Georgia Fishing Report: September 15, 2017

What a week. In all seriousness, I hope that you and yours survived Irma with minimal damage – if not to all your structures, at least to your ability to survive! 

As we think towards days with a little less “heavy” cares, how about a fishing report or two to brighten things up? 

Oh, and a reminder that on Sat. Sept. 23, Georgia will take part in celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day. On this day, there will be multiple outdoor-oriented events scheduled across the state. These are a great place to check out new activities or bring a friend that might be new to hunting or fishing. Check out information on National Hunting and Fishing Day HERE and a schedule of statewide events HERE. Oh, and did I happen to mention that if you pledge HERE to take someone hunting or fishing before Sept. 23, you could be entered into the running for a really sweet prize pack (Did someone say NASCAR?). Not enough? How about a Free Fishing Day too?

NHF Day logo

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has listed their “Best Places in Georgia to Fish” – Are any of these spots your personal favorite? 

Fishing Reports below include Central, Southeast and North Georgia.

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.  

LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  Zoom u tail worms in green pumpkin on a Texas rig can work as the bullet weight cannot move up and down the line.  The heavier the cover you can find the better.  Way up in the Savannah River and in Beaverdam Creek are favorites as the water goes onto transition.  Flip or pitch the jig into the cover and watch the line as it falls.  The lighter the weight you can use, the better the results will be.  Spotted bass along with largemouth are holding tight to cover during the day.  Down below the 72 Bridge use a #5 Shad Rap and DT6 to crank the waters just off the rocky points.  Fish the bridge too.  Bass are using these areas to feed and there is some current there most of the time.  Try using long casts and slow retrieves.  This is all it will take to trigger a strike.  Early in the mornings are the best times for using the crank baits.  Carolina and Texas rigs that are fished very slowly along the bottom are the best choice during the mid-day periods.  If you see a reef pole, use the Lowrance Structure Scan Technology and find the man-made brush plies that will be close by.  This is when the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology can unlock the key areas and actually “see” the fish.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 6.9 FEET, 70’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Early in the mornings, head up into the rivers and bigger creeks.  Try downsizing small Zoom finesse worms on a drop shot rig and light Carolina rigs along the channel ledges.#5 .  Number 5 Jointed Shad Raps are working along the banks from day break until around 9:30 a.m.  Throw in shallow water and use a slow retrieve.  For the most part, anglers are relying on Rattle Tube, worms and jigs to catch the majority of the bass.  Most of the bass are small in size with an occasional 3 to 4 pounder showing up at the scales during the weekend tournaments.  Fish deep-water structure during the heat and fish slow.  Strikes will be nothing more than added weight.  Line movement from side to side may also indicate a strike.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPERATURE 80-84

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  Target deeper boat docks with at least 10 feet of water; use a shaky head and target the deep dock pillions.  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 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.  The buzz bait and a Pop R at first light will work until the sun gets up.  Work the deeper docks and sea walls on the main lake.  Use a chartreuse skirt and silver blade fun a buzz bait.  Target deeper boat docks with at least 10 feet of water; use a shaky head and target the deep dock pillions.  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.  When the fish head to deep water haunts, this is when the Navionics mapping along with the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to find them.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Top-water baits continue to produce a few fish, including large bass, during early morning.  Use the top-water baits the first 2 hours along main river banks and around blow downs, stumps, grass, rocks, and seawalls.  Use buzz baits, Whopper Plopper, Pop R’s, Chug Bug’s, and Zara Spooks.  Flukes and trick worms haven’t produced well recently, but are worth trying.  Rip rap and bridge supports continue to hold a few bass.  The points of rip rap on both sides of bridges can hold feeding fish, especially during power generation.  Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to unlock the numbers, species and locations of the game fish.  Crank baits, lightweight Texas rigs, and jig head and worm rigs have been the producers.  Bass holding around bridge supports have fallen prey to the worm rigs mostly.  The best presentation is usually to cast the worm beside the bridge support and allow it fall vertically.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .94 FEET, 70’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Try the Spy bait on the sea walls for the spots and use light 8 pound test line.  The Carolina rig and main lake ledges are best.  A small Zoom pumpkin lizard is fair with a June bug lizard a close second.  The fish are also out on the river channel ledges or to deep docks.  Try the plastics but try a gold buzz bait on any dock.  Jigs are also fair on the docks in all brown but use smaller baits that seem to work best on the spots.  Plastic or pork trailer will work and match the trailers to the bait.  Soft plastics in the green pumpkin in a finesse worm and a Zoom Bush Hog will get strikes.

