Georgia Fishing Report: July 14, 2017

We have fresh fishing reports! Be sure to check them out for the latest on what is biting and where! 

Here is some news for you smallmouth bass anglers – A smallmouth bass stocking program (collaborative effort between GaDNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service) recently began at Blue Ridge Lake in Fannin County. This lake is the last major reservoir in Georgia that holds a fish-able smallmouth population which, unfortunately, has declined due to the illegal introduction of spotted bass. in other former smallmouth lakes in Georgia, spotted bass have completely wiped out the smallmouth population. More info on fishing Blue Ridge Lake HERE. 

Coming to you this week – reports from Central, Southwest and Southeast Georgia. Grab that pole and tackle box and hang up your sign that says “Gone Fishing!”

CENTRAL (WEST AND EAST) 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, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The bass are out of the main lake up and half way into the creeks and rivers.  Slow rolling a 1/2 ounce spinner bait is working on a few bass, but the better bite is coming off the Ito Vision 110 jerks baits, Glass Shad Raps and DT Baits.  Try a Booyah Pond Magic Craw 3/16 ounce Tandem Senko Worm 5 watermelon and black.  This is a good bait to try after the sun is up.  A crawfish color, or type bait, is an excellent choice during these periods.  Good baits to use this week include Ito Vision 110 jerk baits, Chug Bugs, jig and pig combinations and plastic 6 inch worms.  Continue to fish submerged wood cover and the rocks.  The bigger rocks are usually producing the better bass.  Fish any bank structure, main lake points and secondary points.  The afternoon bite is picking up.  Work Carolina rigs on the channel ridges and any area where the bottom makes a sharp drop into deeper water.  The best strikes are occurring somewhere between three to ten feet of water.  Spots are after any #5 Shad Raps and the perch color has been very good.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 6.0 FEET, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair as the water temperatures continue to rise.  Bass fishing is best first thing in the morning.  Top-water baits and medium diving crank baits seem to be the favorite baits early and then the plastics take over as the day heats up.  Bass are moving up on the rocky points to feed by late afternoon.  The fish are on the move and most have pulled out a little as well as the bait fish.  The Lowrance CHIRP sonar is seeing the bass at the 10 to 15 foot range. Be sure to have the Spro McStick in ghost minnow and go with a more aggressive retrieve than past weeks.  Fish can also be caught in that same depth range on bluff walls with a jig head worm and big bite green pumpkin Zoom Finesse worm.  The south end bite has been the best this past week.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPERATURE 84-88

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  The buzz bait bite is in full swing.  Work the deeper docks and sea walls on the main lake.  You can still catch a lot of fish under docks with a Texas rigged worm.  They will be on the smaller side but a lot of fun to catch.  There is also a shaky head bite under and around docks in the mid lake area.  Some fish are starting to move onto the deep water humps late in the day and you can catch them with a Carolina rig green worm.  Also large crank baits fished off of the south end humps will produce.  Use your Lowrance to locate the humps 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 good.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of fish in the mouths of the coves and on the humps on the south end of the lake.  Live bait (shad) have been the best over the past week.  You can also pick up some fish on the pipeline with a spoon when Georgia Power is pulling water.  Early morning the spoon bite at the dam has started along with the top-water bite on popping corks.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is very good.  The fish are moving into the timber on an early summer pattern.  Long lining jigs over timber from 8 to 15 feet deep have been the best producers over the past week.  Match your color to the color of the water.

WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Fish early and avoid the main lake boat traffic.  There are still some fish shallow in the coves mid lake.  Look for any shad activity and throw a shad imitation lure.  Rooster Tails, Shad Raps, Rat L Traps and small crank baits are the best lures. Fish Rat L Traps shallow off the deeper points and then on old creek bends early.  Bass are tight and still a little deeper on cover.  Whitewater Creek is a good area and use the black and red Stanley 1/2 ounce jig and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh.  Work the larger stump rows and old creek ditches.  Work jigs slowly over cover as the bass settle to the sharper drops on creek banks and points.  The fish are hungry and the fish are in pockets looking for shad.  Reel the baits with a medium retrieve and use at least a 1/2 ounce bait and cast it on the banks down lake.  Zoom Flukes in pearl on a 1/8 ounce lead head will get the spots to bite.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair to good.  The shoreline grass hasn’t had a chance to get going yet so a lot of it is still brown and floating.  Spinnerbaits and jigs are going to be heavy favorites.  With a stained lake, use the chartreuse and white skirts and the baits need to have bright Colorado blade.  The best bite is to fish 10 to 12 foot brush piles in the creeks.  The Rapala DT10 in fire tiger is working and take along the Rat L Traps and just cast to the banks.  Try the Rapala Ultra Light crank baits and forget larger lures.  The 1.5 inch Rapala Ultra Light crank bait is a perfect baitfish imitator that can sink to the bottom and get to the fish tight on the bottom.  Be sure to use the Lowrance DOWN scan technology to cover 4 times more water than conventional sonar.  Be sure to look for the “dots”.  With the expanded range it make this much easier to cover more water faster.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .85 FEET, 80’S

Bass fishing is good.  Start in the middle of the creeks and work to the back as the sun heats the water.  The fish are following the bait in the creeks.  A Rat L Trap fire tiger in stained water a chrome black in clear water. Fish the Rat L Trap around docks and wood as well as sea walls.  A number 7 Shad Rap is also producing in the same areas.  Be sure to use the Lowrance DOWN scan technology to cover 4 times more water than conventional sonar.  Be sure to look for the “dots”.  With the expanded range it make this much easier to cover more water faster.  Early try the chartreuse spinner bait fished on bridge rip rap and also use the Shad Raps.  These fish are moving as the water heats so keep moving until you find active fish.  Bait schools need to be in the area.

BIG LAZER PFA

  • Surface water temperature: 86o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 23”
  • Water level: Water level is down 3” from full pool

Largemouth bass: Good– Bass fishing has slowed some due to the high temperatures.  Try locating bass in the upper 3 to 8 feet of water.  During the heat of the day, fish for bass in and around heavy cover, like the standing timber near the island.  Feeding bass will be more active during the early morning or later in the evenings.  Remember the lake is only open for fishing from sunrise to sunset, so if you can get an early start, the better your chances will be for getting that * trophy bass!

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; this may be your best bet for catching some slabs.

Bream: Good- Many bream are close-in to the banks during spawning season.  Crickets, as well as pink and red worms are excellent live bait for bream.  Also, small, brightly colored spinning lures will be hard for those spawning fish to resist.  Fishing with light tackle can make bream fishing more exciting especially for kids.  However, bream have small mouths so fish with small hooks for the best results.

Channel catfish: Good- Chicken livers, night crawlers, or shrimp fished at or almost at the bottom near woody structures and the rocks around the dam should produce a good bite.  You may also want to try catching some small bream and use them as cut bait, some good-size cats have been caught using this method.

*We are looking for a certified lake record Largemouth Bass.  Check out the information we have available at the sign in kiosk.  The fish should be either 26” long or over 10 lb to qualify, good luck!

MCDUFFIE PFA

  • Water temperature range across lakes: 86 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 10 – 54 inches

Largemouth Bass:  Overall, bass fishing has been steady with most of the catch being bass less than 14 inches.  Willow Lake has great shad hatches which provide some steady action.  Beaverlodge has produced a nice bass and the angler reported he was using a purple worm with no weight. 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: Slow action.  Both bluegill and redear are being caught in shallow water across the PFA but no lake is a hot spot currently.  On the next full moon anglers should be able to find spawning beds again.  Rodbender also has bragging-size bream both bluegill and redear.

