We hope your weekend plans include attending one of the multiple free events on National Hunting and Fishing Day, Saturday, Sept. 23. This day is meant to recognize generations of hunters and anglers that have given their time and money to help make wildlife conservation programs a success.
Conserving the states natural and wildlife resources is one of the most important responsibilities for this and future generations and the conservation programs supported and financed by Georgia hunters and anglers have benefited hundreds of wildlife species, including deer, wild turkeys, bald eagles and songbirds for all Georgians to enjoy. View the NHF Day slide presentation!
Tell Me About the Events: There are 10 scheduled events across the state, including outdoor adventure days (with a variety of activities at each) and kids fishing events. Check out the Schedule of Events to find one near you.
Free Fishing Day: National Hunting and Fishing Day is also a Free Fishing Day! On this day, residents do NOT need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state including lakes, streams, ponds and public fishing areas.
NEWS TO KNOW
- Non-native Flathead captured in Ogeechee River: Since one catch of a flathead by a commercial angler on the Ogeechee in December 2021, WRD Fisheries staff have monitored the river and hoped it was a lone occurrence. Unfortunately, in August 2023, flathead catfish were captured during sampling efforts. Since then, over a dozen have been removed from the Ogeechee. Read more about this occurrence and the damage that non-native fish like flatheads can do to a water body HERE.
- Boats to See-Fishing Experts to Hear: The Lake Lanier Boat Show is at Lake Lanier Islands on September 29 -October 1, 2023. Click HERE to find the seminar schedule, ticket links and more info. Seminars and speakers are subject to change without notice.
This week, we have fishing reports from North, Central and Southeast Georgia. Celebrate anglers contributions to conservation as you Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Sarah Baker, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The summer slump is gradually leaving us and as we move toward cooler temperatures, the fall frenzy will begin. Fish will start to move out of the depths of rivers and lakes to actively feed in the shallows. The next couple of weeks will have some of the best fishing opportunities of the year- as long as you don’t mind a few leaves in your creel.
Try Out Fishing For Trout! To celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day the Wildlife Resources Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stocked trout in several streams across north Georgia. Saturday, September 23rd is a free fishing day where a fishing license and trout stamp are not required for Georgia residents. Take advantage of this opportunity to fish for some fresh stockers and take a friend along to fish with you. Look HERE for the latest stocking report to find out where the stocking trucks have been. Good luck and Go Fish Georgia!
Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day in North GA by attending an Event Tomorrow, Saturday, Sept 23rd:
Buford Dam Bucket Brigade at Lower Pool Park – Kids attending this event can fish, try out fly tying, and view fishing demos. Volunteers will be on hand to help with baiting hooks and removing fish. The GA DNR Trout Stocking staff will stock some fish at Buford Dam for the event. Participants can assist DNR with stocking trout into the river. To participate, bring a clean, 5-gallon bucket for carrying fish and arrive by 9am. A limited number of loaner poles will be available. Bait provided. Life jackets REQUIRED. Hot dogs, drinks and snacks provided. Event sponsored by the Forsyth Cummings Optimist Club & Kiwanis Club.
- James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park Kids Fishing Event – Come join us for an Outdoor Adventure Day and Kid’s Fishing Rodeo at James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park. Event will be from 9am to 3pm. Kids 15 and under can try their hand at catching tagged catfish to win prizes. Bring your own fishing poles and bait. There will be archery opportunities, a birds of prey show and a reptile show. Food trucks will be at the park. Note: the event is free, but there is a $5 per vehicle parking fee at the Park.
Fall Kickoff with Unicoi Outfitters in Helen – From 10AM to 4PM join UO who will be hosting some excellent free seminars to help the beginner fly angler including a Fly Fishing 101 Class, Euro nymphing, and more. Check out all their programs and register HERE!
Lake Nottely Water Quality: (From Senior Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Water quality profiles were collected on Lake Nottely this week to assess habitat availability for cooler water species like striped bass. These data can be viewed on Nottely’s Fishing Forecast map. While other popular sportfish on Nottely like black bass and crappie easily tolerate warm water temperatures, stripers prefer cooler waters (generally less than 80 F) which can become oxygen deficient during summer stratification. Thankfully TVA’s oxygen injection system, intended to improve water quality in Nottely’s tailwater, increases dissolved oxygen in Nottely’s forebay which attracts stripers and other species to the seasonal “bubble party.” Target offshore features like points and humps within proximity of these bubbles to improve your chances of fishing success.