BIG LAZER PFA

  • More on Big Lazer HERE
  • Surface water temperature: Cooling at 72o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 20”
  • Water level: Water level is only down 2” from full pool

Bass: Good – Bass fishing has been slow because of the very hot temperatures.  However, fall is finally here.  Because of the cooler fall weather, bass feeding will increase before they head into the winter.  Anglers should try shad, look alike, baits at several depths.  Also, plastic-worms and crankbaits fished just off the channels in the upper end have produced several good bites.

Crappie: Poor- A few crappies are being caught but they are difficult to locate and target.  For Crappie, try fishing deep around standing timber with live minnows or try bright colored jigs fished at several depths.

Bream: Good – Bream fishing is good and improving with the cooler water temperatures.  Target shallower areas that also have some woody brush associated with it.  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.  Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting.  However, make sure the hooks are small because the bream have small mouths.

Channel catfish: Fair- The rocks along the dam are always a good spot to try and catch big channel cats.  However, catfish are also located throughout much of the lake.  Some catfish are being caught on cut bait, worms, livers, and shrimp. Try fishing both on the bottom as well as suspended higher up in the water column.

In general, the hot summer weather will be replaced by cooler nights during September and October.  The cooling water temperatures cause the fish to increase their feeding before the winter months.  Therefore, now is an excellent time to grab the family and head outdoors for some fall fishing at Big Lazer PFA.  Also, Big Lazer PFA will be hosting a kids fishing event (in celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day) on September 23 from 8:00 to 11:00 am for children age 15 or younger. Check out more info on this event and others happening statewide HERE.

MCDUFFIE PFA

  • More on McDuffie HERE
  • Water temperature range across lakes: 73.4 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 14 – 54 inches

Bass: bass fishing has slowed down across the area.  A local angler reported catching and releasing a 6-pound plus largemouth in Lake Willow.  The outstanding shad hatch is still visible in Lake Willow so if anglers match the shad pattern and size they could catch a big bass too.  The bass have begun responding to cooler temperatures since the tropical storm passed through Georgia. Lake Rod Bender, the trophy bass pond, is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.  No reports from anglers fishing Lake Rod Bender.  This regulation is strictly enforced.

Bream: steady. No reports of bluegill or shellcracker being caught in the last two weeks.

Channel Catfish:  the channel catfish bite has remained steady.  Catfish are biting especially well in Bridge Lake but can be caught in all PFA lakes.  Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish using chicken liver on the bottom and other homemade concoctions.

Striped Bass: no reports of stripers being caught in Lake Clubhouse or Bridge.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

Hurricane Irma pretty much sums up this week’s fishing report. In general, we were very blessed here in southeast GA compared to several of the scenarios that we could have had. Many folks are still out of power as I write this, and hopefully that power can be restored soon. I am sorry that I was not able to do seminars at the Douglas Outdoor Show, as I was preparing for the hurricane. With all the rain we have gotten, the rivers are going to be blown out for a couple of weeks. At least this slug of water should fatten the fish some going into the fall. The Okefenokee will be tough for about a week as fish push out into the newly-flooded flats and concentrations of fish will be hard to find. Saltwater will be difficult this week with the influx of fresh water and big tides.

The highlight of the fishing this week and your best bet for the upcoming week is pond fishing. Bass have been biting, as Chad Lee of Alma proved. He fished right through the hurricane (fortunately no trees fell on him!). On Monday while the storm was barreling through, he caught 4 bass. He ended up with about 20 bass this week, including four 5-pounders, and a 7-pounder. Most of his fish ate plastics fished on a NED head and War Eagle spinnerbaits.  If you can safely access the spillway of your favorite pond, the fish should be attracted to the flowing water. Crappie, bass, catfish, and bream are all good bets in the plunge pool below a pond. New Moon is September 20th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

And, just in case you need a few fishing pics to get you amped up and ready to go:

SEGA Garrett Page Bass IMG_0368
Garrett Page of Blackshear got this awesome bass on a gold Rapala Minnow right before the storm. Way to go Garrett!
Click on each image above for a description
SEGA Bert Deener 18 inch trout   IMGP5165.JPG
Our very own Bert Deener caught this 18-inch seatrout in August near St. Marys. Seatrout fishing will be great after this slug of freshwater passes. Limetreuse will be one of the best colors while the water is dingy (like it will be for the next few weeks).

