Category Archives: Where To Fish



SOCIAL CIRCLE, GA (July 20, 2021) – Catch five different black bass species and you have a Georgia Bass Slam! This program recognizes anglers with the knowledge and skill to catch different species of bass in a variety of habitats across the state, while also stimulating interest in the conservation and management of black bass and their habitats, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

Georgia’s ten (10) recognized native black bass species are largemouth, smallmouth, shoal, Suwannee, spotted, redeye, Chattahoochee, Tallapoosa, Altamaha and Bartram’s. Anglers can find out more about these eligible bass species, including images, location maps and more at

How Can You Participate? To qualify for the Georgia Bass Slam, fish must be caught within a calendar year, must be legally caught on waters where you have permission to fish, and anglers must provide some basic information on the catch (length, weight-if available, county and waterbody where caught) accompanied by several photos of each fish. Anglers will submit information to for verification. Complete rules posted at

What is Your Reward? Well, besides bragging rights among all the anglers and non-anglers you know, you will receive a certificate worthy of framing, two Go Fish Education Center passes, and some fantastic and fun stickers (for vehicle windows/bumpers) to advertise your achievement. Anglers also will be recognized on the WRD website, at the Go Fish Education Center (, and possibly through a variety of social media platforms. In addition, all successful submissions will go into a drawing for an annual grand prize!

Don’t have time to dedicate to catch five species of bass, but maybe you have your eye on a lunker largemouth? We have a program for that, too! The Trophy Bass Angler Award program recognizes largemouth bass catches of 10 pounds or greater. These fish are rare, and the data from these catches helps to provide genetics and growth information that is valuable to fisheries managers. Those that successfully submit a qualified fish will receive a certificate, hat, t-shirt and an entry into a drawing for a reward package. Oh, and catch one larger than 13 pounds, and you may be eligible for a free mount of your bass! More info at

For more information, visit

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 7/24/2021 The rain and overcast skies have kept the heat down and the fish active, for the most part it was a good week on Guntersville. Typical summertime good fish reasonable number of bites but always a great time on the water. Baits didn’t change much over the week lots of soft plastic bites Missile Bait 48 stick baits, DBombs, and big worms. The Tight-Line jig also produced in a little deeper water around 12 ft. and the Picasso under spin helped when we ran into schooling fish. We are seeing more schooling, and this should continue through the summer and get stronger as we get into fall. Come fish with me I have days and guides available to fish with you, no one will treat you better or work harder to make sure you have a great time with us on the water. We fish with great sponsor products Mercury Motors, Lowrance Electronics, Ranger Boats, Boat Logix mounts, Vicious Fishing, Duckett Fishing, SPRO, Dawson Boat Center, Lews Fishing, Power Pole and more!

Fishing, Duckett Fishing, Power Pole, Lowrance Electronics and more.

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
Call: 256 759 2270
Capt. Mike Gerry



SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (July 20, 2021) – If someone asks if you are coming to the local fish fry – your answers is always “yes.” Especially when that fish fry is serving up catfish. Want to contribute to the meal? Catfishing provides great opportunities for new and experienced anglers, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“Angling for catfish is an activity that requires relatively simple gear and is a great way to introduce someone new to fishing, especially kids, so it’s a perfect opportunity to get everyone outside during the summer,” says Scott Robinson, WRD Fisheries Management Chief. “Additionally, catfish are a species found throughout Georgia so angling opportunities are plentiful.”

Georgia’s public waterways are home to several species of catfish, including channel, white, blue, flathead and bullheads (consisting of several similar species – yellow, brown, snail, spotted and flat). While you may not catch them often, the larger species, like flathead catfish, can sometimes reach monster weights in excess of 100 pounds – and that’s no tall fish tale!

