DNR offers golden opportunity for hunt club

By Jodi Killen

Researchers successfully caught this golden eagle using this bait pile. A transmitter was attached to the eagle as part of a project studying golden eagle migration and habitat routes in the eastern U.S.

Researchers successfully caught a golden eagle using this bait pile. A transmitter was attached to the eagle as part of a project studying golden eagle migration and habitat routes in the eastern U.S.

Founded in 1988, the Devil’s Backbone Hunting Club consists of 4,700 contiguous acres in Meriwether and Talbot counties. Our property borders the west side of the Pigeon Creek Tract of Sprewell Bluff Wildlife Management Area. With abundant wildlife of all sorts and convenient recreational access to the Flint River and Sprewell Bluff, this club is a true sportsman’s paradise.

While managing this property, I’ve consulted with wildlife biologists from the public and private sector for advice, including how to improve habitat, food plot, deer herd and turkey management, as well as predator control and managing club recommendations. All of this was part of an effort to have one of the best hunting clubs in the state.

One person I worked with was Nathan Klaus, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. After several conversations, I think Nathan realized we were truly interested in conservation. And last November, he offered us the opportunity of a lifetime: He asked if our club would be interested partnering with the DNR in hosting a site for trapping a golden eagle. We had no hesitation in answering yes!

Nathan said the golden eagle project would start in January and he outlined what the DNR needed done. A site would have to be selected for baiting and capturing an eagle. Volunteers were needed, because this would entail a tremendous amount of work. The volunteers would seek out fresh road-killed deer within their local communities for baiting the eagles. Trail cams also needed to be staged and monitored around the bait site in the event the eagles showed up.

Volunteers with the club built a blind and kept a bait pile stocked with road-killed deer. The work paid off Feb. 15, 2015, when researchers trapped a 5-year-old golden eagle, the first one caught in Georgia for the project.

Volunteers with the club built a blind and kept a bait pile stocked with road-killed deer. The work paid off Feb. 15, 2015, when researchers trapped a 5-year-old golden eagle, the first one caught in Georgia for the project.

Early in January, Nathan, DNR Nongame Program Manager Jim Ozier and I picked a site they felt had the best potential. The site was in a small food plot fairly close to the Flint River and on top of a ridge. The site was baited and trail cameras staged around the bait pile on Jan. 10.

And would you believe it: Our first golden eagle showed up only two days after we started baiting the site!

This was unbelievable to us because we’ve never seen golden eagles in this area! I then tasked one of my volunteers, Jim Faulkner, to monitor and pattern the golden eagles for Nathan and Jim. Initially, Mr. Faulkner discovered that a single eagle was feeding every morning right after sunrise. After only a couple of days, he started to see the eagle feeding multiple times per day. And after approximately a week, we started seeing multiple eagles feeding several times per day!

We continued to supply the bait pile with fresh meat every few days until the eagle trappers were scheduled to arrive. They were scheduled to trap on Feb. 7-9.

Everything was going great, with multiple eagles feeding several times each day. Then, on the morning of Feb. 7, the day the trappers were scheduled to arrive, Jim Faulkner checked the trail cams one last time. He discovered there were no pictures or videos of the golden eagles for the past four days.

This was not good news! The trappers were already on the road to Georgia. I immediately called them, Nathan and Jim Ozier to tell them the terrible news. We were so close but yet so far. The trappers, Dr. Tricia Miller and her husband, Michael Lanzone, decided to travel to another state for a few days in an attempt to capture golden eagles at a trap site there. Mr. Faulkner continued to check the trail cams in hopes the eagles would show up again. As luck would have it, they did!

This photo shows the radio transmitter that was successfully attached to the golden eagle.

This photo shows the radio transmitter that was successfully attached to the golden eagle.

We advised Tricia and Michael on Feb. 14 that we had eagles again. They analyzed the photos and videos we sent and determined they would try to trap the eagles the next morning.

I met them at 5 a.m. to direct them to the site and help in some last-minute set-up. An hour later, I left them at the bait site, praying that all the hard work from so many people would pay off.

Jim Ozier, several of the volunteers, and I staged a few miles away, waiting in hope of some good news. At 7:14 a.m., Michael texted me: “Success, Come on up!” The Georgia eagle project 2015 was a success!

The culmination of so much work and involving so many people made that possible. I can’t thank my volunteers enough. I also give a special thank you to Post 34 of the Georgia State Patrol, in Manchester. They helped us find fresh deer carcasses for the bait piles. A special thanks, too, to Nathan Klaus for asking our club to partner with the DNR on such an incredible project!

Thanks also to Michael Lanzone and Dr. Tricia Miller for their enthusiastic and selfless efforts, which will help ensure that these majestic birds will be here for many future generations.

Jodi Killen, of Peachtree City, is president of Devil’s Backbone Hunting Club. Learn more about the golden eagle project.

Check out the videos of an eagle feeding at the bait bile and eagle release!

Categories: Conservation

Georgia Fishing Report: Feb. 11, 2014

North Georgia

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

Chattooga Delayed Harvest from Jan. 31, 2015.

Chattooga Delayed Harvest from Jan. 31, 2015.

Allatoona

Carters

Lanier

Stocker – Best Bets - Weekenders desiring trout for supper should try the upper Hooch tailwater, lakes Vogel and Winfield Scott, Tallulah River, Ami below 53, and the Chattooga below 28.

Delayed Harvest Streams – Dries in January? - Next weekend might be a good time to retie those y2k’s and pink san juan worms onto your leaders (hint).  In the meantime, the Chattooga DH’s winter residents may entertain you, as they hit a variety of patterns last Saturday afternoon (1/31).  The quartet of Guru, Dredger, Sautee, and newcomer “Tex” each caught  a handful of rainbows and browns once the 38 degree water crept up a degree or two after lunch.  Dredger also claimed he went two-for-five on top, with a skittered #16 elk hair caddis that imitated the occasional winter stonefly that fluttered by and disappeared in a splashy rise.  Better flies were olive leeches, pats rubberlegs, Oreck eggs, pheasant tails, and small soft hackles fished deep in the low, clear water.

Walleye Interest? - GON Forum Report

Additional Links

Good luck during our “cold and slow” time of the year.  While overall catch rates are lower, there’s still a great chance to hook into some nice fish and forget it’s winter.  It’s also a great time to tangle with a prespawn trophy, so aim for quality over numbers and enjoy the clean, cold air.

Central Georgia

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

Clarks Hill (down 2.9 feet, stained, water temp. high 40s) – Bass fishing is fair. Start the day with the shakey head and a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm and use a very light head. Also cranking the number five and seven Shad Raps along with the DT10 in hot mustard will work. Stay in the channel and crank the ledges and you go along. The bass will be holding to the cover as expected with the low water. A limit of bass should be easy enough to get. Worm fishing is the best bet. Shallow crank bait fishing is good early and late in the day or any time the light is low. Increased water clarity will move fish deeper or under docks on a clear day. Deep Net Boy football jigs and shakey head finesse worms will produce on deeper fish. Jerk baits also come into play with increased water clarity and a little wind. The crank bait bite is in 3 to 6 foot of water, and can be found shallow on flat clay bottom with chunk rock and other hard bottom. South to West points, cuts and flats should be targeted. Flat sided baits like a Little John or lipless baits can be good choices. A #7 Shad Rap will work well. The water color is right for natural shad, craw, and pearl colored baits. February is the month that most of the largest bass are caught. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Flat Creek PFA (down 5 feet, 36 inches of visibility) - The fish at Flat Creek have been biting really well between the cold weather that moves through the region. During the cold snaps, the fish tend to be driven into the deeper water and can be challenging to elicit a bite. Even during the warm periods the fish strike softly and as a result light tackle is needed to feel the strike.

Bass: Minnows in the shallows during the warmest part of the day. White Zoom Flukes®(or Berkley Gulp! Alive!® Minnows) thrown when bass are feeding on schooling shad have been working great. Some worms on the bottom near the shallows also have had some strikes.

Bream: Worms on the bottom near the shallows with a split shot about 12-20” away from the hook have been very successful.

Crappie: Chartreuse jigs underneath a Rocket Float® and cast in the shallows during the warmth of the day have worked great. Renosky® Natural Shad Minnow jigs are also catching many fish. Light tackle is a must for Crappie at this time.

Channel Catfish: Fishing for catfish has been slow except for those lucky enough to have frozen catalpa worms, and for those lucky individuals the fishing for catfish has been awesome.

