Flathead catfish are not native to rivers like the Ogeechee. However, since one was caught by a commercial angler in December 2021, WRD Fisheries staff have monitored the river hoping it was a lone occurrence. Unfortunately, in August 2023, more flathead catfish were captured during sampling efforts. Since then, about twenty 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.
The introduction of non-native or invasive species into water bodies can cause significant ecological and economic impacts, from damaging vessels and other boating equipment, to impeding access to waterbodies to disrupting the natural ecosystem by displacing and out-competing native species. Help protect the waters you love! Find out more about Aquatic Nuisance Species at georgiawildlife.com/ans.
NEWS TO KNOW:
THIS WEEKEND-Lanier Boat Show: 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.
- Flint River Striped Bass Check-in: Southwest Georgia Fisheries staff completed the annual assessment of adult Gulf striped bass usage of springs in the Flint River. Gulf striped bass are reliant on these springs for cool water habitat during the hot summer months. Good numbers of all sizes of fish were observed this year despite some difficult diving conditions from several large rain events.
- Trout Eggs Now Make Trout Catches Later: Trout hatchery staff are always planning ahead and are already working toward stocking plans for 2025! This week, Lake Burton Fish Hatchery received 250,000 rainbow trout eggs from Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Tennessee. Trout produced from these eggs will reach the target stocking goal of 10-inches in the Spring of 2025.
This week we have fishing reports from Southeast, North and Central Georgia. Be sure to protect the waters where you enjoy spending time and let’s Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Region Supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The cooler weather has the fish more active, but the rains in southeast Georgia this week have most of the blackwater rivers on the rise again. The Ocmulgee and Altamaha are in good shape to try for the weekend. With big tides and winds, saltwater is not a good option the next few days. The Okefenokee bite and ponds are likely your best option this weekend.
River gages on September 28th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 3 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 1.3 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 6.0 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 10.5 feet and rising
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 10.8 feet and falling
- Statenville on the Alapaha – 5.0 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 3.2 feet and rising
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 6.0 feet and rising
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
The annual JAKES/Outdoor Adventure Day was held on Saturday, and the kids had a blast…literally. Shots from the skeet shooting could be heard around the area all morning. The fishing went very well with LOTS of catfish caught from the kids’ ponds – several earned the youth anglers an angler award. The biggest I heard of was an 11-pounder that ate mullet gut wound on the hook. Bass fishing was good for the youth fishing for them. Several anglers caught bass up to 5 pounds in the bass/bream pond.
Jimmy Zinker caught the biggest bass I heard of this week by night-fishing with a black Gurgler Buzzbait. He landed a 7-lb., 13-oz. bass on Tuesday night. Tripp, Charlotte, and Waylon fished their magical Guyton bream pond this week with black/chartreuse Bert’s Bugs and caught quite a few bluegills and bass. Bluegill will still be spawning in the shallows for the next month or so. The crappie catch has improved with the cooler water, but I haven’t heard of any great catches yet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The trout bite has fired off but will likely pause this weekend with the big tides and STRONG winds that are forecasted. Tommy and Pam Sweeney had the best catch I heard of this week. They had a 50-fish day on Saturday, but many were 13-inch throwback trout. They had 16 keeper trout and a big 19-inch flounder. Pam’s biggest trout was a 19-incher that ate a shrimp rigged on an 1/8-oz. Zombie Eye Jighead and suspended underneath a float. I got a couple reports of sheepshead being caught on fiddler crabs and trout being caught on shrimp in the Brunswick area. Flounder are still around, but most folks reported catching 1 or 2 per trip instead of the half-dozen fish per trip over the last month. Ed Zmarzly has been putting it on the bull redfish from the St. Simons Island Pier. Cut bait has been the ticket. Some of them have been pushing 40 inches. The new bait shop in Brunswick named Wat-a-melon Bait and Tackle is now 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.
Both rivers are in good shape, as the up-state regions did not get the heavy rains like southeast Georgia.
