Another Bad Winter for Georgia’s Bats

By: Trina Morris, Georgia DNR Wildlife Biologist

Just a couple of years ago, a survey at Black Diamond Tunnel was one of the highlights of our seasonal checks of bat caves.

Researchers survey Black Diamond Cave (Photo by: Pete Pattavins, USFWS)

Researchers survey Black Diamond Tunnel (Photo by: Pete Pattavins, USFWS)

We’d load up a boat and drive to Rabun County early in the morning and usually in bitter cold. As we climbed the steep driveway to the landowner’s house, we would be excited about catching up with Regina and her dogs after another year had passed. During the survey, she would wait patiently for us at the tunnel entrance, making sure we returned safely and hoping for good news about the bats that meant so much to her and her family.

Last year was the year that we had all been dreading. We came out of the tunnel with the news that bats in Black Diamond had white-nose syndrome, the disease that has killed more than 5.7 million bats in North America. The news was devastating but not unexpected. White-nose, or WNS, had been found in Georgia in 2013; it has since spread across north Georgia into every site we regularly check.

Snow delayed this year’s visit to Black Diamond, but made a beautiful sight outside the tunnel from the photos Regina shared. When we finally made the journey, we were all worried about what we might find. Regina greeted us as always, and later softened the blow of what we found by delivering delicious, homemade cookies after our trip into the tunnel. The news we brought was much less sweet. Only two years after white-nose showed up at Black Diamond, bat numbers at the site had dropped by 89 percent.

The tunnel is not an exception. At Sitton’s Cave in Cloudland Canyon State Park, where WNS was first detected in the state, we saw 94 percent fewer bats this winter than in 2013. On Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area, bat numbers at Ellison’s Cave were down 85 percent.

I could list the other sites, but we found the same thing across the state. Most of the bats are gone.

Unlike some of the sites in the northeastern U.S., we rarely see large numbers of dead bats inside Georgia caves. We assume most of the bats fly out on the landscape and succumb to the disease out of sight. And we prefer it that way.

At Anderson Springs Cave near Lafayette, we knew things were bad as soon as we entered. We could smell it.

We enter the cave through a passage carved by flowing and shockingly cold water. The entrance is beautiful, and we always begin to see bats before the shock of the icy water has subsided. But this year the majority of the bats near the entrance were dead and in various stages of decay.

Dead bat hangs to the wall at Anderson Springs (Photo by: Pete Pattavina, USFWS)

An apparent victim of WNS, this dead bat was one of many found at Anderson Springs Cave. (Photo by: Pete Pattavina, USFWS)

Dead bats hung on the walls, encapsulated in the fungus that takes over after WNS kills them. Bats lying on the rocks appeared to have died in mid-flight, tattered wings outstretched toward the exit. Trying not to focus on the scene or the putrid smell, the survey crew quietly counted the live and the dead. The bat numbers had only declined by 34 percent at this cave, but WNS was slow to arrive here, showing up in winter 2014. Next year’s numbers will likely be right in line with the other caves we survey.

Our final survey at the end of March was in a Floyd County cave that had somehow escaped infection before. We were holding onto hope that the site, much drier than most other caves surveyed, might once again provide a refuge for the few hundred bats we usually find there. But as soon as we passed through the uncomfortably tight squeeze into the cave, we saw the signs.

White, fuzzy noses and wings were obvious on bats that dotted the walls and peeked from cracks in the rock. Half of the bats at the cave were missing. Maybe they left early taking advantage of the unusually warm weather. But even if they get through this summer, the fungus awaits their return in the fall, and will likely kill most of them.

When we got back to the office, clean and disinfected after weeks traveling underground, we tallied up the numbers. This year’s bat totals were down 82 percent from previous winter counts.

Most of the missing are tri-colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus), the most common winter cave bat in Georgia. Yet we also saw declines in northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis), a species just listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service but never found in large numbers in our caves. We only saw one little brown bat (Myotis lucifigus), but it’s unlikely that animal will return next year. It was the first little brown confirmed with WNS in the state and the first bat we have seen still living with extensive wing damage from the fungus.

Ellisons Cave showing declines in population since WNS was confirmed in Georgia.

Ellisons Cave showing declines in population since WNS was confirmed in Georgia.

If you follow the stories about white-nose, there are glimmers of hope. Headlines like “Some Bat Colonies Might Be Beating White-nose Syndrome” and “Hints of Hope Emerge in Deadly American Bat Plague” are positive. These articles focus on survivors or bats that hang on year after year in infected sites. There are still many unknowns, and maybe some can make it.

But even if these bats survive and continue to reproduce, recovery will be slow. Bats are long-lived and most have only one pup a year. They are not a group that will bounce back fast.

There are new treatment options being developed. Naturally-occurring volatile organic compounds are being tested for their anti-fungal properties. Bacteria found in the wild on some bats may explain higher survival rates and could be used to treat other infected bats. However, trials take time and large-scale treatment isn’t easy. Many of our bats have already run out of time.

We are not giving up hope. Georgia will have survivors. We also have bats that aren’t affected by the disease, such as species that don’t hibernate in caves, where the cold-loving fungus that causes white-nose can thrive.

But we have to provide our bats with what they need to survive. All of them use forests during some portion of their life for roosting, foraging and drinking. Even urban forests and backyards can be important for bats.

And with the specter of white-nose syndrome shadowing them, they need our help more than ever.

Check out DNR’s Georgia Wild e-newsletter for soon-coming articles about what bats need and how you can help. And watch the skies at dusk to see if you can spot these fast-flying mammals!

Categories: Conservation

Georgia Fishing Report: April 17, 2015

North Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)

Sampling survey at Ft. Yargo State Park.

Sampling survey at Ft. Yargo State Park.

Anglers working around the weather have had some great trips this past week.  Good catches should continue for several more weeks as water temperatures remain in the optimal zone for many of our favorite species.  This introduction will be short because biologist Patrick O’Rouke and I just returned from a productive sampling trip to Lake Marbury at Fort Yargo State Park.  Details follow.

Ft. Yargo Bass – Kayak anglers and jonboaters oughta slip over to Fort Yargo State Park real soon to chase the largemouths, now coming shallow to spawn.  Patrick, yours truly, and park manager Doug Chambers sampled the shoreline this morning (4/17) and found a good number of largemouths along the bank, including several over six pounds.  The best habitat was the deeper shoreline with abundant cover (submerged treetops or piers).  The shore along Will-A-Way held several lunkers, while the riprap along the dam held few adult bass.  Crappie were sparse along the bank in today’s sample.  All fish captured were measured, weighed, and released alive for park anglers to pursue.

Bear Creek Reservoir Bass

DNR Lanier Striper Sampling Video

Ken’s Detailed Reservoir Reports

BIG Lanier Stripers

Kudos to Lanier Volunteer Fishing Guides – Outdoors Without Limits (great photos)

Trout fishing at Dicks Creek.

Trout fishing at Dicks Creek.

Lanier Crappie

Carters Mixed Bag

AllatoonaVideo

Sturgeon – Fish Release (video) – This is where Georgia’s sturgeon eggs come from; check out the live river cams.

Hefty Lake Burton Brown

Stocker Best Bets – WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson thinks these hotspots will produce this weekend: Black Rock, Dockery, and Rock Creek lakes, Holly, Rock, Cooper, Panther, Tallulah, and Wildcat.

Dicks Creek Trophy

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff)

McDuffie PFA (16-65 inches of visibility, avg. water temp. 73.4degrees) – Largemouth Bass: Good, due to spawning activities – Best ponds have been Willow, Breambuster, and Clubhouse. Willow is still giving up keeper bass and many larger bass are being released my fishermen. Bass in 3 to 9 pound range are being caught near shore, around submerged timber and underwater humps near deep water. In Jones the bass fishing has slowed down. The lakes with the more potential are Willow for quality and Breambuster for quantity.  Both of the lakes have a balanced fish population. Several fishermen of Willow Lake have reported missing big bass or being broken off. By the end of April the bass will be in a post-spawn mode and should be feeding on new baitfish. Breambuster has really cooled off for bass fishing and the schools of threadfin shad have not shown up yet. Electrofishing sampling proved several quality bass make Breambuster home like the 6 lb. 15 oz. bass reported in March still exist. As the water temperature continues to rise the fishing should steadily improve.  Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month. Rodbender was hot; several fishermen have reported on our survey form that the fish are fat. One bass of bragging size was caught, weighed and released.  The smaller fat “football” fish which represents optimum feeding conditions along with the larger bass should be feeding on the several forage species in the pond. In Clubhouse, bass can continue to be caught on shad imitations, specifically a Super Spot lipless crankbait.  Quality bass are still present in Clubhouse and we found them around the structure in the lake during sampling. Bass are waiting on the shad hatch but other forage species should be available. Bass in 3 to 7 pound range are being caught near shore, around submerged timber and underwater humps near deep water. In addition to shad imitations, variations of soft -plastics on shaky-head jigs in pumpkin-seed are great lures. As the weather warms up the water temperatures will rise and the top-water action should be great going into May.

Bream:  Good – Best ponds have been Willow and Clubhouse.  The bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) are on beds now in shallow water for their April spawn. Bream can be found around structure and aquatic plants with firm sandy bottoms which make the best spawning habitat. The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under adjustable floats, using light tackle make soft casts pass the bream bed and pulling the bait rig back over the beds and stopping the bait will generate many more strikes. Later in April, using beetle-spins with slow or fast retrieves and crickets and worms under floats or on the bottom will work.  Our local fly fishermen are catching aggressive bream on bugs on top of the water near structure.

Channel Catfish:  Good – Best ponds have been Breambuster, Beaverlodge, Bridge and Jones.  Catfish are feeding up as they prepare to spawn when water temperatures reach between 70-75 degrees. Several large catfish were distributed to the PFA lakes from the hatchery stock and were seen in the recent electrofishing sampling on the lakes. Catfish will begin biting in all lakes as water continues to warm. The best fishing is on the bottom in deep areas using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets.

Striped Bass:  Excellent – Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse.  A large striper (5 lbs.) was recently seen during electrofishing in Clubhouse near shore and structure. The stripers are waiting on the shad hatch like the largemouth bass. The stripers will actively feed on the shad during early morning and late evening hours.  Imitate the threadfin shad and excellent fishing for striped bass is just a cast away.  Smaller stripers will keep anglers busy in Bridge Lake as fishermen fish for catfish and bream on the bottom using worms and chicken liver.

Additional Information:  http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/McDuffie

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener and Rob Weller and regional Fisheries staff)

Flint River – Fishing has continued to improve below both the Albany Dam below Lake Worth and the Warwick Dam below Lake Blackshear. live shad, spoons, and large bucktail jigs are popular baits for these fish. There have also been several reports of large bream being harvested below the Warwick dam. The main Flint River water is cloudy due to the recent rains so fishing for shoal bass and bream has been slow. However, the channel catfish bite is doing very well.