Lake Allatoona: (From Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) – Bass fishing is fair. The swim bait bite is still hit and miss. The Senko bite with the 4-inch blue pearl Senko is starting to pick up. Use this bait on the 12-pound Sufix elite line. A decent Mini Me bite is starting to develop on the steeper banks especially the windblown banks and are taking some decent spotted bass. Be sure to use a very fast retrieve and cover a lot of water with this tactic. Use the Lucky Craft Redemption spinner baits and be sure the skirts have some blue colors. Also try chartreuse and white willow leaf blades. Be sure to use a trailer hook while fishing the spinner baits on the steep banks. Also, anglers are catching a few fish on the steep banks with a Staysee.
Lake Lanier: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant southernfishing.com) — Lake Lanier is down 4.8’; 80s.
- Bass: (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson, (770) 366-8845, Pjohnson15@hotmail.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good and getting better. The lake is currently down four and a half feet so be careful running the lake as very shallow areas are starting to appear. The water temperature is ranging from the low to mid-eighties with the main lake mostly clear and staining in the backs of the creeks as well as up the rivers. The cooler temperatures have the bass moving into the fall top water mode and the fun fishing is beginning. It is still a little hit or miss from day to day as some days are great for numbers, but the next day is a little of a struggle. Even on the tough days though there are still some really good fish being caught. The Riser still was the best performer over the last week as it seems it’s something new that they haven’t seen. One of the surprises with the Riser is that it works so well even on days with no wind. This bait can be hard to find but currently both Hammonds and Lip Thrasher Lures have them available. Other baits that have been producing are the IMA `Skimmer, Vixen, Gunfish and Lanier Baits Magic Swimmer. On the sunny days chrome or clear bottom baits have been the best choice while on cloudy days a bait with a white bottom seems to produce the best. Key areas have been off the sides of humps, long points and over brush in twenty-five feet or less of water. However, they are likely to come up anywhere as this is a shad driven bite so watch for areas that the wind is blowing shad into. There is still a drop shot bite in the twenty-five to thirty-foot brush with either a Blue Lily or Morning Dawn color worm. The largemouth are also starting to show up on both the top water bite and in the backs of the creeks with the cooler water. A green pumpkin worm or a three eights ounce jig in brown with chartreuse will get you bit. As the water continues to cool the activity is just going to increase so it’s a great time to Go Catch ‘Em!
- Striper: (From Buck Cannon, Buck Tails Guide Service, (404) 510-1778) — Lake Lanier stripers are roaming around in search for oxygen. Once you locate a pocket of oxygen, they will be close. The down lines using blue backs fishing 28 to 35 feet deep. Thumping the bottom of the boat can bring in the fish. Trolling lead core 250 to 280 feet back using jigs with chartreuse trailer and the underspin with the trailer. Water temperature is 71 degrees on the south end today. Umbrella rigs at 130 feet behind the boat moving 2.7 to 3 mph with the big motor is working. Remember to wear your life jacket.
- Crappie fishing is good. (From Captain Josh Thornton, (770) 530-6493). This week we have been catching crappie at 8-15-foot deep over a 20-to-30-foot bottom. When it comes to bait, use small baits like a gray sugar bug and slow action and target shaded areas. Use live small minnows straight down with a split shot or small jigs with a slow retrieval for the best results. In terms of timing, fishing during early morning or late evening when the temperature is slightly cooler is recommended. Look for covered docks near a channel. The moving water is a little cooler and may have a little more oxygen making the fish more active. The gear I recommend for crappie fishing is Acc crappie Stix 1 piece rod and reel with a 6-pound test K9 line, along with Garmin Live Scope and Power Pole.
Lake Weiss: (Mark Collins reports) — “Bass fishing is fair, and a lot of bass have started moving shallow in the coves as the water cools. Spinner baits, crank baits and soft plastics are catching fish on stumps and brush in 4 to 8 feet of water. Some bass are being caught flipping docks also. Striper fishing is good, and they are being caught in Little River and The Chattooga River on live shad downed lined and free lined. Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water. Cut bait is working best.”
Lake Burton: Mr. John Maxwell caught this beauty of a walleye on 9/20 deep near the dam using a 4” blue back herring crank bait. It weighed 7lbs, 15oz. Congrats Mr. Maxwell!
Lake Hartwell: (From Ken Sturdivant) — “Bass fishing is fair. Fish the Rapala DT6, the Rapala RS and Jointed Shad Raps in the early mornings. The bite picks up again from about 6:00 p.m. until dusk. Concentrate on the smaller main lake points and the banks between points. Look for two small points that are close to each other for better results. During the day also look for and fish rocks and wood structure that have shade on them. Fish the jumps with a top water lure like a Pop R or a Sammy. Try some braid on a spinning reel and the casts can be a lot longer. Just be sure to tie the lures directly to the braid, no leader, with a double Palomar knot. Shady docks are also holding an occasional bass. Take along those jigs and light weight Carolina Rigs for the midday bite. By mid-morning the bass will be retreating back to the deeper water and holding tight to cover.”
