Georgia Fishing Report: July 15, 2016

Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

 

Central Georgia

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

Lake Russell (full, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  The fish are all small and they are moving around a lot.  Bass are roaming around in small schools from 6 to 10 fish and buzz baits will allow anglers to cover a lot of water fast.  The fish are moving to the points and creek bends especially mid to lower lake.  They are roaming on any wood all day and a crank bait cast through the wood will draw a strike and be sure to use bright colors.  Use the Rattle Back 1/2 ounce jig and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the points.  The crank bait and spinner baits cast on the bank cover and slowly worked will get strikes.  Mid-day spinner baits down lake in the creeks are fair on cover using Stanley spinner baits with bright blades.  Later look for shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day.

Clarks Hill (down 2.62 feet, 80’s) – Black bass are tight on creek bends down lake as well as main lake points.  The fish are biting but all presentations will need to be close to any wood and around docks.  Use the Zoom gourd green worm on a Texas rig in the tight bank cover.  Up the creeks, use a dark jig and pig combination and fish tight in any cover right on the bank.  The Lunker Lure Rattle Back jigs in the 3/8 ounce size in dark reds and blacks with a matching #11 Uncle Josh trailer will be best.  Add Real Craw scent and use it often casting to the same location.  Use a Leverage all white buzz bait and the spinner baits with willow leaf and Colorado blades in tandem on the wood and docks.  Be sure the skirts are bright colors in lime, white and chartreuse.

Lake Oconee (full, the lake is clear, temperature 85-90) – Bass fishing is fair.  At first light fish a buzz bait on sea walls and rip rap from the middle of the coves and creeks to the back.  White or white/chartreuse have been the best color.  Another good location has been fishing the grass with a frog.  Fishing a Carolina rig on the humps on the south end of the lake has also been producing over the past week.  As always during the summer fish the rip rap around the bridges when Georgia Power is pulling water in the afternoons.  A rattle trap, spinner bait, or a small crank bait will all produce a strike.  Deep diving crank baits off the south end humps will also pick up as we move into summer.

Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741 reeltime@bellsouth.net

Striper fishing is good.   Large schools of stripers and hybrids are moving all over the south end of the lake.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools then drop a live bait or a spoon down and hang on.  If you do not see the fish on your Lowrance the keep moving until you find them.  The water is hot and the bait will not last long so keep fresh bait on and the fish will feed.  Spoons will also put fish in the boat.  The early morning top water bite at the dam has also started.  Popping corks, spoons, small jigs with a paddle tail grub are all producing.

Crappie fishing is good.  The fish have moved into their summer locations. Look on the creek ledges as well as in the deeper timber.  Use your Lowrance structure scan to locate the timber with the crappie in it.  Once you locate the fish you can use a jig or drop a live bait into the school.

West Point Lake (down 3.3 feet, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is fair and the up river fish are also active.  Use 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.  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 the 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 the lures right on the bank and hit the old pond dams also.

Lake Sinclair (down 1.3 feet, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Bass are hitting top water baits early, mostly around seawalls near deep water.  It seems the few fish that move in shallow are aggressive and will take a bait worked fast.  An angler should also work fast to cover more water and present the bait to more fish before the top water bite ends.  Some good choices are Pop R’s, buzz bait, Zara Spook, weightless Trick worm and Fluke.  After the early morning, try medium to deep crank baits and Carolina rigged worms on main lake points near deep water.  Depths in the central and upper lake are 8 to 15 feet and 12 to 25 feet deep down the lake.  Good crank bait choices are #6 and #7 Fat Free Shad’s, #300 and #400 Poe’s, and Mann’s 15 Plus and 20 Plus.  Chartreuse and shad patterns are best.  For the Carolina rig, try a Zoom Trick worm with a 2/0 Gamakatsu wide gap hook and a 3 foot leader of 12 pound line.  Good worm colors are June bug, red bug, green pumpkin.  A ¾ ounce weight, bead and swivel should be used on 14 or 17 pound main line.  Try to keep the worm or crank bait in cover and moving slow.  A few are being caught around the docks and boathouses, but it too is slow.  Use light weights with soft plastics.

