(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Saltwater (seatrout), the Okefenokee (fliers and bowfin), and ponds (crappie) have been producing great and are the bites to key on over the holiday weekend. Last quarter moon is December 3rd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Donna at Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite was still ok if you got back in the oxbow lakes, but the river is high. You need to know the good high water spots to be successful – don’t just come and hope to find some. The upper river is still too high for effective fishing, but it is falling back out after the big slug of water from the upper basin. Channel and white catfish catches in the Darien area have slowed but are the best bet on the river. Put a piece of shrimp on the bottom for whiskerfish in the lower river. The river level was 12.9 feet and falling (58 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.7 feet and steady (64 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on November 24th.
Satilla River – The river is fishable for the holiday weekend, and I hope to give it a try this weekend. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the bite was slow this week except for some catfish. He expects the bite to improve as the water continues to fall. The river level on November 24th at the Waycross gage was 7.6 feet and falling (61 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 8.0 feet and falling.
St. Marys River – Some big bream were caught with crickets and pink worms over the weekend. Crappie were also caught on minnows and jigs. The catfish bite is still as good as it gets. Shrimp and rooster livers fished on the bottom worked best. The river level at the MacClenny gage on November 24th was 2.6 feet and steady.
Okefenokee Swamp – I took my daughter Ellie and her friend Elisabeth to the refuge (Folkston entrance) on Saturday. We had a blast checking out the exhibits for Pioneer Day and then fished for a couple of hours in the boat before the off-water time of 4pm. We started by flinging Dura-Spins for big fish and were quickly rewarded. We boated 3 nice pickerel to 17 inches, 8 bowfin up to 5 pounds, and a gar as long as my arm. The disappointing thing was that I lost the biggest pickerel (jackfish) that I’ve had hooked in a couple of decades. The whopper was in the 28-29 inch class and jumped and spit the Dura-Spin back at me. Our best color of spinner was the new red/white/yellow version. After about an hour we switched to pitching sallies for fliers. We got very few bites without a float, so all 3 of us switched to using a small balsa float, and we all started catching fish. The most fun was the last 15 minutes when nice fliers were inhaling the fly on every pitch. Some came to the surface to eat it. Most of the fliers were 7-8 inches but our biggest was just shy of 9 inches. The best sally color was pink, and second best was yellow. When the smoke cleared, we had caught 43 fliers. Elisabeth caught her first flier and bowfin on the trip. An active bite is a great way to be introduced to fishing in the swamp! Check out Craig James’ article about warmouth fishing on the swamp in the November issue of Georgia Outdoor News.
Local Ponds – Chad Lee fished an area farm pond on Friday evening and caught 3 bass from 2 to 8 1/2 pounds. They crushed a ribbit frog fished through duckweed. On Saturday he caught 11 bass from 1 to 3 pounds on Rat-L-Traps and ZOOM Ultra-vibe Worms. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, the bass bite has picked up around the full moon for those free-lining shiners. Minnows and jigs produced some good crappie catches, as well.
Dodge County Public Fishing Area – An angler fishing on Thursday whacked the bass. He threw crankbaits around offshore structure and schools of shad to fool 45 bass. Plastic worms and jigs will also work if you cannot get them to chase a crankbait.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – A trio of Waycross anglers fished the Crooked River area on Saturday and caught 30 trout. They had 17 that were keepers. Voodoo shrimp fished under Cajun Thunder Floats did most of their damage, but they did catch a couple on topwaters. The water temperature was still 74 degrees where they fished!!! Michael Winge reported that Waycross angler Raymond West fished out of Blythe Island Regional Park on Monday by himself and loaded the boat. He caught 44 keeper whiting, threw back 14 small ones, and caught and released 9 undersized trout. He only fished 2 hours. What a teaser for the upcoming holiday weekend! Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the blue crabs have been thick under the pier. Trout were caught on both live shrimp and jigs. Sheepshead were around in good numbers and were eating fiddler crabs. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: Trout fishing has to be my recommendation this weekend if the weather cooperates. Temperatures are supposed to be good, but the winds are the issue this time of year. Make sure to check the marine forecast closely before you plan a trip. Crappie should be biting well on warm afternoons. Expect them to eat your minnows or jigs best late in the afternoon as the sun dips below the trees. Swamp fishing should be excellent on warm afternoons. Pitch sallies under a float for fliers and cast Dura-Spins or other spinners and minnow plugs for both jackfish and mudfish.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
I hope all of you have a chance to wet a line over the holidays with your families and friends.
Chattooga’s Healing Waters – I recently headed to the Chattooga DH with good friends Bill and Grace Egan, who had just returned from India where they train guides and fly fish for brown trout in the Himalayas of North India. They are in a transition as they are moving back to California after 12 years of living abroad, and part of the reason why they were coming home was to care for Bill’s aging father. Only two days after they returned home last week, Bill’s father passed away, but he did so after spending some great time with Bill and Grace and their three nearly-grown children.
Even though they’ve fished all over the world, their favorite spot on the planet is the Chattooga River. Those of you who have spent time there understand. We spent this past Friday there together, and enjoyed a lot of laughs, some high water, a few chunky fish, and Bill and Grace were even able to both mourn their recent loss and celebrate the life of Bill’s dad through telling stories about him on the drive and on the water. A few tears fell, which added ever-so-slightly to the river’s flow, but they were the tears of good memories of a great man who lived a full life; sweet tears, and not the tears of pain or regret.
At the start of the day, the water was too high to allow a river crossing in most spots. So we hiked in on the Georgia-side road and hiked downstream a bit before working our way back upriver. Bill quickly landed four rainbows and two browns on egg patterns dredged deep in the slowest water he could find. Grace also landed one nice rainbow. In the meantime, I landed two chunky rainbows – one 12” and the other 14” – working a seam between a sandy bank and a deep-green run. Later in the day I added another chunky rainbow, a nice male brook trout, and a standard-sized brown trout that came up for a big foam hopper dry fly that I was really just using as an indicator for the lightning bug nymph I had dropped off of it.
Interestingly enough, the other four fish I landed that day all took one of several variations of the good-ole woolly bugger that I had tied off of about a six-inch tag end of a surgeons knot, which was a few feet above what would normally be my main fly. I had learned this technique the evening before at the Rabun TU meeting in a great presentation on rigging leaders by Steve Hudson. Two of the fish hit the fly when I had a butt section that was tapered down to 20-pound test! That’s what the bugger was tied on to, and they still smashed it!
As a trio we only landed 14 fish all day, and all of those were worked for as we casted multi-fly rigs with plenty of split shot and big indicators to effectively work the high, turbid water. So while the catching wasn’t as active as we had hoped, it was still a great day in a special place with some good friends.
