Georgia Fishing Report: August 25, 2017

Well,  did you get outside and experience some of the fun surrounding the eclipse? What a great opportunity to get outside with your friends and family.  

Need another excuse to get outside? How about take somebody fishing this weekend? You can find all sorts of information on the WRD website, including places to go (like public fishing areas), tips on fishing with kids and lake and river information.

Below, you will find new fishing reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Now, be sure you take all this information and put it to good use!

CENTRAL (EAST AND WEST) GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger), fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant. Note: Ken has 2 upcoming special appearances at Bass Pro Shops in Lawrenceville (Sept. 23 12 Noon-5 pm; Sept. 30 2 pm).

LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Look on points in the creeks and the main lake reef markers for active bass that will be very close to deeper cooler waters midday.  Most crank baits are slow but a Shad Rap in the #5 silver black back is a fair choice if it is overcast.  Up the river use the 3/8 ounce Lucky Craft Redemption spinner bait with all silver blades, and slow this bait on the wood on the banks.  Shad Raps in the #7 size in shad color right on the bank cover later each day can draw strikes.  Use the medium crank baits and shad and green tiger colors are fair.  Cast parallel to the main lake ledges and use a slow to moderate retrieve once you achieve the ten foot depth.  Go small with a light weight Carolina Rig on ten-pound test line and a 1/4 to 3/8 ounce weight.  The leader needs to be 18 to 20 inches long.  Use a pearl or smoke color Zoom Finesse worm or a Zoom baby Fluke in Albino.

 

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 6.63 FEET, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The best advice is to go shallow.  On the rocks, wood or good weed beds, some nice bass are hanging nearby.  Start off the morning with a medium Chug Bug and work it at a medium pace after making a long cast in and around these areas.  Look for the herring and if they are present, don’t leave the area.  Long run out points in the rivers is a good place to start.  Next go to the medium diving wiggle wart and work the sides and the drop off areas in the same place.  Go over the area first and watch your Lowrance Down Scan and Side Scanning technology for the bait fish.  Anglers are using the Spy Baits and light 8-pound test Sufix Elite line on a spinning outfit to get the inactive or non feeding fish to bite.  A steady slow retrieve will work just fine and don’t stop moving the bait.  The Rapala #5 and #7 Shad Raps are also working either in the Balsa wood or the suspending models.  The late evening bite seems to be the best.  The smaller Husky jerk baits are also catching bass when worked along the ditches leading into the bigger creeks.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPERATURE 87-92

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  The buzz bait at first light until the sun gets up is working well.  Work the deeper docks and sea walls on the main lake.  Make sure you have chartreuse in your buzz bait.  Use your Lowrance to locate the humps on the south end with fish on them then target the hump with the Carolina rig or the crank bait.  You can also work the grass on the south end early and late with a frog and you might pick up some big fish.

Striper: (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741) – Striper fishing is poor/fair.  The dam at first light is the place to be.  Live bait, spoons, popping corks and 1/4 ounce jigs with a 3-inch curly tail will produce.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are in full summer mode.  Look in the submerged timber from 10 to 20 feet deep.  Live bait as well as jigging will put lots of fish in your boat.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools in the timber and start catching.

WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair to good.  Fish are both shallow and deep.  Some fish are holding on the long points and may be found as deep as 15 to 20 foot.  There are also fish in less than 3 foot of water.  For the bigger fish use a deep diver crank bait and fish the deep water brush pile or sharp drop offs into the channels.  Go over the area first and watch your Lowrance Down Scan and Side Scanning technology for the bait fish.  Anglers are using the Spy Baits and light 8-pound test Sufix Elite line on a spinning outfit to get the inactive or non feeding fish to bite.  You may only get a few bites a day but should be good fish.  Numbers and smaller fish are coming in shallow water.  Use a Texas rig or drop shot fished around the boat docks. 

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.57 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Top-water baits and spinner baits continue to produce a few bites on most mornings.  The best locations have been along main lake seawalls, lay downs, rip rap, and grass.  A buzz bait may catch an individual fish, especially around grass, but poppers and prop baits have been more consistent.  Try the Pop R’s, Chug Bug, and Torpedo’s.  The rip rap along bridges in Little River continues to hold fish that will hit soft plastics after the early bite is over.  Lightweight Texas rigs with small worms will work, but a jig head and worm has been better.  Try a 1/16 to 1/8 ounce Spot sticker jig head with a Zoom Finesse worm in green pumpkin, green pumpkin green, June bug, or red bug.  Use a slow retrieve and work the bait all the way out to where the rocks end in deep water.

