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

This angler braved the icy conditions on the Chattooga, but the cold may have many anglers opting for "option 1" this weekend!
This angler braved the icy conditions on the Chattooga, but the cold may have many anglers opting for “option 1” this weekend!

Given the fact that it was 8 degrees when I left home in Cleveland, Ga. this morning, this week’s recommendations are easy…

  1. Stay warm indoors, or…
  2. Go low and slow, and be brief.

What about Option 1?  Our current deep freeze has water temperatures plummeting and most cold-blooded predators slowing down.  It’s what we should expect in the dead of winter.  Catch rates are very slow or nonexistent, so most new anglers should take a break and find some enjoyable indoor activities to pursue.  Events with food, fire, fishing conversations and/or seminars can be particularly appealing during this hibernation period. Many fishing clubs have great program speakers, so just Google-search “lake-species-club” (insert your favorites), see what pops up, and take a drive to find some new friends and fibs – and heat.

Yet some of you, the die-hards, the addicts, the cabin fever sufferers, desperate for a cure, want a message of hope.  And there is hope – we deliver Option 2 for you!

Slow down those baits, lures, or flies.  Get them deep, where the lethargic fish are.  Most importantly, narrow your time outside to those brief windows of opportunity to actually get a strike or two.  For stripers, it might be an hour and a half at dawn or dusk.  For trout, it’s gonna be that noon- 3 p.m. window of greatest sunshine and highest peaks in daily water temperature.  So go low and slow, and be brief.  Your fingers and toes will appreciate your restraint!  While you may not catch the numbers, winter is a great time to hang a trophy, so bring along the net and the camera, too.

Here we go…

Reservoirs

Jan. 24, 2014

This Lake Lanier Bass report is from Jimbo Mathley www.jimboonlanier.com

“Bass fishing is fair. Over the past week, we have been focusing on two types of areas for our fish. Inside timber lines in 30 to 40 feet of water have produced some big bites for us recently. Typically, a jig or worm has been our best offerings. Our most consistent fish have still been coming off of rock or rock and clay mix and have been fairly shallow. Most of our bites have came between 10 and 20 feet, with some big bites still coming in less than 10 feet of water. Our best offerings on the rock and clay have been a jig, a shaky head, a crank bait and a Fish Head Spin. The main key to getting bit right now is SLOW presentations. When you think you are going slowly enough, slow down. This is a great time to come out and learn winter fishing in cold water, both deep and shallow. If you don’t know these techniques, they are certainly valuable tools to add to your winter fishing arsenal. I have the following dates open next week:  Jan. 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31. Give me a call and reserve your date NOW! “

This Striper report is from Captain Ken West and Captain Mike Maddalena of Big Fish On Service

“Striper fishing is fair with an early morning and late afternoon bite. The problem is the freezing temperatures makes fishing very uncomfortable. Wet cold hands from putting baits out, bait tank lids frozen and ice in the bottom of the boat become good reasons to get some “honey do’s” done. However, my advice is if you can go fishing: Go! After all, fishing is an outdoor sport. Keep in mind that fish are cold blooded and will seek out the warmest water. They will also “slow down” and in general are in no mood to chase fast moving baits. Consequently, consider slowing down your presentation, downsizing your baits and fish areas with the greatest concentration of bait. Keep someone on the deck casting a 3/8 to 1/2 ounce buck tail jig with a small fluke trailer all day when you are pulling baits. You can also rig a super fluke on a hook and cast it to feeding fish. If there are birds searching an area put out a “spread” of bait and search the area with the birds. Vary the distance from your boards and free lines from 25 to 125 feet behind the board/boat. Hang a couple of down rods over the side just above the bait. Both Trout and Herring will work but don’t overlook downsizing your baits with some medium shiners. Focus on the sunny side of the creeks in the late morning and afternoons as they will warm and attract the baits to shallow flats. Weight your lines with two to three split shots and adjust your down rod depth to the bait. The Umbrella rig should work with a lighter setup and shallower presentation. The back of Flat creek and Four Mile Creek are always good places to start when the water cools to the low 40’s.”