Channel Catfish:  The channel catfish bite has really picked up.  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.  One angler said they were using stink bait called “Hogwild” and had caught over 30 pounds and released them.  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.  Catfish can be caught in shallow water less than two feet using a bobber and crickets.

Striped Bass: Stripers have been biting slowly in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse Lake.

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

The bass fishing at Lake George has settled into the typical summer time pattern for this reservoir. The fish are still biting and can be found on the ledges and in the grass shallows early in the morning. Anglers have been catching fish in the 12-20 foot range using large spoons and football head jigs. Frogs continue to be the popular bait in the shallows. Bream and catfish fishing continue to be good if you are in the mood to dunk a cricket or worm. Jug fishing is a great way to relax and catch some dinner during the summer months. Most anglers use swimming pool noodles cut into one to two foot lengths for catching catfish with this technique. Almost any catfish bait will work. Please remember to keep track of your noodles or jugs and retrieve them when you are finished.

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 continues to be higher and more turbid than usual. Anglers may want to check one of the river gauges below before planning a trip. However, the River is well within the banks and fishing should be good for almost all species found in the Flint. A recent sample by WRD Fisheries in the Albany area noted good numbers and sizes for shellcracker and some hand sized redbreast. Beetle spins, crickets and worms are all successful techniques for catching summer time bream in the Flint. A reminder that striped bass fishing is closed in the lower Flint River and its tributaries from May 1 – October 31.

The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:

LAKE SEMINOLE

The bass are still biting on Lake Seminole as we settle down into the heat of summer. Anglers are catching them on frogs, crankbaits and worms. Anglers are having success working the grass edges and the morning top water bite is still effective. This is a good time of year to fish top water after dark to beat the heat and find some actively feeding fish. The lake is at full pool due to all of the recent rains and also the main Flint arm is a bit more stained than usual for this time of year. Channel catfish are biting well and there have also been a few reports of hybrids being caught near the dam. Click HERE for Ken Sturdivant’s Lake Seminole Fishing report.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

I’m going to take a different approach this week. Instead of describing what happened on the water this past week, I am going to give a quick description of the peak bites during the dog-days of summer. You can go out there to your favorite place where you usually catch them in the spring and fall and do your usual things and you will likely catch a few fish. But, if you pay attention to the peak bite, you can absolutely whack the fish right now…. if you are not picky about what you catch. Last quarter moon is July 16th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

REDFISH, TARPON, TROUT, AND FLOUNDER AT THE COAST

The fishing around 4th of July weekend was about as good as it gets at the St. Marys Jetties, and it should continue throughout the summer. As water temperatures hit the SE GA IMG_0115mid-80’s the summertime bite is in full swing. Being from a bass fishing background, my favorite way to fool them is to pitch bucktail jigs or Jetty Jigs (heavy jigheads) rigged with Assassin Sea Shads to the St. Marys Jetties. I cast near the rocks and let it fall on a slack line (keep an eye on your line and set the hook if it twitches or stops earlier than it should) and then work it slowly back along the bottom. The bite is usually like a Texas-rigged worm bite, just a tick. But, sometimes the fish smoke it as you pick it up off the bottom. To fish this way, big tackle and lures are a must. I like flipping stick – sized gear (Abu-Garcia Veritas Toro 7ft 9in) and 20-30-lb. test braid on a stout reel (Abu-Garcia Revo ALX). I try to stay as light at possible so the line cuts through the water better and doesn’t allow as much bow in the line. But, when trying to tug on 40 to 150-pound fish, you don’t want to go too light. In the swift current at the jetties, you will want larger jigs – at least 1/2-oz. bucktails and jigheads and as heavy as 1-oz. if the current is really ripping. If there is almost any wind blowing, the jetties can get very choppy, so pay attention to conditions. On the half of the jetties closest to the beach, you can scale down your gear and lure size and chase trout and flounder around the rocks. I use a 7 1/2-foot medium action Ugly Stik Inshore Rod paired with a Penn Battle reel and spool it with 17-lb. test Nanofil braided line. I use the same lures (Sea Shads) but on smaller heads or even Flashy Jigheads that have a little willow blade (flounder like bling!). Cast to any nook and cranny and expect your jig to get inhaled.

BOWFIN (MUDFISH) IN THE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The fishing in the swamp was non-existent due to the fires, so the fish have seen very little pressure. With the recent rains, the water level has come back up, and you can get around well. The flier and warmouth bites have been a little slower in the heat, but the bowfin have been tearing it up. While most folks would argue they don’t eat well (although they’re not bad if you ice them immediately and eat them the same evening you catch them), they make up for it in their battle. Bowfin fishing is REALLY simple and extremely productive. My daughter went bowfin fishing with me on the east side for Father’s Day, and we landed dozens of the feisty fish in just a couple of hours of fishing. Get in the middle of the canal on the east side or near a lily pad field on the west side and cast an in-line spinner. Retrieve the lures slowly so that it is near the bottom half of the water column, and a bowfin will jump on it. Braided line helps you feel the fish, but make sure to not set the hook too early. I like to just keep reeling – don’t set the hook until the fish actually takes off and goes the other direction. Change colors if you are not catching them. Silver blades typically works best when it is sunny, while chartreuse or white blades have worked in all light conditions. Make sure to take a lip-gripping tool to attempt to subdue the fish and pliers to remove treble hooks (you definitely don’t want to forget pliers while fishing for bowfin!). It typically takes longer to unhook a bowfin than it does to throw out and hook another one.

MULLET FISHING ON THE ALTAMAHA

At the time of writing this, the Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers are high, but they will probably fall back out again this summer. Mullet are the ultimate angling experience for triple-digit temperatures. Why? Because you get right in the water with your quarry. Put out a salt block (like the ones for cows – you can get them at feed stores and farm equipment stores) and a bag of rabbit chow (some folks prefer pig pellets) in about 3 feet of water on the back side of a sandbar. Choose an area with just a tiny bit of current. Let the concoction sit for a half-hour or so while you get everything ready to fish. Then, wade out near the salt block (I usually put the chow in a mesh bag and hang it from a PVC pole so I can tell where the salt block is located.  For outfitting, I use a crappie jig pole, which has a spinning reel that will give and take line. Many folks use bream busters, but big fish will often break off. My rig consists of a small hook, then a split-shot a foot above, then a small balsa float. I usually use a #8 or 10 Mullet Master Hook (that 2x hook will not bend as easily as an aberdeen hook, so you can actually land a big catfish that inhales your worm). The most popular bait for mullet is a red wiggler worm. Skewer the whole thing on your hook (or maybe even two of them if they are small). Pitch your offering behind the bait station (try to get it close to the salt block, as the fish will sometimes be nosed right up to the block) and look for a slight wobble of your float (mullet bite softly). Jaycees Landing in Jesup and Altamaha Park in Everett are two of the most popular landings from which to chase mullet. You can catch mullet from a boat while the water is up, but the best fishing is when the river level is below about 4 feet at the Doctortown gage and the water starts to clear up.

Don’t just stay in the house because of the heat this summer. Try these ideas if you want to get on a peak bite.

Nighttime Crawls and Daily Nest Work

As part of #7Days4SeaTurtles this week, we’re following DNR sea turtle technicians Sarah Martin, Kyle Coleman and Jack Brzoza as they work the beach – Sarah on Little St. Simons and Kyle and Jack on Ossabaw Island. Sarah starts today’s post, then Kyle picks up following his and Jack’s day off on Wednesday.

