Georgia Fishing Report: Labor Day Weekend 2015

North Georgia

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

Rainbow trout caught at Dukes Creek.

Rainbow trout caught at Dukes Creek.

While we’re approaching fall, we’ve had a slight relapse to warm summer temperatures this week.  Still, my calendar now says September and that means fall in my outdoor notebook.  And fall means hunting season.  All of our sport fish species must have also flipped their calendar page, because they’re acting like it’s already fall instead of the dog days of summer, and they’re a bit friskier.

The hunting season analogy is very true for us anglers, as well.  Folks who are fishing right now are doing just that –they are fishing.  In other words, they are flailing and failing.  Sure, the weather, water, and woods are nice, so the fishing trips are still fun.  But to most of us, fishing trips are much funner when they are catching trips.  So how do we catch instead of simply fish?

Listen up:  it’s not the fishers who are catching; it’s the hunters.  The bottom line right now is for anglers to seek out and stalk their quarry, with stealth.  Those who hunt out and locate their target species are doing all the catching.  They spend much more time trying to find their quarry and then stalking their targets with specific equipment and techniques that are highly successful.

And the rest of us fish and claim, “what a nice day to be out of work and on the water.”  That’s just code for “haven’t caught much!”

So this week’s tip is to study the following reports and not focus on the harvests, but on the hunting aspects to them.  Study the habits of successful hunters, as well as the habits of their prey, and you’ll also enhance your harvest.  It’s fall!   Hunting season is here, so learn from these experts and:

Be the hunter!!!!   You’ll catch more fish.

Best bets:

  • Stocked trout – last call
  • Headwater wild trout
  • Drop-shotting spotted bass
  • Deep-spooning stripers
Trout stocking truck loading Aug 2015 resized

Staff loading up the truck to stock some trout ahead of the Labor Day Weekend!

Here we go…

Stocker Best Bets – “This week is the last week of the regular trout stocking season in Georgia. Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will work together to distribute more than 30,000 trout in 17 counties. Fishing early in the day when streams are still cool will lead to increased catch rates. Some of the best bets are; Johns Creek in Floyd County, Toccoa River below Lake Blueridge, Cooper Creek in Union County, Dicks Creek in Lumpkin County, and Wildcat Creek in Rabun County. Visit our website at www.georgiawildlife.com for more information and to purchase a fishing license and a trout stamp.” – John Lee Thomson, Stocking Coordinator

I Paid My Dues – “I went to Dukes again today and finally landed a good size trout. I must have paid enough dues for that one. Caught two others too. Thanks again to that Dredger guy for all the pointers and fishing on July 4th. I plan on making it to the Unicoi OAD volunteer day too.” –Ryan B, aka “(No Longer) In Search of Trout”

Sneaking Up on Headwater Rainbows – Headwater trout fishing for small, wild rainbows, brooks, and browns is very good right now.  WRD staffers Mark Whitney and Jeff Durniak had a blast last Saturday morning on an “unnamed headwater stream high above Helen” and offer the following tips to blueline fishing fans.

They say to “bring your lucky seven:”

  • stealth
  • a six foot rod
  • a six foot leader
  • a spool of 4x tippet
  • three size 16 tan elk hair caddis flies
  • gardening kneepads
  • a friend with a camera!

More tips can be found here and here.

Nuther Hooch Wall-Hanger! – This hunter spent a lot of time scouting during the last few months.  He also hunted and bagged nothing, but learned a little more on each trip.  And he’s finally bagged the aquatic equivalent for a fourteen point buck!

Young Browniez reminds me of ole Crigger

“Hunting” Reservoirs – Today’s interview:

Lake Lanier profiles

  • Browns Bridge
  • Forebay
  • Hint- don’t wait until the lakes cool off next month and your presently confined quarry spreads out to every acre with water on it.

Nottely profiles

Successful Striper Hunters!

And Lake Bass Hunters

Nice redeye caught on the Chattooga.

Nice redeye caught on the Chattooga.

River Bassers

  • Rabunite Kidd read last week’s Border River report, applied the tips, and had a good time himself down below his coveted trout waters.  He caught a real good’un, pictured above, on a popper.
  • Reliable Source traveled across the border and found a bunch of river smallmouth against the bank, under the shade of the tree limbs, ready to pounce on a small black/yellow Davenport DP slider, tossed on a five-weight fly rod.
  • Landon continues to put a lickin’ on us old Hooch coots.

More Hunting Grounds? – Read about LWCF and decide for yourself.

On your mark, get set, GO!!! – Video

 

Good luck “hunting” for your fish on this nice, long Labor Day weekend.  Thanks for buying your licenses and tackle and supporting our agency operations.

Central Georgia

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

 

Clarks Hill Lake (down 3.5 feet, clear, mid 80s) – Bass fishing has slowed during the heat of the day.  Bass are relating to deep water and are coming up to feed during the major feeding times.  During the mid-day feeding period there is some surface activity.  The Alabama rig is still getting some fish but they are usually smaller bass.  Use the Pop R and the Rico in shad and take an olive green Fat Free Shad and work it with short jerks all the way back to the boat.  Some of these bass will break the surface in twenty to forty feet of water so don’t be afraid to cast off the other side of the boat into deeper water.  Locating a long narrow run-out point on your map will be a good place to start fishing the first thing in the morning.  Also continue to fish those stump rolls in twelve to twenty feet of water with big spinner baits, Rapala DT16’s, jigs or Carolina rigs.  Getting the crank-baits down and letting them bounce off any structure will usually trigger a strike.

Flat Creek PFA – The lake level continues to drop during this hot dry summer, and unless Flat Creek gets a lot of rain, the level is expected to keep dropping as evaporation continues.  The algal bloom is still healthy and you will find the water to have a dark green tint to it.  Darker colored lures will be a better option for all fish right now due to the lower visibility. Crappie are biting near the fishing pier in the early morning and late evening hours but are pretty sluggish with a very light bite.  Catfish and bream are biting really well right now on red wiggler worms.  Worms seem to be the “go-to” bait right now for most fishes caught; however the Glow worms (green tinted nightcrawlers) were not very successful. The cooler hours of morning and evening seems to be the best time to get a bass.  A large bass was taken during August and more large bass have been reported.

Bass: Dark colored Zoom Trick Worms, and Zoom Centipede worms, fished shallow (2-3’) in the mornings and evenings, and dark colored lipless crank baits fished in 6-8 foot of water.

Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Worms on a Texas rig.  Crickets fished 6-7 feet beneath a very small float.

Channel Catfish: Worms fished on a Carolina Rig. Chicken livers fished deep.

Crappie: Minnows fished close to the fishing pier. Light, live action jigs fished with very light tackle to feel the slightest bite.

Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

Jackson Lake (down 1.1 feet, clear, mid 80s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Depending on the conditions and what is going on with the food chain you may find some better than average summer fishing.  Fish deep structure in or near the main lake, or seek cooler water up the rivers.  Target main lake points, the bluffs any hump at 12 to 15 feet with brush, bridge pilings and docks.  Put to use shakey heads, heavy compact jigs, and deep running crank-baits through the day.  Hot weather has many fish hunkered down in deep water, suspended, or roaming with shad in open water.  Early in the day, throw a Rico or other top water bait on the deep sea walls or at open water opportunities.  We may see more Mayfly hatches resulting in shallow fishing opportunities.  Bream move up on the insects and big bass move up on the bream.  The hatches are off and on, but the possibility exists that we will see some more hatches.  When the hatch concentrates, it is a prime opportunity to catch quality fish in shallow warm water.  Many baits may catch them, but top-water fishing with a Rico or Pop R can be hard to beat.  Also try swimming a green jig.  Look up the rivers, late in the afternoon for possible hatches.  Good fish can bite at night on the lights.

Marben PFA Largemouth Bass: Similar challenges for anglers targeting bass remain at least for the first part of September.  However, anglers willing to test the waters in early morning or right before sunset might be surprised with a bass being caught in the shallows.  Hot water techniques are still recommended if targeting bass until mid-September.  Popular lures anglers should try are crank baits and other deeper water lures.  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.  As temperatures cool in the later part of September, look for bass to remain in the shallows longer and most importantly the “bite” to pick up.

Bream: Bream are the most popular fish targeted at Marben PFA.  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.  There have also been reports of anglers using micro lures to catch hand-sized bream.  Most of the bream caught have been in six to eight 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.  Anglers are most successful using worms, liver and stink bait.  A handy shade tree seems to be important too!

Crappie: Crappie fishing remains slow and more than likely will until October.  Anglers may see the crappie “bite” tends to pick up as late evening approaches.  Even though the “bite” picks up, the window for catching crappie in the evening is small.  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.  Remember, once the crappie start biting keep at it, this frenzy will be short lived in these warm temperatures!

  • Remember early morning and late evenings remain the best times at Marben PFA.
  • Mid to late September expect the “bite” of all species to pick up
  • Temperatures remain hot at Marben PFA.  Sunscreen, plenty of water and ice are necessary. Don’t forget the picnic lunch!!

Additional Information:  http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/CharlieElliott

Lake Oconee (full, light stain up rivers and on main lake, 85-88 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair.  At first light start with a buzz-bait and fish it along the sea walls in the mid-lake area of the lake.  This will last for the first hour of day light.  Fish are on the humps on the south end of the lake and in Richland Creek.  A Carolina rig worm fished on these humps will draw a strike.  You can also use a large crank-bait and work the down lake side of the humps.  You can also find some fish under deep boat docks. Target these docks early in the mornings.  Shaky heads have been the best producers on these deep docks.

“Striper fishing is slow.  There is a top-water bite for the first two hours of day light.  Use a popping cork or an inline spinner.  Another good choice is a silver or white spoon fished into the schools that are blowing up on the top.” – Cpt. Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service

Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves.  They have moved into the timber and you can find them with your Lowrance in the top of the trees.  When you find them drop a live minnow into the school and start catching.

