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North Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 28, 2014

Info Provided by: Jeff Durniak, GA DNR North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor and North Georgia Region Fisheries staff

Jeff Durniak recently returned from Montana, where he caught this brown trout.

Jeff Durniak recently returned from Montana, where he caught this brown trout.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend on a north Georgia lake or stream of your  choice.  Although the weather will be warm, there are still some great fishing opportunities available, especially if you avoid the midday heat.  Here are some best bets for your consideration.

River bass and bream – The rivers are low and clear and the fish are looking up, so don’t miss these great chances! We had a good two-hour wade trip on the Hooch above Lanier  after work on Monday.  Small shoal bass and redbreast sunfish were very cooperative on surface poppers and dredged soft plastics as dusk approached.  It looks like some big fish are also hungry, based on these pics and video.

Try the Chestatee, Hooch, Etowah, or the Chattooga before the next big rain. Hints: 1) Duncan to Mossy, 2) Mossy to Belton.

Trout tailwaters (Hooch and Blue Ridge) should fish well.  Blue Ridge Dam repairs have been completed.  Check reservoir release schedules before getting into the rivers. GON Forum Report 1, North Georgia Trout Online Forum Report

Lake Burton brown trout should be packed into the lower thermocline. Try the area from Billy Goat Island down to the dam.

These stocked trout streams should fish well, especially before the sun gets high and water temperatures soar.  Camo, light lines, and small hooks are in order.  This is the last week of catchable trout stocking for north Geogia “put-and-take” trout waters, as our hatcheries  now need the raceway space to grow their supplies of four-inch fingerlings to catchable size for next year’s trout season.  Stocker best bets are: Hooch (tailwater and WMA), Johns, Holly, Little Cedar, Soapstone, Holcomb, Dicks, Rock, Cooper, Wildcat, and Tallulah.

Lanier topwater spots have heated up recently.  You may have to go early to dodge some holiday boat traffic.

The deepwater reservoir bite continues on our reservoirs like Lanier, Hartwell, and Carters. Pot luck includes stripers, hybrids, spots, and even some walleye.

For the adventurous, a longer trip can really pay off.  Enjoy the pics of a recent trek to somewhere far “west of Summerville,” where the sights were grand and the hopper/dropper bite was decent.  Don’t forget your three bucks – – – and a fishing buddy who runs slower than you when casting to cutts in the home of the griz.

Good luck.  Enjoy  the three-day weekend “laboring” with a rod in your hand and sunscreen on your cheeks.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 28, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)

This angler was fishing with Cricket Mobley of Altamaha Trading Company on Saturday and caught this 19-pound tripletail. (Photo courtesy of Cricket Mobley)

This angler was fishing with Cricket Mobley of Altamaha Trading Company on Saturday and caught this 19-pound tripletail. (Photo courtesy of Cricket Mobley)

Saltwater fishing produced the best reports this week. In freshwater, the Altamaha River was tops. The Outdoor Adventure/J.A.K.E.S. Day will be held at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton on Sept. 27. I will be conducting free bass fishing trips to teach teens how to target bass. Each person will fish for an hour from a boat and will learn how to cast artificial lures for largemouth bass. Pre-registration is required. To sign up a teen (ages 12-16), or for more information about the event, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at (912) 285-6094.  First quarter moon is Sept. 2. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that some big flatheads were caught this week. From late evening through dark was the best period to catch them. On Saturday night, a couple was fishing with goldfish on the back side of a sandbar and caught a 45-pounder. Redbreasts were biting crickets fished in the mouths of sloughs. Warmouth were caught in good numbers on worms fished on the bottom. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that limb line anglers caught a bunch of flatheads by baiting their hooks with goldfish. The crappie bite was still strong for those fishing minnows in the deeper oxbow lakes. Bream and redbreasts were caught in good numbers on crickets. The river level was 2.0 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.3 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Aug. 26.

Satilla River – I crossed the river on Highway 158 on Tuesday, and it is low. The best approach is to float or wade the river during the holiday weekend. Expect to drag if you float it. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that crickets and worms were catching redbreasts and bream for those wading the upper river. Bubblegum ZOOM Trick Worms fooled some bass this week. Fish the worm unweighted, and throw it right into a blowdown tree and work it back out slowly. I imagine that you could get a reflex strike from a big bass by throwing a buzzbait early or late. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.2 feet and falling (82 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.1 feet and falling (84 degrees) on Aug. 26.