I thought yesterday, when I had the chance to see and hold some hatchlings, couldn’t get any better. But I was proven wrong last night!

Since the hatchlings at nest no. 1 (see Wednesday’s post) were so close to the surface, we determined they would probably hatch last night. I and some of Little St. Simons’ staff decided to go out at sunset and see if we could spot the hatchlings emerge.

Leaving behind all the extra poundage from my patrol equipment took such a load off biking on the beach! It was a beautiful evening at low tide and I felt like I was in one of those advertisements for luxury resorts.

Continue reading “Nighttime Crawls and Daily Nest Work”

A Great Day for Turtles

As part of the #7Days4SeaTurtles focus this week, we’re following DNR sea turtle technicians Sarah Martin, Kyle Coleman and Jack Brzoza as they work the beach – Sarah on Little St. Simons and Kyle and Jack on Ossabaw Island. Here’s what Sarah encountered this morning. (Jack and Kyle were off.)

Today was an amazing day! What started off as a typical morning on the beach with a gorgeous sunrise turned into a day I’ll never forget.

Since Little Saint Simons Island had such a record-breaking nesting year last year, the island hired a shorebird and sea turtle intern, Kate Tweedy, to help out the researchers. Today was one of the days she helps and we decided to complete some nest maintenance (removing sand, vegetation, re-staking, etc.) so we started out pretty early.

Kate took the island’s northern beach and I took the south. The north beach takes longer and has more nests to deal with, both in processing new nests and maintaining the others. Since I had less to do, we agreed I would bike up after I was done and help her. Little did I know what I was in for.

Continue reading “A Great Day for Turtles”

A Morning to Forget, and Remember

As part of the #7Days4SeaTurtles focus this week, we’re following DNR sea turtle technicians Sarah Martin, Kyle Coleman and Jack Brzoza as they work their turtle beaches – Sarah on Little St. Simons and Kyle and Jack on Ossabaw Island. Here’s what Kyle and Sarah found today.

Kyle, here. By 7 a.m., I was positive that today was going to be one of those days you just have to grit your teeth and get through.

Initially, when I saw the turtle tracks in the early morning twilight, I was excited. It’s always great to have the potential to find a new nest, and this morning was especially exciting because I was on the southern-most beach, where the frequency of new nests has dropped off a little recently.

I pulled up to the tracks and was able to identify the distinct alternating flipper marks left by a nesting loggerhead sea turtle – the most common nesting turtle we have here in Georgia. I followed the track to the body pit, which is the place in the sand where the turtle has chosen to lay her eggs. The body pit is typically obvious because it’s where she sort of does a “sand-angel” and clears an area suitable for her nesting needs.

This particular turtle left a textbook example of a body pit, and I began searching the sand with my probe stick, which I use to find the egg chamber so I don’t have to dig up the entire pit to find the eggs.

Continue reading “A Morning to Forget, and Remember”

Life on the Turtle Beach

What’s it like to monitor sea turtle nesting on Georgia’s coast? Find out as DNR sea turtle technicians Sarah Martin, Kyle Coleman and Jack Brzoza blog from the beach this week. Sarah works on Little St. Simons Island; Kyle and Jack patrol Ossabaw Island beaches. Their posts are part of #7Days4SeaTurtles, a week-long, social media-based effort to raise awareness of sea turtle conservation in Georgia.

LSSI_SarahMartin_DNR
The daily commute.

Biking for Turtles

Hello, my name is Sarah Martin and I am the Georgia DNR sea turtle tech (or “Turtle Girl”) on Little St. Simons Island. I am originally from Pittsburgh and in 2016 I received a B.S. in wildlife and fisheries biology and a minor in biology from California University of Pennsylvania. I’ve been working seasonally for DNR for two years and have fallen in love with the state, culture and the heat.

I have been interested in herpetology and sea turtles ever since I was a child. When I would go to Hilton Head, S.C., with my family each summer, I loved to see the sea turtle nests. The whole process and biology fascinated me and it became my dream to one day see the work up close. I never knew I would be doing the work someday!

Continue reading “Life on the Turtle Beach”

Georgia Fishing Report: July 7, 2017

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.

WestPointLake LMBStocking June2017.JPG

Today, we have the latest fishing “news” from both Southeast and North Georgia. Enjoy!

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 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.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

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.

SATILLA RIVER

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.

LOCAL PONDS

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.

BEST BET

SE GA IMG_3086 Scout Carter Redfish
Scout Carter of Blackshear used a mullet-colored bucktail jig to land this bull red (later released) at the St. Marys jetties 

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.

NORTH GEORGIA

(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

TROUT

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.

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.

Georgia Fishing Report: June 30, 2017

While we might not all have a long holiday weekend ahead of us – we do want to wish all of you a very Happy Independence Day! Take time to celebrate, preferably somewhere out on the water with a fishing pole in your hand, with family and friends. We hope it is a safe, memorable and joyful time for you!

Let’s start off with a smile. Check out this sweet girl taking a peek at some trout that are about to be stocked. If you go fishing this weekend, be sure to take a young’un and a camera, memories are sure to be made!

Featured Image TroutStocking HattieBrown

This week, we have fishing reports from Southwest, Central, Southeast and North Georgia to get you fired up and ready to fish! Let’s get to it:

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

The bass fishing at Lake George is slowing a bit from the fast paced action that occurred during the spring but the fish are still biting. Anglers can catch largemouth in the shallows around vegetation and other structure and they are showing up in pretty good numbers on the ledges. Anglers have been catching fish in the 12-20 foot range using large spoons and football head jigs. The lake is currently at full pool and the bass should continue to remain shallow with the water at this level. Frogs seem to be the popular bait in the shallows. Bream and catfish fishing continue to be good if you are in the mood to dunk a cricket or worm. Jug fishing is a great way to relax and catch some dinner during the summer months. Most anglers use swimming pool noodles cut into one to two foot lengths for catching catfish with this technique. Almost any catfish bait will work. Please remember to keep track of your noodles or jugs and retrieve them when you are finished.

FLINT RIVER

Continued rains have resulted in a higher and more turbid lower Flint River than we are used to seeing this time of year. Anglers may want to check one of the river gauges below before planning a trip. However, the River is well within the banks and fishing should be good for almost all species found in the Flint. A rising river typically means good fishing especially for catfish anglers using trot and limb line. Remember when fishing for flatheads, live fish is their preferred meal especially as they get bigger. A reminder that striped bass fishing is closed in the lower Flint River and its tributaries from May 1 – October 31.

The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:

LAKE SEMINOLE

The bass are still biting on Lake Seminole. Anglers are catching them on frogs, crankbaits and worms. Anglers are having success working the grass edges and the morning top water bite is still effective. The lake is at full pool due to all of the recent rains and also the main Flint arm is a bit more stained than usual for this time of year. Channel catfish are biting well and there have also been a few reports of hybrids being caught near the dam. The July 4th weekend means there will be a lot of boats on the water so be careful and courteous to your fellow boaters.