NORTH GEORGIA

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

We hope that all of you weathered Irma well, with no injuries and minimal property damage.  Our internet service was restored overnight here in the Gainesville region office, so I thought I’d send this quick report to all of you who also have had your service restored.

The “quick take” up here is:

  • National Forest and WMA roads are still a mess with storm damage, so consider taking a break from visiting this week and give state and federal natural resource managers more time to clear storm debris
  • Some of the rural county roads still have storm damage.
  • Our state trout hatcheries weathered the storm well.
  • Several of our staffers (Leon, Chris, and Colt) have served the storm response well, alongside their cohorts with Game Management and Law Enforcement, with road clearing efforts stretching from Houston County to Wilson Shoals and Dawson Forest WMA’s and to Habersham County yesterday (9/14). Check out some information HERE and HERE.
  • Your best and safest bet for fishing this weekend will be the big reservoirs and smaller lakes next to major roads, which have been cleared of storm debris and are safe to travel.

ALERT – FROM U.S. FOREST SERVICE

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests site closures from Tropical Storm Irma – There is extensive damage on the national forests as a result of high winds associated with Tropical Storm Irma. The list of known closures on the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests continues to expand as we assess the impacts. We will continue to post updates about hazards and closures on Facebook  and Twitter  and HERE  . Please check back often for the latest updates.

We are strongly encouraging folks to stay off roads, trails and backcountry areas of the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests and give crews time to do their work. Down and damaged trees are everywhere, and pose a serious, life-threatening risk to visitors. Along with many roads, most trails are blocked, and trees continue to fall. We have crews assisting trapped visitors, sawing out roads, and assessing damage. We need you to keep yourself and our personnel safe by making smart choices and avoiding the national forest at this time.

Stay safe! We are thinking of you during this time, and appreciate your understanding.

BE BEAR AWARE

My Yellowstone fishing buddy has a new nickname, Bear Bait.  Glad I passed on this year’s trip! Enjoy the read and especially Jimmy’s advice to heed.  And remember- these are grizzlies, not the black bears here in the East.

SEPTEMBER 23 EVENTS CELEBRATING NATIONAL HUNTING AND FISHING DAY

Please pass the word to your friends with kids.  Come on up next weekend:

NGA Unicoi OAD Photo Collage1

Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.  

LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 5.2 FEET, THE CREEKS ARE STAINED AND THE MAIN LAKE IS CLEAR & 70’s

Bass: (This Bass fishing report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley, 770 542 7764) — Irma has come and gone and the lake seemed to survive pretty well. The water level has only came up .3 feet which is surprising. What you may find more surprising is the water temps have dropped into the mid 70! This should really help the top water bite over the next couple of weeks. There is no trash floating in the water to speak of, and the water looks good overall. We are starting to see some mixing of water in some areas of the lake, which is normal for the abrupt cool down we experienced. The cooler weather has brought the fish shallower in general. We are still getting some quality fish around brush on off shore structure such as points and humps. The schooling bite seems to have really picked up, which is normal for the early fall and these water temperatures. A smaller swimbait as well as a super spook have worked well on the schooling fish. Also, a Spybait is a good option as well when the fish are on the move but not eating your larger offerings. Throw that little thing out and let it sink to about a 10 count, then SLOWLY retrieve. On the top water side, a Super Spook, Gun fish, a Whopper Plopper and a fluke have been my main choices for top water and a Sebile for a swimbait. Also, try a jerk bait if the fish won’t come up. A Spro McStick should do nicely. Focus on offshore structure with cover, such as brush on humps and points, for this approach. We are still concentrating on brush in 18 to 25 feet of water. In general, focus on the areas that offer close proximity to much deeper water. Those areas will now hold the best numbers and size of fish. Here are my remaining available dates for September: 16, 25. I am also booking for October and those dates are filling up quickly as well. Fall is coming and so will be that awesome top water and swimbait bite. Don’t miss it, schedule your trip now! Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun.

