You already know what you need to do this weekend…take Dad on a fishing trip to celebrate Father’s Day! Doesn’t have to be a fancy excursion, grab a few fishing poles, a container of worms, some snacks and the local fishing hole will do just fine. I promise the memories you make are worth more than what you catch that day.
NEWS TO KNOW
- How Does It Feel To Get A Bass Slam? We have folks that can tell you all about getting a Georgia Bass Slam! Nick O’Conor, who just secured his 5th Bass Slam in a row, provided us with a write-up of his quest to get a Bass Slam. Marion Baker got her Bass Slam a few years ago, and you can still see the joy it brought to her in this interview with WGXA Ch. 13 Macon reporter Suzanne Lawler.
- Celebrate With A Trout License Plate: June 2023 marks 10 years that the Trout Unlimited License Plate has been available to Georgia drivers. The design has changed over the years, but the benefits remain the same. This license plate supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs, funding stocking trucks, trout feed, equipment, raceway enclosures, and hatchery seasonal labor. Wild trout benefit from habitat improvements, sampling equipment and seasonal labor hired through tag funds. Additionally, trout map printings and satisfaction surveys funded by the trout tag have provided better customer service for Georgia’s anglers. Thank YOU for buying and supporting DNR License Plates!
- Stocking Shoal Bass: Almost 13,000 shoal bass fingerlings from the Dawson Fish Hatchery were recently stocked in the upper reaches of the Chattahoochee River near the Lanier headwaters and below Morgan Falls Dam to supplement populations. The Chattahoochee is the main source for hatchery broodfish, so it is important to ensure a thriving population there. Additional shoal bass were stocked into Hazel Creek in northeast Georgia. Shoal bass populations across Georgia are threatened due to habitat alterations and hybridization with invasive species such as Alabama and spotted bass.
This week, we have fishing reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Memories made during fishing trips help us get through the non-fishing days, so make the most of the ones you have as you 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)
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Water Temperature: 82 and rising
- Water Visibility: 22+ in
- McDuffie PFA Fishing Guide
Waters are very warm across the PFA and clarity is variable with all the frequent rain. Bass and catfish are moving through deeper waters. For bass fishermen, these warm temperatures mean fishing starts earlier and earlier. Bass bite is best in the first two hours of the day. Then success drops off quickly unless it is a cloudy day. Our regulars are still having best success using the trusty old black trick worms, though silver buzz baits on the outside of bream beds is yielding some success too. Success is being had throwing colored buzz baits perpendicular to the alligator weed on Jones and Willow as well. Catfish are biting best using livers and stink baits sunk about 15 feet out from downhill siphons. Their bite is best in the morning also but there is a slow bite the rest of the day. Fishermen are having success in Jones, our overnight fishing pond, all night long.
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN .65 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. The Heddon Zara Spooks, Lucky Craft Sammy’s and the Gunfish top water baits are working almost all day. Use the pearl Zoom Super Fluke, also. Use the 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willow leafs in a sexy shad pattern to catch some better bass. Use the Lucky Craft 1/2-ounce spinnerbait and use it on every stop. The Stanley jig in green pumpkin on points works well and add a Zoom Super Chunk. Soon the fish will be moving to offshore locations and casting the same jig or a Carolina rig with a lizard or worm is standard fair. They are keying in on the bait schools. Look for shallow points and blow throughs with a sandy bottom. The best baits to use are walking-type top water lures and a Zoom Super Fluke.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The boat traffic has picked up especially after noon. Head up the lake to the rivers and work the outside banks that have any rocks or trash on the banks. Have the Stanley black and blue jigs and be sure to run the Lucky Craft spinnerbaits past any bank cover. Isolated structure like stumps and rocks are excellent places for the Chatterbaits. Be sure the Chatterbaits have some chartreuse in the skirts. Lowrance Structure Scan technology with the Down Scan patented Fish Reveal technology can make a real difference to see a lot more fish because of the very wide beam. There are a lot of smaller fish out there and fish the long points and under water humps with a Carolina rigged Zoom finesse in green pumpkin. Fish these baits from 5 feet to 20 feet deep using 12-pound Sufix Siege line with a 24 to 36-inch leader of 10-pound Sufix fluorocarbon clear line; a ½-ounce weight seems to be working best.