It’s the perfect time of year to take the family on a fall trip. Could be a day or a week…or dare we think longer? The weather is (mostly) cooperative, the scenery is beautiful (for all those “for the Gram” moments), and the fishing (so many choices) is great.
NEWS TO KNOW:
- Time to Renovate! The Go Fish Education Center in Perry, GA is temporarily closed (Oct. 20-Nov. 26) for exhibit renovation. Make a note on your calendar to plan a visit once the Center re-opens.
- Lake Margery Closed to Fishing: Lake Margery at Marben PFA is closed to fishing and boating access to safely conduct important maintenance including replacement of gate valves and boat ramp improvements. When maintenance is complete, the lake will be allowed to refill. Once the water is at appropriate levels, fish stockings can occur. Potential re-opening date for the lake is Fall 2024. Boaters and anglers can continue to access all other ponds, lakes and facilities at Marben PFA.
- Boat Ramp Closures: The Hwy. 158 ramp on the Satilla and the Middleton Boat Ramp on Lake Richard B Russell are currently closed for replacement or renovation. Find out more HERE.
- How Do I Find Out About Closures? Want to know about boat ramp, shooting range, education center or other area closures, renovations, etc.? Visit THIS PAGE on the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division website.
This week, we have fishing reports from North, Central and Southeast Georgia. Make sure to fall for some fall fishing as you Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of John Lee Thomson, Fisheries Biologist and Trout Stocking Coordinator with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Mountain Trout Report: (Report Courtesy of John Lee Thompson, Trout Stocking Coordinator) – Fresh fall stockings continue, though they are not numerous. Click here for the latest stocking report. Cooler waters have trout actively feeding throughout the day. Low flows and crystal-clear water require anglers to move slowly and wear drab clothing to not spook hungry trout. Heavy brown trout stockings took place at the end of September and plenty of holdover trout from these stockings are still waiting to be caught. Best bets include the Toccoa River in Fannin County, the Chattahoochee River and tributaries on the WMA, and the Tallulah River in Rabun County. Just ask Zach Chapman who caught these browns sporting some beautiful fall spawning colors.
Gather the Gear and Prep for Delayed Harvest: With November 1st right around the corner, now is the time to get your gear ready and read up on the awesome opportunities you can find in North Georgia on the delayed harvest trout streams. Check out this comprehensive guide courtesy of Tad Murdock at GeorgiaWildTrout.com to make the most of your quickly-approaching November opportunities: Best Tips for Fishing North Georgia’s Delayed Harvest Streams.
LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 6 FEET, 70S
Lanier Striper Report: (Report courtesy of Captain Mack (404) 403-4032 or (770) 235-8135) — The Stripers have been cooperating, with anglers recording some good catches on live baits and artificials. The fish are being taken over open water or over the high spots, and some fish showing up in the middle parts of the major creek channels. Live Herring have been producing well, as have the Gizzard Shad, so may want to carry some of each. If nothing else, keeping a Gizzard Shad or two in the mix will draw attention to the remainder of your bait spread. A combination of free lines and planers will be effective. Placing the bait 40 to 50 feet behind the boards or 80 feet on the flatline will be a great starting point. Locate the open water fish by looking for surface activity, or by watching the birds. The Gulls are here in limited numbers, but you only need a couple to show you the fish. The Gulls and Loons will become more numerous as we move into October. If you do not see fish or birds, pick out a section of the river channel, and pull the baits along the edges of the old channel. 30 minutes should be enough time to get the bite, if not, pick up and try another area. Keep a topwater, swim bait or buck tail tied on to cast to any of the surfacing fish that may appear! There are very good numbers of Stripers holding on and around the main lake humps in 20 to 30 feet. Often they will be in brush, or they may be roaming around the humps. Top waters and swim baits should get the bite here, and a run and gun mentally will be a plus. This is about high saturation, so fish quickly to make this pattern work. Generally, the fish will be quick to respond, so make a few casts and move on to the next high spot. If you do not have a bow mounted sonar unit, use your chart to position the boat within acting distance of the crest of the hump. Activate the Spot Lock and start fan casting until you have saturated the area, then move to the next hump. Top waters and swim baits should get the bite, and casting the Mini Mack is a good option as well.
