Georgia Fishing Report: September 29, 2017

Let’s get right to the reports, shall we? We have news from Southwest, Southeast, Central (East and West) and North Georgia all ready for ya! Get to reading, then get to planning on where you will go this weekend. Make the most of it – take a camera, take a kid or a friend and have a blast!

SOUTHWEST GEORGIA

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

LAKE WALTER F GEORGE

Bass fishing could be considered fair right now on Lake Georgie. The majority of the largemouth bite is happening offshore. The best offshore bite is not on the deepest ledges but between 8 and 12 feet seem to be the best. Your best lure selections are crank baits and Carolina rigged worms. There is a small topwater bite on frogs in the shoreline vegetation very early in the morning. Early morning and evening are the best times to be out. Hopefully as we move into fall and water temperatures cool down, the fishing on George will continue to pick up especially for hybrids and crappie. As usual, catfish continue to cooperate and can be caught with rod and reel or noodling. Favorite baits for catfish include liver and shrimp, the smellier the better. Click HERE to take you the Army Corps of Engineers website which has lots of useful information about access, fishing attractors, camping and more.

FLINT RIVER

The Lower Flint River is a bit off color from the recent rains but well within the banks and fishing could be considered good for Largemouth and shoal bass as well as bream and catfish. During a recent DNR sampling trip below the Blackshear dam large numbers of bass were found in this area feeding on abundant shad schools. Good numbers of large bream and abundant large channel catfish between 3-6 pounds were also observed in this area. The best time to fish the tailrace is whenever they are generating. Fish within and along the edges of the current to target actively feeding fish. Any lure that imitates a threadfin shad should do the trick. A reminder that striped bass fishing is closed in the lower Flint River and its tributaries from May 1 – October 31 but will open again on November 1st. The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:

LAKE SEMINOLE

The bass bite on Lake Seminole has picked up a bit. Anglers continue catching them on frogs on top water early in and around the grass beds. Other topwater baits are producing well around the grass edges. After the morning bite, try fishing Carolina rigged worms along the creek and river ledges or flipping in hydrilla mats.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

The effects of Hurricane Irma are still lingering, as the high water after the storm has slowed most bites. The best reports came from area ponds this week. Full Moon is October 5th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Reports from Jaycees Landing included some flathead catfish being caught on goldfish. Some crappie were caught on minnows fished in the backwaters.  Reports from Altamaha Park were that the catfish fishing is picking up as the river recedes. Rooster livers were tops for channel catfish. Crappie were eating minnows and white Satilla Spins fished in the deeper holes. Bream were caught with crickets and crawfish Satilla Spins fished in feeder creeks and slower moving areas. Mullet were fooled with green giant worms on the back sides of sandbars around low tide. The river level was 4.2 feet and falling (80 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.7 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on September 26th.

SATILLA RIVER

The middle and lower rivers were still too high for good fishing this week, but the extreme upper river is getting fishable. An angler fishing the Highway 158 area caught and released several big bass on buzzbaits on Monday. The biggest was around 6 pounds. The catfish bite has also started to pick up with several good stringers reported by anglers fishing shrimp and rooster livers on the bottom. The river level on September 26th at the Waycross gage was 9.5 feet and falling (77 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 13.2 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The river is still full, but it is dropping out. It is now within the banks, and the catfish bite has been good for those using worms, shrimp, and rooster livers and fishing in the Folkston area. The river level at the MacClenny gage on September 26th was 10.9 feet and falling.

OGEECHEE RIVER

Prince Preston and Ned Albright have been whacking the bass on the Ogeechee. The water is up a little and stained, but the bass are biting.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

Danny Kurtilla visited our area from Wyoming and fished the east side on Monday afternoon. He landed a gar and warmouth by throwing white Dura-Spins. The water is extremely high, and the fish are very spread out in the flooded flats.