Jackson Lake (down 1.18 feet, clear, 80’s) – Bass fishing has slowed down a bit due to the hot and muggy weather.  Early in the morning is a good time to throw a buzz bait or a Storm Chug bug off any point in the lake.  Some bass are taking these baits early and often during the early hours.  Also try a 1/4 or 3/8 ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait in either white/blue or all white.  Work the same areas as the top water baits and all blow downs and brush piles that are present.  After the sun comes up a 1/2 ounce black pig n jig with a pork trailer is working on isolated stumps and docks.  Green pumpkin U tail Zoom worms on the Texas rig are also taking bass when thrown into brush piles and around docks.  Don’t forget about the Dam.  Three and four pound fish are hitting later in the afternoon.

Big Lazer PFA

Surface water temperature: 86o F

Water visibility:  Visibility is about 22”

Water level:  Water level is down 4” from Full Pool

Largemouth bass: Good– Bass fishing has slowed some because of the hot temperatures.  Locate bass in the upper 3 to 8 feet of water.  During the heat of the day, fish for bass in and around heavy cover using plastic worms.  Feeding bass will be most active during the early morning and later in the evenings.  Fishing at low light with top water might produce a good strike.  Try shallow presentation of crank baits and dark colored worms.

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

Bream: Good- Many bream are close-in the banks and seeking shady cover to keep cool.  Crickets, as well as pink and red worms are excellent live bait for bream.  Also, small grub-like plastics can cause a few bites; try black, white, and chartreuse colors.  Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting especially for kids.  However, bream have small mouths so fish with small hooks for the best results.

Channel catfish: Good- Try using livers and night crawlers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam.  Recently, several larger catfish have been caught by the dedicated angler.

In general, July water temperatures at Big Lazer are hot.  Fish tend to hang in shady cover during the hot time of the day and feed in the mornings and evenings to stay cool.

McDuffie PFA

Average Morning Water Temperature:   68 F – 88 F and rising

Water Visibility:     17 – 54+ inches

Largemouth Bass:  Action is picking up.  There is a shad hatch in Willow and the bass and catfish are actively feeding on them.  Bass have continued biting in several lakes on McDuffie.  Several reports of multiple bass under the slot size (14 inches) are being caught as they feed on the shad in Lake Willow. At Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is closed on 15th July and will reopen the morning of August 1st.  The bass action has been slow in Rodbender.  This lake has been set up with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass.  Bass tags from Rodbender must be sent to the Thomson fisheries office (address on web) or use the drop box at Rodbender boat ramp.   Reward tags must be turned in for the reward to be sent to the fisherman.  Breambuster has a nice population of 2 to 5 pound bass with plenty of bank access, as is the case with most of McDuffie PFA lakes.

Bream:  No reported hot spots on the area.  Bream are being caught near shore and by fishermen in boats who are fishing deeper.  Bream can still be found near shoreline structure and aquatic plants but also suspended over deep water.  These pan fish make their spawning beds near weeds and logs in shallow water which requires the fishermen to find the fish, so search for the bedding areas.

Channel Catfish:  Catfish in the 4 to 6 pound range are also chasing the shad in Willow.   Jones, Willow, and Bridge are known to have some catfish capable of busting heavy tackle.  The best fishing is on the bottom in deep water using chicken liver, worms, and stink-baits.   The catfish feed best early in the morning or just before sundown.

Striped Bass:  The striper bite has slowed down in Bridge Lake due to the hot weather.  There are still no reports of Clubhouse stripers being caught as well as, no top water activity in the early morning or evenings.  Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse Lakes.  Stripers are biting on cut bait and chicken liver fished on the bottom.  Umbrella rigs, diving crank baits and top water plugs are very effective on McDuffie’s stripers during the colder months.