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Fish in an area with lots of sand on the banks. The shad are spawning in these and other pockets on ditches on the flats leading to the pockets. Rat L Traps are good search baits and can allow anglers to cover lots of water. Also, out on the ledges there are a few sweet spots and Lowrance Side Scan technology along with the C Maps can show anglers the best locations. In the pockets, try spinnerbaits and jigs, both swimming jigs and working a jig slowly across the spawning flats. Some bass are still transitional, and patterns change from day to day. Bass are being taken in brush piles in 6 to 12 feet of water using jigs, Carolina rigs with lizards, or frogs and with Texas rigged worms. Green and red flakes in a Zoom mini lizard on a very light Texas rig on the shady side of docks is a good all-day tactic.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.3 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. The fish are shallow early and late and around bream beds. The bream and bluegill spawn should be a predominant pattern so have the Pop R’s and Tiny Torpedo prop baits for targeting these areas. These presentations should also be productive around any mayfly hatches that are notorious for showing up this time of year. Also be sure to have a Lucky Craft pointer 78 handy and work it along those same main lake and secondary points. The key has been making LONG casts with your bait. A super long cast expands the strike zone quite a bit and it also gives the fish more time to commit to your bait. Once the sun gets up switch over to a swim jig or ChatterBait around grass and docks. These baits still mimic a bream or bluegill but are excellent choices for presenting a bait lower in the water column. If the fish are not willing to chase your bait, send a Texas rigged Zoom Ol Monster worm or Zoom Brush Hog around any wood cover.
LAKE JACKSON IS .90 FEET OVER FULL 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. There is a short top water bite at first light. Fish the points on the main lake early and secondary points for schooling fish using a #5 Rapala Shad Rap and follow up with Pop R top water lure. Have a Lucky Craft pointer 78 handy and work it along those same main lake and secondary points and make long casts. After the early bite, go to the drop shot. This is the best pattern now. Cover some water to find the pods of fish on the drop shot bite with the Lowrance Down Scan technology. Use the Yamamoto Flat Tails, 3.5-inch Cut tails, Tiny Flukes, Baby Sluggo’s and Basstrix baits. This is a good time to catch good numbers of fish and to learn the drop shot technique. Use a #4 Splitshot/Dropshot hook by Gamakatsu with 8-pound Triple Fish Fluorocarbon line to feel the bites and use 1/2-ounce Quick drop sinkers.
(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)
Wow, what a difference a week makes! We’ve gone from the upper rivers clearing up and dropping lower than you can get motorboats around in to rising fast again. The bigger rivers will take a little longer for that to happen, but the last couple of days of rain will probably push all our rivers to full-bank again. Because it’s been so dry in southeast Georgia over the last month, some of the wetlands have dried up, so some rivers will respond more than others to the current multi-inch rainfall event.
River gages on June 15th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 5.7 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 3.1 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 5.3 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 7.3 feet and rising
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 5.2 feet and rising
- Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.1 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.8 feet and rising
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 2.7 feet and rising
Jamie Hodge and Ashley Callicut fished some backwaters in the middle river and caught a bunch of bluegills and shellcrackers (a few were over a pound). They put worms and crickets on the bottom and ended up catching 53 nice panfish on Saturday. Shane Barber fished the lower Altamaha on Wednesday and managed 8 bass with 3 keepers. Spinnerbaits and worms fooled his fish. He said that the water was still stained, and the bass were really fat.
The bite picked up significantly with the level dropping out well. Brad and Karen Phelps fished Friday and caught 23 redbreasts along with a giant shellcracker and a big crappie. Black/chartreuse and crawfish Satilla Spins fooled their fish.
