Georgia Fishing Report: May 22, 2015

North Georgia

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

The long weekend is just ahead of us and the weather looks pretty darn good.  We may have to dodge a few pop-up thunderstorms, which are really needed to boost stream flows and reduce water temperatures, but they should not be deal-breakers.  While they might muddy our favorite bass rivers, remaining streams have smaller watersheds and will clear to fishable conditions within a day or so.  Stay connected to USGS river flow gauges and your favorite local tackle shops for current conditions on your targeted waters.  Except for our larger trout waters, which are warming with these air temps in the 80’s, most other fishing opportunities should still be very good. On major reservoirs, fish early or after dark to avoid all other boaters and water skiers enjoying their aquatic playtime, too.   Above all, be safe on the water!

We have an extensive weekend menu to choose from, so take a peek and make a plan.

Heavy Trout StockingDNR and USFWS trout stocking trucks have covered a lot of miles this week to prepare for the hefty weekend crowds. Remember, the DNR list of trout-stocked waters is here. And if your agility isn’t what it used to be, try one of these spots.

To avoid the large crowds at our most popular streams, stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson suggests these lesser known and lighter stocked locales: lower Warwoman, Timpson on USFS land, Wildcat in the gorge below the campgrounds, Winfield Scott and Rock Creek lakes from a canoe or float tube, Upper Soapstone on USFS land, Panther a half mile below 441, upper Toccoa on USFS land, Holcomb below Overflow Road, West Fork Chattooga at 3Forks (take a buddy for safety) Hooch below the USFS head of river campground, Chattooga a mile below Burrells Ford, and Cooper Creek in the Scenic Area.

Trout Tailwaters ‘Heating Up’ – Another Hooch trophy

Toccoa Trip report – Saw your weekly report and the zero dark thirty fishing.  I went out on the Toccoa Tailwater last night (May 14) for the first time in a couple months because of constant flows to get the lake level down. They generated 5-6 pm. I got to water at 7, which was about 15-30 minutes too soon for lowest flows at my place. Nymphing was surprisingly non-productive, so I thought if I was going to not catch fish I might as well be not catching fish on dries. I went back to the Polaris and got the three weight pre-rigged with stimulator, parachute sulphur, and baetis emerger and started the dry fly fishing earlier than I had planned. Well, the fish cooperated from the get-go.  Not sure if it was the switch to dries or if they were just starting to eat. I got a few nice standard stocker sized fish and missed some too. All were on emerger and sulphur. Then a surprising swoosh just before it got dark brought me a nice 20 inch female rainbow… very silver in color with a little rouge on her cheek. Luckily she hit the stimmie, because the 5x and 6x tippet to the droppers would have been a major challenge.  A couple casts after release another swoosh, turn and departure of the fish with my bottom two flies. Bigger than the sister?  I like to think so as I walk back to my Polaris in the dark.

Water temp was 45 degrees when I got in. I was very happy to see that, even though I am relatively close to the dam and the water level had just receded from generation. There were quite a few bugs: caddis, midges, and toward dark mayfly duns size 16-18 or so. Too dark to ID. – Ralph A.

Lake Lanier catfish stringer.

Lake Lanier catfish stringer.

Lake Lanier

Lake Allatoona

Ken’s Lake Reports (updated on Fridays)

Striper Sprinkling Continues – Stocking continues in a “day in the life” of our Fisheries staff, as striped bass are being stocked in reservoirs across the state. Earlier this week, fisheries biologist Patrick O’Rouke, technician Chris Looney and technician Greg Abercrombie stocked 75,000 one-inch striper fingerlings from McDuffie Hatchery into Lake Lanier. These efforts will continue over the next week as striped bass are harvested at McDuffie, Richmond Hill, and Bowens Mill hatcheries and transported for stocking at Lanier and other lakes across the state.

River Ramblings

  • GON Forum
  • Fly Fishing Shoal Bass (video)
  • Dredger waded some Hooch bedrock last night and coaxed four shoal bass to hand with a four inch watermelon worm, Texas-rigged behind a 1/8 ounce bullet on 6 lb test. They were a blast on the ultralight at sunset.
  • Need a boat?

Small Lakes

Late spring is a great time of the year to hit our small lakes, either from the bank or from a canoe or kayak. See the attached lake list.  Go toss some garden worms for bream or catfish, or even stocked trout in Rock Creek Lake, Black Rock, Vogel, Nancytown, or Winfield Scott.  Learn how to flyfish by subtracting moving water and rhododendron complications from your maiden trips.  Tie a nymph dropper on 4 pound test line two feet behind your bream popper, and toss this popper/dropper combo toward submerged trees or boat docks.  Even young kids can give this technique a shot.  It’s a numbers game with beginners, so find a school of small, competitive bream and be the “hero ” to the newbie.

Prime Destination

School’s Out Soon – What to Do?

Don’t despair, there are KFE’s around the corner!  Plan your north Georgia day trips to coincide with one of the many kids fishing events during National Fishing and Boating Week, the first full week of June – http://www.georgiawildlife.com/news/events

“Goldfish” and Gravel Mounds – It’s that time of the year for calls to our north Georgia offices.  What are they?  Chub nests with other species, like the colored-up yellowfin shiners, looking for a easy ride on a silt-free spawning substrate. All aquatic critters, game and nongame, are important components to our aquatic ecosystems.

Attagirl Ann! Your White County conservation ranger’s recent award.

Unanticipated Copter Ride – Again, your county rangers in action

More Gorge News Special Guests

Aim for Success – Reminder, here’s your chance: http://georgiawildlife.com/aimforsuccess

May we all enjoy the  long weekend and pay tribute to our vets on Monday. Tight lines and flag salutes to everyone.