Additional Information:  http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

Jackson Lake (down 0.7 feet, stained, water temp. high 40s) – Bass fishing is fair. Up in the rivers white spinnerbaits are fair cast them to any structure. Docks and stumps as well as the docks with the heavy cover have fish and they will bite the u tail worms and jigs. Lizards are also productive on the points about midway up in the rivers. Try the six inch Zoom green lizard on a Carolina rig on the smaller rocky points and secondary points. Use the pumpkin fire tail and smoke and chartreuse. Stay off the area and make long casts using 12 or 14 pound Sufix Elite line. Slow roll the lizard over the bottom and stop it every three feet or so for 15 to 20 seconds. Most of the bites will come after the bait has stopped or just when it starts to move again. Crank baits are also working but only while using a slow retrieve. Work short stretches of bank that connects a point with a secondary point. Use the Rapala Shad colored DT10 to catch the larger bass that are staged up on the channel ledges near the deeper water and around the dam area.

Marben PFA (Feb. 5, 2015, 38-plus inches of visibility, avg. morning water temp. 48 degrees) Largemouth Bass: Average. Best ponds have been Shepard, Fox and Bennett.  Best fishing times are middle to late afternoon as water temperatures rise in shallow areas.  Variations of lethargic threadfin shad imitations have proven to be successful in most ponds but have been most successful in Shepard, Fox, and Bennett.  Anglers will find bass feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad on or near the surface throughout the day.  A proven method for locating shad is to locate birds circling and feeding.  This is the time of year when large bass can be caught but anglers should be patient and may have to use a variety of artificial lures to entice lunkers.

Bream:  Good. As the water cools, expect bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) to be found in deeper water and be heavily related to structure.  Many large fish continue to be caught on red wigglers and crickets on generally warmer days.  The fishing pier located at Margery Lake is popular area this time of year.  Fish attractors are located in the general area and most anglers can be successful without having to walk the bank.  Fox and Bennett both have earthen berms that attract anglers this time of year.  The key to fishing in cooler months is be patient, and realize the fish are just a little slower than in the spring and summer months.

Channel Catfish: Good. Fish on the bottom in deep areas using worms, cutbait and crickets.

Crappie:  Good to Fair. Best lake to target as late February rolls around is Fox Lake.  Fox Lake is the most popular but Bennett and Margery also offer anglers a good chance to feel a stringer.  Live minnows are by far the most popular but anglers should also try yellow and white jigs.  Crappie are a popular target for anglers in the spring but if fishing from a boat or bank remember that only two poles can be used.

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

McDuffie PFA (Feb. 2, 2015, 40-plus inches of visibility, avg. morning water temp. 51 degrees)  – Largemouth Bass: Excellent.  Best ponds have been Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster.  Best fishing times are middle to late afternoon.  Fishing on the downwind side of the pond (especially in Willow) has been very productive.  Variations of threadfin shad imitations (1”-4”), pumpkin-seed finesse worms, swim-bait lures, jerkbait lures and frogs have proven to be successful.  In Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster, bass are schooling and feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad on or near the surface throughout the day.  To locate the shad, look for where the seagulls are circling and feeding.  Seagulls have recently migrated into the area and should be present throughout the winter.  Generally, seagulls are excellent indicators of where to fish for largemouth bass.  Rodbender, our trophy bass pond, will be open through Feb. 15 during our normal hours.

Bream: Good. Best ponds have been Jones, Willow and Clubhouse.  As the water cools, expect bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) to be found in deeper water and be heavily related to structure.  Many large fish continue to be caught using beetle spins, red wigglers and crickets.

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

Striped Bass: Good to Fair. Striped Bass are only in Bridge and Clubhouse, although there has recently been an unverified report of large stripers being caught in Breambuster.  Bigger fish have been caught late afternoon using chicken liver (Bridge) and light colored suspending minnows (especially in Clubhouse).

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

Lake Oconee (full, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is poor. The lake is full, muddy from the 44 bridge north, stained over most of the lake.

The Richland creek arm of the lake has the best water color and has been producing better than the Oconee side. Small crank baits with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks. Jigs fished around docks in the Richland creek arm of the lake have produce a few fish over the past week. Dark Jigs with a rattle, brown, blue and black have been the best colors. Spinner baits fished along any rock bank will also draw a strike. There is also a spoon bite on the south end of the lake where Richland Creek and the Oconee come together. Find the schools on your Lowrance and drop a spoon down to the school.

Striper fishing is fair. Early in the mornings there have been some birds working on the south end of the lake. When you find the birds think small bait. A 1/4 ounce. jig head with a small supper fluke, a small rooster tail will work. Keep a spoon ready for when the fish go down. Use your Lowrance to locate the school and drop the spoon down to the school. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service reeltime@bellsouth.net 

Crappie fishing is good to fair. The fish are moving into the coves and major creeks. The major creeks are muddy so make sure you are using a dark jig and tip it with a minnow. Spider rigging is the best option. Start in the middle of the creeks and work to the back. The mud has the fish scattered so keep moving until you find them.

Lake Russell (lake is full, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is good. With the water temperatures on the rise now is a good time to head to Elberton. The surface temperatures will vary depending on the amount of sun and cloud daily but it won’t bother the bass. This bass are starting to stage up for the pre spawn move and some of them are being caught in very shallow water along the banks. Slow rolling spinnerbaits along with a good slow moving crank bait will get the job done. The areas between points and secondary point is a good place to start but don’t overlook the rocky and wood cover found up in the rivers. Throw small Bandits and the Husky Jerks and as well as the Shad Rap. Take along some Zoom green lizards with a Texas rig, and throw directly in the heavy cover. Work lay down trees all the way out to the deeper water with this bait. The lizard bite is working as these early moving bass are clearing out a path and getting ready to make their move. Also use the Shad Raps on the rip rap at the 72 bridge and around the islands. – 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 or email Carrie Toth at cmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained, water temp. low 48-53 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair. The weather has been a little bit colder which has been keeping the water temperatures low and unable to rise. We have also experienced a full moon this week which has made the fish key in on crawfish type baits. A crank bait and jig have been the dominant baits over the past week and I expect this to continue into next week. In the morning start out with a Spro Little John in the blood craw or spring craw color. The red and orange colors will mimic wintertime crawfish. Focus fishing the crank bait on primary points, river channel banks, or creek channel swings that contain rock or red clay. After the crank bait bite slows, pick up a Buckeye mop jig in black and blue or green pumpkin. Fish the jig in these same areas. Docks and lay down trees are ideal targets to fish this jig. A ¼ ounce jig works best this time of year as it falls slower and will stay in the strike zone longer. If we get some warm weather in the next week, look for the fish to move up extremely shallow on flats and points that contain hard bottom. The afternoon will be the best time to fish for the next couple of weeks as the water temperature will be slightly warmer. Some deep fish can also be found on the lower end of the lake in 25 to 30 feet of water. A gold Buckeye Jiggin’ blade will catch these fish by dropping it vertically in front of the boat. Use your Lowrance HDS electronics to find the schools of bait in the creek channels near the mouth of major creeks. – Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina, matt@sinclairmarina.com 

West Point Lake (down 5.9 feet, stained, water temp. high 40s) –Bass fishing is fair. A few fish pulled up a little following bait seeking warmer temperatures. Cover as much water as possible throwing small shallow running crank baits in a shad pattern. With the clearing water fish have preferred tighter wobbling crank baits like a Rapala glass Shad Rap in the shad pattern. Using long cast as close to rocky banks make about five turns with the reel and pause. Repeat this cadence all the way back to the boat. Fish the northern end of the lake because of the stained water is warming faster. Focus on rocky points closest to the main river channel. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

South Georgia

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

Evan Chaney (left) and Timothy Deener “doubled up” on fliers in the Okefenokee Swamp last Saturday. The pair of anglers caught 15 fliers on sallies fished under a float. Evan caught his first flier during the trip.

Evan Chaney (left) and Timothy Deener “doubled up” on fliers in the Okefenokee Swamp last Saturday. The pair of anglers caught 15 fliers on sallies fished under a float. Evan caught his first flier during the trip.

Altamaha River - You are going to have to work to catch fish at the current water level. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle in Jesup said that some crappie were caught on minnows in the backwaters and oxbows. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that crappie bit minnows fished in the river and mouths of sloughs. They are not spawning yet, but they are near slackwater spawning areas. Catfish were caught everywhere folks fished. Channels and flatheads were caught in the main river. The river level was 7.9 feet and falling (51 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.5 feet and falling (52 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Feb. 10

Lake Blackshear – According to Rust Parker the crappie fishing has been great.  The bite has actually been a bit slow but the fish he has been catching have been slabs. The Swift Creek area is what has been producing the most fish with Rusty catching 50 nice slabs in his last 3 trips. Most of the people Rusty has talked to have caught some big fish. The majority of the crappie have been holding near the bottom. It is important to use a very slow presentation so you have to be very patient. Try looking in 14ft of water. The fish in this depth were slow to bite but they were big slabs full of eggs.  Rusty suspects that the spawn is about 4 weeks away but it will depend on the weather.  The surface temp has ranged from 49 to 54 and the best color jig so far has been the chartreuse head/pink body/chartreuse tail R.A.G. Fly jig.