Chattahoochee River – There have been several reports of limits of both striped and hybrid striped bass being caught below the Columbia lock and dam on the lower Chattahoochee River. Fish are being caught by shore at night using crayfish or shad. If fishing from a boat try anchoring immediately below the bouy line. Expect some hybrids to be over five pounds and the chance for a striper over 20 pounds is pretty good.

Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula,” water  levels have been low, but the range of fluctuation has been small. The lake has been low but stable, which should facilitate a good bass spawn.  Bass fishermen should look for fish in shallow brush piles, stump rows, rocky contours, shallow humps, and deeper weed lines of pad stems, water primrose, and alligator weed. Target 2 to 8 feet; if required, back off the bank to get in good water. Recent electrofishing samples support Rick’s report. Both bass and crappie have moved shallow is Lake George and several crappie over a pound have been sampled with the greatest number being collected in the Tobanannee Creek sample.

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: April 3, 2015

Seasonal trout streams are now open! Don’t forget, the 2015 Fishing Prospects have been updated on our website. Check out the reservoir fishing prospects and river fishing prospects as we get into prime-time fishing!

North Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)

These sunny days are warming our waters, bringing sport fish up from the depths of winter, and beginning to heat up the catch rates of north Georgia anglers.  Let’s get right to the reports.

25-pound Hartwell striper.

25-pound Hartwell striper.

Bass of A Lifetime! – See this pic

West Side Report – Coosa and Allatoona – The Coosa River white bass run is still in full swing!  Best area seems to be at Mayo’s Lock and Dam Park near Rome.  The inside river bends for a couple miles below the lock are also holding fish.  Crankbaits, curly tail jigs, and minnows are all good choices for those pursuing these mini-linesides.  Stripers are starting to show up around the lock too.  Most are under 5 pounds, but 20+ pound fish will migrate past the lock all month.

Christmas in April!  Recycled Christmas trees anchored to the dry lake bottom this winter are now inundated at most of Lake Allatoona’s public fishing jetties.  Warming water temps will pull bass, crappie, and bream into these shallow “housing units”.  The brush piles are within easy casting distance around the following fishing jetties:  Galt’s Ferry, Bethany Bridge, Victoria Marina, Proctor Landing and the Blockhouse.  Christmas tree piles can also be found adjacent to the Kellogg Creek boat ramp near Payne Campground.  More info on fishing “The Toona” at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Allatoona. – James Hakala, Fisheries Biologist

“Shocking” Hartwell Report – We have seen a lot of QUALITY largemouth bass while sampling on Lake Hartwell this week. Most are pre-spawn females ranging from 4 to 8 lb.  The small males bass are starting to move into the shallow pockets. Anglers should target the primary clay points in the major cove arms in 4-8 feet of water to catch the bigger fish.

Shallow water crappie fishing on Hartwell is just about to turn on. We are seeing a few fish in 4-8 feet of water but very few so far in the shallow cove pockets. With warm temperatures in the forecast, I suspect crappie fishing will improve by this weekend. – Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist

8.5-pound largemouth collected during sampling survey on Lanier.

8.5-pound largemouth collected during sampling survey on Lanier.

Lanier Sampling Results – Many North Georgia reservoirs experienced a natural die-off of blueback herring during our cold winter this year. Dead/dying bait make for easy eating for predators like bass and stripers. You can expect to see fatter than normal catches this spring as a result, like this nice 8.5-pound Lanier largemouth sampled and released today (4/1/15), no joke! – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Trout

  • Volunteer Waiver April 6 Opening Day Reports – It was opening weekend for some streams up in N. GA.  We had snow flurries on Friday night but got a good fire going and the camper has a good heating system!  Check out these trout.  Caught some nice rainbows and brookies.  Fried some and brought some back for the freezer. – Tara
  • Lucky Charm Ranger – Kudos to Habersham conservation ranger Chad Chambers for his magic
  • Icy Wild Trout Report
  • Stocker Best Bets – In preparation for the Opening Day of trout season, over 81,000 trout were stocked by the Wildlife Resource Division and our partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Best bets for this second weekend of the trout stocking season include: Panther, Middle Broad,  West Fork Chattooga, Wildcat, Tallulah, Dockery, Hooch on WMA, Rock, Cooper, Toccoa, Blue Ridge Tailwater, and Georgia’s DH streams. – John Lee Thomson, Trout Stocking Coordinator

Chattooga DH Report – Tex and Dredger took their time riding up to the Chattooga DH on Sunday afternoon (3/29), letting the sun shine and warm the river after a very chilly night.  The river was 47 degrees and pretty quiet as they started casting around 1:30 PM.  As the afternoon continued, a few mayflies drifted by and a few trout surfaced in splashy rises.  The bugs and the rises became more and more abundant as the hours passed and the water temp hit 50 degrees.  The duo tossed a combo of #16 parachute adams with a dun (gray) wing on 5X tippet and a #16 hare’s ear soft hackle dropped 20 inches off the back of the dry fly.  They each caught “enough,” with the last fish at 6:45 p.m.  Nearly all of their fish took the dropper, as the soft hackle must have done a fair job of imitating the emerging nymphs.  The game changer was once again the “skitter” to imitate the active emergers.  The bug, a gray #16 mayfly Trout BKT stockers opening day 2015 Taradun, might have been a blue quill or a Hendrickson.  Regardless of the bug’s correct name, the adult was 16 and gray, and the hare’s ear dropper was crushed in a surface bulge behind the dry if it was cast across and down, and twitched back upstream.  Even the refusals, which greatly outnumbered the duo’s takes, were entertaining as each fish rocketed up through gin-clear waters, put a nose on the fly, turned, and then darted back down to the safety of the cobble bottom.   Despite those humblings, a lot of rainbows, a couple brooks, and a lone brown came to the two nets.  The best spots were the upper thirds of pools below obvious “bug factories.”  What, you don’t speak Rabunite?  Here’s a free lesson.

The next six weeks are “game on” along the Chattooga!  Plan a trip soon, after looking at these websites and reviewing the “wild trout tips” to follow.

Whitewater this Weekend – Combine a northeast Georgia fishing trip with a stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park for some whitewater viewing.

Saturday- Trout Fishing “Open House – It’s the annual NGTO Spring Fling at Buford Hatchery!

Monday – Call for Metro Stocking Vols – The final Chattahoochee bucket stocking event of this DH season will take place on Monday, April 6 at 10 a.m. Volunteers should bring waders, a five-gallon bucket, and a signed copy of the attached waiver. Fishing after the release is optional. Bring a signed volunteer waiver if you come!

If you’ve never been to Whitewater Creek, a map to the location can be found at http://goo.gl/maps/pdelU.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing everyone on the river! – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Additional Links:

Give Back – Help Sweep the Hooch! – Fifth Annual Sweep the Hooch on Saturday, April 11. Register and more info at www.sweepthehooch.org. 580 volunteers removed 7.275 tons of river refuse with more than half ton of trash recycled in 2014. That’s 14,500 pounds! Volunteer as a wader, paddler or trail walker.

Georgia Fishing Guide

Vote for Georgia

The North Georgia Region Fisheries staff at our Summerville, Burton, Buford, Calhoun, and Gainesville facilities appreciates your purchases of fishing tackle and licenses, and wishes you “good luck” this spring. http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Facts

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff)

Clarks Hill (down 1.2 feet, stained, water temp. low 60s) – Bass fishing is good. The bass are roaming around in the shallows lake wide so anglers should do the same. Use a Texas rigged worm or jig and pig. Some top water action has been occurring early and late. Husky Jerk baits and jigs along with Shad Raps will catch bass this week. The spotted bass are on the move as well and will be a lot more aggressive this week. The spots are holding on gravel and rocky point in 6 to 10 feet of water. Use Carolina rigged worms in most any color pumpkinseed, green and purple. Largemouth and spots will bed soon. A trick worm fished with a slip shot up 18 to 24 inches fished in the pockets around the lake is working well. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Flat Creek PFA (down 3 feet 4 inches, 22 inches of visibility, water surface temp. 67.8 degrees) – The fish at Flat Creek have been hit or miss currently following a cold snap that pushed the fish into deeper water and off their beds. As the water continues to warm the fish are expected to get more aggressive. The main difference between those with heavy stringers of fish and those fishermen going home hungry is still the size of tackle being used, and location, location, location. The fishermen on the banks willing to move around were the happiest at the end of the day with their catch. Light tackle is still catching the most fish.

Bass: Success – Zoom Green Pumpkin Magic worms, Shad colored Whacky Worms, minnows and worms fished in around five to six foot of water, also anything shiny or white when the bass are feeding on schooling shad.

Bream: Success – Worms on a Carolina rig, and crickets fished on the bottom.

Crappie:

Success – Chartreuse jigs underneath a Rocket Float® and cast in the shallows, Renosky® Natural Shad Minnow jigs, bright colored teaser tails, minnows beneath a float cast near structure, and worms on a Carolina rig. Failure – Fishing any of the above with line greater than six pound test.

Channel Catfish: Not many people were fishing for catfish at the time of this report, so there is insufficient data to report on. However fishing for Catfish is presumed to still be good as it has been in previous months.

Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

Jackson Lake (down 0.7 feet, stained, water temp. mid 60s) – Bass fishing is good. The lack of rain let the lake clear up a bit but the wind is still keeping it a little muddy up in the shallows. The bass are on the move up shallow and will spawn right on time. With this lake having its share of wood and stumps, the bass that are on the holding pattern are relating to this wood. You will see the fish sitting on top of the stumps on you graph and will bite almost any bait you put in front of them. The shad are now moving back in closer to the bank and the bass are feeding on these baits along with the bream and crawfish. With the large shad schools around the lake, this would be a good time to use the Alabama rig. Crawdad colored Shad Raps and jigs are still good baits to use this week. Bass are being caught up every river and creek on the lake. Picking one good area will be difficult to do this week on this lake and any lake during the spawn. The best hint for this week is to keep those hooks sharp and wet. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation department will host an “Outdoor Fun Festival 2015” on April 25, 2015. The location will be the Caney Road Park in south Forsyth County off Highway 141. See the web site at www.outdoorfunfestival2015.com. Call 770-887-2217 Carrie Toth or cmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

Marben PFA (water temp 67-plus degrees) – April is one of the most popular months for fishing at Marben PFA.  Anglers will find all species of game fish active.

Bass: Bass are on or going on bed depending on the pond.   Try using dark plastics lizards.  Anglers need to be patient when targeting big bass this time of year.  There have been several reports of 6-8 pound fish being caught.  Also, Marben staff recently caught a 10 plus pound bass during spring sampling.  Remember – Catching a big bass on bed is a game of persistence!

Bream and Channel Catfish:  These fish are moving up and have been caught on the bottom with worms.  Mid-day offers the best opportunity for those anglers seeking bream or catfish.

Crappie: Crappie are in full swing depending on the immediate weather.  Try fishing blow downs and submerged brush with jigs or minnows.  Not all brush is visible so anglers may to move around until you find them.  Angler trails are located on the lake and will provide anglers plenty of access to that secret fishing hole.

Marben offers a variety of pond sizes and each pond has its own personality.  Maps of Marben PFA are at the informational kiosk located at each entrance.  If your timing is right you could possibly have a whole pond to yourself.  Weather changes rapidly this time of year and often times will effect fish behavior.  Anglers are encouraged to pay attention to these patterns to improve their chances of filling up a stringer.

Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/CharlieElliott

Lake Oconee (full pool, stained, water temp. 58-67 degrees) – Bass fishing is good. The lake is full. Start in the middle of the coves and main lake creeks. Fish boat docks, wood structure, and sea walls. Work your way to the back of the coves and creeks. Use Shad Raps and small crank bait with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks. White and chartreuse spinner baits fished along the Sugar creek and Lick creek bridge rip rap has also been producing some larger fish. Richland creek has also been producing some good fish in the upper reaches of the creek. Blue black and brown jigs have been working well fished in and around wood cover.

Crappie fishing is good. The fish are moving into the major creeks. Long lining trolling has been the best producer over the past week. Match the jig color to the water color. Blue black is one option. Over the next few weeks the largest fish will be moving into the coves and creeks to spawn so now it the time to fill a cooler with big slabs.

Striper fishing is good. The fish are starting to show up at the dam for the spring run. Live bait fished on down lines along with flat lines and plainer boards will pick up fish. If the water clears up the umbrella rig bite will also produce fish. There are also some good fish showing up in the rivers. Cut bait fished on the bottom will be the best bait for the river fish. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service reeltime@bellsouth.net

Lake Russell (full, clear, water temp. low 60s) – Bass fishing is good. Use a shallow running shad or bream DT Rapala crank bait and Stanley all white spinnerbaits. The green Zoom trick worm or a Zoom pumpkinseed lizard will work on the secondary points in the longer creeks and find shady banks early and late and then use a buzz bait with a gold blade. Try the Alabama rig with small Zoom pearl flukes on a 1/8th ounce lead head and be sure to use a braid to save the rig if it hangs up. Up the rivers and on deeper creeks on points, use a shad color Shad Rap in the #5 size. Lower lake creeks on outside creek bends are good with spinner baits and the Poe’s 300 bone crank bait. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Lake Sinclair (full, rivers and creeks are stained, lower lake is clear, water temp. 64-68 degrees) –Bass fishing is good. The spawn is in full swing on Lake Sinclair this week. This week’s warm weather paired with the upcoming full moon have the bass flooding into the shallows to lay their eggs. Catching these fish will require slowing down and fishing soft plastic baits in protected sandy spawning pockets. These fish will spawn on any piece of cover they can find in the pockets. Isolated stumps, dock walkways, and sea walls will be the best targets to hit when trying to catch these spawning fish over the next few weeks. Make sure to make repetitive casts to each target before moving on to the next one. You might be able to sight fish for some of these fish if you find some of the clearer water down the lake. Bottom crawling baits that you can fish slowly will work best. A Buckeye mop jig with a craw trailer and a Texas rigged Zoom 6 lizard have been extremely effective this week. You can also catch some aggressive fish early in the morning and late in the evening with a black buzz bait and a chartreuse and white spinnerbait. – Courtesy of Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina, 478-451-0167

West Point Lake (down 2.6 feet, stained, water temp. mid 60s) –Bass fishing is good and the full moon has a lot of fish shallow. They are moving up shallow and starting to spawn in the backs of pockets. Use the Zoom Super Flukes, trick worms and Senko’s and this can be an all-day tactic. Throw these baits into the tops of grass and twitch them just enough to keep from hanging up. Most of the bites have been coming within a few feet of the bank. Be sure to pick apart any wood you see in the water. Up lake good places to fish are Jackson Creek, Ski jump cove and don’t forget Half Moon Creek. Down lake the pattern is very similar to up lake but with the water being clearer throw a Pop R in bone color. Down lake go to Maple Creek, Bird Creek and the No Name in the pockets. Keep a Rat L Trap tied on for those fish chasing bait. –  Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

 

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener)

Bass fishing in ponds was very good. Check out the new Satilla River record bass caught by Kevin Mullis on Friday. Saltwater was hit-and-miss again this week. The rivers are high but fishable at most locations. The St. Marys fishing was excellent again this week.  Full Moon is April 4. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Congratulations to Kevin Mullis of Waycross for catching the new river record largemouth bass from the Satilla River. The monster was certified on Friday at exactly 12 pounds. He fooled the behemoth with a small, chartreuse crankbait.

Congratulations to Kevin Mullis of Waycross for catching the new river record largemouth bass from the Satilla River. The monster was certified on Friday at exactly 12 pounds. He fooled the behemoth with a small, chartreuse crankbait.

Altamaha River – The cold nights and rising river through the weekend slowed the fishing somewhat, but anglers still caught some fish. The redbreasts and bream bit decently in the tidal river in the slack water. Shellcrackers are starting to move shallow, so look for that bite to pick up over the next month. Worms fished on bottom are typically the best presentation for them. Catfishing all along the river was consistent, with channel cats leading the creels. Worms and shrimp fished on the bottom produced the best. A few limb-liners reported catching flatheads in the lower river on live bait. The river level was 9.6 feet and falling (61 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.9 feet and rising (61 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 31.

Lake Eufaula (Georgia/Alabama border) – Two different groups of anglers reported catching limits of fish each day they fished this week. Pitching and dabbling tubes and other artificial lures around shoreline cover has been the deal. Chartreuse hues have produced the best. The fish are on the cover spawning, so get them while they’re shallow.

Okefenokee Swamp – A Homerville angler fished the east side on Tuesday and caught some pickerel (jackfish), warmouth, bowfin, and fliers. They had a really nice jackfish that ate a white in-line spinner (Mepps), and they also caught their mudfish (up to about 10 pounds!) on the spinner. They only had a few fliers, and they were spread out. The catfish have been biting shrimp well on the west side. Once the water level drops a little bit more, the flier bite will be great on warm afternoons.

Satilla River – The river is too high to fish for panfish, but a few anglers have done well for bass. Before the river rose over the weekend, Kevin Mullis caught a new river record largemouth bass from the upper river. On Friday, Kevin had a 12-pound 0-ounce bass certified at the Waycross Fisheries Office, and the fish was the largest ever documented from the Satilla (those records are kept by Georgia Outdoor News). The whopper inhaled a small chartreuse crankbait. Congratulations, Kevin! If we do not get any more mid-week rains, the extreme upper river should be fishable by the weekend. Target bass, redbreasts, and catfish if you go. Catfishing in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas of the river should be heating up as the river level drops back out and the water warms. The river level at the Waycross gage was 11.2 feet and falling (61 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.1 feet and rising on March 31.

St. Marys River – The bite is on in the upper river. Brentz and Alex McGhin of Blackshear made the most of spring break and fished the river twice since the weekend. On Saturday, the river was rising from recent rains, but they still brought home 32 fish. Their catch included warmouth, redbreasts, crappie, and bluegill. On Monday they fished a different section of upper river and brought home 33 fish. Brentz said that he caught some of the biggest redbreasts he’s ever caught, especially on Monday. He used crawfish Satilla Spins for some of the biggest redbreasts, but caught more of the smaller fish on beetle spins. On Saturday, chartreuse with black dot beetle spins worked well for him. On Monday, he did ok in the morning on that color, but did much better on brown-black stripes for numbers of fish in the afternoon. Warmouth topped the catch on Saturday, while redbreasts were the best bite on Monday.  The catfish bite all along the river continued this week. Worms and shrimp fished on the bottom produced the best. Most catches were between 10 and 30 fish. Brentz and Alex caught 3 different species of catfish on their trips. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 4.7 feet and falling on March 31.

Local Ponds – The cold mornings slowed the bites over the weekend, but I still received some good afternoon reports. Bass were still shallow, and a 9-pounder was the biggest I got reports of from ponds. A Tifton area pond produced that fish and several 5 to 8-pounders. The buzzbait bite has started over the last week, and should improve on the back side of this cold snap later this week. Chad Lee of Alma had an interesting trip on Friday. He used a 16-inch worm, trying for a trophy bass. He didn’t catch the big one, but coaxed over 20 smaller bass up to only 2 pounds to eat the giant worm. He also caught some crappie on panfish assassin lures.

Best Bet – The crappie are shallow and spawning. With the warming trend late this week, expect that to be a consistent bite. White catfishing in the tidal portions of our rivers is another good option for a lot of action. In saltwater, whiting will be your best bet if weather will allow you to get out.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The whiting bite slowed with the cooler water and winds over the weekend, but they should bite well by this weekend (if winds will allow folks to get out to them). Big black drum were caught from the St. Simons Pier by anglers fishing baits on the bottom (it takes heavy weights with the stiff current!) over the weekend. The trout bite has been inconsistent. Those who caught them found clear water. Monitor the marine forecast.

Licenses Required at a PFA

Angers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license, AND a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license to fish.

If you have either a Sportsman’s, Lifetime, Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license), 3-day Hunting and Fishing License, or 3-day GORP Plus you are NOT required to have a WMA license to fish.

A WMA license is NOT required to fish at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.

To access a PFA for non-fishing activities, visitors age 16-64 must have one of the following (visitors under age 16 and/or over age 64 are exempt):

  • Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP)
  • 3-day hunting/fishing license
  • WMA license
  • Sportsman’s license
  • Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license)
  • Lifetime license

Buy or renew your license(s) at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: March 27, 2015

Seasonal trout streams open this Saturday, March 28! Don’t forget, the 2015 Fishing Prospects have been updated on our website. Check out the reservoir fishing prospects and river fishing prospects as we get into prime-time fishing!

North Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)

Opening Day is here! Season trout streams open on Saturday, March 28. Some great resources and links for trout fishing can be found below. You might also enjoy Dredger’s “Opening Day” tale, as told last year.

Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee, April 2009.

Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee, April 2009.

Trout

Relocation Along the Chattooga

Great Day from Chattooga River Fly Shop,

Sunday,  March 22 will be our last day at the old location (7am-2pm)…  As of Tuesday March 24 we will be moved in our new location at 6832A Highlands Hwy (Hwy 28) just a 1/2 mile North of our old location on the right hand side of the road.  Please look for our new logo sign (4’x 8′) on the street, for our new shop location.  Here are the GPS coordinates as well…

Latitude N34.83718 Longitude W83.13118.  Our hours of operation will remain the same at the new location and we look forward to seeing everyone starting Tuesday and there forward at our new shop!!!  We will have a picture on our web site shortly of the new location as well.

