North Georgia Fishing Report: Jan. 10, 2014

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

Welcome to another edition of your favorite reality show, the best since this one with Marlin, and especially this one with Curt (in my aged, humble opinion).

There should be some entertaining and educational tidbits in here for y’all.  Did you know that our staff’s favorite fisheries management tool this week was an ax to break thru the ice?  Here we go, and we’re starting with a bang! Go pop some popcorn and settle in.

The Dukes Creek Student

It’s a bit  long, but this video is an extremely entertaining look at the exploits of young Trout Unlimited Trout Camp graduate Ryan Hartley, as he pays his dues and finds success on Dukes Creek at Smithgall Woods Conservation Center (fishing/lodging reservations: 706-878-3087). Gotta love the Go-Pro!  Special shoutout to “dad the driver,” and several other anglers (Landon and Cliff Speed) who’ve taken time away from their own fishing to mentor Ryan and his brother Myles this past year.

Enjoy your fireside fishing show courtesy of Ron Howard… I mean Ryan Hartley.  He’s a great example of the next generation of angler/conservationist that we all hope for!  And thank you to the Smithgall family for their wonderful gift to Georgia’s sportsmen and women.

Win a Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License!

Entry deadline is Jan 22. Enter the contest and like Wildlife Resources on Facebook!

Walleye Preparation

Biologist Anthony Rabern wants to know… are you ready for walleye?

Senior biologist Anthony Rabern at Lake Burton Hatchery (706-947-1507)says it’s a good time for anglers to do their homework and prepare for the upcoming walleye season, which can kick off as early as late February.  Here’s his report…

“As we are huddled up in our warm houses during the cold blasts of winter, the solace provides time to prepare for some late-winter fishing that will pick up around the first of March.  I’m talking about walleye!  Walleye are among the first species to spawn in the year.  As such, they should be near the top of your fishing “to-do” list, but now is the time to prepare.  How?  First, find a reservoir or river in North Georgia where walleye occur.  The Fisheries Section has developed a FREE downloadable Walleye Fishing Guidebook that introduces potential walleye anglers to locations and fishing techniques.

Many anglers new to walleye fishing in Georgia want to know about bank fishing opportunities.  March is the best time to catch walleye from the shore.  The guidebook identifies several bank fishing locations.  To assist your research, download Google Earth at no cost onto your computer and follow the instructions.  Google Earth is an amazing tool that will allow you to explore potential fishing sites from the comfort of your own home.  So, while the cold wind blows outside, tune up your reels, change your line, and read up on walleye because the walleye bite in March is just a few weeks away.”


Catfish for Next Summer – We’re like the U.S. Mail!

Despite unusually cold temperatures this week, fisheries staff are out and about stocking channel catfish from Walton Fish Hatchery in metro Atlanta ponds that are slated to host kids fishing events in 2014. These catfish will grow quickly as the weather warms up this spring. There are even a few rarely-seen albino catfish in the bunch!

Hooch Wild Browns – Jan. 13, 2014

He not only writes, but he speaks, too.  Learn where the Hooch tailwater’s wild browns are, what they eat, where they go, and how they grow.  Patrick has an “electric” presentation that has helped tailwater anglers understand their resource. Here’s his latest stop on the speaking tour:

GA DNR fisheries biologist, Patrick O’Rouke will speak at the GWFF January Meeting

Patrick O’Rouke, a fisheries biologist with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division will be presenting in the Georgia Women Flyfishers (GWFF) Club meeting on Monday, Jan. 13 about his recent study on brown trout in the Hooch.

Patrick is responsible for sport fish management on the Chattahoochee River in the Metro Atlanta area as well as Lakes Lanier, Chatuge, and Nottely. He is a seventh-generation native of Gwinnett County who grew up fishing the ‘Hooch in the footsteps of his ancestors and now gets the privilege of managing this tremendous resource.

Patrick recently completed at 14-month study on the wild brown trout population from Buford Dam to Bull Sluice Reservoir. With help from Trout Unlimited, the National Park Service, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and the Chattahoochee Coldwater Fishery Foundation, this study looked at the growth, movement, and diets of brown trout at four different locations. Patrick will discuss the findings of this study and its implications for the management of the fishery, along with some helpful advice that just may help land a few more trout along the way.

This presentation is not to be missed!

The presentation will start at 7 p.m. Social time starts at 6pm approximately.  The meeting location is at 5 Seasons Brewery Sandy Springs Location.

As usual, GWFF monthly meetings are opened to the public.

Egg Recipe for Trouters

Rabunites usually don’t tell their secrets, but they’re apparently slipping up with age… And you will benefit from this slip regarding Oreck’s Easy Egg.

