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Bill Ashburn Lake Oconee Bass for Morgan County Citizen

By R. Alan Richardson

sports editor

Oconee: Level: Full pool. Temp: 80 degrees. Clarity:Water is muddy on the north end, stained in the middle and clear at the dam.

Bass: Guide Doug Nelms reports, “The shad spawn is over, and the wild, early morning seawall bite has slowed, but there are still plenty of opportunities to catch a nice sack in June. The fish will be spending a lot of time in the shade and in deeper water. Start your morning by targeting docks in the Richland Creek area. Throw buzzbaits around the deeper-water docks until the sun hits them. After that, concentrate on the deeper points with a Carolina rig or shaky head. Last year while shooting docks for crappie, I came across a dock that was holding eight nice largemouth. You could see them just under the surface, and every time I shot a jig under it, they would attack. Also, this time of year, I catch lots while trying to catch stripers on spoons.”

Linesides: Guide Doug Nelms reports, “June is when things get really interesting on Lake Oconee. We catch stripers and hybrids by using many different techniques, and there are two that I want to talk about, starting off with Capt. Mack’s umbrella rigs. On 100-lb. braided Power Pro Depth-Hunter line, I typically run the rigs 100 feet behind the boat. This bite is always good when Georgia Power is generating really hard, which typically only happens in the afternoons. In my experience, when at least three generators are active, the stripers and hybrids will chase the bait to the humps that are found out in the middle of the lake. You’ll see them on your electronics, and if it appears they are only about a foot or so off the bottom, and you find them in 15 to 20 feet of water, you better hold on. I am fond of a new rig that Capt. Mack’s makes that I call a hybrid u-rig. The skirts are shorter, more like a spinnerbait skirt, and the heads are larger, and it seems like our fish just can’t seem to resist it. I pull a four-arm, 3-oz. rig with the primary colors of white, chartreuse and pink, and no kidding, I think the bigger fish always jump on the pink ones. If you call Capt. Mack’s, ask for Capt. Ron, who will put them together for you. He can do just about any color you want, but those are my favorite three. However, the standard u-rigs with the bucktails and trailers that come pre-packaged will do the trick, too, and Sugar Creek Marina always carries a huge assortment of them. Another way I enjoy catching them this time of year is using a rig that no one really knows the name of, but I can explain it. On the end of your line you attach a DD22 crankbait, and about 2 feet above that, tie on a Popping Thing or a Little Fishy. The idea of this setup is to drag it across a sandy bottom with your gas motor trolling about 2.5 mph. The DD will dig down deep and kick up silt and mud. I guess it appears like a fish trying to eat a bait… well, I really don’t know what it looks like to the fish, but they can’t stand it. This also works really great when the water is being taken out of the lake, but most of the time, it doesn’t matter because I think it is a reaction strike. You can run it on regular bass tackle, and I use 17-lb. test line, just in case it gets hung, and it probably will. I’ve heard it called by several names, some not so flattering, but whatever you want to call it, you will agree after trying it, that it works very well. As far as spots to fish on Oconee, you can just about pick anywhere that has a hump coming up closer to deep water. This month you will find my boat in the following places: Double Branches, pipeline, Great Waters, Sugar Creek hayfields, Salem Campground, Rock Island and the Flagpole. Just about anywhere there is a contour change, the fish will be there.”

Crappie: Guide Al Bassett reports, “Fishing currently is very good. Fish are holding in deeper water over brushpiles, standing timber and drop-offs. Night fishing under the bridges and in the timber has started to pick up and will be good all though the summer months. The water temperature should rise to the upper 80s by the end of the month. Use your Lowrance unit to locate fish before dropping your line. The fish will be in schools over trees, under docks and on drop-offs. Using live bait is the best way to catch a fast limit of fish. Make sure you take care to keep your bait lively. If keeping fish, have ice to put them on once you catch them.” Guide Doug Nelms reports, “Big numbers, long-line trolling. That’s the name of the game. Lake Oconee is loaded with submerged timber, and the fish will be getting into the shade this month. I’m not necessarily talking about the timber that you can actually see while riding down the lake, but those wonderful patches of big trees that come up to about 12 feet from the surface. If you love crappie fishing, this is your month, and if you have a boat with good electronics, use your side-scan and locate these trees. Now, many crappie anglers are as stingy about their brushpiles as saltwater captains are about their wrecks and reefs, but if you just spend a little time, you can map these places out with good electronics and easily catch your limit every time you are out. If you want to know if your electronics can see crappie in a tree, go over to the Cuscowillow Cove that every crappie fisherman in east Georgia has dropped a line down in. The coordinates are N33°24.675 W083°14.834. Now I know every crappie fisherman reading this just fainted straight out, but you should understand these fish get beat on every day. There are always lots of fish there, but it is on very few occasions that someone will catch more than two or three fish off of it. I never fish there, but it is an awesome brushpile to fine tune your electronics. On my Lowrance HDS, you will clearly see the limbs, and it will look like little tiny Christmas tree ornaments hanging all over the branches. There are literally hundreds of places just like this all over the lake from I-20 all the way up to the Duck Blind on Richland Creek.”

Thanks to Georgia Outdoor News for the report.

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