This Lake Allatoona s report is from Matt Driver www.proanglerradio.com

“Bass fishing is good. Fish are mid depths and the blue gill fire Kacys Kustom jig has been doing the trick. Slow retrieve and a real and a very light bite. A good sensitive rod is key when feeling the bites. Also there is somewhat of a crank bait bite and the numbers are low but the size is good. The Spro Little John tiny DD in cell mate has been a good bait lately as well as a number 4 Rapala Shad Rap in a craw pattern. Colder weather on the way so watch for a shad kill by mid-week.”

This Lake Allatoona fishing guides report for striper and hybrid has been brought to you by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service.

“Line side fishing is slow, but there are a few big fish being caught. The lake is looking better but there is still about 80% of the lake still muddy or heavily stained. The water temps are in the upper thirties to the low forties and the shad kill has started. Catching numbers of line sides right now is just not going to happen. But there’s a chance to boat a really big fish right now, if you’re willing to devote the time. The key to catching fish this week is to find clear water. There is clear water to lightly stain water from Allatoona Landing to Red Top. This is the best water on the lake right now. This section of the lake is holding fish but getting to eat is challenging. The bigger fish are more out to eat mid to large Shad and trout fished on planner boards and free lines. But these bites are very few and far between. But if you stay with it you can catch a trophy fish this time of year. If you want to catch a trophy fish, now is the time.”

From Jimbo’s Guide Service on Lake Hartwell. Guide Rick Steckelberg

“Lake Hartwell is 2.27 feet above full pool. The main lake is clear and 50.8 degrees. The backs of creeks are slightly-to-hard stained and 48.6 degrees.

Bass fishing is fair and the fish are in the creeks consistently. We are still seeing some sporadic schooling activity on the main lake. We have been catching these schooling fish on a 1/2 ounce Fish Head Spin in pearl white and albino colors trailed with a matching Zoom Super Fluke Jr as well as a herring colored jerk bait. The Fish Head Swarm has been very effective on main lake points and creek ditches as well. Also, keep a drop shot or a Capt. Mack spoon handy to drop vertically on fish you see on your graph. The timber bite is starting to pick up as well and Rick has been catching those fish on a Sworming Hornet Stinger Jig. Come fish with Rick on Lake Hartwell and learn his top secret approaches and strategies that will be used by the pros in next year’s Bass Master Classic. The Classic is coming to Hartwell in February 2015!”

The Southern Fishing Report by Ken Sturdivant: www.southernfishing.com

Crappie Bite is On!

Again, find the windows and the fish are there:

A Fine Birthday Present: Cole celebrated in style with Clay!

Big Rivers

Hearty folks on the Coosa had some fun!

Trout

Catch and Release

The weekend trio of Landon, Irish and Dredger hit the Chattooga (Delayed Harvest section) for some midafternoon fly-flinging.  The 38-degree water made it challenging, but it was still a nice day on the water.  Irish and Dredger caught a couple each by traditional dredging methods. They also saw some rises to the occasional winter stonefly that fluttered past (size 18 back body, size 16 gray wings) and hung a few fish on no. 16 black soft hackle wets swung in the current.  But ole “College Boy” schooled them again as he (said he) landed 16-18 fish on that darn Euro rig again.  Landon felt that the key to success was nothing but 6X tippet in the water (6-8 feet worth) leading to his hot fly, the tungsten-beaded, olive mohair leech.  Landon does not bump the bottom occasionally.  He’s literally rolling that heavy fly along the bottom and bumping these fish in the nose.  Hopefully the two of us will keep practicing and get as good as college boy one day in our future ….