Trout Stream Partnership Kudos

A little more public land and water for everyone to enjoy, courtesy of these fine partners.

Congrats to a Good Guy

Congratulations to wildlife technician Eric Wood, who is retiring tonight after 34  years of service.  His tour of duty included stints as the Stephens County conservation ranger and manager of Blue Ridge and Cooper Creek WMAs.  His Coopers youth days, with his sportsmens group up there, are legendary in the local community.

We will miss you Eric.  Fish and wildlife resources, and the hunting and fishing fans that followed them up here in north Georgia, are better because of your efforts.  From trout stream law enforcement to food plot planting, and from WMA road maintenance to search and rescue, you were an awesome example of WRD in action.  May we all continue your high standards of public service.  I still remember our first stint in front of a TV camera, the “Fishing Fun with Captain Bill” cable TV show in Smyrna.  All the callers wanted to talk to YOU!

We’re gonna have a great time at Jaemor Farms tonight.  And I sure hope some naïve spotlighter doesn’t pull the trigger in the field behind the farm house!  I believe he’d have a “real bad day” by game warden standards.

Bald Eagle Live Stream 24/7

Did you save some popcorn?

This blog is also available as a newsletter. Anyone interested in joining the mailing list should simply provide a first and last name and email address to our regional secretary, Olivia McClure, at She’ll get you signed up.

Thanks for buying/renewing that license.   Although it’s winter and you may be indoors a bit more, there’s still a lot of news and events concerning Georgia’s outdoors!  Good luck. Don’t forget the boat show’s fishing seminars  at the World Congress Center this weekend.    If it warms up a bit, grab a new angler and be the hero.  Grab the Go-Pro on your way out the door.  You might be the next Curt Gowdy!


Southeast Georgia Fishing Report: Jan. 9, 2014

By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

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

Swamp fishing is one of the two best bets for this weekend. Dr. Mike VanDenAvyle of  Athens fished the swamp last month and caught this nice warmouth.
Swamp fishing is one of the two best bets for this weekend. Dr. Mike VanDenAvyle of Athens fished the swamp last month and caught this nice warmouth.

This week, we’ve seen some of the most abysmal fishing reports since the deep freeze we had several years ago. The crappie bite has been about the only thing worth mentioning this week.  However, the high water in rivers and awful fishing conditions right now, should produce some of the best fishing ever in the Satilla and Altamaha rivers this spring. Full moon is Jan. 16. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Forget it – too cold and too high. The Darien area might produce some channel catfish by the weekend warm-up if you just have to fish the Altamaha. The river level was 16.4 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and rising (45 degree water temperature) at the Baxley gage, and 11.6 feet and rising (49 degree water temperature) at the Doctortown gage on Jan 7.

Satilla River –  Forget it this week! Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said no one is fishing with the high water right now. The river level at the Waycross gage was 12.4 feet and cresting (48 degree water temperature) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.7 feet and rising (47 degree water temperature) on Jan. 7.

Local Ponds – This will be the place where time spent fishing is not wasted. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle said anglers reported catching crappie on minnows Saturday afternoon. The best bite was when the sun came out for a short time. By this weekend, the warmer temperatures should produce some nice crappie catches during the afternoons.

Okefenokee Swamp – Still no one reporting from the swamp. I wouldn’t bother until this weekend, when the fliers shake off their disorientation from the frigid conditions. They should eat pretty well (sallies under a float) by Saturday afternoon during the warm up.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said no one has been fishing during the frigid, windy conditions. Before the mid-week arctic blast, anglers caught some sheepshead from the pier.

Best Bet: With the warming trend, the Okefenokee flier and local pond crappie bites are really the only ones even worth considering. The extreme cold will most likely put most of the other bites off for another week. For crappie, drift minnows in the deepest parts of the pond, and expect the better bite to be as the sun peeks below the trees in the late afternoon. For flier, expect the fish to bite best during the last 2 hours of daylight, and work your sally very slowly underneath a small balsa float. Realistically, your best bet is to get the honey-do list done this weekend so you can fish when it warms up!

In case you missed it…

My fishing predictions for 2014:

  • The Altamaha and Satilla river panfishing will be awesome again this spring. With the rivers in the floodplain at the time of writing this, I expect survival and growth to be excellent. If the river gets to fishable levels at the right time, it will be off the chain this spring.
  • The Okefenokee Swamp fishing will be the best it has been in years. The flier population is huge, and the fishing will be truly unbelievable when the water pulls back off the prairies and into the canals. I believe you can catch (not keep) over 500 fliers in a day when the conditions are right (and doing that is one of my goals this year).
  • Somebody will catch a 15-pound bass from Lake Paradise on Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton. That lake has some whoppers, and it is just a matter of time before someone catches a mammoth bass from the lake.