What to Use:

If targeting channel and white catfish, fisheries biologists recommend eight to 14-pound test line and medium-sized hooks (size 2 to 1/0) under a bobber or fished on the bottom. Best baits for channel, bullheads and white catfish are worms, liver, live minnows, shrimp, cut bait and stink bait.
For anglers trying to land a large blue or flathead catfish, heavy tackle is a must – large spinning or casting tackle with at least 20 to 50-pound test braid or monofilament line, large hooks (3/0 to 8/0), and heavy weights (1-5 oz) to keep bait on the bottom. Flatheads are ambush predators that prey heavily upon fish, so live or freshly killed fish used as bait will increase your chances. Similarly, freshly caught gizzard shad increases your chances of reeling in a giant blue catfish.
Other methods for catching catfish include trotlines, limb lines, and jug-lines. More info on the regulations relative to these methods can be found in the 2020 Georgia Sportfishing Regulations Book found at

Where to Look:

In general, anglers should target rocky shorelines, rip-rap areas, points and outside bends of rivers or the submerged river channel. Catfish will stay in deep areas or “holes” during the day before roaming the shallows at night for food. When fishing rivers during the day, anglers should look to deep holes containing rocky or woody cover. During dawn, dusk and at night, anglers should concentrate on shallow sandbars, flats, and shoals near the deep holes fished during the day. Catfish, especially flatheads, love holding near downed trees, so look for these on outside bends.

Georgia’s Public Fishing Areas ( are great places to target catfish, especially as most of them are open 24 hours a day year-round. Looking for additional locations? Check out the Fishing Forecasts webpage at

When to Go:

Though most species of catfish are active throughout the day, the best summer fishing is at dusk and during the night. Catfish can be caught year-round, with the best bite typically from early spring through the peak of summer. Be prepared to fish multiple areas and if you don’t get a bite within 30 minutes, just try another until you find some fish.

Need a license before you go? Visit to purchase a license online or to view a list of retail license vendors, or buy a license by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

For more information on fishing in Georgia, visit

Fishing Lay Lake With Zeke Gossett

It was nice and peaceful on Lay Lake a few weeks ago on Tuesday and the bass were biting, if you knew where to go and what to throw. Zeke Gossett knows both. I met this young man about eight years ago when he was a sophomore in high school. I set up a trip with him for a magazine article not knowing his age and was shocked. His skills and knowledge of fishing were better than mine!

Zeke won many fishing awards in high school and college, including winning the College Classic on Lay Lake last year. This year he was third in the College Classic in Texas and he and his partner won the point standings College Team of the Year in 2020.

Now Zeke is trying to establish a professional fishing career while guiding on the Coosa River chain of lakes and Lake Martin. His father is one of the best bass fishermen in the area and coaches a high school team that has won high school team of the year two years in a row.

His knowledge of these lakes is exceptional from his own fishing as well as the teaching of his father. I have recommended him to some friends for guide trips and they were pleased. As many good fishermen as I get to fish with doing magazine articles, Zeke is the only one I have done three articles with!

Zeke showed me two good patterns for Lay Lake in August, and they are already working now. Lay is full of shallow grass beds and Zeke caught several nice bass casting frogs to the grass. Bream were bedding and Zeke knows there will usually be a big bass or several around a bream bed.

Another good pattern is fishing the many brush piles fishermen have put out on points and humps. These brush piles in 10 to 20 feet of water are magnets for summertime fish. They hold in them and feed around them day and night.

The night before we fished Zeke had placed second in a three-hour night tournament. He weighed in a three fish limit weighing almost ten pounds in that short time, missing first place by a couple of ounces!

While we fished Zeke caught about a dozen bass on humps and points with brush casting a topwater plug over the brush and working a jerk bait down deeper. I even caught a nice keeper spot while taking a casting break from my pen, pad and camera.

I get to fish with many amazing fishermen doing my magazine articles and Zeke is one of the best. There are a lot of young fishermen out there coming up into the pros and I get to watch as their careers develop. I am jealous!