Flint River - The recent rains have substantially increased the amount of water flowing down the Flint. You can check out the following USGS gauges on the Flint River to determine water level and rainfall amounts before planning a fishing trip. Rising water levels can be good for catfish anglers and water temperatures have been slowly increasing in the Flint.

Okefenokee Swamp – Anglers reported catching fliers and warmouth. On the east side, anglers caught some limits of fat warmouths over the weekend. Yellow sallies fished under a float have been working well for fliers. Keep moving until you find a concentration of fliers and then fish hard in that area.

Satilla River – Forget it again this week. The flooded conditions are improving survival and growth of the redbreasts and other species, so just be patient and you will be rewarded. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that in the extreme upper river some folks reported catching crappie in oxbows and catfish on limb lines using shiners and rooster livers. The river level at the Waycross gage was 12.9 feet and rising (52 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 12.0 feet and falling on Feb. 10

St. Marys River – The river came up, but is falling again. Catfish are the best bite, with lots of them being caught on shrimp, rooster liver, and pink worms. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 9.8 feet and falling on Feb. 10.

Local Ponds – Several anglers fishing a Brunswick area pond caught some nice bass to 6 pounds on Friday and Saturday, mostly on plastic worms. The best presentation was 4-inch Senko worms fished on 1/8-oz. shaky heads and Glider Heads.  Fishing them very slowly was the key. Watermelon-red flake, watermelon candy, and green pumpkin colors worked best. Michael Winge said that minnows and Tennessee shad Jiffy Jigs produced most of the crappie caught this week from Waycross area ponds. The warmer weather this weekend produced some big crappie.

Best Bet – If you can get out before the forecasted late week cold front, your chances will be best for about everywhere you would want to fish. This weekend’s deep freeze will be tough on the bite. Your best bet over the weekend will likely be crappie fishing in protected ponds (assuming the winds are stiff behind the cold front). Fish minnows slowly in the deepest part of the pond for the best chance at success. (Tip of the week – getting the “honey-do” list done this weekend is a good idea so that you can fish on a weekend where a snow suit is not required….just food for thought)

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Capt. TJ Cheek said that he was able to find plenty of clean water this week. He caught trout mostly in the smaller creeks in 5 to 10 feet of water near shells. He also caught sheepshead, black drum, and redfish around heavier cover. The challenge was finding current with the lower tidal amplitudes. If he could get the cork to drift, he caught fish. In the Brunswick area, quite a few sheepshead were caught in the Back River. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the sheepshead bite is all that was going on this week due to the weather. Fiddler crabs and barnacles fooled some big fish. A Waycross angler fished from the pier on Saturday and caught 3 nice fish and missed several other bites. Crabbers caught a few blue crabs this week from the pier.Monitor the marine forecast.

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: Jan 23, 2015

Central Georgia

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

Big Lazer PFA (Jan. 15, 2015, 36-plus inches of visibility, water surface temp. 47 degrees) - Largemouth Bass:  Fair- a few bass are being caught on crankbaits fished around 10-11 ft. of water; try lures that mimic crayfish.

Crappie:  Fair- Crappie are sometimes hard to locate but fishing live minnows in 8-9 ft. of water in or around standing timber can be productive.

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

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

Additional Information:  http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer

Clarks Hill (down 3.2 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair and the cold front that passed through slowed fishing down a bit, but warmer days will arrive soon. They aren’t turning much water out of the Clarks Hill Dam, so anglers are still hea ding up the Savannah River towards the Russell Dam for the better current. Find the water up here has some color to it. The 1/2 to 3/4 ounce jigs seem to be the big bite bait is fair. Structure on or around the main river points and the larger or isolated rock piles in at least ten foot of water is bound to put some good fish in the boat. Finesse worms in the four and six inch size or a Shaky Head, not more than 1/4 ounce will catch you numbers of bass on the rip rap or rocky points on the main lake. Don’t forget to put two teaspoons of Catch and Release in your live well before adding water. Just think for the next few week, slow and deep. It’s hard to beat a jig and a spoon in the winter but the Lowrance sonar is the key. –Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Jackson Lake (down 0.89 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair and after a spell of stained water, the lake has cleared back up for the most part. Our recent pot tournament, during a very cold spell, brought some very good fish to the scales. Most of our fish were in 6 to 16 foot of water. Crank baits will get a relatively shallow bite when working rock and warm pockets. Also work points, humps, and bluff banks on the main river channel or appropriately deep water. Locations with deep, hard, and rocky bottom, will be more likely to hold concentrations of fish. The key to finding deep active fish is to find a group holding together or stay with the bait. Sun on rocks, wood, docks, and stained water will draw fish shallow when located adjacent to deep water, or in a pocket. On a warm afternoon, compact diving cranks like a Bandit or Shad Rap, should be fished shallow in stained water (if available) and on any rocks. A Fire Tiger or Craw DT 10, depending on water clarity, can also be worked on a chunky 6 to 10 foot bottom. With the weather fluctuations, you really need to get out there and fish the moment. Bites may be had both very shallow and out to 20 or deeper. Spinnerbaits have produced on shallow rock along with the crank baits. Fish a slower falling ¼ ounce Net Boy jig on docks with some depth and bluffs. Also fish 1/2 to 3/4 ounce Net Boy football jigs slowly through the deep water holding areas. Use a brown jig in clear water and a black/blue jig in stained water. Go with a brown or green pumpkin Zoom Super Chunk Jr. on the natural color jig and a green pumpkin or black Super Chunk Jr on the black/blue jig.

Marben Public Fishing Area (Jan. 9, 2015)An angler reported that he went fishing at Marben Farms PFA right after New Years day and caught bass on a jig and pig and on a plastic worm.  Most notably, bass were schooling up on threadfin shad in open water near the dam.  He didn’t have anything in his kayak to catch those fish, but typically jigs with under-head spinners (fishhead spin or su-spin blade) with a small plastic shad body will “match the hatch”.  Just cast to breaking fish and hang on!  Alabama rigs would also be a good option.  These fish may also hit top-water baits as the bass were jumping out of the water to hit the 3 inch shad.  Should be able to find bass chasing shad at Marben PFA in Bennett, Fox, Shepard and Margery lakes. Addtitional information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/CharlieElliott

McDuffie Public Fishing Area (Jan. 16, 2015, 40 inches of visibility, avg. morning water temp. 46 degrees)  – Largemouth Bass:  Excellent.  Best ponds have been Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster.  Catches of 4-5 pound bass in Willow have been reported.  Best fishing times are middle to late afternoon.  Fishing on the downwind side of the pond (especially in Willow) has been very productive.  Variations of threadfin shad imitations (1”-4”), pumpkin-seed finesse worms, swimbait lures, jerkbait lures and frogs have proven to be successful.  In Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster, bass are schooling and feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad on or near the surface throughout the day.  To locate the shad, look for where the seagulls are circling and feeding.  Seagulls have recently migrated into the area and should be present throughout the winter.  Generally, seagulls are excellent indicators of where to fish for largemouth bass.

Bream:  Good.  Best ponds have been Jones, Willow and Clubhouse.  As the water cools, expect bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) to be found in deeper water and be heavily related to structure.  Many large fish continue to be caught using beetle spins, red wigglers and crickets.

Channel Catfish:  Good.  Best ponds have been Jones, Willow, and Breambuster.  Numerous large fish have been caught in Jones pond.  Fish on the bottom in deep areas using worms, stinkbait and crickets.

Striped Bass:  Good to Fair.  Striped Bass are only in Bridge and Clubhouse, although there has recently been an unverified report of large stripers being caught in Breambuster.  Bigger fish have been caught late afternoon using chicken liver (Bridge) and light colored suspending minnows (especially in Clubhouse).

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

Ocmulgee River – Anglers watching the USGS gage on the Ocmulgee below Lake Jackson may be rewarded with some great bass fishing. River access below Lake Jackson is best when the gage registers around 4 feet. Anglers will find shoal, largemouth and spotted bass around the rocky rapids common in this stretch of river. Crayfish imitators fished slow will produce the best shot at a big fish. Insulated waders and life jacket are required equipment for anyone canoeing or kayaking this stretch of water.

Lake Oconee (full, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing fair. The lake is full, heavy stain over most of the lake, some clearing on the south end of the lake. Water temperature is 41 to 48. Jigs worked around docks from the middle of the coves to the back of the coves. Shaky heads fished under docks will also draw strikes. You can also uses spinner baits with a large Colorado blade fished around rip rap. This will work best when Georgia Power is pulling water. There has also been some large mouth mixed in with the hybrids under the birds.

Striper fishing is fair. Striper fishing can be great if you can find the birds diving on bait. If you cannot find the birds, the fishing will be fair at best. When you find the birds think small bait. A 1/4 ounce jig head with a small supper fluke, a small Rooster Tail will work. Keep a spoon ready for when the fish go down. Use your Lowrance to locate the school and drop the spoon down to the school. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service reeltime@bellsouth.net 

Crappie fishing is good to fair. The fish are moving into the coves and major creeks. The major creeks are muddy so make sure you are using a dark jig and tip it with a minnow. Spider rigging is the best option. Start in the middle of the creeks and work to the back. The mud has the fish scattered so keep moving until you find them.