Lake Russell (down 2.2 feet, clear, mid 80s) – Bass fishing is fair.  It is now off-shore time as the fish go to the summer pattern.  Top-water Chug Bugs are still working early off the points and in the mouth of the larger coves.  Fish the upper end around Pickens Creek and look for some schoolers.  In the very back of Pickens Creek and at the bridge at Sanders Ferry there are all spots.  Use the flukes and the 85 Sammy and anything is shad patterns.  Beaver Dam Creek from the mouth to about midway back is still producing nice bass.  Early in the morning start off with the top-water Chugs and alternate with suspending Shad Raps in the natural shad color.  One substitute for the RS Shad Rap will be the no. 5 jointed Shad Rap.  Either one is producing but make sure you throw the natural shad color.  Work the islands and all the points at the mouth of Beaver Dam and even up the Savannah under the rail road ridge for about a mile.  No need to travel any further than a couple of miles from the 72 ramp for some good fishing.  Later in the day, many anglers are relying on soft plastics like Zoom finesse worms.  Rig them on a 3/16 ounce bullet weight Texas rig on a medium heavy rod and 12 pound Sufix Elite line.  Ten pound can be substituted for the twelve.  Look for isolated targets like large rocks and wood when throwing the Texas rig.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained up river, main lake clear, 89 degrees) – Bass fishing is good.  Top-water baits continue to produce a few fish, including large bass, during early morning.  Expect only 1 to 4 blow-ups per morning for the angler that chunks top water baits the first 2 hours.  Most bites are along main river banks, some around no apparent cover, while others are around blow downs, stumps, grass, rocks, and seawalls.  The key to success is determining the best type bait, which can change daily.  Some proven baits are buzz-baits, Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, Spooks, Torpedo, and Dalton Special.  Flukes and weightless Trick worms haven’t produced recently, but are worth trying.  Rip rap and bridge supports continue to hold a few bass.  The points of riprap on both sides of bridges can hold feeding fish, especially during power generation.  Crank-baits, lightweight Texas rigs, and jig-head and worm rigs have been the producers.  Fishing docks and boat houses has gotten real tough.  The best chance of success is to scale down to smaller soft plastics and fish each dock very slowly.  A few bass can still be caught by finding them in open water along underwater points, humps, and ledges.  Depths are mostly from 10 to 15 feet, although depths may be shallower way up the rivers or deeper in the lower lake area.  Deep crank-baits and Carolina rigs are the mainstays.  Fat Free Shads in size ¾ ounce (#7) have been good, along with Bill Norman DD22’s and the cedar shad Poe’s 400.  Both chartreuse and shad patterns have worked for any of the baits.  Zoom Trick worms in green pumpkin, green pumpkin red, and June bug have worked well on the Carolina rig.’

Drawdown information: Oconee/Sinclair Land Office: 706-484-7500 Lake Sinclair: Oct. 18-Dec. 1, 2015: 4.5 feet

West Point Lake (down 1.7 feet, clear, mid 80s) – Bass fishing is good.  Fish are really spread out in two groups.  The top-water bite is on fire first thing in the morning on points and lay-downs.  Buzz baits, Spooks, and Pop R’s are producing when cast very close to cover and then slowly worked back to the boat.  There are a few May fly’s left going up the river that are producing some better fish early in the day as well.  Pitch jigs close to overhanging limbs with bream present.  These fish have been highly pressured so work the bait slowly.  The strike zone will be in the first five feet of the overhanging limbs.  Once the sun is high focus on docks and lay-downs near the mouth of pockets with green pumpkin a Z Man floating worm.  The Z Man floating worm will stand up on a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce shaky head so do not be afraid to let this bait soak to catch larger fish.  The best points and lay downs are from the 109 bridge north going up the river.  During generation periods use deep-diving crank-baits on humps and road beds.  You can load the boat quick with some really heavy weights during these periods of generation.

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Nathanael Johnson (left) of Blackshear caught this 10-lb., 6-oz. monster bowfin (mudfish) while fishing with his cousin Timothy Deener of Waycross on Saturday.

Nathanael Johnson (left) of Blackshear caught this 10-lb., 6-oz. monster bowfin (mudfish) while fishing with his cousin Timothy Deener of Waycross on Saturday.

Fishing in saltwater and the Okefenokee has been very good this week, and the Satilla River should be improving by the weekend. The Outdoor Adventure/J.A.K.E.S Day will be held again this year on National Hunting and Fishing Day (September 26). All events, such as fishing, shooting, and nature shows will happen at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton. For more information, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at 912-285-6094. Last quarter moon is September 5. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Dannet at Altamaha Park said that the mullet and flathead fishing was the best this week. The last half of the outgoing tide and first couple of hours of the incoming were most productive. Some bream were also caught in the mouths of feeder creeks by those using crickets. A few crappie were caught this week, and that bite is just beginning. As the water cools this fall, that bite should take off. The river level was 4.1 feet and falling (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.7 feet and falling (82 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 1.

Okefenokee Swamp – I took my son Timothy and nephew Nathanael Johnson on Saturday during the heat of the day. We fished for under 2 hours right around noon and whacked the bowfin (mudfish). We fished the canal, casting black-chartreuse Dura-Spins and landed 19 of them, with the prize being a 10-lb., 6-oz. monster. Nathanael caught the big fish and will apply for an angler award from the GA DNR because it was over 10 pounds. We tried other colors, but all of our fish ate the black-chartreuse model. For more information about the angler award program, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com and click on “fishing”, then “angler resources”, then “angler awards”. The west side of the swamp continued to produce some good catches of catfish and warmouth. Shrimp caught most of the catfish, while yellow sallies and crickets fooled most of the warmouth. The flier bite at both entrances has been a little slower than usual because of the water being flooded back out over the prairies. When the water cools and pulls back into the canals the fliers will tear it up.

Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the rising water has slowed the bite in the middle river. Local rains in the Waycross area have the river high from Jamestown down, but the upper river above there is still fishable. I crossed the US 1 Bridge on Monday, and the level was actually low there – perfect for paddle crafts. Crickets, worms, and Satilla Spins produced redbreasts and bream in the Hwy 158 area of the river this week. A few crappie were reported in the deeper holes upriver, and minnows fooled them. Bass were caught on bright colored Trick Worms. The river level at the Waycross gage was 8.4 feet and falling (79 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.2 feet and rising on September 1.

St. Marys River – The rising river has not slowed the catfish bite. Over the weekend, a group setting lines baited with shrimp caught a slew of catfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 1st was 10.9 feet and rising.

Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds crappie were caught on minnows and jigs in the deeper holes. The fish still have not moved into the shallower waters, but that should happen once the water starts cooling. For now, fish the deepest areas in the pond. Big bream were reported by those pitching crickets. Worms and rooster livers produced the few catfish catches. Late evening has been the time to fish for bass, and shiners, topwater plugs, and rattling rogues (baby bass color) fooled them.

Best Bet: With most areas of the rivers still high, your best bet will likely be fishing the swamp or saltwater. If you like setting the hook….a lot….fish either side of the swamp and fling a Dura-Spin (in-line spinnerbait) along the grass edge or along lily pad flats and hold on. All you have to do is cast out and reel the spinner back – nothing fancy is needed. On trips I’ve made this summer, we usually catch around a dozen fish per hour, and some of them are huge. Black-chartreuse has been the most consistent color, but white and fire tiger have also produced. Expect an occasional chain pickerel (jackfish) to inhale it, as well.

Coastal Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

On Thursday, an angler fishing the Brunswick area from a poling skiff landed 3 keeper-sized redfish out of the 12 that he saw. A group of Waycross anglers fished Crooked River on Friday and caught over a dozen trout and several nice redfish (a giant broke them off, but they landed several keeper reds). Their best presentation was an Assassin Sea Shad suspended under an Equalizer Float. That float/Sea Shad bite will heat up this month, and limits will be routine. An angler fishing the St. Andrews Sound on Thursday landed a tarpon right around 100 pounds and a giant bull redfish on pogies. Several other tarpon were reported this week, with the best report I heard being an angler who landed 3 out of the 5 that he jumped. Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers reported that the flounder bite has turned on again. Mudminnows were the go-to bait for the flatties. Whiting were caught in the sounds and deep holes in the river using shrimp and squid. Black drum were caught around hard cover by those using shrimp and squid. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that this week the pier fishing was good for redfish, trout, and flounder. Fiddler crabs and barnacles also fooled some sheepshead from around the pilings. Shrimping improved this week for those flinging cast nets. Blue crabs were still abundant. Monitor the marine forecast.

Best Bet: In saltwater, tarpon are still around and flounder have been in good numbers lately.

 

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 27, 2015

North Georgia

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

Even during the middle of the day, in mid-80s degree temps and bright skies, the Chattooga has plenty to offer (photo by Mark Whitney)

Even during the middle of the day, in mid-80s degree temps and bright skies, the Chattooga has plenty to offer (photo by Mark Whitney)

Recent days weren’t brutally hot, and some of the nights up here have been refreshingly cool.  Could this be our first hint of fall?  Maybe we’re turning the corner.  Evidently the fish have liked this break in the summer heat, as the reports of success have increased substantially over the last two weeks.  Take a look and decide whether or not to terminate your own summer siesta.

Red Minnows? – Enjoy the explanation and the video.

New Kiosk – Learn more about wildlife license plates here.

Trouting TipChoke Up, and then Swing for the Fences! A lot of times you’ll strike out, but sometimes you’ll hit a homer, like this Hooch angler did with another awesome tailwater brown trout. Hint- they don’t grow big eating size 20 midges.

Headwaters Still Good

Stocker Best Bets – Trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson suggests these weekend destinations: Hooch and Blue Ridge tailwaters, Tallulah, Wildcat, Rock, Cooper, Boggs and Dicks.  Cover more water, since stocking rates are less than the spring tossings.

Chattooga Bass and Bream – Even during the middle of the day, in mid-80s degree temps and bright skies, the Chattooga has plenty to offer: solitude;cool, clear water; butterflies on wildflowers; and fish.  Tossing to the shade with white & chartreuse poppers, twitching the rod tip and waiting brought the fish to the surface in the middle of the day.  Most fish were in 2-6 feet of water, so finding slow, deeper pockets in an already minimum flow stream was key.  Had a good time but missed the company.  View pics here. Maps here.” – Sautee

Lake Burton Trout –

“Hello Jeff,  I hope you’re able to stay cool in this heat..although looks like we are getting a bit a of a break this week :-)

We were up on Burton last week with friends and family.  Was an absolutely gorgeous week in Rabun County!  We fished when we could for the elusive Burton Brown trout and it lived up to it’s name…elusive…at least for us trollers.  We tried early morning…no luck but a couple of nice spots (my Sister In-law Lisa from NC got a nice one) .  We tried the last two hours of sunlight…no luck.  We tried mid afternoon…no luck.  Come Friday, I took my Nephew Matt and his Dad out around 11 am to try and get him on a fish as he had to head back to college that afternoon.  We trolled for about 1.5 hrs with no hits whatsoever.  We were about to call it quits when the drag on my deep line started singing.  All indications were that it was a trout and a decent one at that.  Matt was able to bring her close to the boat, but she just kept digging deep with vicious sweeping head shakes.  Matt did a great job fighting this fish…it was a stale mate for a while, but he took his time and just kept perfect pressure on the light flouro leader.  The fish would come up a bit, but dive back deep to the cooler water and shale her head like crazy and Matt followed the lead of the fish.  Eventually Matt’s patience won out bringing this nice 5.5 lb’er to the net….his first brown trout and a nice one at that!

We were trolling three lines from 20-38 feet deep about 2.5 mph.  The bass hit the shallow baits, the one decent trout hit the deep bait at about 12:30 in the afternoon in the fore bay of the dam.  Lures of choice were pointers of various sizes, although we tried spoons and other crank baits with little action.  Top water was virtually nonexistent.  One other note worthy item…we saw several bears during the week…on land and swimming which was cool.  I think it’s going to be a good season for the NE GA bear hunters this year. Please feel free to include this report in your report.” – Chris C.