More Chattooga DH Fans – Trouter23 and Dredger waded carefully along the sides of a high (Clayton gauge=2.3), clear river on Saturday afternoon and had a ball with chunky rainbows to 13 inches. A couple of browns added a little spice to their haul. The fish were in any good flood refuge with a little depth and cover: bedrock ledges, side eddies, and deep pools. They smashed “legs and eggs” and olive buggers all afternoon long in the 49 degree water. The key to this trip was arriving late (at lunchtime), once the water warmed a bit and the flow dropped a little more, and then getting the flies down via long leaders and weight, if necessary (bb shot or tungsten head flies). They each did their own thing: Dredger had his steelhead bobber on,
while T23 used his fluorescent Euro rig. And each caught more than enough good’uns throughout the day. The fish switch turned off around 430PM as the sun fell behind the ridge and the water temperature reversed course. A hearty supper at a warm Clayton locale ended one fine day of trouting on the high and mighty Chattooga.
Hot flies for inquiring DH neophytes:
Holiday Spices – In anticipation of heavy fishing pressure associated with the upcoming holiday, WRD Fisheries Section employees in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will stock the delayed harvest trout streams, Vogel State Park and the Lanier Tailwaters. The stockings during the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving will distribute 10,000 trout in North Georgia. The timing of these stockings will hopefully lead to higher catch rates and happy holiday anglers!
John Lee Thomson
Trout Stocking Coordinator, Fisheries
Wildlife Resources Division
Hooch Helper Thanks – Buford Hatchery manager Pat Markey and Gainesville Fisheries Tech Chris Looney want to thank the SEVENTY-FIVE volunteers who came out yesterday (11/24) and assisted with stocking the Hooch DH at Whitewater Park (NPS Palisades East Unit). The high flows should spread the fish out well. Hopefully tailwater flows and turbidity will subside in time for some good weekend fishing. Check on flows before you go, and maybe have a small stream Plan B ready in case the river is still raging Yoohoo.
Arrowhead Bassin’ Report – Dredger,
We cancelled our mountain trout trip last weekend due to high water and the desire to sleep in for once. I ended up going up to Lake Arrowhead to help my Uncle fix his dock. After work was complete, I wound up fishing off the boat at the dock for a few hours. I lost an absolute monster who took my Senko on the sink. Never had a bass jerk and run with my line like that before. He went deep and under the boat and then popped my 10LB test. I ended up with one lone bass in the 2-3# range on wacky rigged Pumpkin Senko. There are some absolute giants up there! I’ve personally seen a school of 5-6 8-10# bass on a few different occasions working baitfish while making s-turns from shallow to deep!
I have an open pass up there so if you ever want to take the Kayak up there to chase some “green fish”, let me know!
– Ron “BigBrowns” Wilson
Shallow Nighttime Stripers – Have been getting out afternoons after work. Fishing from bank on the upper end of Lanier but have been seeing sporadic topwater at last light and after dark. Fish are keying in on 3 inch shad and hitting hard. Lots of fun on a fly rod, just have to pay your dues and scout to find out where!
(Ed note: he who now is gainfully employed!!!!)
Carters – FYI – Spotted bass fishing is “phenomenal” at Carters Lake, according to guide Louie Bartenfield. Attached is a 4 pounder stuffed into a “3-pounder’s” body. Louie sez:
“Spotted bass: jerk baits early on points. Drop shots and jigging spoons later in the day. Live bait fished 25-30 ft. down will tempt both spotted bass and stripers right now.”
Senior Fisheries Biologist
GA Wildlife Resources Division
Toona White Fish Intel – Looking for some Allatoona “white fish” action this Thanksgiving Holiday?
Survey data this week found hybrid striped bass and striped bass holding in the clear water from Allatoona Dam upstream to the Galt’s Ferry Boat Ramp. Fishing down or free-lined live shad around schooling baitfish should entice lineside bites in this segment of the lake. The survey data also detected a good year class of young stripers in the 1.5-3.0 pound size range. These up-start stripers are mixed in with the hybrids.
White bass are again abundant in Allatoona. Those looking to downsize for these “mini-linesides” should target the narrow Harbortown Marina to Kellogg Creek area of the lake. For the south side angler, decent white bass concentrations were also found from Allatoona Pass (Iron Hill) south towards Glade Marina.
Allatoona surface water temperatures are running around 55F. The “mudline” starts to stain the water around Victoria Marina and intensifies as you head upstream towards Little River and the Etowah River flats. Lineside numbers were low in these stained waters, so focus your efforts where water visibility is good.
– WRD biologist James Hakala
New Fulton County Outdoors Column – http://newslink.northfulton.com/stories/Rivers-Lakes-Trout-Fishing-and-Fun,85068
In fact, Steve just “hatched” a brand new program called, “The Line on Leaders.” If your fishing club needs a program speaker, give Steve a holler!
December 12 Shrimp Party – http://tucohutta.org/current-newsletter/
Ten Dollar Stocking Stuffer – Yes, Virginia, you can stuff a Yellowstone fishing vacation into a Christmas stocking!
Good luck. Sleep off the turkey and then cast a bomber into the Lanier shallows after dark. Check your drag first to ensure you have holiday cheers instead of tears. And remember to set your parking brake, too (link courtesy of midcurrent.com):
Happy Thanksgiving from the WRD fish folks.
(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 – a few bass are being caught on buzz baits. Also, plastic worms fished around the deep-water by the picnic area and around the newly repaired fishing pier may produce a few good bites. Remember to fish plastic baits slower now that water temperatures are cooler.
Crappie: Poor- A few crappie are being caught in deeper water but they are difficult to locate and target. Live minnows and bright colored jigs work the best.
Bream: Slow- Bream fishing has been slow. Target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it. In the fall, the best strikes may be in water 6 to 8 feet deep. Crickets and small worms may produce a few late season bream. 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: Slow- A few catfish are still being caught on livers. Fish the livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam.
In general, the weather has turned colder and the bite has become less consistent. Anglers have to be more patient and persistent to have a good catch. However, fall weather means many anglers are hunting this time of year thus less fishing pressure for the dedicated angler. Finally, the repair work on the old wooden fishing pier has concluded and is ready for use. Some of the fishing pier’s upgrades include sitting benches, rod holders, shelves for tackle, and gaps in the railing for landing fish.
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer
McDuffie PFA – Largemouth Bass: Fair. Overall, Bass fishing has started to improve due to cooler water temperatures. A fisherman reported he caught and released a chunky 3-pound bass in Lake Willow. Willow Lake remains the lake with most potential for quality and quantity, followed by Breambuster which also has chunky bass. Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) closed at sundown on November 15th. This lake has been setup with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass. The shad spawn was weak and no big schools of shad have been seen on any of the lakes. The hardcore bass fishermen are still fishing with hopes of hooking into a McDuffie PFA lunker. All legal Bass on McDuffie PFA must be 14 inches in length to be kept my anglers.
