Georgia Fishing Report: April 3, 2015

Seasonal trout streams are now open! 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)

These sunny days are warming our waters, bringing sport fish up from the depths of winter, and beginning to heat up the catch rates of north Georgia anglers.  Let’s get right to the reports.

25-pound Hartwell striper.
25-pound Hartwell striper.

Bass of A Lifetime! – See this pic

West Side Report – Coosa and Allatoona – The Coosa River white bass run is still in full swing!  Best area seems to be at Mayo’s Lock and Dam Park near Rome.  The inside river bends for a couple miles below the lock are also holding fish.  Crankbaits, curly tail jigs, and minnows are all good choices for those pursuing these mini-linesides.  Stripers are starting to show up around the lock too.  Most are under 5 pounds, but 20+ pound fish will migrate past the lock all month.

Christmas in April!  Recycled Christmas trees anchored to the dry lake bottom this winter are now inundated at most of Lake Allatoona’s public fishing jetties.  Warming water temps will pull bass, crappie, and bream into these shallow “housing units”.  The brush piles are within easy casting distance around the following fishing jetties:  Galt’s Ferry, Bethany Bridge, Victoria Marina, Proctor Landing and the Blockhouse.  Christmas tree piles can also be found adjacent to the Kellogg Creek boat ramp near Payne Campground.  More info on fishing “The Toona” at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Allatoona. – James Hakala, Fisheries Biologist

“Shocking” Hartwell Report – We have seen a lot of QUALITY largemouth bass while sampling on Lake Hartwell this week. Most are pre-spawn females ranging from 4 to 8 lb.  The small males bass are starting to move into the shallow pockets. Anglers should target the primary clay points in the major cove arms in 4-8 feet of water to catch the bigger fish.

Shallow water crappie fishing on Hartwell is just about to turn on. We are seeing a few fish in 4-8 feet of water but very few so far in the shallow cove pockets. With warm temperatures in the forecast, I suspect crappie fishing will improve by this weekend. – Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist

8.5-pound largemouth collected during sampling survey on Lanier.
8.5-pound largemouth collected during sampling survey on Lanier.

Lanier Sampling Results – Many North Georgia reservoirs experienced a natural die-off of blueback herring during our cold winter this year. Dead/dying bait make for easy eating for predators like bass and stripers. You can expect to see fatter than normal catches this spring as a result, like this nice 8.5-pound Lanier largemouth sampled and released today (4/1/15), no joke! – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Trout

  • Volunteer Waiver April 6 Opening Day Reports – It was opening weekend for some streams up in N. GA.  We had snow flurries on Friday night but got a good fire going and the camper has a good heating system!  Check out these trout.  Caught some nice rainbows and brookies.  Fried some and brought some back for the freezer. – Tara
  • Lucky Charm Ranger – Kudos to Habersham conservation ranger Chad Chambers for his magic
  • Icy Wild Trout Report
  • Stocker Best Bets – In preparation for the Opening Day of trout season, over 81,000 trout were stocked by the Wildlife Resource Division and our partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Best bets for this second weekend of the trout stocking season include: Panther, Middle Broad,  West Fork Chattooga, Wildcat, Tallulah, Dockery, Hooch on WMA, Rock, Cooper, Toccoa, Blue Ridge Tailwater, and Georgia’s DH streams. – John Lee Thomson, Trout Stocking Coordinator

Chattooga DH Report – Tex and Dredger took their time riding up to the Chattooga DH on Sunday afternoon (3/29), letting the sun shine and warm the river after a very chilly night.  The river was 47 degrees and pretty quiet as they started casting around 1:30 PM.  As the afternoon continued, a few mayflies drifted by and a few trout surfaced in splashy rises.  The bugs and the rises became more and more abundant as the hours passed and the water temp hit 50 degrees.  The duo tossed a combo of #16 parachute adams with a dun (gray) wing on 5X tippet and a #16 hare’s ear soft hackle dropped 20 inches off the back of the dry fly.  They each caught “enough,” with the last fish at 6:45 p.m.  Nearly all of their fish took the dropper, as the soft hackle must have done a fair job of imitating the emerging nymphs.  The game changer was once again the “skitter” to imitate the active emergers.  The bug, a gray #16 mayfly Trout BKT stockers opening day 2015 Taradun, might have been a blue quill or a Hendrickson.  Regardless of the bug’s correct name, the adult was 16 and gray, and the hare’s ear dropper was crushed in a surface bulge behind the dry if it was cast across and down, and twitched back upstream.  Even the refusals, which greatly outnumbered the duo’s takes, were entertaining as each fish rocketed up through gin-clear waters, put a nose on the fly, turned, and then darted back down to the safety of the cobble bottom.   Despite those humblings, a lot of rainbows, a couple brooks, and a lone brown came to the two nets.  The best spots were the upper thirds of pools below obvious “bug factories.”  What, you don’t speak Rabunite?  Here’s a free lesson.

The next six weeks are “game on” along the Chattooga!  Plan a trip soon, after looking at these websites and reviewing the “wild trout tips” to follow.

Whitewater this Weekend – Combine a northeast Georgia fishing trip with a stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park for some whitewater viewing.

Saturday- Trout Fishing “Open House – It’s the annual NGTO Spring Fling at Buford Hatchery!

Monday – Call for Metro Stocking Vols – The final Chattahoochee bucket stocking event of this DH season will take place on Monday, April 6 at 10 a.m. Volunteers should bring waders, a five-gallon bucket, and a signed copy of the attached waiver. Fishing after the release is optional. Bring a signed volunteer waiver if you come!

If you’ve never been to Whitewater Creek, a map to the location can be found at http://goo.gl/maps/pdelU.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing everyone on the river! – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Additional Links:

Give Back – Help Sweep the Hooch! – Fifth Annual Sweep the Hooch on Saturday, April 11. Register and more info at www.sweepthehooch.org. 580 volunteers removed 7.275 tons of river refuse with more than half ton of trash recycled in 2014. That’s 14,500 pounds! Volunteer as a wader, paddler or trail walker.

Georgia Fishing Guide

Vote for Georgia

The North Georgia Region Fisheries staff at our Summerville, Burton, Buford, Calhoun, and Gainesville facilities appreciates your purchases of fishing tackle and licenses, and wishes you “good luck” this spring. http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Facts

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff)

Clarks Hill (down 1.2 feet, stained, water temp. low 60s) – Bass fishing is good. The bass are roaming around in the shallows lake wide so anglers should do the same. Use a Texas rigged worm or jig and pig. Some top water action has been occurring early and late. Husky Jerk baits and jigs along with Shad Raps will catch bass this week. The spotted bass are on the move as well and will be a lot more aggressive this week. The spots are holding on gravel and rocky point in 6 to 10 feet of water. Use Carolina rigged worms in most any color pumpkinseed, green and purple. Largemouth and spots will bed soon. A trick worm fished with a slip shot up 18 to 24 inches fished in the pockets around the lake is working well. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Flat Creek PFA (down 3 feet 4 inches, 22 inches of visibility, water surface temp. 67.8 degrees) – The fish at Flat Creek have been hit or miss currently following a cold snap that pushed the fish into deeper water and off their beds. As the water continues to warm the fish are expected to get more aggressive. The main difference between those with heavy stringers of fish and those fishermen going home hungry is still the size of tackle being used, and location, location, location. The fishermen on the banks willing to move around were the happiest at the end of the day with their catch. Light tackle is still catching the most fish.

Bass: Success – Zoom Green Pumpkin Magic worms, Shad colored Whacky Worms, minnows and worms fished in around five to six foot of water, also anything shiny or white when the bass are feeding on schooling shad.

Bream: Success – Worms on a Carolina rig, and crickets fished on the bottom.

Crappie:

Success – Chartreuse jigs underneath a Rocket Float® and cast in the shallows, Renosky® Natural Shad Minnow jigs, bright colored teaser tails, minnows beneath a float cast near structure, and worms on a Carolina rig. Failure – Fishing any of the above with line greater than six pound test.

Channel Catfish: Not many people were fishing for catfish at the time of this report, so there is insufficient data to report on. However fishing for Catfish is presumed to still be good as it has been in previous months.

Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

Jackson Lake (down 0.7 feet, stained, water temp. mid 60s) – Bass fishing is good. The lack of rain let the lake clear up a bit but the wind is still keeping it a little muddy up in the shallows. The bass are on the move up shallow and will spawn right on time. With this lake having its share of wood and stumps, the bass that are on the holding pattern are relating to this wood. You will see the fish sitting on top of the stumps on you graph and will bite almost any bait you put in front of them. The shad are now moving back in closer to the bank and the bass are feeding on these baits along with the bream and crawfish. With the large shad schools around the lake, this would be a good time to use the Alabama rig. Crawdad colored Shad Raps and jigs are still good baits to use this week. Bass are being caught up every river and creek on the lake. Picking one good area will be difficult to do this week on this lake and any lake during the spawn. The best hint for this week is to keep those hooks sharp and wet. – 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. Call 770-887-2217 Carrie Toth or cmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

Marben PFA (water temp 67-plus degrees) – April is one of the most popular months for fishing at Marben PFA.  Anglers will find all species of game fish active.

Bass: Bass are on or going on bed depending on the pond.   Try using dark plastics lizards.  Anglers need to be patient when targeting big bass this time of year.  There have been several reports of 6-8 pound fish being caught.  Also, Marben staff recently caught a 10 plus pound bass during spring sampling.  Remember – Catching a big bass on bed is a game of persistence!

Bream and Channel Catfish:  These fish are moving up and have been caught on the bottom with worms.  Mid-day offers the best opportunity for those anglers seeking bream or catfish.

Crappie: Crappie are in full swing depending on the immediate weather.  Try fishing blow downs and submerged brush with jigs or minnows.  Not all brush is visible so anglers may to move around until you find them.  Angler trails are located on the lake and will provide anglers plenty of access to that secret fishing hole.

Marben offers a variety of pond sizes and each pond has its own personality.  Maps of Marben PFA are at the informational kiosk located at each entrance.  If your timing is right you could possibly have a whole pond to yourself.  Weather changes rapidly this time of year and often times will effect fish behavior.  Anglers are encouraged to pay attention to these patterns to improve their chances of filling up a stringer.

Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/CharlieElliott

Lake Oconee (full pool, stained, water temp. 58-67 degrees) – Bass fishing is good. The lake is full. Start in the middle of the coves and main lake creeks. Fish boat docks, wood structure, and sea walls. Work your way to the back of the coves and creeks. Use Shad Raps and small crank bait with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks. White and chartreuse spinner baits fished along the Sugar creek and Lick creek bridge rip rap has also been producing some larger fish. Richland creek has also been producing some good fish in the upper reaches of the creek. Blue black and brown jigs have been working well fished in and around wood cover.

Crappie fishing is good. The fish are moving into the major creeks. Long lining trolling has been the best producer over the past week. Match the jig color to the water color. Blue black is one option. 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 good. The fish are starting to show up at the dam for the spring run. Live bait fished on down lines along with flat lines and plainer boards will pick up fish. If the water clears up the umbrella rig bite will also produce fish. There are also some good fish showing up in the rivers. Cut bait fished on the bottom will be the best bait for the river fish. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service reeltime@bellsouth.net

Lake Russell (full, clear, water temp. low 60s) – Bass fishing is good. Use a shallow running shad or bream DT Rapala crank bait and Stanley all white spinnerbaits. The green Zoom trick worm or a Zoom pumpkinseed lizard will work on the secondary points in the longer creeks and find shady banks early and late and then use a buzz bait with a gold blade. Try the Alabama rig with small Zoom pearl flukes on a 1/8th ounce lead head and be sure to use a braid to save the rig if it hangs up. Up the rivers and on deeper creeks on points, use a shad color Shad Rap in the #5 size. Lower lake creeks on outside creek bends are good with spinner baits and the Poe’s 300 bone crank bait. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Lake Sinclair (full, rivers and creeks are stained, lower lake is clear, water temp. 64-68 degrees) –Bass fishing is good. The spawn is in full swing on Lake Sinclair this week. This week’s warm weather paired with the upcoming full moon have the bass flooding into the shallows to lay their eggs. Catching these fish will require slowing down and fishing soft plastic baits in protected sandy spawning pockets. These fish will spawn on any piece of cover they can find in the pockets. Isolated stumps, dock walkways, and sea walls will be the best targets to hit when trying to catch these spawning fish over the next few weeks. Make sure to make repetitive casts to each target before moving on to the next one. You might be able to sight fish for some of these fish if you find some of the clearer water down the lake. Bottom crawling baits that you can fish slowly will work best. A Buckeye mop jig with a craw trailer and a Texas rigged Zoom 6 lizard have been extremely effective this week. You can also catch some aggressive fish early in the morning and late in the evening with a black buzz bait and a chartreuse and white spinnerbait. – Courtesy of Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina, 478-451-0167

West Point Lake (down 2.6 feet, stained, water temp. mid 60s) –Bass fishing is good and the full moon has a lot of fish shallow. They are moving up shallow and starting to spawn in the backs of pockets. Use the Zoom Super Flukes, trick worms and Senko’s and this can be an all-day tactic. Throw these baits into the tops of grass and twitch them just enough to keep from hanging up. Most of the bites have been coming within a few feet of the bank. Be sure to pick apart any wood you see in the water. Up lake good places to fish are Jackson Creek, Ski jump cove and don’t forget Half Moon Creek. Down lake the pattern is very similar to up lake but with the water being clearer throw a Pop R in bone color. Down lake go to Maple Creek, Bird Creek and the No Name in the pockets. Keep a Rat L Trap tied on for those fish chasing bait. –  Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

 

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener)

Bass fishing in ponds was very good. Check out the new Satilla River record bass caught by Kevin Mullis on Friday. Saltwater was hit-and-miss again this week. The rivers are high but fishable at most locations. The St. Marys fishing was excellent again this week.  Full Moon is April 4. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Congratulations to Kevin Mullis of Waycross for catching the new river record largemouth bass from the Satilla River. The monster was certified on Friday at exactly 12 pounds. He fooled the behemoth with a small, chartreuse crankbait.
Congratulations to Kevin Mullis of Waycross for catching the new river record largemouth bass from the Satilla River. The monster was certified on Friday at exactly 12 pounds. He fooled the behemoth with a small, chartreuse crankbait.

Altamaha River – The cold nights and rising river through the weekend slowed the fishing somewhat, but anglers still caught some fish. The redbreasts and bream bit decently in the tidal river in the slack water. Shellcrackers are starting to move shallow, so look for that bite to pick up over the next month. Worms fished on bottom are typically the best presentation for them. Catfishing all along the river was consistent, with channel cats leading the creels. Worms and shrimp fished on the bottom produced the best. A few limb-liners reported catching flatheads in the lower river on live bait. The river level was 9.6 feet and falling (61 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.9 feet and rising (61 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 31.

Lake Eufaula (Georgia/Alabama border) – Two different groups of anglers reported catching limits of fish each day they fished this week. Pitching and dabbling tubes and other artificial lures around shoreline cover has been the deal. Chartreuse hues have produced the best. The fish are on the cover spawning, so get them while they’re shallow.

Okefenokee Swamp – A Homerville angler fished the east side on Tuesday and caught some pickerel (jackfish), warmouth, bowfin, and fliers. They had a really nice jackfish that ate a white in-line spinner (Mepps), and they also caught their mudfish (up to about 10 pounds!) on the spinner. They only had a few fliers, and they were spread out. The catfish have been biting shrimp well on the west side. Once the water level drops a little bit more, the flier bite will be great on warm afternoons.

Satilla River – The river is too high to fish for panfish, but a few anglers have done well for bass. