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Georgia Fishing Report: September 30, 2016

Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (full, clear, 80’s) — Bass fishing is good. The bass are eating everything in sight. It is going to be simple finding fish this week. Rock and wood combinations are going to be the key. Top-water baits are working now, but don’t spend too much time on top. As the frost moves across the lake later on, the bass will back off on the ledges and suspend or hide in cover. Medium to deep diving baits along with worms and jigs should be your main attack weapons this week. Long casts and medium to slow retrieves will work best, just do not be in a hurry with the retrieves. Rapala Minnow Raps, Rapala DT10, 1/4 to 3/8 ounce jigs are a must this week. A fish Head spin and a small trailer would be a good choice and shad are the best color. Try a variety of colors, as this is sometimes the difference between first and second place during the fall. Visibility of less than three feet is classified as stained water.

Clarks Hill (down 5.7 feet, 80’s) — Bass fishing is good. A six-inch finesse worm on a short Carolina Rig, 18 inches, seems to still be working this week. A few bass are being caught on Shad Raps, Number 7, and X-Raps or Husky Jerk baits. All of these are good choices. The cooler temperatures will get some bass up and feeding in shallow water early. Fish shallow early in the morning and slowly work your way into the deeper water by the afternoon hours. October is an excellent month to fish the Rip Rap Rock with those crank baits.

Lake Oconee (1.5 feet low, the lake is clear, light stain up the lake into the river, 80-85 degrees) — Bass fishing is fair. At first light fish a buzz bait on sea walls and rip rap from the middle of the coves and creeks out to the main lake. White or white/chartreuse have been the best color. Then switch to a shaky head and fish it under the deep water docks. Some fish are starting to move into the creeks from the 44 bridge south. You can target them with the same shaky head.

Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741 reeltime@bellsouth.net

Striper fishing is poor. There are some small fish feeding at the dam first thing in the morning. You can catch these fish on spoons. There are also some fish showing up on the pipeline in the afternoons when Georgia Power is pulling water. The same spoons are working there.

Crappie fishing is good. The fish have moved into their summer locations. Look on the creek ledges as well as in the deeper timber. Use your Lowrance structure scan to locate the timber with the crappie in it. Once you locate the fish you can use a jig or drop a live bait into the school. Fall fishing is starting to pick up and now is the time to book your trip with Reel Time Guide Service at 404-803-0741 or reeltime@bellsouth.net.

West Point Lake (down 4.13 feet, clear, 80’s) — Bass fishing is barley fair and it is an early bite. There are not a lot big fish feeding. Bass are holding on main lake points in the lake due to the consistent water generation. A mixture of whites, spots, and hybrids are schooling below Hwy 109 Bridge on the west bank in 6 to 8 feet of water. Fish the mouths of the coves using a popping cork, Rat L Trap or Rooster Tail. The Fish Head Spin has made some folks believers on the lake with consistent spotted bass and largemouth, and even some hybrids caught on these baits in the 3/8 ounce head with a Zoom Fluke trailer. Fish the bait just like a soft crank bait and try some Triple Fish fluorocarbon line to feel the strikes. Some fish are still hitting top-water early and late; watch the gulls and you can find where the top-water action is taking place. Try a white buzz bait on the lead-in banks to the coves for large mouths and spots.

Lake Sinclair (down 1.3 feet, clear, 80’s) — Bass fishing is fair. Top-water baits are good early then go to the secondary points in the creek. Look for coves and creeks with an abundance of shad and try a 1/8 ounce chartreuse and white buzz bait. Fish the banks and docks and cast the buzz bait or other top-water lure to blow downs, docks, stumps, rocks, and brush piles. Other good choices are a Pop R, Chug Bug, and Baby Torpedo. Bass are also coming from docks and boathouses using plastic worms and jigs. Try a Zoom Trick worm with a 1/8 ounce weight and 3/0 Gamakatsu wide gap hook. Some good colors are June bug, green pumpkin, and red bug. Pay attention to the area of each dock where a fish is caught. Then concentrate fishing time on the same areas in relation to each dock. Some fish are also hitting jigs on the docks. Try a Stanley 5/16 ounce rattling jig with a Baby Brush Hog trailer. Some fish are hitting small crank baits and Rat L Traps near the back of coves. Two good choices are a ½ or ¼-ounce Rat L Trap and #5 Shad Rap RS. With the sun shining, try both baits in chrome-blue and fire tiger and a shad pattern with cloud cover.

