North Georgia

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

Lake Lanier largemouth bass
Largemouth bass caught by Tara Lane at Callaway Gardens this month.

Lanier Largemouth Bass We hope everyone has dried out from our soggy July 4th weekend.  Our streams have already recovered from the monsoons and our rivers are now nearly there, as well.  The upper Hooch had pretty good clarity last night.  The gar didn’t want to play, but two small shoal bass, a decent spot, and three big redbreasts did inhale my white stealth bomber.  If no more storms hit us before the weekend, the big rivers might just be a best bet again.  Here’s some other news that should make the summer heat tolerable, especially for those anglers who give it a shot early and late.

Contest for Bass Pro Shops Gift Card

Stocker ReportStill stocking too!

Stocker Best Bets – WRD trout stocking coordinator suggests these mid-July destinations: Lanier and Blue Ridge Tailwaters, Rock, Cooper, Wildcat, Tallulah, and the feeder streams to stocked lakes like Vogel, Winfield Scott, Black Rock, and Dockery.

Dukes on the 4th – With most rivers and even trout streams blown out, Dredger called Smithgall and landed an open afternoon opening from a cancelled reservation.  He adopted a new buddy in the parking lot and they wandered upstream with an impromptu practice session on the drag-free drift.  The water had already cleared substantially from the morning session, so big and bright flies were no longer working.  The duo still managed a half-dozen or so rainbows to 15 inches on dredged black fur ants and shell-pink san juans.  The brute of the day celebrated his early independence by shaking off a poor hookset by ole Dredge…

Carpin’ How-To

Mid-GA Bass – “Gentlemen: Check out two of the largemouth bass I caught last week down in Middle GA in Pine Mountain, GA.  Used crankbaits.  They were hitting like crazy!” – Tara

Lanier Bass GON Forum 1, GON Forum 2

Watch out for Birds! video

Drop Shot How-To

Good Summer Striper Article – Check out Mike& Ken’s article in GON: http://www.gon.com/

Lanier Profiles – See the attached data for Forebay and Browns Bridge from fisheries tech Chris Looney and assess where those stripers and walleye should be hanging out.

Jeff and Asher’s Trout Trek – “First, the disclaimer: I don’t normally send mass e-mails, and I don’t intend to establish a habit. I just didn’t know a better way to pass along word about something that I thought might be of interest to many of you.

In less than two weeks, my 10-year-old son Asher and I will embark on a 3 1/2-week, cross country excursion to fish many of the West’s most acclaimed trout streams. We’ll travel approximately 8,000 miles and will end up fishing in nine different states. Fishing will take priority everywhere we visit and is the foundation of the plan, but we’ll also take time to check out waterfalls, watch wildlife, sample local flavors, roam through bait shops and more. It’s a storytelling journey, and we’ll share our experiences daily through blog posts, photos and videos on rebellures.com and the Rebel Lure Company Facebook page, plus our own blog sites (jeffsamsel.blogspot.com and ashersamselsblog.blogspot.com).

My hope, of course, is that some of you might want to follow or might share this with others who would like to follow. Many on this list are also outdoors media sorts. If any aspect of our trip interests you for a blog, column, podcast, radio show or whatever else, either now or during the trip, please don’t hesitate to call or email.

Trip dates are July 20 to August 11.” – Jeff Samsel, jeff.samsel.fishing@gmail.com – www.facebook.com/jeffsamselfishing

Free FF E-Mag – Our friend, Birmingham Brian, relocated to Bend, Oregon for a year, but he’s still producing a quality e-magazine.  See page 12 for another smilin’ Georgian, too.

Good luck during this fine wet-wading season.  Grab your small watercraft and give those bass, carp, and gar rivers a shot again.   Send me YOUR stories and photos to share with our angler community.

Southwest Georgia

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

Lake Blackshear – According to Rusty Parker, he caught 20 nice slab crappie under Smoak Bridge on Swift Creek. He caught them on minnows and was fishing very close to some structure. The recent heat has kept him off the lake recently but if you are brave enough to fish in this heat, he suggests fishing deep, “the crappie have definitely moved to the deep water hanging tight to structure.” The bass fishing has been fair recently with the early morning being the best time to go before things heat up too much.

Flint River – The water in the Flint is low and clear. There have been recent reports of good catches of shoal bass coming from around the Mitchell and Baker County regions of the River. Top water during the middle of the day is often an effective technique for catching these hard fighting bass. Bream fishing should be good. Try pitching crickets or a beetle spin near shoreline cover for bluegill and redbreast. Redbreast are typically found in the swifter areas and the bluegill will be located in calmer pockets of water. Try searching for bedding bream in 2-3 feet of water with low current. Fishing for channel catfish continues to be good with several reports of fish from 3 to 5 pounds being caught. The following links will provide you with river levels to help you plan your trip.

Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula,” Reports from anglers targeting bluegill are favorable for both size and numbers. Also, it is taking about 19 lbs. to win a bass tournament.  In the last Eufaula Bass Trail in early June, Rick weighed in 16.86 lbs.  Nine places were paid out and he missed a check by 2 oz.  From that you can extrapolate that there were a lot of nice fish being weighed in.  A week later, Eufaula mayor Jack Tibbs weighed in 19 something to win the Alabama Children’s Classic.  These results are consistent, and are a good snapshot of the bass fishery. Keep in mind that the water levels have been fluctuating 2 to 3 feet down. The hydrilla on the south end is abundant and within a few feet of topping out. There are a few bass in the littoral vegetation were they are easier to target.  Based on the number of trot lines and “jug” fishermen Rick has been observing recently on the lake the catfishing appears to be very good.

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Braxton Long caught this nice bass at a local pond!
Braxton Long caught this nice bass at a local pond!

