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Posts Tagged ‘Fishing’

Summer River Stripers

By: Patrick O’Rouke, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

When striped bass go deep in Georgia reservoirs during the summer, it doesn’t mean that shallow water striper fishing is over.  Many of the rivers feeding Georgia’s reservoirs provide excellent striper fishing throughout the heat of the summer.  As an added bonus, stripers can put up a tougher fight in the current than they do in still water.  And unlike some of the big reservoirs, fishing for river stripers doesn’t require a large boat.  Small jon boats, canoes, or kayaks can be perfect for the rivers where stripers run, and wading is an option where there is walk-in access.

Striped bass that weigh only a few pounds can be a blast when caught in a flowing river.

Striped bass that weigh only a few pounds can be a blast when caught in a flowing river.

Striped bass are stocked in 16 reservoirs across the state by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.  In most of these waters, the fish still try to spawn even though they cannot produce viable offspring, and this sends the first wave of fish up the rivers in mid-to-late spring.  As the weather heats up in the summer, the lake surface begins to warm up too much (stripers prefer temperatures less than 77°F), and stripers will either move into the thermocline or run upstream into flowing water in search of cooler, oxygenated water.  They will often stay throughout the summer until surface temperatures in the lake downstream drop back down to acceptable levels.

It can be surprising where stripers will show up on their summer “vacations.”

It can be surprising where stripers will show up on their summer “vacations.”

To locate striped bass in your river look for deeper (>4 feet) water near structure.  This might be a rock wall, a downed tree, or a boulder field.  Pools above and below major shoals are often good places to find summer stripers and the deep, outer curve of a river bend is another.  As long as there are no dams or major waterfalls blocking their path, stripers can travel dozens of miles upstream in search of suitable habitat, so don’t limit your search to the first few river miles above a reservoir.  In fact, in drought years with low, warmer flows, you can often find them concentrated at the first dam or waterfall that stops their progress.  In cooler, wetter years, striped bass may be more spread out.  Keep in mind that stripers move constantly, so even if you find fish in a particular spot, they may not be there in a week as they are always in search of the next meal.

Deep pools below big shoals can be a great place to find stripers holding.

Deep pools below big shoals can be a great place to find stripers holding.

Striped bass can easily reach sizes greater than 40 pounds in Georgia, so make sure you bring tackle that is capable of bringing in a trophy.  For bait fishing, live or cut gizzard shad and rainbow trout are popular picks.  These can be suspended below large bobbers, planer boards, or even inflated balloons.  Drift your bait behind you into the area where you think the fish will be.  For artificials, use big crankbaits, swimbaits, bucktail jigs, or streamers that mimic shad, trout, or bluegills.  Cast and retrieve these through the suspected striper habitat.  If you don’t find anything after a little bit of effort, move on to the next spot.

There are some important regulations to follow when fishing for river stripers this summer! If you’re fishing in a designated trout stream, the use of live bait-fish is illegal.  The Flint River and its tributaries from the Georgia Power Dams at Albany to the U.S. Hwy 84 bridge; the Chattahoochee River and its tributaries from the Columbia Lock and Dam to the GA Hwy 91 bridge; and Spring Creek and its tributaries downstream to GA Hwy 253 are CLOSED to striped bass fishing from May 1 – October 31 each year.  Also be sure to consult the current Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations for size and daily limit restrictions, as they vary throughout the state.

Big fish usually want big baits, so leave the lightweight rods and lures at home.

Big fish usually want big baits, so leave the lightweight rods and lures at home.

To see which reservoirs have DNR stocked striped bass, check out this map.  For detailed information on rivers feeding stocked reservoirs and potential access points near you, please use the tools available through the online Georgia Outdoor Map.  Or call your nearest Fisheries Section Regional Office and ask about opportunities in your area.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: June 19, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

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

Second Baptist Church kids went fishing Tuesday evening at a Waycross pond and whacked the bluegills. Calob caught this nice bluegill and Skylar congratulated him with a choke hold.

Second Baptist Church kids went fishing Tuesday evening at a Waycross pond and whacked the bluegills. Calob caught this nice bluegill and Skylar congratulated him with a choke hold.

The panfish tournament on Saturday out of Jaycees Landing on the Altamaha River went well, and that bite is about to bust wide open. The Satilla River level has bounced around with this week’s rains, but the fishing has still been outstanding. Saltwater was inconsistent with the big tides this week, but it should crank up this weekend with better tides. The last quarter moon is June 19. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – The Altamaha bluegill bite is about to bust wide open. The Wildlife Resources Division’s sampling last fall showed the highest bluegill population ever recorded heading into the winter, and all the high water will have pushed them to giant size. Over 30 boats participated in the panfish tournament Saturday out of Jaycees Landing. It did not take quite as many pounds as I predicted, but 9.8 pounds (10 fish aggregate) won the tournament. Still, that was a respectable weight, and it won the $500 first prize. Thanks to Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club for sponsoring the event. Elsewhere on the Altamaha, anglers fishing in the willows out of Wayne County ramps reported catching some giant shellcrackers (pushing 2 pounds) on Saturday.  Pink worms fooled them. The river level was 5.2 feet and falling (85 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.8 feet and falling (82 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on June 17.

Satilla River – Wow, the catches continued to impress this week. Michael Deen and Justin Bythwood fished the Waycross area on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings and whacked a bunch of fish on Satilla Spins. Scout Carter joined them on Saturday and caught almost half of their 25 fish (in about 1 1/2 hours) on 1/16-oz. black/yellow. Crawfish boated the other half. On Monday and Tuesday evenings, the pair caught a few on black/yellow and other prototype colors, but crawfish dominated. They boated 51 panfish Monday evening and almost 40 on Tuesday (Tuesday evening produced bigger fish). Both weekday trips lasted only two hours each. TJ Cheek moved out of his briny element this weekend for Father’s Day and fished the river with his father and son, Jackson. It was Jackson’s first real fishing trip, and the trio had a blast. Jackson caught his first fish (a bluegill) during the outing. Way to go Jackson! The WRD folks certified a flier and a redbreast Angler Award this week (often they do not certify that many in six months, but this year fishing has been so good that the river has produced several awards per week). Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreast bite is still excellent. He said that you can catch fish about anywhere in the river right now. The river level at the Waycross gage was 5.6 feet and falling (80 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 7.2 feet and falling (82 degrees) on June 17.

St. Marys River – I did not receive any reports specific to the St. Marys, but the catfish bite should be in full swing on the middle river, and panfish should be tearing it up in the upper river. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 6.3 feet and falling on June 17.