CENTRAL 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, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Start the day with a white buzz bait.  Fish it around mid-lake docks sea walls and bridge rip raps.  As the sun get up switch to deep water points with a worm.  Fish a Zoom u tail worm with some green in it.  A Texas rig has been out producing the shaky head over the past week, but both have been good producers.  Some fish are also starting to show up on the deep water humps near the dam.  Use a Carolina rig with a short one-foot leader for these fish.  This is working best during the heat of the day.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 6.4 FEET, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair this week and water temperatures continue to rise and the bass are getting very sluggish.  Early in the morning, bass will be feeding and chasing shad and herring to the surface.  A silver and blue or a shad colored Skitter Pop or a Shad colored Skitter Walk on ten or twelve pound test will catch these fish.  Humps and points are the best places to find breaking fish early in the morning.  Sub-surface hydrilla near these locations is holding the bait until they are spooked out.  The channel ledges are still a late day favorite as anglers continue to pick them apart after about 10:00 a.m.  Number 12 Husky Jerks and the Down Deep Husky Jerks worked parallel on the ledges with an occasional pause will get you a strike.  Try cranking these baits down then either use a slow, steady retrieve or a stop, go and jerk method.  These two retrieves seem to be working the best.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPRATURE 81-86

Bass – Bass fishing is fair.  You can catch a lot of fish just on the small side with worms under docks.  Use a dark worm Texas rigged for best results.  The buzz bait bite at first light has been picking up all week.  Look along any sea wall from the middle of the creeks and coves to the back.  You can also use a silver black or shad pattern Shad Rap.  There is also a shaky head bite under and around docks in the mid lake area.  Some fish are starting to move onto the deep water humps late in the day and you can catch them with a Carolina rig green worm.  Also large crank baits fished off of the south end humps will produce.  Use your Lowrance to locate the humps with fish on them then target the hump with the Carolina rig or the crank bait.

Striper- (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service 404-803-0741) – Striper fishing is good.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of fish in the mouths of the coves and on the humps on the south end of the lake.  Live bait (shad) have been the best over the past week.  You can also pick up some fish on the pipeline with a spoon when Georgia Power is pulling water.  Early morning the spoon bite at the dam has started.

Crappie – Crappie fishing is very good.  The fish are moving into the timber on an early summer pattern.  Long lining jigs over timber from 8 to 15 feet deep have been the best producers over the past week.  Match your color to the color of the water.

WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair and the summer pattern is in effect.  A few are being caught shallow on large grubs early.  Dark green pumpkin worms on a Texas rig seem to be the bait of choice then fish with a slow presentation on or around wood and brush piles.  Some bass are being caught on a Fat Free Shad crank bait mid-lake.  Work the baits slowly and move around as the day heats up.  There are some biting at night on grass on 10-inch worms Zoom worms.  The top-water bite should pick up as the full moon passes.  Try a buzz bait or Chug bug in and around the creek bends and standing timber.  Throw as far back as you can and work the wood real good. This will be the best bet for any top-water action.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .6 FEET, CLEAR, 80’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Try a bream colored prop bait.  A Lobbing Lures Rico Popper is also a good bait to throw around the mayflies.  When the sun gets up and the top-water bite slows, fish the same seawalls and overhangs with a brown jig with a Z Man chunk trailer.  This will get a few more quality bites throughout the day.  Find the brush piles in 10 to 15 foot of water with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology.  Now, use a Texas rigged Ol’ Monster worm or a Shaky Head Z Man finesse worm.  Green pumpkin and red bug colors are both catching fish.  When Georgia Power is moving water, make sure to check the ends of points and humps with a Strike King 6xd crank bait in the chartreuse sexy shad color.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, 80’S

Bass fishing is barely fair.  Early some small bass are roaming the banks as well as on the ends of points.  Square bill crank baits are some of the best hard baits in a long time.  They catch big bass.  Square bills are the spinnerbaits of rip rap.  The bill shape allows them to crawl over rocks effectively and deflect in a way that the big ones can’t resist.  The bass are shallow around any wood and cast baits to shadows all day.  Use a gourd green Berkley tail worms down lake on Texas rig and use the brass and glass on the rig for more sound.  Look in the mid-lake half way back in the creeks and hit any dock and points.  Brush is a must and the fish are on the shady sides of docks.  Up the river the fishing is still slow but use a 1/2 ounce Strike King Spinner bait and add a large trailer.  Zoom Bush Hogs and dark worms in the Zoom u tail worms in reds and June bug will work fished slowly on wood and docks.  Use a Texas rig and fish all lures slowly and let them fall.  Zoom trick worms in pink or yellow are also fair around the docks in the shadows in the creeks.

FLAT CREEK PFA

  • Surface Temperature: 820 F
  • Water Level: 6’ 8” Below Full Pool
  • Water Visibility: 20”

We are getting into the hot days of summer, but fortunately the best time to fish at Flat Creek lately has been the cooler mornings or evenings and that magical time right before a storm/rain.  Bass fishing has been good for those who have been able to get their lures into that six to seven foot water depth where the bass seem be hanging out.  The large bream have been biting well during the full and new moon phases.  Catfish have been biting well.  Crappie fishing has still been slow.

Bass – boat anglers have had the upper hand the past couple months when compared to bank anglers.  Here’s what the successful anglers have suggested to catch bass: Plum or June Bug colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom.  Watermelon or Pumkinseed Culprit worms. Kalin’s Green Pumkin Majic Wac-O-Worms.  Crankbaits have not worked well.

Bream: the very best thing to catch bream in July is Catalpa worms. These are available on the area.  Look to the tree near the pavilion.  Please carefully collect worms as to not cause damage to the tree and only take what you will use for the day.

Channel Catfish – small slivers of catfish are great for catching large catfish.  Fresh Catalpa worms and uncooked shrimp are also working.

Crappie – crappie fishing has still been reported to be slow.  The last anglers that caught a lot of crappie were using a combination of the following: Jigs (John Deere or yellow and white colored Triple Ripple, or June Bug colored Teaser Tail) and light tackle.  If you are bank fishing try dangling a minnow right in the corner of the pier to catch those crappie in the shade created by the pier.  If on a boat try cover that creates shade (tree tops) or structure (gravel piles).

MARBEN PFA

  • Water temperatures: mid/high 80’s

Largemouth Bass – July weather patterns often bring afternoon showers that brings sudden changes to bass feeding behavior.   Anglers should look for bass feeding in early morning and late evening on schooling shad.  Anglers have reported a lot of top-water action in the morning especially in Margery, Bennett, and Fox.  Anglers are targeting bass on lay downs in approximately 5 to 10 feet of water in early to mid-morning.  As the day warms up, anglers will target bass in deeper water.  Successful anglers mimic lethargic shad by casting jerk baits and crank baits.  Mid-day can produce some big bass but look for these big fish in deeper water (10-15 ft.).  Additional habitat to target is submerged timber and rock beds at Marben PFA.  Anglers need to be patient this time of year.  The water is warm and fish may take a little longer to chase.

Crappie – The crappie continue to be aggressive in early evening, crowded around submerged timber in deeper water.  Anglers should see a slight change as crappie become a little less aggressive as the water warms in the summer months.  Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs.  Try fishing cover approximately 10-12 feet throughout the day, especially in the evening.  Bennett Lake remains a hot spot for anglers targeting crappie.

Bream – Bream fishing will slow in July.  Look for the “bite” to continue to drop as late July approaches.  Even with this drop in aggressiveness, bream will remain the most sought after fish on Marben PFA.  Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best throughout the day but a little slow when temperatures get really hot.  Remember bream are shallow when spawning this time of year so to be successful anglers will have to fish shallow areas (4 to 5 ft.) in order to increase your chances.  Early morning is a great time to target bream at Marben PFA.