While we fished many college fishermen were on Lay Lake practicing for a college wild card tournament that was held Thursday and Friday. I was amazed to see college age kids drive up in $50,000.00 trucks puling $80,000.00 boats.

When I was in college I ate 10 cents a can Showboat Spaghetti and loaf bread for dinner to save money. And I was one of the few lucky ones in my fraternity to have a car, an eight-year old hand me down Chevy Bel Air. There were students driving around Athens in new Vets and Mustangs, but they lived and revolved in a different world.

I know some college fishermen drive old vehicles and very well used boats and have done articles with some of them, but they seem to be the exception to the rule. I fear college fishing is developing into a sport for the rich.

Georgia Public Fishing Areas


SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (July 20, 2021) – Searching for a new place to fish? Be sure to start with one of Georgia’s 11 Public Fishing Areas (PFA). PFAs are managed for fishing by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD), and most offer additional experiences to entertain the whole family.

“Georgia Public Fishing Areas make a great place for both new and experienced anglers,” says Scott Robinson, WRD Fisheries Management Chief. “Even though fishing is the main attraction for most visitors, Georgia PFAs also offer other family-friendly activities such as hiking, bird watching, picnicking and camping.”

Waters on PFAs vary from lakes several hundred acres in size to ponds less than one acre with some designated as kids-only fishing ponds. Anglers can fish from a boat, along the shoreline, or from a pier at most locations.

Many PFAs have picnic tables, nature and wildlife observation trails, fish cleaning stations, archery ranges and restroom facilities. There are camping opportunities on some PFAs (from primitive camping to RV) for those wishing to stay overnight on the area. All PFAs are open seven days a week, and with the exception of Rocky Mountain PFA, also allow night fishing year-round.

Make plans to visit one of the following PFAs today:

Rocky Mountain PFA (Floyd County): Includes two lakes totaling 559 acres. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish, channel catfish, crappie and walleye. Additional amenities: beach area, camping opportunities.

McDuffie County PFA (McDuffie County): Includes seven ponds ranging from five to 37 acres, a trophy bass catch and release pond, fish hatchery, and an education center. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and channel catfish. Additional amenities: camping opportunities.

Big Lazer Creek PFA (Talbot County): Includes a 195-acre lake. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, redear sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and crappie. Additional amenities: primitive camping opportunities.

Marben Farms PFA (Jasper/Newton counties): Includes 20 ponds ranging from one to 95 acres, a wildlife management area and the Charlie Elliott Education Center. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie and channel catfish. Additional amenities: primitive camping opportunities.

Ocmulgee PFA (Bleckley County): Includes a 106-acre lake. Species: largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish.

Dodge County PFA (Dodge County): Includes a 104-acre lake. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish and crappie. Additional amenities: primitive camping opportunities, group shelter facility.

Evans County PFA (Evans County): Includes three lakes ranging from eight to 84 acres. Species: largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, brown bullhead and channel catfish. Additional amenities: camping (tent and RV) opportunities, event center.

Flat Creek PFA (Houston County): Includes a 108-acre lake. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie and channel catfish.

Hugh M. Gillis PFA (Laurens County): Includes a 109-acre lake. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish and crappie. Additional amenities: primitive camping opportunities.

Paradise PFA (Berrien County): Includes 60 lakes totaling 525 acres. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie, and channel catfish. Additional amenities: tent camping opportunities.

Silver Lake PFA (Decatur County): Includes more than 30 lakes and ponds totaling 537 acres. Species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish. Additional amenities: primitive camping opportunities.

Need a fishing license before you go? Visit to purchase a license online or to view a list of retail license vendors, or buy a license by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

For more information on PFAs in Georgia or for detailed PFA guides and maps, visit

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

The lake is fishing well,
typical summer patterns for
the Stripers and Bass, with
Bass fishing seemingly
benefiting from the below
average surface temps. We
have a full moon coming up
on the 23rd, so perhaps
that will add a little energy
to the bite.