NEW*****

McDuffie Hatchery will host this year’s last Kids Fishing Event on September 24th during Outdoor Adventure Day.  Starting at 8 AM to 12 PM/ 4hours in duration.  Kids ages 2 through 15 years old are allowed to fish during this Kids Fishing Event with parental/grandparent/family supervision and training.

Families are camping out since school is out in the Dearing area.

 

North Georgia

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

Here is a quick fishing report as we prepare for [the Thursday, July 14] public hearing.  Note that public comments will be accepted until July 31.

  • Blue Ridge Walleye – Hearing Thursday, July 14

SCHEDULED FOR JULY: PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING CHANGE TO WALLEYE CREEL AND POSSESSION LIMITS

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (June 28, 2016) — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is proposing a change to walleye fishing regulations at Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County.  This change would adjust the current walleye creel and possession limit from fifteen (15) to eight (8) fish.

“The current creel and possession limit of fifteen walleye at Lake Blue Ridge was established in the 1970’s and no longer meets management objectives,” says John Biagi, chief of the Fisheries Management Section.  “This change would adjust the walleye creel and possession limit to the statewide limit of 8 fish, further simplifying fishing regulations for Georgia anglers.”

The Department has scheduled a public hearing to provide an opportunity for interested citizens to offer input on this proposed change.  Those interested are encouraged to bring this meeting to the attention of others that also may be interested in participating.  The hearing will begin at 7:00 p.m.

DATE    LOCATION

Thursday, July 14            Fannin County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center

152 Orvin Lance Drive

Blue Ridge, GA 30513

http://www.blueridgemountains.com/

To submit comments electronically or view the proposed changes and additional information, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com/fishing/proposedregulations or contact the Fisheries Management Section at (770) 918-6406.

More info:

Overview: http://www.georgiawildlife.com/fishing/proposedregulations?cat=2

Q and A Sheet: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/GADNR/bulletins/14de889

  • River Bass

Dredger had a slow Saturday evening in an upper Hooch shoal, but his fishing partner did better.  They used black buggers as the sun started to set, and then white and yellow poppers as darkness approached.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

https://www.facebook.com/unicoioutfitters/photos/a.10150850146440159.473694.170323695158/10154387711825159/?type=3&theater

  • Bluelines

http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=110777

  • Blue Ridge Tailwater Shuttle

Here’s another source for float trips.  Saw this on Saturday while heading to a commitment in town.

http://www.blueridgemountainkayaking.com/

  • Hooch Tailwater

http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=110776

http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=110774

  • Stocker Best Bets

State and federal hatcheries are still stocking heavily to lighten our hatchery loadings, given the low flows and high water temperatures that those mountain facilities are dealing with.  Streams maintaining cold water temperatures are getting good doses of fish, sometimes even double doses.  For instance, Holly Creek stockers were redirected to the Blue Ridge Tailwater last week because of high Holly temps.  Best bets this week include: Hoch and Blue Ridge tailwaters, Johns on WMA, Nimblewill, Rock, Cooper, Dicks, Wildcat, Tallulah, and the Hooch headwaters and Low Gap, high on the Hooch WMA

  • Fingerling “Surprises”

Hooch and Blue Ridge Tailwater fans shouldn’t be surprised to find some new crops of fingerling and subcatchable trout in the two tailwaters.  Programmed and surplus trout, smaller than the normal 9-inch catchables, are hitting the tailwaters over the next two weeks as part of our put-grow-take programs in these waters.  The Hooch got some surplus rainbows, while Blue Ridge receives two flavors annually: rainbow and brown.  Small fish that survive and grow often fool tailwater anglers into thinking they are catching wild fish.  Whether wild or stocked, they’re all fun!  Many thanks to our suppliers, Chattahoochee Forest National Hatchery

https://www.fws.gov/chattahoocheeforest/

and Summerville State Hatchery, for the fingerlings this year.