Catfish – Catfish will start to slow a little this time of year.  However, Fox is producing some nice stringers and is a popular destination for anglers targeting catfish.  Anglers will find catfish in 7-9 ft. of water and most aggressive in the morning and late evening.   Anglers should target days when it is sunny but patience is necessary when targeting these fish.  Catawba worms, livers, night crawlers and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.

McDUFFIE PFA

  • Water temperature range across lakes: 81 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 10 – 54 inches

On June 24th McDuffie PFA hosted “Heroes on the Water”- Fort Gordon Chapter. There were 19 participants and over 20 guides and support staff.  All fishermen fished Lake Willow in kayaks.

Largemouth Bass:  On June 24th an angler caught a 24-inch largemouth bass in Lake Willow.  Overall, bass fishing has been spotty.  Willow Lake is still proving to be a producer of large bass.

Bass – Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.  This regulation is strictly enforced. Rodbender is a great lake to fish with the opportunity to land an above average largemouth bass.

Bream – Slow action; both bluegill and redear are being caught in shallow water across the PFA but no lake is a hot spot currently.  On the next full moon anglers should be able to find spawning beds again.  Rodbender also has bragging-size bream both bluegill and redear.

Channel Catfish – the channel catfish bite has slowed.  Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes.  Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish from Bridge Lake using Catawba worms on the bottom.  Lake Willow is producing a few limits of catfish.  The best fishing is on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made catfish bait concoctions.  Catfish can be caught in shallow water less than two feet using a bobber and crickets.

Stripers – Stripers have been biting slowly in Bridge Lake and Clubhouse Lake.

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 rivers are fluctuating with the rains, but ponds have been stable and have provided good fishing. Saltwater has been productive this week. I pray that everyone has a relaxing and safe 4th of July weekend! First quarter moon is June 30th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Mullet fishing was excellent over the last week for anglers fishing red wiggler worms, but the fast rising and muddying river will probably slow that down somewhat. The channel catfish bite was excellent for those fishing worms and chicken livers on the bottom. That bite will probably stay good with the rising river. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that mullet are plentiful. Blue and channel catfish were fooled with goldfish. Anglers who had their own “honey-hole” did well for bass. You can usually just bank beat likely-looking main river spots this time of year with a Texas-rigged worm and catch some bass. Donna at Altamaha Park said that catfish were caught on goldfish. Bream were biting everything thrown at them (beetlespins, crickets, and worms) before the river level spiked. A few crappie were caught with minnows. Spinnerbaits were producing bass. The river level was 7.6 feet and rising (84 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.1 feet and rising at the Doctortown gage on June 27th.

SATILLA RIVER

Ronnie Gaskins fished the river over the weekend and caught 10 keeper redbreasts and bream. He said that the water looked great, but the bite was a little slow. Several folks reported catching a few fish on bugs and crickets. Craig James reported catching and releasing a couple dozen panfish on Tuesday by pitching spiders. The summer heat is here, so catch expectations should go down a little when the water temps are well into the 80’s.  Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts and bream were caught on crawfish Satilla Spins and topwater flies. Buzzbaits produced some nice bass this week (congratulations Ryan!). The river level on June 27th at the Waycross gage was 5.0 feet and falling (82 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.3 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The catfish bite was the deal this week. Shrimp and rooster livers fooled most of them. The river level at the MacClenny gage on June 27th was 5.8 feet and rising.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

I did not receive any specific reports from the swamp, but I’m sure the bowfin were still chowing Dura-Spins and fliers and warmouth were eating sallies fished under a float. Warmouth will also chow curly-tailed grubs and crayfish dabbled around cypress knees and stumps. The catfish bite has been surprisingly slow recently, but I’ve only heard from a couple of people who tried it. All entrances are open at this time, but call ahead of time to confirm that any entrances you plan to fish out of are still open. On the east side, you can all Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156. Staff at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side can be reached at 912-637-5274.

LOCAL PONDS

Chad Lee went punching beaver style plastics with 1-oz tungsten weights and catching bass. He and friend Quinn Brown caught 15 bass up to 5 pounds with the method. Hill Fort caught and released an 8-lb class bass on Tuesday. Michael Winge reported that bream bit well on crickets. Pink worms fished on the bottom produced some great catfish catches. Live shiners were tops for bass.

SE GA Alex Lee 6-9 LMB - IMG950039
Alex Carter of Alma, GA caught this 6.9 lb bass on a ribbit frog at a local pond last week. Nice one Alex!!

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The tarpon have arrived in good numbers. Capt. Andy Gowen landed two silver kings this week. Trout should be thick on the beach, but I haven’t gotten any specific reports yet this year. I received a report that quite a few flounder were caught over the weekend from the Jekyll Pier. Mud minnows and finger mullet were the ticket for the flatties. Michael Winge reported that anglers are catching trout inshore. On Monday an angler reported catching over 20 trout on jigs. One was over 23 inches (he released that one!). Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simon’s Bait & Tackle said that trout, flounder, whiting, croaker, and black drum were caught from the pier this week. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

If you want to catch a redbreast, you should be able to do it on the Satilla. The Altamaha and St Marys should be best for catfish with the rising water, but I would fish elsewhere for panfish. Ponds should produce the best bream fishing over the weekend. The tarpon have arrived in catchable numbers, so give them a try if you don’t mind not eating what you catch.

NORTH GEORGIA 

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

Our pre-holiday weekend news covers three main topics: 1) lots of rain, 2) lots of hoursAmi Hwy53 muddy 6-30-17 in the day, and 3) a longer weekend for many anglers.  It’s been raining consistently up here in north Georgia.  In fact, it rained a lot last night and throughout the day today.  The continuing rain is both bad and good news for north Georgia anglers, while we biologists are simply jumping for joy.  The bad news is that the bass rivers and our larger trout streams may be too muddy to fish right now, and will require us to wait a few days for the turbidity to clear.  I just returned from Amicalola and it was high, red, and ripping (see the Hwy 53 photo above).  But consider the bright side through all of these storm clouds.   High, muddy water and overcast skies are also good news: our stream and river flows are recharged, trout streams are a bit cooler, mountain trout hatcheries have more cold water for fish production, stocked trout get scattered bit better as they wash away from release sites, and Lanier has more opportunities to head back toward full pool.

For those of you bummed about the muddy water, consider giving these places about 3 days to clear enough to fish.  That time might be shorter for high elevation streams in smaller, protected watersheds, like US Forest Service lands, where the amount of disturbed soil and the density of unpaved roads is much less and the total volume of runoff is smaller. Larger watersheds like the lower Ami, Hooch, and Coosa might take even longer to clear.  Call local tackle shops or fishing buddies for the latest intel, and don’t forget that the Hooch-Helen USGS gauge even has a river cam.

 

Look for three days of flatlining after each big slug of water pegs those online river gauges, then grab your bass poppers.

Enough of the alleged bad news.  The great news is that daylight lasts half the night right now.  Sunset is around 9PM and many of us can fish effectively for some time past that mark.  And then we have July 4th on Tuesday, which means that many of us will slip in a vacation day on Monday, too.

It’s a great weekend ahead of us, with many fishing opportunities at our hands.  Our very few complications are some muddy rivers and maybe some heavy midday boater/tuber traffic at popular tourist sites like our big reservoirs and major rivers near population centers, like the Hooch in Helen and the Ellijay rivers.  That’s not a bad deal, overall, so pick a weekend trip destination and make plans tonite to get outside in the days ahead.