Striper Fishing at “Uncle Julian’s Point”: (Report courtesy of Jack Becker, Gainesville aka Georgia Waterdog) — This week I was out Striper fishing on lake Lanier again. I invited a neighbor that had recently told me about fishing here in the early 1970’s, some 50 years earlier. We talked about fishing a spot near Balus boat ramp where he fished with his uncle for white bass and he would like to revisit that place – it was simply called “Uncle Julian’s Point”. Our first pass, using live bait found a 3.75 spotted bas willing to take our offering. I could see by the expression on his face how much it meant to him to catch a fish at this same place after so many years. We stayed in the same area making many passes with our planner boards and free lines. When we finally hooked up with our first Striper we lost it in the tree tops without ever getting to see it. About an hour later with no more bites we decided it was time to head in. We made 1 more pass near Uncle Julian’s Point. Almost like a fairytale ending, the planar board closest to the point started heading for deep water, and with the bait clicker screaming there was no doubt we had a Striper on the line. The perfect ending to our day was when we put this beautiful Lanier Striper in the boat. I fish this area of the lake quite a bit, and from now on this will always be called Uncle Julian’s Point. What a day to remember. I was blessed to be able to share the experience.
Lanier Bass Report: (Report courtesy of Phil Johnson, email@example.com (770) 366 8845) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. The lake level is currently a little over six feet below full pool and still on a steady decline. Water temperature is running from the mid to upper seventies throughout the lake with clear water on the main and very little staining in the backs of the creeks. Bass fishing can best be described as boom or bust right now on Lanier. Last weekend a lot of the top sticks on Lanier fished a big tournament which took over twenty pounds to win but only thirteen pounds to get in the money. You are either on them big or struggling. This can be a day-to-day thing with one day great and the next day tough. The hard swimbait bite has been steady with the Slickstick and Sebiles producing both numbers and size. There are a lot of fish, both largemouth and Spots, being caught on these baits right now. While the fish can be anywhere schooling most of our catches have been in less than thirty feet of water on points and humps. The main lake and first half of the creeks tend to be the areas to concentrate on. For the top water bite the Gunfish, Ima Skimmer and Riser TKO have drawn the most strikes in the same areas. Color choice remains the same with white in low light and chrome during the sunny times. If you are struggling there are still fish to be caught on the dropshot around brush and on ledges. Lanier baits Morning Dawn and Blue Lily have been the most productive colors as of late. With the water temperature dropping watch for the top water/swimbait bite to just improve as it is that time of year. Enjoy the bite and the weather and Go Catch ‘Em!
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 6 FEET, 70S
Allatoona Bass Report: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant of Southern Fishing) — Bass fishing is fair. The week has been a roller coaster on the lake. The weather has got the fish moving all over. The majority of the fish Monday and Tuesday came out of deeper water but there are some fish shallow. The key to finding them either way was finding the schools of shad. The best pattern we found was targeting rock walls with a shear drop in 26 to 34 feet of water. There had to be shad though otherwise the fish wouldn’t eat. The technique that worked the best was drop shot fishing with 6-to-8-pound test mono using a number 1 drop shot hook paired with an 1/8 1/4 ounce drop shot weight. Try the micro jig by Keitech with the Guard Spin style Jig. This is a good bait that works in situations to try to catch large fish on light gear. The bait of choice was A Zoom swamp crawler in pumpkin seed or a Roboworm in pink. As the day went on the bait started coming toward the surface. As a result, the top water bite turned on. Fish with prop baits such as Torpedo’s and also on Super Spook Juniors. A small shad tail rigged on a 1/4-ounce jig head also worked well.