The busy holiday weekend produced some great fishing reports from both fresh and saltwater. The rivers are all fishable, and the bite is worth the effort. Go early or late for the more comfortable temperatures, and recharge with a nap in the middle of the day. New Moon is July 15. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the flathead catfish bite is still on fire. Anglers reported catching fleatheads from 20 to 50 pounds on goldfish. The bream and redbreast bites were also good, while the bass bite was steady. Dannet at Altamaha Park said that the limb-liners reported catching some big flatheads this week. Fish from 30 to 60 pounds were reported by anglers baiting hooks with goldfish. Channel catfish averaging double-digits were also reported. The whiskerfish bite has turned on big-time in the big river. Bream and redbreasts were caught in numbers averaging 20 to 25 per trip. Soft plastics produced most of the bass. The mullet bite has turned on, as well. Little red wiggler worms fished around salt blocks and rabbit pellet bags produced most of the mullet. The river level was 3.3 feet and rising (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.7 feet and falling (83 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 7.

Okefenokee Swamp – I went to the east side with my son Timothy and Ron and Nathanael Johnson on Friday morning. We wanted to target bowfin (mudfish), but the fliers were eating up our sallies (pink fooled them all). We fished for a couple of hours in the late morning and landed 21 fliers, 4 bowfin to 6 1/2 –pounds, and a trophy chain pickerel (jackfish). Ron started us off with a 21-inch jackfish that inhaled a prototype in-line spinner. Timothy caught the biggest bowfin, while Nathanael landed our second biggest, a 4-pounder. Three bowfin ate a prototype in-line spinners, while one ate a 1/16oz. yellow Satilla Spin. You will probably think I’m lying, but the star of a seafood meal that evening was the…(drum roll)…bowfin! We fileted them fresh, sautéed them, mixed the meat with the spices and ingredients from our family’s favorite Maryland crab cake recipe, and then chilled the patties all afternoon. That evening we pan-fried the “bowfin cakes” in oil, and they were delicious. I even ate one as a sandwich the next day for lunch, and it was still awesome. I never thought I’d use the words awesome and bowfin in the same sentence….(at least while talking about food!). Other anglers fishing the swamp reported good catches of warmouth, fliers, and bowfin from all entrances. The catfishing has also been consistent at all entrances. Don’t use much weight on your bottom rig, as it will bury you up in the muck on the bottom. I like to use a small split-shot or no weight and let your offering settle slowly to the bottom. On the west side, with the stronger current, a split-shot is necessary. You should have a great trip if you decide to fish the swamp this weekend. Pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies worked best from all of my reports this week, but you will want to have some yellow ones also in case the fish are finicky.

Satilla River – The redbreast bite was still on over the holiday weekend. The top report I received was from Jay Murray of Uvalda. He fished the upper Satilla and landed 126 panfish (mostly redbreasts), releasing most of them. Crawfish and fire tiger Satilla Spins produced all of his fish. The weekend rains kept the river up, and it should have plenty of water to get around in johnboats this weekend. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the river fishing was great over the holiday weekend. Redbreasts and bream were killing Satilla Spins, beetle spins, and crickets. Anglers reported catching 30 to 40 fish per trip. The catfish bite was great, with lots of bullhead catfish (butter cats) eating rooster livers and shrimp fished on the bottom. A few crappie were caught on minnows fished in the deep holes. The middle and lower Satilla produced some nice creels of 30 to 40 fish this week, as well. The river level  at the Waycross gage was 7.3 feet and rising (80 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.9 feet and falling on July 7.

St. Marys River – The catfish bite was awesome, with folks catching them about everywhere they fished. Shrimp and rooster livers produced the most. One angler said the bite is so good that he “believes that they would bite on top of the river banks.” The bream and redbreast bite has remained strong, while the mullet are still running in good numbers. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 2.0 feet and falling on July 7.

Local Ponds –  The bass and bream provided most of the action this week in ponds.  Chad Lee was at it again this weekend in Alma area ponds. He caught 15 fish up to 4 pounds, but lost both 8-pound class fish that inhaled his baits. The best baits for him this weekend were Ribbit Frogs and Pop-R’s. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds bream fishing has been on fire. Crickets and worms produced most of them. Topwater plugs fished late in the day fooled some nice bass. After dark, black buzzbaits fooled bucketmouths. Live shiners fished under floats also fooled some bass. Channel catfish ate rooster livers and shrimp.

Coastal Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Anglers fishing from shore on Cumberland Island caught over a dozen quality whiting in about an hour of fishing on Wednesday. Small pieces of shrimp fooled them. Michael Winge said that Waycross anglers reported some great catches over the weekend. Big drum and redfish were caught in the sounds. Flounder and trout were caught in good numbers, but most of the trout were on the small side. An angler fishing the St. Marys area over the weekend caught over 60 trout on a Billy Bay Halo Shrimp. Most were undersized. “Tons” of whiting were caught in the Brunswick area. An angler reported catching an 11-foot shark in the Hampton River this weekend. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that dinner-plate-sized blue crabs were thick under the pier. Crabbers filled their coolers quickly, and bottom fishermen had to rebait frequently because of the bait-stealers. Flounder are eating mudminnows fished from the pier, with most fish between 16 and 18 inches. Croakers and whiting are abundant. Big sharks are around. A Waycross angler landed and released a 7-foot lemon shark over the weekend. The fish ate a kingfish head. The angler’s arms are still out of commission after the fight.

Best Bet – My top pick for the weekend would be redbreast fishing on the upper Satilla if the river drops back to 6 feet (at the Waycross gage) by the weekend. Next would be surf fishing or fishing the sounds from a boat for shark and tarpon. Both big fish are lurking around pogy pods. If you want to set the hook lots, throw any kind of bladed lure in the

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