Oconee on the fly –

It’s getting close to the best time of year on Lake Oconee for the fly fisherman; that is from late June through late October! The pump back bite, when Georgia Power pumps water up from Lake Sinclair (usually from 6:00 am to 9:00 AM) creates a lot of surface activity because the shad are pushed upwards to the surface. I start these trips with surface flies, then switch to clousers (a sinking fly) , then put down the fly rod and pick up a spinning reel with go after the monsters with a jigging spoon. Can’t wait!

Hybrids – Oh my! Fly fishing lighted docks at night is on fire. I use the Henry Cowen’s something else fly for this on the 8 weight Scott Rod with a 10 lb tapered leader. Last Tuesday evening 10 huge white bass off one dock in a little over an hour.

Last night 2 hybrids both pushing 5 lbs. and a believe it or not a 5lb catfish on a fly. Call me if you want to give this a try, you will not be disappointed.

Crappie – Long lining near lick creek is awesome in June, just remember you must go deep and over timber. Jiffy jigs with litewire hooks help, but be sure to use your electronics to calculate how far under the surface the timber is and how deep your jig is running. It’s common to use a double jig set up with a 1/16 on top and a 1/32 on the bottom. Fishing over brush piles with live minnows is a great summer pattern, but you must find the brush piles in deeper water.

Largemouth Bass –Henry Cowen’s something else fly is excellent in clearer water this time of year. I fish it on an 8 weight, 9-foot Scott fly rod. I use an intermediate line with an Orvis Mirage, Big Game fluorocarbon, knotless tapered leader in either 10lb. or 12 lb. This rig sinks quickly and casts well. I have caught more fish on Oconee (of every species on) Henry Cowen’s something else fly than any other fly. Unless they are feeding on the surface this is my “go to” fly!

Final words – Why fly fish? Well, ask the bow hunter the same question. He or she will likely say the challenge, and rush felt in the success of harvesting a deer at close range. I offer combo trips so learning is easy and you get the best of both worlds. For me personally, I’d rather catch one on a fly than ten on a spinning rod. Once you learn, casting is a blast! I subscribe to the Lefty Kreh method (Lefty is an internationally known casting instructor that many consider the father of fly casting!) This method focuses on 4 principals that allow you to cast farther with less effort. Most importantly, fighting and landing a fish on a fly rod is an adrenaline rush like no other in fishing.

Hybrids – Recently the hybrids and stripers have been found in 50 to 60 feet deep water, high in the water column at 30 feet. Fly fishing in this case means sink tip lines and is not very effective. However, flat lining behind the boat with large bass minnows has been excellent. The rig is simple, a medium 6 and half foot spinning rod, 12 lb. test, a swivel, then a 10-lb. fluorocarbon leader about 3 feet long. I caught a 6 lb., 8-ounce hybrid doing this on a recent trip. We have been catching 10 to 12 in a short trip using this technique.

Crappie – This year has been very good for crappie and up until recently spider rigging and long lining has been the ticket. Now the crappie spawn is starting. This means they are in the shallows and large numbers will be caught using a spinning out fit with 4 or 6lb test, a light bobber and a #4 True Turn hook. You will be able to smell them when they are bedding.

This is the one time of year when fly fishing for crappie can be very effective. I use a 5 weight 9 and ½ foot rod with weight forward line, a 4x, 9-foot leader and fish the fly under a strike indicator or even a narrow pencil style float with bobber stoppers. The fly can be almost anything that has some white and chartreuse. Crappie Kandy, is one popular fly that is easy to tie. Instructions can be found with a Google search. The advantage in fly fishing for crappie is, no minnows required and you don’t even have to reel in line, just re-cast the line you have out.

Largemouth Bass – What? Largemouth on a fly? You bet! This time of year, larger mouth are getting ready to spawn. There are many files that are very effective on large mouth. Georgia fly tier Craig Riendeau ties a “Wee Willie Wiggler” that is the fly fisherman’s answer to the plastic worm. It is fished under a strike indicator like a “float and fly” rig. Have you ever cast a Zara Spook to bass in top water mode? There is a large topwater fly called a “Pole Dancer” tied by Charlie Bisharat. It moves back in forth on the retrieve just like a Zara Spook. Bass will kill this fly when they are active on the surface!

CRAPPIE – January through the first week in March, crappie fishing is excellent. Large crappie migrate up the lake and long lining or pushing jigs off the front of the boat will often yield good catches of 1 one and half to two pound slabs! If your trip is booked around the full or new moon, it’s often better. Also, the old timers here always say the third day of warm weather is off the charts.

WHITE BASS AND SPAWNING CRAPPIE – Usually by the second week in March the famous white bass run is happening up Dyar’s Pasture on the Oconee River. Our G3 tunnel hull boat with hydraulic jack plates is perfect for running up the Oconee River. This is off the charts fly fishing, we can teach you to cast; or if you prefer you can use a light spinning rod. If timing is right, it’s not uncommon to limit out quickly. We will also be breaking out the light weight fly rods to catch the spawning crappie.

HYBRIDS DURING THE SHAD SPAWN – The shad spawn in 2017 started the first week in April. This is the time of year when we break out the 8-weight fly rods. These are bigger rods; we use exclusively Scott fly rods with Lamson reels. This is a top of the line outfit and casts like a dream. I have a saying, “if it’s not a Scott, throw it back.” Nothing beats the rush of fighting a nice hybrid on a fly rod. However, if they are hitting a spinner bait better, we break out the spinning rods.

TOP WATER FLY FISHING PEAK MONTHS – from late July through early September we often have what is called “the pump back bite.” When Georgia Power is pumping water up from Lake Sinclair the top water bite is unbelievable. These trips usually mean we are on the water before sunrise. The hybrids come up first and we use the Scott 8 weight and “wiggle minnow” fly. It moves through the water like a Rapala. Later in the morning we catch largemouth on a clouser minnow type sinking fly. Finally, when the pumpback stops, we drop spoons and get into bigger hybrids and stripers.