Holiday week almost over, but that means the weekend is just beginning. We sure hope there is fishing on the horizon for you at least one day of the weekend!
Before we start, check out these largemouth bass fingerlings (610,000 in all!) making their way into West Point Lake. This stocking took place in June 2017, with hopes of leading to an increase in the abundance of quality-size largemouth bass in the reservoir. Read more about it HERE. West Point fishing information found HERE.
Today, we have the latest fishing “news” from both Southeast and North Georgia. Enjoy!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The St. Marys Jetties have produced some outstanding fishing over the holiday weekend. The Satilla River is fishable, but the other rivers are fairly high for this time of year. Pond fishing has been consistent. Full Moon is July 9th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
As expected, mullet fishing slowed significantly (there are no longer any visible sandbars……) with the rising water, but catfishing was fairly consistent. There was very little effort on the Altamaha, but those who went fished primarily for catfish. The river level was 8.7 feet and rising (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.4 feet and rising at the Doctortown gage on July 4th.
Jay Murray fished the middle Satilla on Monday and caught 55 panfish, including 7 big rooster redbreasts. He used a crawfish looking custom color and catalpa Satilla Spins, and he said the catalpa produced the most bream, while the crawfish was tops for redbreasts. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that anglers caught quite a few redbreasts and bream on crickets. Some decent catfish catches were made by bottom fishermen. Topwater plugs fooled bass, and Ryan Lee caught some good bass on buzzbaits. The river level on July 4th at the Waycross gage was 5.8 feet and falling (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.0 feet and cresting.
Chad Lee caught 7 bass on Tuesday by punching beaver style plastics through vegetation. His biggest was a chunky 4-pounder. Michael Winge reported that bream were the most consistent bite this week.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Saltwater reports were great this week, especially from the St. Marys Jetties. On Friday, some Waycross anglers fished the Crooked River area and caught a handful of trout and a couple flounder on Flashy Jigheads and Sea Shads (pearl colors were the best), as well as Sea Shads suspended underneath Equalizer Floats. Also on Friday, Brentz and Alex McGhin went crabbing in Brunswick and brought home 26 big crabs that produced a nice mess of crab cakes for supper and for the freezer. On Saturday, Wyatt Crews and Scout Carter fished with me at the St. Marys Jetties and we crushed the big bull reds. We boated and released (after tagging them) 6 bull reds up to 42 inches and 26-lb., 1-oz. We caught all of them on mullet, white, or fire tiger Capt. Bert’s Bucktail Jigs (1/2-oz version). We also had 2 bulls pull off and a tarpon break us off. The big fish were chowing on Saturday! On Sunday, Ed Zmarzly and Justin Bythwood put it on the fish, catching 6 redfish, 3 flounder, 3 trout, and 7 jack crevalle. They were pitching Jetty Jigs (5/8-oz.) rigged with Sea Shads to the St. Marys Jetties. They returned on Tuesday and found doormat flounder in the same areas. They pitched the same Jetty Jig/Sea Shad rigs to the rocks and ended up with 6 nice flounder to 18 1/2 inches, 5 redfish (kept 3 and tagged and released 2), and a dozen jack crevalle. Their best color Sea Shads were pearl, salt-and-pepper chartreuse tail, Calcasieu brew, and several colors with gold flake. Tommy Tapley pounded the rocks on Sunday and brought home 10 flatfish (he caught and released a bunch also) on my red-gold 1/4-oz. Premium Minnow Jigheads and mudminnows. Michael Winge reported that anglers had some great catches of sheepshead (quite a few were big fish) from the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday. I did not get the details, but they were probably dabbling fiddler crabs in the rocks. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the pier was shut down on Tuesday for fireworks, but over the weekend there were black sea bass, whiting, and sharks caught from the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
If the weather allows, the flounder and redfish bites are fantastic right now at the St. Marys Jetties. For reds, pitch bucktails, Sea Shads on Jetty Jigs, or drop cut bait to the bottom if you like fishing for them that way. For flounder, drag mudminnows or Sea Shads near the rocks to score. Expect trout, jack crevalle, bluefish, and a whole host of other predators to get in the game. You can get around most places in a motorboat on the Satilla right now. Give it a try before it drops back out. Dragging over a few sandbars will get you in some water that isn’t quite as heavily fished. Red/white and crawfish Satilla Spins have been the ticket this past week.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Rain, rain, rain! That was our holiday weekend story. I kept checking flows and clarity on the Hooch and other local rivers, and kept striking out on my hoped-for river bassin’ trip. Given our storm-dodging mode, we found some great consolation prizes with headwater trouting, so it was a still wonderful, long weekend of fun in the north Georgia mountains.