For the fishing report, it is Dry Fly time!!!  Plenty of bugs are hatching and the weekend weather report is excellent.  We hope to see everyone out on the rivers! – Karl, Karen, Dan, Bud & Tom, Chattooga River Fly Shop

Reservoir and River Fishing Predictions  These annual fishing prospects (reservoirs, rivers) are composed by DNR fisheries biologists.

Coosa Whites – Biologist Jim Hakala reports that the whites were a bit sparse during WRD sampling this week.  He recommends that anglers try the stretch between Blacks Bluff Road and Highway 400 for  best bets at success.  Fewer fish were flowing, so Jim thinks that spring is coming just a bit later this year.

: Fisheries Technician Chris Looney stands on the bow of an electrofishing boat at dawn on Lake Lanier.

: Fisheries Technician Chris Looney stands on the bow of an electrofishing boat at dawn on Lake Lanier.

Making Stripers and Hybrids – Fisheries staff are out on area lakes and rivers this week to collect striped bass and white bass broodstock.  They’ll be transported to and spawned at Richmond Hill Hatchery. Small fry will then be shipped to several hatcheries across the state for grow-out of fingerlings in ponds.  Then, one month later, the one-inch fingerlings will be stocked into our target reservoirs to maintain your sport fisheries.

Walleye and White Bass – The tail end of the walleye run provides a unique opportunity in some reservoirs to double up with white bass.  For the next two weeks, white bass and walleye will be in the shallow headwaters of several north Georgia lakes such as Tugalo, Yonah, Hartwell and others.  Look for small groups of white bass and walleye mixed together on sandy bottoms along the bend of the river as well as in the deeper holes.  Small curly-tailed grubs bounced along the bottom provide the best chance of doubling up on walleye and white bass. – Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist

Lanier stripers – Trophy Time

“Shocking” Lanier Results! – We spent Monday and Tuesday out and about on and above Lanier looking for fish.  On the striper front, we collected male broodstock for the first round of hybrid bass production on Monday morning and continued sampling Tuesday morning to collect scales for ageing.  Water temperatures are starting out around 55 and coming up to 57 before noon.  The stripers are definitely coming shallow in the mornings right now.  You’ll still find some staying deep, but look for shallow fish before the sun gets up high on channel markers, points, and flats in 4-10 feet of water.  Expect to see a lot of two-year old fish in the 2-3 pound range and four-year old fish in

Fisheries operations manager Scott Robinson shows off a walleye collected on a sampling survey.

Fisheries operations manager Scott Robinson shows off a walleye collected on a sampling survey.

the 6-8 pound range.  We’ve also seen good numbers of bigger fish in the high teens and low twenties the past two days, so don’t scale down your tackle too much if you go out. We’ve had an ongoing blueback herring kill this winter and the stripes appear to be very healthy (fat) from feeding on dead and dying bluebacks.  If there was ever a spring to have a great shot at someone catching a 50-pounder and winning that $10,000 bounty, this might be it.

On the walleye front, we went back up the Chestatee Tuesday afternoon to collect some population data.  Even though last week marked the peak of the spawn, the fish are still up the rivers in good numbers.  The males are still thick up around the canoe launch on Highway 60.  Look for deeper runs with swift water; the fish will be hugging the bottom.  Down below Georgia 400, we found some very nice-looking females including one that weighed in over 7.5 pounds.  The run will be the same on the Chattahoochee side of Lanier.  Males will generally still be above Belton Bridge, but females will be spread all the way down past Don Carter State Park. – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Additional links:

Toona Trophy

Vote for Georgia – You can vote daily for up to 3 properties in America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots Sweepstakes .  Let’s support our Georgia State Parks and fishing.

Good luck this week. May you make some fine Opening Day memories yourselves!

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Bass fishing in ponds has been excellent again this week. Saltwater has been hit-and-miss, and the rivers are headed back up a little bit (the St. Marys is the best of the bunch this week). The swamp has been decent but slower than usual this time of year because of the high water. First quarter moon is March 27th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Chris Tillman of Waycross caught this nice bass on a plastic worm from an area pond on Saturday. Bass fishing should be peak for another month in area ponds.

Chris Tillman of Waycross caught this nice bass on a plastic worm from an area pond on Saturday. Bass fishing should be peak for another month in area ponds.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle in Jesup said that some crappie were caught in the oxbows on minnows, but the most consistent bite was from channel catfish. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the channel catfish bite in the main river was very good, and some giant bream ate pink worms. The river level was 9.4 feet and rising (63 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.5 feet and rising (63 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 24.

Okefenokee Swamp – “Trout Magnet” has been fishing the east side from his kayak and has been doing well for chain pickerel (jackfish) on crankbaits. He has landed, as well as hooked and lost, some nice fish. The flier bite for him was a little slower than usual, but he has caught some. On the west side, the catfish bite has been good for those fishing worms and shrimp on the bottom. Once the water level drops a little bit, the flier bite will be good on warm afternoons.

Satilla River – The middle and lower river sections are still too high to effectively fish, but that won’t stop plenty of folks from hitting the river this weekend. Be careful when you are near the bank, as the current is deceptively swift. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross reported that the fishing is improving in the upper river, even with the slow rise at the Hwy 158 Bridge. He said that the waxing moon will help the bite, as well. Crappie were eating minnows and jigs this week. Bass were caught on buzzbaits, ZOOM Trick Worms, and shiners. Trot lines and set hooks baited with rooster livers and shrimp provided some nice catfish, and anglers fishing with pink worms on the bottom also caught catfish. Catfishing in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas of the river should be heating up as the river level drops back out and the water warms. For details on my approach to fishing the tidal Satilla for White Catfish, see my article in the March issue of the Georgia Outdoor News Magazine. The river level at the Waycross gage was 10.1 feet and steady (65 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.4 feet and falling on March 24.

St. Marys River – The best river bite is on the upper St. Marys River. A couple local anglers fished the upper river on Tuesday and landed 70 redbreasts (kept 30 of the biggest) on beetlespins. The DNR guys started their annual electrofishing samples on the river this week. They stun the fish, measure and weigh them, and release them. The 2 areas they sampled so far have shown that the number of fish in the river is about the same as usual, but their size is phenomenal. The average length of the redbreasts is between 7 and 8 inches. They also saw more than usual bass in their sample, and one was over 10 pounds. This is the river to fish right now. The catfish bite all along the river has been great. Worms and shrimp fished on the bottom have caught catfish about everywhere folks have fished. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 4.9 feet and rising on March 24.

Local Ponds –  The bass bite has been nothing short of excellent. Justin Bythwood landed the biggest bass I personally know about this week. It was an 8-lb., 11-oz. whopper. He caught her Saturday off a bed and released her after a short photo shoot. A group of Second Baptist boys fished a Waycross area pond and had a blast on Saturday afternoon. Nathanael caught a big bluegill and a nice redbreast on pink worms. A few folks also caught bass. They saw a male bass guarding some fry, so the spawn is in full swing. Chad Lee of Alma fished a few times this week and caught several bass each trip. Trick Worms in various colors worked well for him again this week. Some nice bream and a few smaller bass were reported from Laura Walker State Park. The lake is still closed to boats and is low, but anglers can fish from the bank. Michael Winge said that pond fishing was good, with anglers reporting some nice crappie caught from shallow water. Fish around any shoreline vegetation and wood to catch spawning fish. Minnows worked best by his reports. Nice bream were fooled with crickets and pink worms. Shiners free-lined under a weighted float were the best presentation for quality bass. The channel catfish bite picked up for those fishing shiners, pink worms, and rooster livers.

Best Bet – In freshwater, it will be hard to beat the St. Marys River and  local ponds this weekend.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The whiting bite is on. Michael Winge reports that little pieces of shrimp fished on bottom in the vicinity of the King and Prince on St. Simons Island have produced well. Of course, this fishing is very wind-dependent, so check the marine forecast before planning a trip. On the nearshore reefs, sheepshead and black sea bass are thick, and some vermilion snapper were caught. The trout and redfish bites were good in the Hampton River area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the black drum bite is still strong for those fishing crabs on the bottom. Bull whiting have started to bite for those fishing from the pier. The blue crabs have returned and are being caught from the pier.

There is a forecasted cold front early in the weekend, so check the winds before planning a trip to big water. If winds are fishable, the whiting bite off St. Simons should be strong. Monitor the marine forecast.

Licenses Required at a PFA

Angers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license, AND a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license to fish.

If you have either a Sportsman’s, Lifetime, Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license), 3-day Hunting and Fishing License, or 3-day GORP Plus you are NOT required to have a WMA license to fish.

A WMA license is NOT required to fish at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.

To access a PFA for non-fishing activities, visitors age 16-64 must have one of the following (visitors under age 16 and/or over age 64 are exempt):

  • Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP)
  • 3-day hunting/fishing license
  • WMA license
  • Sportsman’s license
  • Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license)
  • Lifetime license

Buy or renew your license(s) at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: March 20, 2015

As we dive into this week’s fishing reports, remember that the 2015 Fishing Prospects have been updated on our website. Check out the reservoir fishing prospects and river fishing prospects as we get into prime-time fishing!

North Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)

Our early spawning species are now doing their thing.  Take advantage of some of these early runs when the weather and water conditions permit your ventures.  The striper and bass action should pick up soon afterward as our north Georgia waters warm a bit more in the weeks to come.

Walleye Run – Walleye are now at the peak of their spawning run in north Georgia reservoirs. WRD staff collected male and female broodstock from the Chattahoochee above Lake Lanier this week and delivered them to the Go Fish Georgia Hatchery in Perry for spawning and fry production.  Hint: try the deep pools in the mile or two below Belton Bridge to find the big (4-7 pound) females, as they stage daily before their evening trek to the spawning riffles above the bridge. Try the same spots on the Chestatee below Hwy 400. Reminder- walleye guide.

Hooch Fishing Trail – Spring is a good time to float the Hooch above Lanier for walleye, stripers, and river bass and bream. Check out upper Chattahoochee access points.

Ken with the crappie he caught on his kayak fishing trip.

Ken with the crappie he caught on his kayak fishing trip.

Crappie – Local Ponds

  • “It was ridiculous. Took my kayak for its first trip of the year to a watershed lake near home. I caught the crappie trolling, jigging, under a bobber, casting, and any other way you can think of! I used Slider grubs (black/chartreuse) and white Popeye jigs. My bonus fish was a nice largemouth bass. Got cornmeal?” – Ken Riddleberger, Game Management Region Supervisor
  • Sgt. Stan enjoyed a day off  from his Hartwell area “game warden” gig to meet a fishing buddy and sample the local farm pond crappie population.  Biggest fish pushed 17 inches.  Small jigs were the ticket.

