If you can’t get outside to actually go fishing (I know, I don’t like to think about it either), how about doing some reading about fishing? Here are some suggestions! For researching the next water body you want to tackle, check out the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Fishing Forecasts. For planning your next tasty meal, read this blog post about tasty rout recipes. If you are thinking about pursuing a Georgia Bass Slam, check out this blog post from a successful “Slammer” to hear about his adventures. Lots of great information out there to fuel your fishing knowledge!
NEWS TO KNOW
- Trout Stream Trip Sparks Memories of Legendary Outdoor Writer: Speaking of reading, be sure to check out this article from Jimmy Jacobs (Editor/Publisher of “On the Fly South”) about an idyllic trout fishing trip that triggered memories of meeting Mr. Charlie Elliott. Want to know more about Charlie Elliott? Plan a trip to the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center Visitor’s Center to experience his life through a collection of books, photographs, a full replica of his actual den, and other memorabilia he personally donated.
- Electronics and Offshore Fishing Tips from a Pro Angler: On Sat. Aug. 19 (11 am – 12:30 pm) Major League Fishing Invitational Pro Angler Clayton Batts will be at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry to lead an electronics class (side scan, down scan, waypoint management and more) and offshore fishing tutorial. No pre-registration required. No fee for the class, but Go Fish Center General Admission required.
- Lake Drainage: Lake Margery at Marben PFA is currently being drained for important maintenance. The boat ramp will remain open as long as it is safe for use. Signage will be posted once ramp is unavailable. Bank access will remain open until heavy equipment arrives for maintenance work.
This week, we have fishing reports from North, Central and Southeast Georgia. After all that reading, let’s get ready to Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Kyle Rempe, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Hybrid/Striper (courtesy of Captain Chip Hamilton, Lake Hartwell Fishing Guides; report via SCDNR Freshwater Fishing Trends) — Captain Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that in August fish will stay in pretty similar patterns over deep water in the river channel. Sometimes they will suspend over trees, sometimes they will suspend over clean spots, and sometimes catchable fish will be on the bottom in clean areas. However, in late July fish were still barely up the Seneca and Tugaloo, while in August the bulk of the fish will move into the main Savannah River channel and mostly be caught within sight of the dam. It will still be a down-rod bite, and with things developing slowly this summer it could be well into August before they really move down.
Crappie (courtesy of Rodney Donald, Lake Hartwell Fishing Guides; report via SCDNR Freshwater Fishing Trends) — Guide Rodney Donald (864-356-0143) reports that August fishing should look a lot like July, and fish will be over brush in 20-30 feet in the creek runs. However, some fish will stay in less than 8 feet of water and seek shade under docks where they can be caught by anglers shooting jigs.
Bass (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s) — Bass fishing is also very good, considering it is August. The main pattern is no surprise, pounding the brush, finding the correct bait is the challenge. Almost any brush in 22 to 30 feet deep will have fish. Brush around the docks is also a good pattern. Of course, the worms are probably the best overall bait for the brush fishing and rigging them on the drop shot will be hard to beat! Any of your favorite plastics should be effective on the drop shot. The Roboworm Alive Shads are great for this application and are also effective on the Damiki’s. Remember, casting the drop shot can be a great option, particularly on those windless days.
Other baits will also produce, with top waters over the brush still being relevant. Flukes, swim baits, and spy baits, are also producing some good catches this week. Don’t forget about the flutter spoons? These baits are awesome to cast and retrieve over brush! There are many ways to retrieve and work these baits, so experiment with different tactics until you get the bite. My favorite is to cast the spoon, let it fall, then rip and reel back to the boat. Of course, FFS sonar makes it much easier to determine how the fish are reacting to the spoon, so adjust accordingly. As is the case with any type of spoon, watch for bites on the fall. The Hawg Spoons, both Fat and Juniors, and the Nichols Flutter spoons are great for this application.
Top waters, in addition to casting them to brush, are also effective on other structures. The Seawalls are still holding fish some fish, and casting to points is a pretty good pattern. The wind is an asset for the top waters, almost a necessity. Several baits are effective, with the Sammies, and small Chug Bugs being a couple of favorites.
Striper (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s) — August has started off very well, and the excellent summer fishing we have experienced to this point continues. Standard summer techniques continue to produce, so use your favorites or a mix of all. FYI, If you want to learn or improve a certain method, this is a great opportunity! Learning new or improving your techniques, or creating new ones is always easier with a good bite. The fish are over the channels, both the major creeks and over the river channel. Don’t ignore the incoming secondary creeks, coves and drains, we still have fish roaming those areas as well. The fish may surprise you and be over some 40 to 45 foot bottoms in these drains, typically in the early part of the day. There are also fish in very deep water, 80 to 100 feet, so keep an eye on the sonar for these really deep fish. Down lines and power reeling will put those deep fish in the boat!