Local Ponds – Second Baptist Church in Waycross held a kids fishing event on Tuesday evening at a local Waycross pond, and a couple of dozen kids had a blast. It started off slow while the sun was high, but as the sun dipped, the bite picked up. The bream ate pink worms like crazy for the last hour of daylight, and everyone who was concentrating on fishing caught hand-sized or bigger bluegills and shellcrackers (the others had a blast riding around in a golf cart and chasing each other). The trick was to fish the worm just off the bottom. Kael had the hot hand, catching 7 bluegills in an hour! A few bass were fooled with worms, as well. A couple of Waycross anglers fished a local pond this week and caught 19 bass averaging about 4 pounds each. The bass blasted topwaters fished around vegetation. It is about time to start night-fishing for trophy bass, so put that on your radar.

Okefenokee Swamp – I am going to let the yellow flies have the swamp in June. If you want to brave the bugs, the flier bite is great. You can pretty easily catch over 100 fliers per day by pitching sallies. The spike in bugs should subside by early July.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. TJ Cheek reports that water clarity was the main concern this week with the big tides. When he found a patch of clear water, his charters caught a bunch of small fish. With the better tides this week, he expects the good bite to resume. Tripletail fishing was excellent (including some really quality fish) early in the week, then dead late in the week. Shark fishing was great, with lots of pogies on the beach and toothy critters crashing through them. Small sharks are stacked in the whiting hole by King-and-Prince, while the bigger sharks were caught mainly from sandbars east of the islands or behind shrimp boats. He said that spadefish fishing has picked up on any offshore structure. Cannonball jellyfish are the bait of choice. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the flounder bite is still off the charts. Finger mullet and mud minnows fished around pilings is the best presentation for them. Most flounder ranged from 14 to 18 inches.  Croakers and black sea bass have been mixed in the catch. An 8 1/2-foot lemon shark was caught from the pier.  Blue crabs were caught in good numbers again this week. Expect the pier bite to really fire up with the upcoming lower tides.

Best Bet – A Satilla float trip on the upper river is my top pick for this week. Second would be the Altamaha River for bluegills, and third would be bluegills in local ponds.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: June 16, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

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

Carli Davidson of Waycross caught this 26-inch redfish in the Brunswick area the week of Memorial Day. Trout and redfish are picking up on the Georgia coast.

Carli Davidson of Waycross caught this 26-inch redfish in the Brunswick area the week of Memorial Day. Trout and redfish are picking up on the Georgia coast.

The Satilla River level has bounced around with last week’s rains, but the fishing has still been outstanding. The Altamaha panfish and saltwater cranked up last week, as well. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – The river was very fishable for last weekend’s panfish tournament out of Jaycee’s Landing. More details will be included in this week’s report. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that redbreasts, bream, and flatheads bit well this week. Goldfish produced most of the flatheads. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that catfish, bream, redbreasts, and shellcrackers were tops this week. Some of the shellcrackers are monsters (pushing 2 pounds!). The river level was 6.2 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.3 feet and rising (82 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on June 9.

Satilla River – The barrage of great reports continued this week. Again, I cannot begin to repeat every good story, but the biggest was a new state record spotted sunfish (stumpknocker) that is making its way through the certification process. The fish tied the current 10-oz. state record. The DNR folks certified about 6 additional angler award-sized redbreasts this week (that takes at least a 1-pound redbreast to qualify). Even with the rains this week, the middle river is now on fire too. The best report I heard was from Dane Clements and a friend on Thursday. They fished the upper river, catching and keeping 90 big redbreasts before catching and releasing more than 150 redbreasts, stumpknockers, bluegill, and crappie. They caught a couple dozen on red/white and black/yellow Satilla Spins, but for the second week in a row, crawfish 1/8-oz. models were tops for them. Almost everyone else reporting back to me said that 1/16-oz. black/yellow was their best color. As the water drops in the upper river, most anglers are switching over to 1/16-oz. models of the little spinnerbait.

Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said the redbreast bite has remained awesome this week. The best lures were Beetle Spins (black/chartreuse and white-red dot), Spin Dandys (any color), and Satilla Spins (“whatever color you can get”). Crickets and worms have also produced lots of redbreasts this week, but typically the artificials have been producing the bigger fish. The middle river section produced some great catches of crappie for anglers using minnows. Michael said that the big bluegills have fired up in the Atkinson area, also, and they ate crickets best. Catfish were eating worms in the deeper holes below sandbars. Bass hit baby bass colored Rattling Rogue jerkbaits. The river level at the Waycross gage was 6.9 feet and falling (79 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 7.3 feet and rising (82 degrees) on June 9.

St. Marys River – The river rose with significant rains in the swamp this week and slowed the panfish bite. The catfish bite has remained red hot, especially for limb-line anglers. Shrimp and pink worms worked best for them. Crickets fished around creek mouths accounted for most of the bluegills. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 9.8 feet and falling on June 9.

Local Ponds – Michael Winge reported that big bream are beginning to bed with the approaching full moon. Worms and crickets have worked best. Bass were fooled with shiners and topwater plugs. Anglers fishing their favorite catfish ponds bragged about catching 5-gallon buckets full of whiskerfish.

Okefenokee Swamp – I am going to let the yellow flies have the swamp in June. If you want to brave the bugs, the flier bite is great. You can pretty easily catch over 100 fliers per day by pitching sallies.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. TJ Cheek reports that trout was the main inshore focus last week. He said the fish have been moving, and that’s a good idea for the anglers, as well. Change locations frequently until you find them. The Cumberland beach bite has been solid, but there are many ladyfish and crevalle jack mixed in with the trout. He said that they will eat you out of house and home (literally!) with shrimp being around $25 per quart. Nearshore, the tripletaill and shark bites have been good. Sharks have been thick, eating everything from pogies to cut bait.  Michael Winge reported that anglers fishing the Brunswick and Crooked River areas said that the trout bite has picked up. Assassin Sea Shads fished under Cajun Thunder Floats have produced quite a few trout and redfish. The whiting bite around St. Simons has remained strong on days when you can get out, but keep an eye to the sky for pop-up thunderstorms. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the flounder bite is in full swing on the pier. Finger mullet and mud minnows produced the most. Limits of flatfish from 14-18 inches have been reported. Spadefish, croakers, black sea bass, and whiting were also caught in good numbers. Last Sunday, a 32-inch redfish was caught on cut bait. A few sharks have been landed. Blue crabs were caught in good numbers.

Best Bet – The Satilla should continue to pump out some awesome catches of panfish again this week. Frequent small rains have kept the river level fishable longer than usual. Trout fishing out of Crooked River or Brunswick is a great saltwater option.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: June 6, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

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

Delani caught this nice bluegill over the weekend from the Ocmulgee River. Her sister, Destiny, didn’t want to stop fishing long enough to look the camera, but she gave her little sister a big “thumbs up!”

