Fly Fish for
Georgia "Bass"
from the mountains to the Sea.

From Melissa Cummings, GA DNR.
Image by Bill Byrd.
Revised and Edited by Bill Byrd.

BASS FISHING - Several species of bass including largemouth, shoal, spotted and striped bass are fall favorites. Fortunately, bass fishing opportunities abound no matter where you are in the state, so the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) has put together the following information to make it easy to pursue your favorite - or a new - bass species.

"Bass is a favorite species for anglers, and while people are most familiar with largemouth black bass (actually a sunfish) - it is by no means the only "bass" angling opportunity in the state," says WRD Chief of Fisheries Management Chuck Coomer. "We encourage all anglers, beginners and experienced, to get out this fall, enjoy the weather and fish for bass - and don't forget to take a kid fishing!"

The knowledge of where to go is just part of the ammunition you need to be a successful bass angler - having the right equipment will round out your arsenal. For species such as largemouth and spotted bass, you need to determine if you will be fishing topwater or deep water. WRD recommends fishing in the early morning or late evening and using a 5-weight to 7-weight medium action fly outfit with 8-10 pound tippet.

Doug Hannon, the "Bass professor" known world wide for his largemouth black bass research says that most large bass are caught between the hours of 10AM and 2PM. So another productive tact is to fish mid-day and probe likely looking water with subsurface flies. Fish any cover and structure that normally would hold fish. Even probe very shallow sun-drenched water with woody cover. Bass will hold in these areas all day.

For more information on fly fishing all the available fish holding water, please click on: Fish the Entire Water Column .. and find many more fish.

Flies should include medium-sized topwater poppers, shallow running minnow imitations like the Clouser minnow, in a variety of colors and sizes that resemble small shad, blueback herring, and minnows.

For deep water bass angling, use a variety of heavily weighted streamers and long leaders/tippets, or use sinking lines to get your flies into the depths. For more information on fly fishing sinking lines, please click on: Fish sinking lines.. to catch many more fish.

Cast your heavy streamers, count them down, and strip them back in short, pulsing strips. These flies and presentation are especially effective deep water techniques.

If fishing for striped bass in Georgia's estuaries, one should come equipped with medium-heavy 8-weight or 10-weight fly tackle and 10-20 pound tippet and floating or weighted fly line and shrimp imitating flies. The weighted line will assist in getting your fly near the bottom where striped bass are feeding on shrimp in October and November.

Georgia destinations and
fish available by destination

Lakes Hartwell, Nottely, Lanier and Burton: October through December is a great time to catch spotted and largemouth bass on these major impoundments. Fly anglers should target deeper offshore areas of 10-15 feet of water and structures such as standing timber, submerged islands with woody cover (brush and stumps) and rocks. Bass will often suspend over open water at these depths feeding on shad and blueback herring.

For further information on fly fishing for stripers at Lake Lanier, please click on: Lanier Stripers .. for full information on chasing linesides at Lanier.

Chattahoochee River (below Morgan Falls Dam) - Fall provides excellent largemouth, spotted and shoal bass fishing on the Chattahoochee. Fly anglers can take many approaches - jon boats, rocker hull inflatable pontoon boats, float tubes, and wading to get close to their favorite species.

For more information on fly fishing for hybrid bass on the lower Chattahoochee River, please click on: Chattahoochee hybrids .. for details on wading for Chattahoochee hybrid bass.

Lake Oconee - Largemouth bass are plentiful during the fall on this reservoir. Anglers should concentrate on tributary arms such as Sugar Creek, Lick Creek, Sandy Creek and the upper ends of the three major tributary arms (Oconee River, Apalachee River and Richland Creek). Concentrate on depths less than five feet. The best time to find fish feeding is when Georgia Power is pumping water to generate electricity.

Lake Richard B. Russell - Largemouth bass and spotted bass fishing is excellent during the fall when water temperature drops into the 60's. Concentrate on the major creek arms where you will find bass following schools of baitfish (threadfin shad) as they migrate into the creeks.

Lakes Varner and Black Shoals - The upper half of these reservoirs are great spots to fish for largemouths - although there is no one particular hot spot. 3-weight to 4-weight fly tackle and a selection of smaller flies are more effective at Black Shoals as the water tends to be clearer.

West Point Lake - Serious largemouth bass anglers need to head to this lake to test their skills. As water temperatures cool, areas to target include creek mouths and points, the upper end of the lake and around the numerous blown down trees in the water. Another good time to try bass fishing- when the Corps of Engineers is conducting a water withdrawal.

For further information on fly fishing for hybrid bass on West Point Lake, please click on: West Point hybrids.. for more details.

Big Lazer Public Fishing Area (PFA) - If you like fishing for largemouth on a smaller lake - give this 195-acre PFA a try. It is intensely managed to produce extra pounds of bass. In the fall, bass often are caught in shallow to medium-depth water near structure and drop-offs in the coves or off the main channel.

Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center/Marben Farms PFA - Bass fishing always picks up in the fall as bass become more aggressive when the water temperature drops. Fox Lake is the best place for a "lunker" size bass and anglers should concentrate on fishing flooded timber and calm waters in the mornings for their best chance at this PFA.

Ocmulgee PFA - This new PFA is well on the way to developing into a trophy bass destination. Many of the bass in the reservoir have grown to over 5 lbs. plus in a little over two years! The standing timber that was left in the lake during construction and the aeration system that creates a current for the lake concentrates bass for anglers. Points, underwater high spots, standing timber and thicker cover will be good points for anglers to target. Top-water flies fished around the edges of thicker brush are recommended for early morning and fishing subsurface flies around brush edges or pitching weedless flies into thick brush may be best for later in the day.

High Falls Lake - This 650-acre lake is an untapped resource for largemouth bass - quality bass catches are frequent, with an occasional "lunker" reeled in as well. Buck Creek is the most popular spot for largemouth anglers and fishermen are encouraged to target boat docks and aquatic vegetation mats.

Coastal Rivers

Fall is the best time to fish for stripers in Georgia's coastal rivers as they are moving down river as water temperatures change and they are feeding on the abundantly available forage, such as shrimp and menhaden, in estuaries. Fly anglers should concentrate on fishing the up-current side of any bridge piling with flies imitating shrimp and menhaden. Most strikes occur within one foot of some sort of structure - so get lines in there tight to get a strike.

For further information on fly fishing for stripers on the Savannah River, please click on: Savannah River Stripers .. for detailed fly fishing information.

For more information on fishing Georgia's many waters visit the WRD website at: WRD Website