Lanier Striper Reports

Hot Bait: BIG Spoons – You’ll need a stout rod and a good orthopedic surgeon to consistently toss these slabs of metal.

Whopper Lanier Cat

Patrick’s Moving On and Up! – Please join me in congratulating our office mate, Patrick, on his new career opportunity:

“Colleagues, Partners, and Friends:

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my impending departure from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.  It isn’t often that a new biologist gets to work on the rivers and lakes that he grew up fishing, and that has helped me bring a lot of professional passion to my work in the past five-plus years.  It has been a pleasure working with everyone to manage and improve our fisheries, and I have the utmost confidence that whoever fills my position will continue the great work we’ve been doing in the Gainesville office.

On September 14, I will begin working for Georgia Power as a fisheries biologist.  For many of you, we will still be working together, I’ll just be wearing a different shirt.  I look forward to new professional challenges and continuing some great personal relationships in this capacity.

Should all go according to plan, my last day with WRD will be Wednesday, September 9th…. I’ll still be around in the Gainesville area and hope to be able to check in and serve as a source of historical reference from time to time for my successor.

Thank you all for everything we’ve done together, and I look forward to seeing all of you again soon.” – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Passing of a Georgia LegendTU’s Garland Stewart

Thanks for clean, cold water and excited young trout fishers, Griz!  The attached photo of you helping our youth at Outdoor Adventure Day was a classic Griz moment.

Good luck as we all anticipate the change of season.  Life is about change and how we welcome the new opportunities presented by it, while cherishing our memories of good times together.

Central Georgia

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

Big Lazer PFA – Largemouth bass: Slow – Bass fishing has slowed because of the very hot temperatures. However, a few can still be caught in deeper water. Anglers should try a shad look-alike in 3 to 8 feet of water and fish out from the bank at least five feet. During the day fish for bass in and around heavy cover. Sometimes, several larger bass and be found in the shade of the fishing pier. Feeding bass will be most active during the early morning and later in the evening. Try bass fishing with shallow presentation of crank baits and plastic-worms.Bass: June Bug Zoom Trick Worms, Green Pumpkin Zoom Centipede worms, fished shallow (2-3’) in the mornings and evenings, and lipless crank baits fished in 6-8 foot of water.

Bream: Good – Bream fishing is good. Most bream are close-in to the banks and seeking shady cover to keep cool. Crickets and worms are excellent live bait for bream. Also, small grubs like plastic jigs can work well anytime of the year; try black, white, and chartreuse colors. Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting. However, make sure the hooks are small because the bream have small mouths.Crappie: Minnows fished close to the fishing pier.

Channel catfish: Good- The rocks along the dam are always a good spot to try and catch big channel cats. However, cat fishing has been good in deeper water over much of the lake. Some catfish are being caught on cut bait and shrimp as well as worms and livers.

In general, August and September hot temperatures and lack of rain make fishing at Big Lazer challenging. But, cooler temperatures are on the way, which will improve the bite. Look for improved fishing in middle to late September. Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer

Clarks Hill Lake (down 4.3 feet, clear, high 80s) –Bass fishing is fair and the fish are widely scattered all over the lake. The pattern of one day being excellent and then the next being only fair continues. This on-and-off pattern will continue for a few more weeks. The top-water bite is fair from safe light until shortly after sunrise. Use a variety of Storm Chug Bugs and Rapala Skitter Props to entice the bite. Some small schooling bait-fish are still rising in shallow waters and off the points early in the mornings. Make sure to have a top-water bait rigged and ready to cast when you spot the bait fish. Bass seem to be a little more active up in the rivers than they are on the main lake. Current is the key factor here. Slow-crank a Rapala DT6 or the Bandit 200 in the bream or shad patterns. Also try the RS Shad Rap in a crawfish pattern and keep your boat moving. Watch the points mid-lake as the bass will force some shad up to the rocks and they will take a small popping lure like the Pop R.

Jackson Lake (down 2.3 feet, clear, high 80s) – Bass fishing is fair on worms and jigs on the trees and docks. Concentrate on stumps on the points and run the all-white Fat Free Shad crank bait and crank them really fast. Then use Texas rigged Zoom red shad or Culprit black shad worm and peg the sinker and swim this bait right by the heavy structure and then drop it right nest the stumps. The bass are holding on summer locations including main lake and secondary creek points. Start the day with a slow moving bait and a Zoom pumpkinseed lizard on a short Carolina rig. Do not fish the bait too fast. Then use a watermelon trick worm tight on cover after the sun warms the coves and docks. Then try the Strike King 38 Special all-white spinner bait. Slow roll this lure on the banks and use a large willow-leaf blade in all white. It’s best to keep the spinner bait as close to the wood and docks. Up-lake, work this same lure on thick bank cover. The blue pumpkin Culprit lizard on a Texas rig is very good on docks and points. Add a Venom glass rattle in the lizard. Any time of the day use a green trick worm and cast around docks down lake and let it sink out of sight. A dark Strike King jig in black or browns and a crawfish Uncle Josh will catch some fish and swim the bait off the wood and then drop them. Bass love jigs this time of the year.

McDuffie PFA Largemouth Bass: Fair due to hot weather – All legal Bass on McDuffie PFA must be 14 inches in length. Most of the bass on the PFA are beginning change from their summer pattern which means they are feeding during early morning and whenever the shad and other bait fish provide them an opportunity to feed. Overall, Bass fishing has been slowly improving and probably will really pick up as the weather cools. Willow is still giving up keeper bass. Willow Lake remains the lake with most potential for quality and quantity. The PFA’s shad population is still recovering from a winterkill with no big schools showing up yet in any of the seven lakes. Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month. Rodbender is currently closed until the 1st of September. This lake has been setup with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass. Many of the PFA’s fishermen are trying new baits or fall back on the old standby plastic worms to catch feeding Bass.

Bream: Fair – Best ponds have been Bridge, Willow, and Jones for good catches. Willow is still giving up some good Shellcracker sunfish and bluegill. The fishermen were fishing on the bottom. The Bream should be on bed during next full moon in September and can be found around structure and aquatic plants where there is a firm sandy bottom. The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under floats. Patience is the key when fishing for bream on beds. Bream fishermen may also have success using small hard baits, jigs, and beetle spins on ultralight tackle during the waning dog-days of summer.

Channel Catfish: Good – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Willow, and Bridge in order of best catches reported or seen by area staff. Catfish are biting well as they like warmer water temperatures. The catfish bite is really hot during the last hours of daylight. The best fishing is on the bottom in shallow to deep water using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets. Bream fishermen also report catching catfish while fishing with crickets in shallow water.

Striped Bass: Poor due to hot water temperatures – Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse. Even the Smaller stripers are not biting yet in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse Lake. During the fall the stripers will begin to feed heavily on whatever forage species are present in the lake and should provide some exciting fishing.

Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.org/PFA/McDuffie

Lake Oconee (full, light stain up rivers, clear on main lake, 88-93 degrees) – Bass fishing is poor. The mid-lake area of the lake has been the most productive over the past week. Fish are on the humps on the south end of the lake and in Richland Creek. A Carolina-rigged worm fished on these humps will draw a strike. You can also use a large crank-bait and work the down lake side of the humps. We are in a summer pattern so start thinking deep. You can also find some fish under deep boat docks. I would target these docks early in the mornings. Shaky heads have been the best producers on these deep docks.

“Striper fishing is slow. There is a top-water bite for the first two hours of day light. Use a popping cork or an inline spinner. Another good choice is a silver or white spoon fished into the schools that are blowing up on the top.” – Cpt. Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service

Crappie fishing is good. The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves. They have moved into the timber and you can find them with your Lowrance in the top of the trees. When you find them drop a live minnow into the school and start catching.

Drawdown information: Oconee/Sinclair Land Office: 706 484 7500 Lake Sinclair: Oct. 18-Dec. 1, 2015: 4.5 feet

Lake Russell (full, clear, high 80s) –Bass fishing is fair but the heat of the day pushes the bait and the bass to deeper water. Spend all day with a variety of crank baits especially early to mid day. The best bait has been the Rapala DT 10, DT14 and the jointed Shad Raps. Be sure the baits are shad patterns. Make long casts into shallow water at the islan ds and points that have channel markers closest to them. The bass will set up just out of the current. On the deeper points try using the DT10 in a shad and baby bass color. Use the Jointed Shad Raps on the sides of the points and on the flats. Use a long rod at 6’6″ or a 7 foot medium action cranking rod filled with 10 pound Sufix Elite line. Keep a small Zara Spook ready and make a few casts to any point or ledge before leaving the area.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained up river, main lake clear, 89 degrees) – “Bass fishing is fair but it is an early and late day bite. Some fish are still hitting on top first thing in the morning. Most fish continue to be located along main river banks and a short distance inside the mouth of coves. Most any top-water lure can work, but Pop R’s, Chug Bugs, and buzz baits have all scored well recently. A few fish are hitting spinner baits, mainly around blow downs and grass. A weightless Zoom Trick worm in white could also draw a couple bites from the same cover. Docks and brush piles are still holding a few bass that are hitting mostly soft plastics. Depths are varying from about 5 to 12 feet deep. Rip rap is still producing bass especially during power generation. Crank baits like a Rapala DT10 and Fat Free Shad #6 have been the primary baits of choice. Lightweight Texas rigs and jig head and worm rigs will produce a few fish during slack water periods. Fish these baits along the rip rap and along the bridge supports. Crank-baits can also be the ticket at times, mainly during current flows. Some good choices are Poe’s 400, Fat Free Shad #7, Mann’s 20 Plus, and DD22’s. Most any chartreuse combination should work.” – Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina

Drawdown information: Oconee/Sinclair Land Office: 706-484-7500 Lake Sinclair: Oct. 18-Dec. 1, 2015: 4.5 feet

West Point Lake (down 2.9 feet, clear, low 90s) – “Bass fishing is fair. It’s not a great bite but the fish are feeding early and late. Zoom’s pumpkinseed lizard either on a Texas or Carolina rig. Live lizards and bass minnows are fair on points in Yellow Jacket Creek. Up river dark jig and craw worms on the heavy bank cover or a buzz bait can get a strike. Stay close to the river current on points at 8 to 17 feet. Just think deep the rest of the summer for bass in the middle of the day. In the rivers the bass are on the creek bends and they will bite Zoom gourd green u tails on a Texas or Carolina rig. Small weights work best as the bass hold on to the worm and not move off with it. On the main lake points and around the dam use the shad colored Sluggo’s over any bank cover. Later each day go to the Rat L Traps in smaller sizes in blue shad or baby bass. The main lake point at the mouth of Bird Creek is a good area to fish this week. A deep water channel almost touches this point and the bass will hold right on the ledge. Using a Rapala DT14 or 16 along the edge at this point will catch these bass. Make a long cast and get the bait to slowly hit and bounce off the bottom rocks. Use a slow, but steady retrieve while fishing during the hot summer months. There is a good top-water bite in the middle of the main lake creeks early and late. The rocks around the Yellow Jacket Creek Bridge are good summer crank bait areas. Use a long 3-foot leader on the Carolina rig and a full one ounce weight all day on the road beds and pond dams down-lake. The fish are not any deeper than 15 feet all over the lake. Shad-colored crank baits in bone and blue and green colors are fair on light line on points. Shad Raps in the shad and carp colors on 10 pound test line are also good. Rat L Traps in the chrome blue backs and smoke shiner colors has been good. Make a lot of casts in the middle of the lower lake creeks all day. Cast them right on the bank and hit the old pond dams also.” – Jimbo Mathley

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The number of anglers fishing this week has been low, but those who went did very well, especially in saltwater. Full Moon is August 29th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

This 5-pound bass ate a Dura-Spin fished around the edge of vegetation.

