WOW! What a beautiful week it has been in Georgia – are you loving that chill in the air? Let’s hope your weekend plans include some fishing trips!
Some quick fun notes:
NEW State Record Blue Catfish: Did you see this? Richard Barrett is the new state record holder for the blue catfish. His catch, weighing 93 lb, 0 oz, beat the previous 2010 record of 80 lb, 4 oz. Barrett, of Axson, hooked this new state record blue catfish on the Altamaha River on October 14, 2017 using a live channel catfish they caught earlier in the day as bait. The fish was caught on the edge of a deep hole, and the angler told WRD staff that he was shocked when he got it to surface and thought there was no way he was going to get the fish in boat! WRD fisheries biologist Tim Bonvechio aged the fish at 14 years old, which indicates a good growth rate. More info HERE
NEW Bass Slam Winner: Tyler Adams becomes the 5th angler this year to have successfully completed the Georgia Bass Slam. Congratulations Tyler – we thank you for participating!
Wishing One of Our Own The Best of Luck: GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division fisheries biologist Chris Nelson is one of 171 anglers from across the Southeast participating in the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League Regional at Laurel Park on Lake Lanier this weekend. The event started yesterday with weigh-ins at 3:30 PM at the ramp the first two days. The final day weigh-in will be at 4:30 PM on October 21st at the Bass Pro Shops in Lawrenceville. Go get’em Chris!
Now, on to the reports. This week, we will hear from North and Southeast Georgia:
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It’s fall. We have icy mornings, clear mountain air, changing leaf colors, and north Georgia wildlife finally on the move for food. In hot pursuit of our game species are Georgia hunters, who have planned, practiced, scouted, and stocked up well to pursue their quarry. Welcome to hunting season!
We fishers can learn a lot from our hunting buddies, as many of their hunting lessons apply very well to our fall pursuits of finned quarry. From pre-trip topo map perusals and online weather checks to layered clothing and stealthy stalks, these same techniques for squirrels, grouse, groundhogs, and deer can help us bag more bass, stripers, and trout. This month, choose to “hunt” your fish and up your odds at landing high numbers and maybe even that long-awaited wallhanger. Here we go. Up first- the trout treasure map!
Improved Online Trout Map: Thanks for your patience while our GIS wizards at HQ worked on a nice replacement for our online Georgia trout map. Special thanks to GIS specialist Dylan Severens for this creation and to My North Region Fisheries staff for editing help to Dylan. We think you’ll enjoy this new trouting tool! Remember to zoom in, and you’ll find lots of names to all those mystery bluelines. Just notice how close those topo lines run together, so you’ll know how badly the hike up-and-out will hurt.
As a reminder, the online map is just one of many nice links on the WRD trout page. For example, there were recent online questions about Georgia’s trout-stocked lakes. Answers are HERE and HERE. And if you really do hunt, we’ve got maps for that, too!
Pat’s Second Hooch Helping: (From Pat Snellings) – Last week we took out the jet electrofishing boat and ran the Chattahoochee River below Lake Lanier in search of wild Brown Trout for our annual sample. The fall electrofishing sample is important to the management of the river and gives us, as biologists, an idea of how the current Brown Trout population is doing relative to previous years. Preliminary results show that the population below Lanier is still thriving! Abnormally high flows in the winter of 2015 limited spawning success that year, however, the fish over 12” and fall 2016 spawned fish are flourishing. Buford Dam at lower pool park is a great place to target these wild fish and catch some stocked Rainbow Trout as well!
Remember if you’re fishing above the Route 20 bridge that a lifejacket is required on the river, and is always a safe bet to wear on the Chattahoochee River below Lanier due to cold release water and potential for rapidly rising flows. Before you go be sure to check the dam release schedule at 770-945-1466.
The Chattahoochee River below Lanier is a great Brown Trout fishery and boasts the current 20 lb 14 oz state record. Don’t forget to take a tape measure and, if you catch a big one, let us know! Georgia Angler Awards
Wilderness Trouting: Based on the date of Dredger’s brown trout pic, it should be prime time for brownie assaults of your October caddis dry, floated through the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area. Trophy hunters can strip a sculpin pattern, since the river’s loaded with them. Go soon, before you’re mired in falling leaves for about ten days’ worth of littered leaders. Remember that wild fish aren’t easy, so stalk slowly. Ole Dredge calls those Tooga browns “groundhogs,” as they hang out in aquatic burrows like boulder fields, ledges, and drowned logs, where the shade protects them from overhead predators and the cover conceals them from unsuspecting minnows. His “shocking” days of yesteryear confirmed those addresses, so always fish through a boulder field or a good set of shady ledges running perpendicular to the flow. Watch your shadow and the number of false casts, too. You may look real pretty with long, tight loops on the practice grass at home, but you’ll strike out on the real ball field: the river. Read more HERE.