Swamp fishing has been very good for the few people who went. Carter Knoll flung a Dura-Spin in the boat basin some this week and caught bowfin each time he fished. A Waycross angler fished this week at all three public entrances and caught fish with very little fishing effort at each one. Bowfin (up to 5 pounds) and pickerel (up to 22”) ate Dura-Spins trolled and casted to shoreline cover. Lemon-lime was the best color spinner. Fliers ate yellow sallies under a float best on the east side. And, he caught a warmouth on a yellow sally by flinging it on a fly rod to the edge of grass mounds. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 120.84 feet.
(Fishing report courtesy of Hunter Roop, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The cool fall weather will soon alter the daily patterns and tactics for fish and their pursuant anglers in Georgia’s diverse river and reservoir fisheries. As such, consider visiting Georgia’s annual reservoir and river Fishing Forecasts before you hit the water this season. These forecasts contain information on fishing hot spots, target species, seasonal fishing techniques, detailed interactive maps, boating and angling access points, fish attractor locations, stream gauge data and more. Let our forecasts help personally guide you to some successful fishing action this early fall.
The following reservoir fishing reports are courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant with help from contributors specified below:
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 5.3 FEET, 70’S
Bass: Bass fishing is fair as the water cools down. The lower part of the lake is clear, and the bass are moving and scattered. The largemouth and spots and hybrids and whites are mixed together and moving and feeding. During the early morning and late afternoon, the bass are moving into the coves and can be caught with shad imitation lures like Rat L Traps and all white 3/8-ounce Rooster Tails. During the day the bass are moving out deeper and can be caught using crank baits and Carolina rigged worms. The bass are still holding on deep submerged roadbeds, and they are also on the edges of flats on the lower end of the lake. Cranking around main lake rocky points is productive early and late in the day. Fish the steep banks of main creeks in deep blow downs using a crank bait or a brown on black pig and jig. Look for the fish to start moving out on the points as the lake level drops.
More Bass (courtesy of Spalding County Sportsman Club): Fishing was tough for the Spalding County Sportsman Club this past Sunday as only three of thirteen anglers produced limits with 12.54 lb taking first place. A 4.28 lb largemouth won the big fish honors. Fishing rocky points with a trick worm and working topwater poppers produced a few largemouth, while the spotted bass took to a ¼ oz green Bitsy Flip jig with a green pumpkin Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer sporting a chartreuse-dipped tail. All of these fish were pulled up shallow in 10 FOW or less.
WEISS LAKE IS AT 0 FOOT 3 INCHES BELOW FULL POOL AND LIGHT STAINED TO CLEAR AND 78-80 DEGREE’S
All Species (by Mark Collins Guide Service www.markcollinsguideservice.com 256 996 9035): Bass fishing is and some have started moving shallow in the bays on secondary points, creek and river channel ledges are still producing, Carolina rigs and crank baits are catching fish. Crappie fishing is fair. They are on the creek and river channel ledges and deeper brush; they can be caught Spider rigging with live minnows over deep brush. Shooting docks with jigs is also producing some fish, look for the Crappie to really start biting as the water cools down. 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 well. Fish in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water. Cut bait is working best.
LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 4.5 FEET, 70’S
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The lower lake fish are shallow to mid depth and are starting to school in the creek mouths over deeper water, as smaller pods of bait are starting to form. Bass fishing is fair. As the temperatures start to cool the fish start feeding on the bait schools in the lakes. So, use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and find the bait schools and the fish will be close by. Fish are schooling and use the pearl white flukes, Sammy 115 in Ghost Minnow and the under spin. When the bite slows switch to a drop shot finesse worm in Morning Dawn Red. Focus on bridge pilings or points on the side the drops the sharpest for this bite. Also, some fish are under and around docks so pitching worms and jigs around them can work. Now that the shallow water back in the creeks has started to stabilize the black popping frog bite along on the surface is working.
Catfish (courtesy of SCDNR Fishing Reports): Captain Bill Plumley reports that during September channel catfish will continue to bite well in 15 plus feet of water on a variety of baits including cut herring and nightcrawlers, but once temperatures begin to cool blue catfish and flatheads may move out of the deep timber and become more catchable.
Crappie (courtesy of SCDNR Fishing Reports): Guide Rodney Donald (864-356-0143) reports that in September fish will be found over brush in 15-25 plus feet of water in the creek runs, but this weekend he proved to himself that there are also still some fish very shallow in less than ten feet of water. He caught them just three feet deep under a cork! While jigs will work, minnows may be more effective.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 4.1 FEET, 70’S
Bass: Bass fishing is great. With the winter drawdown and decreasing water temps, the bass are in full feed up mode. This is not the time of year to sit around. It’s time to drop the trolling motor, and fish for active fish. The Spro Fat John fished in 3 to 5 feet of water in creeks in the north are producing good numbers. As the temperatures start to cool the fish start feeding on the bait schools in the lakes. So use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and find the bait schools and the fish will be close by. The mid lake areas have been producing spots and some largemouth. Keep a pair of polarized glasses on, and watch for stumps, logs and rocks that the bass might use for an ambush point. There is also some schooling activity around Stamp and the Red Top areas. We are using pearl white Big Bite Jerk Minnows on 3/0, 1/8-ounce jig heads as well as Spro McSticks. The fish may only stay up for a few seconds, so make the cast count. The buzz bait bite is also good. Throw the buzz bait parallel to bluff banks. Bang the bait off the rocks when it’s being retrieved. The bass will use the shoreline to trap the bait. For bigger fish, even though there are a few less bites, the swim bait is hard to beat. Throwing the fast-sinking Spro 6 inch BBZ in shad patterns and covering water is an awesome way to get a big spot this time of year.
LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 5.2 FEET, 70’S
Boat Show!: The Lake Lanier Boat Show is at Lake Lanier Islands on September 29, 30, October 1, 2023. Southern Fishing Schools Inc. will be there with Adam Hinkle and the Bass Tub. See lakelanierboatshow.com for details and vendor and ticket information. We have open dates for our On the Water SONAR SCHOOL. Bring the boat. Call 770 889 2654. email@example.com. Gainesville Fisheries staff supplied fish for Adam Hinkle’s Bass Tub display that will be located near the wave pool, so enjoy checking out the various fish species on Lanier as you browse the boat inventory!
Bass (This Lake Lanier Bass fishing report is by Phil Johnson. firstname.lastname@example.org 770 366 8845): Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good to very good. The lake is currently five feet below full pool and dropping lower each week. The water temperature is running from the high seventies to the low eighties and like the lake level dropping lower with each week. The main lake has been clear with minor staining in the backs of creeks and up the rivers. The fall fun bite has set in and the topwater/swimbait bite has kicked in. The bass right now are likely to school anywhere at any time however off the sides of humps and long points have been key target areas. Several baits are working right now with chrome being a key color choice. The Gunfish, IMA Skimmer and Vixen along with the Riser have all been producing both numbers and size for bass. The Slick Stick has been coming on strong over the last week and should really get rolling over the next few weeks. One fun part has been catching some big largemouth that are hanging with the spots over deeper water. If you want to work the worm or jig start with secondary rocky points, then work the docks from twenty feet deep to the backs of the pockets. A green pumpkin worm or a root beer jig have begun to produce bites in these areas. Look for the top water bite to just keep improving over the next several weeks with the cooler weather. It’s really a fun time to go after them so Go Catch ‘Em!
Striper (courtesy of Georgia Waterdog & Co.): Cooler temperatures and cloudy weather tempted me to get back out on Lake Lanier looking for stripers near Browns Bridge this week. We got on the water late, around 10 o’clock, but were encouraged by the heavy cloud cover, cooler water temperature and light wind. I took a neighbor that really looks forward to fall and wintertime striper fishing. We went into a cove off the main lake where we caught fish this time last year. Within a few minutes we saw small groups of fish chasing bait within 100 ft. of shore. We had a bone color Whopper Plopper & a white & chartreuse Buzz bait tied on. Spinning reels spooled with 20 lb Slick8 Power Pro braid allowed us to stay away from the schooling fish and make extremely long casts. We caught two Stripers and missed several more within an hour. It’s that time of year. Good luck, Stay safe. Jack Becker, Gainesville aka Georgia Waterdog.