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Rob Weller and regional Fisheries staff)

Flint River – The water in the Flint is beginning to clear from the recent rains so fishing for shoal bass and bream should be picking up. Both top water and jig fishing for shoal bass around shallow and deep shoals should be productive. Try pitching crickets or a beetle spin near shoreline cover for bluegill and redbreast. Redbreast are typically found in the swifter areas and the bluegill will be located in calmer pockets of water. Try searching for bedding bream in 2-3 feet of water with low current. Fishing for channel catfish continues to be good with several reports of fish from 3 to 5 pounds being caught on limb lines.

Water levels:

Lake Seminole – The crappie have lockjaw on the rivers, however, a few are being caught in Spring Creek and in Fishpond Drain. There are plenty of shell crackers and bream on bed and there have been reports of several fine catches and/or limits. The lake is currently low so be on the lookout for stump and hazards.

Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula,” This year’s redear spawn was a bonanza for anglers. The fish were averaging at least 12oz with some specimens around 1.5 lbs. The Corps added an additional 11,000 grass carp, all on the south end of the lake on April 15. Rick is still seeing plenty of  hydrilla on his sonar so he is hoping the carp don’t eradicate it. The largemouth fishery continues to improve. This past Saturday, the Eufaula bass trail ran 50 boats. The top four weighed in 18 – 19 lbs., which was a little low for that group. There is a lot of tournament pressure and the Corps dropped the water level and pulled fish from the littoral grass. Military Bass had a two day event on Thursday and Friday and FLW is in town this week. Lakepoint has maxed out on room for Saturday tournaments. A lot of clubs are holding Sunday tournaments as a result. Rick expects to see a few double digit fish to show up soon at a weigh-in.

Categories: Fishing

White-Tailed Deer Named State Mammal of Georgia

This story can also be seen on the Georgia.gov blog here.

The white-tailed deer was officially designated as Georgia's state mammal April 30, 2015.

The white-tailed deer was officially designated as Georgia’s state mammal April 30, 2015.

Thanks to a hard-working group of elementary school students at Reese Road Leadership Academy in Muscogee County, Georgia has an official state mammal.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 70 into law on April 30, 2015, recognizing the white-tailed deer as our state mammal (keep in mind, Georgia does have a state marine mammal, the North Atlantic right whale).

It all began last year with a simple question from a curious Boy Scout named Kevin Green. “Why doesn’t Georgia have a state mammal?” asked Green, a fourth-grader at Reese Road Leadership Academy.

Green’s question led a group of first-graders at the Columbus school to take on the task of making a recommendation to state legislators. The students worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division to choose a mammal that would represent Georgia well. The white-tailed deer had all the characteristics they were searching for: It is easily recognized by most Georgians, found throughout the state (there are about 1 million deer in Georgia) and sports a tremendous economic impact through hunting.

On Feb. 11, the students visited the State Capitol to present their information and recommendation on the white-tailed deer to a House subcommittee. Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus) was on hand for the presentation.

“It’s great to see students have the opportunity to work with our state agencies and legislators. It was such a positive experience for everyone involved, and these students should feel a great sense of accomplishment for the rest of their lives knowing that they had a direct impact in designating the white-tailed deer as the official state mammal of Georgia,” said Hugley, who sponsored House Bill 70.

The students saw their hard work pay off when Gov. Deal signed the legislation, sealing an accomplishment that will last more than a lifetime. Georgia DNR and all those involved in the process are proud to have worked with this outstanding group of students. Thanks to their efforts, the state can finally claim the white-tailed deer as the state mammal of Georgia!

To learn more about the white-tailed deer, check out this fun video from the first-graders at Reese Road Leadership Academy.

Categories: Hunting

Georgia Fishing Report: May 18, 2015

North Georgia

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

The superb spring fishing continued last week and might hold out just a bit longer as north Georgia air and water temperatures soon rise beyond optimal levels.  Topwater bassing was very good, with some stripers mixed in.  Evening trouting was off the charts for crusty vets who knew to stay late enough to fling in the dark.  And Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Valley Authority, its state and federal wildlife agency partners, and its stakeholders (including Carl Riggs of Georgia TU and Jan Hackett of the Fannin County C of C) gave Southeastern trouters something really big to cheer about this week.  Here we go:

Great Trout News! – North Georgia trout fans, especially all of you Toccoa Tailwater aficionados, can rejoice. See the bottom of this note and this website.

Stocker Best Bets – Trout stocking coordinator  John Lee Thomson advises stocker fans to aim for the Toccoa and Lanier tailwaters, Hooch in Helen, Middle Broad, Warwoman, West Fork Chattooga, Dicks, Cooper, and Georgia’s Delayed Harvest streams, whose “delay” is now over and whose harvest begins today.

Green drake

Green drake

Trout – Awesome Dark-Thirty’s! – A sleep-deprived Dredger reports that last week was simply awesome.  Three out of four of his dark-30 trout trips were memorable, while the last trip to Chattooga DH was slow because of warming water and fewer bugs.   He shared some trip reports, which follow.

As some of our larger, lower elevation streams warm toward 70 degrees, their action is waning.  However, the upstream reaches are still on fire.  Follow the dark-30 dry fly action uphill (in elevation) over the next week or so.  Don’t forget your thermometer and at least two flashlights. And watch out for those olive and white helicopters!

Chattooga DH (5/8/15) – Hiked in and wet a line at 7.  #14 Cahill duns started dancing  around 7:30. #18 Cahill hatch at 8. Trout species hat trick by 8:30. Added bonus of two redeyes along the way.  Last two trout on the swing thru the darkness at 9 p.m. Fairies lit the walk out.  Cold drink, stars, and bluegrass back at the car at 9:30.