Delani caught this nice bluegill over the weekend from the Ocmulgee River. Her sister, Destiny, didn’t want to stop fishing long enough to look the camera, but she gave her little sister a big “thumbs up!”

The Satilla River is the big story again this week. The upper and middle river areas produce some excellent catches this weekend. The first quarter moon is June 5. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – The river is approaching fishable, but could stand to drop another couple of feet. Bass have been biting jigs, buzzbaits, plastic worms, and crankbaits fished around cuts and the mouths of oxbow lakes. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that anglers caught redbreasts, bream, and some big flatheads this week. Crickets produced most of the panfish, while goldfish produced the flatheads. Dannett from Altamaha Park reported some huge shellcrackers were caught by anglers fishing pink worms over the weekend. Big bream and redbreasts ate beetle spins and crickets. Channel and flathead catfish were caught in good numbers with shiners and goldfish. The timing appears  perfect for a new panfish tournament sponsored by Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club scheduled for June 14. First place is a guaranteed $500. The tournament will be based out of Jaycees Landing in Jesup. The winner will be determined based on the weight of their biggest 10 panfish (bluegill, warmouth, redbreasts, and shellcrackers are the species to be weighed). The entry fee is a modest $20 per angler (children under 16 years of age can compete free of charge with a paying adult). For more information, contact the Wayne County Board of Tourism at 912-427-3233. The river level was 6.6 feet and falling (78 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.5 feet and falling (77 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on June 3.

Satilla River – I can’t begin to tell all the stories folks have told me this week about the awesome fishing on the Satilla. Most of the ramps I stopped by had at least a half-dozen trucks and trailers in the parking lot, even during the weekdays. The DNR folks certified four Angler Award-sized redbreasts this week (that takes at least a 1-pound redbreast to qualify). Many people say they’ve caught a 1-pound redbreast, but few have actually weighed them on certified scales. A 1-pounder is a MONSTER. The biggest this week was a 1-pound., 3-ounce “rooster.”  The rains late last week and during the weekend muddied the water from Waycross to Hwy 301, but folks still reported catching about 12-20 redbreasts per trip.

The best report I heard was from Dane Clements. Dane and his friend fished the river above Waycross on Sunday and caught almost 200 redbreasts, keeping 90 of the biggest fish. They started off catching them on crickets early while the temperatures were cool, but the redbreasts started eating artificials as the sun warmed the water. Dane whacked most of his fish on crawfish Satilla Spins fished around cover. Several of their fish came from cover and current breaks in the middle of the river, so make sure to not overlook unusual spots. Many of the other anglers reporting to me caught their fish on black/yellow Satilla Spins. Anglers in the upper river are switching over to 1/16-oz. models, primarily, while middle river anglers are still using the 1/8-oz. because of the stronger current. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreast bite has been awesome. Beetlespins, Spin Dandys, Satilla Spins (red/white), crickets, and worms are producing the most fish. Bass are being caught on buzzbaits and baby bass colored Rattling Rogue jerkbaits. According to the DNR biologists, the electrofishing sampling is showing that the bass population is very high (compared to typical) in the Satilla. Catfish were caught in good numbers by those fishing bush hooks baited with shiners and those fishing bottom rigs baited with worms, rooster liver, or shrimp. The river level at the Waycross gage was 7.3 feet and falling (74 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.9 feet and steady (76 degrees) on June 3.

St. Marys River – Redbreasts, bream, and catfish are tearing it up, especially on the upper river. Worms, crickets, and beetlespins are working best. Some bass were reported from those fishing topwater plugs. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 6.5 feet and falling on June 3.

Local Ponds – Warren Budd continued whacking bluegills this past weekend on black/chartreuse Satilla Spins. His biggest was short of his monster last weekend, though he still landed some well over a pound. Michael Winge reported that bass were eating bubblegum Trick Worms. Most of the impressive bream catches were made by those fishing crickets.

Okefenokee Swamp – The yellow flies have picked up, and I typically let them have the swamp in June. If you want to brave the bugs, the flier bite is great. You can pretty easily catch over 100 fliers per day pitching sallies.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – The tripletail bite has remained decent this week during the fishable days. Hunt for them off the beaches of Jekyll Island. I heard one good report this week for the beach trout. They were using live shrimp. Another group of anglers fishing the Brunswick area got into some nice trout fishing artificials (Sea Shads). The water was fairly clear for them. Inshore, trout were caught this week from the St. Simons Island Causeway bridges. A Waycross angler landed a big (about 8 pounds) black drum from a Brunswick pier this weekend. On the beaches, whiting were the best bite, with dead shrimp producing the most. Michael Winge reported some good catches of whiting by Waycross anglers fishing around the King and Prince. Dead shrimp fished on the bottom was the deal for them. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the whiting bite has been on fire, with lots of full coolers leaving the pier. Most whiting have been 10-15 inches. Trout have been hitting live shrimp and artificials and a few flounder have been caught using mudminnows around the pilings. Sharks were fooled this week with cut bait. Blue crabs are increasing in numbers as the water warms.

Best Bet – The Winge’s/Coca-Cola/Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Kids’ Fishing Event will be held this Saturday at Brentz McGhin’s Pond in Blackshear. There will be lots of catfish caught and prizes given away. For more information, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at 912-285-6094. The Satilla River is on fire, and the middle river should get cranked up this weekend. The stained water of this week should be a thing of the past pretty much up and down the river. The upper river is getting to the point where a float trip will be your best option. In saltwater, the trout fishing on the Cumberland Island beach should be on fire, but you have to choose your days when the wind is from a westerly quadrant.

North Georgia Fishing Report: June 6, 2014

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

Kids Fishing Event on the Chattahoochee at Jones Bridge.

Kids Fishing Event on the Chattahoochee at Jones Bridge.

It’s National Fishing and Boating Week, and that means Kids Fishing Events and a couple of free fishing days for adults. Take advantage of the great family opportunities available during the next two weekends.

Kids Fishing Events – Here are some of the most popular June 7 events in the metro area and north Georgia. Each of these events will receive a truckload of WRD or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trout.

Free Fishing Days – Georgia residents are not required to have a fishing license to fish on June 7 and 14. Take a neighbor who has never fished before.

$100 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card ContestRound 2 has started. You’ll enjoy the smiles on the faces of these young anglers.  Enter your own photo soon!

Another Contest – Join the fun on the 2014 First Ever KeepAmericaFishing™ Day. Go fishing on June 7, and you just might win one of many exciting prizes.

We Support Summer Campers!Enjoy Sheila in action.

Teacher Grant ContestGeorgia Department of Natural Resources is offering a $1,000 grant to a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade public or private school teacher in Georgia who demonstrates exceptional energy and innovation in teaching life sciences.