More Bass (courtesy of Dana with FCP Fishing): Dana’s been pulling double time again this week and working some big fish on the northwest arm of Lanier. The key to his success has been early AM excursions and effectively working topwater poppers, which is just a ton of fun this time of year. The cool, crisp mornings are just another reason to get out early and take advantage of the topwater action. Check out Dana’s full video HERE.
Crappie (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is by Captain Josh Thornton 770 530 6493 and experience the best crappie fishing on Lake Lanier): Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures in the upper 70’s. The crappie can be found suspended from 5 to 20 feet deep. 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. Fishing is best during early morning or late evening when the temperature is slightly cooler. 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.
Fly Fishing (courtesy of Lake Lanier Fly Flinger Henry Cowen): The cooler weather has definitely changed the temperament on Lake Lanier. We are starting to see a little bit of schooling now but it’s not really a fly angler’s time just yet. Tossing conventional gear with a magic swimmer or soft plastic will get you most bites. Fly rods can be used, but you’ll need to toss a 3 1/2″ to 5″ long fly to mimic the herring that the fish are feeding on. You’ll get way more shots if you see fish on top using conventional tackle. The fish are up and down so quickly that flyrodders are at a clear disadvantage. That will change in 2-3 weeks as the water cools further and the fish stay up longer. The previous new moon that we just had helped trigger this change. By mid-October whippystickers will be able to take full advantage of the start of topwater season. We are now booking trips for Oct-Jan and choice dates are starting to get booked up
Toccoa Tailwater (Courtesy of Matt Morrison with Cohutta Fishing Company): The tailwater is in turnover right now. The last couple weeks the temperature has hung in there, but this week it seems to be getting warmer each day. The latest temp I’ve gotten was 66 degrees below the dam. The water is very murky coming from the dam as well. Once temps get to 68, fish get lethargic and can be tough to catch. And once you do catch them, most of the time they can’t recover even if they do swim off. Let’s give the fish a break on the tailwater until temps get back to a fishable level.
Lanier Tailwater (Courtesy of Orvis Fishing Reports): Chattahoochee Tailwater Streamer season is right around the corner, so be sure to book your trip with River Through Atlanta now for your best chance at a mature wild Chattahoochee brown trout this year! The sign of prolonged reservoir stratification is showing up as water coming out of Buford Dam is very murky, with dissolved oxygen at its yearly low. Fish further south, around Island Ford, for best results. If you have any questions at all, feel free to come in and we will be happy to get you set up! For the Chattahoochee, state regulations require a certified personal flotation devise be worn by all anglers from Buford Dam south to Highway 20. Pay special attention to water release info online or call the number below for release schedules. Make sure to call the Corp of Engineers release hotline at 770-945-1466 before making your trip.
Hoping This is the Start of Nice Fall Fishing: Check out DjangoFly’s ‘Hooch ‘bow on NGTO.
Trout Trucks Keeping Busy with Bonus Stockings! Attention trout anglers, the trout trucks have been busy the last two weeks. Check out the weekly trout stocking report for a long list of great places to find a fresh trout dinner. Most of the stocked trout were browns, so leave the corn on the shelf and grab the crickets or worms. The water is low and clear so be stealth and move slowly. If you see fish, they can see you and will spook easily. Good luck and take advantage of these “bonus” stockings.
Small Streams (Courtesy of Matt Morrison with Cohutta Fishing Company): As I am writing this, it is 67 degrees and lightly raining. The past few days have really been starting to feel like fall. The leaves on some trees are beginning to turn red. We are not done with summer yet, but fall is coming. With some rain and cooler weather, our small streams should be phenomenal right now. Some of the stocked small streams, I have been fishing Dry Dropper rigs with a Pat’s Rubber Legs or something with a bright colored bead like a Sexy Walt’s Worm, Lucent Hare’s Ear, or Lucent Pheasant Tail. In the wild trout streams, I’ve been fishing a similar rig just a bit more natural. Dry dropper rigs with a Pat’s, Tungstone, Jigged Pheasant Tail, or a Holy Grail. If flows are a bit lower between the rains, then throw a dry and you will more than likely see some action in riffles and pocket water. Terrestrials have still been great across the board. Smaller hoppers and ants have been great, but there are definitely some bugs hatching too. Yellow Sallies, Caddis, and a few sulfurs have been flying around and the fish are still noticing.