This 5-pound bass ate a Dura-Spin fished around the edge of vegetation.

Altamaha River – The reports were sparse, but the best ones were by anglers fishing the oxbow lakes for bream. Some reported catching limits, and many were big bream. Crickets and worms were the best approach.  The river level was 3.5 feet and rising (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.8 feet and rising (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Aug. 25.

Okefenokee Swamp – The west side has been pumping out great catches of catfish in the swamp and also the Suwannee River below the Sill. Lots of warmouth were also caught on yellow sallies and crickets in the river below the Sill. Almost nobody has been fishing the east side, and I had no reports from trips on that side.

Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the rising water this week slowed the bite, but the few who went still caught some fish. Redbreasts were caught on worms, crickets, and spinnerbaits. On Saturday, an angler reported their group catching 6 big redbreasts by fishing worms on the bottom. Bass have been biting well in the Waycross area. They have been eating Rattling Rogue minnow plugs and Trick Worms. The catfish bite should be consistent over the weekend. The river level at the Waycross gage was 6.7 feet and falling (82 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.8 feet and rising on Aug. 25.

Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds the few anglers who went reported catching bream on crickets. The slightly cooler weather late in the week should make it a little more bearable to get out in the sun. Early and late will be the deal for the next couple of weeks. 

Best Bet – In freshwater, throwing Dura-Spins for Okefenokee Swamp bowfin is a sure bet for line-stretching fun. In the rivers, catfishing is still your best bet.   

Coastal Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Justin Bythwood, Ed Zmarzly, and Michael Deen fished the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday morning and whacked the redfish and a mixed bag of other species. They had several oversized reds that they released, 4 keeper redfish, two flounder, and a few trout and LOTS of undersized black sea bass. Their best presentation was an Assassin Sea Shad skewered on a 5/8-oz. Jetty Jig jighead. They caught them on several colors (color did not seem to matter much – it was a matter of keeping it down near the bottom). Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers reported a great trout bite a Crooked River. A couple of anglers said they caught their limit on live shrimp on Saturday. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that this week the pier fishing was good for keeper redfish, trout, flounder, whiting and croaker. Dead shrimp or cut baitfish fished on the bottom was the most consistent. Blue crabs were under the pier in great numbers. Monitor the marine forecast.

Best Bet – This is the best time of the year to catch a big tarpon. We have 100-plus pounders roaming our coast all summer, and they sit in the sounds marauding baitfish schools. Fish a spread of pogies and/or mullet around baitfish schools and hold on. Make sure to bow to the (silver) king, because if they jump and land on your line and you keep pressure on the fish, they’ll pop your line like sewing thread. The best bite for me over the years has been around the high tide (usually right after it turns to go back out).  

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: Aug. 11, 2015

 

North Georgia

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

Shoal bass caught in the Chattahoochee on Aug. 3, 2015

Shoal bass caught in the Chattahoochee on Aug. 3, 2015

No, we did not have another record fish caught this past week.  Rather, the weather report and fishing predictions will again sound very familiar.  Bear with us as we endure the second half of our summer dog days.  There are still some great locales to wet a line at the right time of day and have a blast, so peek at this light summer menu and pick an appealing entrée for Saturday.  Don’t miss Patrick’s blog on reservoir profiles.  He’ll put you on more fish this summer!

JAWS! – In case some of you haven’t seen the whopper Hooch brown trout video yet, here it is.

Who among you has seven-inch Yozuris in “rainbow trout” attire and six-inch articulated streamers that have a striking resemblance to baby brown trout?

Lanier Reports – 

Anniversary trip video: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=847125

6-pound walleye caught from Carters Lake in Aug. 2015.

6-pound walleye caught from Carters Lake in Aug. 2015.

Carters Walleye -“Fishing guide Louie Bartenfield holds a nice 6 pound walleye boated this morning at Carters Lake by angler Bobby Steiner (left).  They were fishing for spotted bass when the big fish unexpectedly hit a drop-shot plastic worm in 35 feet of water.  Bobby is from St. Charles, Illinois and said it was the biggest walleye he’d ever seen.  Congratulations on a fine Georgia walleye catch!  For those interested in other Peach State walleye fishing opportunities, click here” – Jim Hakala, Fisheries Biologist

Mountain Lakes (Big Brown)

“Profiling” Predator Whereabouts See the forthcoming reservoir profiles, courtesy of Gainesville Fisheries Tech Chris Looney,  and locate the best temperature/oxygen combo for your species of interest.  Biologist Patrick O’Rouke explains our staff’s reservoir profiling efforts here in a new entry on WRD’s fishing blog: https://georgiawildlife.wordpress.com/category/fishing/

It looks like Clay and other savvy Lanier visitors are using those data to their advantage!  The strong 2013 year class of stripers is putting a lot of smiles on angler faces.

Stocker Best Bets – WRD stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson steers you toward these weekend waters: Blue Ridge and Hooch tailwaters, Rock, Cooper, Dicks, Wildcat, and Tallulah. Fish the mornings when the streams are cool and shaded.

Tallulah Success! – It sounds like somebody’s been listening to ole John Lee’s advice.

Blueline Jewels – Dredger points forlorn fly flingers, longing for some rises, toward these waters: Overflow, Holcomb, Moccasin, High Shoals, Coleman, Charlies, Corbin, Hooch headwaters, Helton, Noontootla, Logan, Spoilcane, Stanley, and Ridley.  Camo, gardening kneepads, sunglasses, stealth, drinking water, bug spray, 7-foot rods, 6-foot leaders, and #16 tan caddis or parachute adams are good ideas.  As is a hiking buddy for safety and an audience to brag to. More great tips, including my personal favorite (#10) are here. Enjoy your second chances at memories.

NOTE: Dukes Creek at Smithgall Woods is closed to anglers until stream temperatures cool and the fish can be safely caught and released again.

Beat the Heat

SUMMARY OF NEWS RELEASES

  1. VISIT A PUBLIC FISHING AREA FOR A FUN, FISHING EXPERIENCE
  2. SUMMER IS A GREAT TIME TO GO FISH FOR CATFISH

Good luck as we all await the departure of these ninety degree days.

 

Categories: Fishing

Where are the Fish?

By: Patrick O’Rouke, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

Fisheries Technician Chris Looney drops a dissolved oxygen probe in Lake Lanier to measure a reservoir profile near Buford Dam.

Fisheries Technician Chris Looney drops a dissolved oxygen probe in Lake Lanier to measure a reservoir profile near Buford Dam.

Georgia’s lakes and reservoirs can get very warm on the surface during the summer, which makes for comfortable swimming, boating and skiing for us humans. However, that’s not so good for some fish. Coolwater species like striped bass and walleye and coldwater species like trout can’t tolerate the warm surface temperatures that reach over 80 degrees (F).

Fortunately the water temperature in a lake can vary greatly depending on the depth. The density of water changes with temperature, and colder water sinks in the water column while warmer water floats. So when the surface of your favorite lake starts to warm in the spring, the warm water stays on top and the deepest water, which receives little to no sunlight, continues to stay cold from the winter – even in the dog days of summer.  This water stays completely isolated and doesn’t receive any new sources of dissolved oxygen, which is slowly used up by the decomposition of organic matter once the short transition zone – the thermocline – is established.

Fisheries staff monitor these temperature gradients and dissolved oxygen levels on many lakes and reservoirs in Georgia.  For example, early in the summer staff take a boat out once per month on Lake Lanier and slowly drop a probe, one meter at a time, to measure temperature and oxygen all the way to the bottom of the lake.

The data collected can be used to share the likely depth of sportfish species with interested anglers. Staff also keep an eye on conditions to make sure there is not a threat of large fish kills. In some years, fish like stripers can become highly stressed or even die if cool water with enough oxygen isn’t available before surface temperatures cool in the fall. Additionally, it helps know what kind of water quality the rivers below dams will experience. In the case of Buford Dam below Lake Lanier, we can tell what sort of water quality to expect in the coming fall.

On the morning of Aug. 4, fisheries technician Chris Looney collected data for one of these reservoir profiles on Lake Lanier.  He checked five sites around the lake, including one at Brown’s Bridge (mid-lake). Here’s a graph of temperature and oxygen at that location:

Lake Lanier Temperature and Oxygen

 

To help you understand what this means, here is a color-coded graph our staff has developed to assess potential striped bass habitat. The top of the graph represents the surface of the lake. Blue means the water temperature and oxygen levels are sufficient for stripers. Orange means the temperature is marginal (stripers could be there, but probably won’t if there is any water available in the blue category), red means it is too hot, and gray means there isn’t enough oxygen for them to survive:

Potential Striped Bass Habitat

 

As you can see, stripers will likely be holding somewhere between 30-90 feet deep where the habitat is best for them.  If the water is below 76 degrees or so, and has more than 2.0 mg/L of dissolved oxygen, stripers can comfortably live.  If there is cool water with even more oxygen, they’ll probably go for the better oxygen assuming they can find food.  If you can find the preferred habitat and find their food, you’re 90% of the way to catching just about any species of fish.

Our staff will continue to measure these profiles through the fall until the lake “turns over”, meaning that the surface temperature has cooled enough to match the bottom and water at all depths is able to mix again.  Based on our profiles so far this year, Lake Lanier’s water quality looks good and we do not expect any stressful conditions for striped bass this summer or fall.

If you have questions about reservoir profiles on a particular lake, please contact your regional fisheries office or send us your question via email. Our biologists and technicians are happy to talk with you to help you better understand your favorite lake so you can get out and Go Fish Georgia!

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: July 31, 2015

North Georgia

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

11 pound Chattahoochee brown trout

DNR Deputy Commissioner Walter Rabon shows off 11-pound brown trout collected on the Chattahoochee River.

The warm weather and slower fishing continue.  Best bets will be: 1) deep spotted bass, 2) deep stripers and hybrids, 3) river bass and bream at dusk, 4) tailwater trout early and late, and 5) high mountain trout in the cool shade, before lunch.  A few more best bets include air-conditioned seminars, listed below.