Here we go…

Flathead collected near Clarks Bridge of Lake Lanier.

Flathead collected near Clarks Bridge of Lake Lanier.

Lanier Flatheads – Biologist Patrick O’Rouke and Technician Chris Looney sampled the Hooch above Lanier this week.  IN addition to a good population of spotted bass, they found a concentration of flathead catfish a couple miles upstream from Belton Bridge.  About 20-30 were seen, with the biggest around 30 pounds.  They’ve sampled even bigger ones in the Hooch arm of Lake Lanier this year (attached photo).  Patrick suggested to try the river channel with significant  structure (rock ledges or submerged trees).

Bass Report

Small Lakes – Guru’s five-kayak flotilla assaulted Unicoi Lake on Saturday evening as the sun set.  The gang caught a nice bunch of bluegill and redbreast sunfish by tossing small poppers against the bank.  Some of the redbreast were good-sized for north Georgia (as big as their hands), and were found bedding.  The group also caught some largemouth bass up to 14 inches on poppers for the flyrodders and Senkos for the spinfishers.

Stocked Trout – Best bets include:  Tallulah, Rock, and Jones Bridge after the KFE’s,  Johns, Boggs, Hooch on WMA, and West Fork Chattooga.

Headwater trout – Now is prime time!

Rivers -Be Careful on Toccoa Tailwater

  • Necessary TVA flow changes
  • Most of Jake D’s kayak fleet ventured to the Hooch near Highway 115 on Sunday evening and caught a mixed bag of spots, shoal bass, redeyes, redbreasts, bluegills, and even a couple of small stripers.  The river was still turbid from the week’s rains, but it had cleared enough for the fish to see and eat!
  • Kayaks and River Bass?
  • Chattooga DH holding on

BIG Browns(Video) -Here’s a good one to end on…  your dream of a fish of a lifetime.  Enjoy this and plan your next trip to trophy waters.

Good luck this week.  Take some time out for the kids and help WRD to grow the next generation of Georgia’s stream and lake stewards. Grab your neighbor’s family and introduce them to the outdoors.  You might just create some more fishing buddies and conservation partners.

North Georgia Fishing Report: May 30, 2014

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

Taken on the Chattooga.

Taken on the Chattooga.

It’s transition time in the north Georgia mountains, as Mother Nature dances back and forth between spring and summer.  The opportunities are many, but now the prime opportunities require a bit more flexibility and adaptation.

Ole Dredger calls it “46 Time.”  He’s decked out in olive drab nylon, from head to wading shoe, to match that streamside rhodo bush and enhance his stealth technique.  Slathered in sunscreen, he’s got two flashlights in his pockets and a cooler of icy drinks and change of dry clothes waiting in the car.  The “46” is the code for his angling arsenal: four and six weight fly rods.  He’s got a sparsely stocked vest and a four-weight rod tube tucked in the car trunk.  Next to that setup is his sling pack and a six-weight tube.  The vest has the late spring bugs of the yellow persuasion- stimulators, cahills, and sulfurs, along with the black and peacock of summer- ants and beetles.  The heavier sling pack’s loaded with black leeches, brown Craig’s Hairy Fodders, chartreuse clousers, a few black/yellow DP sliders, a couple white stealth bombers, and some home-cooked  Hipps soft-bodied poppers in various flavors.  He’ll check the USGS gauges for rain history and water levels, look at the weather report, then figure out what flavor of the day is most appealing.  Sometimes he’ll even grab two scoops of fun on one trip: river bass and bream during the afternoon, a short road trip “upstream,” and then some dry fly-flinging at dark-thirty.

Be flexible and enjoy these long evenings that aren’t yet full of the heat and humidity of the coming dog days.  Chase these river fish while the flows are good, the aquatic groceries are still abundant, and sport fish appetites reflect some lingering, acceptable water temperatures.  Carry a trout rod and a river bass rod and adapt to the conditions of the day.   Kids are out of school and wet-wading is a just a code word for swimming with a fishing pole!  And with a little taste of spring still around, you’ll enjoy the variety on the menu, too!

Here we go…

Hooch Tailwater – “ Looking Up”

Chattooga Reports

On the Chattooga.

On the Chattooga.

“Last Sunday an old friend called saying he was in Highlands and wanted to fish with me on Tuesday. We planned to meet at the “28 bridge” on the Chattooga this morning at 9 a.m. I felt like a “Dr Pepper”… arrive at 10; fish til 2; home by 4. It was the day after Memorial Day. It was less than 2 weeks after the closing of the Delayed Harvest. The water was low and, even though we recently had some showers, it was “gin clear”. The sun was bright overhead as we rigged up in the parking lot where there were only two cars besides ours.

We arrived at the “honey hole” to find it empty. There were no bugs and no rises. However, we both caught fish on top…mostly on Caddis. We moved on up to the run above the fallen white pine and…same thing…fish on top with no sign.  Go figure!!!

Fishing the Chattooga with a friend is always good but even better when the fish hit a dry when all conditions say they won’t.  The DH section is alive and well for a little while longer.” – Georgia TU Kids Trout Camp Leader Charlie Breithaupt

Trouter 23 and Dredger waded many miles above Charlie B on Sunday evening, and T23 experienced his first few “trout on top.”   Bugs and risers were scarce, even at dark-thirty, but the dedicated duo still managed about a dozen hookups between them on cahill dry/hare’s ear dropper combos fished in the shadows.  The scenery compensated for the slowing bite, as the mountain laurels were in full bloom and the Chattooga fairies came to dance in the fern fields after dark.

Fairies?  See page 8.

Important to Toccoa Tailwater Fans - The Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholder Working Group’s recommendations are available for review.   An overview of this issue and your opportunity to provide feedback can be found here.  I believe the public comment period will be about two weeks.  Take advantage of this opportunity. You can also  view and listen to Tuesday night’s webinar in Knoxville here: www.tva.gov/trout

Young Guns Teach Old Trouting Dawgs - You, too,  can learn a lot from a comp dude.  I have. Thanks Landon.

Stocker Best Bets - Folks wanting fresh trout for supper should try: Lanier and Blue Ridge tailwaters, Holly, Cooper, Rock, Dicks, Sarahs, Warwoman, Tallulah, and Middle Broad.

