished in four to six feet of water. Bream will hit throughout the day and will most likely be found hanging around submerged, woody cover. Troy Simon and his son had an awesome time with some small pond bream fishing using a beetle spin with ultra-light gear! Others around the state have been enjoying pond bream fishing so far this early summer as well – read more about that HERE at GON.
Lanier Level: (courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Lake Lanier is down 1.6’; 70s.
Lanier Bass: (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson, (770) 366-8845, Pjohnson15@hotmail.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. The lake is down just over a foot and a half with the water temperature in the morning in the low seventies rising to the mid to upper seventies in the afternoon. The lake is pretty much clear all over now. With the rising water temperature and the bass recovering from the spawn the bite is improving daily. This week has been all moving baits as the fish are actively feeding up. We’ve had three main baits on the deck for the surface fish, a fluke, a spook and a Whopper Plopper. A pearl white fluke or a walking bait like the Spook has worked well over brush, humps and long points. On sunny days chrome has been best and on cloudy days the bone Spook has worked well. If the wind is fairly strong the Whopper Plopper has been producing some good fish. Also, on windy days work the white on white Georgia Blade spinnerbait on the windy rocky points for strikes. Along with the true top water baits we have been throwing the Slick Stick Pro Series swimbait in either chrome, white or herring colors in the same areas to produce good numbers of fish. Work this bait steady and occasionally give it a twitch and a pause to draw strikes from both the Spotted Bass and the Stripers. One client this week even caught an eleven-pound catfish on it. The Spot Choker Pro Model is still producing fish on the flats and is a great bait to keep handy to throw at the schooling fish. The worm bite has gotten stronger on the rocky areas as well as on the docks in less than fifteen feet of water. There are always fish to be found in the shallower water, but a big majority of the Spotted Bass have pulled out to the deeper water for the summer. Look for your target range to be in the twenty-five to thirty five foot range now with your electronics being the key to catching these fish. With Memorial Day weekend coming up the boat traffic will start to be crazy again, especially on the weekends, so be sure to always have on your life jacket and be safe. They’re active so Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Striper: (From Buck Cannon, Buck Tails Guide Service, (404) 510-1778) — Stripers have moved to shallow areas in the bays. Find them using your electronics with the mapping showing sharp contour lines witch that indicate a drop off. Weighted flat lines and planer boards seem to get most attention. Blue backs seem to work best and 30 to 40 feet behind the boards and flat lines 80 to 100 feet behind the boat at half mile per hour works all day. Remember to wear your life jacket.
Lanier Crappie fishing is good: (From Captain Josh Thornton, (770) 530-6493) — The crappie are moving back to deeper brush and docks. Look for docks less than 30 feet deep near a main Channel with structure or brush. The crappie are suspending 12 to 15 feet deep. Minnows are working well, and this week’s best producing jig color is the yellow and brown or black and green. 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. When dock shooting the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I use ATX Lure Companies jigs on a Lip Thrashin Lure jig heads. I use ATX lure companies jigs on a lip thrashin lure jig heads. I use ATX lure Companies jigs on a Lip Thrashin 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 and a Acc crappie Stix.
Lake Hartwell: (courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — .79’ over full, 70s. Bass fishing is good. The lake is still about a foot over full pool and the water temperature is in the excellent range with coming in where mid 60’s is the average temperature by midafternoon. Most anglers are starting the day off by throwing spinnerbaits and buzz baits in the coves and pockets. The top water bite is about to pick up so have a Pop R and A Sammy ready while searching the shallower water three foot or less. Late morning turns the picture around a bit with most of the bites coming on the crank baits in the three-to-eight-foot range. Start on the points and secondary points and work to the back of the creeks. Look for any docks rocks and wood along the way.
Lake Allatoona: (courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) – Full, 60s. Bass fishing is good. Fish are looking to eat after being on the bed for several weeks. Now is the time to key in on shad. Top water this month is as good as it gets. The first few hours of the morning should be spent throwing walking type baits, such as the Spro Dawg and Spook. Also mix it up with a popper style top water. Soft plastic jerk baits like the Big Bite Jerk Minnow are doing great. The key is covering water quickly. Faster retrieves where bass are not allowed time to think before they bite work best. The action will be fast and furious but will die off after the sun gets above the trees. Once the top water bite dies down, the swimbait bite is good, as well as the shaky head worm bite. Areas from Victoria to Little River are the best choice. Soon bass will move to a mid-depth range by the mid to end of the month. The shad spawn and mayfly hatch will heavily influence the amount of bass activity.
West Point Lake: (courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) – Down 2.5’, 70s. Bass fishing has been fair to good and several baits and patterns are working. Early and late use spinner baits and buzz baits in the shallows and shadows then get to the humps and use larger crank baits. Work the main lake humps and check out the rip rap on bridges and main lake points early morning and use a # 7 or # 5 Rapala Shad Rap in baby bass or shiner and the Lucky Craft spinnerbait. There has been a good bite up lake in the cooler river waters. Use larger Zoom Bush Hogs and green lizards on a Texas rig. The river points down lake have been best in the middle of the day and also use a 200 all white Bandit. Use the Lowrance and fish off the points out to 50 feet away from the banks and points on the main lake.
Stocking Trucks are Rolling: To enhance your outdoor experience over the Memorial Day weekend, our trout hatchery staff stocked several thousand trout this week into over 50 streams across 20 north Georgia counties. Check out the Georgia Trout Map by clicking HERE to find a stocked trout stream near you. You can also sign up to receive the weekly trout stocking list by clicking HERE to subscribe. Grab a few yellow panther martins or white rooster tails. Cast them either upstream or downstream into pools, and then reel in to attract a Rainbow Trout!
Hungry but Spooky – (Report Courtesy of Jeff Durniak on the Angler Management Blog from Unicoi Outfitters) — “Area trout waters are low, clear, and a bit cooler than we’d normally expect at this time of year, thanks to a week of cooler weather that has extended our spring trout season. These moderate air temps should continue into next week. Trout are hungry but spooky. They’ve also been picky in the low water, with nearly all our spring bug hatches now history. Dry/ dropper rigs have been good. Start with yellow or black on top and a small dark nymph, fur ant, or soft hackle below it. You might need to drop down a tippet size and even fish a midge. Tailwaters are rockin.’ Ponds are still a great bet, and bass rivers are clear, thanks to the lack of rainfall. Reservoir stripers are transitioning to summer mode, so they’re out of reach in reservoirs but starting to provide targets in the tributary rivers.” Read more HERE.
Rainbows, Browns and Brooks, Oh My! Congratulations to our featured Trout Slammer, Coleman Patton! Coleman and his dad had a great time exploring some small streams in north Georgia to complete the slam. They were each able to catch all three species in just one day! Why not give it a try? Click HERE to see all the Trout Slam rules and a link to the submission form.