Bream: Fair. Best ponds have been Bridge and Jones for good catches. Fishermen were catching bream on the dam of Lake Bridge by bottom-fishing. The Bream can still be found around structure and aquatic plants as the weather cools but the bite will slow down as winter approaches. The best baits for catching bream are still red wigglers/worms fished deep in the lake channels as the water cools. Patience and finding the bream locations is the key catching bream during cold weather.
Channel Catfish: Bite is good! All lakes with the exception of Rodbender have been restocked with catchable-size channel catfish. Catfish are biting well but fishermen must find the right lake. The catfish bite should be good until water temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Fishermen reported the catfish bite well during last hours of daylight. The best fishing is on the bottom in shallow to deep water using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits.
Striped Bass: Stripers like cooler temperatures and the cooler the better. Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse Lakes. There has not been much striper activity seen but they will be chasing forage species in the coming winter months.
Additional Information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie
Lake Russell (full, clear, low 60’s) – Bass fishing is fair. Early morning buzz baits and spinner baits are working along with top water baits. The crank bait bite is not really good yet, but this will improve very soon. Number Ten X Raps are working with good results on the main lake points during the windy part of the day. The key will be to fish the sunny points first. At high noon, switch to jigs, worms and tubes to finish up the day. Be sure to have a Super Fluke and a Senko rigged for the afternoon bite around the rocks on the bridges and on reef makers.
Clark Hill (over full, low 60’s) – Bass fishing is fair. A top-water bite is occurring early along with a decent spinner bait bite. The main lake points are still getting a lot of attention at this lake. The best bite is coming off the #7 Shad Rap in and around these areas. The key will be to fish a point or drop off thoroughly before moving on to your next location. Try a variety of baits before moving on to another location. Long points are still the best bet. Good baits to pack before heading out include the 3/8 ounce Strike King spinnerbait in white or chartreuse, the DT10 Shad Rapala as well as the olive green or glass ghost for the early morning feed. Don’t be afraid to use a jig or Carolina rig on the submerged wood, tree tops or stumps. There are some good bass being caught off various forms of wood especially low to up-lake.
Lake Oconee (full, the main lake is heavaly stained, clearing on the south end) & Richland Creek (lightly stained, 60-66 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair. The backs of the creeks like Lick and Sugar have been the most productive over the past week. A spinnerbait fished along sea walls and docks can work so fish to the back of the creeks. Chartreuse has been the best color. A low running crank bait fished around the docks and wood structure have also been productive. Jigs fished along the riprap in these creeks is also working when Georgia Power is pulling water.
Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741 firstname.lastname@example.org
Striper fishing is good. The stripers are in the major coves and creeks looking for bait, and cleaner water. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of bait in the creeks and drop a live bait down in to the fish. Live bait and spoons have both been producing over the past week.
Crappie fishing is fair. The fish are in the mouths of the creeks 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. Some fish are also coming on jigs trolled at a depth of 10 ft. over the same timber.
West Point Lake (down 1.4 feet, stained & low 60’s) – Bass fishing has been fair. Spotted bass have been biting well lake-wide and depth dependent on water clarity. The northern end has a little more stain with the clearest water being on the southern end. Largemouth have been scattered which is unusual this time of year. A little rain fall should pull the larger fish up and hold on wood. The best pattern has been on shallow wood in three to five feet of water in the pockets. The best pockets have been from the railroad trestle to the 219 bridge. Use a 3/8 ounce All Terrain AT jig in black/blue with a Z man chunz. Also use the shaky head with a Z Man floating worm in green pumpkin. On cloudy days with an approaching front use a 3/8 ounce white buzz bait in the same areas.
Lake Sinclair (down 3.7 feet, low 70’s) – Bass fishing is fair and top-water baits continue to produce a few bites on most mornings and during low light conditions. Buzz baits to ½ ounce in black, chartreuse or white have been producing well. Other lures like Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, and Torpedo’s have also enticed a few bites. Most active fish are now located in coves and creeks where they’ve followed large numbers of shad. For the last few days, soft plastics and jigs have been the most successful baits, with crank baits and spinnerbaits catching a few fish. Try a Zoom U Tale worm in green pumpkin, red bug, or June bug, with a 1/8 ounce weight rigged Texas style on 12 to 15 pound line. Cast these baits right on bank or sea wall and slowly retrieve it a short distance before reeling in and casting again. A 3/8 ounce jig with a Zoom Super Chunk will work too. Fish the stumps, blow downs, brush, and docks. Later in the day use a short leader Carolina rig. Crank baits like Shad Raps, Thunder Shads and Bandits can catch fish also. Fish a spinnerbait, especially around wood cover and during early morning. Riprap along the Little River channel continues to yield a few fish, mainly during power generation. Various crank baits will produce a few bites when the fish are active.
Jackson Lake (down 1.3 feet, stained & low 60’s) – Bass fishing is good. Quality size bass have moved into the pockets following the movement of bait fish. Focus more of your fishing in the pockets rather than the main lake. Long deep pockets may be most productive. We have been through a full moon phase and the bite after dark has been good, particularly for larger bass. A green jig/craw combo is ideal for targeting larger fish. Probe docks, brush, and other structure as you work the pockets. Texas rigged Finesse worms are also good for a bite and crankbaits should certainly be tried. A Bandit 200 and a #7 Shad Rap are good choices. Spinnerbaits and a small shad crank bait are good choices early and late. Use a white buzz bait on sea walls around shallow cover. Work your crank through wood, rocks, and around the docks. Always take the opportunity to work the wood cover and docks more thoroughly with your plastic and jig. Fish the shaky head rig for all-around plastic fishing, but Texas-rigged baits are preferable for working brushy cover. Finesse worms and crawfish patterns have been working on shallower rock, dock, and wood structure. Trick worms in watermelon seed will work on the shaky head. Throw the plastic baits and jigs into the wood cover and let it soak a while before working it up and out through the tree limbs. Shad are primary forage for good numbers of schooling bass. Look for seasonal congregations of bait in the deep pockets. Target the feeding bass with a crank bait and vertical presentations such as a spoon or plastic on a drop shot rig.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
Hopefully all of us survived this last monsoon and are anxiously awaiting river and stream flows to drop to sane levels. Smaller watersheds will “shed” water much more quickly, so keep that fact in mind as we peruse USGS Real Time stream flow gauges for Georgia and plot our weekend strategies. http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt
Lakes aren’t affected as badly, except for the strong high pressure fronts and bluebird skies that follow the storms. Finned reservoir targets should have their appetites restored within a day or two of these big blows. Just watch for muddy waters from reservoir tribs and maybe fish downlake from the mud, unless you’re tossing some big, bright, loud largemouth bass lures.
Here we go.