Road Trip: Look, somebody liked the idea of a Smokies trip…Nice Photos and Nice Fish! Be ready to “shoot” fall leaf colors, buttery browns, and sparring bull elk with the best camera you own or can borrow from a buddy.
Spare Stockers: Thanks to our state and federal hatcheries for growing the 2017 season’s “late bloomers “ (slow growing fish) to catchable size, we now have a few end-of-season extras to distribute. Stocker stalkers should try the upper Hooch Tailwater, the Blue Ridge Tailwater, and Lake Tralyta at Vogel State Park on their next sunny Saturday.
Sweetwater Park Bassin’: Click HERE
River Jump Shooting: Got a text report from the Guru, who assaulted the upper Hooch’s shoalies with his spinning rod on Sunday afternoon. Wading up and poking around the boulders and ledges like a good bird dog, he found a lot of addresses and landed about a half dozen bass to 13 inches on shaky heads tipped with green worms. He missed at least that many, including a nice 3-pounder that shook off his shaky. How to “shaky” HERE.
Bass: Like a good duck hunter, don’t forget a solid pair of binoculars to spot your reservoir quarry. Scan for breaking fish as you coast down the lake. It will be a while until those other strike indicators, gulls and loons, show up in numbers high enough to help you, so don’t forget the binocs.
- Video and Tips
- Upper Lanier angler Landon reports good action after work by stalking the banks and casting his “decoy,” a bone chug bug, along the long points. He’s caught some chunky spots and even some small stripers over the last week and a half. Keep an evening bank walk or wade in mind while our daylight hours are still lengthy. Where? Pick a nearby park with some good points: Laurel, Holly, Thompson Bridge, Don Carter State Park, War Hill, etc. Many more public sites HERE.
Stripers: “Hank the Yank” Cowen sez the topwater bite is still inconsistent due to warm surface temperatures. He predicts that Lanier’s topwater striper action will take off in about 2 weeks. Anglers can still find some stripers early and late and mixed in with the abundant spots. Henry reminds us to watch other “hunters,” the blue herons along the shoreline, to find the shad. Just like a big, acorn-heavy white oak, when we find the food source, we usually find the game.
Stripers: Jeff B’s Striper Reports
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) – This morning’s water temperature was 72 degrees. Finally, signs of fall weather are here! Especially with the cool nights, we project that the water temp will drop over the next several day. That is an awesome sign for crappie anglers – fishing is good. This time of year, your main targets should be stand-alone brush piles. This is a great time to put your side scan and down scan electronics to good use. Find brush piles located in the mid-sections of creeks. Zero in on 15 to 25 foot depths. Spending time locating these brush piles will pay off, especially if your electronics mark fish on them. Throw your marker over the brush pile; give the fish a few minutes to settle back in, then start fishing. You can go to our website to view photos of down scan screen shots with fish on, taken in the last few days. Crappie in these areas can be caught using a variety of techniques. My all-time favorite is using a hair jiffy jig or a Bobby Garland soft body jig on a 1/24 ounce jig head. The jigs should be tied directly to a four pound test line without additional weights or swivels. Watch for ANY movement in the line, and then set the hook. If you like to use crappie minnows, a #6 Eagle Claw long shank hook with a slip cork is working well. Your bite should start ten feet below the surface early in the morning, and will be deeper as the day progresses. If you’re in to trolling, tight lining is a good option right now, using a 3/8 ounce double swivel egg sinker with a 2 foot leader. Once you locate the brush pile, move over it SLOWLY to allow your line to drift in an almost vertical position over and around the brush. If your line flattens out, you are moving too fast.
Bass Club Adoption Effort : Click HERE
Catch of a Lifetime: Catching Fish Is a Great Thing! See Why HERE.
Casting for Recovery: Are YOU ready to step up and give a little back to your sport?
Big Attaboy to Mack! Speaking of stepping up in a major way… Please join me in congratulating Georgia’s own Mack Martin on his Trout Unlimited national award for youth education. His story can be seen HERE.
2017 Autumn on the River Fundraiser: 2017 Autumn on The River fundraiser is only a few days away. Attendees will have select films, pizza and salad bar, plus about 30 raffle items each valued over $25. More info HERE.