Stocker Best Bets – Trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson recommends these north Georgia waters: Holly, Johns, Rock, Cooper, Dicks, Wildcat, Tallulah, Hooch on WMA and the Hooch and Blue Ridge tailwaters.

Big’un! – Enjoy the attached photo that WRD biologist Patrick O’Rouke just sent me during a lunch break on his Hooch Tailwater sampling boat.  DNR Deputy Commissioner Walter Rabon displays an eleven pounder before it was released earlier today at, well, I don’t believe I said…

River Bass Weapon – Easy to tie and to fish.  Tie it simply with white foam, white bucktail, and white rubber legs, and skip the frills so you can tie twice as many in the same time period.  Just toss it under the overhanging limbs along the bank, twitch slightly once to jiggle the legs, and let it drift along.  White has been the best color for Dredger’s summer sunfish, shoals, spots, and largemouth.

A Conservation Hero – Tip of the WRD ball cap to Georgia TU’s Garland “Griz” Stewart for decades of his volunteer service to coldwater conservation and the promotion of trout fishing here in Georgia.  Thank you Garland!

Good luck as our summertime patterns continue.

Central Georgia

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

Clarks Hill Lake (down 1.8 feet, clear, 80s) – Bass fishing is fair. The bass are still deep. Look in the 18 to 25 foot range, and find isolated Hydrilla. Fish it with a green Zoom Magnum Finesse worm and also a Texas rigged Ol Monster worm. A 1 or 2 ounce Jig in camo color is also producing around the isolated Hydrilla patches. Color is not really specific; any form of green pumpkin is good. Early in the morning and late in the evening throw a buzz-bait around stick grass on the bank. Spend some time on the main lake and use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology and search the creek mouths right at the river. This technology can spot individual fish, schools of fish and most importantly, schools of bait fish. The cloudy days make the shallow bite last longer. As the day moves on, change from the top-water baits to a submerged or bottom bait; keep working slow. The ledge bite is good around any type of cover or bend if the water is moving. A good sonar will get you on some good brush or other cover. Heavy jigs are a good choice. Black blue or browns are doing well.

Flat Creek PFA – The lake level continues to drop during this hot dry summer, and unless Flat Creek gets a lot of rain the level is expected to keep dropping as evaporation continues. The algal bloom at Flat Creek is close to its peak. And though the lake looks very green right now, you can still find fish that are hungry. Darker colored lures will be a better option for all fish right now due to the lower visibility. Crappie are still biting close to the fishing pier in the early morning hours. Catfish and bream are the guaranteed fish for those wanting a bite. The cooler hours of morning and evening seems to be the best time to get a bass. All fish are sluggish during the middle of these hot summer days most are found in the deeper, cooler waters during the heat of the day.

Bass: June Bug Zoom Trick Worms, Green Pumpkin Zoom Centipede worms, fished shallow (2-3’) in the mornings and evenings, and lipless crank baits fished in 6-8 foot of water.

Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers, Glow worms, and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Worms on a Texas rig. Crickets fished 6-7 feet beneath a very small float.

Crappie: Minnows fished close to the fishing pier.

Channel catfish:Chicken livers tied with sewing thread and then placed on the hook will prevent the fish from stealing the bait and has proved very successful. Worms fished on a Carolina Rig.

In general, July and August temperatures at Big Lazer are hot.  Fish tend to hang out in shady cover during the hot days and feed in the mornings and evenings to stay cool.

Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

Jackson Lake (full, clear, low 90s) – Bass fishing is fair and the fish are in their summer holes. The channel swing under the power lines and the hump at the mouth of Tussahaw Creek have both recently been hotspots. Several baits are working for the deeper fish, both spots and largemouth. Big crank-baits, like DD22s or Strike King 6 XDs, are working in the 16 to 18 foot range. On some days fish want a slower presentation. Use a 3/4 ounce Net Boy Baits football jig in green or brown colors. Tip the jig with a 4-inch Big Bite Baits Kriet Kreature in craw and orange color. For a more finesse bait, use a 1/4 ounce Net Boy Baits screwball jig head with a Big Bite Baits Squirrel Tail worm in watermelon or green pumpkin color. Dipping either bait in JJ’s Magic will help increase bites and hook up percentages. One other option for largemouth is to run up the Yellow or South rivers above the bridges and fish a 1/4 ounce buzz bait around blow downs and log jams early or late in the day. Some bites can be explosive, so use heavy line or braid to muscle these fish.

Marben PFA (water temps are HOT!) – Largemouth Bass: August offers some challenges for those anglers targeting bass. However, anglers willing to test the waters in early morning or right before sunset might be surprised with a bass being caught in the shallows. Top-water lures are typically not used as much this time of year. Crank baits and other deeper water lures are typically the most popular this time of year. 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.

Bream: Bream are the most popular fish targeted this time of year. 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. There have also been reports of anglers using micro lures to catch hand-sized bream. Most of the bream caught have been in six to eight 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. Anglers are most successful using worms, liver and stink-bait. A handy shade tree seems to be important too!

Crappie: This is the time of year when crappie fishing is slow. The crappie “bite” tends to pick up as late evening approaches. Even though the “bite” picks up, the window for catching crappie in the evening is small. 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.Remember early morning and late evenings are the best times at Marben PFA.

  • Remember early morning and late evenings are the best times at Marben PFA.
  • Temperatures are extremely hot at Marben PFA.  Sunscreen and plenty of water are highly encouraged. Don’t forget the picnic lunch!!

Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.org/PFA/CharlieElliott

McDuffie PFA – Largemouth Bass: Fair due to hot weather – Most of the bass on the PFA are suspending in deep water maintaining their summer pattern which means they are feeding just before sunrise and late evening. Overall, Bass fishing has been spotty and probably will remain this way until a cool rain or change in temperature.  Willow is still giving up keeper bass. Willow Lake remains the lake with most potential for quality and quantity. The PFA’s shad population is still recovering from a winterkill with no big schools showing up yet in any of the seven lakes. Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month. Rodbender is open as of this fishing report but will be close at sunset on the 15th. This lake has been setup for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass.  Many of the PFA’s fishermen are trying new baits and falling back on the old standby plastic worms to catch aggressive Bass.

Bream: Fair – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Willow, Clubhouse and Jones for good catches. Willow is still giving up some good Shellcracker sunfish. The fishermen were fishing on the bottom and caught some quality fish. The Bream should be on bed during next full moon and can be found around structure and aquatic plants with firm sandy bottoms. The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under floats; use light tackle to make soft casts pass the structure and pulling the bait rig back and stopping the bait will generate many more strikes. Patience is the key when fishing for bream on beds. Bream fishermen may also have success using small hard baits, jigs, and beetle spins on ultralight tackle during the dog-days of summer.

Channel Catfish: Good – Best ponds have been Jones, Beaverlodge, Willow, and Bridge in order of best catches reported or seen by area staff.  Catfish are feeding as they reenergized during post- spawn. The best fishing is on the bottom in shallow to deep water using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets. Bream fishermen also report catching catfish while fishing with crickets in shallow water.

Striped Bass: Poor due to hot water temperatures – Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse.  Smaller stripers will keep anglers busy in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse as fishermen fish for catfish and bream on the bottom using worms and chicken liver. During the fall the stripers will begin to feed heavily on whatever forage species are present in the lake and should provide some exciting fishing.

Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.org/PFA/McDuffie

Lake Oconee (full, light stain up rivers, light stain on main lake, 88-93 degrees) – Bass fishing is poor. The mid-lake area of the lake has been the most productive over the past week. If Georgia Power starts pulling water move to the bridge rip raps with a crank-bait or spinner bait and work the down-lake side of the bridge. Fish are on the humps on the south end of the lake and in Richland Creek. A Carolina rig worm fished on these humps will draw a strike. You can also use a large crank-bait and work the down-lake side of the humps. We are in a summer pattern so start thinking deep. You can also find some fish under deep boat docks. Target these docks early in the mornings. Shaky heads have been the best producers on these deep docks.

“Striper fishing is slow. There is a top-water bite for the first two hours of day light. Use a popping cork or an inline spinner. Another good choice is a silver or white spoon fished into the schools that are blowing up on the top.” – Cpt. Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service

Crappie fishing is good. The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves. They have moved into the timber and you can find them with your Lowrance in the top of the trees. When you find them drop a live minnow into the school and start catching.

Lake Russell (full, clear, high 80s) –Bass fishing is fair. When the fish set up in their summer patterns, the big largemouth can be tough to catch. However, there is no shortage of spotted bass and they can be a lot of fun to catch if you’re interested in a lot of action from smaller fish. When they are moving water you can set up on main lake structure and wear the spots out by cranking down with a deep-diving crank bait, dragging a Carolina rig or vertical jigging with a shaky head or drop shot. Rocky points with brush piles, the reef markers around the dam or vertical structure like bridge pilings can all be good. Try picking off a few fish with your crank bait. Then slow down and pick apart the structure with your finesse worm rigs once you locate some fish. Watermelon is always a good color and red bug will also produce.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained up river, main lake clear, 89 degrees) – “Bass fishing is slow. The lack of rain this week, and the warm water temperatures have made the bite tough. You can still catch some fish up shallow but expect fewer bites than usual. If you are looking for a shallow bite, try shallow points, sea walls, and docks that are adjacent to deep water. River channel swings and creek mouths are best. Some fish can still be caught on a Spro frog around grass beds as well. Texas rigged soft plastics and Buckeye Mop jigs fished around boat houses and lay down trees have been most productive when looking for the shallow bite. There are still a lot of fish holding on deep offshore structure lake-wide. This has been the most consistent pattern this week, especially on the lower portion of the lake. Most of these offshore fish are holding in depths of 18 to 25 feet. Look for points that drop into the river channel, offshore humps, or ledges that contain rocks or some form of wood cover. These places are easy to find with the Lowrance HDS Structure Scan technology. Drop shot rigs, flutter spoons, and Buckeye football jigs will all produce on these offshore structures. The deep bite will be best when Georgia Power is moving water.” – Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina

West Point Lake (full, clear, loq 90s) – Bass fishing is tough. Bass are in the summer slump with the hot water. Presentations must be super slow for any results. Spinnerbaits are too fast. Top-water frogs and poppers are the trick very early. Work them as slow as possible all the way from cover to the boat. The fish will sometimes follow the lure, undecided, and strike when you begin to lift it into the boat. Keep an eye on your bait. You will often see more than one bass following the lure. Medium jigs are doing well with soft plastics worked around the rocks, grass and cover. Again, the slower you work them, the better the results. Carolina rigs on deep brush piles and wood have produced well this past week. If they are pulling water, work down the slope. If they stop pulling, work from deep to shallow. Keep it slow. Fish are stacking up on the ledges during the heat of the day. With the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology, anglers can search great amounts of water and not waste time fishing water with no fish close by. The best time to catch bass is during generation hours. Currently, water has been moving in the late afternoons. Look for any irregularity or point along the channel. Stumps and trees are a bonus for holding fish. It’s hard to beat Carolina rigs and deep diving crank-baits in these areas. Early in the morning you can find some fish shallow in grass or lily pad fields. The closer you can find these places to the deeper water, the better chance you’ll have of getting bit. Frogs, buzz-baits and small, white swim-jigs will work.Southwest Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Rob Weller and region fisheries staff)

Flint River – The water in the Flint is low and clear and fishing for bream, shoal bass and channel catfish remains relatively stable despite the hot weather. A recent Wildlife Resources Division electrofishing survey for catfish indicated better than average numbers of flathead catfish in the stretch of river immediately upstream of the Hwy 27 Bridge above Lake Blackshear. Remember that flathead catfish are predatory so it is important to use live fish as bait when targeting them. The following links will provide you with river levels to help you plan your trip.