Lanier Bass Report

Allatoona’s Hot

Carters Lake

Additional Links…

More Great Reports and Tips - Have you picked up a copy of one of these free fishing newspapers yet?  The Angler Magazine features an all-star lineup of north Georgia fishing guides and their monthly columns on their home waters.  The publication also displays a “Wall of Fame.” Here’s your chance to get your kid’s picture in the newspaper with his/her trophy catch. Also, check out Coastal Angler Magazine. Send a photo:  BobR@ anglermagazine.com

Mentoring Young Guns on Lanier - This week’s gold stars go to these caring “fishing guides.” - GON Forum (1)GON Forum (2)

Gotta Have - Here’s a very timely conversation on the need for and benefits of sun protection.  Many of us fishing vets grew up in the sun and are now suffering some of its consequences.  This is a great reminder, especially to younger folks, about the value of some easy sun protection.

Kids Fishing Events on the Horizon - Some of the best northeast Georgia kids fishing events are on June 7 at: the Hooch at Jones Bridge, Tallulah River, and Lake Winfield Scott. More details and the KFE calendar at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/fishing/kids-fishing.

Volunteers Needed, June 14 – We could use a hand at Sweetwater Creek State Park.  Georgia State Parks Interpretive Specialist Ellen Graham has designed a “GO” day there.  It’s basically an Outdoor Adventure Day.  Ellen and I are looking for a handful (12-16) of kind volunteers to help with the following activities:

a)      Fly tying

b)      Casting (fly rod, Zebco)

c)       Lakeside  fishing helpers.

This is another great chance to promote the outdoor sports to our increasingly urbanized society.  A dozen of you would really help us to ensure event success.  If you’re interested, please contact me at jeff.durniak@dnr.state.ga.us.  Thanks!

Enjoy your start to the summer.  Carry a couple of different rods and tackle bags to take full advantage of the opportunities before you.  Toss a bottle of sunscreen in there, too.   And consider donating a Saturday to help some kids catch their first fish.  Tight lines to all.

North Georgia Fishing Report: May 23, 2014

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

Hatchery manager Pat Markey stocking the Chattahoochee at Buford Dam.

Hatchery manager Pat Markey stocking the Chattahoochee at Buford Dam.

We hope that many of you will have a chance to get outdoors during this long weekend. Although temperatures are on the rise, there’s still plenty of cool water around to keep sport fish interested in your bait, fly, or lure.  Just get on the lakes early to avoid the high sun and the recreational boating crowds. In addition, Patrick has drafted an Upper Hooch guide that’s definitely worth your time to read.  As the spring rains subside and our north Georgia rivers fall to easily floatable and fishable levels, this guide is a great first step in transitioning many of you to full summer mode.  Start kayak shopping soon, and don’t forget your PFD!

There is also some news on the federal hatchery front that should be of interest to all Georgia trout anglers.   And, of course, we have a few “big fish tales” to sweeten the pot.  Some come with linked pictures, so maybe a few of these tales have an element of truth to them.  We report, you decide.

Important meeting, public feedback requested – Here is your chance to participate in the federal trout hatchery funding issue! The public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 27 6-7:30 p.m. at Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters, 400 W. Summit Hill Dr., Knoxville, TN in the East Tower Library auditorium. The public can attend the meeting either in person or by webinar at http://www.tva.com/trout.

Trout

Stockers – WRD and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trout hatchery staffs will stock 75,000 trout this week into more than 100 streams and lakes for Memorial Day weekend anglers.  Best bets include: Dockery, Rock Creek, and Winfield Scott lakes, Lanier, Hartwell, and Blue Ridge tailwaters, Holly, Rock, Cooper, Little Amicalola, Long Swamp, Panther, Hooch on the WMA, Warwoman, and Tallulah. – John Lee Thomson, Georgia DNR Trout Stocking Coordinator

Timely Trouting Tip – How many of us have also learned this lesson the hard way? Keep your legs together!

Trout – Tailwater Dries!

Stripers

Striped bass stocking continues as fingerlings reach their one-inch size targets in middle and south Georgia hatchery ponds.  Yesterday (May 20) we welcomed more than 300,000 new arrivals to north Georgia waters including Hartwell, Nottely, and Lanier. More are on their way today as the harvest of this crop winds down over the next week or so.  More info and pics!

Hybrid/Striper Reports

Crappie

Enjoy this report from someone whom many of you knew while he worked as your Lake Lanier biologist.  Here’s a Missouri report from now-retired Reggie Weaver.

“Hey Jeff. Our trip to Missouri was great!  Sheri and I had fun with Jason, Stephanie, and the grandkids.  Jason, Dorian, and I fished several evenings on L. of Ozarks focusing on crappie.  It had been a long time since I fished minnows and jigs under a float.  It was a blast even though we didn’t catch our limits but ended up with about 30 and harvested 16 (9 inch MSL) for the skillet.  On a note, we caught the larger (11-12 in.) on small crankbaits.  Looking forward to future trips to Missouri Have a great week!” – Reggie

Bass

Additional Links…

Gar Time? We’ve already seen a few up the Hooch above Lanier.  Are your rope flies and lures ready?

Upper Hooch fishing spotsYou don’t want to miss this brand new guide created by fisheries biologist Patrick O’Rouke, with a little help from our fine GIS staff at WRD-HQ.  Where is Mossy Creek?  Now you’ll know. The ink isn’t even dry yet.

Loaner Poles – If your northeast Georgia childrens or youth group (school, scout, church, etc) is considering a kids fishing event, please keep in mind our loaner pole program.  Just contact Olivia at our Gainesville office to reserve and check out up to 60 zebco outfits for your kids event. Olivia McClure: Olivia.McClure@dnr.state.gaus, 770-535-5498.

Several of our state parks also have small loaner pole programs that can serve their guests.  Contact the park office upon your arrival and discovery that your kids forgot to pack their poles!

Peregrine falcon banding video

This week’s Gold Stars… Are awarded to CFR organizer Beverly Booth and lead fundraiser Carl Riggs.  Fourteen special gals enjoyed a free weekend retreat at Smithgall Woods and trout fishing at Nacoochee Bend because of these two leaders and the funds donated by all of you.

If you know of a special lady who needs a lift in her spirits, consider having her apply to Casting For Recovery (CFR).  And everyone else, bid high on the auction items at the next CFR fundraiser. 

Kudos to Beverly, Carl, and their supporting “casts” from Blue Ridge Mountain TU, Georgia Women Flyfishers, Unicoi Outfitters, and the trout fishing community of north Georgia. Consider joining their ranks as a supporting member.  The kind-hearted conservation army needs you!

Win a $100 Bass Pro gift card! Check out our fishing photo contest: https://www.facebook.com/WildlifeResourcesDivisionGADNR

Have a safe, fun-filled weekend with friends and family.  May we also pause and give thanks and remembrance to those whom this holiday honors.  And O’Neill, the Georgia angling community’s thoughts and prayers are with you as you honor your father.