Through a partnership with GA Power and DNR, fish attractor lights were installed at the fishing pier on Lake Sinclair beside HWY 441 across the lake from Little River Marina.  Fisheries Management has installed several fish attractors around the fishing pier.  The combination of lights and attractors will help to enhance this fishing spot when the sun goes down.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .65 FEET, 80’S

Bass fishing is slow.  It is an early bite or fish after dark.  A few fish continue to hit top-water baits at first light on some mornings.  Use a Pop R, Chug Bug, and Tiny Torpedo along main river and creek banks that drop quickly into deep water.  A few more fish are beginning to feed around docks and boat houses, especially those with good depth and brush present.  Soft plastics continue to be the best chance for success along with an occasional bite using small to medium crank baits and jigs.  If a normal presentation isn’t producing, try “dead sticking” the bait, allowing it to sit motionless for 10 to 30 seconds before moving slightly. 

OCMULGEE RIVER DOWNSTREAM OF JACKSON DAM

Fishermen report that the bite seems to slow down once they stop generating at the dam.  The hope is that they would generate in the afternoon and that the fish would start biting then!  Fishing has been a little slow with some fishermen using plastic worms and spinnerbaits.  They reported catching around 20 fish between 3:00 and 8:00 PM.  They did start generating at 5:00 PM, which was enough to get a 6-pound largemouth bass in the eating mood.  Several fish were lost with some in the 20” range, but they landed spotted bass and shoal bass up to 3 pounds.  All and all, it was a great day to get out on the water.  The USGS gage for the Ocmulgee river at Jackson indicated that Georgia Power releases enough water to push the river to just over 5 feet.  That level is certainly “fishable” and turns the fish on in the deeper water sections.  Just be careful.  The float back through the shoals at that level is a quick trip! 

BIG LAZER PFA

  • Surface water temperature: a hot 88o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 22 inches
  • Water level: Water level is at Full Pool

Bass: Good – 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.  Sometimes, several larger bass can 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 dark colored crank baits and plastic-worms during the low light periods.

Crappie: Poor- Because of the warm summer temperatures crappie tend to move into deeper water as well as scatter themselves over much of lake.  Try easing through the standing timber presenting live minnows and/or brightly colored jigs at different depths may be your best bet for catching a good sized paper mouth.

Bream: 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 grub like plastic jigs can work well anytime of the year; try black, white, and chartreuse colors.  Bream have small mouths so fish with small hooks for the best results.  Fish for them in shallow areas around shady spots.

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 (flat tails) and livers.

In general, August and September hot temperatures can 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.

MCDUFFIE PFA

  • Water temperature average across lakes: 83.3 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 12 – 54 inches

Bass:  Bass fishing has slowed down across the area but anglers are catching bass early morning and late evening.  Most of the catch being bass less than 14 inches with a few larger fish being taken.  Willow Lake has an outstanding shad hatch and may be the cause for the bass being hard to catch.  One angler reported catching and releasing several bass today while fishing Lake Willow. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.  Anglers are still catching and releasing bass caught in Rod bender. This regulation is strictly enforced. 

Bream: Steady. Both bluegill and redear are being caught in shallow water across the PFA.  Anglers are catching bream in Bridge Lake using red worms on the bottom.  On the next full moon anglers should be able to find spawning beds again.  Bream should continue bedding until water temperatures start falling below seventy degrees.  Rodbender also has bragging size bream both bluegill and redear. 

Channel Catfish:  The channel catfish bite has remained steady. Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes but Lake Willow and Jones are the hot spots.  Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish using stink bait on the bottom.  The best time to catch catfish is early morning or late evening on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made catfish bait concoctions.

Striped Bass: No reports of Stripers being caught.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

It’s been a really slow week as far as effort goes. The best reports I received were from bass anglers fishing area ponds. First quarter moon is August 29th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

The only great report I received from the river this week was from a group of anglers who used crayfish as bait and filled a cooler with channel catfish. Most other trips I heard about were slow. At Jaycees Landing, a few catfish, bream, and mullet were reported. Reports from Altamaha Park included some good-sized flatheads being caught. Crickets and Satilla Spins produced some bream, and bass were caught in the deeper areas. Jolly green giant worms and red wigglers produced some mullet. Overall, the slug of hot, muddier water slowed the effort and the catching this week. The river level was 4.2 feet and falling (88 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.8 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on August 22nd.

