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.

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