Live herring on the down lines, and pitch lines, are catching plenty of fish, hanging the baits in 35 feet is a good starting point, adjusting to what the sonar says as the day progresses. Trolling is also excellent, and the Chipmunk Jigs, Captain Mack’s Striper Spins and Super Spins on the lead core have been a staple! 7 to 8 colors behind the boat at 2.5 to 3 MPH will get the bite! The same baits 50 feet behind a 25 foot down rigger ball will also produce. Other baits that will merit some attention for trolling are the Hawg spoons and Mini Mack’s. I think the 6” Chart trailer is the go-to, but weather conditions can change that on any given day so keep a couple of different color trailers to tweak the bite. Ditto with the paddle tails and live Herring can also great trailers on the jigs.
Umbrellas continue to also be very productive, the full-size rigs 120 to 140 feet behind the boat should do the trick, and the standard 2.5 to 3 mph applies on the umbrellas as well. Can you pull the big rigs on the down riggers? That question has popped up frequently in the last few days, and the answer is yes! Because the down rigger ball provides the weight to get the rig to the necessary depth, smaller or lighter rigs work well for the down riggers. The lighter rigs reduce drag on the release clips which is a big plus. That is actually why I developed our three arm rigs, to pull behind planer boards or the down riggers. Another question that has made the FAQ list lately: how to calculate the depth of the rig on the down rigger? Take the distance of the rig behind the ball and use it as the distance behind the boat on the chart. If you add that number to the depth of the down rigger ball and you should have an accurate number.
Trout and Maybe a Few Bass (courtesy of Becky Hulsey, Hulsey Fly Fishing) — The Toccoa River happens to flow north towards Tennessee. We refer to the section below the dam as the Lower Toccoa River or Tailwater section. The Blue Ridge Dam is controlled by the TVA and used for production of electricity. It is very important to be aware of the release schedule for that particular day. Release schedules can be found on TVA’s app or look at the TVA website under Lakes to find Blue Ridge. You should not be in the river when the water is released from the dam. The river is not wadable and it is dangerous. Always be alert for potential generations. There are three public access points for fishing on the tailwater. Tammen Park is located just below the dam provides pretty easy access for fishing. It is closest to Blue Ridge and has nice park area to sit and enjoy the river. Located further down the river is Curtis Switch. It is another public access point for fishing. Wading is a bit more difficult here and access is limited. The last public access is Horseshoe Bend Park which is just upstream of McCaysville, Georgia. Here is relatively easy wading and access. A wonderful place to bring the family and picnic too. A 9 ft 5 weight fly rod with a floating fly line is about right for the Toccoa River. We use 9 ft 5X leaders made of monofilament with a fluorocarbon piece of 6X tippet usually if using a dropper. Productive flies to use on this tailwater section include terrestrial bugs such as grasshoppers, ants, bees, and beetle patterns. A few sub-surface nymphs like Pheasant Tail, Prince, and Hare’s Ears are good patterns to always have on hand.
The Upper Toccoa River is the part of the river that flows into Lake Blue and above the dam. Public access is limited on the Upper Toccoa. The most popular public fishing access is at the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch area. It provides good access to about a mile and a half of great freestone stream fishing. This area has delayed harvest fishing regulations from Nov 1st to May 15th. Summer fishing is still pretty good here early in the day. Good rainfall and lower water temperatures help provide a better habit for trout in the hotter months. We recommend using the same outfit and flies as you use in the Lower Toccoa River. However, streamer fishing here in summer can also catch a few smallmouth bass in addition to trout. A few streamer flies to try might be an Olive Zonker and a Black Woolybugger.
Farther upstream on the Toccoa River are Cooper’s Creek and Rock Creek. Each of them has several access points with easy wading. Rustic camping is an option here too. We prefer shorter rods like 7 ½ or 8 ft fly rods in 3 or 4 weight for these streams. Fiberglass rods are perfect for these streams too. A short leader works just fine to keep you from getting caught up in the rhododendron cover. Pretty much the same fly patterns like terrestrials will hold the trout’s attention well enough to keep you busy almost any summer morning. You can add Yellow/Orange Stimulators, Royal Wulffs, and Yellow Humpies to your fly box. Both these streams contain some wild populations of fish but by far the usual fish encountered near the roads that parallel these creeks will have been stocked by the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish Hatchery located on Rock Creek. Matching the hatch is not as important to the stocked fish so San Juan Worms and Egg patterns can make for a fun outing too.