LOCAL PONDS

Pond fishing was tops this week. Danny Kurtilla from Wyoming and a couple other friends fished a pond on Tuesday and caught 4 bass up to 4 pounds and a nice 21-inch chain pickerel (jackfish) on live bait. Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson fished an Alma area pond on Tuesday evening and caught a big crappie on a redfish magic spinnerbait and a couple of bass up to 4 pounds on white spinnerbaits and NED rigs. Chad caught a total of about 20 bass this week, with the NED rig (mushroom shaped jighead with small straight-tailed worm pegged on it) fooling most of them. His biggest fish, a 6-pounder, was caught by punching a weed mat on Friday with a creature bait. Michael Winge said that buzzbaits and topwater plugs produced some good-sized bass. A few bream ate pink worms and crickets. Expect the crappie bite to pick up this weekend with the forecasted cooler temperatures.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The best saltwater report I heard of was from Brentz McGhin who dabbled fiddler crabs around hard cover in the Crooked River area to fool 6 nice sheepshead (he also broke off several big fish). Three keeper redfish also ate their offering. They flung artificials for a few undersized trout.  Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting and a few bull redfish were caught from the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

Your best bet for good catches this weekend will be from area ponds. Bass should eat up topwaters in the mornings and evenings, and you should be able to fool some bream by pitching crickets or artificials to shoreline cover during the day. Put a worm or shrimp on the bottom for a chance at catfish. In saltwater, sheepshead and seatrout are your best bets. Dabble fiddler crabs around hard cover for convictfish and pitch live shrimp or Sea Shads under Equalizer Floats to oyster beds and creek mouths for trout. Try to fish areas away from high freshwater inflows to find the highest concentrations of trout.

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 DOWN 1.5 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  When the sun gets up go to the deeper on rocky points, blow downs and humps.  Midday bass will be holding from 12 to 20 feet deep depending on the conditions, location, and species.  Finding a crank bait bite can be fairly easy out on the deep structure like points and humps.  The Bandit 300 in a natural color is a good choice.  Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to unlock the numbers, species and locations of the game fish.  Pull up to the points and try the crank bait.  Follow up with plastic and be willing to move on to the next point when the action dies.  Try the same areas again, later in the day.  This is when the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology can unlock the key areas.  Start trying your big cranks also. DD22’s for instance.  Fish are holding very deep so Carolina rigging is a good idea.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 7.3 FEET, 70’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Fish the grass edges with a spinner bait and a floating Senko.  Use the jig and craw and shaky head with a trick worm on and over the grass and any wood close by.  Fish to the bottom and up through the limbs.  Bites may come late in the retrieve as the bait leaves the tree and is headed for the boat.  Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to unlock the numbers, species and locations of the game fish.  Target the older wood structure with a jig/craw trailer.  Stay out on the main lake on the points and fish deep with the Carolina rig.  Bass feed midday in these areas.  Try trick worms or u tail style baits.  Fan cast thoroughly in areas where you mark bait with Lowrance sonar.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPERATURES HIGH 70’S

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  Up the Oconee River flipping blow downs will bring you some really good fish but you will only get a few bites a day.  Fish brush piles in 15 to 20 foot of water using a Senko.  Fish the bait on a Texas rig and work thru the brush very slow.  Flipping a zoom crawfish in the watermelon color under docks where deep water is nearby will also bring you a few bites.   Work all areas of the docks to you find where the fish are holding.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good.  The crappies are in their summer time spots on deep water brush piles and humps in 12 to 20 foot of water.  The best bait to use is a live minnow on 6 pound P Line and fish the drop offs of the underwater humps.

WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, 80’S

Bass fishing is good.  Bass are moving and chasing shad.  Old road beds, such as the one at McGee Access, are great locations to fish with Carolina rigged worms in ANY color.  Cranking main lake and river points with a deep diving crank baits is still productive for early morning fishermen.  Check out the mouth of Whitewater Creek and fish deep for those bass that have gone to the bottom for the summer.  Up in New River, go past the bridge and use Riversides lures dark jig and a Hales Craw worm craw worms on the heavy bank cover can get a strike.  Stay close to the river current on points.  Buzz baits can be good all day in the pockets right off the river.   Go past the 219 bridge and hit every pocket no matter how small.   Cast right on the edges of the pockets points and work the bait to 13 feet.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .87 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  Fish are up feeding on the banks and shallow cover will be the best locations.  Stay in the shadows as long as possible and then move to docks and then off shore structure.  All white small Shad Raps crank baits are working especially up river.  The bass are feeding early and they will cover a lot of banks to look for food.  Small lures in natural colors has been by fair.  Zara Spooks in bright colors as well as small Shad Raps will work.  After the early feeding period, the fish move to deeper water. Scan the main lake points with the Lowrance technology.  Use a Rapala #7 Shad Rap in shad and baby bass patterns.  Try some night fishing this week.  Use small dark crank baits and small Betsey Bugs with a small Yamamoto dark spilt tail trailer.  Try swimming this jig around rocks and docks after dark.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .74 FEET, 70’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Fish on deep structure, deeper docks, and blow downs.  Early morning fishing is good throwing a buzz baits or torpedo style prop baits.  Deep running cranks baits and Carolina rigged plastics should be thrown during the day.  Before the sun gets up, stick to power fishing with buzz baits.  Covering water can be the key to success.  Sammie’s or Prop baits fish a little slower, but try these baits in prime areas, near wood or rock structure, for instance.  Fish should strike on or after a pause.  Some mornings you may find the fish prefer the slower plausible baits.  Focus on main lake rock, riprap, and sea wall features.  Fish main lake areas with some depth at or near the banks.