Allatoona Crappie Report: (Report courtesy of Red Rooster Custom Baits) — The second week of October 2023 did not disappoint! With the fall weather temps and continued lake draw down we are catching some good crappie. This week was not without challenges…the mornings were nice and calm with little to no wind. The afternoon was polar opposite with winds jumping up to 15 mph! The winds did die down quite a bit as the sun went down but the afternoon was a struggle. We mainly focused on brush, stumps and stick ups this week as the trolling bite is not quite ready…it’s another week or so away. We threw the Red Rooster Dagger around brush, stumps and stick ups and caught plenty of 10″ to 12″ crappie. We had plenty of small fish, but they were active and ready to bite in both the morning and the afternoon/evening. The primary colors this week were Gray Ghost , UV Shad & Motor Oil Red paired with a 1/16th Red Rooster Jig Head. The Gray Ghost Dagger is a great minnow/shad color and has worked really well. The UV Shad has Ultra-Violet flakes which reflect light in the dawn/dusk low light conditions. The Motor Oil Red color is special…depending on the light penetration is could be more brown or green, it is proving to be one of the hottest colors for Lake Allatoona. We found crappie in and around brush piles, stumps and stick ups anywhere from 10′-18′ deep with the crappie suspended around 6′-8′ above those structures. We saw crappie moving around and pulling off the brush and then going back…but they are getting more active and will be roaming soon! Get ready the fall troll bite will be on in a week or so leading up to November. Make sure to download the Red Rooster Long Line Trolling Guide for tips on how to troll for Allatoona Crappie.
LAKE BURTON IS AT FULL POOL 67 DEGREES
Time To Get Out on Burton (Report Courtesy of John Lee Thompson, Georgia Trout Stocking Coordinator) — I have the pleasure of having an office located next to Lake Burton. With the leaves and the weather changing, there is not a better time to get out on Lake Burton and wet a hook. The wakeboard boats have been stowed for the winter and anglers get to enjoy great fishing days on this pristine resource before the winter drawdown begins. Check out the scenery in these pictures, a beautiful place to try and land a trophy crappie.
Burton Survey Report: (Report Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Kyle Rempe) — It’s that time of year again when we’re out on the water doing gill net surveys for some of the North Georgia reservoirs. On Lake Burton, Tony and I saw quite a few large Black Crappie in our net sets as well as a multitude of Spotted Bass which came in a range of sizes up to 3 pounds. Water temperatures are 66-69°F, so you should have some luck with bass early on by using topwater lures around feeder creeks and then swapping to deeper rigs to target points or structure as the day goes on.
Browns Back to Burton: (Report Courtesy of John Lee Thompson, Georgia Trout Stocking Coordinator) — This week, WRD reinitiated the brown trout stocking in Lake Burton. This annual fall stocking effort was suspended for three years due to the renovation of Lake Burton Hatchery. With the renovation complete and all Georgia trout hatcheries in operation, this stocking program could be resumed. Anglers can enjoy catching these fresh stockers, or even better, target them next summer in deep water near the dam. After feeding on abundant blueback heron for 6 months these fish will be 15+ inches in length.
LAKE NOTTLEY DOWN OVER 9 FEET AND IN THE UPPER 60S
Attractors Deployed: (Report Courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — This week, Gainesville Fisheries staff, with the assistance of Union County Parks & Rec leadership and UCHS students, deployed fish attractors along the east bank at Jack’s Creek boat ramp on Lake Nottely. Look for these attractors in 15 – 30 feet of water at full pool elevation. The cool weather has spurred an exciting topwater pattern for spots, striped bass, and hybrids. Focus your efforts from the Point 3 to Point 5 during the afternoon window and sight fish schools that are chasing bait to the surface. Casting a small fluke, Sammy, Chug Bug, Gunfish, or Sebile can be very effective, or you can freeline live bait over points where you are marking fish.
LAKE HARTWELL IS 6 FEET BELOW FULL POOL AND 71-74 DEGREES
Hartwell Bass: Guide Brad Fowler reports that when water temperatures drop into the lower 70s there should be widespread schooling activity across the lake, and in October fish should also be more willing to eat a variety of topwater baits as they get onto larger bait. While there will still be an offshore bite also look for more fish to move into the creeks where they can be caught on buzzbaits or crankbaits.
Hartwell Striper and Hybrids: Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that the end of September and beginning of October is always a transition period when fish are on the move, but at the end of September this year most of the fish were still in the main river system. In October schooling activity should increase, and some days fish will school for hours. They will also make a move into the creeks, and in general fish will be related to bait wherever it is in the creeks. Free-lines and down-lines can both work at times, and if fish are schooling topwater lures and flukes will work.