Lake Russell (lake is full, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is slow. Get as far away from the stained waters and use the Lowrance to find the bait down lake in the backs of the creeks. Fish in the pockets and ditches on a drop shot with Zoom Shaky Head worm. The spots seem to be keying on the 25 to 35 feet deep. You can troll the pockets looking for fish on the graph. Once the fish show up on the sonar, and expect them to be on the bottom, they will usually bite. Be sure to sit right over the fish and drop baits straight down. After it warms up a little during the day try fishing some humps and ditches with shallow brush using a Carolina rig. Use the Zoom Dead Ringer in watermelon red or green pumpkin. Also the largemouth and spots will bits a pumpkinseed worm and be sure to dip the tail chartreuse in JJ’s Magic. Now crawling it through any brush on the bottom. – 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 or email Carrie Toth atcmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. Our fish both shallow and deep with the deep bite being most consistent. For the shallow bite, target steeper banks that contain darker colored rocks as they will generally hold more heat. As far as bait selection goes, any crawfish imitating crank bait or jig should work well due to the full moon we had this week. A Spro Little John MD 50 in the fire craw and fire tiger colors have been working well on these steeper banks near the mouth of creeks and on the main river banks. A ¼ to 3/8 ounce Buckeye Mop jig has also been producing a lot of quality bites around docks near the mouth of creeks. Generally the lighter weight jigs work best this time of year as they fall slower and stay in the strike zone longer. Black and blue has worked best on the upper half of the lake in the stained water, while brown has worked best in the clearer water down the lake. There are quite a few deep fish to be had right now as well and they will be more consistent throughout this colder weather. Look for these schools of fish to be holding in 30 40ft where the creek channels intersect the main river channel. If you find the pods of baitfish, you should be able to catch these fish by dropping a Buckeye Jiggin’ Blade or a flex it spoon below the baitfish. Gold works best on cloudy days and in dirty water while nickel works best on sunny days. – Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina, matt@sinclairmarina.com 

West Point Lake (down 6.5 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing has been slow and the cold windy weather has made it difficult to fish. Mid lake has been the best area to start this as the water is muddy up lake. Use a Netbait Finesse worm and a ¾ ounce Strike King football head jig has been the baits of choice. Some fish are being caught in the shallows but most fish are in 10 to 15 feet around deep brush pile or rock piles. Suspending jerk baits are still working but your retrieve speed has to be super slow. Use the Lucky Craft Staysee 90 in the chartreuse shad color. Up lake the water is muddy and fishing has slowed way down from last week. The key this week was to find deep structure and clear water. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

South Georgia

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

Altamaha River -Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle and Dannett from Altamaha Park both said that the river is still high, and fishing has been slow. A few crappie were caught from oxbow lakes in the tidal portion of the river. The only bite worth even trying this week is catfish in the Darien area. Put cut bait, worms, or shrimp on the bottom and you should be able to fool lots of white catfish and some channel and blue cats. The river level was 8.4 feet and falling (49 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.5 feet and falling (51 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Jan. 20.

Lake Blackshear – According to Rust Parker, the surface temp of Lake Blackshear has been around 50 to 53 degrees.  The water is just beginning to clear up a bit from the rains but up to two inches of additional rain are predicted Friday.  Rusty caught some crappie at the mouth of Swift creek and was able to find a small trash pile in 22ft of water and caught 15 nice slabs tight lining minnows and pitching R.A.G. Fly jigs.  Rusty fished on Wednesday and was able to catch two crappie tight lining minnows at the mouth of Swift Creek and then found a trash pile near Smoak Bridge that produced seven really nice slabs by pitching jigs.

Flint River - The Flint River has returned to fishable levels after the big rain we got around the holidays. However, heavy rain is expected on Friday. You can check out the following USGS gauges on the Flint River to determine water level and rainfall amounts before planning a fishing trip. Rising water levels can be good for catfish anglers and water temperatures have been slowly increasing in the Flint.

Okefenokee Swamp – The water level is falling back out and should start pulling back off the prairies in the next couple of weeks if we don’t get more rain. Before the current warm spell breaks, 100 flier catches will be common from all entrances. Pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies have produced best, but orange and yellow will also fool their share of the panfish. On warm afternoons, try the little fly without the float for the active fish. Catfishing on the west side (near Fargo) has been consistent, also. The Suwannee River below the Sill has also produced some good bullhead catfish catches. Shrimp fished on the bottom is hard to beat for bullheads.

Satilla River – The upper river is still too high to fish. The lower river (near Woodbine) white catfish bite is the only one worth trying again this week. That bite was slower the last two weeks, but should pick back up in the next week or so with the river falling.  Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the river is dropping but is still too high to fish. If you have a good spot to fish from the bank, you should be able to catch catfish in the upper river this week. Worms or shrimp fished on the bottom are a good bet. The river level at the Waycross gage was 12.3 feet and falling (54 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 12.4 feet and falling on Jan. 20.

Capt. TJ Cheek has been whacking sheepshead like this one in the Brunswick area. The sheepshead bite should continue all winter.

Capt. TJ Cheek has been whacking sheepshead like this one in the Brunswick area. The sheepshead bite should continue all winter.

St. Marys River – The St. Marys produced the best river fishing this week, by far. Catfish have been tearing up shrimp fished on the bottom. The crappie bite has been SPECKtacular! Anglers have been catching between 8 and 25 fish per trip. Minnows produced best. A few bream and redbreasts were fooled with crickets. On Sunday, an angler landed 18 crappie, 3 redbreasts, 2 bream, and a bass. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 6.1 feet and falling on Jan. 20.

Local Ponds – Chad Lee reported whacking the crappie on Saturday evening in an Alma area pond. He had 10 slabs that were around a pound apiece by fishing an artificial under a small float for the last hour or so of daylight. A couple of anglers fishing a Blackshear pond on Friday used shiners and caught a 6 and an 8-pound bass. They also missed 3 other bites. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, the crappie bite was great. He said start fishing in the deeper areas with minnows and move shallower as the fish move up in the warm afternoons. John Deere Green Jiffy Jigs produced some good fish by jigging in cover. On the warmer afternoons this week, bass were caught by anglers fishing shiners under floats near shoreline vegetation. A few bream were caught with crickets, while worms fished on the bottom fooled some catfish. Big crappie were reported from Lake Ware. Minnows were the best bait.

Best Bet – There is a cold front forecasted just in time for the weekend. If you can get out on Friday ahead of the front, you should do well for crappie and bass in area ponds. Behind the front, bass in ponds or catfish on the lower portions of area rivers should be good bets. Check the winds behind the front before going to big water.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Capt. TJ Cheek said that he was able to find plenty of clean water this week. He caught trout mostly in the smaller creeks in 5 to 10 feet of water near shells. He also caught sheepshead, black drum, and redfish around heavier cover. The challenge was finding current with the lower tidal amplitudes. If he could get the cork to drift, he caught fish. In the Brunswick area, quite a few sheepshead were caught in the Back River. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the sheepshead bite is all that was going on this week due to the weather. Fiddler crabs and barnacles fooled some big fish. A Waycross angler fished from the pier on Saturday and caught 3 nice fish and missed several other bites. Crabbers caught a few blue crabs this week from the pier. Monitor the marine forecast.

Categories: Fishing

Bobwhite Quail Initiative Provides Unique Youth Hunting Opportunity

By James Tomberlin, Georgia DNR Wildlife Biologist

Youth hunters Zachary Shumate of Fort Valley and Brian Massey of Thomaston enjoy a successful quail hunt at Red Hawk Plantation in Pulaski County graciously hosted by Lee Harris (not pictured) and guided by Philip Warren.

Youth hunters Zachary Shumate of Fort Valley and Brian Massey of Thomaston enjoy a successful quail hunt at Red Hawk Plantation in Pulaski County graciously hosted by Lee Harris (not pictured) and guided by Philip Warren.

The northern bobwhite quail occupies a prominent place in Georgia’s wildlife heritage. In fact, the Georgia General Assembly formally designated the bobwhite as the official Game Bird of Georgia in 1970. During the 1800s and through the mid 1900s quality early succession habitat occurred throughout the state as a by-product of the extensive, low-intensity agriculture and forestry practices. This resulted in widespread bobwhite abundance and earned Georgia the reputation as a premier quail hunting destination.  However, since that time bobwhite populations have experienced severe long-term declines – more than 90 percent since 1966.

This decline is an indicator of a dramatic ecological change with widespread economic and recreational impacts. Bobwhite hunters in Georgia have declined by more than 80 percent since 1964, with a similar decline in hunter harvest. Across much of Georgia, bobwhite densities have fallen below levels needed to attract and sustain hunter interest. In some landscapes viable bobwhite populations are no longer apparent.