Lake Seminole – If you can stand the heat, shellcracker and bream are still bedding and fun to catch early in the morning. Later in the morning, they tend to shut down. Catfish have been biting hard in the deep river channel. A few bass have been spotted in shallow water but catches have been spotty.

Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula,” Anglers are targeting abundant bluegill on rip rap and shallow flats.  “Jug” fisherman can expect to be rewarded with good catches of channel cats. White bass, hybrids and stripers have not yet started aggressively chasing schools of shad in shallow water.  Largemouth bass are in a familiar summer pattern which means typically slow fishing. For the last four weeks, the lake has been holding at about 188 feet, which is about 2 feet down from normal full pool. The littoral grasses are covered by little water. Some nice fish can be caught near rock on topwater between first light and sunup. After sunup, some tournament size fish can be caught on shallow rocks and stumps, otherwise, head to the ledges and deeper topographic features. A locally made 5″ frog rigged on a 1/2 to 3/4 oz. swivel head football jig can get your rod bent on shallow and deep ledges.  Don’t come to Eufaula without one.

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Satilla River Bass

James Bowman of Waycross caught this 8-pound bass last month on a Trick Worm while fishing in the Waycross area of the Satilla River.

Most folks’ attention is turning toward the beginning of school, but those who went fishing did really well in both salt and freshwater. The catfish bite has been awesome on the Altamaha and St. Marys. The Okefenokee is still on fire for warmouth and bowfin. Full Moon is July 31. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – The river is getting low. Last year, the bream and redbreast bites were on fire for me while using Satilla Spins at this water level. Fish were typically in the main run and either in the treetops or under the willows. The mullet bite has been good with the low water. Most of the fish are on the small side, but an occasional whopper will eat your red wiggler worm. The river is getting its summertime green tint for the first time this year. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle (912-588-9222) reported that catfishing in the Jesup area was excellent. With the river low, the best action was in the deep holes below sandbars. Limb lines also produced at night. Bream fishing was fair, with anglers reporting crickets producing the best catches. Dannet at Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) said that the bream and catfish bites have been strong. The falling tide produced the best. Crickets fooled the bream, goldfish duped the flatheads, and shrimp and rooster livers produced channel catfish. The river level was 2.1 feet and rising (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.2 feet and falling (86 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 28.

Okefenokee Swamp – I fished the Folkston entrance on Saturday morning with my son Timothy and Wyatt Crews. We saw almost 50 alligators during the trip, and caught about that many bowfin (mudfish). We were trying out a new prototype in-line spinner and caught 44 bowfin up to 5 pounds on it in just 1 1/2 hours. Timothy and Wyatt had several fish in the 5-pound range. Black/chartreuse and white were our best colors. I’m happy to report that the new lure holds up great to the crushing, destructive jaws of a bowfin. If you have never targeted bowfin, you are missing out. They are excellent fighters, and you will catch a ton of them when you can’t get other fish to bite during the dog-days of summer. Anglers fishing in the boat basin when we came in were still catching warmouth. We watched them catch several on crickets while we took the boat out. The new Duck Stamps (they provide yearly access to National Wildlife Refuges) have arrived, so make sure to get your new one if that is how you cover the access fee to Okefenokee. The new stamps are $25, and they are valid from July 1-June 30 each year. You can get them at Okefenokee Adventures on the east side or from US Post Offices.

Satilla River – The river was just getting too low to get around when we got another round of rains to bring it up. You should be able to get around decently in a small johnboat through the weekend, but a float trip would be my approach. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle (912-283-9400) in Waycross said that the fishing slowed during the rising river, but the bite should pick up as it clears and starts falling out again. He said that with the current water conditions and full moon going into the weekend, the bite on the upper river should be good. In fact, some big redbreasts were already reported this week on crickets in that area. Bass ate topwaters and buzzbaits. Shiners produced catfish on bush hooks and rooster livers produced them with rod and reel in the deeper holes.    The river level at the Waycross gage was 6.1 feet and falling (82 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.5 feet and falling on July 28.

St. Marys River – The redbreast and catfish bites are still happening. Crickets and pink worms produced bream and redbreasts. Catfish are still biting about everywhere. The river level on Tuesday evening at the MacClenny gage was 4.0 feet and falling.

Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds fishing early and late produced some great catches. Crickets and pink worms produced quality bream. A few anglers reported catching them on beetlespins, too. On the waxing moon, the bass bite has been awesome. Black buzzbaits and black Jitterbugs produced some whopper bass. 

Best Bet –  The Okefenokee bowfin bite just can’t be beat for sheer fun. You can catch dozens of the feisty battlers per hour. In-line spinners and bass style spinnerbaits work great for them. Reel quickly for chain pickerel that may be lurking or slow it down to fool bowfin. Make sure to take a lip-gripper and pliers to help you disgorge hooks from the fish that seem as if they never stop kicking! If you want to fish for smaller fish, the flier and warmouth bites are still great. Don’t forget to get the new Duck Stamp before you go if you use that method to get into the refuge. Saltwater is still doing well, with flounder being my top pick from the bank and trout if you fish from a boat.

Coastal Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The St. Marys Jetties produced a good mess of trout, flounder, and a couple redfish for Justin Bythwood and Michael Deen on Saturday. They fished a Sea Shad (several colors produced) on Flashy Jigheads and Jetty Jigs for their fish. They never put their anchor down, but eased along the jetties using their trolling motor and casting artificials all morning. That bite is just going to get better as we head into fall. Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers caught lots of flounder this week on mudminnows and finger mullet fished around oyster bars and creek mouths in the rivers. Black drum were reportedly caught with shrimp on the bottom. Some of the fish weighed in the high teens. Sheepshead were wrangled from around bridge pilings (fidder crabs worked best). Some oversized redfish were reported from the sounds. That bite will take off next month and will last into the fall. Trout were reported on live shrimp, but most were undersized. Jekyll Island Pier produced lots of sharks this week for those fishing cut bait. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that black drum have arrived. Some were puppy drum, while others approached 20 pounds. Flounder and trout were caught in good numbers. Most of the flounder are 12-14 inches, but some are 16-plus inches. Croakers were around in good numbers. Blue crabs were everywhere and were finding their way into nets and traps. Monitor the marine forecast.

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: July 23, 2015

North Georgia

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

We have some “hot” news about a) a record bass and b) a new survey for you.  There are also some tips and trip reports on hot summer fishing opportunities across north Georgia, so read on.

Striper fishing

Some river and reservoir fish will also “squeeze” upstream to coldwater refuges in tributaries, so aim for Morgan Falls and the Etowah too.

The summer fishing pattern continues, and it is dominated by warm water effects on our respective target species.  For trout, anglers should tuck in behind the two big dams holding back winter water (Blue Ridge, Buford) or hike way up the mountain until their stream thermometer reads 66 degrees.

For lake bass, hit the deep humps and brush piles with the drop shot rig, after giving them a few first casts with a topwater plug.

 

For reservoir stripers and hybrids, the summer squeeze is on.  As the warm surface layer thickens and as the dissolved oxygen dies from the lake bottom upward, these coolwater species will start getting squeezed.  They’ll squeeze into that middle layer of water, down-lake toward the dam, where the combination of cooler water and high dissolved oxygen is found.  The squeeze means that they’re no longer scattered lake-wide and are now easier to find, if you know where to look.  Some river and reservoir fish will also “squeeze” upstream to coldwater refuges in tributaries, so aim for Morgan Falls and the Etowah, too.

Warmwater river anglers are approaching prime time, as river flows dwindle and bass and bream get squeezed into fewer prime habitats –slower, deeper water in the shade.  Terrestrial food sources are abundant, so many of your favorite river targets will be spending more time along the banks, looking up at the tree limbs and wishing for a stiff breeze.

Aim for Success – Your Input Desired

Please take about five minutes to watch a few brief videos and then complete this online survey regarding the proposed restructuring of our agency’s licenses and fees. This is a great opportunity for you, so take advantage of it.

Trout fishing

Staff recently stocked more than 40,000 fingerling rainbow trout into the Toccoa River below Blue Ridge Dam.

Fishing Reports and Links:

Good luck with your early rises from bed and some dawn fishing fun.  Toss your offerings into the streamside shade or onto that submerged hump for some summertime success, and send me some of your stories to share with our group.

Central Georgia

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

Big Lazer PFA Largemouth bass: Good – Bass fishing has slowed down a little because of the very hot temperatures.  However, they will still hang out in the upper 3 to 8 feet of the water column.  During the day fish for bass in and around heavy cover.  Feeding bass will be most active during the early morning and later in the evening.  Try bass fishing with shallow presentation of crank-baits and trick-worms.

Crappie: Poor- Because of warm summer temperatures crappie tend to move into deeper water as well as spread out over most of the lake.  Fishing deep around standing timber with live minnows is your best bet.

Bream: Very Good – Bream fishing is very good.  Most bream are close-in to the banks and seeking shady cover to keep cool.  Crickets and worms are excellent live bait for bream.  Also, small grub like plastic jigs can work well anytime of the year; try black, white, and chartreuse colors.  Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting.  However, make sure the hooks are small because the bream have small mouths.

Channel catfish: Very Good- The rocks along the dam are always a good spot to try and catch big channel cats.  However, catfishing has been good in deeper water over much of the lake.  Some catfish are being caught on cut bait and shrimp as well as worms and livers.

In general, July and August temperatures at Big Lazer are hot.  Fish tend to hang out in shady cover during the hot days and feed in the mornings and evenings to stay cool.

Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer

Clarks Hill Lake (down 1.6 feet, clear, mid 80s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Alabama rigs are working early in the day.  Also use the 3/8 ounce Scrounger head and a Zoom Fluke.  Use the pearl white and the baby bass Flukes.  Crank-baits will work and use a Shad Rap and a small Bandit in shad patterns.  Try a Rat L Trap lipless crank-bait on the rocky banks and around the islands.  The 3/8 ounce and the ½ ounce sizes can work all day.  Cast up into shallow water and work the shallows where rock and the brush piles are located.  Switch colors often and find out which one is catching the larger bass.  Some anglers are fishing the grass beds with weightless worms.  Take a hot pink trick worm and rig it with a 3/0 Mustad hook.  Cast it right along the edge of the heavier matted grass and let it sink.  Count it down and try different depths to find out how deep the bass are.