Here’s a nice menu to choose from:

BIG CAT! This beast of a blue catfish pulled Chance Coffman around for about 30 catfish 59.6 lb Blue Cat Brushy Branch 6_25_17minutes in his johnboat before he landed it at Brushy Branch off the Coosa River last Sunday.  When Chance finally got it in the boat, it weighed about 65 pounds on his handheld scale.  He knew the current (unofficial) Coosa River record blue cat stands at 61 lbs 4.8 oz, and he had a chance to beat it.  He tried to keep the fish alive to release but the fish did not make it.  He finally brought the fish to the Armuchee WRD office on Tuesday, and the fish weighed 59 lbs 9.6 oz on a certified scale, just missing the record.  Regardless, this is still a true monster and trophy.  Congrats, Chance, on the great catch!

New DNR Websites – Websites for Georgia DNR (click HERE) and Georgia WRD (click HERE) have new looks.   Feel free to navigate them when you have the chance.  For most of you anglers, our key fishing information can now be found HERE (a great one to bookmark on your computer!)

Reservoir Fishing Reports – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

LAKE LANIER

Stripers – 

North GA Moroneshttp://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=899080

Bass –

(This Report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley, 770-542-7764) – The fishing on Lanier remains very good.  The lake level and water temps have remained fairly stable over the last week.  The topwater bite is still strong and as long as we don’t get consistently hot temps, it should stick around for awhile. The rains we received over the weekend from Cindy as well as the cool overnight temperatures since have helped keep the water temps from soaring.  We have been working topwater and swimbaits again over the past week. A chug bug and a sammy have been my main choices for topwater, and a sebile for a swimbait.  Focus on offshore structure with cover, such as brush on humps and points, for this approach. We are focusing on brush in 15-25 feet of water.  The bite seems to be better in the middle of the day than any other time, but we have are still seeing some good morning schooling activity once again this week as well, for which topwater and swimbaits have worked well.   Wind blown points have been the best places for this action.  The fluke has continued to produce well also in the same type places.  Work it fast and then kill it and let it settle. Vary the cadence until you find what the fish want.  The fluke can also be a good option when there is no wind.  We are starting to get some drop-shot bites as well and we are going to this when the topwater bite slows.  I have been using the Lanier Baits offerings.  Candy has seemed to be the best color this week.  Here are my upcoming open dates: July: 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29   Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun! Thanks to all and May God Bless.

TROUT

Hooch Tailwater –  http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=113711&referrerid=9796

Lake Burton Trout(Fishing Report From Rabun) – I was up on Burton last weekend and managed to get a couple hours of trolling in on Sunday morning.  I hooked two fish…the rainbow (pictured below) that found the net and the fish that pulled the hook and got away.  The one pictured went 3.8 lbs at 22″ long.  The one that got away….well it must have been much bigger than this one…always is, right 🙂  It did rip drag off so I think it was bigger.  I was trolling two pointer 78’s at 21 and 25 feet deep about 100′ behind the boat.  Speed was about 2.8 mph.  I caught the first one and circled back around and ended up hooking the second one in the same location…lesson learned…always return.  I had a lean Spring with the lake trout, so maybe this is a sign of things to come…hope so.

Burton bow resize Chris C June 2017

Wild Trout Streams – They’re still fishing great.  Bring a shot rod, a few#16 elk hair caddis, and a creelful of stealth. Trip reports on North Georgia Trout Online.

Stockers – Since “long” is our theme this week, we have a very long list of streams stocked for the holiday weekend. Click HERE.

Mentoring Shout-outs – Thanks for the June 3 help, TUer’s! and for the Rizzio clinic, too.

RIVER REPORTS

River Bass – Dredger again watched the USGS Hooch gauges and found a window on Tuesday night.  This time he took the light spinning rod.  He landed a few shoalies to 14 inches on a small (3 inch) slider worm, rigged Texas-style, but he missed a lot of strikes with a crummy hookset technique.  He switch to a small white spinnerbait and caught two more.  Then, in the waning daylight form 8 to 9 PM, he caught a nice bunch of ten-inch shoalies on a small floating Rapala, tossed into the quiet eddies in the shoals and twitched a time or two before a steady retrieve.  Dredger loves long spring days, where an evening fishing trip makes him completely forget about a full day’s worth or work.

Road Trip – Dredger took advantage of a free Sunday afternoon and the abundant spring daylight to travel north.  His Plan A was a smallie river recon to prepare for summer fishing opportunities, but the river gauges had him worried: it had been only two days since a big slug of water went through.  To be safe, he packed some Plan B equipment, too.

Arriving at his river, he was bummed to see Yoohoo and knew that smallie pickins would be slim.  So he kept going north.  It was a good call.  Breaking out his four weight and a dry/dropper rig, he fondled three chunky browns that inhaled the Pat’s rubberlegs, and celebrated one nice rainbow that crushed the Yellow stimulator dry.  Quitting early, he drove the field roads around the Luftee visitors center and tallied about a dozen elk seen in three locations. The biggest herd, with two young, spunky bulls, was right at the visitors’ center.

He then took the long way home, still holding out hope for just a little bit of clarity in his smallie river.  He arrived at “chosen site” at 8PM, a shallow tail of a big pool, and found about two feet of visibility.  He switched to the 6-weight rod and dead drifted a white stealth bomber across the shallows. http://www.flyfishga.com/stealth.htm And caught zip!

Then he started popping and gurgling the bomber, and lit up the little bass!  They simply had to have the dinner bell rung for them to locate their prey.  He landed about a dozen bass from 8 to 11inches long to end an excellent “half day” of road trip opportunities.  He thanked Kent Edmunds and the National Park Service!

Enjoy your Independence Day holiday time together.  Be safe on the water and enjoy these abundant, LONG days of sunshine.  You’ll need lots of them to cover all of the great fishing opportunities across north Georgia.  Hopefully they’ll make you feel pretty darn good about dropping a few dollars on your fishing licenses.  Good luck.  Take some pics and share them with us!

 

Saltmarsh sparrow (Tim Keyes/DNR)

Shadowing Saltmarsh Sparrows to Help Save Them

DNR-led Study Tracks Rare Species from Georgia

By June, saltmarsh sparrows are gone from Georgia’s coast, flying from the southern rivers of grass where they winter to marshes from Virginia to Maine where they nest.

Although gone, however, they are not forgotten: They are followed.

Thanks to a tracking project by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this spring’s migration could help pinpoint where saltmarsh sparrows from Georgia breed. Such connections are considered vital to conserving a species that otherwise could go extinct in 50 years.

Continue reading “Shadowing Saltmarsh Sparrows to Help Save Them”

Eastern spotted skunk (Bob Gress)

A Search – and a Good Word – for Skunks

By Emily Ferrall

You can imagine the looks I received when I told people I worked with skunks for the past few months. Most reacted with dislike, but I’m hoping to change that opinion by providing information on these misunderstood creatures.

First, did you know that we have two species of skunks in Georgia? The more common striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is the one many Georgians have seen. The eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) is unknown to most, but it is also a Georgia native!

As are all skunks, eastern spotteds are sometimes called polecats. But unlike other skunks, spotted skunks often display a unique behavior as a defensive measure when threatened: They do a handstand and spray their scent directly over their head!

EasternSpotted Skunk_Rabun_2017
Trail cam photo of eastern spotted skunk in Rabun County (DNR)

Continue reading “A Search – and a Good Word – for Skunks”

Georgia Fishing Report: June 23, 2017

Soooo, has it rained where you live this week? Ummm, maybe just a little? Hopefully, everyone stayed safe and we will dry out soon. In the meantime, what are your fishing plans for the weekend? 