FLAT CREEK PFA

  • Surface Temperature: 26.7˚ F (80.2˚ C)
  • Water Level: 5’ 5” Below Full Pool
  • Water Visibility: 22”

The fall is a great time to fish while enjoying some cooler temperatures.  The fish also appreciate cooler temperatures and can be seen cruising the shallows in stealth mode searching for an unsuspecting forage fish.  For Flat Creek this means that a lot of bank fishermen will have a better opportunity to catch some of these larger predatory sport fish as they come in closer to shore.  The best dates for October should be October 5th which is a Harvest full moon, and October 19th which is the new moon.  The days surrounding those dates are when the fishermen at Flat Creek have had the most luck catching fish.  Those fishermen that were fishing for bream or bass were most successful when fishing around cover.  The cooler temperatures have also been good for crappie fishing.

Bass: try fishing around cover or near the shallows in the mornings and evenings.  Here’s what the successful anglers have suggested to catch bass: white spinnerbait or flukes; Shad Live Target Swimbaits: Plum or June Bug colored ‘Ol Monster worms by Zoom: Watermelon or Pumpkinseed Culprit worms; and Savage Gear 3D Bluegill.

Bream: worms, meal worms, crickets and frozen Catalpa worms were the best things that were reported to be working on bream.

Channel Catfish: last anglers that were catching catfish used a combination of the following: frozen Catalpa worms and uncooked shrimp.

Crappie: Mister Twister Curly Tail Grubs in bright colors.  Strike King Mr. Crappie Scizzor Shad Jig in any of the four available colors.

MARBEN PFA

  • Water temps. : High 70’s
  • Remember early morning and late evenings remain the best times at Marben PFA.
  • Temperatures are cooling so fishing success will increase. 

Bass: Fall brings a significant increase in bass feeding behavior.  Anglers will find bass behaving much like spring, gorging on shad.  Cooling water temperature as well as shorter days trigger this behavior.  Early morning will most likely be the best time.  However, if anglers are patient and can mimic what bass are targeting, do not be surprised to catch bass throughout the day.  Top-water lures are typically used in morning and late evening hours.  Crank baits and other deeper water lures are typically the most popular during mid-day.  Look for bass to be in the 6 – 10ft. even in early morning and moving deeper as mid-day approaches.  Early morning and late evenings are still the best times for anglers targeting bass.  Shad have been seen schooling in early morning so anglers should take advantage of this by targeting bass around the schooling shad.

Crappie:  This is the time of year when crappie fishing begins to increase, especially after mid-October.    The crappie “bite” remains the best in the evening but anglers should find early morning a good time to target these tasty fish.    Anglers need to be prepared using live minnows and yellow/purple jigs, as these tend to be the most popular.  Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet in the evening, while targeting the shallows around flooded timber in the morning.

Bream: Bream fishing will vary a little this time of year.  Look for bream to be the most active mid to late morning.  Especially as the temperatures cool during October.  Often times, cool fall mornings will slow activity but this will increase as the water temperature warms with the rising sun.  The best thing about bream is that this fish will hit a variety of bait.  Meal worms are proving the most successful bait.  However, do not be afraid to experiment; you never know what bream are targeting that day.  Look for bream in four to six feet of water.

Catfish: When the other fish begin to slow, anglers will often turn their attention to catfish at Marben PFA.  Catfish are reported being caught throughout the day.  Based on angler reports, Bennett and Fox remain the “hot spots” but look for the other lakes to increase this time of year.  Anglers are most successful using worms, liver and stink bait.

McDUFFIE PFA

  • Water temperature range across lakes: 80-81.3 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 18 – 54 inches

Bass:   Bass fishing has slowed down across the area.  The last week’s high water temperature has forced the bass and shad to seek shelter in deeper water so feeding activity has also slowed down.  But, the fall season has started a cool down as the water temperature and the weather cools down which the bass should respond to by becoming more active. 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.  Area anglers have not reported catching any bass this week.