Due to the severity of the bobwhite decline, a grassroots effort through the Georgia General Assembly and Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Board led to the development of the Wildlife Resources Division’s Bobwhite Quail Initiative (BQI) in 1998. BQI is a proactive effort to restore and maintain bobwhite habitat on private lands across Georgia’s Upper Coastal Plain.

Successful youth hunters Chad Shelton of Thomasville accompanied by his father Chris and Ethan Canaday of Loganville accompanied by his father Craig proudly display their spoils from their first wild bobwhite quail hunt.  The boys enjoyed a successful BQI youth hunt at Whitehall Plantation graciously hosted by owner Tom Bradbury (not pictured) and guided by plantation wildlife manager Jason Armstrong (kneeling with trusted English pointer ‘Liz’).

Successful youth hunters Chad Shelton of Thomasville accompanied by his father Chris and Ethan Canaday of Loganville accompanied by his father Craig proudly display their spoils from their first wild bobwhite quail hunt. The boys enjoyed a successful BQI youth hunt at Whitehall Plantation graciously hosted by owner Tom Bradbury (not pictured) and guided by plantation wildlife manager Jason Armstrong (kneeling with trusted English pointer ‘Liz’).

An important objective of BQI is to increase recreational opportunities primarily through improved quail hunting. BQI cooperators have worked with WRD to voluntarily host half-day or full-day quota youth quail hunts during the wild quail season.  These hunts have provided many youths with their first opportunity to experience wild quail hunting, which is paramount to sustaining this part of Georgia’s wildlife and hunting heritage.  The 2015 hunts were graciously hosted by Lee Harris of Red Hawk Plantation in Pulaski County and Tom Bradbury of Whitehall Plantation in Bleckley and Laurens Counties.  The hunts gave Zachary Shumate of Fort Valley, Brian Massey of Thomaston, Chad Shelton of Thomasville, and Ethan Canaday of Loganville, accompanied by a parent/guardian, to pursue wild bobwhite quail for the first time.  Both hunts were a success, with great fellowship and multiple coveys encountered and each hunter harvesting at least 1 quail.

Since its inception, BQI has advanced bobwhite restoration in Georgia and across the Southeast and revealed:

  1. Within appropriate landscapes, bobwhite numbers can be increased through judicious habitat restoration across working farms and forestlands
  2. Landowner demand for bobwhites is high but adequate levels of financial incentives and qualified technical staff are essential for success
  3. Habitat restoration must be focused into spatially explicit landscapes to produce and sustain a bobwhite population response.

The Bobwhite Quail Initiative is funded through a portion of the proceeds from the sale of “Support Wildlife” license plates. Apply for a BQI youth hunt. Read more information on Georgia’s BQI.

Categories: Hunting

Georgia Fishing Report: Jan 12, 2015

North Georgia

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

Allatoona

Spotted bass from Lake Lanier caught in December.

Spotted bass from Lake Lanier caught in December.

Lanier

  • Whopper Largemouth
  • Spots – Here are a few that I’ve caught over the last few weeks on Lake Lanier.  Water temp ran from 50 to 52 degrees; water slightly stained in the upper sections of the lake.  Mostly caught on crankbaits, jigs and worms. Gotta use the electronics to locate and then spray a little magic juice on the soft plastics! I’m not catching big numbers but the quality of fish caught has been good.  See ya. Wally
  • Striper Bounty

Trouting How-To

Dredger’s recipes

A) Dry

  • 2x long dry fly hook, size 16 or 18
  • Black superfine dubbing- long thin body
  • Sparse, narrow downwing of gray elk hair
  • 3 wraps of gray hackle palmered around the head .
  • Reinforce hackle with a rib of 6x tippet if you want to.
  • Fish it dead drifted or skittered.

B) Wet

  • Same hook
  • Same body
  • No wing
  • Two wraps of starling for some soft hackles .
  • Swing and twitch it in the current, often as a thirty-inch dropper behind the dry if fish are near surface, or just a foot behind a small bugger when dredging.

Upcoming Events

2015 Atlanta Boat Show (thanks to Ken Sturdivant for the agenda)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

  • 2:00 pm Trophy Bass Fishing, Bass Tubs of Oklahoma
  • 3:00 pm Crappie Year Round, Al Bassett
  • 4:00 pm Bass Tactics, Rick Burns
  • 5:00 pm Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • 6:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 7:00 pm Fly Fishing, Rene Hess CCI
  • 8:00 pm Lake Lanier Crappie, Dan Saknini

Friday, January 16, 2015

  • 1:00 pm Crank Baits for Bass, Ken Sturdivant
  • 2:00 pm Trophy Bass Fishing, Bass Tubs of Oklahoma
  • 3:00 pm Crappie Year Round, Al Bassett
  • 4:00 pm Fly Fishing, Rene Hess
  • 5:00 pm Lake Lanier Crappie, Dan Saknini
  • 5:30 pm Bass Fishing Lake Lanier, Jimbo Mathley
  • 6:00 pm Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • 7:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 8:00 pm Lake Oconee, Captain Mark Smith

Saturday, January 17, 2015

  • 11:00 am Crappie Year Round, Mark Smith
  • Noon Fly Fishing, Rene Hess
  • 1:00 pm Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • 2:00 pm Crappie Year Round, Al Bassett
  • 2:30 pm Inshore Fishing in the waters near Savannah, Jack McGowan
  • 3:00 pm Peacock Bass, Randy Hancock
  • 3:30 pm Springtime Spotted Bass, Jim Mathley
  • 4:00 pm Lake Allatoona Bass, Matt Driver
  • 4:30 pm Trout on the Chattahoochee River, Chris Scalley
  • 5:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 6:00 pm Bass Tactics, Rick Burns
  • 7:00 pm Lake Oconee, Captain Mark Smith
  • 8:00 pm Trophy Bass Fishing, Bass Tubs of Oklahoma

Sunday, January 17, 2015

  • 11 am Trophy Bass Fishing, Bass Tubs of Oklahoma
  • Noon Lake Oconee Crappie, Al Bassett
  • 1:00 pm Trout on the Chattahoochee River, Chris Scalley
  • 2:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 3:00 pm Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • 4:00 pm Lake Allatoona Bass, Matt Driver

Big Trout Party (Jan. 24) – 300 fibbing trout anglers, barbecue, bluegrass, and raffle prizes sound like a good time.  It’s the 28th annual Rabun Rendezvous at Dillard House!

Additional Links

Central Georgia

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

Clarks Hill (down 6.3 feet, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is slow and the surface temperatures will be a little lower by the time you hit the water this weekend. Anglers are fishing the edges of the grass mats. Most anglers are fishing South of Fort Gordon toward the dam and up into the Savannah River. Another cold snap is going to increase the feeding pattern and get the bass moving a little more. Look for signs of the dead bait fish as you use those deep water crank baits and spinner baits along the ledges and deeper water grass. Most, if not all, of the grass should be brown in color and come loose easily. Once you find the edges, mark it with buoy markers as the winds will have an effect on your boat position. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Jackson Lake (down 2.2 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. Fish are biting a small finesse worm on a Carolina rig but also use the same bait on a Texas rig. Smoke and pearl are the color of choices here. Use a small bright fire tiger Rapala DT10 in either the silver or shad color. Hot mustard will also work as more rain moves in and makes the water a little muddy. Work the ledges down lake and any of the smaller channels as they make sharp turns at or near a major point. Good current will be the helping factor here.

Marben Public Fishing Area (Dec. 31, 2014, 36-plus inches of visibility, water temp. low 50s)Largemouth Bass – We have received several reports of good Largemouth catches on schooling threadfin shad.  Most any lure that mimics a shad will work.  Also white spinner baits and spoons have been successful.  Slowly working a jig on submerged structure has paid off for some anglers.

Bream and Channel Catfish – The bite for these species is slow.  Your best bet is to fish on or near the bottom using worms.

Black Crappie – The crappie are still off the bank.  Try jigs and minnows at various depths around deep water habitat that has lot of limbs.  Typically crappie will occupy a small area.  You may have to spend a good bit of time finding the crappie this time of the year.  If you are fortunate enough to do so you should fill your creel easily.

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

McDuffie Public Fishing Area (Jan. 6, 2015, 40-plus inches of visibility, water temp. 50 degrees)  – Largemouth Bass – Excellent.  Best ponds have been Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster.  Catches of 4-5 pound bass in Willow have been reported.  Best fishing times are middle to late afternoon.  Fishing on the downwind side of the pond (especially in Willow) has been very productive.  Variations of threadfin shad imitations (1”-4”), pumpkin-seed finesse worms, swimbait lures, jerkbait lures and frogs have proven to be successful.  In Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster, bass are schooling and feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad on or near the surface throughout the day.  To locate the shad, look for where the seagulls are circling and feeding.  Seagulls have recently migrated into the area and should be present throughout the winter.  Generally, seagulls are excellent indicators of where to fish for largemouth bass.  Rodbender, our trophy bass pond, is open through the 15th during our normal hours.

Bream -  Good.  Best ponds have been Jones, Willow and Clubhouse.  As the water cools, expect bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) to be found in deeper water and be heavily related to structure.  Many large fish continue to be caught using beetle spins, red wigglers and crickets.

Channel Catfish -  Good.  Best ponds have been Jones, Willow, and Breambuster.  Fish on the bottom in deep areas using worms, stinkbait and crickets.

Striped Bass - Good to Fair.  Striped Bass are only in Bridge and Clubhouse.  Bigger fish are being caught late afternoon using chicken liver (Bridge) and light colored suspending minnows (especially in Clubhouse).

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

Lake Oconee (full, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. The lake is full, heave stain up the rivers clearing down the lake. The water temperature is 49-54 (F). There is a lot of trash that has been washed into the lake with all the rain so keep an eye out as you move up and down the lake. Look for the fish around the docks in the mouths of the creeks. Use a small crank bait that will make a lot of noise. Rattle traps are a good pick to fish around these docks. Fish it as slow as you can around the dock poles. Spinner baits with large blades fish around the same dock poles will also produce.

Striper fishing is good. Some fish are coming on spoons fished from the river bend area to the dam. Use your Lowrance to find the schools and then drop the spoon down to the fish. Live bait will also bring a few fish to the boat. When you see the birds working on the water cast a small jig head with a shad body attached. This works best on overcast days. Striper fishing has been very good over the past few weeks and now would be a good time to take a child fishing as the action is fast. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service (404-803-0741 or reeltime@bellsouth.net)

Crappie fishing is slow. There are some fish in the mouth of Lick creek, minnows fished on down lines into the schools will produce. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and drop your minnow down to the school. Keep moving until you find active fish.

Lake Russell (lake is full, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. Wind-blown points are favorite areas along with short stretches of red clay banks mixed with chunk rock. The points as well as the banks need to have deep water or a channel that runs close by. The bass are holding in the deeper water for the most part and move in and out on these areas to feed during the day. Even when the bass are holding in ten to fifteen feet of water and more, they will still hit deep diving crank baits like the Rapala DT10 and DT14. Also, use the Glass Shad Rap in the number 7 size. Make long casts with the DT10 into shallow water and work them all the way back to the boat. Now is the time to get the most out of the two Lowrance sonar frequencies. Learn how to split the screen and put 200 kHz on one side and 83 kHz on the other. These two frequencies will all anglers to see more of the bottom with the 83 kHz frequency. For those anglers that just love to use deep water jigging spoons, some nice bass along with a variety of other fish are being caught using this method. Find the fish and the structure and have at it. Most fishermen are concentrating their efforts in water anywhere from 25 to 45 feet. – 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 or email Carrie Toth at cmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained up river, main lake clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. The recent heavy rain will slow the fishing. The rivers are heavily stained making it difficult to get a bite. You can still catch a few fish in the rivers but your best bet is to find clearer water down lake. Shallow to medium diving crank baits fished from the mid lake area down to Sinclair Dam have been productive. Short pockets and rocky points will be best for the crank bait bite. A chartreuse colored Spro Little John or Little John MD will catch fish right now. A jig and a shaky head will also catch fish on the same rocky points and on the docks in the short pockets. A ¼ ounce black and blue Buckeye Mop Jig with a pork trailer are a good bet for quality fish this time of year. The light weight and the pork trailer allow the jig to fall slower. This makes you have to slow down when you fish, and it keeps the bait in the strike zone longer when it is falling. I like to throw a 1/8 ounce Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head for the same reason. Focus your efforts in 12 feet of water or less most days. On warm days, go shallow and look for dark colored rocks on a sunny bank. A shaky head will also pull a fish from brush piles right now if you need an extra bite or two throughout the day. There are also a few deep fish to be found with your Lowrance electronics. These fish can be found on deep structure in the mouths of the creeks. Once located, you can catch them dropping a gold spoon through them.

West Point Lake (down 6.7 feet, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. This week drop shot rigs, spoons, Carolina rigs and Shakey heads are the best set of baits with the cold weather and the runoff. Fish these ranges from 8 to 12 feet deep with finesse worms in green pumpkin, June bug and watermelon seed. Up lake and mid lake are the better area. Start at Whitewater Creek, Wehadkee Creek and no name pockets just below the railroad. The best places to target include the most important thing this time of year and that is finding the shad. Shad play such a major role in winter you have to follow the bait or you won’t be catching the fish. The jerk bait bite is also working and shad patterns are best. Try a spinner bait bite in a 3/8 ounce blue herring double Colorado Strike King model. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant. Lake levels from http://lakes.southernco.com/

South Georgia

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

Altamaha River – The lower river around Darien will produce some good catfish catches this time of year, but the upper river is too high to fish. Shad fishing has started off very slowly, so don’t expect to find a fisherman to get bait from quite yet. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that nobody has been fishing with the high water upriver. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the big slug of water has arrived there and has things churned up. She expects the catfish bite to be the first to fire back up when it gets back down. The river level was 11.9 feet and falling (54 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.9 feet and falling (56 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Jan. 6.

Wyatt Crews of Waycross caught his first chain pickerel in the Okefenokee on Tuesday. It ate a 2.8-inch gold flash Keitech swimbait fished on a Glider Head.

Wyatt Crews of Waycross caught his first chain pickerel in the Okefenokee on Tuesday. It ate a 2.8-inch gold flash Keitech swimbait fished on a Glider Head.

Lake Blackshear – The lake is back to full pool after the drawdown that was started in October. However the recent heavy rains that have filled the lake have also made the water stained and difficult to fish. High water conditions combined with the recent cold weather have slowed fishing considerably. As weather conditions and water levels stabilize in the coming days the fishing should begin to pick up for crappie, white bass, and hybrid striped bass.

Flint River - Recent heavy rain fall has made fishing in the Flint River for shoal bass, bream and catfish difficult. However, high water will draw striped bass, hybrid striped bass and white bass to the tailraces below the Warwick Dam on Lake Blackshear and below the Albany dam at Lake Worth. Try throwing large white bucktail jigs, lipless crank baits or spoons for stripers and smaller jigs to entice white bass. You can check out the following USGS gauges on the Flint River to determine water level and rainfall amounts before planning a fishing trip – Montezuma above Lake BlackshearHighway 32 below Lake BlackshearLower Flint River below Albany.

Okefenokee Swamp – Bert Deener fished with Wyatt Crews and Daniel Hampton of Waycross out of the Folkston entrance on Tuesday. Considering the super-high water level and cold night before we went, the fish bit decently. We ended up catching 76 fliers (up to 8 1/2 inches), 2 bowfin (mudfish), a 20-inch pickerel (jackfish), and a catfish. Orange sallies were best later in the afternoon, pink was better earlier in the afternoon, and yellow caught fish scattered throughout the day. We did pick up on a pattern that the poles rigged with the float and a super-small split shot produced many more fish than the poles with just a fly and float. That is typical in the winter, as the sinker keeps the fly down in their face. Later in the year when it warms, the float-fly (no split shot) will usually work better. Wyatt and Daniel both caught their first flier during the trip, and Wyatt also caught his first jackfish. The jackfish ate a 2.8-inch gold flash Keitech swimbait fished on a Glider Head.

Satilla River – The upper river is still too high to fish. The white catfish bite in White Oak Creek has even slowed. A couple of anglers went to the Woodbine area on Saturday and could only manage 3 white catfish on shrimp. That bite should fire back up when the river drops. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the river is still too high to fish, but look for the catfish to pick back up first once the water drops. The river level at the Waycross gage was 13.5 feet and falling (58 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 14.3 feet and falling on Jan. 6.

Lake Seminole – The recent cold weather and rainfall has resulted in fluctuating water levels and stained water conditions that have slowed the fishing on Lake Seminole. However, there were reports of crappie being caught in the coves off the main river channels around Christmas, probably due to the unusually warm weather we had during December. These fish will most likely move back to the deeper channels but will begin to return to the coves as the water temperature approaches sixty degrees. Look for largemouth bass also in deeper waters due to the colder weather. A slow presentation will be your best bet this time of year. This USGS gauge located in Bainbridge provides an approximate water temperature for the main lake. The water temperature in the coves will be a few degrees warmer.

St. Marys River – The upper river is flooded, so don’t try it again this week. The lower, tidal portion produced some great catfish catches. Shrimp, rooster livers, and worms worked. Some crappie were caught on minnows from the lower river backwaters. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 7.4 feet and falling on Jan. 6.

