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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

North Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 1, 2014

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

Caught at Dukes Creek in July.

Caught at Dukes Creek in July.

By now everyone’s probably heard of the new state record brown trout caught in the Hooch Tailwater last weekend. Congrats to that lucky and skilled angler, Mr. Doughty!

There are more big ones out there, so swap your dry fly or corn kernel for a jointed Rapala and try swinging for the fences occasionally.  Skeptical?  Well, take a look at this photo of the state record’s little sister, who recently visited Buford Hatchery.  This submarine, which appeared to be in the ten-pound range, hung around long enough for Hatchery Technician Travis Taylor to take her picture.

Bigger waters with groceries, like the Hooch and Toccoa tailwaters and the Chattooga River, have a very small proportion of very large fish.  They eat meat like stockers, not snacks like midges.   If you want one, you have to aim for them and accept many more strikeouts than homers.  But when you connect, it’s sweet.  Just ask Mr. Doughty.   Good luck, Chippers of the Georgia angling world.

And if you’d rather sit in the stands and watch, there’s a college championship right in our back yard.  Enjoy this week’s news.

BASS College Championship – Happening now on Lake Chatuge, with daily weigh-ins at Young Harris College.

Ken’s reservoir reports

Lanier stripers – Lot of pics!

Allatoona and Carters – Lot of pics!

Stocker best bets – Trouters this weekend should give these stocking destinations a try: Lanier and Toccoa tailwatrs, Little Cedar, Johns, Dicks, Boggs, Cooper, Wildcat, Warwoman, and Tallulah.

Hooch Tailwater“Twenty-six in four hours.”

Toccoa Tailwater - The yakking trio of Volfish, Guru, and Dredger had a great boat ride, but a slow “catching” afternoon last Saturday on the tailwater.  A few risers were caught early, and then a small handful of rainbows and brooks were caught on dry/dropper rigs.  The high sun and hot weather had fish hunkered down.  The bait anglers we floated past had a much better day by working the shadows of the deeper pools.  Our friend, an early riser who was OFF the water by 10AM that morning, said he did great that morning as we finally settled our shuttle and got in the river to fish.  Take home message: the early bird gets the fish. Check generation schedules and tributary rainfall before heading that way; the tribs can muddy-up the main stream and turn off the bite.

Fat specks on fireThis is what happens when north Georgia has a couple of good water years.

Small stream tips

Bear video – Recall my reference in last week’s report.  Here it is, along with an important “PSA.”

Good luck this weekend.  Check the USGS rain gauges on your smart phones, pack some rain gear, and have some state park lakes ready as a Plan B.  While some fisheries may be blown out, others can really turn on.  Don’t believe me?  See the second photo, courtesy of a reliable source who wore a raincoat.   Grab somebody new, buy them a license, and go fish Georgia.  It’s cooler outside, so try it, you’ll like it. http://www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes

Categories: Fishing

North Georgia Fishing Report: July, 24, 2014

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

Rainbow trout caught on Dukes Creek.

Rainbow trout caught on Dukes Creek.

Welcome rains helped to recharge our rivers and streams a bit last week, while knocking back water temperatures for a little while.  That made the trout fishing better while putting a damper on river bassin’.

It looks like the rains may now subside and north Georgia’s flowing waters will return to more normal summertime conditions. The time is right to give the “popper/dropper” technique a try on your favorite pond or stream. Double-dip on your fish catching potential by attaching a second fly or lure to your favorite offering.

For trouters, try a small beetle, stimulator, elk hair caddis, or larger adams as the first fly.  To the bend of the hook tie on 2 to 6 (yes, six) feet of tippet, depending on your casting ability, and add a dropper fly to the other end of the tippet.  Crimp a #6 dinsmore shot about 8 inches in front of the dropper fly. Good dropper patterns are fur ants, pheasant tails, hares ears and caddis larvae.

For river bream, just substitute a small popper, foam spider, or similar buoyant offering for the first fly.  Flyfishing bassers should add 2-3 feet of 8-pound test dropper line to the back of their bigger popper or stealth bomber, and then tie on a black woolly bugger.  Spincasting bassers can add 2-3 feet of dropper line to the back of a Pop-R and then add a small hair jig, fluke, or white zonker.

By working more of the water column, you’ve got a better shot at your targets, especially when the sun is high and the fish are laying low.  Sunday afternoon’s Cataloochee rainbows approved of the drowned ant droppers, so give this setup a try soon.

Here’s the latest news.  Hope you like the video within the last link, too.