St. Marys River –  Bream, redbreasts, and lots of catfish were caught this week. The panfish were caught with crickets, while shrimp, worms, and rooster livers duped the catfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 2.6 feet and rising on Aug. 26.

Local Ponds – Warren Budd fished a blackwater pond this past weekend and whacked almost 40 bluegills on crawfish Satilla Spins. He managed two over a pound, and one of them weighed 1-pound, 12-ounces (his second of the year that was that weight). Michael Winge said bream have been bedding around the new moon, and the bite has been steady. Crickets and worms fooled them around beds. Memphis George went to a Waycross area pond on Sunday and caught a bucket full of “grown” bream on crickets. Channel catfish have been biting worms, shrimp, and rooster livers fished on the bottom. Fire tiger-colored Rapala minnows fished around shoreline cover produced some nice bass.

Okefenokee Swamp – The torrid warmouth bite on the west side slowed a little this week, but some nice ones were still caught. The bowfin (mudfish) bite was good on both sides of the swamp. While most would argue that they are not very good eating, they are a blast to catch. If you want to learn some tricks for catching bowfin, check out my article in the August issue of Georgia Outdoor News. I would imagine that the flier bite is excellent, but I did not receive any specific reports this week. As the water drops and concentrates the fliers in the canals, the catch rates can approach the silly range! Pitch yellow, pink, or orange sallies on a bream buster and hold on.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. TJ Cheek reported that the tarpon bite was still going strong, but the hurricane currently spinning offshore (and the winds and waves associated with it) will probably put the bite off a couple of days. Finding them once the blow is over is going to be the key. Inshore fishing has been strong for trout, but most fish are small. Right now, his charters are catching about four throwbacks for every keeper. Cricket Mobley of Altamaha Trading Company out of Two-Way Fish Camp got on a bunch of tripletail this weekend. On Saturday, two anglers caught 15 tripletail. They kept three and threw back a dozen (five of those were keeper-sized!). Two of the fish they kept were 19 and 14 pounds. Ed Zmarzly and Scott Hamlin fished the St. Marys Jetties and Cumberland Island Beach on Saturday and Sunday and whacked the sharks and jumped a tarpon. They were using pogies free-lined around pogy pods and Sea Shads fished on Jetty Jigs. Flounder were caught at Gould’s Inlet by those fishing mudminnows and finger mullet. Trout were caught in good numbers from Village Creek. Sheepshead were caught under the bridges around the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that from the pier, flounder and trout were the best bites. On Saturday, an angler caught a limit of flatties over 18” on mudminnows. Some Spanish mackerel were still around, along with whiting and croakers. Shrimping from the pier has started picking up. Most “mudbugs” were medium-sized. A few blue crabs and stone crabs were caught from the pier.

Best Bet - For the holiday weekend, there are several good options. In saltwater it will be hard to make a bad choice, as Hurricane Cristobal should be out of the picture. Whether fishing for flounder from the St. Simons Pier, sheepshead under a bridge, trout at Crooked River, or tarpon at the St. Marys Jetties, you should have success. The marine forecast for the weekend is good at this time, but check it closer to the weekend in case it changes. The Altamaha River and ponds are your best bets in freshwater. Bluegill and catfishing should be great options on the big river. In ponds, fish early and late for bluegills, catfish or bass.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 21, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)

Justin Armour caught this giant tripletail while fishing with Capt. TJ Cheek last month. The monster inhaled a big white shrimp. (Photo courtesy of Capt. TJ Cheek)

Justin Armour caught this giant tripletail while fishing with Capt. TJ Cheek last month. The monster inhaled a big white shrimp. (Photo courtesy of Capt. TJ Cheek)

The Altamaha River and saltwater produced the best reports this week. New Moon is Aug. 25. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that a 60-pound flathead catfish was caught on goldfish this week. The redbreasts were hitting crickets. One angler reported catching a cooler full of hand-sized bream on crickets. The bass bite was also solid this weekend in the Jesup area. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the flathead bite is still on fire. Goldfish have been the most consistent baits, and the fish this week mostly ranged from 15 to 25 pounds. A group of Waycross anglers fishing over the weekend caught a mixed bag of 150 fish, including bream, redbreasts, and warmouth. Crickets fooled most of their bream and redbreasts, while worms produced the warmouth. Some anglers reported catching crappie from the deep holes using minnows. The river level was 3.7 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.0 feet and rising (85 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Aug. 19.