The weather
forecast looks pretty good
for fishing next week, with
cooler temps and an
elevated rain chance
Sunday thru Monday, then
a return to seasonal temps
through the end of the

Don’t forget the Capt
Mack’s Customer
Appreciation Tournament on July 31st! Thanks to the support of many of our local tackle shop,
Jim Ellis Buick GMC Mall of Georgia, and other supporters, we will have some really nice prizes
for the event. More on that to follow.

The lake level as of Friday am was 1070.13, up .23 feet
from last week, .87 feet below full pool. The surface temps was 83 degrees.

Striper Fishing

Striper fishing has been good, and the patterns seem to be transitioning to what would be more
typical relative to the calendar. While there are still fish in the pockets and drains as shallow as
35 feet, more and more fish are showing up over open water areas over the creek and river
channels. Focusing on the fish in the pockets early, then moving out onto the channels later in
the day has been a solid strategy.

The water releases at the dam seem to have had a big
influence on the fish many days, so plan that into your game plan as well. The fish in the
pockets will respond to Herring on the down line, and to some extent power reeling. Typically, I
think power reeling works best when you can drop a bait below the fish, and then reel it past
them, and that’s hard to accomplish in 40 feet or if the fish are glued to the bottom. Jigging a
Flex-it or Super spoon may be more effective in this situation. Keep the pitch baits in the spread,
they are still producing well.

Once you move out to the channels, the techniques are no surprise. Down lines and Power
Reeling are both very effective. Chipmunk Jigs, Spoons, or a Herring on the drop shot are all
effective power reeling baits. Use the down lines in combination with the power reeling, the two
will often compliment one another.

Trolling is effective, with a couple of patterns that will produce. The umbrellas over the humps
are still producing well, but this pattern is changing with the warming water. The fish are a little
deeper, and will often be around the periphery of the high spot. Fish the rigs a little further
behind the bait, 110 to 140, and target humps that top out 30 to 40. This pattern is still best in
the afternoons and evenings, or when the Corp is releasing water. The open water lead core
trolling is getting stronger, and is a very good way to locate the fish over the channels.
Chipmunk Jigs, Fat and Jr Spoons, Mini Mack’s and Capt Mack’s Underspin Jigs are all
effective for the lead core trolling.

Bass Fishing

Bass fishing has been good, and the patterns really did not seem to change much over the last
few days. Fishing plastics on lead heads, drop shots has been very good. Targeting brush 20 to
30 feet is probably the number one pattern, but many of the fish will be on clean bottom on the
humps and points. This is especially the case when the dam is releasing water, or after dark.

FYI, the afternoon bite is very good, and night fishing is also producing some fish.

Some favorite
colors in the Roboworms are the Chartreuse Magic, Morning Dawn (and any of the Morning
Dawn variations) Prizm Kraw, and Bold Bluegill. In bright light, the Sxe Shad and Baby Bluegill
have been good producers. After sundown switch to the darker patterns, and the larger profile
Roboworm Fat worms may get a few extra bites. Flukes over the brush continue to produce
very well, and may be the best overall technique. I would certainly start out casting the fluke our
a topwater over the brush, then cast worms to the brush to maximize the bite.

The topwater bite is still on, with good activity in the early am, and another spike in the
afternoons and evening. This is really two patterns, either casting to schooling fish, or pulling a
fish off of brush up to the bait. There are many baits that are effective, so go with your
confidence bait. Smaller baits if there is light or no wind, bugger nosier baits in the breeze.

There are also plenty of fish hanging around the marina seawalls, often scholling in the am
hours. Topwaters, swim baits on a lead head, Steelshads and again the Fluke, all all good
choices for the schoolers. They are up and down quickly, so a good cast is important.