Not a bad ending to a work day!

Chatooga DH (5/9/15) – By the way, cahills back out from about 7:30 to 9. Switch turned on at 8. Fish preferred the 14’s over the smaller versions.  Hares ear soft hackle worked while sun was still up.   Had to work the fish. Some ate on the dead drift, while many others were chummed up with the skitter.  True for both dries and wets.  Fish were lined up in main flows, ready to intercept the evening drift of nymphs.  Scattered stoneflies flew by, too, but I kept the same beaten Friday Cahill on my line til its hackle-shedding demise on the last fish of the evening.  May it rest  in peace after bringing two dozen in for a fondle.

Fairies lit the way out again, while the owl somewhere in the wildlife opening conversed while I shucked my waders in the parking lot and gazed up into a crystal clear, star-filled sky.  Not quite Wyoming, but darn close and much more convenient.  Hope this puts some folks on fish.

Chattooga DH (5/11/15) – Dark30 slow as our trio found 69 degree water and fewer cahills a-flyin’.  Some thin, half-hearted rainbows and a brown still slowly rose to inhale the cahills. At least the fairies came out again at the upstream end of the SC opening and entertained first-timer Kathy (Mrs. Guru). It might be time to start heading upstream.

Awesome Trek North (5/12/15)

Others agreed with Dredge

Wild Trout Treasures – This NC jewel might help your drive north to chase the dark-30 hatches. And don’t forget this time-tested GA gold nugget for your uphill hikes.

Lake Allatoona (full, clear, upper 70s) – “Bass fishing is good. The shad spawn is more prevalent now and is it more locations on the lake. Soft plastic jerk baits, Rooster Tails, poppers and even jerk baits are working great in the morning. I have found schools of fish on serval rock banks and P gravel shorelines. This bot only last for a few hours and once it goes away fish move out just a little bit and can be called on jig heads, Carolina rig and crank baits. The top water bottle is still really good and will only continue to get better for the rest of the month. Water temperatures are little slower to rise this year and I believe that the Shad bone will actually last a little longer than normal.” – Matt Driver, www.proanglerradio.com

“Lines side fishing is good. The bite up the river has returned and there are some very good numbers of hybrids being caught up the Etowah River. These fish are feeding best on live shad fished on the bottom. The main lake bite is also very good. My clients have caught very good numbers aboard our boats this week fishing main lake creek mouths as far north as Little River and as far south as Clark’s Creek. Our best bite has been on thread fin shad fished on down lines and free lines. Main lake points and humps are also holding some decent schools of hybrids. Trolling has been very good for me this week. We are pulling umbrella rigs 50 to 70 feet behind the boat and have had as many as 5 fish at a time. The trolling bite is really starting to heat up and will only get better as we enter summer. The overall bite is really good. We still have plenty of openings aboard our boats.” – Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service

Lake Hartwell (full, clear, upper 70s) – Bass fishing is good. If the wind blows a little all day, the fishing seems to be a little better. There were large waves of bass bedding and some are done and some are not. Bass are still staging up on the points leading into the creeks and coves. The bass are on the shallow flats and on rocky points. Have the Alabama rig ready and fish it on the small points in the backs of the creek and run it real shallow. Use the small Zoom Flukes on 3/16 lead heads and be sure the baits are pearl colors. Use the number 8 Husky Jerk in the glass minnow on the points and the olive green X Rap up in the shallows.

Lake Lanier (full, mostly clear, some pollen, mid 70s)

“The spotted bass fishing on Lanier remains very good. There are many options out there right now. There are still plenty of spots on bed and still a few more to come. A 1/8 ounce Davis Shaky head with a 4 inch worm fished on a GLoomis NRX 822 Shaky Head Rod with Seaguar 8 pound test fluorocarbon is a great way to catch these fish. Work the Shaky Head slowly and look for the bites to be light, which makes a rod like the 822 so important. A fluke is great tool to locate these fish. A spot on the bed will almost always rise up to at least look at a fluke if not eat it. Work the fluke slowly and give the bait plenty of time to fall on a slack line. Watch your fluke and your line for indications of a bite. If they don’t eat the fluke and only swing at it, follow with the worm for a sure bite. A Senko is a good bet on these fish as well. Look for spot beds on hard clay banks and points with sandy areas being strong as well. Look for the prespawn females to be on steeper rocky points near these spawning areas. The same baits will work, but others will catch the prespawners as well. The herring spawn is going now and offers some great early morning action. A spinnerbait, a wake bait, and a swim bait have all been good on the rocky and shallow sandy areas where the herring generally spawn. The floating Spro BBZ1 Swim bait is a great choice as well. Top water, like poppers and walkers are starting to work on these fish also. After the sun gets up, move out deeper with your offerings and hit the brush for some top water action as well.”  – Jimbo Mathley

“Striper fishing remains good as the water temperatures continue to rise. The water temperature increased 10 degrees in a little over a week and the Stripers are in post spawn. Despite the water temperature change the pattern has not changed as the shallow water bite in the creeks on points, flats and reef markers continues. Un weighted free lines set 50 to 70 feet behind the boat with Herring is your best bet early. As the sun gets high, weight your lines and move to deeper water. Also set out a couple of down rods while you are pulling free lines. Keep your eye on your Lowrance depth finder and set your down lines based on water depth. The top water bite is picking up and you can catch both Spotted Bass and Stripers in the same area. It is always a good idea to keep someone on the front deck casting a Red Fin, Chug Bug, Spook or a buck tail jig while you are pulling bait. The umbrella rig bite is working when pulled at 70 to 80 feet behind the boat and speed at 3.0 MPH. Target a 30 to 40 foot bottom when pulling the Umbrella rig early and move to deeper water as the sun get high in the sky. Look for the Stripers to begin moving towards the mouth of the creeks and onto the main lake points this coming week. The down rod bite has been slow but will improve as the water continues to warm. There are fish in the creeks and the river channel lake wide. The south end of the Lake is starting to pick up with reports of fish being caught in Flowery Branch, Big Creek and Two Mile Creek. The water temperature is in the low to mid 70’s during the day on the South end of the lake and the high 70’s on the North end. The water is stained in the creeks and clear on the main lake. The lake is at full pool.” – Captain Ken West and Captain Mike Maddalena