Jackson Lake (down 1.9 feet, clear, 80s) – Bass fishing is a little slow and the bass are going to move up to the shallows later each day.  Use the ½ ounce Rat L Trap and throw it shallow.  Work as much water as possable and try to locate areas that contain the most rock.  Early in the morning is a good time to throw a buzz-bait or a Storm Chug bug off any point.  Small bass are taking these baits early and often during the early hours.  Also try a 1/4 or 3/8 ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait in either white/blue or all white.  Work the same areas as the top water baits and all blow-downs and brush piles that are present.  After the sun comes up, a 3/8 ounce black jig and pig with a pork trailer is working on isolated stumps and docks.  Green pumpkin worms on the Texas rig are also taking bass when thrown into brush piles and around docks.  Don’t forget about the Dam area for some late-day schoolers.

Marben PFA – Largemouth Bass: Fair due to hot weather – Willow is still giving up keeper bass but fishing has been spotty overall. Willow Lake remains the lake with most potential is for quality and quantity.  Most of the bass on the PFA are suspending in deep water settling into a summer pattern which means they are feeding before and just after sunrise and late evening.  The PFA’s shad population is still recovering from a winterkill with no big schools showing up yet in any of the seven lakes.  Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month.  Rodbender will be closed at sunset on the 15th.  This lake has been setup for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass.   Many of the PFA’s fishermen are trying new baits and falling back on the old standby plastic worms to catch aggressive bass.

Bream: Fair – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Willow, Clubhouse and Jones for good catches.  The Bream should be on bed during next full moon and can be found around structure and aquatic plants with firm sandy bottoms.  The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under floats; use light tackle to make soft casts past the structure and pulling the bait rig back and stopping the bait will generate many more strikes.  Patience is the key when fishing for bream on beds.  Bream fishermen may also have success using small hard baits, jigs, and beetle spins on ultralight tackle during the dog-days of summer.

Channel Catfish: Good – Best ponds have been Jones, Beaverlodge, Willow, and Bridge in order of best catches reported or seen by area staff.   Catfish are feeding as they re-energize in post- spawn.  The best fishing is on the bottom in deep water using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets. Bream fishermen also report catching catfish while fishing with crickets in shallow water.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is just slow during mid-day but tends to pick up as late evening approaches.  Anglers using live minnows and yellow jigs are the most successful.  Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet.

  • Remember early morning and late evenings are the best times at Marben PFA.
  • Temperatures are extremely hot at Marben PFA.  Sunscreen and plenty of water are highly encouraged. Don’t forget the picnic lunch!!

Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.org/PFA/CharlieElliott

McDuffie PFA – Largemouth Bass – Good: Hot ponds have been Willow, and Clubhouse.  Willow is still giving up keeper bass and many larger bass are being released by our fishermen.  In Jones bass fishing has slowed down but small bass will keep fishermen alert.  The lake with most potential is Willow for quality and quantity.  Willow Lake has big bass but fishermen must be prepared or risk being broken off in the underwater structure.  The bass have begun feeding on shad early in the mornings and late evenings in Willow and Breambuster.  Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month.  Rodbender is open for the next 14 days but will close at sunset on the 15th. This lake has been setup for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass.   June is usually an excellent top-water bait month with soft baits falling in the number two spot.

Bream:  Fair – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Willow, Clubhouse and Jones for good catches.   The Bream should be on bed during this full moon and can be found around structure and aquatic plants with firm sandy bottoms.  The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under adjustable floats; using light tackle to make soft casts pass the structure and pulling the bait rig back and stopping the bait will generate many more strikes.  Patience is the key when fishing for bream on beds. Our local fly fishermen are catching aggressive bream on artificial nymphs, flies and bugs near shore and structure.

Channel Catfish:  Good – Best ponds have been Jones, Beaverlodge, Willow, and Bridge in order of best catches reported or seen by area staff.   Catfish are feeding as they re-energize in post- spawn.  The best fishing is on the bottom in deep water using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets. Bream fishermen also report catching catfish while fishing with crickets in shallow water.

Striped Bass:  Poor due to hot water temperatures.  Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse.  Smaller stripers will keep anglers busy in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse as fishermen fish for catfish and bream on the bottom using worms and chicken liver.

Additional Information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie

Lake Oconee (full, stained up rivers, light stain on main lake, 85-90 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair.  The rivers have a light stain and the main Lake is clear.  There is a good early morning top-water bite in the rivers around deep structure.  White old Nelly buzz-bait worked around structure in deep water will produce until the sun gets up.  When the sun gets up switch to a 6 in. watermelon Zoom u-tail worm on a Texas rig and work the same structure.  Down the lake there is still a deep water crank-bait bite on the ledges and humps on the south end of Richland Creek.  Work a Normans DD22 down the ledge into deeper water.  Use your Lowrance to locate the fish on the ledges, if you do not see any fish move to another ledge or hump until you find the fish.  Then work your DD22.  If you would like to try and beat the heat think about night fishing.  Look for lighted boat docks with structure.  You can work these docks with a crank-bait or a worm.  Use a big dark u-tail worm Texas rigged.  Remember to keep your boat lights on and look out for the other guy.

“Lineside fishing is fair.  The best way to find the fish is with the umbrella rig.  Run it about 20 feet deep.  We have seen fish up the river near the I-20 bridge.  These fish will continue to move up the rivers to find cooler water.  If you are working the main lake look in the river bend area.” – Cpt. Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service

Crappie fishing is fair.  Some fish are showing up in brush piles from 10 to15 feet.  The night bite in the timber is still the best producer.  Look for the fish to show up on your Lowrance and drop the live shiners down to the fish.

 

Lake Russell (full, clear, mid 80s) – Bass fishing is fair and there are several different crank baits that are working on light 10-pound test Sufix Elite line.  The Rapala DT 6 and Rapala DT 10 in either the hot tiger or shad colors and the #5 jointed Shad Rap in either the green crawdad or fire tiger will work.  Work the main lake and secondary points and the strikes will occur right at the edge of 10-foot line.  Top-water baits like the Pop R and the Chug Bug will work.  Work the Chug Bug fast and do not stop the popping noises as this attracts the spots thinking the bait is a fleeing bait fish.  Jigs fished around rocks and wood is another good choice this week.  The 3/8 ounce Strike King jig is a good choice and the colors need to be browns and greens.  Use the Lowrance Structure Scan down Scan technology to scan an area and you will see the fish.  Use the Ito Vision 110 jerk bait also.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained up river, main lake clear, 86 degrees) – “Bass fishing is good.  The mayflies are back on Lake Sinclair this week.  We had another big mayfly hatch which is turning on the shallow bite again.  This is one of the largest hatches of the year thus far and it covers much of the Oconee River arm.  Shallow grass beds, overhanging tree limbs, and dock walkways adjacent to the river channel should be your primary targets.  Top-water baits will produce both early and late each day and can continue throughout the day in overcast conditions.  A Spro Bronzeye Popping Frog in the Leopard color will produce many bites around the grass beds and around overhangs.  A black-buzz bait will also get a few bites around seawalls and grassy points.  A Spro Fat John square bill crank-bait will also produce in these same locations early and late when the fish are feeding.  The best way to fish this crank-bait is to parallel the sea walls or fish it through any shallow wood cover you can find.  When the mayflies are present the bass will be positioned right at the base of the sea wall.  Fishing the crank-bait as close as you can to the sea wall will result in more bites.  During the day, fish a Buckeye Mop Jig in a brown or green pumpkin color around dock walkways, sea walls, and around any wood cover that has some shade.  This is a great way to catch a big fish!  The deep bite is still decent lake-wide.  Deep diving crank baits, Carolina rigs, and drop shot rigs will all produce on the offshore structure near the river channel.  Concentrate your efforts in 18-25 feet of water when targeting these deep fish.  As always, the deep bite is best when Georgia Power is moving water.” – Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina

West Point Lake (full, clear, mid 80s) – Bass fishing is barely fair.  This time of year there is very little change in pattern.  Fish have committed to deep-water cover and will remain there for the next few weeks.  Go back to the deep hideouts they will often produce.  Once the sun is high focus on docks and lay-downs near the mouth of pockets with a green pumpkin Z Man floating worm or a Z Man Texas rigged Saw Tail Worm.  The Z Man floating worm will stand up on a 1/8 or 3/16 ounce shaky head so do not be afraid to let this bait soak to catch larger fish.  You can catch several fish off of one lay down so make several cast to productive cover.  Once the bite slows switch to an All Terrain 3/8 ounce black and blue jig tipped with a black and blue Z Man Chunkz.  The deep crank-bait bite is beginning to turn on in the afternoon during generating schedules.  Look for fish to begin stacking up on long points and roadbeds close to the main river channel.  Crank-baits are working best with multiple casts on cover close to the river channel.  Cover the twelve to eighteen feet depths with the Lowrance and you will see the fish on the bottom.  Turn back and fish these locations.  It takes time to find this ideal habitat, but once you do, several fish can be caught in this area.  The best points to search are from the 109 bridge north going up the river.  During generation periods use deep-diving crank-baits on humps and road beds.  You can load the boat quickly with some really heavy fish poundage during these periods of generation around this cover.

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The bite is on again, even though many folks are not fishing in the heat. The Satilla is right, and lots of redbreasts should be caught this weekend. Flounder are still going strong at the coast, and tarpon are feasting on pogy pods. The Okefenokee is still producing some great catches. First quarter moon is July 24th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Scout Carter caught this giant bowfin last week on a prototype in-line spinnerbait. Bowfin are great targets during the dog-days of summer.

Scout Carter caught this giant bowfin last week on a prototype in-line spinnerbait. Bowfin are great targets during the dog-days of summer.

Altamaha River – The numbers of channel catfish caught from the river have been impressive. Those using rod and reel are catching about 80 percent channels and 20 percent flatheads, while the limb-liners are the opposite – 80 percent flatheads. The mullet catch has been low, only because very few people have been targeting them (those who went did well). Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that catfishing in the Jesup area was tops. Anglers reported catching nice flatheads on goldfish and channel and blue catfish on worms. The oxbows off the river also produced some good bream catches. Dannet at Altamaha Park said that the flathead bite has been best, with goldfish producing the most. The bream bite has been fair in feeder creeks and oxbows off the main flow. The river level was 2.3 feet and steady (88 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.6 feet and falling (86 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 21. I went over the Oconee River on the 21st, and the water had the usual summertime green color. The Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers are muddier from recent rains.