The water was just getting right before the late-week torrential rains. Dane Clements caught the biggest redbreast I’ve heard of so far this year. He weighed the 1-lb., 4.3-oz. rooster at Googe’s in Hazlehurst, so it’s a certified weight. He caught about 60 fish total on the trip. Most were on a crawfish or red/white Satilla Spin, but he caught a few bass, mudfish and the giant redbreast on a small crawfish crankbait. Steve Nettles and Nathan fished the upper Satilla this week, and Nathan caught his first crappie ever and his biggest bowfin to date on black/chartreuse Satilla Spins. Together they caught about 15 fish total, and Steve caught all of his on a black/chartreuse-silver blade Dura-Spin. Their catch also included some nice pickerel (jackfish) and several nice warmouth. A half-dozen members of the Sumpter County Kayak Club floated several different locations on the upper Satilla right before this week’s heavy rains, and they caught fish. One of their members fished hard and caught 20 panfish on Monday. They threw both artificials and crickets for their catch. One of their biggest redbreasts ate a lime-colored Bert’s Bug.
Tyler Finch fished the river on Friday and caught a mixed bag of 55 panfish and catfish. His bluegills and redbreasts ate white Satilla Spins tipped with a cricket, while his channel catfish ate Sandy’s Catfish Soap.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The last Shady Bream Tournaments points event of the year is coming up on July 8th. For the event, a team can weigh in 15 fish and live bait is allowed for this tournament (usually it is an artificial-only format). Check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook for more details.
Teddy and Mattie Elrod fished the east side on Saturday and set the hook a bunch of fish. They trolled fire tiger and jackfish Dura-Spins in the canals and caught 25 bowfin up to 3 pounds. Teddy had a really nice 20 1/2-inch pickerel (jackfish). Jimmy Guess had a great trip to the west side this weekend. He put shrimp on the bottom at the Sill and caught catfish on almost every drop. He then walked the bank casting Dura-Spins and caught bowfin after bowfin with some nice pickerel mixed in. He wore them out on the crawfish color until a big jackfish cut that one off, then he switched to a jackfish color. The fish didn’t miss a beat, and they kept eating that one also. He ended up catching about 30 bowfin, a few warmouth, and about a dozen pickerel. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.18 feet, but I’m sure it’s come up with current rains (it was raining hard when I talked with them about the level). Yellow flies are pretty bad right now, so cover up if you don’t want to get aggravated by them.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
Ken Burke fished the area on Monday morning and caught 6 bass for a total of 11.5 pounds. He had 4 fish that were just over 2 pounds apiece. All of those fish ate a plastic worm on a shaky head. The water temperature rose to 84 degrees by mid-day.
HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin, more info HERE)
Ken Burke fished the area Tuesday morning and caught 4 bas that weighed 4 1/2 pounds. They were all small, and he fooled 2 with a crankbait and 2 on a shaky head worm. The water temperature was 84 degrees.