So “College Boy” finishes school and work early on Wednesday and decided to test his methods once again on Amicalola (Delayed Harvest section).  He wandered over, passed two defeated anglers walking out of the Highway 53 ledges, and got in with that long, slow-action rod, thin leader, and olive “sinker with jig hook attached.”  He laid them out again!  I think he said the final tally was 12-14 rainbows in a couple hours on the water.  Sounds like the rest of us need to buy a lot of 6X, tie these depth charge flies, and give it a go!

Fishin’-to-the-Kitchen (complete with a recipe!)

“Jeff,

I had a few hours free to make it out on the ‘Hooch below the Dam on Saturday.  I hiked my float tube (PFD in hand) up to the top of Bowman’s Island and floated back down the Gwinnett side of the island to the Buford Hatchery steps from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.  There looked to be a good number of waders who had walked down from the dam, but not too many folks from the island down.  Lake Lanier has completely turned over, so the water is now crystal clear (and nice and cold).  Since the forecast called for a good bit of wind, I left the fly rod at home and brought my trusty spinning rod with me.

The gold Little Cleo spoon provided the best action on the day.  I did catch a few small browns (less than 7 inches) on a 1/16 oz. white rooster tail; I’ve heard the last cold snap we had may have killed a few shad up in the lake so they may have been keyed in on white flashes as shad chunks floated down the river.  I also tried a brown trout pattern rooster tail, but to no avail.  That’s not surprising as there aren’t currently any brown trout that match the size (ca. 1.5 inches) out there in the river.  This year’s fish are just beginning to swim up from their eggs as fry and are almost microscopic.  Last year’s fish are already around 6 inches.  Hang on to those brown trout patterns, though; they ought to work for you as this year’s fish start growing… think June and July.

I caught ten fish total, six browns and four rainbows.  I ended up taking a few fish (two rainbows and a brown) home for the kitchen, so I’m providing a bonus appetizer recipe that turned out really well on Saturday night:

Trout Crostinis

Ingredients

  • Two 9-10 inch trout fillets, skin removed
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. herbs de Provence
  • 6 slices of store-bought French Bread, ¾-inch each
  • Good (don’t skimp here) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut bread slices and lay them out on a baking sheet.  Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the bread.  The fillets will be very thin; this is good, and you don’t need to worry about them looking perfect.  Cut them into ½ inch sections and place in a small bowl.  Mix them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the herbs de Provence, and the salt.  Cover the top of each bread slice with a few pieces of trout.  Lightly brown the garlic slices in a skillet with olive oil and place a few on top of each trout mound.   Place in the oven for approximately 10 minutes to cook the fish and help make the bread slices crusty.  Enjoy!”

Patrick O’Rouke, Georgia DNR Fisheries Biologist

How-to

This site has a series of on-line videos from the basics to targeting specific species of fish. As we have learned to expect from Orvis, they do a good job.

Road trip? It should be warmer south of us. Nice video.

Feeling blessed and benevolent?

Have you caught and released the trout of your lifetime at Dukes Creek?  Have you enjoyed the rebuilt angler access steps to Section 1?   Have your kids enjoyed the “trout stream bugs” program by education specialist Sheila Humphrey?   Then consider being a part of the continuing success at Smithgall Woods.  Those fine folks are always looking for a few good men and women to add to their ranks.  Donate a Saturday of your time, or a few bucks to the Foundation account, to maintain and improve your state park. Get involved in outdoor programs you care about and make them better for everyone.  Here are two great examples, whether you are “boat” or “bank” anglers.

Hope these cabin fever remedies help you thru your midwinter withdrawals.  Remember – it’s all relative.  My college roommate called me before work today and said he was shoveling snow off the sidewalk of his Michigan veterinary clinic, where it’s  MINUS TEN DEGREES !!!  I feel warmer already….

Good luck, whether indoors or outdoors this weekend. If you stay indoors, why don’t you head to Dillard at 5 p.m. tomorrow, or stay home and start practicing your photography skills, like this Ansel Adams wannabe is doing in yesterday’s Facebook post (scroll down, you can’t miss it).

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