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 good. It is cooling down quickly and the bait fish are bunching up lake wide. This is a spotted bass lake, and they are making up more than 90 percent of catches. It’s hard to catch a largemouth. Good numbers of spots are feeding and just watch the Lowrance Down Scan technology, get over them and fish a drop shot. Try a Pulse Jig in the brush in 20 to 25 feet of water for a bigger bite. Most fish will be right on the edge of the main channel. These fish suspend in timber and slide horizontally up to the brush to feed. Try a crankbait like a bigger DD 22 for a bigger bite. If the water gets up after a good rain, try fishing shallow back in the new stained water with a buzz bait. Most of the better fishing is with depths at 20 to 35 feet of water around brush. A lot of the fish are coming on drop shot Zoom finesse green pumpkin and watermelon worms. Have a backup plan like the deep diving crankbait in sexy shad color.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS DOWN 4.7 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Toward the end of the month as days get a little shorter, bass will school more on the lower end of the lake and up the Georgia Little River arm. Keep a Sammy, Spook or Gun fish ready to cast to any surface activity you see. Fish 15 to 25-foot drops and humps near river channels with a Carolina rigged green pumpkin bait. Pick anything in the green pumpkin shade. Some fish can be caught during the day on these deep places. Some bream eaters are still roaming the shallows. Look for them in the backs of pockets and cast a popping top water or buzz bait for them. The Rapala DT6 and Rapala D 10 in Hot Mustard will work. Up the Savannah River, you can catch quality bass around shoreline grass with a frog.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 80’S
Bass fishing is fair. The cooler nights and shorter days have also brought the surface water temperature down to 81 to 83 degrees. A few fish can now be caught moving into shallower water, but you still need to be near deep water and the main lake. They have not migrated to the backs of the coves yet. The docks are still the best bet. Head into Richland Creek and fish every dock on the right side of the creek. Fish them with a Texas rig or a shaky head jig. A small creature bait or finesse worm in June bug is producing fish. As the sun gets higher, move out to the main lake points, ledges and drop offs. Fish them with a ¼ ounce chrome Rat L Trap or a Carolina rig and your favorite fire tiger colored deep diving crank bait. With the cooler days Georgia Power has not been pulling as much water, but it is still important to be on the lake when they are.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. The cool breezy weather helped the shallow bite. A lot of shad and baitfish have already started moving back in the pockets and creeks. Shallow crank baits and top water are hard to beat in the morning and evening. The best crank bait for both quantity and quality has been the Spro Little John 50 in the Nasty Shad color. Fish this crank bait around sea walls, docks and points adjacent to the main river channel. Try to bump the crank bait off dock posts or any wood cover. A Spro Bronzeye frog in the Leopard color will also produce around grass beds near points or under overhanging trees in the morning and evening as well. A jig and a shaky head are still catching fish around brush piles and shady docks. A green pumpkin Stanley jig has been the bait of choice around these brush piles and docks. Also have the Weedless Wonder lead heads ready in the same place to get a few extra bites. A green pumpkin Zoom trick worm is the best plastic to pair with the head. The deep bite is still consistent in depths of 12 to 20 feet. Carolina rigs, drop shot rigs, and a Spro Little John DD crank bait are best in the offshore locations. The deep bite will be best when Georgia Power is moving water.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .6 FEET, 80’S
Bass fishing is good. Active spotted bass can still be found relating to brush on points and humps, both on the main lake and in major creek mouths. Have a top water bait and a swim bait ready all day. Use swim baits like the Sebile and a Spro bbz1. For top water use both walking baits and poppers. Some fish are also after the drop shot rig, but that bite seemed to wane a bit this week. On the drop shit use the Wackem drop shot worms. The Bruised Tomato color is working well for the deep fish. Also use the Zoom Drop worms and green pumpkin has been working well on sunny days. Soon fish will start showing up in creek arms relating to bait suspended in the channel or ditch. A jerk bait or a Fat Free shad-colored crank bait on 10-pound test Sufix elite clear line will work.