Another angler has completed their Georgia Bass Slam! Keith Lott (photo of Keith and one of his catches below) of Midland, GA caught a largemouth, Suwannee, shoal, spotted and a Chattahoochee bass. Congratulations Keith! Find out more about the Georgia Bass Slam HERE. 

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Check out some brand new reports from NORTH and SOUTHEAST Georgia below – have a great weekend everyone!

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’ve been busy around here recently, with no time for a long, slick intro, so let’s go right to the reports!  Notice that biologist John Damer has been on some good fish, both professionally via his standardized sampling, and personally via his Father’s Day kitchen pass to Trout Stream X.  Here we go:

TROUT

Blue Ridge Tailwater: We’ll attach the photo of Damer’s “little” brown here, but you can check out the big one, ‘Notchy,” in his Facebook post.

trout bnt 24in Toccoa TW Damer sample 6-15-17 small

Hooch Tailwater: Good reports are coming from the upper river; check out NGTO.  The lower river near Roswell is running a little warm, especially after a weekend of no generation from Buford Dam.  While the trout should survive, they might be a bit too warm and grumpy to have great appetites, so consider taking your trouting trips further upstream.

Mountain Stockers: Remember that our weekly stockings are posted here each Friday.  Lower elevation streams will be warming this summer, so start heading uphill.

Bluelines: These are still hot, with good stream flows due to consistent showers.  Again, the NGTO Small Streams forum has plenty of fishing reports and photos from headwater wild trout fans.

Father’s Day Fishing: (The following report comes from fisheries biologist John Damer) – I trout bnt4 Damer idbis creek June 2017fished my favorite wild brown trout stream on the Saturday before Father’s Day.  The weather was good, stream flows looked great with all the recent rain we’ve been getting, and I had the stream all to myself.  I started fishing around 10:30 and missed a fish on my first cast, but the action was a bit slow for a while after that.  I fished upstream, picking up a few fish here and there with an elk hair caddis, stopping around 2:00 for lunch.  My luck after lunch was much better.  I saw a few mayflies and small yellow stoneflies coming off in the afternoon, which probably helped get the fish looking up.  As was the case last time I fished here, I did not catch any small fish nor did I get any trophies.  They were all just good-sized fish in the 7-10 inch range.  I did not count, but imagine I landed 15 to 20 fish by the time I called it a day and left with a smile on my face.

LAKE ALLATOONA

Stripers/Hybrids: (This report comes from Shawn McNew, Owner Striper Soup Bait & Tackle) – Lake Allatoona is slightly above full pool due to consistent, soaking rains.  The Etowah, Little River, and Allatoona creek branches remain turbid while the vast majority of the lake is 5+ feet of clarity.  The surface temperature has struggled to break 80 degrees due to a recent cold snap, so we remain in a spring fishing pattern with many fish still in shallow water chasing bait.  The generators are still out of service, so the ACOE continues to sluice water at a steady rate.  This keeps the flow consistent in the lake so fishing patterns and locations are steady.

Until the water heats up, many fish will be in the backs of creeks and up in the Etowah in less than 10 feet of water.  Methods for catching the larger fish will be side planer boards and unweighted freelines trolled slowly in these areas.  Likely places to try are in Allatoona Cr. south of the I-75 bridge, Stamp Ck past Wilderness Camp Marina, and Little R. upstream from the Bells Ferry bridge.  As temperatures warm up throughout the month, expect the fish to retreat to deeper water.  When this begins to occur, switching methods to downlines rigged with 1.5-2 oz sinkers will produce fish.  Baits of choice will be 6-10 inch gizzard shad for the planer boards and freelines while most anglers prefer threadfin shad and small size gizzard shad for downlines.  Using fresh cut shad in areas where fish are finicky, or in the Etowah R. can also be very effective.

This time of year is typically when the threadfin shad finish spawning and head out to open water.  The initial spawn will be reaching a palatable size for hungry hybrid, striper, and white bass.  The abundance of bait over deeper water will result in surface feeding activity.  This is very exciting!  Actively feeding fish are easily caught on a wide variety of lures such as casting spoons, jigs, spinners, soft jerk baits, and surface plugs.  Keep your eyes peeled and rods rigged as this action can take place anywhere, anytime.  Likely areas to see feeding hybrid are: around Clark Cr./Glade Marina area, Iron Hill/Pass, Red Top/Bethany Bridge, in the vicinity of the dam, Clear Cr., Illinois Cr./Bartow Beach area, across from Kellogg Cr on the flat, Victoria Marina area, and in the S-turns.  Covering water and communicating with other boats on the lake are great ways to zero in on the fish.

Keep alert, stay safe, wear pfd’s and sunscreen, and come by Striper Soup for a full array of striper and hybrid specific bait and tackle including LIVE SHAD!

LAKE LANIER

Bass: (This Report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley,770-542-7764) – The fishing on Lanier remains very good.  The lake level and water temps have remained fairly stable over the last week.  The topwater bite is still strong and as long as we don’t get consistently hot temps, it should stick around for awhile. Broken Record Alert: To sum it up, if it walks, pops, spits, wakes, chugs, or swims, it is a viable choice catch fish right now.  Focus on offshore structure with cover, such as brush on humps and points, for this approach. We are focusing on brush in 15-25 feet of water.  The bite seems to be better in the middle of the day than any other time, but we have are still seeing some good morning schooling activity again this week as well, for which the topwater lures have been excellent.  Just throw it in the action and hang on.  Wind-blown points have been the best places for this action.  The fluke has continued to produce well also in the same type places.  Work it fast and then kill it and let it settle. Vary the cadence until you find what the fish want.  The fluke can be a good option when there is no wind. Also the swimbait bite has returned and has been producing some good fish.  I have been using the Sweet Herring and a Sebile.  Same places as mentioned for the topwater bite. We are starting to get some drop-shot bites as well and we are going to this when the topwater bite slows.  I have been using the Lanier Baits offerings.  This has been a decent option for us when the fish will not come up to play.   Here are my upcoming open dates: June: 29(PM). July: 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.   Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun! Thanks to all and May God Bless.

Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) – As expected, crappie fishing around this time of year is becoming fair at best with Water Temps around 86 degrees. Your best bet for catching fish is early in the morning, on deep docks and deep brush piles. Expect this pattern to remain the same until you see a combination of a change in the temperature and cooler rain. This will bring the fish to shallower structure, thus making them easier to catch. If you are interested, visit our website above where we have posted links to several YOU Tube videos on the subject.  This is a good time of the year to work on your brush piles, which will give you more spots to fish when the weather cools and the bite heats up!  Night fishing is good right now.  Target bridges such as Clark’s Bridge, Wahoo Bridge and Six Mile Bridge.  All have one good thing in common:  they are in sight of a boat ramp, which is convenient when launching.  You will need some type of twelve volt light such as a Hydro Glow.  For best results, keep the light a few feet away from your boat.  This can be accomplished by using a broom stick or some type of rod.  After submerging the light, attach the cord to the rod, leaving just enough slack in the cord for the light to stay submerged.  Place the other end in the rod holder.  This will keep the light several feet from the boat and give you better coverage, and keeps it from banging against the boat and spooking the fish.  Small or medium crappie minnows are your best bet for bait. Set your baits at different depths, and if you notice one depth is getting more action, adjust accordingly.  The bite is sporadic.  You may wait an hour or so for the fish to come after the bait and hit them good for thirty minutes or so, then you may wait another hour or so for another school to come by and start the bite again.  This requires patience, but is a great opportunity to kick back and relax during an evening on the water.