It was a good week for bass and panfishing in local ponds. A Baxley angler pushed Tennessee shad Specktacular Jigs tipped with minnows around a pond and caught 27 big crappie up to 1-lb., 13-oz. on Friday morning. I fished a Waycross area pond on Friday morning for a couple of hours and caught 38 bluegills on a lime Bert’s Bug with a white Okefenokee Swamp Sally trailer about a foot behind the popper. It was a hoot! A Waycross angler trolled a pond on Saturday morning for a couple hours and caught 24 crappie up to 14 inches and 9 big bluegills on 2-inch Keitech swimbaits (chartreuse pearl, green pumpkin-chartreuse, and sight flash) rigged on 1/32-oz. Zombie Eye Jigheads. Wyatt Crews and Scout Carter fished a Waycross pond on Sunday evening and caught 5 bass between 2 and 4 pounds by throwing Keitech Noisy Flappers on Toad Hooks overtop of submerged vegetation. Scout had a monster – definitely would have been his personal best – on for awhile and it jumped at the boat and threw the hook back at him. Chuck and Hunter Dean fished a Brunswick area pond on Sunday and caught 3 largemouth bass around 2 pounds on vibrating jigs. The chartreuse/white version worked best for them. A couple anglers managed 6 bass up to 5.5 pounds from a pond. A Baxley angler fished a local pond on Tuesday and caught his limit of crappie – almost all 11 to 13 inches long. He spider-rigged a 1/16-oz. Tennessee Shad Specktacular Jig tipped with a minnow for all of his fish. Paul Williamson fished with a friend on a pond Wednesday morning for just 1 1/2 hours before storms chased them off. They fooled 3 nice crappie by trolling 2-inch Keitechs (chartreuse shad and sight flash) on 1/32-oz. chartreuse Zombie Eye Jigheads. They also flung Satilla Spins (cracklehead crawfish color) on spinning tackle and lime-colored Bert’s Bugs on fly rods around the shoreline for 9 fat bluegills up to 10 inches. Chad Lee worked buzzbaits for a few hours on Saturday in an Alma-area pond and caught 5 bass up to 3 pounds.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Saltwater has been off and on. A few folks found them and did well, but overall the trout fishing has been slow inshore from the reports I received this week. The trout fishing off the Cumberland beach has been good on the few days that the wind will allow you to get out there. Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had one of the better saltwater reports this week. The end of last week had some of his better trout charters with around a dozen per trip with some sheepshead, flounder, reds, and drum mixed in. He caught them on both jigs and live bait this week and it seemed like one day they had a preference for one and the next they preferred the opposite. The highlight of the weekend was a 5-pound flounder. On Monday he fished hard for flounder and caught 19, but he decided to clean only 7 of them. Two of them that day were big. During the weekdays, he’s had trouble getting on a good bite until the tide dropped out a good bit, but then he caught a bunch of redfish. Most have been upper slot and oversized reds. As a rule, most of his fish have been coming in the 6 to 12 feet depth range. Trout fishing has slacked off for him the last few days. Mark Vick and some buddies fished the Savannah area on Friday and caught some really nice sheepshead and flounder. Fiddler crabs fooled the convictfish, while pink VooDoo Shrimp tricked the flounder. Capt. Greg Hildreth (georgiacharterfishing.com) said that his main bite this week has been catching big sharks behind shrimp boats when the wind allowed him to get out. One group of experienced anglers found some decent reds and small trout while using mudminnows in the creeks.
(Fishing report courtesy of Kyle Rempe, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Looking for nearby fun activities to do with family and friends now that summertime is nearly here?
There are plenty of fisheries (and wildlife) events that you can quickly find on the GADNR Events Calendar and Search webpages. These range from hunter safety courses to community fishing events, providing a broad selection of opportunities depending on your outdoor interests.
A special shoutout goes to the Buck Shoals WMA Kids Fishing Event taking place from 8 AM to 12 PM this Saturday, June 17. This event at Buck Shoals WMA is a great chance to land some filet-sized catfish and sunfish to stock up on for a weekend fish fry. Register online beforehand and come catch some fish!
Lake Chatuge Habitat (special thanks to Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): Ten large Georgia Cube-style fish attractors were deployed by Gainesville and Burton Fisheries staffers on Lake Chatuge near the Lake Chatuge Recreation Area. The fish attractors were spread out just north of the boat ramp in 10’ – 15’ of water. Georgia cubes are proven, effective fish attractors for inland reservoirs and attract a variety of sportfish such as largemouth bass and Alabama bass, crappie, and forage species. Check out the Lake Chatuge Fishing Forecast webpage to learn more about fishing opportunities on Lake Chatuge and to locate fish attractors deployed throughout the reservoir.
Lake Lanier Bass (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s): Humps and points seem to be holding the greatest numbers of fish, brush is good, but not always necessary. You can still locate shallow fish, especially early in the morning. There is also quite a bit of schooling activity going on, this pattern is also best early but is occurring throughout the day.