Hartwell Crappie: Guide Rodney Donald (864-356-0143) reports that in October fish will still be found over brush in 15-25 plus feet of water in the creek runs, and there will also be more shallower fish as temperatures cool. Both minnows and jigs will work.
Hartwell Catfish: Captain Bill Plumley reports that the quality of the October catfish bite depends on the weather, but if it cools then bigger fish will come shallower out of the timber where they can be caught with cut bait in the creek runs. If water temperatures stay high then smaller channels as well as flatheads will be the main catch.
(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 DOWN 2.3 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Fish are heading up in the creeks and rivers. There is a good crank bait bite, especially after the wind blows steady across a point or on a deep bank. This will be the key while using the hard baits like the Fat Free Shad crank baits. Zoom Super flukes in pearl can catch the fish that might want a slower bait swimming around. Up in the Beaver Dam Creek on the left-hand side as heading away from the dam are some deep-water ledges on the left-hand side. Try the micro jig by Keitech with the Guard Spin style Jig. This is a good bait that works in situations to try to catch large fish on light gear. Jerk baits and small jigs and six-inch Texas rigged Zoom U tail worms and lizards are working. Pick apart all forms of wood or brush again this week. Watch the Lowrance graph for all forms of cover that are unable to be seen with the naked eye and fish it well. It will not be uncommon to get a strike in ten to twelve feet of water or deeper. Continue to use a slow presentation.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS DOWN 5 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Schools of blue backs and shad are now forming and finding these small schools will improve fishing. Use the Fat Free shad crank baits in citrus shad with a medium retrieve or use it like a jerk bait while fishing around the small or large schools of active bait fish. There is a good bite around the Raysville Ramp area. Zoom Super flukes in pearl can catch the fish that might want a slower bait swimming around. Husky Jerks are working in the rivers off the rocks. White spinner baits and a Rapala DT 10 crank bait are excellent baits to use on the windblown points. Use a slow to medium retrieve and be patient. As the wind starts to pick up each week fish the windblown side of the lake; this will be the best producer of the larger bass. Long run-out points will be a favorite place to fish.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Bass have started to move out of the deep water, and a few are chasing bait into the coves and creeks all over the lake. A buzz bait at first light will still produce for the first hour of daylight. Soft plastics fished under docks and around wood structure in the mouth of the coves mid lake will produce during daylight hours. Crank baits fished around bridge rip rap will also produce when Georgia Power is pulling water in the afternoons. Shad are showing up in the coves all over the lake. The fall shad movement has started. Try the go-to micro jigs like the Keitech Guard Spin Jig is a bass finesse bait that works in situations where you want to catch large fish on light gear.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are after the Old Monster worm Texas-rigged and a jig head and worm on shallow docks in the Optimist Island area of Little River. A frog bite had started to get consistent in the grass beds, until the heavy rains started at the end of last week. Now is the time to key on bait fish. Zoom Super flukes in pearl can catch the fish that might want a slower bait swimming around. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to help find bait and bass. Let their location dictate where to fish on both the lake and in the water column. This is a simple way to quickly narrow the search. Look for that to pick back up when the water clears a little next week. For the weekend, focus on shallow water, docks, and points, in the mouth of Rooty Creek, Crooked Creek and Beaver Dam Creek using a Rat L Trap, spinner bait and a Texas rigged worm. For a kicker fish, anglers will be fishing a black 1/4-ounce Strike King Bitsy flip jig with a Zoom Speed Craw in June bug around docks in the Little River Park and marina area just north of Highway 441 to Sinclair Harbor.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Docks and boat houses are now the primary places to hunt for bass. Soft plastics and jigs are the most reliable baits, although any of several other choices could produce well on a given day. Zoom Super flukes in pearl can catch the fish that might want a slower bait swimming around. Lightweight Texas rigs with Zoom Trick or finesse worms will work. Try the micro jig by Keitech with the Guard Spin style Jig. This is a good bait that works in situations to try to catch large fish on light gear. A short leader Carolina rig is another good choice. Use a 6 to 12-inch leader and the lightest weight possible. A few fish are still hitting top water baits during early morning, mostly in coves from the mouth to about halfway in. Most shallow cover can hold a fish, but seawalls seem to be best. Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, Tiny Torpedo’s, or similar baits should produce a fish or two for the angler that concentrates on early morning top water.