  • Annual Chattooga Roundup

Annual sampling of the upper Chattooga River fish community happened on July 12 near Burrells Ford in Rabun County.  Low water made the collection easy, and the three electrofishing passes thru the 100 yard sample site appeared to give us a good total collection of the fish populations. All fish were identified to species, counted, weighed, and released back into the sample site at the end of our effort.

SCDNR will, as always, analyze the fish population monitoring data and present its results at the annual Chattooga River Coalition meeting this winter.

Many thanks to agency professionals from two states (GAWRD and SCDNR) and two national forests (Chattahoochee and Francis Marion-Sumter), and also to the abundant college interns and angler volunteers who rounded out our sampling crew.  Thanks to all participants for a safe, productive day that added to our 30-year Chattooga River fisheries database.

For more information on the Coalition’s efforts to monitor the ecological health of the river, and a longtime angler’s perspective on the results of this state-federal-angler partnership, visit:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5371521.pdf

and

http://rabuntu.org/site/about/work-projects/the-story-of-the-chattooga-coalition/

  • Great July 4th Story

NBC news ran a story about wounded vets fishing.  Enjoy the video:

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/wounded-veterans-find-peace-through-the-serenity-of-fly-fishing-718381123569

and, if you want to be a part of this program, get involved with one of several Georgia Trout Unlimited chapters who have veterans outreach programs.

Sometimes it is indeed better to give than to receive.  With your angling experience, you can give the gift of fishing memories to some of our own vets right here.   Be a part of Georgia’s own “healing waters.”

Many thanks to midcurrent.com for the story link.

https://www.facebook.com/ProjectHealingWatersBlueRidge/

http://www.georgiafoothills.org/p/calender.html

 

Good luck making the best of a continuing hot and dry situation.  It may be tough, but it still beats icy roads and numb fingers.

 

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The Okefenokee bowfin bite is on fire. The Satilla is getting low, as is the upper St. Marys. The Altamaha River is right for panfishing. Flounder, seatrout, and redfish, along with bottom fish were caught in saltwater. Full Moon is July 19th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said that the bream bite is on. Anglers reported good creels of bream on crickets. The only problem is that the heat is slowing down the anglers. Catfish are also being caught, mostly at night. Bass fishing is fair. The mullet bite is slow in the upper river. Some anglers have shared that they think the algae on the sandbars has the mullet full and they can’t get them interested in their red wigglers. Donna at Altamaha Park reported that mullet were still running in the lower river. Jolly green giant worms reportedly worked best. Anglers cut each worm into 3 sections and fished it in the slack water behind sandbars (after putting out salt blocks and feed bags). Blue cats and flatheads were caught on goldfish and shrimp. Bass were hitting buzzbaits over the weekend. Smaller bluegill ate crickets, while the big ‘gills chowed Satilla Spins. The river level was 2.4 feet and falling (91 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.3 feet and rising (84 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on July 12th.

Satilla River – The upper river has dropped below the boatable level and is now perfect for a float trip. Expect to drag some around trees and obstructions as the water continues to drop. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that heat has slowed the river anglers a good bit, but the fish have not stopped biting. Those fishing early in the morning reported catching nice redbreasts and bream on crickets, spinnerbaits, and pink worms. Catfish ate pink worms, shrimp, and rooster livers fished on the bottom in the deep holes. Bass anglers caught their target species on plastics and topwater plugs. In the Burnt Fort area on Monday, an angler reported catching 39 big bream on crickets. On Tuesday, the same angler caught 28 more bream and a few of the biggest warmouth he had ever caught by using crickets. The river level on July 12th at the Waycross gage was 4.6 feet and falling (84 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.9 feet and falling.

St. Marys River – The river is dropping, and it is hard to get around in the upper river. The best fishing has been downstream of Folkston in the deeper water. Some big bream were caught on crickets Catfish are as thick as ever and are eating worms, shrimp, and rooster liver. The river level at the MacClenny gage on July 12th was 1.4 feet and falling.