Dukes Report – “Trouter23, Wily Trout (and Dredger) read Dredger’s recent tips and followed last week’s monsoons to Smithgall.  Saturday morning’s “epic flood” stymied the early action, but by mid-afternoon streamflow had receded, turbidity kicked back up to two feet, and it was “game on” til the end the day.  A nice handful of rainbows, with one slightly longer than the twenty- inch landing net, fell to hot pink san juans on 3X tippet.

The day ended with an interesting bruin encounter.  Trouter said he was going to post a video on NGTO, so be on the lookout there for Yogi.” – Bluelines

“Stream X was smokin Tuesday week ago (July 8).   Water temp 60 and plenty of water.   Got em on top all day.  No big uns this time (over 10”), but numbers made up for it.   If you are over that way, you need to check it out.  All this rain and cooler temps should keep things going all summer.   Beetles mid-day and anything yellow (X Caddis, sulphur parachute, sulphur cripple) early and late were the ticket.

Also as a bonus, I took a 2 hour mid-day detour up IDBIS Creek to check out the USFS/TU brook trout structures.   First structure took a 7 incher, then next one a 9 incher (measured) and then a couple of pools further up rose and lipped (slow motion mouth wide open rise) a legitimate 10 plus incher.   I worked on him for about a half hour with four different flies and got him to come up again but he finally got too wise.  I know where he lives and will come back for him.  Got pics of the other two.  Let the project coordinator know their stream structures are working!

With all the rain and cooler temps the small streams ought to be fabulous all summer into fall, especially with terrestrials.  Glad the Park fished well for you and Kidd.     Sinking ants are one of my favorite dropper flies late spring thru summer.  I started tying some with a black bead on the front instead of coated thread to help sink rate.  Will let you know how that works.”  – Banker  *note: Blueline expert “Banker” had some good trips and submitted these reports.  Stream names omitted to honor the author and protect his honey holes.

Additional Links:

In closing, there’s a little more water out there and it’s still a bit cooler. 

That’s good.  But there’s really nothing better than a good back scratch, right? Best of luck to everyone as we all say thanks for the recent rains to recharge our mountain streams and knock back water temperatures a bit. Go toss a popper/dropper rig under the tree limbs soon.

Categories: Fishing

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: July 24, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

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

Capt. Andy Gowen of Kingsland caught this oversized redfish on Monday in the St. Marys area on a Bomber Badonkadonk.

Capt. Andy Gowen of Kingsland caught this oversized redfish on Monday in the St. Marys area on a Bomber Badonkadonk.

The Altamaha River is the place to be for bluegills and redbreasts. The Satilla is still low but is great for those doing float trips. Saltwater fishing is on fire for lots of species. The new moon is July 26. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – A pair of Waycross anglers fished the Altamaha on Friday evening and caught 30 keeper panfish. They said that most of the bluegills were on the small side, but the redbreasts were fat and sassy. On Friday morning they fished a few hours and caught 25 keepers. They caught about twice that many fish, considering their throwbacks. Most of their fish were in and around the willows, and all of their fish came on a 1/16-oz. black/chartreuse Satilla Spin. They also had several dozen small (throwback) bass attack their Satilla Spins. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the bream and bass bites have been fair for those fishing out of the landing. Most of the redbreasts that were caught were fooled with Spin Dandy spinnerbaits. The mullet bite has been red hot. Dannett from Altamaha Park said the mullet bite is still going strong. Bream and redbreasts were caught with crickets at the mouths of sloughs on the outgoing tide. The river level was 3.1 feet and rising (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.2 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 22.

Satilla River – It is time to float the upper Satilla. I crossed the US 1 Bridge on Tuesday, and it was getting very low. Expect to drag some, even during a float trip. Scout Carter and Wyatt Crews paddled upstream of Blackshear Bridge a couple of hours on Saturday and fished their way back to the landing. They landed about 30 panfish, including warmouth, redbreasts, bluegill, crappie, and small bass. Their biggest redbreast was a 10-inch whopper. All of their fish inhaled 1/16-oz. Satilla Spins, and their best colors were black/yellow and a brownish prototype color. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the bite is still strong for those wading during the low water levels. Bream, redbreasts, and catfish were tops. Shrimp fooled the catfish, while crickets and worms fooled the panfish for those wading. In the middle river, Satilla Spins, Spin Dandy spinnerbaits, and Beetle Spins fooled panfish. Red/White and crawfish were the best colors this week. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.4 feet and falling (81 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.0 feet and falling (84 degrees) on July 22.

St. Marys River – You can get a boat around well about anywhere below Trader’s Hill. The river is stained but is falling. The catfish bite was the best over the weekend. Put shrimp and worms on the bottom for the best success. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 4.7 feet and falling on July 22.