(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)
What beautiful weather this week! The cooler weather has the fall patterns in full swing for pretty much all species. Inshore saltwater has been very good, as has the Okefenokee Swamp. Rivers are getting fishable again at different rates, so check river levels before planning a trip to flowing water.
River gages on October 19th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 2 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 3.8 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 7.8 feet and cresting
- Waycross on the Satilla – 11.0 feet and falling
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 10.1 feet and rising
- Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.9 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 4.1 feet and falling
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 10.2 feet and cresting
Conditions deteriorated this week with the rising rivers, but some bass were caught over the weekend. Okefenokee Bass Anglers held a tournament Saturday out of Altamaha Park and Jimmy and Zach Anderson won it with 15.52 pounds. Big fish – a 6.63 pound bass – was caught from the boat of Anthony Gaskins. A couple bass anglers I talked with mentioned catching bass this week on black/blue stick worms. I would imagine that spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, and crankbaits would catch their share, as well. Catfishing should be pretty good this week in the high, stained water.
The Highway 158 ramp is not yet complete, as rains have kept the river up and DNR boat ramp construction crew away from the landing. It was getting close again before last week’s rains, but now it is high again.
I forgot to mention a trip in last week’s report. Chris Welch of Waycross fished with a friend on the east side last Sunday afternoon, and they caught 32 fish. They caught a 4-pound bowfin trolling a crawfish-brass blade Dura-Spin. The rest of their fish were fliers up to 8 inches that ate both pink and chartreuse Okefenokee Swamp Sallies suspended under a small balsa float. The fliers have started biting well in the cooler weather. My wife (Teresa) and I ran around the canals on the east side on Saturday afternoon and had a blast. The flowers are in full bloom (October is my favorite month for color) and we even saw a roseate spoonbill that strayed inland and was feeding in the prairies. That was only the second time that I’ve seen that bird species in the swamp. We fished a short while and caught a big 23-inch chain pickerel and a smaller one by casting a red/white Dura-Spin. We also caught 7 fliers by pitching orange Okefenokee Swamp Sallies under a small balsa float. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 120.87 feet.
Jay Turner walked the bank at a local pond and flung a vibrating jig this week and had a blast. He caught a couple dozen small bass, some slab crappie, and a few giant bluegills. That’s some big bluegills to inhale a vibrating jig, even the smaller version! Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond with a white spinnerbait and caught 20 bass up to 3 1/2 pounds on Sunday afternoon. He also had a few crappie and bluegill that ate small plastics.. The biggest bass I heard of this week from ponds was a 6-lb., 4-oz. fish caught by Chip Lafferty on a big Texas-rigged worm.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Travis, Hannah, and Charles West fished out of Crooked River on Wednesday during the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. They caught about 20 trout, including 4 keepers. Their top producer was live shrimp tail-hooked on an 1/8-oz. Shrimp Hook (built on a Gamakatsu Kahle-shaped hook) and suspended underneath a float. When they got on a few fish, Charles flung plastics and caught some fish on the artificials. Electric chicken Zombie Eye Jigheads and chartreuse/red Sea Shads produced most of their fish on artificials. All inshore bites weren’t as good, though, as an experienced angler fished Wednesday afternoon and evening in the Brunswick area and only managed a 17-inch redfish in three different good spots. Another angler and his dad fished Thursday in the Brunswick area and caught 3 undersized trout all day. Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) said that he floated shrimp all week on his trips and had a good bite but not a great bite. Some bigger trout were mixed in the catch, though. Bull redfish are here but are scattered more than usual. Instead of his usual 25 fish per trip, he’s been catching a dozen bull reds. Skip Roder had a big bull redfish on trout tackle – that one was a fight! A few big sheepshead were mixed in the catches. Brenda Hampton didn’t catch flounder this weekend, but she caught a nice keeper black drum from the Jekyll Island Pier. The flounder bite has slowed from the hot bite a month ago, but there are still flatfish around. 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.