North Georgia

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

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

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

Red Minnows? – Enjoy the explanation and the video.

New Kiosk – Learn more about wildlife license plates here.

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

Headwaters Still Good

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

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

Lake Burton Trout –

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

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

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

Lanier Striper Reports

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

Whopper Lanier Cat

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

“Colleagues, Partners, and Friends:

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

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

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

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

Passing of a Georgia LegendTU’s Garland Stewart

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

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

Central Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coastal Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

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

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

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