Georgia Fishing Report: March 27, 2015

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

North Georgia

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

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

Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee, April 2009.

Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee, April 2009.

Trout

Relocation Along the Chattooga

Great Day from Chattooga River Fly Shop,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lanier stripers – Trophy Time

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

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

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

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

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

Additional links:

Toona Trophy

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

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

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

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

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

Licenses Required at a PFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: March 20, 2015

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

North Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crappie – Local Ponds

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

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

Brown trout on Chattooga DH.

Brown trout on Chattooga DH.

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

And the Quill Gordon watch continues…

Hooch DH Reports - GON Forum

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

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

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

Stripers

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

Central Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Georgia

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

Bass sampled from Lake Seminole recently.

Bass sampled from Lake Seminole recently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Black drum caught from the St. Simons Pier.

Black drum caught from the St. Simons Pier.

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

Licenses Required at a PFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Categories: Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: March 12, 2015

North Georgia

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

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

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

Check Your LicensesTime to renew and save a few dollars?

Trophy StriperTake a look at this beast!

Walleye Whereabouts -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More PerchGON Forum

Allatoona Mixed BagGON Forum 1, GON Forum 2

Crappie Time

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

River Bass -

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

Delayed Harvest Trouting Report – 3/7/15

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

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

Stocked Trout Best Bets – Give these a try:

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

For Fly Flingers – Caddis Time!

Additional links:

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

South Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

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

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

Categories: Boating, Fishing

Georgia Fishing Report: March 4, 2015

North Georgia

(Info provided by region Fisheries staff)

Danny Wall with his Lake Rabun-record striped bass.

Danny Wall with his Lake Rabun-record striped bass.

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

Central Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coast

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

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

Categories: Fishing

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
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