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.

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