Jackson Lake (down .77 feet, clear, 80’s) — Bass fishing is fair. As the water temperature cooling off, the fish are moving back into the shallow water. Use a small crank bait or a ¼ ounce Rat L Trap fished right next to the seawalls. Fish the seawalls that are on the main lake and near deep water. If the wind is blowing make sure you are fishing the windblown banks and a good bait of choice would be a spinnerbait. If you are looking just for a few good fish your best bet is to flip a Zoom Mag II worm under docks which are near deep water.

Upper Ocmulgee River — DNR personnel have been sampling the Ocmulgee River this week and the fishing is good! The low water tends to concentrate the fish and make them more vulnerable to catch, so give it a shot. The 10+ pound largemouth was caught near Warner Robins, Ga in the Ocmulgee and a 4+ pound shoal bass was caught below the Lake Jackson dam in the river.

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Flat Creek PFA

Surface Temperature: 88.8˚ F (31.6˚ C)

Water Level: 11’ 11” Below Full Pool

Water Visibility: 16”

The lake is low, the temperatures are still hot but hopefully as we round the bend into October the longer nights will start to make fishing more enjoyable with some cooler daytime temperatures. As this shift in temperature occurs expect the fishing to get better as the fish that have been hanging out in the deeper, cooler depths start feeding in the shallows. The catfish fishing has really been heating up, and those fishing with chicken livers or worms have really had some great luck in catching some nice sized catfish! Bass fishing has also been really good for those lucky enough to have a kayak or small boat to fish from. Bream are still the fish most anglers reported catching. Due to the lower level of the lake we are recommending that trailered boats do not use the ramp.

Bass: Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumkinseed Culprit worms. Most dark colored worms. Lures that resemble a bream. Minnows and worms.

Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Near cover or near the shallower water during a full moon. Chicken cut into small pieces were working great for one angler. Crickets have Not worked well.

Channel Catfish: Frozen Catalpa worms, chicken livers, or red wiggler worms.

Crappie: Try cover that creates shade (tree tops), structure, and deeper water with a small crank bait or jig with a slow retrieval. Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

McDuffie PFA

Falling water temperatures across Public fishing Area: 79 ⁰F – 81 ⁰F

Water Visibility: 12 – 51 inches:

Lake Water levels across McDuffie PFA are still down a foot or more but boats can still be launched at all ramps.

Largemouth Bass: Action is picking up during early morning and late evening. Bass have continued biting in several lakes on McDuffie. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond will be open the morning of October 1st and remain open until evening of the October 15th. The bass action has been consistent in Rodbender. This lake has been setup with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass. Bass tags from Rodbender must be sent to the Thomson fisheries office (address on web) or use the drop box at Rodbender boat ramp. Reward tags must be turned in for the reward to be sent to the fisherman. Breambuster has a nice population of 2 to 5 pound bass with plenty of bank access like most of McDuffie PFA lakes.

Bream: Improving: Bream are being caught near shore this week but late in the evenings in Lake Willow. A fisherman reported catching bluegill in deep water using crickets. Bream can still be found near shoreline structure and aquatic plants but also suspended over deep water.

Channel Catfish: The Catfish bite is still going strong. Today, a fisherman caught a large catfish in Breambuster and we also did a supplemental stocking of catchable size channel cats. Jones and Willow is where the best bite is occurring. The best fishing is on the bottom in medium to deep water using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made baits. The catfish feed best early in the morning or just before sundown.

Striped Bass: Stripers very slow due the hot weather. The Striper action may not pick until Georgia gets cooler weather. Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse Lakes. Stripers are biting on cut bait and chicken liver fished on the bottom. Umbrella rigs, diving crank baits and top-water plugs are very effective on McDuffie’s stripers during the colder months. Additional Information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie

Marben PFA

Water temps. : 82

Largemouth Bass: Fall brings a significant increase in bass feeding behavior. Anglers will find bass behaving much like spring, gorging on shad. Early morning will most likely be the best time. However, if anglers are patient and can mimic what bass are targeting, do not be surprised to catch bass throughout the day. Top-water lures are typically used in morning and late evening hours. Crank baits and other deeper water lures are typically the most popular during mid-day. Look for bass to be in the 6 – 10ft. even in early morning and moving deeper as mid-day approaches. Early morning and late evenings are still the best times for anglers targeting bass. Shad have been seen schooling in early morning so anglers should take advantage of this by targeting bass around the schooling shad.

Crappie: This is the time of year when crappie fishing begins to increase, especially after mid-October. The crappie “bite” remains the best in the evening but anglers should find early morning a good time to target these tasty fish. Anglers need to be prepared using live minnows and yellow jigs, as these tend to be the most popular. Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet in the evening, while targeting the shallows around flooded timber in the morning.

Bream: Bream fishing will vary a little this time of year. Look for bream to be the most active mid to late morning. Especially as the temperatures cool during October. Often times, cool fall mornings will slow activity but this will increase as the water temperature warms with the rising sun. The best thing about bream is that this fish will hit a variety of bait. Meal worms are proving the most successful bait. However, do not be afraid to experiment, you never know what bream are targeting that day. Look for bream in four to six feet of water.

Catfish: When the other fish begin to slow, anglers will often turn their attention to catfish at Marben PFA. Catfish are reported being caught throughout the day. Based on angler reports, Bennett still remains the “hot” lake but look for the lakes to increase this time of year. Anglers are most successful using worms, liver and stink bait.

* Remember early morning and late evenings remain the best times at Marben PFA.

* Temperatures are cooling so fishing success will increase. Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/CharlieElliott

 

North Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)

The long awaited cool-down has finally started and we are indeed thankful!
(https://weather.com/weather/tenday/l/Helen+GA+30545:4:US) While the nights have cooled, it’s still gonna take a while for many of our larger waters to shed their heat and fish better. My best advice is to start on smaller waters that respond quickly to air temperature swings. Try headwater trout, bass rivers, and your favorite bass/bream ponds.
http://dahlonega-ga.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=202:lake-zwerner-and-yahoola-creek-reservoir&catid=125:parks&Itemid=108. With another couple of weeks of cold nights to follow, the reservoirs should finally kick into fall mode, too.

Best bets? I’d suggest the bass rivers and trout tailwaters once again. We’ve had up-and-down days on our last few river bassin’ trips, but the catching should now gain some consistency with dropping temperatures and the “need to feed” before winter. The tailwaters have still produced, and it’s just a matter of timing the discharges correctly. Anglers no longer have to avoid the searing sun of midday and compete with “pink donut hatches”, so tailwater float trip popularity should start spiking. Browns spawn in the fall, so start looking “upstream,” in the vicinity of gravel beds, near the month’s end and enjoy the enhanced colors of the male browns.

Bass shoal upper Hooch JD and JH 9-16-16.jpg
Here’s a new, post-drought, best bet for this week: the larger wild trout streams where fish simply hung on for dear life in the warm water, but should have been able to survive the summer. Find those places that were pegging above seventy degrees in the afternoons, but were dropping back into the high 60’s by morning. They’ll have more water and more habitat than headwaters right now, and will finally have temperatures cool enough for their residents to care about dining again. Hints: Chattooga up into Ellicott Rock, Jacks/Conasauga, Moccasin, Coleman, Cooper, Hooch above the WMA check station, West Fork Chattooga tribs, Luftee and Cataloochee in the park (they’ll toss in a few elk, too) and Noontootla. Try some yellow (stimulator) and black (ant, beetle) bugs for early fall action. Also have some #12 orange elf hair caddis or stimulators in your boxes, as the October caddis will soon dance across the larger waters of the Southeast. (http://www.ginkandgasoline.com/fly-fishing-tips-technique/2-rigs-for-fishing-the-october-caddis-hatch/). They aren’t abundant, but they’re big enough to draw attention and have fish on the lookout for big, orange bugs. (shoutout to UT fans…) Of course, the water is low and crystal clear, so fly pattern or bait type won’t be as important as your stealth skills.