SATILLA RIVER

I’ve had some great float trips for panfish this time of year, and the river level is getting about right for it. If we go a few days without hard rains, the river should clear up a little more and be great for a float trip. I like the Waycross gage to be 4.6 to 6 feet to do the float (as long as the water is clear). Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that buzzbaits were still working for bass. Topwater flies and Satilla Spins continued to produce some redbreasts. Crickets caught some nice bream, as well. The river level on August 22nd at the Waycross gage was 5.3 feet and rising (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.6 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The river is still high, and catfish are the only bite worth trying this weekend. Other areas are better options, but put a shrimp on the bottom for catfish if you want to fish the St Marys this weekend. The river level at the MacClenny gage on August 22nd was 11.4 feet and rising fast (up 3 feet during the last few days).

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

According to reports, the effort is very close to zero. If you like to simply set the hook, I typically catch over 100 bowfin (mudfish) during a 4-hour trip by throwing in-line spinners down the middle of the canal and reeling them straight back. It’s the fastest bite around (anywhere!!!) during the dog-days of summer. It’s not most folks’ idea of a trip to produce a great meal, but I challenge you to find a more aggressive, harder battler than a mudfish!

LOCAL PONDS

Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond over the weekend and caught several nice bass on swimbaits and minnow plugs. His biggest was a 7-pounder, and he jumped off one that he estimates was in the 9-pound range. He took off work Monday, put on his welding helmet and fished an Alma area pond during the eclipse (ok…I’m just kidding about the helmet…). He had a dozen bass before the eclipse started, and they were all in the 2-pound range. During the afternoon, he caught a 7-lb., 9-oz. hawg that was his biggest of the day, and he ended up catching a total of 30 bass. Black-bladed buzzbaits (black skirt) and Ol’ Monster worms produced best for him. Michael Winge said that bream were caught with crickets this week. Bass bit extremely well on any topwater plug folks’ threw.

SE GA Chad Lee 3lb Bass 8 20 17
Chad Lee caught this nice bass before sunrise over the weekend on a swimbait. He also boated 30 bass this past Monday during the eclipse.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The saltwater report was slim with the big tides this weekend. Some anglers poled the grass flats and successfully flung flies at tailing redfish, but that’s the only saltwater report I heard from my friends. A few tarpon were reported in the sounds. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that some whiting and flounder were caught from the pier. Blue crabs were also caught around the slack tides, when you could keep your basket from flapping up off the bottom in the strong current. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The tides are much more favorable this weekend than last. Trout fishing should start picking up in the sounds and inland rivers as we get close to September. The St. Mary Jetties bite should continue strong, with flounder, redfish, trout, and tarpon available. I love pitching bucktail jigs, but putting a chunk of baitfish on the bottom will produce, as well. The Satilla is setting up right for a successful panfish float trip if the water will clear up just a little bit (we need several evenings without rain for that to happen). Pond fishing for bass and bluegill is a great option this weekend if storms are forecasted (you can make a quick escape to the cover of your vehicle if storms approach!).

NORTH GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

Welcome back to “normal” in north Georgia.

Monday’s apocalyptic traffic is now gone and the August monsoon season has finally subsided.  This means clearing roads and rivers for all of us north Georgia fishing fans.

 

While it’s still real hot at midday, the morning and evening shadows are giving us some improving shots at river bass and even stream trout.  Reservoirs are still in full summer mode and can cook boat-bound anglers at midday, but the catching can be darn good when the sun is low in the sky.  In fact, Jim Farmer found that the midday catching is good, too, if you can stand the heat.   Our biologists and techs have some updated reservoir profiles that may help you find those deep reservoir predators.  And if you want to stay shallow, listen to our bream fishing experts- our youthful reporters in this week’s blog.  It may help just a bit that young Jack Thomson literally lives on the shores of Lake Burton, so take heed of his cricket-flinging tips.  Here we go:

Click links below to catch the latest/greatest intel from professional guides and tackle shops, from Lanier to Hartwell to Allatoona: 

LAKE LANIER

Bass:

August Lanier Profiles: In Lake Lanier, you won’t find trout, but rather walleye and striped bass taking advantage of this cool water below the thermocline. Stripers prefer the cool water so much they often persist in much lower oxygen than expected (< 2 mg/L) to take advantage of these temperatures. Temperature and oxygen profiles are a great tool as an angler to increase your catch, however, first you need to learn how to interpret these graphs.

LanierProfile1

The most recent Lanier profile from August 22nd shows the thermocline (highlighted in red) is set up around 33 feet at the Buford Dam forebay. In this area, the striped bass habitat begins just below the thermocline, where the water temperatures drop off and a high concentration of dissolved oxygen remains (dark blue on striped bass conditions graph). Blueback herring, which typically require more oxygen than striped bass, are found in this zone as well.

