Seasonal trout streams open this Saturday, March 28! Don’t forget, the 2015 Fishing Prospects have been updated on our website. Check out the reservoir fishing prospects and river fishing prospects as we get into prime-time fishing!

North Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)

Opening Day is here! Season trout streams open on Saturday, March 28. Some great resources and links for trout fishing can be found below. You might also enjoy Dredger’s “Opening Day” tale, as told last year.

Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee, April 2009.
Trout fishing on the Chattahoochee, April 2009.

Trout

Relocation Along the Chattooga

Great Day from Chattooga River Fly Shop,

Sunday,  March 22 will be our last day at the old location (7am-2pm)…  As of Tuesday March 24 we will be moved in our new location at 6832A Highlands Hwy (Hwy 28) just a 1/2 mile North of our old location on the right hand side of the road.  Please look for our new logo sign (4’x 8′) on the street, for our new shop location.  Here are the GPS coordinates as well…

Latitude N34.83718 Longitude W83.13118.  Our hours of operation will remain the same at the new location and we look forward to seeing everyone starting Tuesday and there forward at our new shop!!!  We will have a picture on our web site shortly of the new location as well.

For the fishing report, it is Dry Fly time!!!  Plenty of bugs are hatching and the weekend weather report is excellent.  We hope to see everyone out on the rivers! – Karl, Karen, Dan, Bud & Tom, Chattooga River Fly Shop

Reservoir and River Fishing Predictions  These annual fishing prospects (reservoirs, rivers) are composed by DNR fisheries biologists.

Coosa Whites – Biologist Jim Hakala reports that the whites were a bit sparse during WRD sampling this week.  He recommends that anglers try the stretch between Blacks Bluff Road and Highway 400 for  best bets at success.  Fewer fish were flowing, so Jim thinks that spring is coming just a bit later this year.

: Fisheries Technician Chris Looney stands on the bow of an electrofishing boat at dawn on Lake Lanier.
: Fisheries Technician Chris Looney stands on the bow of an electrofishing boat at dawn on Lake Lanier.

Making Stripers and Hybrids – Fisheries staff are out on area lakes and rivers this week to collect striped bass and white bass broodstock.  They’ll be transported to and spawned at Richmond Hill Hatchery. Small fry will then be shipped to several hatcheries across the state for grow-out of fingerlings in ponds.  Then, one month later, the one-inch fingerlings will be stocked into our target reservoirs to maintain your sport fisheries.

Walleye and White Bass – The tail end of the walleye run provides a unique opportunity in some reservoirs to double up with white bass.  For the next two weeks, white bass and walleye will be in the shallow headwaters of several north Georgia lakes such as Tugalo, Yonah, Hartwell and others.  Look for small groups of white bass and walleye mixed together on sandy bottoms along the bend of the river as well as in the deeper holes.  Small curly-tailed grubs bounced along the bottom provide the best chance of doubling up on walleye and white bass. – Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist

Lanier stripers – Trophy Time

“Shocking” Lanier Results! – We spent Monday and Tuesday out and about on and above Lanier looking for fish.  On the striper front, we collected male broodstock for the first round of hybrid bass production on Monday morning and continued sampling Tuesday morning to collect scales for ageing.  Water temperatures are starting out around 55 and coming up to 57 before noon.  The stripers are definitely coming shallow in the mornings right now.  You’ll still find some staying deep, but look for shallow fish before the sun gets up high on channel markers, points, and flats in 4-10 feet of water.  Expect to see a lot of two-year old fish in the 2-3 pound range and four-year old fish in

Fisheries operations manager Scott Robinson shows off a walleye collected on a sampling survey.
Fisheries operations manager Scott Robinson shows off a walleye collected on a sampling survey.

the 6-8 pound range.  We’ve also seen good numbers of bigger fish in the high teens and low twenties the past two days, so don’t scale down your tackle too much if you go out. We’ve had an ongoing blueback herring kill this winter and the stripes appear to be very healthy (fat) from feeding on dead and dying bluebacks.  If there was ever a spring to have a great shot at someone catching a 50-pounder and winning that $10,000 bounty, this might be it.

On the walleye front, we went back up the Chestatee Tuesday afternoon to collect some population data.  Even though last week marked the peak of the spawn, the fish are still up the rivers in good numbers.  The males are still thick up around the canoe launch on Highway 60.  Look for deeper runs with swift water; the fish will be hugging the bottom.  Down below Georgia 400, we found some very nice-looking females including one that weighed in over 7.5 pounds.  The run will be the same on the Chattahoochee side of Lanier.  Males will generally still be above Belton Bridge, but females will be spread all the way down past Don Carter State Park. – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Additional links:

Toona Trophy

Vote for Georgia – You can vote daily for up to 3 properties in America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots Sweepstakes .  Let’s support our Georgia State Parks and fishing.

Good luck this week. May you make some fine Opening Day memories yourselves!

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Bass fishing in ponds has been excellent again this week. Saltwater has been hit-and-miss, and the rivers are headed back up a little bit (the St. Marys is the best of the bunch this week). The swamp has been decent but slower than usual this time of year because of the high water. First quarter moon is March 27th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Chris Tillman of Waycross caught this nice bass on a plastic worm from an area pond on Saturday. Bass fishing should be peak for another month in area ponds.
Chris Tillman of Waycross caught this nice bass on a plastic worm from an area pond on Saturday. Bass fishing should be peak for another month in area ponds.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle in Jesup said that some crappie were caught in the oxbows on minnows, but the most consistent bite was from channel catfish. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the channel catfish bite in the main river was very good, and some giant bream ate pink worms. The river level was 9.4 feet and rising (63 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.5 feet and rising (63 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 24.

Okefenokee Swamp – “Trout Magnet” has been fishing the east side from his kayak and has been doing well for chain pickerel (jackfish) on crankbaits. He has landed, as well as hooked and lost, some nice fish. The flier bite for him was a little slower than usual, but he has caught some. On the west side, the catfish bite has been good for those fishing worms and shrimp on the bottom. Once the water level drops a little bit, the flier bite will be good on warm afternoons.

Satilla River – The middle and lower river sections are still too high to effectively fish, but that won’t stop plenty of folks from hitting the river this weekend. Be careful when you are near the bank, as the current is deceptively swift. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross reported that the fishing is improving in the upper river, even with the slow rise at the Hwy 158 Bridge. He said that the waxing moon will help the bite, as well. Crappie were eating minnows and jigs this week. Bass were caught on buzzbaits, ZOOM Trick Worms, and shiners. Trot lines and set hooks baited with rooster livers and shrimp provided some nice catfish, and anglers fishing with pink worms on the bottom also caught catfish. Catfishing in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas of the river should be heating up as the river level drops back out and the water warms. For details on my approach to fishing the tidal Satilla for White Catfish, see my article in the March issue of the Georgia Outdoor News Magazine. The river level at the Waycross gage was 10.1 feet and steady (65 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.4 feet and falling on March 24.

St. Marys River – The best river bite is on the upper St. Marys River. A couple local anglers fished the upper river on Tuesday and landed 70 redbreasts (kept 30 of the biggest) on beetlespins. The DNR guys started their annual electrofishing samples on the river this week. They stun the fish, measure and weigh them, and release them. The 2 areas they sampled so far have shown that the number of fish in the river is about the same as usual, but their size is phenomenal. The average length of the redbreasts is between 7 and 8 inches. They also saw more than usual bass in their sample, and one was over 10 pounds. This is the river to fish right now. The catfish bite all along the river has been great. Worms and shrimp fished on the bottom have caught catfish about everywhere folks have fished. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 4.9 feet and rising on March 24.

Local Ponds –  The bass bite has been nothing short of excellent. Justin Bythwood landed the biggest bass I personally know about this week. It was an 8-lb., 11-oz. whopper. He caught her Saturday off a bed and released her after a short photo shoot. A group of Second Baptist boys fished a Waycross area pond and had a blast on Saturday afternoon. Nathanael caught a big bluegill and a nice redbreast on pink worms. A few folks also caught bass. They saw a male bass guarding some fry, so the spawn is in full swing. Chad Lee of Alma fished a few times this week and caught several bass each trip. Trick Worms in various colors worked well for him again this week. Some nice bream and a few smaller bass were reported from Laura Walker State Park. The lake is still closed to boats and is low, but anglers can fish from the bank. Michael Winge said that pond fishing was good, with anglers reporting some nice crappie caught from shallow water. Fish around any shoreline vegetation and wood to catch spawning fish. Minnows worked best by his reports. Nice bream were fooled with crickets and pink worms. Shiners free-lined under a weighted float were the best presentation for quality bass. The channel catfish bite picked up for those fishing shiners, pink worms, and rooster livers.

Best Bet – In freshwater, it will be hard to beat the St. Marys River and  local ponds this weekend.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The whiting bite is on. Michael Winge reports that little pieces of shrimp fished on bottom in the vicinity of the King and Prince on St. Simons Island have produced well. Of course, this fishing is very wind-dependent, so check the marine forecast before planning a trip. On the nearshore reefs, sheepshead and black sea bass are thick, and some vermilion snapper were caught. The trout and redfish bites were good in the Hampton River area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the black drum bite is still strong for those fishing crabs on the bottom. Bull whiting have started to bite for those fishing from the pier. The blue crabs have returned and are being caught from the pier.

There is a forecasted cold front early in the weekend, so check the winds before planning a trip to big water. If winds are fishable, the whiting bite off St. Simons should be strong. Monitor the marine forecast.

Licenses Required at a PFA

Angers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license, AND a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license to fish.

If you have either a Sportsman’s, Lifetime, Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license), 3-day Hunting and Fishing License, or 3-day GORP Plus you are NOT required to have a WMA license to fish.

A WMA license is NOT required to fish at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.

To access a PFA for non-fishing activities, visitors age 16-64 must have one of the following (visitors under age 16 and/or over age 64 are exempt):

  • Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP)
  • 3-day hunting/fishing license
  • WMA license
  • Sportsman’s license
  • Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license)
  • Lifetime license

Buy or renew your license(s) at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.

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