We were busy hosting last weekend’s Outdoor Adventure Days, so our own reports are a bit sparse. I’m still a few shoalies and smallies to the good, so that still counts for “field work” to validate this report … or disguise my fibs a bit better. While we were busy with kids and Zebcos, other folks were still busy at their honey holes. Here are a few good fishing reports and newsy tidbits to help launch you into the fall fishing season.

Sincerely,
Hanging Around Helen Too Much

· Chunky Hooch Wild Browns
http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111360
http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111354

trout-bnt-large-toccoa-tw-sampling-damer-sept-2012

· Stocker Report
Can you tell that low, warm water affects trout behavior and subsequent angling success?
http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ngto/

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· DH to our North
http://www.ncwildlife.org/News-Archives/delayed-harvest-trout-waters-open-oct-1-11

http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Fishing/documents/Delayed-Harvest-Trout-Waters-Stocking-Dates-Map.pdf

· Headwaters
http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=881366
http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111397

· Casting for a Cause
http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=874691

· Monster Oconee Cat

https://www.facebook.com/WildlifeResourcesDivisionGADNR/photos/a.107070953387.96574.101012503387/10153903976318388/?type=3&theater

· Cats Unwelcome Here
Here’s a neat blog and video on flathead removal to restore a great redbreast fishery.
https://georgiawildlife.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/flathead-control-also-crucial-on-lower-satilla/

· Ken Sturdivant’s Reservoir Reports
http://www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html

· Lanier Bass
http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=881094

· Lake Hartnell
https://www.facebook.com/lakehartwellfishing/

· Stripers
https://www.facebook.com/CatchingNotFishing/
http://www.captmacks.com/fishing/lake-lanier-fishing-report-september-23-2016/

· Warmwater Whopper!
http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111342

· Buck Shoals WMA “Spawned”
https://georgiawildlife.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/georgias-first-youth-focused-wildlife-management-area/#more-4070

· Online Duck Stamps
WATERFOWL HUNTERS – YOU CAN NOW GET YOUR FEDERAL DUCK STAMP ONLINE!

SOCIAL CIRCLE, GA (Sept. 28, 2016) – Georgia recreational licenses are simple to obtain. You can purchase them online, by phone or at a license vendor. Before this year, hunters needing a Federal Duck Stamp – required for all waterfowl hunters – could not get that license at the same time as their other licenses. That has changed!

“We are thrilled to be able to offer the Federal Duck Stamp to hunters at the same time they are purchasing their other recreational licenses,” says Rusty Garrison, Director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “Being able to get all the licenses you need from one site is a major convenience factor and I think hunters will appreciate that.”

Your purchase decision has been made even easier by the creation of the Waterfowl Package at http://www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com. This package includes a hunting license, Georgia Waterfowl Conservation License, HIP permit and the Federal Duck Stamp, all on a convenient plastic card. If hunting on a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), you will need to add a WMA license.

Here is how it works:
1. Go to GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com
2. Create an Account or Log In to Your Account
3. Check out the List of Available Packages, Including the Waterfowl Package
4. Click on the Package to Add to Your Account
5. Proceed to Checkout

That is it! Once you are done, you will receive a confirmation email with a printable PDF of your license. Each year, you will get an email notification prior to license expiration date. If you renew before the license expires, you get a discount! You also can set your license package to auto-renew each year.

To purchase the Federal Duck Stamp or other hunting licenses, visit http://www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com.

· BOW Opportunity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK ON THE OUTDOORS AT THE NOVEMBER ‘BECOMING AN OUTDOORS-WOMAN’ PROGRAM

MANSFIELD, Ga. (Sept. 26, 2016) – Ladies, if you are uncertain where to begin when thinking about outdoor activities, the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program is a great place to start! This program provides a practical introduction to a wide variety of outdoor recreational skills and activities. A BOW workshop, hosted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, is scheduled to take place Nov. 4-6 at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.

“BOW classes give women from all backgrounds the chance to learn outdoor skills in a positive, non-competitive atmosphere where they can feel confident and have fun,” said Jody Rice, BOW coordinator.

BOW is an educational program offering hands-on workshops to women of all ages and physical ability levels and aims to break down barriers to female participation in outdoor activities by providing a safe and supportive learning environment.

Weekend workshops begin on Friday morning and end on Sunday afternoon. Between meals and special presentations and events, participants can choose from more than 25 professionally-led classes, ranging from such topics as firearms, wilderness survival, fishing, orienteering, birding and tree climbing. Sessions range in intensity from leisurely to rugged (strenuous).

Although classes are designed with beginners and those with little to no experience in mind, more seasoned participants will benefit from the opportunity to hone their existing skills and try out new activities. All participants will receive enough instruction to pursue their outdoor interests further when the workshop is complete.

Registration is now open for a BOW workshop scheduled for Nov. 4-6 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (located near Mansfield, less than an hour southeast of Atlanta off Interstate 20). Participants can choose to bring their own tents and gear or lodge at Charlie Elliott’s beautiful conference center, part of a popular complex including a wildlife management and public fishing area. Cost per person ranges from $255-300 (dependent on lodging choice).

For more information, including registration details and a complete listing of classes offered, visit http://www.georgiawildlife.com/BOW or call (770) 784-3059.

· Cool Coloring Book
Bass, sturgeon, brook trout and more! For free downloads of Exploring Georgia’s Wildlife, click here:
http://www.georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/uploads/wildlife/general/pdf/ColoringBookExploringGeorgiasWildlife.pdf Feel free to pass this link along to teachers that you know.

· National Hunting and Fishing Day tallies
Thanks to all of you who assisted WRD staff or who brought families up to our three events in this region.
Pics: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111383

Here is our report to HQ:
Region 1 FM staff helped organize and conduct three events to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, 9/24. Total attendance was estimated as: Unicoi Park =1,253, Sloppy Floyd Park = 1,704, Buford Dam = 485.

Good luck as we celebrate the burial of summer and the rebirth of cool fall days. As the weeks of chilly evening air finally drop water temperatures, our sport fish should renew their appetites and restore our catch rates. Respool with fresh line and grab the long sleeve shirts soon. You’ll need both. And maybe that camera that has been lonely all summer….

 

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton went very well on Saturday. The 1,200 attendees caught lots of fish and had a blast at the various outdoor venues. There were lots of great reports this week – the fall bite is starting. New Moon is September 30th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.

Altamaha River – On Monday a group of anglers fishing the lower river caught 25 crappie between 1/2 and a pound, about 30 bluegills, a few channel catfish, and 2 blue catfish. They had quite a haul! Expect the crappie bite to do nothing but improve over the next couple of months. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that anglers are having trouble navigating upstream of the landing because of numerous exposed sandbars with the low water level. Downstream is the direction she recommends fishing. Crappie have started biting well for those using minnows. Crickets produced some good bream catches. Catfishing was fair, with most anglers landing about 15 whiskerfish per trip. Donna at Altamaha Park said that all species were caught again this week. One angler reported caching 31 catfish over the weekend. Bream, crappie, and flatheads (to 20 pounds) bit well, but bass fishing was only fair this week. The river level was 1.5 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 2.2 feet and falling (81 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 27th.