Noontootla Creek located on the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area is a special place with only wild trout in the stream. The year round catch and release special regulations on this creek are a safe haven for the native fish populations. You can use the same equipment and flies recommended above for this pristine fishery. You will enjoy summer fishing here with high floating dry fly patterns such as Thunderheads, Grizzly Wulffs, Yellow Hammers, and Tellico Nymphs thrown in there for good measure.
Spending a cool summer morning with a professional guide or certified fly-casting instructor can make learning fly fishing easy and fun. If you’d like to learn to fly fish or try it for the first-time visit www.blueridgeflyfishingschool.com. We offer various classes for beginning or experienced anglers. We have been teaching fly fishing for over 30 years and can definitely shorten your learning curve for a lifetime of fly-fishing adventures!
First Time Trout (courtesy of Jack Becker AKA Georgia Waterdog) — Last week my report was about introducing a neighbor to perch fishing on Seed Lake in the North Georgia Mountains. This week he caught wind of the great trout fishing we have right here on the Chattahoochee River below Buford dam so I invited him to go with me to a place where I was sure would catch his first Georgia trout. First, we called the US Army Corp. Of Engineers office (770-945-1466) to get the water release schedule and planned to be off the water before they began releasing water. The water rises very fast and is extremely dangerous right below the dam so you must wear a life jacket if you are on the water or wading between Buford Dam & the Hwy 20 bridge. My friend was surprised to learn GA DNR WRD stocks ~1 million trout each year and their website is updated every Friday where you can check which streams and lakes that have been stocked. We fished from the bank below Bowman’s Island where the water was stained pea-soup green, which discouraged us from wet wading as we couldn’t quite see our footing. We caught nine feisty 10”-12” rainbow trout in just a couple of hours. Small Mepps spinners and one of my old standbys—a Luhr Jensen Super Duper, caught the bigger fish. Good luck & good fishing!
Trout Tips (courtesy of Jeff Durniak, Angler Management Blog; report via Unicoi Outfitters) — Here’s another tip to enhance your fall fly-fishing success: Hookset downstream! I just do a quick, horizontal wrist-snap that helps me accomplish three things: 1) provides a quick, straight connection to fish lips, rather than an upward hookset that creates a big U of slack line before tightening up; 2) if I miss a strike or bounce my drifted bug off a rock, I can continue my drift, since I often do not lift my flies out of the water; 3) if I do miss the strike and send the flies behind me, I can retrieve them from low hanging branches. Upward hooksets send my bugs high into the trees and send me back to our fly shop for more bugs.
Dom at troutbitten.com has scribed another great article on sidearm hooksets. Check out the wealth of intel on his website. Enjoy the article and try the technique on this fall’s trout waters. You just might catch more trout and lose fewer flies, too. Tight lines from our UO gang.
Chattahoochee River Trout (courtesy Orvis Atlanta) — The fish will be quickly turning to natural insects within a couple of days after being stocked. The day of and day after stocking, junk flies and woolly buggers should be very effective. Check the stocking report on Georgia DNR’s website for more specific locations and stocking times. Please call the shop or the dam to get more timely info. You can call Buford Dam for last min updates at 770-945-1466.
Streamer fishing is a great way to fish and possibly catch a huge brown. Nymphing is always going to be the go-to for those bottom feeding fish, the old Pat’s Rubber legs, Worm patterns, midge patterns, attractors such as rainbow warriors and lightning bugs to copper johns, and the classic pheasant tails and hare’s ears in 12-18. If you are throwing streamers, anything from wooly buggers if you’re throwing the smaller rods to large articulated patters like the bottoms up and dungeon patterns by Galloup. As the temperature starts to warm up, small dry flies on the North Georgia streams are going to be another option. Make sure to have a few midge dry flies, BWO’s, and caddis to tie on when the fish start to rise more consistently.
Toccoa River Trout (courtesy of Dane Law, Southeastern Anglers; report via Orvis) — Variable daytime flow rates with some good schedules for float trips.150 cfs sluice. Not ideal, but not too bad for August in the south. 08/07/23. Float trips utilizing different techniques. Streamers for larger trout always a good choice with higher flows. Dry fly and dry dropper on lower flows.
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 your purchase of a trout tag.