White Bass Run – The Coosa River white bass run is building nicely.  The rising river temperatures are pushing more and more fish into the river stretch between Mayo’s Lock and Dam downstream to the Old River Road Boat Ramp.  WRD sample crews are seeing better than average size white bass females in the river this year.  As such, anglers should encounter more two-plus pound specimens in their catch.  A few small stripers are making their way into the river too, which can be an added bonus to any white bass fishing trip. – James Hakala, Fisheries Biologist

Brown trout on Chattooga DH.

Brown trout on Chattooga DH.

Chattooga DH – Tex and Dredger gave it a shot on a sunny Sunday afternoon (3/15)  in hopes of hitting a Quill Gordon hatch, or any other dry fly action.  Alas, the aerial bugs were sparse.  The duo still dredged up a nice number of browns and rainbows to fourteen inches with their trusty olive leeches, and Tex nailed a brook trout to complete his Tooga hat trick (rainbow, brown, and brook).  The gray caddis finally came out to play as the evening shadows fell and the duo picked off several fish on top with a skittered combo of a #16 gray elk hair caddis and a gray caddis emerger trailing behind it.  Mimicking the naturals was the key, as their dead-drifted imitations were ignored.

And the Quill Gordon watch continues…

Hooch DH Reports GON Forum

Trouting Opportunity at Go Fish Education Center – We currently have the pond open for trout harvest on Fri, Sat and Sun during our normal hours.  Anglers can keep up to 3 trout per person, and anyone 16 and over needs a fishing license and trout license.  This will continue through March and likely into early April. Don’t forget about the Go Fish Cam! – Jeremy Wixson, Go Fish Education Center Program Manager

Call for Bucket Volunteers, April 6 – We’ve got a date for the reschedule of the Whitewater Creek (Hooch Delayed Harvest) bucket stocking event referenced below.  We’re going to hold it on Monday, April 6th.  This is the first day of metro spring break.  Hopefully by that point we’re out of the woods for any threat of winter weather. – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Helen Trout Party, this Saturday, March 21 –  It’s the annual Hooch Hoot!

Stripers

Good luck.  At this time of year, you won’t really need much to have a fine fishing day.

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff)

Big Lazer PFA (down 3 inches, 31 inches of visibility, slightly muddy in upper end, avg. surface water temp. 59 degrees) – Largemouth Bass:  Fair but improving – Bass seem to be moving shallower with the recent warm temperatures.  A few anglers have reported catching a few bass in shallower water using worms and rooster tails.   These are likely male bass, which are smaller than the females, who usually are the first to move into shallower water to start making beds for the big females.

Bream and Channel Catfish:  Poor – Few of either bream or catfish are being caught. A couple catfish were caught on worms and livers in deeper water. Bream are still hard to catch but should start improving in late early April.  However, bream are usually the last fish to start biting in the spring.

Crappie:  Fair – Crappie are starting to bite some as they moving toward shallower water.  Jigs and live minnows have started to show promise. Crappie have moved in close enough for a few to be caught from the bank.

In general, March temperatures at Big Lazer are starting to warm up and so is the fishing.  Late March and early April are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer as pre-spawning fish start to move into shallower water.

Addtitional information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer

Clarks Hill (down 1.07 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is good. Bass are shallow and feeding well. This month take several items to fish with. Use Carolina rigged worms and lizards, shaky head worms and jig ’n pigs. All of these will produce fish. Big numbers will be caught on soft plastics, but quality will be caught on spinnerbaits and jig ’n pig patterns. The Alabama rig, the Rapala DT crank baits and the spinner baits that all will run from 2 to 7 feet are a must. The type and kind are not as important as where you fish them. Use bright colors in stained water and natural colors in clear water. The spinnerbait pattern should be good this month, also. Slow roll the bait this month until they begin to spawn, and then move shallow and speed up. Soft plastics will be good baits starting this month. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Flat Creek PFA (down 2 feet 10 inches, 35.5 inches of visibility, water surface temp. 66 degrees) – The fish at Flat Creek have been biting really well lately and as the water continues to warm the fish are getting more and more aggressive. If there is a cold day expect the fish to be less aggressive. So far (with the exception of catfish) the difference between those with heavy stringers of fish and those fishermen going home hungry has been the size of tackle being used. Light tackle is still catching the most fish.

Bass: Minnows fished in around five foot of water have been what most bass are currently biting. A red crankbait had one angler’s arms tired from catching so many.   White Zoom Flukes®(or Berkley Gulp! Alive!® Minnows) thrown when bass are feeding on schooling shad have been working great. Some worms on the bottom near the shallows also have had some strikes.

Bream: Worms on a Carolina rig have been very successful.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is really heating up! Chartreuse jigs underneath a Rocket Float® and cast in the shallows during the warmth of the day have worked great. Renosky® Natural Shad Minnow jigs are also catching many fish. Minnows beneath a float cast near structure are very successful.

Channel Catfish: Fishing for catfish has been great! Worms and frozen Catalpa worms fished on the bottom are doing very well.

Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

Jackson Lake (down 2.1 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair and the lake got a lot of runoff recently. Use a light Texas rig on the rock and red clay points with a Zoom finesse green pumpkin worm. For the rest of this week use dark June bug, natural blue and gourd green worm in the Zoom u tail style as well as the jig and pig combinations. Try the Alabama rig with some swim baits up the lake for the schooling bass in the pockets. The Texas rigged worm and a 3/16 ounce weight cast onto the banks and around docks in the creeks will get a hungry bass to strike. With the water temperatures warming, spinner baits and bright crank baits are also good baits. Use bright crawfish and fire tiger crank baits in the Bomber Model A styles.

Stop by www.gon.com on the forum page for current events.

The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation department will host an “Outdoor Fun Festival 2015” on April 25, 2015. The location will be the Caney Road Park in south Forsyth County off Highway 141. See the web site at www.outdoorfunfestival2015.com. Call 770-887-2217 Carrie Toth or cmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

McDuffie PFA (40-plus inches of visibility, avg. morning water temp. 61 degrees) – Largemouth Bass:  Excellent – Best ponds have been Willow, Breambuster, and Clubhouse.  Generally, fish in Willow for quality and fish in Breambuster for quantity.  We have seen three trophy bass (10 lb 3 oz., 9 lb, and 8 lb 8 oz.) caught in Willow over the past 3 days alone and all three fish were released.  Now is the time to catch trophy bass as they prepare to spawn!  In Breambuster, numerous 2-3 lb fish have been biting very consistently on shaky-head worms and umbrella rigs with soft-plastic swimbaits that mimic schools of threadfin shad fished from the bank.  In addition to the numerous medium-sized fish being caught in Breambuster, a 6 lb. 15 oz. bass was recently reported.  We had a couple reports of 5-6 lb fish being caught in Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) along with numerous 1-2 lb fish that were short, fat “football” fish.  In Clubhouse, medium-sized bass up to 4 lb have been caught on shad imitations, specifically a Super Spot lipless crankbait.  Even though most of the action has been close to the banks as bass are moving onto their beds, bass are still chasing shad in deeper water.   In Willow, Breambuster and Clubhouse, bass are schooling and feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad but the shad are staying deeper in the water column than they have been.  Numerous 3-4 lb bass continue to be caught in Willow on crankbaits fished about 10 ft. deep around flooded timber and drop-offs.  To help locate the shad, fish the downwind side of the pond or look for where the seagulls are circling and feeding.    In addition to shad imitations, variations of soft -plastics on shaky-head jigs in pumpkin-seed and other green colors are great standbys to have with you.

Bream:  Fair – Best ponds have been Jones, Willow and Clubhouse.  As the water cools, expect bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) to be found in deeper water and be heavily related to structure.  Try fishing with red wigglers, crickets, and beetle-spins.

Channel Catfish:  Good – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Bridge and Jones.  A large catfish was recently caught in Bridge that weighed 12 lb 6 oz.  Numerous fish have recently been caught in Beaverlodge using homemade stinkbait.  Fish on the bottom in deep areas using worms, stinkbait and crickets.

Striped Bass:  Excellent – Striped Bass are only in Bridge and Clubhouse, although there has recently been an unverified report of large stripers being caught in Breambuster.  A large striper (6 or 7 lbs) was recently caught in Clubhouse on a large umbrella rig with soft-plastic swimbaits that mimic a school of threadfin shad (as described above).  The techniques described above for locating and imitating threadfin shad are excellent techniques for striped bass in addition to largemouth bass.

Additional Information:  http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/McDuffie

Lake Oconee (full pool, stained, water temp. 55-60 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair. The lake is full, stained over most of the lake. Start in the middle of the coves and main lake creeks. Fish boat docks, wood structure, and sea walls. Work your way to the back of the coves and creeks. Sugar creek has been the most productive over the past week. Use Shad Raps and small crank bait with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks. Dark Jigs with a rattle, brown, blue and black have been the best colors. Fish these around wood structure on the main river pockets above Sugar Creek. Spinner baits fished along any rock bank will also draw a strike. Remember to slow down your retrieve as the water is still cold below the surface. If we get a few days with worm temperatures look for the fish to start to move into the back of the creeks and major coves off of the main lake. If it gets colder they will move back to deeper water.

Crappie fishing is good. The fish are moving into the major creeks. Use a dark jig tipped with a minnow. Spider rigs have been the best producers over the past week. Use your Lowrance to located the depth and location of the schools and adjust your depth to put the jig on top of the fish. Over the next few weeks the largest fish will be moving into the coves and creeks to spawn so now it the time to fill a cooler with big slabs.

Striper fishing is good. The fish are starting to show up at the dam for the spring run. Some fish are also showing up in the back of the major creeks. Live bait fished on down lines along with flat lines and plainer boards will pick up fish. If the water clears up the umbrella rig bite will also produce fish. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service reeltime@bellsouth.net

Lake Russell (full, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is good and the bass are moving to the points and creek bends all over the lake. They are roaming on any wood all day and a crank bait cast through the wood will draw a strike. Use a bright color. By noon spinner baits down lake in the creeks are fair on cover using Lucky Craft Redemption spinner baits with two silver blades. Later in the day, look for shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day. The Zoom water melon seed lizards on a Carolina rig, has been fair later each day. Also on creeks on old channels, use a Culprit red shad worm on a Texas rig with the brass and glass combination. Work baits right on the bank around any cover. Use the Strike Kink 1/2 ounce jig and a #11 Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the points. The crank bait and spinner baits cast on the bank cover and slowly worked will get strikes.