Satilla River – Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that bass were caught on black ZOOM Trick Worms and black/fire tail Culprit worms. Redbreasts are still being caught on crawfish colored Satilla Spins. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.5 feet and falling (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.3 feet and falling (87 degrees) on Aug. 19.

St. Marys River –  Redbreasts were eating crickets, and catfish were caught by anglers fishing worms on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 3.1 feet and falling on Aug. 19.

Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that bream bit crickets in the late afternoons in the shade. Bass ate black buzzbaits right after dark.

Okefenokee Swamp – Anglers fishing right below the Sill on the west side said that the warmouth and catfish bite was on fire. The Suwannee River rose this week, and the fishing was great.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. TJ Cheek reported that the tarpon bite is on fire in the Brunswick and St. Marys areas. Fish are busting pogy schools in the sounds and up in the rivers. His charters also caught trout and redfish in decent numbers this week. Waycross anglers fishing the Brunswick area said that lots of tarpon and sharks were around. Flounder were chowing mudminnows and finger mullet in the saltwater rivers around Brunswick. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that from the pier, trout, flounder, and Spanish mackerel were caught this week. A few limits of flounder were caught, with fish mostly between 15 and 18 inches. Some croakers and sharks were also occasionally caught. Blue crab catches have started improving.

Best Bet – Tarpon are usually tough to pinpoint their location and even more difficult to get to eat your offering, but they are all over the place right now. The most effective presentation is to cast-net some pogies and put out a spread on top, mid-water and bottom in an area where fish are moving through. You will typically catch lots of sharks and other fish even when tarpon don’t bite, so it is usually a string-stretching trip.

Quick Report: North Georgia Fishing Aug. 14, 2014

Here’s a quick report for North Georgia waters…

Feeding at the Burton Fish Hatchery.

Feeding at the Burton Fish Hatchery.

For those planning to river float fish this weekend, refer back to our Upper Chattahoochee access points. Also check out our tips for catching summer river stripers.

Lanier on top, early.

Downlining on Lanier,  Allatoona, or Carters.

Try these stocked mountain trout waters: Johns, Holly, Cooper, Wildcat, Tallulah, and Hooch on the WMA.

The Hooch Tailwater is fishing very well.

Toccoa Tailwater may also provide success (floating only). Watch the TVA water releases carefully, given ongoing dam repairs.

Also try small lakes at dawn or dusk.

Go Fish Georgia this weekend, and good luck!

Categories: Fishing

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 13, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)

Kason Buie of Brunswick caught this giant pickerel (jackfish) from an oxbow lake off the lower Altamaha River last weekend.

Kason Buie of Brunswick caught this giant pickerel (jackfish) from an oxbow lake off the lower Altamaha River last weekend.

The Altamaha River is the river to fish. Check out the Wayne County Grand Slam Tournament this weekend if you like fishing tournaments (more information below under Altamaha River section). Saltwater has been hit-and-miss, and ponds have been steady. Last quarter moon is August 17th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – The water level should be perfect for the Wayne County Grand Slam Tournament held this weekend, Aug. 16-17. They will be paying out $3,000 for the biggest aggregate weight of three species and thousands more for various categories. For more information, visit http://www.waynetourism.com. My prediction is that it will take 62 pounds to win the aggregate prize. I’m guessing that will be comprised of a flathead catfish, a bowfin, and a bass. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that quite a few flathead catfish were caught by those using goldfish over the weekend. Some bream and redbreasts were caught by those pitching crickets. Several folks have been catching gar on rope lures. The odd thing about fishing for gar with rope lures is that the lure does not have a hook on it. When a gar bites, you let slack in your line so that the fish shakes its head and gets its teeth all tangled in the rope. After a few seconds, you just tighten up and reel the fish in. Gar are hard fighters, and they often jump. Connie has the lures in stock at the tackle store at Jaycees Landing in case you want some for the tournament this weekend. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the flathead bite has been on fire. Goldfish have fooled most of the big catfish, and most of the whiskerfish have been between 15 and 40 pounds. Lots of bream and warmouth were caught this week, as well. The river level was 2.5 feet and falling (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.2 feet and rising (85 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Aug. 10

Satilla River – With the low water, wading was a great way to approach the river this week. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts were caught in good numbers on crickets by bank anglers and those wading the river. Anglers reported catching some big “roosters” out of the deeper holes. Topwater plugs and buzzbaits caught quality bass. The river level at the Waycross gage was 5.5 feet and rising (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.4 feet and falling (86 degrees) on Aug. 10.