Upper Chattahoochee River Fishing and Public Access Points

Most North Georgia anglers are familiar with the Chattahoochee River, particularly the sections in Metro Atlanta and near the Alpine town of Helen.  There is, however, an equally-exciting section in between that many overlook.  Some of the area’s best river bass and bream fishing can be had in the late spring and summer on the Chattahoochee River from Highway 115 (between Clarkesville and Cornelia) to Don Carter State Park on the upper end of Lake Lanier.  In addition, anglers have a great chance to catch striped bass, walleye, crappie, catfish, and gar.

There are six main access points on the Upper Chattahoochee River that anglers can use (view the map).  The sections between these access points each have unique characteristics and all are accessible to paddling in canoes, kayaks, or rafts. The lower sections can also be accessed from downstream by motorboat.

Highway 115 to Duncan Bridge (4 miles)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Taken in the Highway 115 to Duncan Bridge section.

Shoal bass abound in this section of the river, which has several rapids up to Class 3.  During May and early June, target pockets of water in and around the shoals to find spawning shoal bass.  Later in the summer look for shoal bass in the slower, deeper runs where spotted and largemouth bass can also be targeted, year-round.   Bream (redbreast sunfish and bluegill) are also abundant; and even the occasional redeye bass can be found.  This section cannot be reached by motorboat.

To reach the Highway 115 bridge from Gainesville and the Metro Atlanta area, head north on I-985 and it will turn into Tommy Irvin Parkway (US 23/GA 365).  Continue north to Cornelia and get off at Exit 27.  Turn left on Highway 385, and then veer left on Highway 105 (Cannon Bridge Road).  After crossing the Soque River, turn left at the four-way stop on Highway 115.  Access to the river will be on the left just before crossing the Highway 115 bridge over the Chattahoochee River.  A $5 parking fee (or annual State Parks pass) is required.

Highway 115 GPS:  N 34° 34′ 30.83″ | W 83° 38′ 1.32″

Duncan Bridge to Mossy Creek (5 miles)

Duncan Bridge to Mossy Creek

Duncan Bridge to Mossy Creek section.

This is another excellent section for chasing shoal bass.  The river becomes larger once the Soque River dumps in just above Duncan Bridge, so there will be more fish habitat to target.  In addition to black bass, redbreast sunfish, and bluegill, striped bass can be found in the lower reaches of this section as they look for cool water upstream of Lake Lanier.  In May and June, keep an eye out for longnose gar, which can reach more than four feet in length, spawning in the shallows.  This section has a number of Class 1 rapids.  Depending on water levels, the lower half of this section may be reached from downstream using a shallow-draft boat with a jet-powered motor, however extreme caution should be exercised due to the presence of many shallow rocks that could damage boat hulls and motors.

To reach Duncan Bridge, take Tommy Irvin Parkway (US 23/GA 365) north to Duncan Bridge Road (Highway 348).  Turn left and travel 4 miles.  The Wildwood Outfitters outpost is located on the right immediately after crossing the Chattahoochee River.  Because Wildwood Outfitters leases this property from the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites Division, a $5 parking fee (or annual State Parks pass) is required.

Duncan Bridge GPS:  N 34° 32′ 28.31″ | W 83° 37′ 20.56″W

Mossy Creek to Belton Bridge (6 miles)

Mossy Creek to Belton Bridge section.

Mossy Creek to Belton Bridge section.

This stretch represents the lower end of the best shoal bass habitat, and anglers will find an increasing number of spotted bass here, particularly downstream of Bull Shoals.  Striped bass will be present in the summer, and a few walleyes will remain following their spring run from February-April.  Catfish are also available from this section downstream, including a shot at some very large flathead catfish.  During higher-flow months, motorboats can reach as far as Bull Shoals using the Belton Bridge or Lula Bridge boat ramps.  Use best judgment and caution when boating in this section as there are a number of shallow and/or rocky runs that could damage a propeller.

To reach Mossy Creek, take Tommy Irvin Parkway (US 23/GA 365) north to Lula Road (Highway 52) and turn left.  Travel six miles and turn right on Holly Springs Road, then travel straight at the five-way stop on to Skitts Mountain Road.  After 3 miles, turn right on Skitts Mountain Drive, then left on Home Place Road.  A step-down ramp is located where the road ends at the Chattahoochee River.  The Mossy Creek Access Area is operated by the Wildlife Resources Division and no parking fee is required.

Mossy Creek GPS: N 34° 29′ 43.59″ | W 83° 40′ 23.66″

Belton Bridge to Lula Bridge (3 miles)

Belton Bridge to Lula Bridge section.

Belton Bridge to Lula Bridge section.

Spotted bass are common in this section year-round, and higher numbers of largemouth bass also start to show up.  Forrest L. Wood Cup Champion Jacob Wheeler caught many of the bass that won the 2013 tournament in this section.  Striped bass are present throughout the summer, and walleyes can be found in great numbers in early spring.  Catfish, crappie, and bream are available year-round.  When Lake Lanier is at or near full pool, Belton Bridge marks the area where the river transitions into Lake Lanier and there is little or no downstream flow of water.  This is an important point to remember for paddlers, as it requires more effort to get downstream but makes trips up the river much easier.  While this section is accessible to all motorboats, there are some shallow areas and boaters should remain alert to exposed hazards.

To reach the Belton Bridge boat ramp, take Tommy Irvin Parkway (US 23/GA 365) north to Belton Bridge Road and travel 2 ½ miles, then turn left to stay on Belton Bridge Road.  The boat ramp will be on the left about ½ mile before crossing the Chattahoochee River.  The Belton Bridge boat ramp is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and no parking fee is required.

Belton Bridge GPS: N 34° 26′ 14.60″ | W 83°40’51.00″

Lula Bridge to Don Carter State Park (3 ½ miles)

Walleye from the Lula Bridge to Don Carter State Park section.

Walleye from the Lula Bridge to Don Carter State Park section.

This is one of the best areas on Lake Lanier to target big largemouth bass.  Cast in, and around, submerged brush on the river’s banks to find “bucketmouths” weighing up to ten pounds.  Spotted bass are also common.  Crappie fishing can be excellent around submerged trees and docks in the spring.  In the spring, target rock walls for striped bass, and fish deep holes in this area for the best chance at a big pre-spawn female walleye during February and March.  Large catfish are also common in this stretch.  This reach looks more like a large reservoir than a river and there is typically no visible flowing water.  Except during periods of extreme drought, it is generally safe for boats of all sizes.  Because of the relatively light amount of boat traffic, it is also a great place to do some flat-water paddling in canoes or kayaks.

To reach Lula Bridge, take Tommy Irvin Parkway (US 23/GA 365) north to Lula Road (Highway 52) and turn left.  After two miles, the boat ramp will be on the right immediately after crossing over the Chattahoochee River/Lake Lanier.  The Lula Bridge boat ramp is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and no parking fee is required.