The Spot Tail Minnow bite is very good, so if you have a youngster you want to get on some
fish, this is a really good way to make that happen. The Spot tails are easy to catch right now on
beaches and boat ramps, just something to chum them up and 3/16” cast net and bait catching
should be over in a short time. What kind of chum? Thats a great question and a good way to
spark a great debate. My favorite, Fig Newtons, but they are not picky

Good Fishing!
Capt. Mack

Fishing Clarks Hill in July

While at Clarks Hill on Memorial Day “working” on my July Georgia Outdoor News Map of the Month article, I watched a pot tournament weigh in.  There were 22 teams fishing and it took took five weighing 18.5 pounds for first, 17 pounds for second, 14.7 pounds for third and fourth was 13.12 pounds.  Big fish was a tie with matching 5.8 pounders.

Fishing will get tougher and tougher as the water gets hotter this summer. Fish can still be caught, as the tournament at Clarks Hill shows, but it will take more effort for most of us.  But trying is still a lot more fun than most other options!

Fish at Clarks Hill school on blueback herring all summer and would be a good choice for a trip.  My July article will give tips on baits to use and ten places marked on a map and with GPS coordinates, to show you what kind of places to fish.


Summer Tactic for Virginia Smallmouths

By Alex McCrickard, Virgina DGIF Aquatic Education Coordinator

from The Fishing Wire

During the dog days of summer, many anglers put their rods and reels down and are content to wait until later in the fall for cooler weather.  Unfortunately, these anglers end up missing some of the most exciting warm water fishing conditions of the year.  During this time frame, I tend to focus my efforts on one species of fish in Virginia, smallmouth bass.  Pound for pound and inch for inch, these fish fight harder than most other freshwater fish in the state.

Smallmouth Bass in Virginia

Smallmouth bass, frequently referred to as smallies or bronzebacks, are a freshwater member of the sunfish family: Centrarchidae.  Their green and brown sides are often marked with vertical black bars.  Some of these fish have war paint like markings extending horizontally and diagonally behind their eyes and across their gill plates.  Smallmouth bass are native to the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River Basin including the Tennessee and Big Sandy River Drainages of Southwest Virginia.  However, these game fish have been introduced all across the Piedmont of Virginia and are truly a worthy opponent on rod and reel.  Because of the smallmouth’s widespread range in Virginia, they are readily available to anglers fishing west of the coastal plains above the fall lines of our major river systems.  This allows anglers who reside in cities and large metropolitan areas to fish local as smallmouth opportunities are plentiful.  The James River in Lynchburg and RichmondRappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Rivanna River in Charlottesville, Maury River near Lexington, and the New River in Blacksburg are fine examples of local opportunities.

The author with a fine summer smallmouth on the James River. Photo by Joe Revercomb.

The mainstem and larger tributaries of these rivers are full of smallmouth. Anglers in Northern Virginia can focus efforts on the Upper Potomac River as well as the Shenandoah mainstemNorth Fork, and South Fork.  The North Fork of the Holston River and the Clinch River provide excellent smallmouth opportunities in Southwest Virginia.  Floating these larger rivers in a canoe or raft can be a great way to cover water, just remember to wear your life jacket. You can also wade fish these rivers and their tributaries, especially in the lower flows of late summer.

Summer Conditions

My favorite conditions to fish for smallmouth are from mid-summer into early fall.  During this time of the year our rivers and streams are typically at lower flows with fantastic water clarity.  These conditions provide for some incredible sight fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass.  Look for fish to be holding against steep banks with overhanging trees and vegetation.  During the middle of hot summer days it can pay off huge when you find a shady bank with depth and current.  It can also be productive to target riffles and pocket water during this time of the year.  Smallmouth will often be in the faster and more oxygenated water when river temperatures get hot.

It’s important to think about structure when locating summer smallmouth.  These fish will often be found along a rock ledge or drop off.  Log jams, underwater grass beds, and emergent water willow also provide structure that these fish can use for cover.  Smallmouth can be found along current seams where fast water meets slow water.  Fishing a quiet pocket behind a mid-river boulder or targeting the tailout of an island where two current seams come together is a good idea.

During hot, bright, summer days the fishing can be most productive early in the morning and again in the evening.  I try to fish during these times as smallmouth will often be active during low light conditions and can get sluggish during the middle of a hot bright afternoon.  That being said, these fish can be caught in the middle of bright sunny days as well.  Also, afternoon cloud cover and a light shower can turn the fishing on in a matter of moments.

Wade fishing can be a great way to break up a float during a hot summer day. Photo by Alex McCrickard

Summer Feeding Habits

Smallmouth bass are piscivores, they feed primarily on other fish.  Various species of shiners, darters, dace, and sunfish are bass favorites.  These fish also prefer large aquatic insects like hellgrammite nymphs and crayfish.  However, the abundance of other aquatic and terrestrial insects allow smallmouth to diversify their menu in the summertime.  It is not uncommon for these fish to target damselflies and dragonflies during summer hatches.  I’ve seen summer smallmouth feeding on the surface with reckless abandon as damselflies hovered along a water willow island on the James River.  These fish are happy to eat large cicadas, grasshoppers, or crickets that find their way into the water.  These seasonal food sources allow for exciting topwater action.

One time during a mid-August float on the James River I found a long bank with overhanging sycamore trees providing shade along the edge of the river.  I had been fishing a subsurface Clouser Minnow without a strike for nearly an hour.  Because it was a windy afternoon I figured I would try my luck with a small green Boogle Bug popper on my 6 wt fly rod.  A few casts later I had a fine smallmouth explode on the popper underneath the overhanging tree limbs.  I landed the fish and held it up for a photo just in time to see it regurgitate a half dozen large Japanese beetles.  The fish had been utilizing the windy conditions to snack on beetles as they got blown into the water.  It can really pay off to change patterns based on water and weather conditions.

Fishing with friends is a great way to spend time on the water. Joe Revercomb shows off a nice Virginia smallmouth caught on a popper. Photo by Patrick Dudley

Rods/Reels & Tackle/Approach

Medium to medium light spinning and baitcasting rods in the 7 foot range are great for late summer smallmouth.  It can pay off to scale down in low clear water.  You may want to consider fishing 6-8 lb test instead of 10-12 lb.  Soft plastics work well for smallmouth and favorites include swim baits and tubes.  Various spinnerbaits can be a great way to cover water in the larger rivers during this time of the year.  Sometimes you can be surprised at how well a simple Mepps spinner or Rooster tail will produce.  Topwater baits are a late summer “go to” with low and clear water.  Try fishing buzzbaits, the smaller Whopper Plopper 90, Zara Spooks, and Heddon Tiny Torpedos.  Buzzbaits and Whopper Ploppers can be retrieved quickly across the surface enticing explosive takes.  The rotating tail of the Whopper Plopper acts like a propeller and creates lots of noise and attention.

For fly fishing, 9 to 10 foot rods in the 6 to 8 wt range are best.  A 9ft 5wt may work well on the smaller rivers across Virginia but you will want a heavier rod on our larger rivers.  Heavier rods in the 7 to 8 wt range will also turn over some of the bigger bugs we tend to throw this time of year on floating fly lines.  A 9ft tapered leader in the 0x to 3x range will work well depending on water clarity and flows.  Fishing large poppers like Boogle Bugs or Walt Cary’s “Walt’s Bass Popper” will get the smallmouth going.  The Surface Seducer Double Barrel popper by Martin Bawden pushes lots of water.  Large foam cicada patterns, Japanese beetle patterns, and western style Chernoyble Ants are fun when fished tight to the bank.  Don’t forget to include a few damselfly and dragonfly patterns in your summer smallmouth fly box.

Don’t let the dog days of summer keep you from missing some of the most exciting warm water fishing conditions of the year!