18-to-25-foot brush piles are holding plenty of fish, catching plenty of them has been a challenge. You can catch a few fish out of the brush with a top water, but many days it has been tough to call them up to the surface. A subsurface bait, mainly a fluke, will probably be the better option. If the top waters, flukes, or other moving baits don’t produce, the worms on the shakey or drop shot will get the bite. Don’t forget about casting the drop shot, especially to brush on the lower end of the previously mentioned depth range.
You may have noticed the lake falling fairly quickly? Lengthy water releases seem to be enhancing the afternoon and evening bite. Humps and points are the prime structures, add big diving crank baits to the list of aforementioned baits. The fish may also be more prone to be over clean bottom as opposed to being really tight to the brush. If you stay on the water past dark, a big nighttime spinnerbait is also a likely choice to cast to the humps.
Lake Hartwell Hybrid/Striper (courtesy of Chip Hamilton; report via SCDNR Freshwater Fishing Trends): Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that to start June fish are much shallower than they normally are, particularly first thing, but there are some signs that the early summer cove pattern is starting. This month fish will usually be back in coves off the main body of water where the bait is holding, and they will normally feed on the bottom in about 30-45 feet of water through the morning and then again in the late afternoon. You can fish this pattern with down-lined herring down both rivers as well as in various places around the dam. It should hold through the end of June, and it usually isn’t until the end of July that fish gradually move a bit deeper.
Lake Lanier Striper (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s): Anglers continue to report good catches from all areas of the lake, although fishing is improving on the lower end as more fish make their way downriver. There are several patterns that will catch fish: free lines and planers, down lines, top waters and flukes, and trolling umbrellas. While the free lines and planers are still producing, particularly early, the down lines seem to be the dominant producers. Trolling is also very good, with the full-size rigs accounting for some nice catches! The Schooling fish are sporadic, but showing up often enough that you need to have something tied on and ready to cast!
The Stripers are using a variety of structures: seawalls, bridge pilings, humps and points, and a few fish over open water areas. If you are targeting humps, pay attention to any brush you may have marked on the high spots. There are quite a few Stripers relating to the brush that may respond to casting techniques or a free lined bait pulled over the brush. The humps and points (preferably points with a very gradual taper) are holding fish throughout the day, and may be best in the afternoons and evening with the water releases. Live baits are also effective in areas where there was a bait fish spawn, mostly seawalls and bridges. Pitch baits are still effective on this pattern, you’ll probably find adding a little weight to the pitch bait will be a plus.
Trolling has been very good, pulling the big rigs 90 to 110 feet behind the boat is a good starting point. There are several good patterns for trolling right now. Clipping points or pulling humps in 22 to 30 feet is a good pattern, remember, to maximize this it is a run and gun technique. Contour trolling, especially in the upper parts of the lake where there are fewer free-standing humps, over a 20 to 30 foot bottom will also be very effective. In addition, there is a very good bite trolling the rigs in the creek backs, and pockets draining into the creeks, as far back as a 25-foot bottom. The fish in these areas have been scattered, so the saturation that trolling offers is a big plus.
Schooling Stripers have been sporadic and in totally random areas. Nonetheless, Be prepared to cast them if they are in range. Walking baits, Flukes and the Cast 30-gram OG are all good choices for casting. On the OG bait, don’t get in a big hurry on the retrieve, after making the big sweep allow a long pause, that is often when the bite will occur. A Mini Mack is also an excellent choice to cast to the schoolers!
Lake Zwerner (courtesy of Jack Becker aka GA Waterdog): This week I headed to ZWerner. AKA Yahoola Creek Reservoir in Dahlonega. A small electric motor only reservoir with a single lane boat ramp suitable for Jon-boats and kayaks. There is also a 3-mile hiking trail around the lake if you want to enjoy the scenery. I like this lake in the wintertime and go there often for good yellow perch fishing. This week I saw many Bluegill beds along the shore on the North side of the lake. The Bluegill were off the beds, but I found them in 8 to 10 feet of water. Trolling fire tiger, hot perch & clown pattern mini-Crankbaits on 2lb test line at .8 to 1.2 mph. produced some nice ones along with a half dozen yellow perch. Another good day on one of my favorite small lakes.
Tailwater Striper (courtesy of Tad Murdock, Georgia Wild Trout): Striper fishing on Lanier is waning fast in terms of finding fish on the fly. The spring bite will continue for another couple weeks as the fish target the shad spawn and roaming blueback along main lake points and humps. The best way to find striper at the moment is on the tailwaters. The striper migration up the Chattahoochee to Morgan Falls Dam is in full swing. The Etowah River tailwater below Lake Allatoona is also seeing large numbers of striper moving up from Lake Weiss. Wading opportunities are limited here, but drift boats and kayaks will put you over the fish. Target shallower shoals to find the most aggressive fish in the area. The upper sections of rivers will produce some fish over the next month as well. Striper can still be found in the Chestatee River, Etowah River, and Upper Chattahoochee River, though in fewer numbers than during the month of May. Runs of fish from the highland lakes in North Georgia should begin any week now. Check out Henry Cowen’s book on Fly Fishing Striped Bass to get a better idea on how to target these fish in Georgia Rivers.
Trout Tips (courtesy of Jeff Durniak, Angler Management; report via Unicoi Outfitters): June is a great month to chase stockers with your kids. The GAWRD stocking truck fleet is running daily and most stocked streams, especially at higher elevations, are still cool enough for a good trout bite. Stop in our Helen store for the introductory spincast outfits, terminal tackle, and baits and lures to get you started. We’ll point you in the direction of some good stocker streams to enhance your chance of success.
Unicoi Outfitters Georgia Trouting 101:
1) Call GAWRD at 770-535-5498 and ask Lauren for a free trout map.
3) Buy a short (6ft or less) ultralight spincast outfit with 4 or 6 lb test line from your local big box store or tackle shop. Buy some #10 hooks, a bag of size B split shot, and a jar of Powerbait. Add one shot a foot above your hook. Cover the hook with a doughball of Powerbait. If you want a second bait, buy some night crawlers and put 1/3 of a worm on your hook. Switch between baits as you fish. Give them what they want.
4) Head to a heavily stocked stream of your choice (Ex: Cooper, Dicks, Rock, Tallulah, etc). See the list on the WRD trout page. Jimmy’s book is good, too. Make sure you stay on public land. Walk 100-200 yards below each bridge (likely stocking site) and then slide down the bank to the stream edge.
5) Slowly and quietly stalk the bank upstream (against the current) and toss your bait above you. Let it drift back toward you as you reel in the slack line. If you have enough weight, you’ll bounce the bottom, and get hung up occasionally. Aim for pools and pockets where fish have some shelter from predators and relief from the main current. NOTE: if you wade, stream rocks are slick!! You really need boots or shoes with felt soles and a walking stick or wading staff so you won’t fall and get hurt.
6) A “bream tap-tap” signals a bite. Count to five and set the hook.
7) Smile and congratulate yourself.
That’s GA Trouting 101: simple, affordable, and fun. Like us, you might get hooked for life! Stop in our shop soon and we’ll set you up for success.
Chattahoochee River Trout (courtesy of Tad Murdock, Georgia Wild Trout): The Chattahoochee will fish well throughout June. Expect more traffic from floaters and boaters trying to beat the heat on the river. The midge hatches have move to very early or late in the day, so if you’re looking to do some dry fly fishing on the Chattahoochee, you’ll want to target these times. Another fun bite during the summer can be found throwing a streamer. The smaller fish found in the tributary creeks will move closer to the mouths during the summer. The more periodic releases from the dam place these fish in much closer proximity to predatory trout close by. These areas will be best for streamer fishing. Everything from 2-3” sculpin patterns to 6-8” stocked trout imitations can get looks from aggressive trout.