“Crappie fishing patterns continue to hold, remaining good to excellent around docks with structure and on submerged brush piles from the middle to the backs of creeks. If you have favorite crappie fishing spots, they should be producing well now. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of fishermen fishing this time of year, so if you don’t catch fish quickly, move on, as that spot may have just been fished. Jig colors still do not matter. For the night fishermen, this is the time of the year to consider fishing under bridges, using Hydra glow lights with crappie minnows. Six Mile Bridge, Wahoo Creek Bridge, and Clarks’ Bridge are our favorites. All 3 are in deep water, within sight of boat ramps, and are holding fish. For those that like bluegill fishing, they are still on bed and biting well. The smaller fish are aggressive, though, and are getting to the bait before the larger fish that are still on bed. Crickets are the best bait for bluegill. Take advantage of the month of May. This is one of our favorite times to fish! Stay safe on the water, wear your lifejacket!” – Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club

Our “On the Water” Schools are Rods, Reels and Lures for Bass, SONAR and we have a Striper schools. Learn how to use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology. Call 770 889 2654 or see the details on our web site for more info and dates.

Participate! – Georgia DNR wants to “aim for success” and is asking for your input regarding the concept of a license fee restructure.  Take the time to read this information and take part in this public process, including a two-minute survey to start things off.  Maybe I’ll see you at one of the June public meetings, too. – www.georgiawildlife.com/aimforsuccess

Good luck this week. It looks like some much-needed rain is on the way. That should be good for water temperatures and flows, and maybe even reset the clock for a few days on our excellent spring fishing season.  Give our mountain lakes a try as the lowland reservoirs start to heat up.   http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Reservoirs

Have fun as this topwater season draws to a close, and remember your opportunities to participate in fish and wildlife management topics.  Aren’t we glad that Carl and Jan did?

Central Georgia

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

Big Lazer PFA (down 4 inches, 30 inches of visibility, 72 degrees) – Largemouth bass: Fair – Bass fishing is improving as more fish creep up into shallower water to feed on newly spawned bream.  The cool spring rains seem to be over but water temperatures are still below average.  These conditions can cause bass feeding patterns to be unpredictable.  However, a few anglers have reported catching a few bass on plastic worms and lizards as well as rooster tails.  Also, this month bait fish become more available: try fishing for bass with minnow-type lures that mimic shad and bream.

Crappie: Poor – The cool rains and lower than average water temperatures have made targeting crappie difficult all spring.  Plus, this time of year crappie tend to spread out over the whole lake and hold at different depths, which makes crappie fishing even more challenging.  Crappie should be a little shallower than they were earlier in the spring; try starting around 10 feet and work your way up.  As usual, jigs and live minnows are still your best bet for crappie.

Bream: Fair – Bream fishing is improving.  As bream start spawning, they will aggressively guard their beds, which improve your chances at catching several for the table.  Crickets and worms are good bait for spawning bream.  Also, small grub like plastic jigs can work well this time of year; try black, white, and yellow colors.  However, make sure the hooks are small because bream have small mouths.

Channel catfish: Good – Several catfish are being caught off the dam.  Also, catfish are being caught on worms and livers in deeper spots over much of the lake.

In general, May and June temperatures at Big Lazer are heating up and so is the fishing.  Also of note, the Talbotton Chamber of Commerce is having their annual Kids Fishing Event at Big Lazer on June, 6th.  So, make plans to bring out your kids for a morning of fun and catching catfish.

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

Clarks Hill Lake (full, clear, upper 70s) – Bass fishing is very good.  The bass are chasing schooling bait fish and the top water bite is really good. Bass will be heavy on the beds by the end of next week and others are hanging around the grassy areas.  The weather is expected to continue to improve and get a little warmer as the week goes on.  Fish the white spinner-baits and the soft and hard jerk baits.  Zoom pearl Super Flukes are working but take some of these same baits in baby bass as well.  All are working along with worms and plastic lizards.  The key will be to finding the right patch of grass and the right piece of structure.  Good baits to take along this week include plastic worms and jigs.

Jackson Lake (down 2.1 feet, clear, upper 70s) – Bass fishing is good.  A bright crawfish red or brown Rat L Trap or a big jig and pig can draw strikes.  Look for the clearer waters down lake.  Float a large green u tail worm on and over any shallow wood after mid-day.  The bass are tight under the docks and any wood in the water and use a large 10 inch Culprit green shad worm in the cover.  For the river bass, head into the cuts and creeks that have any clearing waters.  Spinner baits and large red shad Culprit worms will work or grass beds later in the day.  The Rat L Traps in the bleeding shiner or red crawfish will work for the bass.  Spinner baits and flat sided bright crank baits will work after the sun warms shallows in the backs of the creeks.  The Flat A Bomber in Gable green or lime as well as orange colors has been fair.  Use this bait in the mouths of the creeks right off the river.