Chattooga DH Report –
Rabunites Treyman and Dredger hit the DH last Sunday afternoon to break in young dude’s new fly rod, a recent birthday gift. The water was cold (46F) and the duo resorted to a classic winter recipe of “legs and eggs.” They caught a decent handful of rainbows up to eleven inches, primarily on the infamous “Oreck egg,” with a few fish having a taste for the brown Pat’s rubberlegs. Treyman perfected his new skills of dredging with a half-pound (slight exaggeration) of split shot to get down to the frozen fish on the bottom. It was a great afternoon of fishing and fibbing between two generations of Rabunites. Dredger suggested that visiting flatlanders consider switching to winter mode just a bit earlier than normal this year:
Smith Creek Success – Flyfishing noob “Anna,” under the tutelage of her buddy, Suzy, enjoyed last Saturday’s GA Women Flyfishers outing to Smith Creek DH at Unicoi State Park. Anna learned a little of this “dredging” stuff from a local troll, gave it a shot, and caught her first trout ever! The duo had a big time and planned more trouting trips to north GA.
NOTE: Interested gals oughta get adopted like Anna did. Lookie here at her grip-n-grin moment: http://www.georgiawomenflyfishing.com/
That could be you, so consider joining the Women Fly-flingers!
Epic Battle – Enjoy this tall trouting tale: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=108757
Hudson at Hammonds – Saturday
I wanted to let you know about a special fishing event this Saturday — “Trout Fishing Day” at Hammond’s Fishing Center in Cumming, just east of Ga. 400!
I’ve been asked to present three workshops that day focusing on various aspects of trout fishing — one an introduction to fly fishing, one an introduction to fly tying, and one a program on Georgia’s Delayed Harvest streams. I’d love to have you come by for any or all of these. They’ll be fun…and they’re free!
I’m attaching a copy of the flyer which describes the event.
If you’re looking for something to do (yourself or with your family) this Saturday, by all means check these out. It should be a LOT of fun!
Hope to see you there!
Lanier Stripers – Henry’s How-to: http://coastalanglermag.com/emags/atlanta/#p=30
Lanier Bait Sources – If you’re looking for Lanier fishing news, hot lures, or lively baits, here are some great local leads:
- East: https://www.facebook.com/Oakwood-Bait-Tackle-484469974916728/
- West: http://www.hammondsfishing.net/
- North: https://www.facebook.com/Sherrys-Bait-Barbecue-673188899372036/
Ken’s Detailed Reservoir Reports – http://www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html
WRD Walleye Whereabouts – http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Yonah
FYI- LWCF Reauthorization Hearings – http://lwcfcoalition.org/about-lwcf.html
Flight of the Magnum Trout Bird – In response to recent citizen reports, expert analysis was done on existing photographic data and eyewitness accounts,
and the results are now in: http://rabuntu.org/site/2013/11/11/helicopter-stocking-the-chattooga/
The SCDNR fish went in last week and our Georgia contribution took its ride this week, according to this reliable source:
“On November 16th, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service stocked nearly 10,000 trout with the aid of a helicopter. This effort was made in order to stock fish in remote areas that are inaccessible to our stocking trucks. Funding for this stocking was provided by the U.S. Forest Service and Trout Unlimited.”
John Lee Thomson
Trout Stocking Coordinator
GA Wildlife Resources Division
Note how YOU can help ensure further Chattooga UFO sightings:
Be a part of the success story.
Whether you’re of the spin or fly persuasion, good luck!
(Astute fishing report readers picked up a hint last week.)
Reminder- Nov 24 – Atlanta Bucket Toters Wanted – Calling all kids with buckets and fishing poles:
The Power of Barbie – How about this video to send us toward the holiday with a positive spirit and love for family?
Once again, dry out and get out there. The Chattooga bird has flown and the Lanier stripers are making guest appearances on top, so the rest is now up to you. Before you know it, winter will scare you back into those warm living room chairs, so go soon.
Good luck, and thanks for buying your licenses!
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Saltwater is on fire right now, especially for seatrout. Unfortunately, November is a month you can typically only fish the big water a couple days per week because of high winds. Get the boat ready to go so that you can get out on the good weather days. Pond fishing has really picked up for crappie. Full Moon is November 25th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Donna at Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite was still really good before the river started rising. On Friday a 2-person crew caught crappie and big bream in lakes off the river. A white Satilla Spin landed most of their crappie, while Georgia Giant worms fooled many of the bream. On Saturday the bite came to a screeching halt with the dropping temperatures, rising water, and wind. The upper river is too high for effective fishing with the big slug of water making its way to us from the upper basin. Channel and white catfish catches have been good and will continue throughout the winter in the Darien area. Put shrimp on the bottom to connect. The river level was 12.5 feet (a record high level for the date) and rising (60 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.8 feet and rising (66 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on November 17th.
Satilla River – The river came up fast this week but is heading back down again. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the best bet this week is the Hwy 158 area of the river, as it is falling fast there. The catfish bite has been good for the anglers who went in the upper river. A few folks caught crappie and bass while the river was rising. Buzzbaits fished fast fooled the bass, while minnows duped the crappie. The river level on November 17th at the Waycross gage was 10.0 feet and falling (62 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 8.4 feet and rising.
St. Marys River – The St.Marys is still very fishable. With the warm temperatures this week, the bream have been killing crickets. Anglers reported creels of around 20 fish per trip this week. Some crappie were caught on minnows, and catfish are still being caught about wherever you drop a shrimp, rooster liver, or pink worm. The river level at the MacClenny gage on November 17th was 2.4 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – Anglers reported catching some warmouth this week on the Folkston side. Expect the flier bite to pick up with the cooler temperatures this weekend. Pitch yellow or pink sallies with a bream-buster pole, and suspend the little fly underneath a small balsa float to keep it in their face. Check out Craig James’ article about warmouth fishing on the swamp in the November issue of Georgia Outdoor News.
Local Ponds – Chad Lee caught 4 nice bass up to 4 pounds this weekend on chrome Rat-L-Traps. He also broke a big one off and could hear it shaking its head under the boat for what seemed like forever. That’s a bad feeling! He also added a nice mess of crappie to the creel by throwing jigs. Michael Winge said that Waycross area ponds were producing good catches of crappie and bass. Both minnows and jigs fooled the crappie, while free-lined shiners worked best for bass.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Herb Deener, my dad, and I fished with Justin Bythwood last Wednesday at Crooked River to celebrate their birthdays. What a celebration it was! We landed 58 seatrout and a bluefish, all on artificials. Early in the day, a Sea Shad suspended under an Equalizer Float fooled them best. Panhandle moon, copperhead, glitterbug, Texas roach, and sexy shad worked on the first of the outgoing tide around shell mounds. The fish were not too picky about color, but wanted you to place it near the shell mounds. Late in the trip as the tide got low, Justin put it on my dad and me. He threw a copperhead Sea Shad on an 1/8-oz. Flashy Jighead and whacked them. He caught and released our biggest fish of the day, a 21-incher on the rig. I threw a larger red Flashy Jighead and could not fool them. They wanted that little, subtle bait fished on a steady retrieve. We ended up bringing home 36 trout, although we had our limit of 45 that were legal size. We caught fish everywhere we stopped, but the first of the outgoing and just before low tide were the most concentrated bites. The trout bite was excellent for another group of Waycross anglers who fished on Monday and brought home 17 nice seatrout from the Brunswick area. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers caught lots of sheepshead from jetties, pilings, and bridges. Fiddler crabs were the best bait. He also reported good catches of trout, redfish, and whiting from the Brunswick and St. Marys areas. The Hampton River area produced good catches of trout, redfish, and flounder. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that sheepshead averaging 3 to 5 pounds were caught in big numbers from the pier this week. Creels of 6 to 12 fish were the norm. Big bull reds to 54 inches were caught again this week at night. On Tuesday, anglers landed a few trout. Nice-sized blue crabs were still around. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: Trout fishing has been excellent, but keep a close eye on the winds before deciding to go. This weekend’s forecasted cold front should get the crappie biting. Try to fish before the front for the best bite, as the fish will likely turn off for a day or so after the front. Ponds are a great place to get away from the winds this weekend. Fish late in the afternoon for your best shot at a good bite. Catfishing on the lower St. Marys River or White Oak Creek on the lower Satilla is an excellent bet if the winds aren’t too high. Put shrimp on the bottom at the mouth of creeks during the outgoing tide and hold on.
We DNR folks would like to thank each one of you who came out on a rainy Saturday to help with our National Hunting and Fishing Day events. The overcast skies and cool air temperatures helped the appetites of our stocked fish, and they accommodated our kids all day long. For those of you who missed volunteering or just attending these events, please mark your calendars now for the fourth Saturday in September 2016. You’ll be glad you did.
Now on to the fall fishing news:
The fall fishing is gearing up. Big redfish are swarming the sounds. Bass are feeding more aggressively, and panfish are tearing it up on rivers that are at a good level. Of course, the bowfin are still chowing in the swamp. What a great time of the year! Last quarter moon is October 4th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Rabunites Dredger and the McFalls duo sampled the Tallulah on Sunday afternoon and caught a couple of nice browns during the younger dude’s instream flyfishing lesson. I’ll bet there are still some north Georgia leftovers for many of you this weekend.
Bluelines Still Great- http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=108243
Blast from the Past- https://www.gon.com/fishing/brook-trout-are-georgias-native-gems
Gotta Luv Rain! These Dukes noobs sure do – http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=108285
For Any Northbound Travelers – Delayed Harvest Trout Waters Stocking Dates Map
Ken’s Reservoir Reports – http://www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html
Good Atlanta Bookmark -Steve’s in Alpharetta. His Facebook page might be of interest to many of you north Metro folks, especially those with kids who are new to fishing. Add it to your bookmarks!
Caption– Kaylon (left) and Angelo of Waycross fished the Okefenokee on Labor Day and whacked the bowfin on Dura-Spins. This 8-lb. 3-oz. monster was their biggest, and it inhaled a fire tiger spinner.
Dannet at Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite is still hot. Both minnows and jigs fooled them. Anglers reported catching creels of 15 to 35 crappie per trip. On Tuesday, an angler fishing by himself caught 35 crappie, several dozen big bream, a warmouth, and a redbreast on a black-yellow Satilla Spin. The flathead bite is still great. Over Friday and Saturday nights, an angler using goldfish as bait on bush hooks caught over 200 pounds of catfish, with a 38-pounder being the biggest. The river level was 2.3 feet and falling (78 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.3 feet and falling (77 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on September 29th.
Craig James went with his kids and friends to the upper river last Thursday and Friday and pitched jigheads and curly-tailed grubs, as well as Satilla Spins and caught some nice messes of redbreasts, bluegills, and shellcrackers. Yes, he got the ‘crackers to hit the curly-tail! Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the crappie fishing is picking up. Minnows are catching decent-sized fish in the Waycross area. He had reports of bream eating crickets and worms in the river between Jamestown Landing and Blackshear Bridge. Catfish bit well in the Hoboken area of the river. Shrimp and rooster livers produced the fish. The bass bite has been fair on topwater plugs and Texas-rigged soft plastics. The river level on September 29th at the Waycross gage was 6.1 feet and rising (75 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.5 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The catfish bite is the only action on the river, but it is fast and furious.
Channel and white cats are hitting shrimp and rooster livers. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 29th was 5.5 feet and falling.
I didn’t hear any specific reports this week, but I’m sure the bowfin bite is still on fire. Throw in-line spinners like Dura-Spins and hold on. Fliers can be caught by pitching yellow or pink sallies to current breaks. Little islands of weeds that jut out into the canal are all you need. The current is slow, but you will notice a little eddy behind the point. Pitch the fly to the eddy and expect your float to bobble when a flier inhales it.
Chad Lee of Alma was hammering bass on local ponds this weekend. His biggest was a 6 1/2-pounder on a ribbit frog, and he caught 10 smaller bass on plastic crayfish and creature baits. He had his line broken twice, also. A few crappie inhaled his beetlespin, as well. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds the bream bite was fair on crickets. Crappie ate minnows and jigs, but the bite was a little slower with the hot weather. Expect the crappie to fire off with the forecasted cooler temperatures this weekend. Most of the reported bass were fooled with shiners. A few catfish were caught with pink worms and shrimp.
SALTWATER AND GEORGIA COAST
A couple of Waycross anglers fished the St. Simons Pier over the weekend, and a bunch of big redfish hit the deck (and went back over the rail) while they were there. Cut mullet has been the ticket for them and others fishing the pier over the last few weeks. Brent Tatum and Craig James fished the St. Marys area Saturday and roped the trout and redfish. They caught fish on both live shrimp and Assassin Sea Shads (their best colors were goldfish and chicken-on-a-chain). They had 2 oversized redfish, 8 keeper reds, 16 keeper trout, a flounder, and a bunch of throwback trout. The inshore bite is firing off as the fish start schooling for the fall. Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers reported that in the Brunswick area the whiting bite has been excellent on shrimp and squid. The red and flounder bites were also good. Over the weekend, a group of anglers fishing the Crooked River area caught flounder on the Savage Gear artificial shrimp in natural and light pink colors (even though the water was stained). On the Jekyll Island Pier, big sheepshead were caught on fiddler crabs. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that it has been reds, reds, and more reds. Big bull reds were caught every evening this week. The big fish ate cut bait and begin biting right before low tide. Most of the bulls are 36 inches or bigger. As you are aware, all redfish over 23 inches must be released. In the daytime, slot redfish were caught, but the evening and night were when the trophies bit. The whiting bite from the pier was fair for those using shrimp. Flounder were landed in good numbers, and that should pick up with the clearer water coming around the last quarter moon. Finger mullet or mudminnows are the ticket for the flatfish. A few croaker were around, and blue crabs are still under the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: The tides will bring clearer water this weekend to saltwater. With the trout bite picking up, a trip to the coast would be a good choice this weekend (weather permitting). Check the winds late in the week, as a cold front is supposed to come through. If the winds are unruly for the brine, hunker down in the river or a pond and try for redbreasts (Satilla) or crappie (Satilla or ponds). I’ve been wanting to get back to the Altamaha and fling little spinnerbaits for panfish. Fall is my favorite time to do that, and it is extremely simple to cast to all available shoreline cover until you determine what kind of cover they are favoring that day. For bigger fish, bowfin in the swamp are hard to beat. Expect to catch 15 fish an hour by throwing in-line spinners.
LAKE WALTER F. GEORGE
According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula” Catfish and crappie reports are good. Shell cracker have been slow. Bass have been very slow. However, Richard is not sure how accurate that report for bass may be since he has not had the opportunity to talk with many bass anglers recently.
Some nice stringers of crappie are starting to be caught along the old river beds of the lake. A few shell crackers are still being caught but there have not been many bream beds spotted. Catfish in the main body of the lake are doing very well. Bass are being caught along the hydrilla line, which is very easy to determine this time of year. An angler recently reported catching crappie in the Chattahoochee River last Saturday morning and caught several fish in the 13 to 14 inch range. They also caught 4 bass which were 12 inch or better while crappie fishing, all in 14 – 18 feet of water.
The Lower Flint River is currently low and clear and although you will need to be careful navigating around the rocks and shoals, the shoal bass fishing should be excellent. Some of the best baits to try in and around the numerous shoals in this part of the river are top water plugs, jigs, and flukes. The current river condition should also be good for bream and catfish. A recent grandfather and grandson son team recently caught a cooler full of ½ to 1 pound channel catfish fishing worms on the bottom near some woody structure in a bend of the river.
By: Linda May
In late summer and early fall, ruby-throated hummingbirds are migrating south even as orb weaver spiders are increasing in size and becoming more noticeable. While hummingbirds regularly eat spiders and use spider silk to build their nests, never in a million years did I expect to witness the tables turned between these two creatures!
On Sept. 16, my husband Chris and I came home from shopping a little after 10 p.m. Since the raccoon that lives in the woods behind our house often tries to raid our birdseed, I went to the back deck to bring in the feeder. However, as I turned on the deck light, I was distracted by something large in the spotted orb weaver web outside our kitchen window.
Chris and I recently have enjoyed watching the spider construct its large circular net and capture its prey, but this sight was horrifying – a hummingbird was hanging upside down in the sticky web! For a few moments, we stared in disbelief at what appeared to be a dead bird, but then the bird flinched! Amazingly, despite hanging upside down for several hours without food and possibly sustaining spider bites, the hummingbird was alive.
We rushed to help the little guy. Chris grabbed a ladder and a long pole with a net, scooped the hummingbird out of the web from the second-story window and handed it to me on the deck. The few iridescent red gorget feathers on the bird’s throat told me it was a juvenile male ruby-throat, one that likely hatched farther north last spring.
After sustaining quite a head-rush, the hummingbird must have felt relieved to be upright in my hand. However, he was weak and his breathing seemed labored, so I knew he needed refueling quickly.
Fortunately, since I keep hummingbird feeders outside, I already had some fresh sugar water (one part sugar dissolved in four parts water) prepared in my refrigerator. I poured it in a small nectar feeder and coaxed the frail hummer to drink.
The sugar water revived the hummingbird fairly quickly, and he regained enough strength to sit upright and perch but not to fly. That allowed me time to check for any fractures or other injuries. At first, he seemed unable to stretch out his right wing, but that was because it was stuck to his tail feathers by some incredibly strong spider silk! I feared his feet were injured, too, but after gently removing more spider silk, full movement returned.
Now the main concern was to restore the hummingbird’s energy so he could continue on his migration journey. We offered more sugar water, which he vigorously sipped. Once he got his fill, I placed him on a perch in a small animal carrier in a dark, quiet bathroom to calm down and sleep overnight.
The next morning, we were glad to see the hummingbird still doing well. He appeared stronger following a good night’s rest, and after more sugar water, he started to fly. To better test his flight ability, we moved the hummingbird from the carrier in our bathroom to a screened-in hammock on our deck. It was then that I noticed his tail feathers weren’t splaying properly, which caused him to fly backwards. Once again, spider silk removal was in order.
A few trials later, the hummingbird appeared to be fully able to fly, steer and sip from the feeder. I considered that he might need to regain a little more strength for the long trek ahead, but that would best be done in the wild where he could exercise his wings well and get food from natural sources – so it was time to let him go.
For one last time, I held the little ruby-throat my hand as I took him out of the screened-in hammock to the deck. Just before release, another hummingbird came to one of my feeders and seemed to beckon the little guy on with his buzzing wings and chirps. Immediately as I opened my hand, the juvenile male sped high into the treetops. After perching on a bare branch for a moment to preen his feathers, he flew away to continue his voyage southward.
He may have to contend with storms, exhaustion and other predators along the way, but hopefully he now knows to avoid large spider webs!
(And about the spotted orb weaver spider – she was not injured in this incident. The next day, we saw her capture, wrap and suck the fluids out of a large praying mantis – so that’s one less hummingbird predator out there!)
Linda May is environmental outreach coordinator for the DNR Nongame Conservation Section. May has experience as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and was permitted to help the hummingbird under state law. If you find a seriously hurt animal, contact a licensed rehabilitator (list available online or through the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Special Permit Unit, 770-761-3044). More details at www.georgiawildlife.com/InjuredOrphanedWildlife.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region Fisheries staff)
The slow transition to fall continues. Headwater streams have cooled off quite a bit, so wild trout (pic1) and leftover stockers should be much more eager to grab our bait, fly, or lure than they were a month ago. We’re no longer restricted to the cool mornings for our best fishing. Burton Hatchery manager John Lee Thomson reported morning water temps from Moccasin Creek at 53 degrees this week.
Rivers are transitioning, too. While we were still catching some good bass and bream through the summer, their fights were often lethargic in the hot water. Long runs were nonexistent, and jumps were scarce. As river temps drop back down into the 70’s and even the 60’s, fish feeding activity will be sparked. Instead of a sloooow drag of the plastic worm, we can reunite with our spinnerbaits and jerkbaits, turn that reel handle, and expect some nice leaps and strong runs. And we don’t have to share these waters with as many recreational yakkers and tubers, as the water cools and schoolwork keeps them closer to home.
Our reservoir fish will be the slowest to respond, as these large lakes are “heat sinks” and take a long time to lose their stored summer heat (see “turnover facts;” http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Hatcheries/Buford).