Local Ponds –  I rung in the New Year by fishing an Alma area pond with Chad Lee of Alma. He caught the first fish of the day on a minnow at 7:15 on January 1st, while I caught my first fish of the year at 7:40am. Mine ate an Arkansas shiner colored 1 1/2-inch Assassin Tiny Shad fished 2 feet under a float. We ended up catching 21 crappie in 2 1/2 hours of fishing. Chad caught the majority on minnows, while I caught 7 on Assassin Tiny Shads (gold pepper shiner was the best color) suspended under a float. Our biggest fish was 1 1/4-pounds. We only had 2 throwbacks, with most of the fish between 10 and 12 inches (great filleting size!). What a way to ring in the new year! A Valdosta angler rung in the new year by fishing swimbaits around grass on a Valdosta area lake. He caught 2 fish in the first few minutes with swimbaits and ended up with 11 bass for the day. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, crappie have been tearing up minnows. Some were also caught with Tennessee shad Jiffy Jigs and straight-tailed Assassin shads. On the back side of spillways, catfish were caught in good numbers.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Dane Clements and Wayne Canady whacked a cooler full of sheepshead, trout, and redfish in the St. Simons area on Saturday using fiddler crabs. They caught several sheepshead and 3 redfish on Sheepshead Jigs (a hook attached directly to a weight). The head is more sensitive than having a leader between your hook and sinker. Their biggest sheepshead was 6 pounds. Their trout (up to 16 inches) ate a white DOA shrimp fished across the open water of the creek. A group of Waycross anglers fished out of kayaks on Friday in the Brunswick area and dabbled bait around pilings to catch 28 sheepshead. Their biggest was a 3-pounder. Michael Winge said that trout and sheepshead were reported by Waycross anglers fishing on the warmer days. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the sheepshead bite remained great from the pier, with fiddler crabs luring them to the dinner plate. Monitor the marine forecast.

Categories: Boating, Fishing

North Georgia Fishing Report: Jan. 2, 2015

Info Provided by: Jeff Durniak, GA DNR North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor and North Georgia Region Fisheries staff

Chattooga Delayed Harvest stream.

Chattooga Delayed Harvest stream.

Happy new year!  While cold air temperatures and precipitation of various forms will make this a challenging season, there are still some great “winter windows” of opportunity ahead for north Georgia anglers.  If you’ve resolved to fish a little more in 2015, don’t wait for the fair weather of spring to honor your resolution.   Watch 5-day weather forecasts and USGS river gauges and find these great winter windows lying just ahead of you.  Here are some holiday reports to kick off your new angling year in style.

 

DH Goodies – “Just before the holidays, Georgia WRD employees distributed 6,700 presents (trout) into four Delayed Harvest streams (Amicalola Creek, Morgan Falls Tailwaters, Smith Creek, and the Toccoa River). The Chattooga River was stocked by South Carolina. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided 500 high quality brook trout, to this stocking. The Chattooga River, Smith Creek and the Toccoa River offer an excellent opportunity to complete the trout grand slam (landing a brook, brown, and rainbow in one day). For directions and more information on Delayed Harvest trout fishing opportunities, visit http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout.” -John Lee Thomson, Trout Stocking Coordinator

Chattooga New Year – Dredger and new fishing buddy “TFO” hit the Chattooga DH before yesterday evening’s two big games and had a fine time.  The water was low (1.6 on the Clayton gauge), clear, and cold (41F at 11AM), and the fish took a while to thaw out and pay attention to their bottom-bouncing flies.  Best bets were Oreck eggs and small pheasant tails.  Last week’s hot fly, the pat’s rubberlegs, was shunned yesterday.  They saw a few afternoon rises and caught 3 browns swinging #18 black soft hackles as the  afternoon shadows fell at 4PM.

Last fish was fondled at 4:45.  TFO celebrated his first brookie catch, while Dredger found a good brown that sucked in the egg fly in the “ford riffle” on the upstream end of the DH section.  Tip: hit the upper ends of pools, right where the riffles spill in.  And get down to the bottom quickly!

More Winter Trouting Tips – In a continuing effort to assist the new winter trouters among us (who fish too shallow), I offer these time-tested tips.

Toccoa Tailwater Trophy – Have all of you seen this monster fish yet?  Congrats Joe!

The Georgia Artist – Bamboo fly rods

Winter Walleye Q&A – “How is the walleye fishing for January and February in north Georgia?  Where would you suggest fishing and what type fishing (trolling, etc.) and baits?” -Sam

“Sam, not many people that I know are brave enough to fish for walleye in the dead of winter.  During the coldest months of the year, walleye will sluggishly take advantage of opportunities to feed on blueback herring.  On the smaller mountain lakes, the greatest concentration of bluebacks is close to the dam where they can absorb the warmth that radiates off the concrete.  Hopefully, walleye will be suspended underneath the herring at depths greater than 25-feet.  I suggest vertically jigging near the dam or downlining a blueback herring to catch suspended fish.    My second suggestion would be to SLOWLY drag nightcrawlers on the bottom along points or other structure located near the dam.  Walleye densities are highest in Lake Yonah and Lake Tugalo but  I’ve also heard of a few folks having success with vertical jigs on Lake Lanier around the Clarks Bridge area at this time of year.  By late-February, walleye move into the headwaters to begin their spawning migration.  The deeper holes upstream of Lula Bridge on the Chattahoochee River (Lake Lanier) are always the first place to find walleye in late-February.  Trolling a shad rap (crayfish or blueback patterns) on the bottom or dragging a nightcrawler on the bottom are your best bets.   I hope these tips help.” -Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist

Allatoona ReportGON Forum

Lanier Stripers

Henry’s Podcast- Stripers On the Fly

Lanier Winter Bass –

Try New Methods of fishing in the New Year! Fishing report for Jan. 2-10, 2015 (Report by Eric Aldrich)

Water Conditions: As 2015 begins Lake Lanier’s water level is up slightly at 1068.1 or 2.9 feet below full pool of 1071. Water surface temperatures continue to hover close to 50 degrees. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear to stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is slightly stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.

Bass: Bass fishing has slowed a little up shallow but the deeper bite has been steady. The up and down weather patterns and temperatures have made for some variable catch rates for anglers that rely on relatively shallow fishing but the deeper bite has remained pretty steady.

There has been a fair shallow bite in the morning in the backs of the coves and ditches from 10 to 25 feet deep. Deep diving crank baits, straight tail worms on a shaky head or underspins rigged with a 5 inch Big Bites Cane Thumper have all been working before the sun gets up in that ditches close to banks. Make sure to fish close to the bottom from either 5 to 25 feet deep or try positioning your boat or fish from the banks and cast out deep and retrieve your lures from deep to shallow.

As the sun starts to move up in the skies the small window of shallow fishing goes away so it’s time to work out deeper. Fishing deep intimidates a lot of anglers and it does take some homework to find the right areas. The main thing to look for are significant depth changes near timber lines. Today’s Side Imaging technology coupled with a quality GPS and Mapping Chip will cut down on the time it takes to find these off shore honey holes. You can also explore a regular quality paper map, like an Atlantic Mapping Chart before hitting the water. There are also a couple of Companies who researched, charted and photographed the lake several years during the record droughts and low lake levels that are offered for sale. The one I use is called LanierMapped.com and it has hours of video and indexes that help to reduce your on lake lime to find the best areas.

Once you locate timberlines that are in 35 to 60 foot of water then position your boat directly over areas that have bait and drop a jigging spoon to the bottom. Reel up the spoon about 1-3 feet then impart a snap and drop action to make the spoon rise quickly then flutter down to the bottom. Use a bait caster with 15 to 20 pound Sunline Monofilament and use a ½ ounce Hopkins or Flex-It style of spoon. I replace the standard treble hooks with light wire Gamakatsu hooks. These lighter hooks and heavier line allow you to straighten the hooks and retrieve your spoons when the get snagged on the bottom. These jigging spoons mimic dying shad and you can catch one bass after another when you find a school of fish. Sometimes you may not see the actual bass until you start jigging’ but looking for clouds of bait fish will help you to find these bottom hugging bass.

You can also use other lures in these same areas like a drop shot, shaky head worm or jig n’ pig combos too. You can also use these same lures on steep bluff wall banks and stair step them down the drops. Just make sure you fish them VERY slowly!

Stripers: Striper fishing is good. The stripers are biting a few different patterns and if you can keep your options open and fish a full day you should be able to catch a few. On cloudy days the stripers have been swirling up shallower in the creeks up and down lake. Look for feeding gulls and loons and you know you will be around fish. Drag medium sized trout and larger herring on flat and planner boards in the same areas where you witness bird and fish swirling on the surface.

On brighter and sunnier days it can pay to move out deeper towards the mouths of the creeks and midway up in the rivers. Target areas out over deeper timber and watch your fish finders for clouds of bait and also arcs and wavy lines that indicate the larger predator fish. The timber tops are located from 25 to 35 feet below the surface and the stripers are hanging right around those same depths and shallower.