This will be last report for summer.  Around the end of August, when the fishing pattern begins to change, we will pick back up with Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Reports.  Enjoy your summer, and be safe on the water as the lake is now crowded! Wear your life jacket, it can save your life!

Stripers: Click HERE for a link to Capt. Mack’s reports.

LAKE CHATUGE 

Our hybrid stockings are working! Click HERE for more info.

SMALL LAKES

(The following report comes from Dave Hampton) – Scratched the Largemouth off the Bass Slam list on Sunday at Lathem.  Caught all but one of the fish pictured on a LiveTarget Herring swimbait trolled about 75 yards behind the kayak in the coves.  Fish were busting bait fish on the surface all morning but just weren’t interested in the spook or Whopper Ploppers. Added the 15″ fish around noon on a Texas rigged Yamamoto Senko in watermelon magic.

bass LMB fatty Dave H HLathamRes June 2017 small

RIVER REPORTS 

Summer River Stripers: (The following report on river stripers comes from fisheries striper 37lb Etowah Damer shock June 2017biologist John Damer) – Striper fishing should be good right now on the Etowah River.  Fish like the 37-pounder shown here (captured and released 2 weeks ago) continue to find their way to this cool river as other rivers in the Coosa basin get a little warmer than most stripers prefer.  Your best bet for hooking up is still live shad, but you can also catch fish on cut shad or artificial lures like redfins, zara spooks, or swimbaits.  Please remember that you can only keep two stripers longer than 22 inches per person per day.

Biologist Pat Snellings also sampled Cochran Shoals recently and said the striper and shoal bass fishing should be very good.  Stripers over 20 pounds were common, and the biggest sampled and released tipped the scales at 26 pounds.  Evidently, West Point’s striper school is up the Hooch for summer vacation!

Cool Rivers: Dredger spent the last two weekends watching WSB interactive weather radar, checking water clarity from his nearby bridge, and then jumping into the Hooch between storm fronts.  Trip #1 was pretty darn good, with 8 shoalies landed in the 2.5 hours up til dark.  Nobody wanted to play on top, but they all jumped on a #4 black woolly bomber when it bounced past their noses.  Two hit the 16-inch mark.  Shoalies were sulking on Trip 2, but the redbreast kept the action going.  This time it was on top.  A small white popper tossed against the bankside logs and overhanging brush in deep, slow pockets, was the ticket.  One monster inhaled a chartreuse clouser meant for bass!  The spawning gar didn’t want to play, but they were still fun to cast toward. Anglers should remember to bring their gar flies. Watch those gauges.  Muddy water will absolutely kill the bite.  But if it’s clear, get your camera ready!

sunfish redbreast on clouser Hooch BS June 2017 small

Grab you wet wading or kayak-fishing stuff and go enjoy your summer vacation.  And remember- all this rain is good.  Ask any of your favorite sport fish!

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

Fishing was great this Father’s Day weekend. The best reports came from ponds and the Okefenokee. Saltwater produced some good catches, and the rivers should have good bites in the upcoming weeks with the extra water. New Moon is June 23rd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Mullet fishing has picked up significantly, even with the stained water. Catfishing has been consistent this week, also. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that good numbers of catfish and bream were landed. The river level was 3.7 feet and falling (83 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.4 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on June 20th.

SATILLA RIVER

Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that some nice bass were caught by anglers using buzzbaits in the mouths of the sloughs. Quite a few catfish hit the coolers by anglers fishing pink worms on the bottom with a rod and reel or rooster livers fished on limb lines. The river level on June 20th at the Waycross gage was 6.0 feet and rising (81 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.5 feet and falling.

SE GA Maverick Ray - Chain Pickerel 6 17
Maverick Ray fished with his father (Michael) on the upper Satilla River last week and caught this beautiful chain pickerel (jackfish). The most interesting part of the story is that he caught this fish as it inhaled a bluegill on Maverick’s line. The jackfish refused to let the bluegill go, so he ended up flopping on the sandbar before finding his way to a cooler.

ST. MARYS RIVER

Redbreast and catfish were tops this week. The rains slowed the number of folks fishing, but not the bite. The river level at the MacClenny gage on June 20th was 5.0 feet and rising.

SUWANNEE RIVER

There is finally some water back in the Suwannee River, and the anglers have been getting after them. There were reportedly 15 trucks with trailers at the Fargo ramp (Hwy 441 Bridge) on Saturday. Catfishing has been consistent, and some bass were caught in the river and along the Sill. Plastic worms and topwater plugs produced the bass, while shrimp and worms fished on the bottom produced most of the catfish. The river level at the Fargo gage on June 20th was 4.7 feet and rising (78 degrees).

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

I took my daughter Ellie to the Folkston entrance on Sunday after the church service. We threw mostly Dura-Spins and ended up catching 42 bowfin up to 5 pounds. Jackfish and white were our best colors, but we caught a few on several other colors, as well. We pitched pink sallies for a few minutes and caught 2 warmouth and a flier. The water level is still low (we kicked up peat just about everywhere we went), but we were able to get around ok. An interesting thing I noticed was that the alligators left us alone (usually they’ll closely trail you when bowfin fishing). I’m assuming that since anglers haven’t been in the swamp for several months that the gators have “forgotten” the connection between boats and fish slashing around at the surface. Please do not feed anything to the alligators. First of all it is ILLEGAL. Feeding them conditions them to come around anglers to “beg” for fish. They are wild animals, so let them find their own food. All entrances are open at this time, but call ahead of time to confirm that any entrances you plan to fish out of are still open. On the east side, you can all Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156. Staff at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side can be reached at 912-637-5274.

LOCAL PONDS

Herb and Timothy Deener fished with me in a Brunswick area pond on Saturday and caught 58 channel catfish up to 3 pounds. We tight-lined Catfish Catcher Jigheads baited with cut bluegill. That Gamakatsu circle hook is the ticket for hooking them without them swallowing it. On Tuesday evening, Alex Carter of Alma caught a 6.9-pound bass on a ribbit frog. Way to go Alex! Michael Winge reported that bass were caught with live shiners and watermelon-red lizards this week from Waycross area ponds. Bream bit topwater flies. Pink worms fished on the bottom accounted for some good catfish creels.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

Shane and Joshua Barber fished on Saturday in the Brunswick area and caught 20 trout, but only 2 of them were keepers – a very different ratio from the week before when all of their trout were keepers at the St Marys Jetties. Most of their fish were caught with jigs, but a few were fooled with a live shrimp suspended underneath a popping cork. Brentz and Alex McGhin of Blackshear went crabbing on Saturday and caught a great mess of crabs (that were eaten by the end of the weekend….).  Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, flounder, black drum, whiting, croaker, spadefish, spots, sharks, and Spanish mackerel were caught from the pier over Father’s Day weekend. Blue crabs were also caught in good numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

Pond fishing has been great this week for bass, bream, and catfish. We have some water in the Satilla River again, and the bite ought to be good once the water starts to clear. Bugs fished on the surface, Satilla Spins fished around heavy cover, and crickets pitched around wood and deep banks should all score some nice redbreasts and bluegills when the water clarity gets right. The catfish bite in the rivers is another dependable bite. Mullet in the Altamaha would be a fun option during the hot days ahead. If winds allow, fishing on the Cumberland Beach ought to be the place to catch some quality seatrout.