Local Ponds – Wyatt Crews and Austin Chaney fished a Waycross pond on Monday evening and caught some huge bluegills on Beetle Spins and a few bass on topwaters. Michael Winge said that bream and big shellcrackers were the best bite in area ponds. A Waycross angler and his two children caught 20 big bream and shellcrackers from an area pond using Jolly Green Giant Worms. Memphis George caught some giant bream this week on crickets. As usual, he was fishing an undisclosed Ware County pond. With the new moon coming up, fish black buzzbaits at night for the biggest bass in the pond. Fish over the deepest water, and ease along quietly as you cast.

Okefenokee Swamp – The flier bite has been great this week out of the Folkston entrance. Yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies produced the best catches, but pink accounted for some, also. Fish the fly without a float for the best success. Wear good polarized sunglasses so you can keep an eye on the fly. When it disappears, set the hook. On the north side, some anglers reported catching bluegills. On the west side, the catfish bite was the strongest for those fishing the Sill and Billy’s Lake. Worms and shrimp on the bottom caught the most. Warmouth were caught again this week by those using crickets in the tributaries flowing into the swamp along Swamp Road. Check out my article in the August issue of Georgia Outdoor News for details on catching bowfin (mudfish). Don’t forget to get a new Federal Duck Stamp if that is the license you use to access the swamp. The old stamp expired on June 30. Okefenokee Adventures at the Folkston entrance and U.S. Post Offices have the new stamps.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Justin Bythwood and Michael Deen of Waycross fished the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday. They pitched Assassin Sea Shads to the rocks and caught two trout, a nice redfish, and several dozen black sea bass. Most of the sea bass were undersized, but they had almost a dozen keepers. The best color for them was morning glory. They fished their offerings on 3/8 and 1/2-oz. Capt. Bert’s Jetty Jigheads and Flashy Jigheads made with heavy-duty Gamakatsu hooks. Capt. Andy Gowen of Tail Chaser Charters reported catching some beautiful oversized redfish on topwaters on Monday morning in the St. Marys area. Whiting, trout, redfish, and flounder were caught in good numbers by Waycross anglers fishing the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that on the pier it was flounder, flounder, and more flounder. Limits of the tasty flat-fish were caught by those fishing with mudminnows and finger mullet. Most of the fish are 16 inches and larger. A few folks caught limits of trout, also. Many were 18 inches and bigger, and jigs, live shrimp, and mudminnows produced.

Best Bet – The Altamaha has started to rise just a little, so the panfish bite may slow a little for the weekend. If you go, throw artificials and fish the willow trees and mouths of sloughs. Mullet fishing on the Altamaha is a great option if you want to set the hook a bunch! In saltwater, it is time to fish mudminnows and finger mullet around rocks, docks, and inlets for flounder. The flier bite in the Okefenokee is on fire right now for those pitching sallies.

North Georgia Fishing Report: July 17, 2014

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

We hope everyone had a great spring fishing season.  Some folks have had it so good, they often ask me how they can “pay it back.”  The two best ways are to continue to buy a license and introduce new folks, especially kids, to the sport. Our fisheries and their supporting habitats need fans and caretakers.  Hunters and anglers are some of the finest conservationists in America, so please continue to grow your ranks.

Stream structure project.

Stream structure project.

Others among you still want to do more, especially “on the ground.”  For those of you with youthful energy, I’d suggest joining a fishing club or conservation group.  Nearly all of these clubs do service projects that benefit fish habitat and/or anglers.  Some great examples that benefit from volunteers are reservoir fish attractor projects, kids fishing rodeos, collections of angler/tournament catch data for DNR biologists, summer kids camps, and trout stream habitat improvements.

You can read about some past and future projects here:

So, if you’re looking for a neat project to enhance your favorite fishery, Google a bit, find a club, join and participate.  You can carry a heavy log to a trout stream, teach a kid to fish, collect your club’s catch data, or fix a fine lunch for a reservoir fish attractor crew.  There’s a niche for everyone in this movement.  Wildlife Resources Division and our federal partners (COE, USFWS, USFS) couldn’t help as many first time anglers or build as many brook trout structures without you.  Come on and join the conservation community!  You enjoy the “work” and take great pride knowing that you’re making things better for your kids and grandkids.

Christmas trees being used for fish habitat in Allatoona.

Christmas trees being used for fish habitat in Allatoona.

Computers are nice. But turn them off every now and then, leave the cell phone in the car, put on an old pair of clothes, and get wet and dirty to enhance your favorite Georgia fishery.  You’ll be glad you did.

