They don't call it the dog days of August for nothing. Water temperatures in our section of Lake Oconee have been 87-90 degrees and that usually means very slow fishing. Fishing off the docks of our hotel has been poor unless you really downsize your tackle and fish for small bluegill. Those are still plentiful.
But if you're looking for largemouth bass or stripers, this time of year you need to fish deeper waters. Traveling by water on my kayak, that's about a 4 mile jaunt to the deeper waters of Lick Creek. With the summer popup thunderstorms, that's a little bit outside my comfort zone being that far from my launch on my kayak.
I didn't get to do a lot of fishing in August, but managed to go out for an extended trip to test out my new Humminbird Helix 7 electronics with down scan and side scan. I headed out to one of my favorite nearby bass spots that has submerged stumps off shore and along shore has thick laydowns and shade as well as stumps in shallow water.
I saw some off shore activity, and with my side scan located the submerged stumps and saw a few shadows indicating fish holding in that area. Down scan confirmed that, but none of the fish were big so that usually means crappie and not bass or stripers. I pulled out some light spinning gear with a Ned rig, and for the next 30 minutes landed a bunch of small crappie.
After that I pushed on towards deeper waters, stopping to fish some rip rap and vegetation along the way. Again, only small fish and baitfish wee showing up on my electronics. But when I looked over my shoulder I saw a big squall moving in from the direction I cam from. I checked the local radar and behind the rain were some small thunderstorms so I raced back to the hotel.
About half a mile out I got hit with a deluge of rain and was soaked within seconds. But luckily I made it back before the thunder and lightning started.
The good news is that as we move forward in September and into October the water should cool down and fishing should pick up again. I have a tournament coming up on Lake Lanier in a few weeks, then more tournaments in the area throughout the fall. But my goal is to try more locations on Lake Oconee and I've marked locations 6-8 miles out from the hotel where I plan to fish.
In the meantime, the best bet for fishing in the warmer waters is to find brush piles and submerged stumps and fish for crappie. Most people around here use live bait to fish for crappie, but I prefer my collection of soft baits including grubs and Ned rigs.
If you make your way to deeper waters, use your electronics and mapping and find dropoffs where bass are looking to ambush baitfish. Your best bet will be fishing a drop shot on lighter gear. That's my plan for this weekend.
I'm really looking forward to the cooler water temperatures and having the fishing pick up again.