(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 BELOW COURTESY OF SOUTHERN FISHING WITH KEN STURDIVANT.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is barely fair and the weather is still the issue all day. The best time to fish is from safe light until about noon and then again after 5:00 p.m. The Rapala DT10 in shad and hot mustard are still working out on the rocky, sharper points where the channel runs close. Use the Rapala DT10 baits for at least the first couple of hours in the morning and the last couple of hours before dark in the evening. After mid-morning it will be best to drag the lizard on the Carolina rig and work it slow. Be sure to use a full one-ounce plain egg sinker. Downsizing is the key during the hot summer to getting a few extra bites. Many large bass are taken this time of year since bass fishermen typically get out to deeper water and fish slower with larger baits. Like any other time of year, the slower the retrieve the better and use bigger baits on the deep drops and river channels.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS DOWN 1.8 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is tough, and the water temperatures have climbed into the upper 80’s. Both the anglers and the bass head for cooler areas to spend the day. Some of the smaller bass along with a variety of other fish are still roaming the banks and flats. The quality bass have moved to deeper and cooler water. Fishing in depths of twenty-five feet or more is not uncommon under these hot conditions. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to help find the stump rows and schools of bait and bass. Using a variety of plastics on a Carolina rig in different sizes would be the best bet while dragging a Carolina rig in deeper water. Up in the creeks and rivers pick apart the lay downs and brush piles with small jigs and Texas rigged Zoom soft plastics. Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready and be sure to use a 3/0 Mustad offset worm hook on the Sufix Elite 10-pound test line.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The rivers have a light stain, and the main Lake is clear. Look for the deep docks on the main lake. Use a Texas rigged Zoom green pumpkin U tail worm. Fish this worm as far back under the dock as possible. Look for the hard-to-reach places no one else fishes under these docks. Also pick up some fish on the deep ledges off the main river channel with a deep diving crank bait. A Rapala DT 14 in the shad pattern has been working best lately. Another location to work a Norman DD22 is anywhere the river channel cuts close to the bank. As always if Georgia Power is moving water the fishing is much better.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.7 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is slow with very few anglers on the water. Top water baits have just about stopped producing but it is probably still worth trying for the first hour after daybreak. The best locations should be along main lake banks and a short distance inside the mouth of coves. Seawalls and blow downs have been best, but grass can also produce, especially if the lake is less than one foot below full pool. Baits like Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, and Torpedo’s have produced most of the summer. If the water is calm, also try a Spook Jr. or similar bait. Rip rap along the bridges in Little River are still holding fish, but the angler will have to fish slow and thorough to catch a few. Try a lightweight Texas rig and a jig head and worm. Fish the underwater rocks from shallow to where they end in deep water. Dock fishing is slow, but it is still possible to catch a few fish from around or under them. Dead sticking a Texas rigged worm is probably the best chance for success. Carolina rigs and crank baits are producing a few fish around humps, points, and ledges at 10 to over 20 feet deep. If fish are located on or near the top of said structure, a crank bait may be the ticket. Try the Norman DD14, the DD22 and use the Rapala DT10 and DT16 all in the chartreuse and shad patterns. A Carolina rig is usually best when the fish are holding slightly deeper along the sides of the structures. Try a Zoom Finesse worm on a 1/0 Mustad hook with a 3-foot leader and ½ to ¾ ounce weight.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is slow. There are more pleasure boats and jet skis on the lake than anglers all day. But after dark, this all changes and the fish are easier to find and catch. During the day, go to backs of the creeks early and work out toward the main lake. Spots are after small top water baits like the Spittin Image and the Zara Spook Jr. in shad patterns. The best pattern on catching numbers of bass early and late is to stay up in the rivers. The Alcoy River or the Yellow River is producing some bass. Concentrate on the docks. Docks with any structure are easy to find on Jackson using the Lowrance Structure Scan Down Scan technology. Just ride and look under every dock until the best brush pile shows up. Use a Zoom u tail worm on a Texas rig and use a light 3/16-ounce Tungsten sinker for the smaller profile. Flip, pitch or cast the red shad color up under the dock starting with the areas nearest the bank. Work the entire dock, both sides and the front, then move to the next one. The brush piles between the docks as well as the lay down trees needs to be checked out as well. The red shad color can be seen better in the stained water and lighter colors need not be considered. The Texas rig will prevent hang ups in the brush piles and allow the built-in rattle to work at peak performance. The rivers will have current from the constant moving water so go no further than mid-way up for best results.
(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)
Rivers are up and down again this week– you’ll just have to check the gages regularly before planning a trip. Every gage except the Satilla at Waycross was opposite of last week’s status (rising or falling). Bites in saltwater and in the swamp were good.
River gages on August 10th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 7 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 2.2 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 7.7 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 10.3 feet and rising
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 8.6 feet and rising
- Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.3 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 8.5 feet and falling
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 5.9 feet and falling
The river is back out in the floodplain again. Note: Georgia DNR will close the Hwy 158 Landing beginning August 15th to rebuild the ramp and parking lot. Weather depending, it should reopen toward the end of September. Anglers and boaters wishing to access the Satilla River during this time may do so by using the public boat ramp located at Axson Landing (Atkinson County).
ST. MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse walked the bank in the upper river and had a good catch Wednesday morning. He fished for less than an hour and caught a pair of nice pickerel and a few bowfin (2-3 pounds) on small crankbaits and Rooster-tail Spinners. He broke off a couple big fish that he figures were big bowfin. He also put shrimp on the bottom and caught several catfish very quickly. He figures the upper river will be back down to a good level to fish from a boat within a week if we don’t get significant rains.
Very few people fished this week in the heat. Chuck Dean and his family friend Arlene Hall were two who did, and they had a blast on the east side Monday. They ended up trolling Dura-Spins in the extreme heat and caught 30 bowfin (2 biggest were 5-lb, 10-oz and 5-lb, 12-oz). Lemon-lime and fire tiger were their 2 best colors. The biggest catch of the week I heard of was by a 7-foot alligator in the east side boat basin. It caught a giant bowfin and dragged it out on the hill to eat it. It was an impressive sight! The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 120.49 feet.
HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin, more info HERE)
Ken Burke bass fished the area on Saturday morning. He hooked 6 bass and landed 4 of them. Their total weight was 5.25 pounds – all on the small side. He caught 1 on a crankbait and the other 3 on a shaky head worm. The water temperature topped 90 degrees while he was there.
This was a great week for big bass from ponds. Whit caught a giant 28-incher on Friday morning from a Savannah area pond. It ate a spinnerbait. His friend said that even at his young age he has been bitten by the fishing bug! The best bass report I got was from a Waycross angler fishing a local lake over the weekend. He caught about 25 bass – most in the 2 to 4-pound range. But, he had one that inhaled his worm and ran out from the bank. It was a whopper and pulled the scales down to 9 1/2 pounds. Almost all of his fish ate worms rigged on a shaky head. Anglers fishing plastics and jigs on offshore brushpiles in a Brunswick area pond caught some nice bass. They had fish up to 5 pounds. In the last installment of the Guyton Saga (because school has started back for them), it was Charlotte’s turn to put it on the boys. While they were at baseball practice, she slid out to their pond and pitched a black/chartreuse bug and caught some bass. The trio has had a blast this summer catching bass, bluegills, and shellcrackers in their pond on Bert’s Bugs (mostly chartreuse or black/chartreuse versions)!
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Jamie Hodge had a great morning Saturday on the southern Georgia coast. He and a friend flung topwaters and caught some oversized and slot redfish and 15 trout – most of them around 18 inches. They also had a couple big tripletail about 2 feet long each. A group of Waycross and Blackshear anglers fished the Crooked River area on Saturday and caught some seatrout and reds. One boat had 2 keeper trout (17 1/2 and 19 inches), 7 throwback trout, and a short redfish. They were throwing Sea Shads under Equalizer Floats (purple canary and darker colors worked best). The anglers in the other boat flung mostly Gulp shrimp both under floats and without floats. They ended up with 3 keeper trout and 4 throwbacks. They said that the trout were very spread out and you had to keep moving until you connected with one. Tommy Sweeney caught some nice flounder and trout this week flinging a new penny swimbait on a Zombie Eye Jighead. He was fishing the Brunswick area. Capt. Greg Hildreth (georgiacharterfishing.com) has been chasing and catching tarpon this week in the sounds and beaches. The silver kings are a hoot! Give it a try if you’ve never hooked into one! Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had a great week flounder fishing. On Sunday he split the charter with tarpon and flounder. They caught a dozen flounder and saw 100 tarpon but could only go 0 for 1 (jumped one but did not land it) on them. They’re tough to get to bite when they are in a neutral feeding mode! On Monday, they cleaned 25 big flounder. Wednesday, they caught 30 and kept 15 – none were under 15 inches, and 3 were over 20 inches. Thursday was tougher with the higher winds and murkier water, but they still managed 6 flounder, including a 22-incher. All their flounder ate a white Gulp 4-inch Swimming Mullet on a chartreuse jighead.