While you’re considering public service, I’ll finish mine. Here’s the latest fishing news from north Georgia.  Don’t forget to click on that last bullet’s YouTube  link.

Toccoa Tailwater report – Check stream gauges or call local shops to see if weekend rains make things unfishable before you drive up.

Mountain trouting – Remember water temps!

Hooch Tailwater brownsWhile the majority of those wild trout like their midges, the trophies get big on larger forage items, like stocked rainbows. Enjoy the photo.

Trout, stocker best bets – This week’s top stocker spots are: Lanier and Blue Ridge tailwaters (turbidity permitting), Holcomb, Wildcat, Holly, Dicks, Stamp, Copper, and Rock.  Weekend rains may actually help to cool off mountain streams and increase the

Ian with a July trout catch.

Ian with a July trout catch.

bite. Use bigger and/or flashier baits if the water is muddy.  Ian Johnson and his trusty guide, better known as Dad, had a great trip to IDBIS Creek near Dahlonega last week.

Hooch bassin’

Lanier summer spots

Striper trolling video

Buford Hatchery on TV

RSVP for Speck Fans

And a last word from your quarry! (thank you Henry and Hal)

Good luck.  Join a club and pay a little back.  You’ll take great joy in knowing that speck or spot appreciated the new home that you just built for it.

Categories: Fishing

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: July 10, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

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

Michael Deen of Waycross displays the latest in a parade of Angler Award-sized redbreasts.

Michael Deen of Waycross displays the latest in a parade of Angler Award-sized redbreasts.

It was a great week in freshwater last week! Two more Angler Award redbreasts were certified from the Satilla. The upper Satilla has been tough to get around in a boat, and float trips or wading is the way to approach the upper river… or bring along your dragging muscles with your johnboat! Pond fishing has been good for bass, catfish, and panfish. Flounder, sharks, and tarpon are tops in the brine. The first quarter moon is July 12. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that her grandson caught a 2-pound shellcracker on Monday. Congratulations! The big bream and redbreasts were still eating crickets and worms. The channel catfish bite has been very strong for those dunking worms, livers, and shrimp on the back side of sandbars. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the summer crappie bite has started in Barrington Lake. Get there early, as that is usually the best time to get them to take a minnow. Some people graph the big, suspended slabs and put their minnows at that level. The boat traffic slowed the bite somewhat over the weekend, but good catches were made from the back side of sandbars. The artificial bite picked up this week. Satilla Spins in mostly the crawfish color produced the biggest redbreasts and bluegills. The river level was 3.3 feet and falling (88 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.9 feet and falling (86 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 8.

Satilla River – The Waycross Fisheries Office certified 2 angler award redbreasts (over 1 pound) this week. Stephen Tyre caught the first one in the upper river with a cricket on Saturday, and Michael Deen caught his on a Satilla Spin from the middle river on Tuesday. Over the holiday weekend, Dane Clements and Tony Harrell whacked a mixed bag of upper river panfish. Most were redbreasts. They caught about 160 fish and kept 88 of them. They threw Satilla Spins in a custom color similar to crawfish. They worked hard to get the boat around. Jay Murray and his son-in-law fished the upper river on Saturday and had to do a lot of dragging. The work was worth it for them, as they caught 75 redbreasts and kept about 25. They caught their fish on crawfish Satilla Spins. Michael Deen and Justin Bythwood fished out of the Atkinson ramp on Tuesday evening after work and ended up catching a mixed bag (about 40 fish) of just about every panfish species in the Satilla using Satilla Spins. Their biggest was a 1-pound, 0.4-ounce female redbreast that inhaled a white Satilla Spin. They also had impressive warmouth, crappie, stumpknockers, and bluegills. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that with the upper river being low, the wading anglers were doing the best. They caught bream, redbreasts, and catfish on the back sides of sandbars in the deeper holes. Anglers fishing the middle and lower river reported some really good catches of warmouth, big redbreasts, and bream. Some of the giant warmouth were caught on 4-inch shad lures! The bass bite has been consistent, but the fish have been on the average size. He expects the bite to be red hot around the full moon this weekend. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.6 feet and falling (81 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.6 feet and falling (88 degrees) on July 8.

St. Marys River – Bream, redbreasts, and catfish were biting well. Worms and crickets have caught the most fish, but topwater flies started producing some big redbreasts this week. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 4.6 feet and falling on July 8.

