North Georgia Fishing Report: March 21, 2014

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

Our long-awaited spring is finally here! Enjoy the extra warmth and the additional hours of daylight.  North Georgia game fish are beginning to respond to these seasonal changes and are more vulnerable to your baits, flies and lures.  Celebrate spring with a fishing trip soon!

Weekend best bets are walleye and trout.  Other species will come on strong after another run of 60 degree days to push water temperatures up to the mid-50s. Here’s the latest news across north Georgia.

Walleye

Walleyes are on the spawning grounds, located in the headwaters of our north Georgia reservoirs.   Biologist Patrick O’Rouke just came in from a sampling trip this on March 19 and said the Lanier fish should remain up the two rivers for another week to ten days before heading back down to the main lake.  Best spots are from Hwy 400 downstream on the Chestatee and from Belton Bridge upstream on the Hooch. Some big females are around, so now is the time for your shot at a state record.  The males (2-4 pounds) are usually farther upstream and the females (4-7 pounds) are staging a short distance downstream.  Lower elevation, warmer lakes like Lanier and Hartwell are showing better runs this week.  As the higher elevation lakes warm next week, walleye runs should improve there.   Did you see this photo?

Wildlife Resources biologists and technicians collected broodstock this week and sent those fish to the Go Fish Georgia Center’s fish hatchery in Perry for spawning and fry production.  In about 5-6 weeks, we should have another good crop of walleye fingerlings to restock our north Georgia reservoirs.

Here’s a rerun of our walleye video and fishing guide.

Trout 

Delayed Harvest streams should fish well this weekend.  Aquatic insect hatches have started, so if your winter fly patterns aren’t as productive as they were last month, try “matching the hatch.”  A great hatch chart for north Georgia trout streams can be found in each monthly newsletter by Rabun TU.  Compiled by “Ole Rabunite” Doug Adams, the hatch charts are based on his sixty years of dry fly-flinging in northeast Georgia.  Good patterns for upcoming months can be seen in the prior year’s monthly newsletters.

Year-round, wild trout streams should start to fish well, especially during the warm afternoons.  Match up the tips in Jimmy Jacobs’ book with the year-round streams identified on your Georgia trout stream map (free: 770-535-5498) to find some early season wild fish.

trout bnt large Toccoa TW sampling march 2014[1]
John Damer and Mark Bowen collected and released this brown trout in the Toccoa Tailwater during last week’s sampling trip.
Toccoa Tailwater:    Several big, holdover browns and rainbows were sampled and released.  Tailwater flows: 800-238-2264, Option 4, Option 23.

Stocker best bets:  The Lanier Tailwater, Nancytown Lake, Middle Broad River, Tallulah River, and the Chattooga downstream from Highway 28 are this weekend’s best bets.

Trout Stocking List: Wildlife Resources’ 2014 trout stocking list. Make your plans for Opening Day soon.

Trout Talking

Stripers

Biologist Patrick O’Rouke just walked into the office after sampling on March 19.  He said these critters are actually a “slow and deep” right now, due to the colder weather that forced reservoir water temperatures downward.  The sampling boats found very few fish shallow on Lanier, and none up the Hooch yet.  They did catch a good one, though:  fisheries technician Leon Brotherton shown with a 30-plus pounder sampled and released from a long point near Laurel Park.  Fishing guides reported catching fish fifty feet deep today.   Several more warm days are needed to get river and reservoir temperatures back up to the mid- to upper-fifties, which will bring stripers back to the shallows once again.

White Bass

Jim Hakala with a couple white bass collected on the Coosa River.
Jim Hakala with a couple white bass collected on the Coosa River.

Biologist Jim Hakala says the Coosa white bass run is “start/stop” due to the cold water temperatures.  Fish are in the river, but are hanging deep because of the cooler temperatures (51 degrees).   Several days of warm weather should bring up more consistent spawning runs next week.    Jim says the river between the  lock and dam park and the Hwy 100 bridge crossing is usually the best for anglers.   See his river fishing prospects under the last bullet, below.

Crappie

Bass

Few web reports and few fish seen by our electrofishing boats indicate that these fish are deep and slow, too.  A good 4-5 days of warm weather should change this.

2014 Fishing Predictions Are Here!

These annual fishing prospects are compiled by WRD fishery biologists, who sample the lakes and rivers annually and watch for trends over time. This year’s prospects are now online. *(Find your favorite water body on the right hand side and read the biologist’s predictions)

With several days of warming weather, the spring fishing extravaganza should finally arrive and stick around for a good two months.  It will be prime time for just about every species of interest to northeast Georgia anglers, so plan to wet a line soon.  Remember to check your licenses and renew them before you go.  It’s easy!

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