When fishing these surface flies and lures, the takes can be very visual.  Sometimes during a strip and pause retrieve, the smallmouth will slowly approach the fly from 5 feet away to gently sip it like a trout.  Other times a fast strip retrieve will generate explosive takes.  These visual late summer takes are hard to beat!

If the fish aren’t looking up you can do well stripping streamers.  Bob Clouser’s Clouser Minnow was developed for smallmouth bass and a variety of colors can be productive this time of the year.  My favorite color combinations for this fly are chartreuse and white, olive and white, as well as a more natural brown and white.  The dumbbell eyes on this fly make it swim up and down through the water column as you retrieve.  Lefty Kreh’s Deceiver is another fine smallmouth fly along with the famous Half & Half which is a combination of the Clouser Minnow and Deceiver.  Chuck Kraft’s Kreelex has become a favorite amongst fly anglers in Virginia and the smallmouth can’t seem to ignore it.  The flashy profile of this fly attracts fish in clear and stained water.  Another popular smallmouth streamer is the Gamechanger developed by Blane Chocklett.  The Gamechanger is multi-sectioned allowing it to swim naturally through the water column.  Most other articulated streamers developed for trout fishing will also be productive on smallmouth bass as well.  All of these streamers come in a variety of sizes.  When choosing fly size, it’s essential to match the size of the forage fish the smallmouth are keying in on.  This can vary from larger rivers to smaller tributaries but typically sizes 2-6 will work well with larger patterns being in the 1, 1/0, and 2/0 sizes.

Crayfish and Hellgrammite patterns can be productive during the heat of the day in late summer.  Harry Murray’s Hellgrammite and Strymph can be fished with success lower in the water column closer to the bottom of the river.  Chuck Kraft’s Clawdad and Crittermite are two other go to patterns.  Its best to try numerous different approaches and techniques until you can find out what the fish are keyed in on each day.

In all, late summer smallmouth should be on your angling to do list.  The conditions during this time of the year are excellent for sight fishing and cater to a topwater approach.  From the smaller tributaries to the larger rivers, smallmouth opportunities are diverse across the state.  Make time to get out this summer and fish local in Virginia.

Fishing Diverse Lakes Seminole, Demopolis and Hartwell

 Lakes Seminole, Demopolis and Hartwell are about as diverse as you can get in out area of the world.
I got to fish all three in the past two weeks and enjoyed them all but got very frustrated at Hartwell.

Demopolis on the Black Warrior and Tombigbee rivers in south western Alabama is narrow and long, with big sloughs off the old river channels that are very shallow and full of grass.  It is full of three pound largemouth with a good mixture of spotted bass mixed in.

Seminole in extreme south western Georgia on the
Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers is bordered by Georgia, Alabama and Florida. It has miles of big, open water but it is so shallow much of it covers in grass in the summer.  It is full of big largemouth, four and five pounders are common.

Hartwell is a deep, clear lake on the upper Savannah River in north east Georgia, bordered on the east by South Carolina.  Big open, deep water is the norm, but it has many smaller creeks and branches off it, but they are deep, too.

I fished Demopolis with local guide Russell Jones and he caught several nice bass up to five pounds on topwater early.  The shad were spawning in the grass way back in a slough – we had to idle for ten minutes to get to it – and the bass liked his frog.

I love the river lakes in Alabama. They are totally different from what we have around here.  There is almost always current on them, something we seldom see on our lakes. The current makes the bass feed better, especially in the summer.

I wish Lake Seminole was not so far from us.  It is the best lake in Georgia to catch four and five pounders right now. The vast grass beds offer perfect spawning and feeding areas for largemouth, and they grow fast and big. 

I fished Seminole with local guide Paul Tyre and he got a nice bass on top early, then we rode and looked at spots that will be good to fish in June. We didn’t fish much since it was a cold day for May and he needed to get home, it was Mother’s Day!

Lakes like Seminole are fun to fish since you can catch bass on topwater most of the time.  And the average size of the fish there makes it a good place to catch your personal best largemouth.