Local Ponds – Wyatt Crews and Kuff Thrift fished a Waycross area pond on Tuesday evening and caught several bass to 3 1/2 pounds. They also had a giant bluegill inhale a Hula Popper. Michael Winge said that bream and crappie were reported from Waycross area ponds. Bream were fooled primarily with crickets, while minnows produced the crappie. Bass fishing was consistent early in the morning for those using buzzbaits. During  the day, Trick Worms and Ratt-L-Traps produced bass.

Okefenokee Swamp – It is time to head back to the swamp. The bite should be on fire as the water is starting to ease off the prairies and the fish will concentrate in the canals. Pitch yellow, orange, or pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies for fliers. Crayfish fished around cypress stumps will fool warmouth. Minnow plugs and inline spinners are hard to beat for pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish). Don’t forget to get a new Federal Duck Stamp if that is the license you use to access the swamp. The old stamp expired on June 30. Okefenokee Adventures at the Folkston entrance has the new stamps. The post offices should have them in stock soon if they do not already.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. TJ Cheek reported that flounder have been consistent around rocks and pilings. He likes an 1/8-oz. jighead with a white Gulp Swimming Mullet. Trout fishing has been fair. The beach bite has been inconsistent this week. Folks slay them one day and catch just a few the next. Small redfish were caught in high numbers this week, primarily on live shrimp. Tarpon are around. TJ recommends always having a rod ready to pitch to tarpon when you see them surface. Don Harrison fished the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday and caught a 30-inch redfish on a Texas roach Assassin Sea Shad. He moved to the beach and caught a few trout and bluefish on goldfish Sea Shads and then came back around and fished inshore, catching a 20-inch redfish on a purple canary Sea Shad. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the flounder were still thick around the pier. Tons of whiting are also being caught on dead shrimp. Redfish, sharks, and croakers were around in fishable numbers.

Best Bet – The Altamaha has been high most of the last year, but it is getting about perfect for panfishing. It was still a little too high according to reports last week, but by this weekend, you should be able to fish Satilla Spins and Beetle Spins under the willow limbs. That is the presentation that produced several fun fishing days for me last fall. The bluegill population is off the charts, so go give them a try. Saltwater fishing has been spotty, but the trout bite on the beach should be good if the winds will allow. Check the marine forecast before putting the trip on your calendar. A forecast of winds with an easterly quadrant is a deal-breaker.

Categories: Fishing

North Georgia Fishing Report: July 11, 2014

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

Not much has changed recently as we continue in “summer mode.”  Reservoir species are setting up at their preferred depths based on lake stratification (see bottom of http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Hatcheries/Buford)and the resulting combination of temperature/dissolved oxygen that is to their liking.

There are some planned changes to our trout stocking routine as we scale back after July 4on our lower elevation streams, which have already received all or most of their annual trout allocations.  Go higher up the mountain to have better success with stockers.

The biggest change may be north Georgia’s declining rainfall and dropping river levels, which are expected this time of year.  These conditions are often better for float fishers, since they mean more days of clear water and easily boatable and wadeable river flows.  To that end, how about a recipe for some fine summer fishing fun?  We often simply tether our yaks to our waists and wade-fish downstream until we’re shoulder-deep, then hop in the boat to float to the next wadeable spot. Try it – you’ll like it!

Recipe for Float Fishing Fun

A.)  Look at these:

B.)  Pick a flavor from this menu: http://georgiawildlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/upper-chattahoochee-river-fishing-and-public-access-points/

C.)  Call a buddy.

D.)  Load the boats.

E.)  Go Fish Georgia! 

Here’s some additional news from our angling locales.  Grab some kids and enjoy summer vacation OUTDOORS!

Reservoir Profiles

Spotted bass from Lake Chatuge.

Redeye bass from the Chattooga River.

Here are the July dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles for Lakes Nottely and Chatugefisheries technician Chris Looney

Reservoir ReportsThanks Ken, and DNR biologists.

Lanier stripers

Allatoona best stripers GON Forum Report 1, GON Forum Report 2

Fourth of July bassin’VIDEO

Sights along the river

Trout best bets

It’s going to be very hard to beat the two tailwaters, Buford and Blue Ridge.  Try for an early start to beat the high summer sun.  Although the water will stay cold all day, the hot summer afternoons can be uncomfortable to anglers unless they take a dunking or two.

For mountain stream stockers this weekend, try: Rock, Cooper, Dicks, Boggs, Wildcat, Tallulah, and Hooch high in the WMA.

Trout, Top Secret BaitThat top bait is – – – stealth. 

This week’s heroes – Here are some great stories about getting kids outdoors (story 1, story 2).  It’s better than the water park!

Good luck.  Don’t forget the sunscreen, the PFD…And the kids!!!!!!!!!!!!

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