Coolwater species like walleye, stripers, hybrids, and Burton brown trout will still be deep, where the temperature/dissolved oxygen combo suits them best, so we’ll still have to pay close attention to the reservoir profiles that WRD fisheries techs are measuring each month (Chris Looney’s out probing Lanier right now, as I write this lunchtime report).
The transition to fall is also marked by many upcoming festivals. We’re no different as we prepare for National Hunting and Fishing Day next Saturday (9/26), which is also a free fishing day for all Georgia residents. http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/FreeFishingDays
Take note of the events at the end of this report and make a family plan to attend one next Saturday.
It looks like we might have some warmer weather for the weekend, but that shouldn’t hold back our transition too badly. Grab your trout rod and squirrel gun and return to the mountains as they cool off. We’ll plan around our beloved football teams, but still find time to enjoy a great fall season of sights (pic2) and sounds in the outdoors. Let’s celebrate our survival through another hot summer and look forward to the cooler weeks ahead, in the woods.
Here we go:
· Stocker Best Bets:
Hit remote or rugged sections of our most heavily stocked streams and fish fast through them (two casts to a spot, then step upstream) to have a fine fall harvest of the stocking season’s leftovers. All one million trout we’ve stocked haven’t been found and caught yet, so go hunt them down. Just remember to cover a lot of ground. Best bets: lower Holcomb, Tallulah, Wildcat between the campgrounds, lower Warwoman, Cooper in the Scenic Area, lower Rock, away from the road, Hooch at Jones Bridge, and the upper half of Blue Ridge Tailwater.
Wild Trout Are Looking Up – Great report and fishing tips: New at headwater trouting? Don’t know what “histicking” means? Watch this video and catch more trout! Headwater trout are a definite “best bet” right now!
New Nottely Fish Condos – WRD says thanks to our partners, the US Forest Service and the Lake Nottely Improvement Association, for their recent helping hands toward homeless fish. http://www.lakenottely.org/
Young Yakkers Video – This will get your heart pumping.
Where’s the Summerville Blue Trout now? – See the 2:50 mark of this great video.
River Monsters – Thanks to David A. for this video fishing report.
Screaming Reels – Fall reservoir primer.
Sept 26 Events – Pass the word and plan to attend
(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 been slow because of the very hot temperatures. However, fall is finally here. Because of the cooler fall weather, bass feeding will increase before they head into the winter. Anglers should try shad, look alike, baits at several depths. Also, plastic-worms fished around the rocks on the dam and around the fishing pier may produce a few good bites.
Crappie: Poor- A few crappies are being caught but they are difficult to locate and target. For crappie, try fishing deep around standing timber with live minnows or try bright colored jugs fished at several depths.
Bream: Good – Bream fishing is good and improving with the cooler water temperatures. Target shallower areas that also have some woody brush associated with it. 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: Good- The rocks along the dam are always a good spot to try and catch big channel cats. However, catfish are also located throughout much of the lake. Some catfish are being caught on cut bait, worms, and livers. Try fishing both on the bottom as well as suspended higher up in the water column.
In general, the hot summer weather will be replaced by cooler nights during September and October. The cooling water temperatures cause the fish to increase their feeding before the winter months. Therefore, now is an excellent time to grab the family and head outdoors for some fall fishing at Big Lazer PFA. Also, Big Lazer PFA will be hosting a kids fishing event on September 26 from 8:00 to 11:00 for children age 15 or younger.
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer
Clarks Hill Lake (down 4.4 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is fair but is improving a little each week as cooler temperatures roll through the area. The grass mats and humps are still getting a lot of attention from anglers this past week. A few bass are just now starting to move up on the edges of the flats and out of the deeper water in the creeks and rivers. Suspended fish are showing up all over the graph in about ten to fifteen feet of water. Rapalas DT10 and DT14 will get the baits into this zone and catch good fish. Shad Rasp along the edges of the flats along with Bandit 200 and the Glass Raps will work also. As the bass start to feed on the small bluebacks and shad, a white 3/8 ounce spinner bait on the wind-blown points will work. Be sure there are some herring close by and you can see them on the Lowrance Down Scan technology. Also use a Rattlin’ Rap up in the rivers around the rocky islands and rocky stretches of bank.
Jackson Lake (down 1.2 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing has been picking up but it’s still slow. All the fish are small and the best action lakewide has been close to the dam. Jigs in combinations of browns and greens are fair but use small ones. Work the jigs slowly around any and all wood in both shallow and deep water and don’t forget to work the docks from all sides and angles. Use small 1/4 and 3/8 ounce jigs with small pork or Zoom salt trailers. And don’t forget to add some Jacks Juice garlic scent in the bags. Carolina rigged worms off the points are catching a few small spots and greens are the right colors. Pumpkinseed, green pumpkin and watermelon seed are fair and use a Carolina rig with 1/4 to ½ ounce weights. Later in the day fish with the #5 Shad Rap at the small points along the main channels.
McDuffie PFA – Largemouth Bass: Poor due to hot weather – All legal Bass on McDuffie PFA must be 14 inches in length. Overall, most of the bass on McDuffie PFA have been biting very little with only young bass being caught. Overall, Bass fishing has been slow to pick up and probably will really pick up as the weather cools. Fishermen are still catching keeper bass in Willow. Willow Lake remains the lake with most potential for quality and quantity. Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month. Rodbender is currently opened until the evening of September 15th. 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. 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 Bridge, Beaverlodge, and Willow in order of best catches reported or seen by area staff. A 12 pound channel catfish was caught on Sunday September 6th. 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.
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.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie
Lake Oconee (full, stained up rivers and on main lake, 85 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair. There are still fish showing up on the south end humps. Large crank baits fished down the side of the humps will produce a few fish. A Carolina rig will also draw a strike. The deeper boat docks on the south end of the lake are still producing some fish. A shaky head fished under the docks in 10 feet of water in the shade have been productive.
“Striper fishing is slow. Look for schooling fish in the late afternoon. There are large schools of bait on top every afternoon. You will need to do a lot of looking with the Lowrance until you find the fish chasing these baits. 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 (down 2.4 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is fair and the weather will change again and cool down. The water is slightly stained in the creeks to clear in the main rivers. Bass are starting to roam shallow lake-wide with the most fish being taken on main lake points. Fish these points on both sides with a #5 Shad Rap in the fire tiger color then back it up with a Carolina rigged Zoom six inch finesse worm in red shad color. This bait is working with great results after the morning crankbait bite turns off. Concentrate on points and the bowl areas on the side of points throwing the worm in very shallow and working it all the way back. The late afternoon is the time to pick up the crank again and stay on point after point until you get the bite. Swim the Zoom Fluke of the Fish Head Spin across the main lake and the secondary points and be sure to let the bait drag as close to the bottom as possible.