Okefenokee Swamp – Craig James fished the east side several times this week with his family. Their best trip (by numbers) was Tuesday when he and his brother Trey landed 115 warmouth (releasing many of them) and some fliers. That day, yellow sallies out produced pink (although pink still fooled quite a few). After they had already caught a bunch, they decided to try something different, so they pitched a white grub and continued to spank the big warmouth. Some of their fish approached 12 inches! Some of their trips this week, pink worked best, while other trips yellow was tops. That goes to show you that you need to try different colors each day to determine the best offering.  Michael Winge said that the fishing on the east side slowed with the hot weather, but early and late were the best times. On the west side, warmouth, fliers, and pickerel (jackfish) were caught over the weekend. Jackfish ate popping plugs and king jack spinners. The new Duck Stamps (they provide yearly access to National Wildlife Refuges) have arrived, so make sure to get your new one if that is how you cover the access fee to Okefenokee. The new stamps are $25, and they are valid from July 1 to June 30th each year. You can get them at Okefenokee Adventures on the east side or from US Post Offices.

Satilla River – Danny Brown of Nevils (he often fishes the Ogeechee) came down to fish the Satilla this week, and he landed 20 redbreasts in the Waycross area. One of them was a whopper, and he is getting it mounted. He caught his fish on Satilla Spins (crawfish, stumpknocker, bruiser, and rainbow).  Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the Satilla is giving up big redbreasts and bream. Crickets, worms, and Satilla Spins (crawfish color) have been producing best. Beetlespins and Spin Dandy spinnerbaits are also producing fish. Rooster livers and pink worms produced catfish this week. Bright colored Trick Worms tricked bass. The river level  at the Waycross gage was 5.3 feet and falling (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.1 feet and falling on July 21.

St. Marys River – The redbreast and bream bites remained strong. Pink worms are still producing some shellcrackers. Redbreasts and bream were tearing up crickets. Catfish were still being caught everywhere along the river. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 2.1 feet and falling on July 21.

Local Ponds –  Chad Lee spanked the fish on Saturday morning, most with a Ribbit Frog. His biggest was almost 6 pounds. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds bream are hitting crickets and pink worms late in the evenings. Plastics and dark colored buzzbaits produced some good bass. An angler reported catching an 11-pound bass from a local pond this week. Worms and shiners accounted for most of the catfish reported.

Best Bet: The Satilla is getting perfect for a float trip. This time last year I did a float trip with Ron Johnson, and we used crawfish Satilla Spins to catch over 80 fish, mostly redbreasts. At the current level you should not have to drag much, if any. Flounder fishing has been strong at the coast, so that would be a good option. From a boat, fish around hard cover, creek mouths, and inlets. From the bank, pitch mudminnows or finger mullet to pilings or around rocks (anything that makes a current break). You have to let a flounder eat your offering. Typically, the fish will start swimming away once it has engulfed it. Setting the hook too early will usually just provide some teeth marks on your bait! (I have experience with that! Ha!) The Okefenokee is still great. Fish early and pitch yellow or pink sallies around wood for warmouth and around vegetation for fliers. If you want to catch a big fish, tie on an in-line spinner and cast for pickerel or bowfin.

Coastal Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The saltwater bite was hit-and-miss this week. Flounder, sheepshead and whiting provided the best reports. Mudminnows and finger mullet fooled most of the flounder. Shrimp fished on bottom rigs produced whiting, while fiddlers accounted for most of the sheepshead. Michael Winge said that the Jekyll Island Pier produced lots of sheepshead and whiting over the last week. Our state record flounder came from the Jekyll Island Pier, so don’t overlook it as a destination for flatties. An angler reported catching a tarpon this week from a kayak at one of the inlets on our coast. I’m sure the giant fish gave him a ride! Tarpon numbers have been very good this week, and anglers are catching them. Cast net some pogies and throw out a spread with a live one under an oval Cajun Thunder float and others on bottom rigs. I like 100-lb. test mono leaders for abrasion resistence. The big bull reds have been chowing at the nearshore reefs. Expect them to be in the sounds spawning beginning next month. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the “Mack Attack” continued this week from the pier. The Spanish mackerel continued hitting spoons and Gotcha plugs. A 4-pound flounder was landed from the pier on Tuesday. Trout, whiting, and croakers were also plentiful. Monitor the marine forecast.

Categories: Fishing

Watch What You Plant

By: Elliot Ambrose, Georgia DNR Public Affairs Intern

The war on Georgia’s invasive species: Part II

Growing native in Georgia

With their variety of colors, shapes and textures, exotic plants have taken root in the yards, and hearts, of many Georgia gardeners. Unfortunately, not all exotics stop there.

Those that escape cultivation and spread rapidly into the surrounding environment can cause devastating and long-lasting damage. Displacing native species and destroying the critical habitat they need, exotic invasive plants are one of the biggest threats to our natural heritage.

What can you do? Grow native! Help reestablish native plant populations in your area and stop the introduction of potentially harmful exotics by choosing native species for your lawn and garden.

The invasive Chinese Tallow  (by Rebekah Wallace, UGA)

The invasive Chinese Tallow (by Rebekah Wallace, UGA/bugwood.org)

Many of Georgia’s most destructive invasive plants, such as Chinese tallow and kudzu, started as exotic imports for use in landscaping and gardening. Not all non-native or exotic plants are invasive, of course. Many, like the crape myrtle, are easily controlled and have existed in the state for centuries without issue.

But the effect of exotics on the natural environment is not always readily apparent or easily predicted, according to Dr. Mincy Moffett, a DNR botanist and Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council board member.

“You never really know how an exotic plant is going to behave, so you’re taking a risk when you introduce them,” Moffett said. “Some never become a problem, while others turn out to be real bad actors.”

Also, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future behavior.

Chinese privet is one example. Introduced in the 1800s, this Asian exotic was widely used as an ornamental hedge until the early 20th century when, for reasons still not clear, it began expanding exponentially. Today, Chinese privet chokes bottomland forest habitat throughout Georgia and is a high priority for invasive species management. (Chinese privet even forms the famous hedges inside UGA’s Sanford Stadium, although some insist the plants are English privet.)

“It’s a lesson that we all need to remember because it means that anything could potentially become a problem at any time,” Moffett said. “Really, playing it safe would mean never planting anything but a native.”

Curbing exotic plant use statewide is a lofty goal, but growing native is something all can do. Fortunately, there are many attractive and unique native plants to choose from, and many benefits to using them.

Benefits of growing native

In addition to reducing the presence of invasive plants on your property and restoring the diversity of plant life in your area, there are a number of added benefits to gardening with native species.

Native vegetation is a great source of cover and food for wildlife and the right combination of plants can invite an assortment of garden visitors. For example, native perennials like the purple coneflower attract a range of pollinators, including beautiful monarch butterflies. Songbirds feed on the nuts of native trees and the caterpillars that live in their branches, while Georgia’s only native hummer species, the ruby-throated hummingbird, loves the nectar of indigenous vines like trumpet creeper.

Because they are more suited to the local climate, water and soil conditions, native plants are generally low maintenance and, once established, require less water and fertilizer than exotics. Native plants also have a natural resistance to pests and require less pesticide use. Furthermore, native plants are regionally adapted to episodes of extreme local weather like drought and deep freezes, conditions that often kill more delicate exotics.

None of these benefits come at the cost of beauty or variety. From trees and shrubs to grasses and wildflowers, there is a native alternative to rival even the most exquisite exotic. And by growing native you can feel good knowing that your choices are helping make a difference and not contributing to the spread of exotic invasive plants.

A landscape crafted to reflect the surrounding natural beauty, rather than stand out from it, can be a lovely addition to your property as well as a rewarding achievement and testament to your commitment to preserve Georgia’s environmental health.

While deciding what to plant and keep on your property is a personal choice, Georgia’s natural heritage and our role in protecting it is a shared responsibility, and everyone has a part to play.

History and experience have shown that introducing exotic species can have catastrophic results and that continued use of exotics may be, literally, planting the seeds for significant problems in the future.

So consider making some room in your own lawn or garden for the best and most beautiful plants Georgia has to offer, and choose to grow native. It’s a small action that can have a big impact in preserving Georgia’s natural resources, now and for future generations to come.

Invasive plant regulation

Nationwide, the sale and interstate transport of certain invasive plants is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This agency evaluates the potential threat of plant species and proposes federal regulations for plants considered a significant risk.

Among the species on the Federal Noxious Weed List is cogongrass, an exotic invasive that has been the focus of rigorous control efforts in Georgia. Most states also have their own noxious weed lists that prohibit or restrict invasive plant use and help guide policies on the regional or county level.

Although many agencies and groups have compiled listings of high-priority invasive plants in Georgia, there is no state noxious weed list imposing regulations on these species. While such regulation can be controversial, a state noxious weed list could be a valuable asset in Georgia’s fight to control the spread of dangerous invasive plants.

Native alternatives and where to find them

The following are a few native alternatives to some of the most popular and widely used exotic plant species.

Invasive - Tree of Heaven (by Chuck Bargeron, UGA)

Invasive Tree of Heaven (by Chuck Bargeron, UGA/bugwood.org)

Instead of: Tree-of-heaven and mimosa/silk tree

Plant:

Southern sugar maple (Acer barbatum) – Although smaller and not as showy as its northern form (Acer saccharum), this fast-growing maple produces flower clusters in spring and yellow-orange foliage in the fall, adding color to any landscape.

American holly (Ilex opaca) – Not just for Christmas, this ornamental tree keeps its unique foliage year-round and attracts a variety of birds with its red, berry-like fruit.

Instead of: Japanese privet, Chinese privet or autumn olive

Plant:

Native - Sweetshrub at the Alcovy River (by Alan Cressler)

Sweetshrub at the Alcovy River (by Alan Cressler)

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) –This aptly named shrub produces beautiful maroon flowers that give off a sweet, fruity fragrance.

Common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) – Attractive in all seasons, this native shrub really comes to life in fall and winter when it displays fragrant yellow flowers and yellowish-orange foliage.

Instead of: English ivy, Japanese climbing fern and Chinese wisteria

Plant:

American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens and W. macrostachya) – Less aggressive than Asian species, this high-climber vine produces drooping bunches of aromatic flowers in shades of blue and purple.

American Wisteria (photo by Alan Cressler)

American Wisteria (photo by Alan Cressler)

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) – Suitable as a climbing vine or groundcover, this native exhibits brilliantly colored fall foliage and does not damage buildings or homes like other climbing vines.

For more native plant recommendations, the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council provides a comprehensive list of alternatives.

Where to find native plants

As awareness of native landscaping has grown, so has the availability of native plants. Several nurseries offer native plants in Georgia, and numerous retailers online sell live plants and seeds. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, provides a national directory of native plant and seed suppliers, landscape professionals, and environmental consultants.

More resources

USDA guides for the identification and management of invasive species in southern forests.

A guide to native landscaping in the coastal region from Coastal Wildscapes and the Georgia Native Plant Society.

A guide to native plants for Georgia gardens by the UGA extension.

(This is the second post in a multi-part series on invasive species in Georgia. Up next: controlling invaders at all cost. Also read part 1: We have seen the enemy …)

Categories: Conservation
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