When fishing the deeper water set out 2 or more down lines at 25 feet from the front of the boat rigged with herring or trout and set two flat lines out back with medium trout with no weight or herring with a quarter ounce split shot crimped two feet above the hook to allow the herring to run deeper in the water column. The trout will usually dig down deeper but the herring may need a little help. Move the boat extremely slow or even on a slow wind drift. If the wind is blowing over 5 miles per hour turn the bow into the wind and troll slow enough to barely keep the boat moving, just fast enough to keep the baits behind the boat. The goal is to keep these fish on slack line so they will run deeper. If you see your trout or herring up on the surface that is also OK because stripers will also see them. Odds are that they may already be being chased by stripers so be ready for one of your reels to start screaming drag when a striper hits.

If you are getting strikes on your baits without getting a hook up there are a few things to consider. First, always leave your rod in the rod holder until it bends over and the drag starts to give. Many anglers will pick up a rod that has a “nervous” baitfish. It is better just to leave the rod in the rod holder until a fish hooks up. Secondly, if you get a pull down but the fish does not stay hooked up leave it in place for a minute or longer if you still see your bait moving. Stripers will often strike a live bait or even artificial lure one of more times in an attempt to stun it before coming back and eating it. IF the stripers rips your bait off the hook then reel it up and put a similar sized and type of bait back on and get it back out into the same position. If the striper took it one time there is every chance they may come back again to strike another one. Lastly, keep a SPRO Buck tail or other lure at the ready at all times to cast to fish you see on the surface or to drop to fish you see on your depth finder. Also don’t be afraid to cast an artificial back around the baits being pulled behind the boat as long as you can retrieve them without getting tangled. This can trigger a strike on either the artificial lure or may pull fish up to strike your live bait too.

Trolling umbrella rigs during the day, casting flies to fish swirling on the surface and fishing Bombers and McSticks after dark are all other methods that are working to boat some stripers right now.

Crappie: The crappie reports are almost non-existent but I have continued to see evidence that they are biting. We have caught them on jigging spoons and I have seen some on electronics schooled up in timber and brush down deep. Continue to work a small crappie jig tipped with a minnow on light line around and through the brush piles very slowly. These fish are seeming to hang around timber and brush in the 25 foot range. If you wish to brave the lake at night try fishing lighted deeper boat docks or deeper bridge pilings in the backs of the creeks like Six Mile and Wahoo Creek to name a couple.

Trout: Trout fishing is good below Buford Dam due to recent stockings. Newly stocked trout will bite readily and can be coaxed with spinning tackle on both artificial and live bait (where permitted by law. The creeks and rivers in the North Georgia Mountains are also great places to fish in the winter.

Bank Fishing: As mentioned above there are some bass, stripers and even crappie in the ditches and these fish can also be caught from the banks. Lake banks with deeper water close in are great places to target. Whether it is a ditch, creek or river channel if you can cast a lure out into 25 feet or deeper you are probably in a good area.

Cast a Fish Head Spin or other brand underspin rigged with a Big Bites Cane Stick out as far as you can cast and let it hit bottom. Let the lure sink until it hits bottom. You will be able to tell it hits when the line stops coming off your reel. When it stops engage your reel and retrieve it just fast enough to stay a foot or two off bottom. You can check to make sure you are still close to bottom by stopping occasionally and letting to fall. You can also use a buck tail, deep diving crank bait, Rooster Tail or plastic worm but make sure to fish slowly.

Worth a Look – Read and form your own opinions.

Generations – Sgt. Mike B. is one of our friends here in the Gainesville region office.  He’s patrolled Lanier for decades to protect its fish and wildlife resources and to promote the safety of its anglers and boaters.  We share in his joy of participating in his son’s recent graduation ceremony. By the way, don’t trout fish behind Mike’s wife, Carmen, on our mountain streams this spring.  She’s a vacuum and you’re bound to have a real slow day!

Good luck in 2015.  May you resolve to fish a little more and to introduce somebody new to the sport.  Fishing fans are advocates of aquatic conservation, and that’s good for all of us.  Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.  I look forward to hearing YOUR fish stories.

Categories: Fishing

Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: Dec. 31, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)

Brianna Bennett (right) caught and released this bull redfish while fishing with Capt. TJ Cheek on a nearshore reef. This was Brianna’s first redfish and her biggest fish ever!

Brianna Bennett (right) caught and released this bull redfish while fishing with Capt. TJ Cheek on a nearshore reef. This was Brianna’s first redfish and her biggest fish ever!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you each a Happy New Year! If the fishing this week is any indication of things to come, we are going to have a fantastic year of fishing! My prediction is that the Satilla will produce some excellent redbreast fishing this spring, but fall a little short of last year’s peak. I also expect the flier fishing in the Okefenokee to be the best it has been in years (because of all the high water). Around southeast Georgia this week, the crappie and bass fishing were good, and catfishing was great in the lower rivers. Sheepshead ate it up in saltwater. The rivers are very swollen from last week’s rains, and you will likely want to find other places to fish this week. Full Moon is January 5th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the bite slowed with the rising river all week, but folks caught some crappie from sloughs. Minnows produced most of the fish. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the big slug of water did not arrive there yet, and anglers caught crappie from the mouths of feeder creeks. They also did pretty well for channel, blue, and flathead catfish. Live bait was best for flatheads, while cut bait, worms, and shrimp produced the channel and blue catfish. The river level was 12.7 feet and rising (56 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.9 feet and rising (57 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Dec. 30.

Satilla River – I fished White Oak Creek (the lower Satilla near Woodbine) on Friday with my son Timothy and father-in-law Bob Springer from Maryland. Brentz and Alex McGhin also fished White Oak Creek the same day with us. Together our boats landed 61 white catfish. The most productive presentation was a small piece of shrimp tight-lined on the bottom with a Catfish Catcher Jighead. That setup produced the biggest of the day (an angler award-sized white catfish weighing 2-lb., 10-oz.) for Timothy. Some fish were also caught with Carolina rigs baited with small baitfish, and a few were also caught with red wiggler worms. It was a great day, and the boys had a blast. I will be writing an article on catfishing the lower Satilla for the March issue of Georgia Outdoor News, so keep an eye out for it if you are interested in catfishing. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that with the river flooded, the fishing stopped. A few crappie and catfish were caught from the creeks feeding the river before the river flooded. He said that he expects the catfishing to be excellent once the river drops below 10 feet. This high water will help the spring redbreast bite, so it is a good thing (long-term). The river level at the Waycross gage was 16.2 feet and falling (59 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 14.9 feet and rising on Dec. 30.

St. Marys River – The upper river is flooded, so don’t try it. The lower, tidal portion will produce a bunch of white catfish. Rooster livers and shrimp on limb lines produced some decent catfish catches this week. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 10.0 feet and falling on Dec. 30.

Okefenokee Swamp – At the Folkston entrance, the warmouth bite was good. Anglers caught them on worms. With the warm temperatures forecasted over the weekend, the flier should bite well. Pitching yellow, pink, or orange Okefenokee Swamp Sallies is a sure-fire way to catch the tasty panfish. With the warm-up, you would not need a small balsa float, but you might want to try it if the fish will not come shallow to eat the fly. I’m writing an article in the February issue of Georgia Outdoor News about swamp fishing, so keep an eye out for it.

Local Ponds –  Chad Lee of Alma caught a few crappie the day after Christmas but struggled for his fish. An angler fishing a Valdosta area pond pitched jigs to vegetation for a few bass up to 5 pounds. Swim jigs have been very steady over the last few winters. Swim them slowly around vegetation and wood cover and set the hook hard when you feel the “tick” of a bass inhaling the lure. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, anglers have been fishing the back side of spillways and whacking bass and channel catfish. Shiners have produced most of the fish. On the upstream side of the dams, anglers have been doing well for crappie using minnows and Tennessee shad Jiffy Jigs. Bass whacked lipless crankbaits and dark colored spinnerbaits.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) –  Capt. TJ Cheek reported that the water is clearing up and the trout are catchable inshore. The sheepshead fishing has been solid around hard structures. He has been spending a good bit of time offshore and has been whacking the black sea bass and bull redfish on nearshore reefs. He even saw a white shark on Friday. Michael Winge said that trout, redfish, and flounder were reported by Waycross anglers fishing the brine. Live shrimp produced a bunch, while electric chicken Assassin Sea Shads were the top artificial. The Brunwick area produced some impressive sheepshead catches for those fishing fiddler crabs or barnacles around pilings, rocks, and trees. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the sheepshead bite is phenomenal from the pier, with fish averaging 5 to 6 pounds. Fiddler crabs were the best bait. A few whiting were caught this week with dead shrimp on the bottom. Big blue crabs were thick under the pier, and all it took was to bait a crab net with chicken parts.

Best Bet - Sheepshead (if weather allows) fishing is the most consistent bite for the weekend. If the weather is too rough on the coast, pond fishing for crappie or bass should be excellent with the forecasted warm-up. Flier fishing on the swamp or catfishing on the lower Satilla or St. Marys are other great options.

Categories: Fishing
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