Good luck this week as you use your best fall hunting techniques to load your landing net. The weather is great, the waters are clear and cool, and the fleece and waders feel good on y’all again, so go get ‘em, guys and gals. As always, thanks for buying your fishing licenses and TU brookie car tags. We appreciate those operating funds!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Check out details of our new state record blue catfish in the Altamaha River section. Lots of fish were caught this week. Saltwater and ponds were great. The best river was the Ocmulgee/Altamaha system this week. The swamp was still lagging with the high water, and the Satilla bite slowed with the rising water this week. The St. Marys was good for catfish. New Moon is October 19th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
The biggest news of the week was a new state record blue catfish caught from the Ocmulgee River (a tributary of the Altamaha) on Saturday. See more info HERE. Justin Bythwood of Waycross and a friend fished the Altamaha on Saturday and caught some nice bream and redbreasts, but the bass bite was great for them. Their panfish came on bruised banana gold 1/8-oz. Satilla Spins, while the bass ate Texas-rigged worms and crayfish. They caught 15 bass total, with the biggest right at 4 pounds. The key for the bass was to get the lure as close as possible to heavy cover. Their biggest bass came on a Bass Assassin Fat Job Worm (watermelonseed) fished against a willow tree. Reports from Jaycees Landing Bait and Tackle are that the crappie and redbreast bites have picked up. The crappie ate minnows, and redbreasts inhaled crickets. Some flatheads were caught on goldfish. Altamaha Park reports included crappie, flatheads, and bass. Minnows produced most of the crappie. Goldfish fooled quite a few flatheads in the 20 to 30-pound range. Mullet anglers reported catching a few on Saturday. The river level was 2.9 feet and rising (75 degrees…it was 83 at one point last week) at the Baxley gage, and 4.0 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on October 15th.
The river was just getting perfect for tossing Satilla Spins for panfish when the river started rising from recent rains. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that buzzbaits were still working well in the unseasonably warm water temperatures before the front early this week. Shrimp and pink worms fished on the bottom produced some big catfish. Bluegill ate crickets fished under small floats. Expect the crappie bite to fire up this week with the higher water and cooling temperatures. The river level on October 15th at the Waycross gage was 6.2 feet and falling (76 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.7 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river is down within the banks, and the catfish are tearing it up again. Put a pink worm or rooster liver on the bottom and you will catch whiskerfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage on October 15th was 7.6 feet and rising.
Prince Preston and Ned Albright fished the river on Sunday and landed 10 bass, a couple redbreasts, and 2 big chain pickerel (jackfish). A gold rogue worked well for them. The river was low and hard to get around, but the bite made it worth the effort. The river level at the Eden gage on October 15th was 2.4 feet and falling.
The water is high but is coming down. The fish are still spread out in the flooded flats, but it is about time to try them again. I did not get any reports of anglers fishing this week, but if I went I would pitch sallies under a float for fliers and fling in-line spinners for pickerel and bowfin.
Paul and Steve Williamson fished with a couple of friends on Monday and whacked the
crappie just before the cold front. One boat spider-rigged tinsel Specktacular Jigs (Tennessee shad color) tipped with minnows, while the other boat long-line trolled Assassin 2-inch Curly Shads and pitched marabou Specktacular Jigs. The most productive Curly Shads were limetreuse, sugar and spice, and crystal shad. The best marabou Specktacular Jigs were 1/24-oz. popsicle. The group ended up landing 106 crappie up to 3/4-pound. The bite was so good that they caught 4 crappie on tan shad tinsel Specktacular Jigs suspended under a float around the ramp before they even launched the boat. The crappie bite is about to bust wide open. Another angler fished Tuesday afternoon in an area pond and landed a dozen nice crappie (and that was behind the cold front…). Two anglers reported catching 20 bass from ponds over the weekend. They each jumped off big (6 and 7-pounders) bass on spinnerbaits, but they landed fish to 4 pounds. The best lures for them were spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged Christie Craws. Michael Winge said that crappie bit well on minnows. Catfish ate pink worms fished on the bottom. Bass ate Whopper Plopper topwater plugs before the cold front.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Lee Mayer and Ed Morain of Chicago visited their college buddy Don Harrison of Waycross late last week and fished out of Crooked River. Their total for Thursday and Friday was 31 redfish and 20 trout, and the best day was Thursday when they had 20 reds and 8 trout. All fish were caught on Assassin Sea Shads under Equalizer Floats. The best color Sea Shad was goldfish on Thursday and electric chicken on Friday. In the Brunswick area, fiddler crabs dropped around bridge pilings have fooled some big sheepshead lately. Craig James wrote an article detailing my method of pitching bucktails to the St. Marys Jetties to catch big bull redfish. The days when the wind is calm enough to get out to the jetties are few and far between this time of year, but it is rewarding when winds lay down. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that big bull reds were caught in good numbers from the pier. Cut bait has been the best for them. Lots of blue crabs were caught under the pier this week. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
Pond fishing for crappie will likely be on fire for the weekend with the stable, cooler weather forecasted. The stable weather will probably also kick off the seatrout bite for the weekend, although it is too early to know what the winds will do. Tides will be just over the 8-foot mark, but you can still catch them in the stained water if you know where to find them. Start your search at the mouth of Intracoastal Waterway creeks if you don’t know where they are. I’ve always done best fishing over shell mounds around the high tide this time of year.