St. Marys River –  Redbreasts continued eating crickets well this week, and some were caught by those pitching topwater flies to shady areas. Catfishing was good for those fishing pink worms and shrimp on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 2.8 feet and falling on Aug. 10.

Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that bream continued hammering crickets late in the evenings. The bite was great after pop-up thunderstorms this week. The crappie bite continued for those dragging minnows over the deepest water in the pond. Bass were caught with shiners and ZOOM Trick Worms.

Okefenokee Swamp – The warmouth bite was excellent for those fishing (primarily from the bank) below the Sill on the west side. Bullhead catfish and warmouth were caught in the swamp. On the east side, anglers reported catching fliers in huge numbers. Pitching pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies was the best approach for fliers.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Scout Carter and Josh Alvarez fished with a friend at the St. Marys Jetties over the weekend, and the bite was slow. They pitched Assassin Sea Shads rigged on Jetty Jigheads toward the rocks and bounced them back to the boat. They caught two keeper trout and a giant whiting, along with several big black sea bass, and several other random species. They saw some tarpon (their target) at high tide, but were unable to get them to eat their artificial offerings. Gynni Hunter of Waycross caught a couple of nice flounder while fishing on St. Simons Island on Sunday evening. Her flatfish ate finger mullet. Flounder fishing in the Hampton River and around the St. Marys Jetties has also been very good this week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that from the pier the flounder bite was tops again this weekend. Both jigs and mudminnows fooled them. The whiting bite was fair this week for those fishing shrimp on bottom. Spanish mackerel were still prowling around the pier, and they ate Gotcha plugs cast near them. Spadefish and sharks were caught in big numbers. Some trout hit curly-tailed grubs and live shrimp – one of the trout caught Friday weighed 6 pounds!

Best Bet – The Okefenokee is my top pick this week. The flier bite is the deal on the east side (Folkston entrance), while warmouth and catfishing should be tops at the Sill and in Billy’s Lake on the west side. Don’t hesitate to pitch a sally around the expansive lily pads in Billy’s Lake for fliers, as there are lots of them at all the entrances. If you want to fish for tarpon, they are thick in the Altamaha Sound and St. Andrews Sound right now. They are also starting to move into their more inshore haunts in the saltwater rivers.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 8, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)

Chloe and Cash Smith caught these nice fish from a Waycross area pond while fishing with their dad (Photo courtesy of Winge’s Bait and Tackle)

Chloe and Cash Smith caught these nice fish from a Waycross area pond while fishing with their dad (Photo courtesy of Winge’s Bait and Tackle)

The Altamaha River is getting right again, the Satilla is still low, while saltwater and ponds have been consistent. Check out the upcoming Wayne County Grand Slam Tournament the weekend of Aug. 16 (more information below under Altamaha River section). The full moon is Aug. 10. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – The slug of water coming down the river was short-lived, and several bites should be great again by the weekend. Expect the mullet bite to fire off now that the river level has come back down. The water should be right for the Wayne County Grand Slam Tournament held Aug. 16-17. They will be paying out $3,000 for the biggest aggregate weight of 3 species. For more information, visit www.waynetourism.com. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that goldfish have been producing some nice Flatheads, while crickets fooled lots of bream and redbreasts. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the flathead bite is “awesome”. Fish weighing in at 30 and 60 pounds were caught this week with goldfish. The mullet bite has been good and is improving each day as the water drops. Warmouth have been caught by the buckets-full. Bream and redbreasts were caught with crickets. Topwater plugs have been fooling bass. The river level was 3.0 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.0 feet (it dropped 2 feet this week!) and falling (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Aug. 5.