Lula Bridge GPS: N 34° 24′ 54.66″ | W 83° 42′ 27.47″

Attractions

Don Carter State Park - Don Carter State Park opened in 2013 and serves as a gateway to upper Lake Lanier.  The park offers eight cabins as well as campsites for recreational vehicles or tents.  There is also a day-use area that includes hiking trails, picnic shelters, a swimming beach, and two boat ramps (one for day use (northern most) and one for campers only).  To make reservations, call (800) 864-7275.  For other questions, call the park office at (678) 450-7726 or visit their website.  Don Carter State Park can be reached by taking I-985 north to Jesse Jewell Parkway (Exit 24) and turning left.  Turn right on Limestone Parkway (US 129), then right on Clarks Bridge Road.  Travel six miles and turn right on N Browning Bridge Road.  Continue to the left to stay on N Browning Bridge Road until reaching the park entrance.  Entrance fee is $5/day (or annual State Parks pass).

Don Carter Day Use Boat Ramp GPS:  N 34° 23′ 41.37″ | W 83° 44′ 3.03″

Don Carter Campground Boat Ramp GPS:  N 34° 23′ 0.89″| W 83° 44′ 17.96″

Wildwood Outfitters offers canoe, kayak, and raft rentals, shuttle services, and camping opportunities downstream to Belton Bridge.  Visit their website or call (800) 553-2715 for more information.

For other questions about upper Chattahoochee River fishing and boating opportunities, call the Wildlife Resources Division in Gainesville at (770) 535-5498.

North Georgia Fishing Report: May 16, 2014

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

Water temps should still provide good trout fishing in most locations.

Water temps should still provide good trout fishing in most locations.

We’re on the tail end of spring and the fishing is still pretty darn good. The high 80-degree days that have visited us about a month earlier than normal have been offset by several cool ones, which  have kept water temperatures to the liking of most of our target species. There is probably a week or two left of this great spring fishing weather, so take a ride to your favorite pond or reservoir soon to take advantage of the excellent shallow water action.

The same holds true for our larger trout streams.  Water temps have bumped into the upper 60s on several afternoons, but they’re still declining overnight and on cloudy, rainy days.  The fish are still comfortable and so are wet-wading anglers. Check stream flows before you go.

Some great aquatic insect hatches are still coming off (personal experience of cahills popping like popcorn, reported below), but their days are numbered.  Go soon for that one last “spring fix” on our larger trout streams.

After the next week or two, you’ll have to hike up the mountain to smaller, high elevation streams, or slide in below a big dam like Buford or Blue Ridge to find the best trouting temperatures as we welcome summer.

It looks like we have 1-2 inches of rain coming our way by Thursday, so check those USGS river flow gauges to see which streams drop back down to fishable levels by the weekend.

Here we go…

Trout

Chattooga DH Report, May 10 (bonus photo) – Plus, tips on the deadly caddis twitch.

Headwaters Trout – “Sautee” reported a fine Saturday day afternoon of bluelining for little wild rainbows on an unnamed Hooch trib, high in the mountains above Helen.  He had great action on small dries such as tan elk hair caddis and light cahills.

Stocked Trout Best Bets – Try these locales: DH streams on or after May 15 (when harvest is allowed), Lanier Tailwater, Holly, Rock, Cooper, Toccoa River, Long Swamp, West Fork Chattooga, Panther, Wildcat, and Tallulah.  The “how-to” is described in the brief narrative on the side of your Georgia trout stream map.  Need a map? Call Olivia at our office number, below.

Weekend Flyfishing Festival, Western Carolina – Some north Georgians make this trek and combine a morning of seminars with an afternoon of Smokies trouting and elk-watching.

Bass 

Hooch Bass Float – “Hey Jeff. We fished the upper hooch above Lanier recently, doing an overnight camping/floating trip. We started late Saturday and floated a mile downstream to our camping destination. We set up camp and hit the long shoal upstream of us for “dark 30″ shoal bass fishing. I caught several on top with a white stealth bomber or a dahlberg diver.  Sunday found us up early and floating downstream and stopping to fish every now and then. Fishing was good in the morning for shoal bass with topwater really early and then with hairy fodders  but slowed down through the heat of the day. However we caught a TON of small 1-2 lb stripers though on sinking lines with smaller Clousers. We spotted several of their larger cousins as we were drifting but kept our fly offerings small to avoid getting our 6 weight rods snapped. We rushed the last leg of the  float a bit so didn’t get any good topwater fishing again in the afternoon but who can complain with the overall numbers of fish caught! It was a fun trip and one we plan on doing again very soon!” – Landonh

Lanier – Big Bass: This one was fun for us to net and release! Shad Spawn Bounty for Early Risers.

More Great Lanier Fodder (thanks Eric!) –  “Hello Jeff. Hope all is well. If you ever wish to have another fishing report then feel free to use the one I do for the Gainesville Times on Fridays. I always write a recent report every Friday so the conditions are up to date. I think this link will work every week. I enjoy your other reports so keep sending them!” – ric S. Aldrich

Allatoona -  Big Hybrid  and stripers!

Nottely – Biologist Patrick O’Rouke said that his annual spring sampling last week  showed good numbers of spots and largemouths up shallow, but he expects them to start sliding off the bank soon as water temperatures rise.  Bass were most abundant along steeper banks that had rocks (bedrock, boulders), downed trees, or both.  A few nice crappie were also found in the treetops.  Stripers were already out of reach of the electric probes, but they should be providing good fishing at the 15 to 20 foot depths, and shallower at first light. Nottely Fishing Prospects.

Walleye

Great Walleye Year – Walleye are grown and stocked annually in Georgia, but this year saw a bumper crop produced by WRD fish farmers!  Congrats to the Go Fish Center and to Walton, Summerville, and Burton hatcheries for Georgia walleye broodstock collection, spawning, and pond fingerling production.  During the last two weeks, nearly 900,000 fingerling (one-inch) walleye were stocked into lakes Antioch (Rocky Mtn PFA), Carters, Lanier, Hartwell, Rabun, Seed, Tugalo, and Yonah.  The fish that survive to prey on shad and blueback herring  should provide some nice catches for Georgia anglers in 2-3 years. Video and extra info.

Additional Links…

“TIPS” on Dealing with ViolatorsSome thoughts for your consideration, and DNR contact info.

Gold Star – Kudos to this fine group for their school mentoring efforts!

Kids Fishing Events, Coming Soon – The first week of June is National Fishing and Boating Week, with a couple of free fishing days tossed in.  Make your family plans now to take advantage of these kids events. 