Lake Sinclair (full, rivers and creeks are stained, lower lake is clear, water temp. 55-60 degrees) – Bass fishing is good. Look for the fish to start moving towards their spawning grounds. Many of the fish have already started leaving their wintertime haunts and are moving up on shallow sandy points and flats to feed. A crankbait is an excellent choice for catching these opportunistic feeding fish. A Spro Little John 50 in a shad or craw color is hard to beat right now. On warmer days when the fish get extremely shallow, a Spro Fat John in the same colors will get the call. Make multiple casts to stumps, brush, and rocks as you might be able to catch more than one fish off a single spot. The bigger fish have been eating a ¼ ounce Buckeye Mop Jig with a Zoom Super Chunk under shallow protected docks. Black and blue has been the best color in the stained water areas of the lake. A Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head paired with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog has also been catching the more finicky fish under these same docks. The best docks are the ones with 4 to 6 feet on the front posts. Later in the afternoon, look for the fish to move into 1 to 2 feet of water under the walkways as the shallow water will heat up quicker.

West Point Lake (down 5.5 feet, stained, water temp. high 50s) – Bass fishing is good. Fishing has gotten better as the week progressed. With such fluctuating conditions the best bites have come from covering water with lipless crank baits and medium running crank baits. Fish are scattered in multiple depths right now from three to eight feet of water. Keep the boat in ten feet of water throwing as shallow as possible working the bait slowly back to the boat working as many pockets as possible mid lake. The best colors have been a shad pattern with chartreuse as the primary color. Bass have preferred tighter wobbling crank bait like a Rapala Glass Shad Rap in shad pattern. Using long casts as close to rocky banks, make about five turns with the reel and pause. Repeat this cadence all the way back to the boat. McStick jerk baits can work but be sure to use a jerk and then rest a few seconds before pulling the bait again. Fish the mid part of the lake. Focus on rocky points closest to the main river channel. –  Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener and Rob Weller and regional Fisheries staff)

Bass sampled from Lake Seminole recently.

Bass sampled from Lake Seminole recently.

Well… we’ve gone from some of the coldest temperatures of the year to mid-summer all within a little over a week! The fish don’t know whether they are coming or going. Bass fishing in ponds has been excellent. Saltwater is picking up, and the rivers will be fishable before long if we do not get any significant rains soon. New Moon is March 20. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – I’ve fished the Altamaha at these levels, and it is usually very tough, as the water is still very swift. I’d fish ponds and lakes this week, but it’s your call. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle in Jesup said that some crappie were beginning to bite in the oxbows. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that crappie fishing was decent in the backwaters for those using minnows. Anglers caught some big bream on worms and crickets fished at the mouths of creeks and cuts. The river level was 9.3 feet and falling (65 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.8 feet and falling (63 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 17.

Flint River – Both stripers and hybrid are showing up below both the Albany Dam below Lake Worth and the Warwick Dam below Lake Blackshear. live shad, spoons, and large bucktail jigs are popular baits for these fish. Fishing for channel catfish has been good with several reports of both large numbers and big fish being caught on limb lines. The most effective limb line bait seems to be medium to large shiners.

Okefenokee Swamp – Warmouth have produced the best reports this week, as lots were caught by pitching worms, crickets, and beetle spins to cover. Fliers have also been mixed in the catch, although that bite has yet to fire off.

Satilla River – The middle and lower sections are still too high to effectively fish. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross reported that anglers caught catfish and crappie from the Highway 158 Bridge up to the Douglas area (the extreme upper river). The crappie ate minnows and jigs. Worms fooled bream, redbreasts, and catfish. Topwaters and ZOOM worms fooled some bass. Shiners fooled some nice channel cats and bass. The catfishing in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas of the river should be heating up any day as the river level drops back out and the water warms. For details on my approach to fishing the tidal Satilla for White Catfish, see my article in the March issue of the Georgia Outdoor News Magazine. The river level at the Waycross gage was 11.3 feet and falling (65 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 12.0 feet (13 feet is flood stage) and falling on March 17.

Lake Seminole – There have been several reports of bedding bass on Lake Seminole. Wildlife Resources Fisheries personnel have finished their spring electrofishing sample and the results look very promising. Good numbers of 2-4 pound bass were sampled and several fish over 6 pounds were seen. One fish topped the scales at over nine pounds. The bass fishing over the next several weeks should be excellent. Spots where Fisheries personnel saw large numbers of fish included Ten Mile Still, Fairchilds, The Corn Field and the Three Rivers area. The recent mild weather has caused the water temperature to increase in Lake Seminole resulting in increased fish activity.

St. Marys River – Bream and redbreasts were reported this week by those fishing crickets, worms, and beetle spins. Crappie were fooled with minnows. Anglers reported catching from 20 to 40 bream and redbreasts per trip. Catfish were eating up worms, shrimp, and rooster livers anywhere you fished them on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 5.1 feet and falling on March 17.

Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula” the bass have moved into shallow embayments and protected waters.  In some cases, the water barely covers their backs.  Early in the day, the bite has been aggressive and buzz baits, topwater frogs, and swim jigs seems to be doing the trick. If fishing during the middle of the day, Texas rigs and light jigs will draw strikes. In a recent Alabama Bass trail tournament, 15 teams weighed in over 20 lbs. The crappie fishing has been good and about half the anglers are catching limits in moderate to shallow depths.  Eufaula regulars report that the size of the crappie being caught are the best in four or five years.

Local Ponds –  This is where the best reports originated this week. Congratulations to Hunter Smith who won the fishing contest at the annual pig-pickin’ hosted by Second Baptist Church in Waycross. Hunter caught his bass on a black/yellow Satilla Spin and won a Penn Battle outfit for his efforts. Second was Noah Tillman of Waycross. Teddy Elrod, Wyatt Crews, and I fished a Brunswick area pond this week and caught 15 bass in 3 hours of fishing. The fish were very shallow (under 3 feet deep) and ate spinnerbaits, Keitech Swimbaits fished on Flashy Swimbait Heads, and Texas-rigged creature baits. Our biggest fish were 5 1/2 and 6lb.-2oz., and both inhaled a spinnerbait fished by shoreline vegetation.  Chad Lee of Alma fished Monday and Tuesday and caught a total of 18 bass. His fish primarily ate trick worms and flukes, and his biggest was 3 1/2 pounds. He had a blast with that biggest fish on his ultralight outfit, as it inhaled an Assassin Tiny Shad while he was trying to fool a crappie. Patience won the battle for him. An angler fishing late last week in the Valdosta area whacked some nice bass to 7 pounds on Keitech Swimbaits (gold flash minnow was his most productive color) fished on Flashy Swimbait Heads. Almost all of his fish were shallower than 3 feet, but the spawn had not started anywhere I got reports. The fish should start bedding this week and continue for about a month. Michael Winge said that pond fishing was hot for any species in ponds. Minnows were tearing up the crappie, while worms and crickets fooled most of the bream. Worms and shrimp produced good stringers of catfish. Shiners caught bass and catfish, and topwater frogs also accounted for quite a few bass.

Best Bet – Wow… the rain forecasted for all this past week was a non-event. Take advantage of the warm water temperatures in ponds this weekend and fish for bass or crappie. The fish are in a feeding mode right now and are in the shallow areas of ponds.  If you want to fish a river, head to the St. Marys. The Okefenokee should produce good warmouth and flier fishing this weekend.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Black drum caught from the St. Simons Pier.

Black drum caught from the St. Simons Pier.

Capt. TJ Cheek reported that the trout, redfish, and sheepshead bite has been hit-and-miss, but the most consistent bite has come in smaller creeks around shell beds in 6 to 10 feet of water. The sheepshead fishing on nearshore reefs has been really good with the best bite occurring at the change of the tide. He said that St. Simons Marina has a steady supply of fiddler crabs. Michael Winge reported that the whiting bite around Brunswick has picked up. Squid and shrimp fished on the bottom accounted for the best catches. Bass Assassin Sea Shads produced some good trout catches in the rivers and creeks in the Brunswick area. Sheepshead were reported from the St. Marys Jetties this week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that a 50-pound black drum was caught from the pier on Sunday. Small black sea bass and a few whiting were also caught from the pier. Monitor the marine forecast.

Licenses Required at a PFA

Angers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license, AND a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license to fish.

If you have either a Sportsman’s, Lifetime, Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license), 3-day Hunting and Fishing License, or 3-day GORP Plus you are NOT required to have a WMA license to fish.

A WMA license is NOT required to fish at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.

To access a PFA for non-fishing activities, visitors age 16-64 must have one of the following (visitors under age 16 and/or over age 64 are exempt):

  • Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP)
  • 3-day hunting/fishing license
  • WMA license
  • Sportsman’s license
  • Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license)
  • Lifetime license

Buy or renew your license(s) at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.

 

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: March 12, 2015

North Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)

It looks like we’ve survived the frozen precipitation and are now greeted by warmer and longer days, thanks to the flip of the calendar page to March.   As the days have lengthened and warmed, they’ve stirred north Georgia sport fish from their winter hibernation.   Some “mighty fine” (an Oneill-ism) angling reports have started to trickle into this office.   The fishing is good and will only get better as north Georgia water temperatures rise.  Anglers can also slip out for some quick trips to local waters after work, thanks  to last Saturday’s change to Eastern Daylight Time.  While the rains this week may make stream flows in some of our larger waters challenging, there is still a heckuva buffet table of fishing opportunities to choose from.  And those muddied river waters, once they hit the upper ends of our reservoirs, will soak up a lot of sunlight, warm faster, and attract the shad, bass, crappie, and stripers in the weeks to come, so let’s all welcome those springtime “mud lines” of angling action.

We hope the menu below might help you to celebrate spring’s arrival by wetting a line real soon!

Check Your LicensesTime to renew and save a few dollars?

Trophy StriperTake a look at this beast!

Walleye Whereabouts –

4-pound female walleye from Lake Hartwell on March 10, 2015.

4-pound female walleye from Lake Hartwell on March 10, 2015.

We spent a couple of hours Tuesday afternoon (/3/10) in the electrofishing boat looking for walleyes in the Chattahoochee River above Lanier.  The males are in the shoals above Belton Bridge and have some good size on them this year. The females are still mostly down lower as they stage for the peak of the spawn next week.  We haven’t been up the Chestatee River yet but conditions should be the same there. Keep the public canoe launch on Hwy 60 just upstream of GA 400 in mind if you don’t have a boat and need to fish from the bank or wade.