Satilla River – I took my own advice and floated the upper Satilla this week with Ron Johnson last week. We caught a bunch of fish but had to drag our canoe over sandbars and around trees a bunch at the 4.2 river level. It was a very tiring but fun day. We caught 81 fish (about 65 were redbreasts) of 6 different species. A half-dozen of the redbreasts were over 10 inches, so there are still some nice ones around. We only kept 6 hand-sized redbreasts, a warmouth, and a crappie and let the rest back to fight again. All of our fish ate Satilla Spins, and the pattern changed throughout the day. Early and late, we caught them on bright colors, while a more dull color like crawfish was best during the middle of the day. The 1/16-oz. version was tops for us. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that crickets fooled redbreasts and bream for those who pitched them to shoreline cover and around the edges of sandbars. Catfish and bream bit worms fished on the bottom near deep holes. Topwaters fished near shallow cover fooled bass. The weekend’s surge of water slowed things for a day or two early this week, but the bite is back on. Lots of catfish and warmouth were caught this week from the bridge crossings along Swamp Road. One of the pools at a crossing experienced an oxygen sag and low oxygen fish kill early this week after the Saturday torrential downpour, but the other pools were still producing fish. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.6 feet and falling (81 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.1 feet and falling (87 degrees)on Aug.5 .

St. Marys River –  Redbreasts were hitting crickets well this week, while some good catfish catches were made by those fishing shrimp and pink worms on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 2.9 feet and falling on Aug. 5.

Local Ponds – With school preparations in full swing this week, the reports slacked off. Michael Winge said that bream were chowing on crickets late in the evening. A few anglers reported catching crappie on minnows fished in the deepest part of the pond. Bubblegum ZOOM Trick Worms and topwater frogs duped some nice bass.

Okefenokee SwampFlier, warmouth, and catfish were biting great this week. Reports from the west side were best for warmouth and catfish. Fish around stumps with crayfish or sallies for warmouth and on bottom with shrimp for catfish. On the east side, the flier bite is unreal. With the dropping water level, the fliers are pulling back into the canals in huge numbers. Pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies worked best for those who reported. The quality of the fish has improved over the last couple of weeks.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. Andy Gowen of Tail Chaser Charters reported that the redfish bite has been great. He’s been pitching artificials to the St. Marys jetties to catch lots of reds, with some giants mixed in the catch. Trout fishing has been steady for him, but it is about to bust wide open in a month or so. At Hampton River, flounder were caught on mudminnows. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that on the pier about any of the summertime species are being caught. The biggest news is that lots of Spanish mackerel are attacking Gotcha plugs cast from the pier. Spadefish, croakers, whiting, trout, and flounder were also caught in good numbers. On Tuesday, an angler caught 6 big trout (averaging about 17 inches) from the pier.

Best Bet – The Okefenokee will be hard to beat over the next couple of months as fish that grew well on the flooded prairies pull into the canal with the dropping water levels. Pitching pink, yellow, or orange sallies with a telescopic bream pole is the way to go for fliers. You can fish the fly with or without a float and catch the feisty panfish. If fishing a float, make sure to set the hook at the slightest twitch of the float. A flier swims up and inhales the fly but just sits there, so the float doesn’t usually move much. The fish will spit the fly out if you do not set the hook quickly after the take. In saltwater, fish jetties, backwater mud flats, and oyster shell mounds for lots of small redfish. You will not be able to keep many of them (most are either too big or too small right now), but there are lots out there that will stretch your string.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 1, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)

Nathanael Johnson of Blackshear caught this angler-award sized (9-inch) flier in the Okefenokee Swamp on Saturday morning while fishing with his dad, Ron.

Nathanael Johnson of Blackshear caught this angler-award sized (9-inch) flier in the Okefenokee Swamp on Saturday morning while fishing with his dad, Ron.

What a difference a week can make. The Altamaha River jumped several feet and is very muddy. It will be at least a week or so before it clears up enough for the bite to fire off again. The saltwater bite was excellent again this week, and ponds were steady. The new moon is August 10. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – The improving bluegill bite came to a screeching halt this week with the quickly rising river. The headwaters of both the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers got several inches of rain, and a big slug arrived in the Altamaha this week. The water is very muddy. You can still catch catfish on the rising river, but sight-feeding species have slowed. The mullet bite also slowed. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that flatheads were caught on goldfish. On Saturday, a 52-pounder was weighed at the landing. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the mullet bite was strong before the water muddied. Flatheads bit well on goldfish. Some bream and redbreasts were caught at the mouths of sloughs. The river level was 5.4 feet and falling (86 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.0 feet and falling (86 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 26.