Bream: Steady.  An angler reported catching some bluegill and shell cracker last week but the panfish action has not been hot!

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.   A full fall stocking of channel catfish has been put into Lake Jones and Breambuster this week, so the catfish should be biting next week after settling down in their new home environment. Lakes Beaverlodge, Bridge, Willow, and Clubhouse will receive a fall stocking of channel catfish during the month of October.

Striped Bass: No reports of stripers being caught in Lake Clubhouse or Bridge.  Stripers should begin biting once the water temperatures cool down to seventy degrees.  Stripers are school feeders so if one striper is feeding they are all feeding.  Keep casting!

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’re all getting past storm cleanup, Saturday’s big events, and maybe even the last of summer’s ninety-degree days, which made a chunk of September feel like August.  With fall weather finally arriving this weekend, it’s nice to turn the corner and look forward to some great October air temperatures and better fishing.  Right now there are lots of best bets.  Bass rivers are still low and clear and warm enough for a good bite, so wade or kayak them soon before higher and cooler flows cool off the bite.

Reservoir anglers are enjoying some early fall topwater action, not just for bass but for stripers, too.  Remember the small, mountain lakes, which cool faster than the huge heat sinks like Lanier and Hartwell.  Headwater trout streams are cooling off and the brooks and browns are now coloring up for fall courtship.  And while our Georgia’s hatcheries are busy growing small fish for next spring and putting some extra size on our November Delayed Harvest stockers, there are October opportunities just to our north for your trouting caravans.    Here we go:

THANK YOU to Sept 23 Volunteers: North Georgia’s WRD staff would like to thank all volunteers who assisted with our National Hunting and Fishing Day events at Buford Dam, Sloppy Floyd State Park, and Unicoi State Park.  We had a nice, sunny day to host three good crowds with lots of kids. Fun stuff HERE and HERE. GAWRD could not have done these events without all of you fine volunteers.  Here’s one testimonial I received from an elated guest.  I hope you enjoy her story as one example of the fine accomplishments of our Saturday volunteers.

Mr. Durniak,

I am writing you to let you know that Randy Collins, a volunteer at the Unicoi family day last Saturday, was a wonderful help to me and my grandson. 

Luke had never been fishing, and he really wanted to fish. I was not much help. Mr. Collins took Luke under his wing and gave him a magnificent experience. He was so patient and kind. Luke got to put fish in the stream and finally caught a fish. 

And we got some great pictures so we do not forget this memorable day. 

Please let Mr. Collins know how much I appreciate his volunteering to be there on Saturday and help many children, in addition to my grandson, have a wonderful day. 

Gratefully, Willda M, Cleveland, GA

LAKE LANIER

Bass:

(This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley – Jimbo on Lanier) – Well another week of unseasonably warm weather is in the books.  The lake temperature has came up about 3 degrees since last week’s report, and the water has dropped .3 feet in that time. Both the main lake and creeks in the lower lake are sporting clear water.  The fish are very near where they will be as the water cools, specifically at the mouths of creeks around points and humps. However, they have pulled out deeper with this warm weather over the past 10 days.  There continues to be a good schooling bite just after daylight in the mouths of the major creeks around points and humps. After that, we have been focusing on location more similar to a late summer pattern – namely, places very close to deep water.  We have been throwing 3 things most days all day: topwater, swimbaits, and a fluke.  A Sebile and a Chug Bug have worked well on the schooling fish.  After the schooling bite slows, we have been running steeper points and humps close to deep water as a general rule.  Stay back off of these locations further than you normally would, as you may find some schooling through the day over the deeper water as you approach these humps and points. Be on alert as soon as you take the boat off plane, as the schooling can initiate quickly after your arrival. I look for the cool front that is coming this weekend to change things significantly.  I anticipate the fish to be back up shallower on these same places I am referencing.  Once the water gets back to the mid-70’s or so for water temperature, we should start seeing some outstanding topwater and swimbait action through the month of October.  I hope you will give me a call and come enjoy this awesome experience with me!    Here are my open dates for October: 10, 11(PM), 12, 18, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31.  Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun!  Thanks to all and May God Bless.