Lake Sinclair (down 1.1 feet, stained up river, main lake clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is fair. The points down lake heading towards the dam are the best areas. The river channel comes real close to these points and there is plenty of structure on the channel ledge. The Super Fluke in pearl will work on a 3/0 Mustad hook and 10 pound test Sufix line on a spinning reel is excellent with the water a little stained. Fish it also with the Carolina rig and with the Texas Rig. Smoke and pearl are the color of choices here. Add the Rapala DT10 in either the silver or shad color. Hot mustard is good with the lake rising as bass will look for bright colors of lures. On the channel bends and any point close by at or near a major point are good places. Any current will be the helping factor here. Any place you find current the bass are sure to be close by. Have a Strike King 3/8 ounce spinner bait ready all day also.
Drawdown information: Oconee/Sinclair Land Office: 706-484-7500 Lake Sinclair: Oct. 18 Dec. 1, 2015: 4.5 feet
West Point Lake (down 2.6 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing is slow. Fish can be very difficult to locate offshore with consistency because of these continual drops. Look for little change over the next few weeks until outside temperatures begin to drop. My primary pattern has been working humps and roadbeds offshore. We are using the Lowrance electronics to locate fish and bait and then turning back to fish these areas. If bait is not there continue moving to your next location. You may have to check multiple locations at different times throughout the day. Start by throwing deep diving crankbaits in a shad pattern such as a Strike King Series 6XD in sexy shad. After a few casts then switch to a green pumpkin Zoom ten inch Ole Monster Texas rigged with a ¼ ounce lead and 5/0 worm hook.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
The Okefenokee Swamp and saltwater produced the best reports again this week. The Satilla and St Marys rivers are high, but the Altamaha is getting right for the fall panfish bite. The Outdoor Adventure/J.A.K.E.S Day will be held again this year on National Hunting and Fishing Day (September 26th). All events, such as fishing, shooting, and nature shows will happen at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton. During the event, I will be taking teens (ages 12-16) two anglers at a time on a boat and teaching them how to bass fish. For more information or to register a teen for the bass fishing excursions, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at 912-285-6094. New Moon is Sept. 13. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – Chad Lee of Alma fished the upper Altamaha over the holiday weekend, and he and his crew caught a cooler of mullet. They cleaned 40 of them and enjoyed a great meal of smoked mullet (I like making smoked fish dip with the leftovers). Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said that the flathead catfish fishing was great over the holiday weekend. Goldfish worked best as bait. Dannet at Altamaha Park said that crappie were the most consistent species this week. Anglers targeted them in the main river cover and primarily used minnows. Channel, flathead, and blue catfish were caught in good numbers. Limb lines fished at night produced most of the flatheads, several of which were in the 50-pound range. The smaller catfish were hanging out at the mouths of cuts. The river level was 3.3 feet and falling (83 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.5 feet and falling (82 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Sept. 8.
Okefenokee Swamp – I took neighbors Kaylon and Angelo to the Folkston entrance on Monday during the heat of the day, and we whacked the bowfin. The boys caught 2 nice fish from the dock as I prepared the boat for launching. We ended up fishing the canals and caught 45 bowfin, 2 gar, and 9 fliers. All of the bowfin and the gar ate Dura-Spins in several colors. The lure that caught the biggest, an 8-lb., 3-oz. monster (way to go, Kaylon!) and most was the fire tiger version. After eating lunch, we pitched yellow and orange sallies in the little current break where we stopped to eat, and caught 9 fliers in about 5 minutes. Pink was the better sally color that day. The little panfish were not exciting enough for the boys, so we headed off for more of the big, toothy, feisty bowfin. Most of the fish we caught were 2 to 3 pounds, but several topped the 4-pound mark. Both boys caught their first bowfin on the trip. At the end, while I was preparing the boat for the road, they fished from the dock and caught another bowfin. Needless to say, they’ll be ready for a return trip to the swamp. For the most part, other anglers have been staying away from the swamp during the heat. The water rose almost a half-foot with the rains this week, so that will likely put the warmouth and pickerel bites off as they move to newly-flooded flats. We did not having any trouble finding flier with the higher water. The key was to find moving water and fish the current breaks. The west side continued to produce great catfish catches, with shrimp being the primary bait.
Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the fishing around Waycross has slowed with the rising water. A few anglers reported catching crappie in backwaters out of the Jamestown Landing. Before the big rains, anglers were doing well for bream and redbreasts in the Hwy 158 area of the river. Crickets, worms, and red/white Satilla Spins produced the best catches. Shiners and plastic worms fooled bass. The river level at the Waycross gage was 10.8 feet and falling (78 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 9.0 feet and rising on Sept. 8.
St. Marys River – The river is high, but it has not stopped the catfish bite. Some bream were also reported over the weekend upriver from Traders Hill. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 10.8 feet and rising on Sept. 8.
Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds bream ate worms and crickets well. Catfish ate rooster livers and pink worms. Shiners and topwaters fooled bass. Fish late in the evening for bigger bass. An angler fishing a local pond caught 12 bass between 2 and 5 pounds on the new Dura-Spin. The black-chartreuse model worked best for him.
Best Bet – I know that most folks turn their noses up at the thought of catching bowfin (mudfish), but to me catching a bunch of them sure beats beating your brains out in the heat to get a few bites from a largemouth bass (I’m not a tournament angler anymore and quite frankly like something pulling on my line…). If you decide to try it, pick up some black-chartreuse or fire tiger Dura-Spins or other in-line spinners and fish them in the canals and around lily pads at any of the swamp entrances and hold on. It’s a good idea to have a lip-gripping tool and pliers or fish hook extracting tools.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Saltwater – Jesse Ivey and Justin Bythwood fished the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday and caught some oversized redfish (to 34 inches) by pitching Assassin Sea Shads on 5/8-oz. Jetty Jigs. They boated 2 monsters and broke a third one off. They also caught several black sea bass. The fish showed no color preference, as the fish ate a variety of colors. They saw a bunch of tarpon busting through mullet schools but could not get any to bite. On Monday a Waycross angler paddled around the Brunswick area in his kayak and pitched finger mullet for flounder. He caught two, with the largest measuring 17 1/2 inches. Yummy! Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers reported that flounder were eating mudminnows fished around oyster mounds and grass points near the mouths of feeder creeks. Whiting and croakers were caught in good numbers. Trout ate artificials for a few anglers reporting this week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that some big flounder were lurking around the pier this week. On Monday a local angler caught 5 flounder ranging in size from 3 to 5 pounds…definite doormats! Spanish mackerel, bull whiting, trout, and redfish were also caught from the pier. Blue crabs were caught in fair numbers. Monitor the marine forecast.
Best Bet – In saltwater, tarpon are a good bet, as are redfish in the sounds. If you want a shot at both species, fish around the St. Marys Jetties. Shrimp or mullet on the bottom have produced, but my favorite is working a Jetty Jig and Assassin Sea Shad near the bottom.