Striper: (This Lake Lanier Striper report is from Big Fish On guide Service. To book your guide trip call Captain Ken at 404 561 2564 or contact us on our website) –Striper fishing is good. The lake temperature has dropped from 82 to 72 degrees in a week. That is crazy for this time of year. This temperature change has “released” the Stripers from the deep water refuge and they are free to move up in the water column. Consequently, we are seeing top water action early. Now is the time to keep your eyes on the water scanning for surfacing fish? The Spotted Bass are also hitting on top and we have had a report of both stripers and spotted bass feeding on the same school of bait. The small Chug Bug, Spook and ½ oz. buck tail will work on these surfacing fish. One approach is to deploy free lines with a couple of split shots 50 to 100 feet behind the boat and set your down rods at depths of 20 to 40 feet and target points and reef markers. Always keep someone on the front deck casting top water. There are still fish suspended at 25 to 50 feet in the creek channels and main lake pockets. Trolling umbrella rigs and lead core line will work for these suspended fish. Our Umbrella rigs consists of a 3 ounce frame and 9 one ounce jigs with white or chartreuse 4 inch shad bodies. Set the umbrella rigs 130 to 150 feet back and trolling at a speed of 2.8 to 3.2 MPH. We are also focusing on main lake and creek channels with lead core line with a one ounce buck tail jig. Set your lead core line at 8 to 9 colors and troll at 3.0 to 3.8 MPH. One of the challenges is finding the fish. The fish are moving and it is not unusual to see a large school of Stripers and the next minute they are nowhere to be found. Most of the action has been from Vans Tavern south to the Dam. However, it would not be surprising to see fish move North of Browns Bridge this week. The key will be the water temperature. The water temperature is in the low 70s. The water is stained in the backs of the creeks and clear on the main lake. The lake is 5.4 feet below full pool.

LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN .83 FEET, 70’S, CLEAR

Spotted Bass: Spotted bass fishing is good. The fish are in the middle of the lake chasing small Thread Fin Shad. The Lowrance down Scan technology can see the fish in the brush plies. There is a very short lived first thing in the morning and right before dark. The best places to find these fish are from Owl Creek down to Clear Creek and from The Pass down to Tanyard Creek. The best time to catch these fish are from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Have two rods in the boat with a Strike King Spit N King top water lure tied on and began to cruse these areas and when you see the fish began to feed on top. Pull over to them and began casting the lure to the outside edge and work your way in to the middle of the school. The key here is when the bait hits the water move it very fast so the fish will not get a good look at the lure and color is not an issue with these fish.

Stripers and Hybrids: (This Lake Allatoona fishing Guides Report for striper and hybrids Has been brought to you exclusively by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service, 770-827-6282, email) – Line side fishing is fair. The full moon we had last week really slowed the fishing down. Throw in the rain earlier this week and it made fishing a little tough. It is finally starting to rebound, the last couple of days we have caught fish on all method’s this weeks including down lines, free lines, top water and trolling. Top water has been the overall decent and is producing fish, with trolling umbrella rigs and down lining live bait running a close second. Mid Lake South has been producing best for the bigger hybrids, but if you are after numbers the white bass bite is hard to beat on the north end of the lake. This is the time of year that you need to be universal and not one dimensional on techniques. Any of these methods from live bait, down lines and free lines, top water and trolling will all catch you fish on any given day. I really look for the bite to pick up in the next two weeks.

LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 7.3 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S

Bass: (This bass fishing report is by Josh Panyard) –The bite continues to be tough out there. We have had to work deeper water from 20 feet all the way out to 45ft. We are fishing humps, major creek arm points, and main lake points and the key with all of these areas is that they have to have some really deep water next to them specially a ledge which has been a key component lately. We have had some blow ups on top water but not a lot of action and we have had to really work at this bite. We have had to really finesse these fish so we have worked the shakey head with a finesse worm and a drop shot with small baits on them to match the bait that we are seeing. Be patient with the drop shot fish we have had a lot of fish follow the bait and not eat it if you get this same reaction first change baits and if that doesn’t work change your leader length our best has been 12 to 18 inches. The key is to be patient and keep moving throughout the day and with this warm weather and water the fish are going to stay deep. Remember the lake is still low and there are a lot of objects sticking up out of the water and not marked so be safe out there and we hope to see you on the water. If you want to see some of the fish we have been catching follow me on my Facebook fishing page at.

Thanks for your patience as north Georgia recovers from the effects of Irma.  The good news is that a few of these trees have hopefully dropped into the water somewhere and spruced up your favorite reservoir crappie hole or speck stream.  Good luck this week and practice safety-first!

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