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.

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