Paul specializes in guiding fishermen to the biggest largemouth they have ever caught. It may not be huge, for a young visitor it may be five pounds.  But he has guided his clients to several ten pound plus largemouth the past three years, too.

He is proud of the fact he guided 50 people to their personal best largemouth two years ago, increased that to 87 last year and is in line to improve that this year with 53 so far, including a 14-year-old that landed a ten pounder last month. 

The next week i went to Lake Hartwell

Drum Up Some Spring Angling Excitement

By Chuck Long
 Arkansas GFC Northeast Regional Educator
from The Fishing Wire

Many spring anglers turn their thoughts to a wonderful silver-hued fish, the crappie. Another silver fish readily available to anglers throughout The Natural State and much of the South also provides a great angling opportunity, but freshwater drum are often overlooked by anglers, despite their hard fight, potential to reach large sizes and fine table quality.

Drum are found throughout Arkansas and other states in most flowing waters and larger lakes. They primarily feed on the bottom, looking for crayfish, macroinvertebrates and small fish. They are not very selective feeders, which makes them an ideal target for anglers.

Any rod and reel can be effective for drum fishing. A basic spincasting rig will handle most drum, while a spinning rod or baitcasting setup can also be very effective. Monofilament line in the 15- to 20-pound range will be effective, but a better choice might be braided line in the 20- to 30-pound range. Drum are often found in deeper water with current and the thinner diameter of the braid lessens drag of the current while waiting on a bite.

Terminal tackle for drum fishing is simple. Begin the rigging with an egg sinker about ½-ounce or larger, depending on the current flow. Slide the main line through the egg sinker and then tie on a barrel swivel, which will allow the sinker to slide freely up and down the main line. Attach a monofilament leader of about 12 inches to the swivel and tie on a hook. Drum have a relatively small mouth so a small hook is typically better. Baitholder-style hooks in the no. 2 or 4 size are very effective. Drum are very prone to light bites and swallowing the bait so a circle hook can also be a great tool. Circle hooks in a light wire no. 1 with a wide bend are very effective. When using a circle hook, there is no need for a sharp hook set, just tighten up the slack and pressure will allow the circle hook to penetrate into the corner of the fish’s mouth.

Drum can be caught on a variety of baits, but there have probably been more caught on worms than any other. Crawdad tails and pieces of cooked shrimp can also be very effective. Drum often are incidental catches by bass or crappie anglers, as they also will strike artificial baits like small grubs, swimbaits and jigs that are fished near the bottom.

As with most fish, being able to read the water is critical to catch drum. Current breaks, eddies, dropoffs and structure will hold drum. Anchor above a likely area, cast out several rods to cover multiple depths, sit back and wait for the bite. Drum are great for bank anglers as they are very accessible from shore. Read the water, set out a few rods and get ready for a tug on the line. Drum will provide a great fight for any angler and are especially good for young anglers because they can provide lots of action. They often travel in schools, so once a fish is caught concentrate on that area.

Drum are often seen as subpar for the table but this is far from the truth. When caught out of cool water, they are excellent additions to a meal. Ice the fish as soon as possible and fillet them just as you would bass or crappie. There are no intermuscular bones, and the meat is firm. With a little trimming of the dark red meat just under the skin, drum can be prepared in a variety of ways. Drum fillets are good for the traditional fish fry with a covering of seasoned cornmeal and immersion in oil at 350 degrees for about six minutes. Like their saltwater cousins, the redfish, they are also excellent with a blackened recipe. The texture and consistency also lends itself to a unique recipe, poor man’s lobster. There are many variations to this recipe, but the basics are to cube the fillets into bite-sized pieces, boil for 5 to 7 minutes in crab boil seasoning and serve with a butter-based dipping sauce. It makes for a great appetizer or main meal.

Chuck Long is a regional educator based at the AGFC’s Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center. He has taught hunting, fishing and enjoyment of Arkansas’s outdoors for 30 years.