To target walleyes in the river, nightcrawlers or spottail shiners would be a good bet, drifted below shoals and in deep runs. Artificials such as bucktail jigs or spoons may also work. Remember that these fish have other things on their minds besides eating right now, so expect to work to get a bite. Early morning and late evening are probably your best time to go. – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Mark and I were looking for walleye on Blue Ridge today too.  We found 7 females: 2 ripe, 2 flowing, and 3 spent.  Males looked good.  – John Damer, Fisheries Biologist

It’s walleye time!  This 4-pound female walleye was collected March 10 by DNR Fisheries technician, Leon Brotherton, in the headwaters of Lake Hartwell. Walleye are now migrating into the headwaters of many north Georgia reservoirs, including lakes Lanier, Hartwell, and Carters, to spawn.  Patient anglers who fish on the bottom with nightcrawlers, jigs, minnows and slow moving crankbaits might be lucky enough to catch a few of these toothy critters.   Walleye seem to bite the best around sunset and right after dark. – Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist

Etowah Perch – Now is the time of year to catch a cooler-full of trophy yellow perch.  These fat beauties were recently captured (and released) by WRD personnel on the Etowah River in northwest Georgia.  Although yellow perch are not listed as a game fish in Georgia, it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t fish for them.  Not only are yellow perch spectacularly colored, but these beauties are also quite tasty.  Target large rivers below dams with small inline spinners or curly-tails grubs for your best chance at success. – John Damer, Fisheries Biologist

More PerchGON Forum

Allatoona Mixed BagGON Forum 1, GON Forum 2

Crappie Time

We haven’t heard much yet, but the time is right for these fish to start moving shallow.  They’re definitely worth a try. Lake Lanier crappie fishing (video)

River Bass

Dredger took advantage of the time change and low, clear water on the Hooch above Lake Lanier.  After work on Tuesday (3/10), he bottom-bumped hairy fodders and black leeches in the ledges at an undisclosed location south of Helen and landed three shoal bass and one spot.  The biggest fish was only eleven inches, but they were a fun way to celebrate spring!

Delayed Harvest Trouting Report – 3/7/15

Landon’s latest travels are chronicled here: http://www.unicoiliarsclub.com/

Remember that the bug activity and fishing techniques are very similar between southern NC and northern GA, so have your gray caddis, quill gordons, blue quills, and march browns in your vest pocket. By the way, Georgia’s DH streams received their March dosage of fish last week, so Y2K’s and pink san juans should be also “hot flies” for the next week or so before these hatchery “natives” smarten up.  The Chattooga has some great Quill Gordon hatches, so be on the lookout in the days ahead.  While you wait for the hatch, try dredging and swinging some #14 hares ears and hold on tight to your rod!

Stocked Trout Best Bets – Give these a try:

  • West Armuchee Creek
  • Holly Creek
  • Nancytown Lake
  • Hooch Tailwater
  • Toccoa Tailwater
  • Rock Creek
  • Tallulah River
  • Vogel Lake – “Thank you! Thank you!! for stocking fish in Lake Vogel. Ricky was in the Blue Ridge Comp this weekend and it was awesome for competitors and casual lake fishermen. Please note the older couple in their pond prowler who anchored amongst the competitors. They caught fish too!”  Sincerely, Ricky’s Mom (3/9/15)

For Fly Flingers – Caddis Time!

Additional links:

Have fun shedding your layers of fleece and once again feeling your fingertips and toes.   Hopefully you can now detect more strikes and put a few extra fish in the net this month.  Good luck and thanks for buying your licenses.

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener, Fisheries biologist Rob Weller, and region Fisheries staff)

Altamaha River – The river is still too full for fishing to be enjoyable (Baxley is still above flood stage). Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle (912-588-9222) in Jesup said that the river is really high, and the best fishing has been in Jesup area farm ponds.  Dannett from Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) said that some crappie were caught by anglers fishing the creeks and oxbows with minnows. The river level was 13.3 feet and falling (58 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 11.4 feet and falling (57 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Tuesday evening.

Teddy Elrod caught this chunky bass last month from a Brunswick area pond by pitching a creature bait rigged on a Glider Head.

Teddy Elrod caught this chunky bass last month from a Brunswick area pond by pitching a creature bait rigged on a Glider Head.

Lake Blackshear – According to Rusty Parker, the crappie are still biting if you dare to brave this crazy weather.  A friend of his went this past Monday morning and he and his partner were able to catch 37 decent size crappie.  They were long line trolling jigs and he said the crappie were hanging in deep water.  Now with this 20 degree weather hitting us for the next couple of days it may “knock them in the head” for a few days. However, Rusty feels that they will still bite. The surface temp as of Monday the 16th averaged around 49 degrees. This most recent cold snap will probably cause it to drop a few degrees.  If you go, Rusty suggests tight lining minnow rigs in around 25 to 32 feet of water.

Flint River – The first reported catch of a large striped bass being caught in the tailrace of the Albany dam occurred last weekend. A 36-pound, 39-inch striper was caught on a live shiner. Both stripers and hybrid stripers should be showing up below both the Albany dam below lake worth and the Warwick Dam below Lake Blackshear. Live shad, spoons, and large bucktail jigs are popular baits for these fish.

Okefenokee – Swamp reports have been surprisingly non-existent. Warm afternoons are the perfect time to chase fliers in the swamp. The fish sit in the cuts that join the Suwannee Canal with the vast prairies. Pitch yellow, orange, or pink (pink has been my best color so far this year) Okefenokee Swamp Sallies on a bream buster pole and hold on. When you get to a magical spot, you will catch them on every pitch. Catfishing on the west side should be very good if you put a piece of shrimp on the bottom.

Satilla River – Most of the river is still too high to safely fish, although it is falling fast. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle (912-283-9400) in Waycross reported that the fishing in the Waycross area is non-existent, but a few folks caught crappie on minnows in the extreme upper river (near Pearson). A few bass were also reportedly caught on rattling rogue jerkbaits. Bank anglers caught some catfish with the warmer weather. The catfishing in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas of the river will be on fire as the river level drops back out and the water warms. For details on my approach to fishing the tidal Satilla for white catfish, see my article in the March issue of the Georgia Outdoor News Magazine. The river level at the Waycross gage was 13.6 feet and falling (58 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 14.4 feet (13 feet is flood stage) and falling on March 10.

Lake Seminole – There have been sporadic reports of crappie being caught along the creek and river channels. One day they fish are biting well and the next day in the same spots you will have to work for a bite.  However, some reports indicate nice stringers of crappie when they are biting, A few crappie have been caught shallow but the major spawning run has yet to occur. Expect the crappie to move shallow within the next few weeks especially if the weather warms. There have been a few reports of bass moving shallow towards bedding areas then back out as weather and water temperatures change. Expect the first round of bedding bass to occur soon.

St. Marys River – This is the only river I would consider fishing this weekend. The flow is still a little high for good panfishing in the upper river, but catfishing is good. Rooster livers fished on the bottom has been the ticket. From the Folkston Bridge to John’s Fish Camp, some big bream and redbreasts were caught on worms and crickets. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 6.2 feet and falling on March 10.

Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula” the bass fishing has been pretty good. Water temperatures have been in the upper 40s to lower 50s and bass have been caught in a range of depths. Most fish are coming from the ledges in 15 to 20 foot depths but as deep as 28 feet. Rick would not be surprised that two anglers can get a limit of keepers most days with fish over 14 inches being the most common size fish being caught. There have also been some nice 15-16 inch spotted bass being caught as well. Try using Carolina rigs, jigging spoons and other jigs when fishing the ledges. Most of the shallow bass being caught have been in the lower end of the lake and jerk baits seem to be the preferred lure.

Local Ponds – The bass fishing was off the chain this week. The biggest I heard about was an 11-pounder from a pond near Valdosta. In the Waycross area, quite a few 5 to 7-pounders were reported. Plastics were the most common lures fooling them. Chad Lee of Alma won a bass club tournament on Saturday and then caught a couple 5 and 6-pounders at area ponds this weekend. Keitech swimbaits on Flashy Swimbait Heads produced some of the pond bass, and ZOOM Trick Worms produced a bunch, as well. On Tuesday, Chad caught 19 bass, with Trick Worms producing many of them. Color didn’t seem to matter that day. Bass will be shallow all week. One person reported seeing bass so shallow that he could not believe that their backs weren’t out of water. Expect them to start bedding by the weekend with this extended warm spell. Michael Winge said that crappie were eating up minnows and jigs (primarily Tennessee shad and John Deere green Jiffy Jigs). Lizards pitched into shoreline cover produced some nice bass. Channel catfish ate worms, shrimp, and rooster livers. In Lake Ware in Jamestown, nice crappie were caught in good numbers this week.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The winds didn’t allow folks to get out much this week, but those who whiting fished off St. Simons Island caught a bunch of whiting. It is time to put a small piece of shrimp on the bottom for boatloads of the tasty fish. The quickly warming water will get them chowing. At Crooked River, a group of anglers fished a couple of hours on the mud flats and caught 4 trout that ate Keitech swimbaits fished on Glider Heads and Flashy Jigheads. The trout and redfish bite should heat up with the warming water. Lots of black sea bass were caught this week at G Reef. Big sheepshead will be caught at the nearshore reefs for the next few months. Good luck finding fiddlers, as their supply has been very low (the warmer weather should help improve their supply now, though). Two anglers fishing in the inland rivers around Brunswick reported catching a limit of legal-sized redfish. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that the fishing from the pier was slow this week. The whiting bite should pick up when the water warms a few degrees. Monitor the marine forecast.

Best Bet – The weather is going to dictate the best bite this weekend. Whiting, sheepshead, and trout should feed pretty well if the winds will allow you to get out. Ponds will be a sure thing and you can make a quick retreat if bad weather pops up. It will be warm enough to spur a good bass, crappie, and probably bream bite, as well, but keep an eye out for thunderstorms.

Categories: Boating, Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: March 4, 2015

North Georgia

(Info provided by region Fisheries staff)

Danny Wall with his Lake Rabun-record striped bass.

Danny Wall with his Lake Rabun-record striped bass.

Lake Rabun – While fishing with a homemade jig on Lake Rabun on the morning of March 4, Danny Wall of Lakemont hooked and landed a striped bass weighing 39 pounds, 14 ounces and measuring 41 inches long! This was a new record for Lake Rabun, which shattered the old mark of 20 pounds, 11 ounces caught by Larry Brewer on March 11, 2007.  This striped bass was stocked into Lake Rabun as a 1-inch fish by Wildlife Resources Division fisheries biologists in 2000 as an effort to help control blueback herring.  Mr. Wall’s trophy striper was certainly doing its part to reduce the herring population.  Due to the cold temperatures this past February, shad and herring winter kills have been frequent in most north Georgia reservoirs.  These temperature-related die-offs of shad and herring provide easy pickings for big stripers like the one that Mr. Wall caught and anglers should be encouraged to fish for striped bass this month.  Anglers are also encouraged to report their trophy catches to the nearest Fisheries office.

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff)

Big Lazer PFA (Feb. 2015, down 4 inches, 42 inches of visibility, avg. surface water temp. 48 degrees) –Largemouth Bass:  Poor- Continued cold weather has delayed bass from moving up into shallower water for feeding and spawning.  Anglers can try fishing crackbaits slow at a depth of 10 feet and deeper. Try lures that mimic crawfish.

Bream and Channel Catfish:  Poor- Few bream or catfish are being caught.  You may be able to catch a few by fishing with live bait, like worms, well off the banks in deeper water.

Crappie:  Poor – Cold temperatures have slowed the crappie fishing.  Crappie are sometimes hard to locate but try fishing live minnows around 8-10 feet of water in or around standing timber.