Stripers : Video

MORE NEWS 

More Smallies for Blue Ridge: (From John Damer, fisheries biologist) – On September 27, WRD Fisheries staff stocked another 1,100 smallmouth bass into Blue Ridge Lake, bringing the total for this year to over 7,000.  The latest batch of fish was raised at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry, GA.  These “phase 2” fingerlings were bigger than those stocked earlier this year, averaging an impressive 5 inches.  This larger size should help them avoid predation, and increase their survival and contribution to the unique smallmouth bass fishery in Blue Ridge Lake. 

Kayak Fishing Trophy: My first Gar out of my Kayak. 25 minute battle.  Took me about a 100 yards down the lake (Lanier).  It was a blast.  45″ long.  Caught him on a jerkbait. (From Jack Becker of Academy Sports, Gainesville)

bass LMB and young yak basser Sept 2017

Yak Basser Finale: Read all about the Southeastern Youth Kayak Fishing Championship Finale right HERE 

Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Floyd Co.): Park Manager Dennis Shiley reported the catfish bite remains excellent on Lake Antioch.  He suggested catfish anglers target rocky shorelines using cut bait or chicken livers fished on the bottom.  The bream bite is “fair” and the fish are holding relatively deep (10-13 feet).  Bass fishing has been good over the last couple weeks – with decent top water action in the morning and evening.  Dennis also reported a few walleye being caught from Lake Antioch over the last week. Planning a fall family fishing/camping trip?  Check out the amenities offered at Rocky Mountain PFA HERE.

Hooch National Forest Reopens: Back OPEN, for your recreational pleasure.

USFS Foothills Project Meeting- Dahlonega- October 3: Details, Forest fans who can’t make the meeting can still look over the draft plan HERE, And comment HERE.Tell USFS what you like about fish and wildlife habitat and recreational access, and what you’d like to see changed on its Foothills project. 

TROUT NEWS 

  • Lanier Tailwater Trout: Click HERE
  • Buford Dam Release Info: Here’s a big DNR thanks to USA Corps of Engineers Lake Lanier Project manager Tim Rainey and his staff for kid-friendly flow and dissolved oxygen levels for last Saturday’s kids fishing event at the dam.  More info from Tim to benefit all tailwater anglers is HERE.
  • Womens Fly-fishing Class– Oct 22:  Click HERE for info.
  • Leftover Stockers: While our traditional trout stocking season ended on Labor Day, stocker fans should be able to find some Adventure Day leftovers at Smith Creek below Unicoi Lake and the Hooch at Buford Dam.  Sloppy Floyd Park always has some nice leftover catfish from its Outdoor Adventure Day stocking,too.
  • Early Delayed Harvest: Remember that the Delayed Harvest program starts a month earlier in North Carolina.  Folks needing a good fix of catch & release trout fishing should consider an October carpool up Highway 441 to the Tuck or Nan.
  • Headwater Trout: The weather should start cooling off this weekend, so Georgia’s wild trout fishing should improve.  The key to fall trouting in these low, crystal clear streams is stealth.  Fish are extremely spooky and your stalk and subtle casts are much more important than the fly pattern.  Think “turkey hunting” and your headwater trout catch rates should rise with perfection of your stealth technique.  And remember October’s hot color: orange (which leads me straight to the closing paragraph).

Good luck this week as we finally bid farewell to summer and move forward into fall.  Don’t forget a long-sleeved shirt for the cool, crisp mornings and the appropriate cheer on Saturday night.  Being true to my own roots, I’ll fire up all you Dawgs with a “Go Vols.” Let the hate mail begin.

Have a great weekend.  Send me your cool fishing pics and stories along with your disparaging pigskin commentaries and pics of the final score!

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3 thoughts on “Georgia Fishing Report: September 29, 2017

  1. Sherman Wilson

    This is for Captain Bert: You mention rooster livers as a good Bait for catfish. Is that generic term for chicken livers or are you talking about some artificial lure? I don’t think I can buy livers and be rooster specific!!
    I look forward to your Southeast Georgia post every 2 weeks. Thanks, and keep it coming!!

    Like

    1. Message from Bert:

      Excellent question that I’ve raised with the person who provides that information. Dickie Winge at Winge’s Sales in Waycross (912-283-6100) provides that information and claims that the rooster livers are tougher than hen livers. Mr. Wilson, feel free to call him and quiz him on it, as he hasn’t convinced me over the years that they’re any better than regular chicken livers. But, there are folks down here that are convinced, and I think that they actually sell cups of rooster specific (at least they claim that) livers.

      Like

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