Sunday Leftovers: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Lulah and I drove up to Chestatee WMA this past Sunday in search a trout fishing adventure. Trout stocking since Labor Day has been light as usual, so we kept our expectations low and just wanted to get out of the house for a few hours. Flow in Boggs Creek was surprisingly low, and we only found one pool holding fish that we felt confident enough to fish with Lulah’s short and sturdy KidCaster rod. They weren’t interested in our various in-line spinner offerings, and so we jumped over to Dick’s Creek and drove way up past the swimming holes and typical stops. We fished several pools and were successful at spooking fish, but the bites remained light until we had a fun one-on-one about how trout lose their appetite when they think they’re about get turned into dinner. Lulah then employed a slightly stealthier approach as we moved upstream, and started focusing on casting her little rooster tail along rock ledges at our stop-offs. Finally, she thought she had snagged a log when it started to thrash and she frantically reeled in her PB brown trout! Landing this fish truly made her day (and mine), and it resurfaced in conversations as we caught a few more before heading back to the Classic City. Thanks to the trout hatchery crews for helping to put this big smile on Lulah’s face!
Fishing Trout Streams in September: (Report Courtesy of Tad Murdock, Georgia Wild Trout) — The bug diversity is rising as the hatches have begun to increase once again. Caddis and midges continue to be the most abundant in the streams I have visited over the past few weeks with the occasional mayfly here and there. We have even seen a handful of the October caddis that can quickly get the trout looking to the surface. The trout have been incredibly active and temperamental at times but can be caught on just about any nymph or junk pattern in the box if it’s presented correctly. The trout activity has been tied closely to the rains. If you manage to catch the timing right, the dry fly bite can be excellent. Larger dry fly patters (caddis, stimulators, and hoppers) have done well at these times when the fish are looking up for a meal. A dry dropper has become a go to when sight fishing trout in skinny water with a stealthier presentation. The lower water levels on days without rainfall can be difficult as the trout become skittish. If you can get into position without spooking the fish, chances are you can get a good shot at the trout.
(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 fair. There are still some big largemouth being caught each week. Spots are biting but they are smaller bass, and they are at 15 to 25 feet of water. The Texas rig and a shaky head are best, especially when they are generating. For the bigger spots and largemouth, try the timber and brush around deep water. Once the water cools the baitfish will begin to get active, and a buzz bait, crankbait or a jig will be good baits to target the more active bass feeding on them. Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready all day.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS DOWN 4.2 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. There are some good bass up the Savannah River as well as the Little River and all the areas in between. Use the 3/8-ounce white double leaf Georgia Blade spinner bait and a good top water bait like a Thunder Dog or Skitter Walk. Color will really depend on the weather conditions for that day. The Rattlin’ Raps in both the 3/8- and 1/2-ounce size will work. If the water is stained use a red fire crawdad color or the chartreuse shiner color. In clear water the shad and blue shad are good choices. Do not be afraid to use a Silver Gold or Fire Tiger color during low light conditions. Windblown points are still good producers, especially on the Fort Gordon side of the lake. Ditches that run on the outer edges of the submerged grass are still holding good fish as well. This is where the practice comes in. Jigs, worms, and lizards along with Carolina Rigs or Texas Rigs will work while picking apart the wood cover up in the rivers and even out on the main lake. Do not rely on one pattern to hold up all day long or for two days in a row. Versatility will be a must this week. Switching up baits and patterns will be the key.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The main lake is clear, and a light stain up the rivers. Start the day with a white or a white and chartreuse buzz bait. Fish it along the sea walls and rip rap. After the top water bite ends move to the deep-water docks and start to work a Texas rigged Zoom U tail worm in a dark green or pumpkin under the docks. Keep moving and scan docks with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology until the fish show up on the docks and flats mid lake. Check the main lake points and the fish will be on the end of points. Use the crank baits that will run 10 feet deep. Use a shad pattern in clear water and a fire tiger in stained water.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The deeper structure bite for largemouth bass is starting to fall off as the fish have begun their seasonal movement to creeks, shallow coves, and pockets. A few largemouth bass can still be caught on Rapala DT14 and Rapala Ott’s Garage 8 in white with the green back. The football jigs with Zoom swimming chunks is working also. Fish the Oconee arm, fish Shoulderbone creek and north of the Highway 16 Bridge with Rat L Traps, Mann’s Minus 1 crank baits and Rapala DT10. For numbers of fish, tie on a 1/8- or 3/16-ounce jig head with a Spro McStick and fish the shallow docks in the Optimist Island area of Little River. For that kicker fish use a Yum Vibra King 3.5-inch tube in a June bug or black color on those same docks. This is run and gun time so do not spend ten minutes or more in an area; if you have not seen shad, it is probably time to look for more active water.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .6 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. Some fish are holding on main lake structure. Some quality fish have turned up way back in the pockets holding on wood cover as shallow as 4 feet on an overcast day. Also, probe around docks, blow downs, and brush piles back in the coves. Throwing buzz baits or torpedo style prop baits are good choices. Drop shot rigs, deep running cranks baits, plastics should be fished on the main lake. Before the sun gets up stick to power fishing with buzz baits. Covering water will be the key to success. When fishing buzz baits, landing the baits close to deep sea walls will be important. Sammie’s or Prop baits fish a little slower but try these baits in prime areas, near wood or rock structure for instance. Fish should strike on or after a pause. Some morning’s fish prefer the slower baits. Focus on main lake rock, riprap, and sea wall features. Focus on deep main lake seawalls. Spinner baits, chatter baits and shallow running crankbaits can work on shallow points in the morning when fish shy away from top water presentations. Fish the shaky rig on deep main lake docks. A run up the South River or Yellow River can be good as the rivers will hold slightly cooler and more stained water. Target the older wood structure with a jig/craw trailer. Surface temperatures in the rivers may only decrease by a couple of degrees, depending on recent rainfall.
The Lake Lanier Boat Show is at Lake Lanier Islands on September 29 -October 1, 2023. Click HERE to find the seminar schedule, ticket links and more info. Seminars and speakers are subject to change without notice.
(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)
These cooler nights have improved the bite, but the rivers are still a little full for a prime bite. The best reports this week were on ponds, the Okefenokee, and saltwater.
River gages on September 21st were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 8 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 4.0 feet and steady
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 7.6 feet and cresting
- Waycross on the Satilla – 10.0 feet and falling
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 13.2 feet and falling
- Statenville on the Alapaha – 4.3 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 3.2 feet and falling
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 4.7 feet and falling
Carter Knoll fished in the east side boat basin this week and did well for bowfin (mudfish) by casting black-chartreuse and fire tiger Dura-Spins. He caught several each evening in just a short time. Other anglers caught a few catfish by bottom fishing (probably shrimp or worms, but I did not ask them). The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 120.59 feet.
Chad Lee fished several ponds this week and caught some bass and a crappie. He caught the crappie on a minnow right before the bottom fell out and he got soaked. Friday, he caught 20 small bass up to 2 pounds on stickworms and spinnerbaits. He also flung a red/white beetlespin for a little bit and caught 10 big bluegills. He fished during his lunch break a couple times this week and had a couple bass each trip. Jimmy Zinker night-fished in a Valdosta area pond on Wednesday night and didn’t land any bass, but he had a big one eat his black Gurgler Buzzbait and dive down in the weeds and pull off. A couple youngsters fished a Brunswick area lake from a dock on Wednesday and caught several dozen bluegills and channel catfish. They were throwing small 2-inch grubs for their catch.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The fall mullet run is happening, and that means lots of big predators heading south with the bait schools. This is prime time to catch a giant bull redfish in our sounds, so give it a try. Tarpon are still around in good numbers, as well. This cooler weather has the trout fired off. I heard several good reports of keeper trout being caught in the Brunswick area. Mark Vick and David Brodmann fished the Savannah area on Saturday and caught a bunch of flounder (kept 6 of the bigger ones) on artificial shrimp. Two of them were over 20 inches. They also caught 2 slot redfish and several undersized trout mixed in. Justin Bythwood fished a Brunswick area dock early Thursday morning and caught a 4-pound sheepshead using a fiddler crab rigged on a 1/8-oz. Shrimp Hook (built on a Gamakatsu kahle-shaped hook). He also broke off 2 bigger sheepshead that wrapped him around the pilings. The new bait shop in Brunswick named Wat-a-melon Bait and Tackle opened last Friday. They are open Friday through Sunday from 6am to 4pm each week. They have plenty of lively shrimp and fiddler crabs and also have live worms and crickets for freshwater. They’re on Hwy 303 just north of Hwy 82 in the same location as the previous J&P Bait and Tackle. For the latest information, contact them at 912-223-1379.