Satilla River – Chad Lee fished the river out of Jamestown Landing on Sunday and caught 10 redbreasts and a nice bass on a crawfish Satilla Spin. Some of the redbreasts were big enough that he could barely get his hand around them. Craig James fished several times on the upper and middle river this week. His catches were mostly bass on trick worms, quad-blade buzzbaits, and plastic crayfish, but he also landed some nice redbreasts. His bass total was 35 fish up to 4 1/2 pounds, and his bigger fish ate quad-blade buzzbaits and junebug speed craws. That trend continued with Ryan Lee, who landed a 6 1/2-pound bass last Wednesday on a black quad-blade buzzbait. Craig and his wife Brandy had another great catfishing trip to the Woodbine area on Saturday. The couple ended up catching over 100 and keeping 88 white catfish caught with shrimp skewered on swinging Catfish Catcher Jigheads. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the bite is picking up like it does in the spring (I agree – I’ve had some awesome float trips for redbreasts and bluegills in the fall). Bream and redbreasts were fooled this week with crawfish Satilla Spins and beetlespins. Crickets and worms also caught their share of smaller fish for those fishing from the bank. Shrimp, rooster livers, and worms fished in the deep holes produced some good catches of catfish. Shiners and soft plastic worms accounted for some bass catches. The crappie bite has improved some for those fishing minnows, and that should fire off with the cooler weather forecasted late in the week. The river level on September 27th at the Waycross gage was 4.6 feet and falling (80 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.5 feet and falling.

St. Marys River – Over the weekend, anglers reported catching 25 to 30 bream and redbreasts per trip. Crickets were the deal. Catfish were biting again anywhere you put a hook baited with shrimp or worms. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 27th was 2.7 feet and falling.

Okefenokee Swamp – The fish have been there for the catching all summer, and some anglers actually went fishing and reported back this week. On Friday, Wyatt Crews and Daniel Hampton of Waycross fished the east side for just 2 1/2 hours and landed 2 chain pickerel (jackfish) and 35 bowfin by flinging Dura-Spins. Their best colors were jackfish and black/chartreuse. They just used a trolling motor, so they caught them close to the ramp. Ronnie Ricketson of Douglas fished the east side on Saturday and kept 62 fliers and warmouth and 3 catfish. They also caught several bowfin and released lots of small warmouth. They used worms. On Sunday afternoon I fished with my daughter Ellie on the east side for 3 hours. We pitched yellow and pink sallies for the first 15 minutes and landed 21 fliers. We then switched to Dura-Spins and caught 32 bowfin (mudfish) up to 4 pounds. Our best colors were fire tiger and black/chartreuse. The bite was wide open, and it will continue until the cold winter temperatures get here. Anglers fishing in the east side boat basin caught catfish on worms. On the west side, the catfish bite is wide open for anglers fishing worms or shrimp on the bottom.

Local Ponds – Nathanael Johnson of Blackshear fished with his mom and dad (Ron and Lynette) at the General Coffee State Park Lake on Saturday and caught 2 bass in an hour. His biggest was a 2-pounder. Chad Lee landed 10 bass over the weekend. The biggest, a 3 1/2-pounder, inhaled a Pop-R topwater plug. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds bream are still active, with crickets producing the most. Rooster livers and worms fooled quite a few catfish. Bass fishing was fair with dark buzzbaits fooling some nice fish in the evenings.

Paradise Public Fishing Area (near Tifton) – An unbelievable number of catfish were caught at the area during the event on Saturday. Chicken livers were the most productive bait, but worms and mullet gut also fooled their share. The teens that bass fished with me on Lake Russell each caught at least one bass, and the biggest was a 3-pounder (caught by Chandler Waldron). Bass Assassin Elite Shiners in the albino and new watermelon shine colors worked well, but shaky head worms produced the most fish. The crappie bite is picking up on lake Patrick.

Saltwater (GA Coast) – On Friday, Brentz McGhin and Tim Bonvechio of Blackshear fished out of Crooked River and set the hook a bunch on their way to landing a nice mess of fish. They caught and released 21 short sheepshead and managed 5 keepers. Fiddler crabs produced their convictfish. They also drifted the ICW and flung Equalizer Floats and Sea Shads (sexy shad was their best color) for awhile and caught 3 keeper trout, a keeper redfish, a throwback redfish, and a dozen undersized trout. Remember, the trout minimum size is now 14 inches. A Waycross angler fished the St. Simons Pier on Sunday and caught a half-dozen Spanish mackerel. He said they were everywhere. He returned Tuesday morning to find the mackerel gone, but he managed 3 nice sheepshead up to 4 pounds and missed several other bites. Michael Winge reported that oversize redfish were numerous in the ICW behind Cumberland Island. The flounder bite was very consistent for those fishing mudminnows and Gulp swimming mullet fished on a jighead. The bull redfish have started to bite in the surf. The biggest reported was a 36-incher. The shrimping (cast-netting) has been slow, with mostly small shrimp reported. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported that the big news of the weekend was the shrimp boat that got its outriggers and nets tangled in the lights and railing on Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, nobody was injured, but the pier suffered some mostly cosmetic damage. The fishing was much better than that captain’s luck! Bull redfish catches have been numerous. Fish from 36 to 45 inches were landed on cut bait. Bull whiting have also been eating cut bait. Flounder from 14 to 18 inches were caught on mudminnows, as were trout up to 18 inches. Anglers dabbling fiddlers around the pilings landed sheepshead. Blue crabs were caught in big numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.

Best Bet: The wind forecast for the coast is very mild at the time of writing this, so take your pick where you want to fish this weekend. Trout and redfish are great options inshore, and bull redfish, Spanish mackerel, and whiting get the nod if you can get to the sounds. In freshwater, a float trip on the Satilla would produce lots of redbreasts, bream, and bass. Fling panfish spinnerbaits, pitch crickets, and throw buzzbaits or floating worms and you should have a nice mess of fish at the end of the day. The swamp bite should remain wide open if you pitch sallies to shoreline vegetation and trees or fling in-line spinners down the middle of the canal. The Altamaha and Ocmulgee rivers are low, but the fish will chow when you get to them, whether you fish for panfish or bass.

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Wyatt Crews kayaked his way to a big bass earlier this month. The 5 1/2-pounder inhaled a quad-blade buzzbait fished in a Waycross area lake. The buzzbait bite will slow next month, but it is wide open right now.
DNR's Jim Page with flatheads from the lower Satilla.

Flathead Control Also Crucial on Lower Satilla

Mid-afternoon under a searing August sun is no time to fish the lower Satilla River.

But Jim Page, Jason Mitchell and Ed Zmarzly aren’t exactly fishing. With long-poled nets and boats trailing voltage-packing cables, the DNR crew is searching for an aquatic invader: flathead catfish.

Continue reading “Flathead Control Also Crucial on Lower Satilla”

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Georgia’s First Youth-Focused Wildlife Management Area

This post is part of a series by DNR intern Mishay Allen about the Wildlife Resources Division’s Game Management Section.

DCIM100GOPROBuck Shoals Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is the first WMA in Georgia that is solely focused on youth hunting opportunities. Its small size and other natural features make it
the perfect place for Georgia’s youth to learn to hunt. In addition to dove hunts, there are deer, bear, turkey and small game hunts that will all take place this hunting season. Continue reading “Georgia’s First Youth-Focused Wildlife Management Area”

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Georgia Fishing Report: September 16, 2016

Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (full, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is good.  Rocky points are great all day locations but be sure there are bait schools in the area.  The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology can sweep these areas and show you the schools of bait and the fish close by.  Small crank baits and Super Flukes are working.  Also use any color worm in shades of green.  Also use the spinner bait along with a variety of crank baits and an occasional top-water bait all day.  Shad Raps up in the rivers where current is present or the windblown points and banks is good.  On the full moon, Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: September 16, 2016”

Daniel Johnson of Alma caught his personal best bass, this 8.6-pounder, on Friday evening on the last cast before dark on a Big Bite plastic crawfish.