Ocmulgee River – Some Waycross anglers made a trip to the Ocmulgee over the weekend and caught just shy of 20 bass. Most of the fish were 1 to 3 pounds, but they had a couple in the 4-pound class. Texas-rigged plastics were the deal in the greenish water. The river level at the Abbeville gage on July 12th was 1.4 feet and falling. Expect to drag your boat over sandbars at this level.

Okefenokee Swamp – If you only care about catching bass or one of the popular species, skip to the next section. If you want a frequently bent rod and don’t care what you are fishing for, read closely. I took Daniel Hampton of Waycross to the Folkston entrance on Tuesday to celebrate his high school graduation, and we both left with sore arms. From 7:30 to 12:30, we threw Dura-Spins down the middle of the canal and brought back a bowfin (mudfish) on most casts. We ended up with 106 bowfin and 2 gar inhaling the spinners. We had 2 that weighed 8 pounds, and numerous 2 to 4-pounders. In all, we estimated that we caught about 250 pounds of bowfin during the trip. Lure color did not matter that day, as we caught them on jackfish, fire tiger (Daniel threw this color all day), black/chartreuse, white/red, chartreuse/white, and chartreuse. After doing the math, we figured that we caught a fish about every 3 minutes (and probably 2 minutes of it was us taking the last fish off the hook!). Anglers reported catching warmouth by going early and dabbling crayfish or sallies around wood cover in the canal. The water is pulling off the flats, concentrating fish in the canals. On the West side, the catfish bite was tops. The yellow flies are not bad right now (we did not see a biting bug of any description during our Tuesday trip), and they should not be for the rest of the year. Don’t forget that Federal Duck Stamps expired at the end of June, so secure your new Duck Stamp if that is what you use to access the swamp.

Local Ponds – “Jugging” for catfish will remain an effective presentation for the rest of the summer. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, some bass were caught by anglers free-lining shiners. Zoom Speed Craws also produced some bass. Bream ate crickets and worms, and catfish ate shrimp.

Saltwater (GA Coast) – Mike Harrell and Jim Hickox fished Sunday in the Brunswick area and caught 15 keeper trout, 30 undersized trout, 7 oversized reds, and had 2 breakoffs from big redfish. The water was clearer than they expected, and their fish all ate DOA shrimp (rootbeer or clear glitter colors worked best) fished underneath a Cajun Thunder Float. The key for them was to fish around shell mounds and creek mouths as the tide ebbed and then flooded. Brentz and Alex McGhin of Blackshear fished last Wednesday out of St. Marys and caught a mixed bag of flounder, whiting, sheepshead, black drum, pinfish, and even mangrove snapper. The sheepshead ate fiddlers, while everything else munched shrimp or cut bait fished on the bottom. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers caught whiting in the Brunswick area on dead shrimp and squid. A few anglers reported catching trout and flounder around creek mouths and oyster beds. Black drum were pulled from around hard cover by those using dead shrimp. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported that the flounder bite is on at the pier. Flatties 18 inches and up are eating dead shrimp and mudminnows. They are even competing with the crabs in crab baskets. Blue crabs were very numerous again this week. Croakers and whiting were abundant for those fishing dead shrimp on the bottom. A few sharks were landed after dark by using croakers for bait. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.

Best Bet:  Inshore saltwater fishing should be good if the forecasted moderate winds come to pass. Target trout, redfish, flounder, and whiting. The direction is from the east, so the sounds, jetties, and beach will be bumpy (if not downright unfishable) if the winds materialize. Make sure to check the marine forecast late in the week before planning a trip to saltwater. If you just want to set the hook – a bunch – throw in-line spinners in the canals at the Okefenokee. The bowfin bite is wide open and should remain so during the heat of summer. Bream fishing in the Altamaha River should be great this weekend with the good water level. I like to throw spinnerbaits to shoreline cover, but many anglers pitch crickets to catch them.

Daniel Hampton Bowfin 7 12 16 -IMGP4205 copy
Daniel Hampton of Waycross caught this 8-pound bowfin in the Okefenokee Swamp on Tuesday. It inhaled a fire tiger Dura-Spin inline spinner.
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