McDuffie PFA (21-42 inches of visibility, 82 degrees) – Largemouth Bass: Good –  Hot ponds have been Willow, and Clubhouse. Willow is still giving up keeper bass and many larger bass are being released by our fishermen. Bass in 3 to 9 pound range are being caught near shore, around submerged timber and underwater humps near deep water. In Jones bass fishing has slowed down but small bass will keep fishermen alert. The lakes with most potential are Willow for quality and Clubhouse and Breambuster for quantity.  These three lakes have balanced fish populations.  Willow Lake has big bass but fishermen must be prepared or risk being broken off in the underwater structure. The bass should be feeding on baitfish to replenish their bodies. Recent electrofishing sampling showed several quality bass make Breambuster home so keep fishing. As the water temperature continues to rise the bass fishing should steadily improve because fish metabolism increases with water temperature and the need for food also increases.  Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) is open from first through fifteen (1st-15th) of each month. Rodbender is open now but will close at sunset on the 15th; the fish are fat in every size and should provide a good battle when hooked.  This lake has optimum feeding conditions for the smaller fat “football” fish.  Two (2) keeper Bass were caught in Clubhouse this morning by an area fishermen. Overall, bass in 3 to 7 pound range are being caught near shore, around submerged timber and underwater humps near deep water in all of the lakes. May is usually an excellent top-water bait month but remember to try spinner baits as well.

Bream: Good – Best ponds have been Willow, Clubhouse and Jones in order of best catches.  The bream (both bluegill and shell-cracker) were on beds on the tenth (10) and several nice stringers of bream were seen by PFA staff. Bream can be found around structure and aquatic plants with firm sandy bottoms. The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under adjustable floats; using light tackle to make soft casts pass the structure and pulling the bait rig back and stopping the bait will generate many more strikes. Patience is the key when fishing for bream on beds. Fishermen should try beetle-spins with slow and fast retrieves while crickets and worms under floats or on the bottom will also work.  Our local fly fishermen are catching aggressive bream on artificial nymphs, flies and bugs on top of the water near structure.

Channel Catfish: Good – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Bridge and Jones.  Catfish are still feeding as they prepare to spawn and water has reached 82 degrees. Several large catfish were caught in Jones by two of the PFA’s fishermen. One albino Catfish was caught by a lucky angler. The best fishing is on the bottom in deep areas using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets. Thursday 14th of May, PFA staff saw an exception this, an angler had a channel catfish which struck a yellow spinner bait in Breambuster.

Striped Bass: Fair – 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 have not begun feeding on the shad near the surface. 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.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie

Lake Oconee (full, stained up rivers, light stain on main lake, 79-83 degrees) – Bass fishing is good.  The lake is full. The shad spawn is in full swing. At daylight the bass will be close to bank looking for the spawning bait.  Use a spinner bait fished along sea walls and rip rap to target these fish. Work the middle of the coves and main lake creeks.  After the sun gets up switch to boat docks in the same areas.  Use a shaky head under the docks and around the dock poles.  You can also use a small shallow running crank bait around the same docks.  Some bigger fish are showing up on wood structure in the mouths of the Oconee and Appalachia Rivers.  Use a dark jig and trailer fished into the wood structure.

Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves.  They are suspended above the timber.  Long lining just over the fish in 6 to 10 ft. of water will draw a strike.  If you are fishing muddy water use a dark jig.  Stained water use a jig with chartreuse in it.

“Striper fishing is good.  Most of the fish have move to the humps up the lake from the dam and some are still up the rivers.  The water quality is good all over the lake so the fish are not in one place. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools on different humps and points. When you find them drop a live shad down to them and they will eat it. Down lines have been the best producers.  Over the past few days the umbrella rig bite has started to heat up.  This bite should last for the next month.” – Cpt. Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service

Lake Russell (full, clear, upper 70s) – Bass fishing is very good.  First thing in the morning bass are on shallow clay banks and any rip rap or rocks all over the lake feeding on the shad that are spawning.  A small buzz bait, a small spinner bait or a ¼ ounce Rat L Trap will work all day. If there is any wind, work the windblown banks with a small crank bait, like a ¼ ounce Rat T Trap in the chrome and black or a number 5 Shad Rap in sliver/black colors. After the shad have moved to the deeper water as the sun come up move to points and flats with 5 to 7 foot of water and use a zoom finesse worm or a 5 inch lizard in the watermelon seed color fished on a Carolina rig with a 24 inch leader.  There are also some good fish being caught off the summer time points and under water islands around the lake.  A Carolina rig fished in these areas will get a lot of fish but most will be small.

Lake Sinclair (full, muddy up river, main lake stained, 79 degrees) – “Bass fishing is great.  Early mornings have been best for both numbers and quality.  Start the morning with moving baits and cover water.  Top water baits, such as a white buzz bait or white popper, have been great around concrete sea walls and wood targets in the Oconee River.  A weightless trick worm has also been good up shallow around wood cover, sea walls, and docks in the Oconee River.  Later in the morning and throughout the day, try a chartreuse and white Buckeye Lures spinner-bait or a Spro Little John crank bait in these same areas.  Continue using these moving baits all day if it remains cloudy. If the sun comes out, start flipping a Texas rigged Zoom baby brush hog in June bug color around logs and docks.  When Georgia Power is moving water, run to Crooked Creek Bridge or Little River Bridge and toss Spro Little John crank baits and light Texas rigs to the rip rap banks.  Take advantage of the current by fishing the rip rap points and bridge pilings as post spawn fish try to fatten back up after the spawn.   Numbers of smaller fish can also be caught in the clearer creeks on the lower end of the lake by fishing shaky head worms in green pumpkin color and Zoom Super Flukes around the docks.” – Matt Henry, www.sinclairmarina.com

West Point Lake (down 2.3 feet, clear, low 80s) – Bass fishing for both spots and largemouth has been very good.  Fish for both on primary and secondary points, coves and pockets in the major creeks.  Use the Strike King Redemption 3/8 ounce and Bass Pro buzz baits shallow.  On the spinner-baits the double willow blade combination.  Slow roll the spinner-bait around any cover on the points and in the coves and pockets.  The important thing is to cover a lot of water.  Fish shallow using very large baits in bright colors.  Spots are still spawning and shallow.  The spots are holding on shoal markers, humps, and underwater road beds in 0 to 5 feet of water.  Several good baits are a green pumpkin or June bug lizard, rigged Carolina style and trick worms.  Top water action is starting using a Bang O Lures, Rapala’s, Pop R’s.  The bass will be shallow for at least two weeks and then they will head to the 10 to 12 foot depths on humps and road beds up in the creeks.