Georgia Fishing Report: September 9, 2016

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Southwest Georgia

North Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Pat Snellings)

Winter Water — Fueling North Georgia’s Summer Coolwater Fisheries

The dog days of summer might try to keep you from hitting your favorite fishing spots, but during this time some of your best fishing opportunities are available across north Georgia. Hot summer days raise the surface water temperature of a lake, but below the surface something interesting is happening — stratification.   And, because of that stratification, in the depths of a lake lies winter water. Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: September 9, 2016”

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Banding Ducks on the Altamaha River

This post is part of a series by DNR intern Mishay Allen about the Wildlife Resources Division’s Game Management Section.

Wildlife biologists band ducks every year to gain important insight on waterfowl movements, harvests and survival rates. I was lucky enough to take part in one of these capture and banding trips recently. The opportunity to experience this first-hand made for a night I’ll never forget! Continue reading “Banding Ducks on the Altamaha River”

Crabbing is a fun family pursuit for the holiday weekend. The Bonvechio family (left to right: Lily, Tim, Hannah and Kim – the photographer) loves catching crabs with hand-lines on the Georgia coast.

Georgia Fishing Report: September 2, 2016

Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (full, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  There is a fair jig bite first thing in the morning just inside the mouth of Beaverdam Creek.  Use the 1/2 ounce jigs on a rocky bottom in ten to fifteen feet of water.  Have the Carolina rig ready and use it on the main lake points.  The south end of the lake is slow.  The Savannah River and Rocky River is the best area.  Finding structure on the ledges near deep water will be best.  Use the Lowrance Down Scan technology to find more fish spread out across the bottom.  An occasional top-water bite is not out of the question even with the warm water.  Fish east bank side of the rivers first.  As the sun comes up, this will be in the shade longer and hold more bass.

Clarks Hill (down 4.7 feet, 90’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Early in the mornings, head up into the rivers and bigger creeks.  Try downsizing small finesse worms on a drop shot rig and light Carolina rigs.  Fish along the channel ledges and use Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: September 2, 2016”

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Georgia Fishing Report: August 26, 2016

Coastal Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Coastal Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries Biologists Tim Barrett and Joel Fleming, and region Fisheries staff)

Savannah River:

Catfish: It’s time for catfish!  Catfish have been the focus for anglers over the last several weeks.  Some anglers are reporting that catfishing in the river may be the best they have seen it in over 15 years.  Catches of 50+ small to medium-sized channel catfish are not uncommon in many areas of the river.  These fish are being caught on primarily worms, fished on the bottom.  Anglers targeting larger channel catfish are fishing on sandbars in the evenings using cut or whole shad as bait.  Fish well over 15 pounds are not uncommon when targeting these larger fish.  Bush hooks, baited with cut bait, have also been very productive. Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: August 26, 2016”

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Georgia Fishing Report: August 19, 2016

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

North Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)

The summer heat continues and, like the weather, this week’s fishing report sounds like a broken record.  Headwater trout, tailwater trout, and deep stripers (see Ken’s reports) are our best bets.  Reservoir bass are decent if you go early, or run around the lake and drop-shot brushy humps to find the few in each school with appetites.  River bass are good during those clear windows between the muddy water slugs from afternoon thunderstorms.  The good news is that our lawns are once again green.  The bad news is that we have to cut them, after a month-long break from that chore.  The best news follows. Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: August 19, 2016”

Blake Yarbrough landed and released this monster redfish in the Sapelo Island area over the weekend. The redfish bite in the sounds will pick up as we move toward their fall spawning time.

Georgia Fishing Report: August 12, 2016

Central Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Southwest Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (full, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing during the day is slowly improving.  A few bass are still attacking various styles of Shad Raps with the Glass and Jointed Shad Raps working well.  Change colors when the bass are small in size or the action gets slow.  A great place to find active bass is way up in the Savannah River. While in the moving water, use a small all-black buzz bait on a braid and work it right up next to any Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: August 12, 2016”