The moral of this rainy-dayz story is to stay flexible and have both Plan A and Plan B ready for implementation. If the rivers are blown out or if the big lakes are too crowded with summer recreationists, aim for your alternative sites- small streams, small lakes and ponds, such as found HERE, or the big reservoirs before and after their midday crowd assaults. Have two sets of fishing tackle ready, if needed. After seeing those muddy river spikes, I easily dropped my six weight fly rod and sling pack of bass bugs, and grabbed the three weight rod and fanny pack of tiny trout flies from my garage shelf. Flexibility fosters fishing fun!
Here we go:
Ken’s Detailed Reservoir Reports: Get the latest intel from Ken’s stable of professional guides HERE.
Hot Lanier Bassin’: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=900857
Six Flags Stripers: Don’t forget the summer vacationers up from West Point.
Holiday Headwater Trouting:
- Dredger had a slow weekend afternoon on Smith Creek above Unicoi Lake. Despite the rains, the streamflow had dropped and the water cleared. Fish were in full summer mode- hunkered down in the few deep pools available. He caught three stockers and two wild rainbows split about equally between an elk hair caddis dry and a pink squirmy dropper, dredged on the bottom.
- Sautee and Dredger had a fun holiday midday trip to “Fernrock” Creek. While the catching was slow, the fishing was a lot of fun. They enjoyed a nice hike, great scenery, abundant streamflows, blooming Rhodo, no other anglers, and even a small handful of wild browns. Once again, nobody wanted to play on top, and their caddis and stimulators were ignored. They finally found some limited success by dredging Pat’s rubberlegs and small mohair leeches in the slow, shady depths of blue-green pools and boulder pockets.
- More good stories here. Some or all might be true!
Sight Fishing Tips: Summer’s low clear water, along with many anglers’ summer plans for western fishing trips, make this recent Orvis podcast very timely. Enjoy one of the latest installments by all-star Tom Rosenbauer and his guest interviewees – HERE.
Stocker List: By design, our trout stockings subside after July 4th, as we try to get the vast majority of fish out the hatchery doors and into the stream during the spring, when streamflows are high, water temperatures are low, air temperatures are comfortable, and angler numbers are highest. Given the July4th holiday at midweek, stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson still provides a decent list to finish out this week. The stocking list will be updated online this afternoon (7/7).
OTHER NEWS AND INFORMATION
Humbling Award: (From Pat Snellings, fisheries biologist) – Last night (7/6) the WRD Fisheries Crew was honored to receive an award from the Lanier Striped Bass Angler Coalition recognizing our management efforts on Lake Lanier. We at the Gainesville office are blessed to have great staff at our offices and hatcheries, and across the state that produce and deliver Striped Bass to the lake, and an incredible group of anglers that cooperatively make Lake Lanier such a great fishery. Without them we wouldn’t have a resource to manage! Chris Looney and I accepted the honor on behalf of our statewide staff involved in striped bass broodstock collections, fingerling production, and reservoir management.
Damer’s Smallmouth News: WRD has recently started a smallmouth bass stocking program at Blue Ridge Lake in Fannin County. This program is a collaborative effort between GADNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The fish pictured here, which were stocked this week, were grown by USFWS Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery. Blue Ridge is the last major reservoir in the state that holds a fishable population of smallmouth, but the fishery has declined severely due to illegal introduction of spotted bass by anglers. In other former smallmouth lakes in Georgia, illegally introduced spotted bass have completely wiped out the smallmouth populations. We hope that our stocking program will help boost recruitment and help maintain a fishable population in Blue Ridge.
Cool Kids Camp! The Cherokee County Parks & Recreation Department recently hosted its 12th annual “Fishing Camp” in early June. The Fishing Camp strives to teach youngsters the basics of fishing, tactics for a variety of species, and respect for each other and Mother Nature. Fishing field trips are conducted each day. Young campers joined Buford Trout Hatchery staff on June 7th along Stamp Creek (in Pine Log WMA) where the kids helped stock trout before applying their newly acquired skills to catch some of the trout. On this day all campers caught at least one trout, which then were put on ice, filleted and served up at the traditional fish fry to conclude the week-long camp. More information HERE.
Good luck as many of you finish off the holiday week. Avoid the storms and the high, hot midday sun, and you’ll still find a lot of chances to make some fishing memories with family and friends.