Bass Pro Shops gift card anyone? Check out our 2014 Facebook Fishing Photo Contest!

Good luck with your last shots at spring.  You still have plenty of options to choose from as May draws to a close.

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: May 8, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

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

Timothy Deener (left) caught this giant 24-inch seatrout on Monday with a live baitfish suspended under a Back Bay Thunder Float. He was fishing with his grandfather, Herb Deener.

Timothy Deener (left) caught this giant 24-inch seatrout on Monday with a live baitfish suspended under a Back Bay Thunder Float. He was fishing with his grandfather, Herb Deener.

The rivers are getting in decent shape, and the fishing is picking up. Swamp and saltwater fishing has been outstanding. Check out several tournaments and family events listed below. The full oon is May 14. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Chris and Jennifer Swenson of Jesup were the big winners in the  Wayne County Catfish Tournament held on Saturday and Sunday out of Jaycees Landing in Jesup. They won overall 1st place ($10,000) with a total of 61.06 pounds plus overall big fish and women’s category big fish (Jennifer’s 31.86-pound flathead won those two categories). Great job under some tough fishing conditions! 2nd place was Tiff Thompson’s team with 42.42 pounds. 3rd was Albert Bennett’s team with 31.92 pounds. Cody Bennett won the kids’ category with a 17.12-pound flathead.  For more results and photos, visit the website www.waynecountycatfishtournament.com. Several panfish anglers reported to me that they were catching some nice redbreasts and bluegills up in the floodplain and in eddies behind trees by pitching crickets. The best photo I saw was a dozen nice redbreasts caught at the end of last week. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that anglers caught redbreasts on the down-river side of sandbars in about 5 feet of water. An angler fishing on Monday caught over a dozen of the biggest redbreasts he has caught in years by using crickets and this sandbar pattern. Dannett from Altamaha Park reported anglers catching redbreasts, crappie, and catfish. Bream were eating crickets fished in the eddy on the downstream side of trees. Blue catfish ate worms, rooster livers, and shrimp in the deep holes. Flatheads bit goldfish best. On Saturday, an angler reported catching 41 keeper redbreasts with crickets fished from the dock at the landing.  A new panfish tournament sponsored by Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club will be held on June 14th. First place is a guaranteed $500. The tournament will be based out of Jaycees Landing in Jesup. The winner will be determined based on the weight of their biggest 10 panfish (bluegillwarmouthredbreasts and shellcrackers are the species to be weighed). The entry fee is a modest $20 per angler (children under 16 years of age can compete free of charge with a paying adult). For more information, contact the Wayne County Board of Tourism at 912-427-3233. Check out my article on bream fishing the Altamaha in the May issue of Georgia Outdoor News if you want some details about panfishing the big river. Barring additional rains, it should be awesome fishing in another week. The river level was 9.8 feet and falling (71 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.0 feet and falling (69 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 6.

Satilla River – This Saturday, May 10, is the first annual Satilla Riverkeeper fishing tournament. The river is going to be a little high but will be fishable by Saturday. Last week’s rains were enough to keep the river level about the same for an additional few days, but at least it will not be flooding again from those rains. For more information visit www.satillariverkeeper.org. I am predicting that the tournament will be won by someone fishing one of the many tributaries of the Satilla. I received several reports this week from anglers catching lots of redbreasts and bluegills in the tributaries to the Satilla with beetlespins and crickets. “Trout Magnet” caught several dozen silver dollar-sized fliers from his favorite spot in Big Creek on his namesake little jig. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the upper river redbreasts are getting feisty. He said that they are killing crickets and Satilla Spins with a vengeance. The catfish bite has been great, with limb and trotliners catching fish on rooster livers and shrimp. Bass have been biting during the falling river, with topwaters (such as Pop-R’s and buzzbaits) producing the most strikes. Get your fishing gear ready – it’s about to bust wide open. The river level  at the Waycross gage was 11.6 feet and falling (68 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 11.8 feet and falling (71 degrees) on May 6.

St. Marys River – Catfish, bream, and redbreasts were caught this week in good numbers. The upper river will be excellent for redbreasts shortly as the level continues to fall. Catfishing will be good this weekend all up and down the river. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 8.7 feet and falling on May 6.

Local Ponds – Michael Winge reported that the bream fishing was best this week. Crickets fooled some giants from beds and also shoreline cover and vegetation. Catfish were fooled with pink worms fished on the bottom. Black Trick Worms and Finesse Worms fooled quality bass this week.

Okefenokee Swamp – Warmouth, catfish, and fliers were reported from the east (Folkston) side this week. From the west (Fargo) side, anglers reported catching bream, catfish, and even a few bass. The oxygen was low in the Sill canal near SC Foster State Park after several cloudy days last week, and a few warmouth, pickerel, and bass died from the naturally-caused oxygen sag. The oxygen rebounded with the recent sunny conditions, but if you fish the Sill area, concentrate your effort from the first spillway outward. Lots of catfish were caught by anglers fishing on the bottom with worms and shrimp near both spillways. Okefenokee Swamp Sallies in yellow and pink produced the best flier catches. All of the creeks crossing Swamp Road (south of Waycross) produced good catches of catfish again this week. That bite will likely slow this week as the flows decrease and folks catch the fish in the pools by the bridge crossings.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – The whiting bite has turned on again after last week’s super-windy conditions. Dead shrimp and squid produced the best catches. A few trout caught with live shrimp were reported from Crooked River. The tackle shop in the parking lot by the state park ramp is now open. The 3rd annual Family Fun Day and C’Mos Kids saltwater tournament will be held this Saturday (May 10th). For more information about the events and tournament check out www.cmoskids.org or call the State Park at 912-882-5256. Lots of tripletail were caught in the rivers in the Brunswick area this week. In the creeks around St. Simons Island, trout and redfishing was strong, and a few flounder were mixed in the catches. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that from the pier the bull whiting were caught by the truckloads. They might be slightly exaggerating, but the bite was strong. The average angler caught from 25 to 30 whiting. Dead shrimp were the ticket. Lots of small sharks are around, and a few trout and flounder were also caught. On Saturday night, a 28 and 47-inch redfish were caught on cut bait. On Sunday, a 25-pound black drum came over the rails. It ate dead shrimp fished on bottom.

Best Bet – You will have a blast this Saturday fishing the Satilla River Fishing Tournament hosted by the Satilla Riverkeeper or the Family Fun Day at Crooked River State Park hosted by C’Mo’s Kids. Both events will be top-notch family activities. River fishing is not quite right, but the fishing is picking up. Ponds and saltwater should be on fire this weekend. Whiting fishing all along the coast should be great this weekend. Take your pick, and you can hardly go wrong by fishing for about anything this weekend.

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