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report – May 1, 2015

North Georgia

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

While we’ve all had to work around the wind and rain, fishing has still been pretty good during those times when the weather and water have allowed us to wet a line or run a sampling boat. Coldwater species are still very cooperative, while some of the warmwater specialists, like catfish and carp, have begun to stir. Small impoundment fishing is especially good right now, as I just weighed in a 1.5-pound male bluegill for a Hall County pond angler. Trout stocking is in full swing, and my tips below might help new anglers to enjoy Georgia’s mountain trout streams and experience some quick success.

Take a kid fishing this weekend!

Take a kid fishing this weekend!

North Georgia fisheries staffers are busy with spring reservoir sampling, trout stocking, and the start of our warmwater fish stockings into reservoirs.  This week saw deliveries of hybrid striped bass and walleye from DNR hatcheries south of us into several lakes including Rocky Mountain PFA, Hartwell and Lanier (see walleye video, below). Our busiest season of the year will continue until June, which means more “fresh” fish reports heading your way in the weeks to come. Enjoy these reports from anglers, biologists and technicians.  There is a lot to choose from, so take your pick for a weekend target!

Timely Bassing Tip – From Georgia’s own Tom Mann, Jr.

Lanier Bass and Stripers on TopGON Forum 1, GON Forum 2

Allatoona HybridsGON Forum

Chatuge and Nottely – The Gainesville Fisheries crew was up on Lake Chatuge and Lake Nottely this week for annual electrofishing. Temperatures at both lakes were in the mid-sixties. Largemouths have mostly spawned already, though there are still a few fat females here or there. Spots are probably half and half; still a good number left to spawn. Chatuge in particular gave up some really nice bass. Riprap or rock banks tended to hold the biggest fish.

While these lakes aren’t really known for their crappie fishing, Nottely can be pretty good for them. The crappie have yet to come shallow to spawn yet. It looks like these cold snaps we’ve experienced over the past month may be delaying them a little. Many counties in North Georgia lost a lot of trees in this past winter’s ice storm. Take advantage of this when targeting spawning crappie. In a lake that has lots of newly-fallen pines, the crappie may have moved from your marked spots to trees that still have needles on them. The needles provide extra habitat complexity that crappie love to use. – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Catfish Heating UpGON Forum

Golden Trophies – Last weekend, Evan Cartabiano, the SC state chair, and I tried hosting a 2-state social function for carp anglers, at Brickyard Ponds in Augusta.  Our hope was to have some fun fishing, and maybe introduce some new folks to the sport of carp angling.  As info, Brickyard Ponds has 22 ponds on about 2000 acres. The pond we fished seemed to be full of small-to-average sized carp (all we caught were less than 10 pounds).  There are reports of some much larger ones in other ponds.

Unfortunately, with all the rain last weekend, attendance was extremely limited, so we were essentially “washed out”. However, Evan and I did enjoy catching quite a few carp on Friday (between showers).  I’m attaching some photos for you — feel free to use them in your blog as you wish.  This is just a small sample of the photos I took, but I doubt that you want or need any more. Note:  the small boy is Evan’s 2-1/2 year-old son, holding one of the fish I caught.  The other photos are all of Evan (the last one is him trying to fight two carp that hit at the same time). – Barry S., Lawrenceville, Ga.

Walleye – The beginning (video), and the end.

Prime Stocker Time – This is the best time of the year for new trout anglers to give this sport a try.  Grab a short (5 foot) rod, a small reel filled with 4-pound test line, a pack of size “B” removable split shot, and two dozen size 10 baitholder hooks.

For bait, it’s hard to beat one-third of a nightcrawler threaded onto that hook, or a small sphere of Powerbait that’s just big enough to hide the hook.  Dress in an  olive drab shirt and hat so you blend in with the vegetation, and start driving north.

Pick one of the many heavily stocked mountain trout streams, park at a bridge crossing, walk the road 200 yards downstream, wade in, and fish back up to your vehicle.  While fishing, toss two short casts into every small pocket behind boulders, under submerged logs, and beneath the rhododendron branches, and cover a lot of ground.  If your bait isn’t assaulted in two casts, move upstream a few feet and hit the next pocket of slower, deeper (dark green) water.  Add/subtract the number of split shot on your line, about a foot above the bait, so that your offering “ticks” along the bottom on its downstream drift back to you.   New flyrodders can practice the same technique and  just substitute an egg fly or san juan worm as the bait of choice.  The real key is using enough weight, and adjusting its amount as necessary, to ensure your offering is occasionally bouncing along the bottom.

You’ll catch many of those trout first stocked at the bridge, but washed downstream into the pocket water by spring’s high streamflows.  Repeat for a few bridge crossings until you limit out at eight for the frying pan.

DNR Trout Stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson provided these weekend best bets: Hooch at Buford Dam and Helen, Rock, Holly, Panther, Cooper, Wildcat, Tallulah, Broad, and Dockery Lake.