LanierProfile2

Below the thermocline, deeper than ~50 feet (light blue on the striped bass conditions graph), the water is cooler but the oxygen concentration is much lower. Striped bass will stay in this area to take advantage of these cooler temperatures. In this zone, striped bass are often found clumped in areas where an ‘oxygen bubble’ is present.  Currently there is one such area of higher dissolved oxygen concentration between 80 and 95 feet (highlighted in green).

These are some pointers to aid in finding fish using lake profiles during the dog days of summer, but remember these fish can and will persist all the way to the surface. If fishing live bait it’s always a good idea to run a flat line as well, to catch fish looking for an easy meal near the surface!

If you plan on going out this weekend be safe, and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know! Georgia’s Angler Award Program.

LAKE BLUE RIDGE

Blue Ridge Profile: WRD Fisheries staff fought through the eclipse traffic on Monday to get temperature and dissolved oxygen (DO) profile data from Blue Ridge Lake.  Profile data from Blue Ridge are recorded in August each year at two locations: one near the dam and another mid-way up the lake.  The temperature data for these two sites is typically very similar, and this year is no exception.  As you can see, water temps at both sites are warmer than normal by 1-4 degrees at the surface and at depth.  This is likely a result of a mild winter and hot summer.

BlueRidgeProfile Forebay

DO levels in the upper 30 feet are also similar between the two sites, but things change drastically below 30 feet.  At the mid-lake site, DO levels continue to decrease the deeper you go, down to around 3 mg/L at 100 feet (the lake is deeper than this, but our probe only has 100 feet of cable).  Oxygen in these deep layers has been used up by decomposition, and there is no way for oxygen to be replenished until the lake de-stratifies in the fall.  More info on lake stratification and “turnover” can be found HERE.

BlueRidgeProfile Mid

Fish generally prefer oxygen levels higher than around 4 mg/L, so I would not expect many fish to be caught right now deeper than about 45 feet in the middle and upper parts of the lake.  However, if you look at the DO levels for the site near the dam, you’ll see that oxygen levels are good throughout the water column thanks to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  TVA installed an oxygen diffuser system in the forebay of the lake in 1994 to directly benefit fish living in the lake and in the tailwater downstream.  Oxygen is brought in by the truckload and distributed by diffuser lines spread out on the bottom of the lake.  In the area around the dam, fish can survive and thrive all the way to the bottom due to this infusion of oxygen.  Warmwater species like bass and bream may still prefer the shallower layers, but coolwater species like walleye and the occasional trout can be found in the deeper layers chasing schools of blueback herring.

LAKE BURTON

Bream fishing is hot on Lake Burton. Even the novice angler can land a bucketful by drowning crickets around boat docks. Young Jack Thomson ate well after landing a half dozen big bream this weekend.  Enjoy the photo of his trophy bream.

sunfish bluegill big JackThomson Aug 2017

SMALL LAKES

Keep Winfield Scott and Vogel in mind.  Both have decent bream fishing, stocked trout survivors now deep, near the dam, and the occasional trophy bass that developed a keen sense of hearing for our spring trout stocking trucks.  Grab some crickets for your kids and maybe an eight-inch, rainbow trout-colored swim bait for you to try for a bassin’ home run. These lakes are also near heavily stocked Cooper and Rock creeks, so keep the trout stream option in mind, too.

 

RIVER BASS

Dredger and Sautee had a couple of trips between them over the weekend. Both bass rivers visited were still a bit high and stained.  While the flow didn’t adversely affect their catching, the turbidity sure did.  Few fish were hooked deeper than about three feet because of the muddy water.  The best niches were slow pockets and runs less than three feet deep, in the shade along the riverbanks.  Both poppers and hairy fodders worked, once those specific niches were found and “sampled.”  Sunday’s best fish was a 14-inch shoalie that inhaled Sautee’s popper.  With improving water quality, this week’s river bass fishing will be a best bet, so load those kayaks now!

TROUT

The WRD stocker list is refreshed on Fridays.

BURTON HATCHERY KIDS POND

Last Saturday was a fun-filled day of fishing at Lake Burton Hatchery for a group of orphans from Haiti.  None of the children from the orphanage had ever fished before.  Despite the language barrier, the Haitian kids quickly embraced the universal language of fishing.  The children caught a ton of fish, mostly small bream and catfish, and tears were shed by many when it was time to say good-bye.

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

Have fun as we start hearing rumors of slightly cooler weather in our future.  The days are a bit shorter now, so those dusk shadows will fall 30 minutes earlier and give us the best shots of the day at river bass and pond bream.  Good luck, and thanks for buying your fishing licenses and Trout car tags.

 

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