In general, February fishing at Big Lazer is challenging.  Also, fishing from the shore is particularly difficult because most of the fish are located around structure in deeper water this time of year.  Fishing deeper water from a boat is your best bet until warmer water temperatures push spawning fish into shallower water.

Addtitional information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer

Clarks Hill (down 2.9 feet, stained, water temp. high 40s) – Bass fishing is fair and the weather continues to test man and machines this winter. Bass are tight in cover after the snow and ice. Get into the shallows and find the warmest water possible. Use the Super Spin and the Rattle Back black and blue or all black 1/2 ounce jig and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Jos, on the heavy cover and on rocks. The bass can be tight in cover and the Zoom lizards in pumpkinseed colors are fair. In the creeks on points close to the current, use the dark jig and pig combination, fishing tight in any cover on the bank as far out as 15 feet. Use some Real Craw scent and use it often casting to the same location. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Jackson Lake (down 0.7 feet, stained, water temp. high 40s) – Bass fishing is fair. Go up the rivers and flip and pitch black or blue Stanley jigs with a matching plastic Zoom pork style trailer to the docks and heavy bank cover. Use the darker red colors in all worms and lizards and shad crank baits are good casting them right on the banks. Early and late each day, use a bubble gum Zoom trick worm on the wood and even rip rap on bridges. The bass bite better later in the day, on the grass lines or the rip rap on bridges. On main lake points a 3/8 oz. Stanley sinner bait is good. Try casting to any stumps. During the middle of the day, the river bass are fair on a larger Gilraker worm. Fish them right on the bank cover. The Zoom water melon seed lizard and a long 3-foot Carolina rig can draw a few strikes on points down-lake.

The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation department will host an Outdoor Fun Festival 2015 on April 25, 2015. The location will be the Caney Road Park in south Forsyth County off Highway 141. See the web site at www.outdoorfunfestival2015.com. Call 770-887-2217 Carrie Toth or cmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

McDuffie PFA (Mar. 2, 2015, 40-plus inches of visibility, avg. morning water temp. 50 degrees)  –Largemouth Bass:  Excellent – Best ponds have been Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster.  Best fishing times are middle to late afternoon.  In Breambuster, a 6-pound, 15-ounce bass was recently caught and numerous 1-2 pound fish have been biting very consistently on umbrella rigs with soft-plastic swimbaits that mimic schools of threadfin shad.  In Willow, numerous 3-4 lb bass have been caught on crankbaits fished about 10 ft. deep around flooded timber and drop-offs.   In Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster, bass are schooling and feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad but the shad are staying deeper in the water column than they have been.  To help locate the shad, fish the downwind side of the pond or look for where the seagulls are circling and feeding.    In addition to shad imitations, variations of soft -plastics on shaky-head jigs in pumpkin-seed and other green colors are great standbys to have with you.

Bream:  Fair –  Best ponds have been Jones, Willow and Clubhouse.  As the water cools, expect bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) to be found in deeper water and be heavily related to structure.  Try fishing with red wigglers, crickets, and beetle-spins.

Channel Catfish:  Fair – Best ponds have been Jones, Willow, and Bridge.  Fish on the bottom in deep areas using worms, stinkbait and crickets.

Striped Bass:  Excellent – Striped Bass are only in Bridge and Clubhouse, although there has recently been an unverified report of large stripers being caught in Breambuster.  A large striper (6 or 7 lbs) was recently caught in Clubhouse on a large umbrella rig with soft-plastic swimbaits that mimic a school of threadfin shad (as described above).  The techniques described above for locating and imitating threadfin shad are excellent techniques for striped bass in addition to largemouth bass.

Additional Information:  http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/McDuffie

Lake Oconee (full, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. The lake is full, stained over most of the lake.  Sugar creek and Lick creek are starting to clear. Water temperature is 45 to 51 degrees. Small crank baits with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks. Dark Jigs with a rattle, brown, blue and black have been the best colors. Spinner baits fished along any rock bank will also draw a strike. This is the time of year when cold fronts come in and move the fish back into deeper water. Then as we move away from the fronts the fish will move back toward the banks and rocks. Remember to slow down your retrieve as the water is still cold below the surface.

Crappie fishing is fair. The fish are moving into the major creeks. Use a dark jig tipped with a minnow. Spider rigs have been the best producers over the past week. Use your Lowrance to located the depth and location of the schools and adjust your depth to put the jig on top of the fish. Over the next few weeks the largest fish will be moving into the coves and creeks to spawn so now it the time to fill a cooler with big slabs.

Striper fishing is poor. Some fish are starting to show up at the dam for the spring run. Live bait fished on down lines will pick up a few fish. Use small baits like a very small threadfin or a crappie minnow. Most of the stripers being caught are by crappie fisherman. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service reeltime@bellsouth.net

Lake Russell (lake is full, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair and the weather is still cold and then warm. For a bigger fish, use a 1/2 ounce Enticer Back black and blue and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the heavy cover. Find thick brush piles on points as they will hold bass. The Ito Vision 110 in the shad pattern and a small Fat Free shad are fair as the water warms later in the day. Start out using worms and jigs worked slowly. The Zoom smoke red u-tail worm in the brush using a Texas rig with light sinker will draw a few strikes. Crank baits are better in the creek and bright perch or bream colors are fair. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

Lake Sinclair (full, rivers and creeks stained, lower lake is clear, water temp. 47-52 degrees) – Bass fishing is good. Crank baits, jigs, and shaky heads have been the most productive over the past week. Shallow to medium depth crank baits have been good in the early morning and late evening fishing river points and rocky banks near deep water. The Spro Little John 50 and MD 50 crank baits have been getting bites when fishing it really slowly bumping it off the rocks and lay down trees. Chartreuse with a blue back and blood red craw have been the best two colors. The crank bait will produce bites all day long in overcast conditions. On bright sunny days, a jig and shaky head will work best when fished around docks and lay down trees. A 1/4ounce black and blue Buckeye Mop Jig paired with a Zoom Super Chunk will produce quality bites around boathouses and brushy docks in 6 to 8 feet of water. A 1/8 ounce Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head with a black trick worm will be best on tough post front days. Target brush piles, docks, and rock piles in 8-15 feet of water with the shaky head for the best results. – Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina, matt@sinclairmarina.com

West Point Lake (down 5.2 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. Off-shore hot spots on spotted bass have continued to produce with drop-shot rigs and jigging spoons. If largemouth are your focus you are going to need to cover a lot of water with shallow crank baits and spinnerbaits. Look for red clay points and rocky banks with sunlight on them most of the day. Find the warmest water with the Lowrance sonar and be sure there are some bait schools close by. Bait fish love any rocky bank as the water will be a bit warmer. Most of these points and banks will be northeastern shorelines. Make long casts with crankbaits and spinnerbaits on the shallow end of points. Slowly reel baits making sure to keep continuous contact with the bottom. The best crankbaits are a Bomber 4A and Bandit 200 series in a red craw pattern. Spinnerbait patterns can be limited to a ½ ounce War Eagle white with double willow leaf blades gold and silver. –  Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Bert Deener will be at Googe’s Bait and Tackle in Hazlehurst this Saturday, March 7 for their spring fishing event. Come and discuss crappie, bass, or saltwater fishing with him. The pond and saltwater fishing has improved this week. The rivers are too full to fish, so be patient, and fish elsewhere. Full Moon is March 5. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.

Altamaha River – This is some of the highest water we’ve seen this year. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle in Jesup said that a few crappie were caught before the water rose. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the fishing slowed, but a few crappie and catfish were caught late last week in oxbows. The river level was 14.7 feet (7 FEET higher than last week) and rising (52 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 11.2 feet and rising (52 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 3.

Okefenokee Swamp – I didn’t receive any reports from the swamp this week. I suspect the bite slowed because of the influx of fresh water. Usually it takes a week or so for the fish to stabilize after a big rain, and then they will bite well again. I think they spread out into the new water when the level rises. If you go, keep moving and pitching pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies under a float. When you catch a flier, concentrate in that area, as there is probably a school there.  

Satilla River – Nope–not this week. This high water is awesome for the fish survival and growth, but don’t go out on the river while it is near flood stage. The river level at the Waycross gage was 15.7 feet (flood stage is 16 feet) and rising (53 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 13.0 feet (13 feet is flood stage) and rising on March 3.

St. Marys River – This is the least flooded of our rivers, but some of the upper ramps will still be unusable and the water swift. In the lower river, some redbreasts were caught on crickets. One angler fishing out of John’s Fish Camp landed 35 redbreasts on crickets Monday afternoon. He fished the late afternoon. Catfish are another decent option in the deep holes. Rooster livers and pink worms will fool them. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 8.2 feet and falling on March 3.

Local Ponds –  Several anglers reported catching some really nice bass this weekend and early this week. Chad Lee of Alma caught some bass this week on Keitech swimbaits and Flashy Jigheads. Flukes and other swimbaits also fooled them. An angler fishing a Blackshear area pond caught an 8-pounder on a shiner on Tuesday morning. On Monday, an angler fishing a Valdosta area pond caught a 7-pounder on a jig fished around vegetation. The male bass moved up in big numbers during the recent warming trend, but by the time you read this it will have already cooled back down again. The bass should still be catchable, but you will likely have to slow down with jigs and plastic worms to catch them by the weekend. Michael Winge said that crappie, bream, bass, and catfish were reported over the weekend. Minnows and jigs fooled the crappie. The fish are still in deeper water, so concentrate on those areas. Worms fished in deep areas accounted for most of the bream. Shrimp and rooster livers produced most of the catfish. If you can safely access a spillway of your favorite pond, you will probably do very well with all the water flowing through most ponds.   

Cindy West caught this and many other redfish and trout recently by fishing mudminnows around creek mouths and shell mounds in the St. Marys area.

Cindy West caught this and many other redfish and trout recently by fishing mudminnows around creek mouths and shell mounds in the St. Marys area.

Best Bet – Pond fishing is definitely going to be the best option this weekend. Crappie fishing should be good in the deeper portions of the pond, and this is the time of year to catch the biggest bass in the lake. On warmer afternoons, throw plastic worms, swimbaits, or jigs around shoreline cover to land a big sow bass. Lots of buck bass will be cruising the shallows, as well. 

Coast

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Saltwater – Charles and Cindy West caught a bunch of slot-sized redfish by fishing mudminnows on small hooks around the creek mouths and shell mounds in the St. Marys area this week. Fish got a little more active during the warming trend. In the Brunswick area, some sheepshead were caught, but not in as big of numbers as in recent weeks. Some guides reported catching limits of redfish and quite a few trout in the creeks behind St. Simons Island. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the fishing slowed from the pier. The whiting bite should pick up when the water warms a few degrees. Monitor the marine forecast.

Categories: Fishing
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