Satilla River – A couple of Waycross anglers waded the upper river on Friday and caught 35 panfish on Satilla Spins. Their best colors were black/yellow and crawfish, and the 1/16-oz. version was tops. Also on Friday, Jay Murray of Uvalda fished the upper river out of his new 10-ft johnboat and initiated it by landing 40 nice panfish, all on Satilla Spins. His biggest was a 10-inch rooster. He tried several colors, but dialed in crawfish as the best for that day. While wading and fishing out of a boat both work, I believe the best approach is floating the river in a canoe or kayak with the water level so low. Expect to drag some, even during a float trip. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that he received reports of anglers wading and pitching Gaines Miss Priss topwater flies and catching some nice redbreasts and bream. Chartreuse was catching them late in the afternoon, but orange worked best as the sun dipped below the trees. Sizes 6 and 8 worked the best. Other anglers reported catching redbreasts, bream, and warmouth on black/chartreuse Beetle Spins and crawfish Spin Dandy and Satilla Spin spinnerbaits on the downstream side of sandbars. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.2 feet and falling (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.0 feet and falling (90 degrees) on July 26.

St. Marys River –  Catfish are your best bet, and rooster livers worked well. Quite a few bream were also caught by those pitching crickets. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 3.7 feet and falling on July 26.

Local Ponds – Wyatt Crews and various friends whacked the bass several evenings at Waycross area ponds. Topwaters, such as Zara Spook, Jr., worked best for them. Michael Winge said that bream were eating up crickets, and the early morning bite was best. Late in the evening, catfish bit pink worms fished on the bottom.

Okefenokee Swamp – The flier and warmouth bites were good on the east side this week. I took my son Timothy and Ron and Nathanael Johnson to the Folkston entrance on Saturday morning, and we had a blast. We ate breakfast on the boat and then fished for 15 minutes and caught 23 fliers. The size was excellent, with a dozen of those fish being over 8 inches. Nathanael’s first fish was an angler award-sized (9-inch) flier. All of our fish during that torrid bite ate pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies, and we could not get them to eat orange. We fished the fly under a small balsa float so that the boys could see the bite. Rain ran us off right after the melee, but we enjoyed poking around the visitor center and eating lunch at the Okefenokee Adventures cafe. You should be able to catch them well by pitching sallies on the west side, as well. If you want to catch catfish, put shrimp on the bottom. There are lots of whiskerfish around.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. TJ Cheek reported that the inshore bite really fired up this week. He said that there are tons of undersized redfish pretty much everywhere. Trout are mostly on the small side right now. The flounder bite is excellent. Top baits are finger mullet, live shrimp, DOA shrimp, and Gulp baits. His charters caught beautiful tripletails this week, with Justin Armour topping the crowd with a 25-pound tripletail that he caught off of a channel marker on Monday. He caught that one off a big, live white shrimp, although many fish were caught on small pogies fished around channel markers. Brentz and Alex McGhin fished out of Crooked River State Park twice this week and brought home 15 and 11 sheepshead. They were using fiddler crabs to boat their convictfish. Alex bested his big fish mark twice, and his biggest stands at 5.6 pounds. Congratulations, Alex! At Gould’s Inlet, anglers reported catching good numbers of trout and flounder. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that on the pier the flounder bite is still tops. Last Thursday, a 5-pound flounder that ate a mudminnow was caught from the pier. Most flatties have been 15 to 24 inches long. Mudminnows has been the most consistent bait. Trout from 14 to 18 inches have been caught in good numbers, as well. Croaker, spadefish, and sharks rounded out the catch. A 6-foot tiger shark was the biggest reported this week. Stone crabs are back in good numbers.

Best Bet – The Okefenokee and saltwater are the places to be. In saltwater, drag mudminnows around docks, rocks, and inlets for flounder. Make sure to cast an Equalizer float/Sea Shad rig to oyster mounds or current breaks to fool trout waiting to ambush bait. In the swamp, pitch pink sallies to pockets in the lily pads. The size of the fliers has improved significantly.

Categories: Fishing
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