Steve’s Streamside SaturdayGeorgia Outdoors Forum, Chattahoochee Media

Trout- Finding the Seams – Here’s a great video from Ryan that might help new trouters to read pocket water and cast to the most productive spots.

Wild Trout ReportsGeorgia Outdoors Forum, Unicoi Outfitters

Tex’s Blueline Report – The sunny skies and warm weather made it a great day to get out and explore some new water. While the fishing seemed to be a little off and slower than normal according to local know-it-all “College Boy”, the adventure aspect was definitely there! It was a beautiful day bushwhacking, climbing waterfalls and even accidentally taking a brief swim. 7 or 8 native Brookies were caught with many more escaping including two good sized ones around eight inches. Most were caught on a 16 pheasant tail dropper while the ones on top came up to a size 14 stimulator. For my first blue lining adventure I considered it a success and will be looking forward to the next one!

Caddis and Cahill Time – North Georgia fly anglers who glance in the rearview mirror can get a great idea of what to expect around the next corner.  Remember to stay late enough for the action at dusk.

We hope you have a chance to take advantage of the great weekend weather forecast.  Buy a $20 rod/reel outfit, dig a few worms, and wet a line in a local pond or a mountain trout stream this weekend.  You’ll enjoy your hydrotherapy!

Central Georgia

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

Clarks Hill (full, stained, water temp. 70s) –Bass fishing is good and the fish will be on the beds in ten days. Anglers will be fishing bedding bass. Bass can still be caught on Super Flukes, X Raps and shallow running Shad Raps in and around grassy flats. The grass mats will be submerged, so look for the dark shadows along the bottom or drag a jig or Carolina Rig through an area to find the type and color of the grass. Small flats that run near a deep ditch or River channel are the best places to catch your limit this week.  Be sure to try the Scrounger with a Super Fluke as the trailer. Trick worms can also work. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Flat Creek PFA (down 1 foot 11 inches, 39 inches of visibility, water surface temp. 71 degrees) – The fish at Flat Creek have been off and on (weather dependent). Prior to prevalent storms moving through the area, the fishing has been great, however the high barometric pressure days following the storm have left many anglers disappointed. The month of May’s full moon is expected to be one of the very best times to fish for bream in Flat Creek as they should be on their beds and very aggressive. Fishing for Catfish is also expected to improve as we transition into warmer days and the water temperature continues to rise.

Bass: Success – Watermelon Zoom Trick Worms, Watermelon Zoom Centipede worms,  fished shallow (2-3’) and silver spoons, and lipless crank baits fished in 6-8 foot of water.

Bream: Success – Worms (Red Wigglers,  Glow worms, and Pinks) on a Carolina rig.

Channel Catfish: Success – Worms fished on a Carolina Rig.

Crappie: Success – Red &Black Hal-Flies (5’ of water), Chartreuse glow-in-the-dark jigs by Carolina Hookers fished with a glow-in-the-dark Rat Finkee jig head (#6 & #8) fished in 8 foot of water. These combinations have yielded 1-2 pound Crappie.

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

Jackson Lake (1.2 feet over full pool, stained, water temp. low 70s) – Bass fishing is fair. The water is clear with some stain in the rivers after heavy rains. We are also on the full moon and this means the fish feed at night. Fish deep structure in or near the main lake, or seek cooler water up the rivers. Target points, bluffs, hump’s 12 feet to 15 feet deep in brush, bridge pilings, and deep docks. Put to use shakey heads, heavy compact jigs, and deep running crank baits through the day. Hot weather has many fish hunkered down in deep water, suspended, or roaming with shad in open water. Early in the day, throw a Rico or other top water bait on the deep sea walls or at open water opportunities. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Marben PFA (water temp 65-plus degrees – Anglers should remember that this temperature will vary as temperatures fluctuate with cool mornings.) – Bass: The bass spawn is mostly over at Marben PFA.  Anglers should find bass more aggressive then in early spring.  Bass are demonstrating a more consistent feeding behavior.  This is the time of year that bass will target a variety of bait.   Those wishing to land a “lunker” need to establish feeding patterns because it could vary at each pond.  Watching schools of bait fish in early morning or late evening can provide anglers with this pattern.  Look for bass feeding in shallow water in mornings and late evenings.  Typically, bass can be found around cover in deep water as mid-afternoon approaches.

Bream: Late spring is when anglers are most successful when targeting bream.  Water temperatures are right for bream to be the most aggressive.  Shellcracker are currently be caught in high numbers.  Anglers should target Shepard, Bennett and Dairy Ponds.  There are also reports of high numbers of bluegill being caught.  Live crickets and worms remain the most popular bait.     Fishing structure in shallow areas will provide anglers the best opportunity of filling the stringer.  The best thing about bream is these fish are not too picky about habitat and bite through out the day!

Catfish: The catfish bite has remained stable.  Cut bait, worms and liver remain the most popular when targeting catfish.  Anglers seeking catfish should try fishing the bottom in 5 to 12 feet of water.  The most successful catfish anglers will tell anyone, you have to be patient when targeting this fish (and a good shade tree always helps)!

Crappie: The crappie “bite” has peaked but don’t give up on this fish.  Anglers should try fishing structure in about 5 to 10 feet of water.  Bennett and Fox are the most popular ponds but Shepard also provides an excellent place to catch high numbers.  Fishing piers have fish attractors placed around them, so anglers could easily catch a limit without putting a boat in the water.  Yellow and purple jigs are the most popular lures, while live minnows remain the most popular.  Early mornings and late evenings are the most popular times when targeting crappie.

Marben’s larger lakes (Fox, Bennett, Margery, and Shepard) have fish attractors strategically placed in the lakes.  Anglers fishing from a boat should look for the structures to fish.  Angler trails are also available, so if you don’t have a boat no need to worry.  Most trails will get anglers where they need to be to fill that stringer and with a little work perhaps their own secret fishing hole.

Be patient, but most important HAVE FUN!

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

McDuffie PFA (18-5 inches of visibility, water surface temp. 75) – Largemouth Bass:  Fair – due to post spawn rest period.  Best ponds have been Willow, 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 but small bass will keep fishermen alert. The lakes with the more potential are Willow for quality and Clubhouse and Breambuster for quantity.  These three lakes have balanced fish populations.  Willow Lake has big bass but fishermen must be prepared or risk being broken off in the underwater structure. The bass are in post-spawn mode and should be feeding on new baitfish to replenish their bodies. Recent electrofishing sampling proved several quality bass make Breambuster home so keep fishing. 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 is open now; the fish are fat in every size and should provide a good battle when hooked.  This lake has optimum feeding conditions for the smaller fat “football” fish. Quality bass are still present in Clubhouse and we found them around the structure in the lake during sampling. Bass are still waiting on the shad hatch but other forage species should be available now. Overall, bass in 3 to 7 pound range are being caught near shore, around submerged timber and underwater humps near deep water in all of the lakes. May is a great top-water bait month and as the water warms the bass will rise to attack the top-water baits.

Bream:  Good – Best ponds have been Jones, Willow and Clubhouse.  The bream (both bluegill and shell-cracker) have let their beds now and moved to deeper water feeding to prepare for the next spawn in May. Bream can be found around structure and aquatic plants with firm sandy bottoms. The best baits for catching bream are red wigglers and crickets under adjustable floats; using light tackle to make soft casts pass the structure and pulling the bait rig back and stopping the bait will generate many more strikes. May water temperatures should cause the bream to chase 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 artificial nymphs, flies and bugs on top of the water near structure.

Channel Catfish:  Good – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Bridge and Jones.  Catfish are feeding as they prepare to spawn and water temperatures have reached 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 are biting in all lakes. The best fishing is on the bottom in deep areas using chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and crickets.

Striped Bass:  Fair – 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 Informationhttp://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie

Lake Oconee (full, heavy stain up rivers, light stain on main, Lake Richland Creek clear, water temp. 69-71) – Bass fishing is good. The lake is full. The shad spawn is in full swing. At daylight the bass will be close to bank looking for the spawning bait. Use a spinner bait fished along sea walls and rip rap to target these fish. Work 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. The lake has water that is muddy to clear. Find the best color bait for the water you are fishing in to help catch more fish. The shad spawn should last for the next week or two.

Striper fishing is good. Some fish are still at the dam, some have move to the humps up the lake and some are still up the rivers. The water quality is good all over the lake so the fish are not in one place. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools on different humps and points. When you find them drop a live shad down to them and they will eat it. Down lines have been the best producers alone with spoons fished into the school you find on the Lowrance. – Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service

Crappie fishing is good. The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves. They are suspended above the timber. Long lining just over the fish in 6 to 10 ft. of water will draw a strike. If you are fishing muddy water use a dark jig. Stained water use a jig with chartreuse in it.

Lake Russell (clear, water temp. low 70s) – Bass fishing is good. Go up the rivers and fish with the buzz baits and Mann’s Shallow Minus One bright crank baits. Keep a trick worm and a Super Fluke ready for the shallow fish on any wood and on the small points in the creek. Up the river, use a spinnerbait and the Stanley 3/8 ounce all white spinnerbaits will work off the rivers in the pockets and around wood. Try the clear creeks with buzz baits and spinner baits as well as trick worms. Use the Scrounger and a small pearl Fluke trailer on any wood or rocks. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Lake Sinclair (full, rivers and creeks are stained, lower lake is clear, water temp. 75-80 degrees) –Bass fishing is fair. The bass on are transitioning to the post spawn phase. Numbers of fish can still be caught, but the bigger fish are tougher to find as they recoup from the stressful spawn. The morning bite and evening bite is best, but fish can be caught consistently throughout the day time period. Early in the morning there is still a chance at finding a shad spawn on sea walls, rip rap, or grass beds near the mouth of pockets. A white Buckeye lures spinnerbait and a pearl white Zoom super fluke will catch the active fish feeding on these spawning shad. Mid-day, try fishing a weightless green pumpkin Zoom super fluke or a Yamamoto Senko around the docks to catch numbers of fish. It is not uncommon to catch fifty or sixty fish in a day using this technique this time of the year. There have been a lot of fish on the Little River Bridge rip rap recently that will fall victim to a Spro Little Jon crank bait in cell mate or fire tiger colors depending on water clarity. Fishing parallel to the rip rap will get the most bites as your crank bait will stay in the strike zone the entire time it is in the water. Top water baits have been best during the morning and evening time and will even produce a big bite occasionally during the day time. The bream will start bedding on the next full moon which will ignite the top water bite for the rest of the summer. Fishing around these bream beds with a prop bait will give you a good opportunity at catching some big fish. Numbers of smaller fish can also be caught in the clearer creeks on the lower end of the lake by fishing shaky head worms in green pumpkin color around the docks. – Courtesy of Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina, 478-451-0167

West Point Lake (full, stained, water temp. upper 70s) – Bass fishing is good and the fish are spawning. This has been a week for the soft plastics like a Zoom lizard on a light Carolina rig and the trick worms or creature baits. Work the isolated cover and depressions. These fish are most likely relating to small ditches waiting to pull up for the spawn. A light Carolina Rig can also be effective in these same areas. Fish from Highland Marina to Wehadkee Creek and work pockets and points all day. Also later in the day head up lake and fish north to the 109 bridge. –  Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

Categories: Fishing

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
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers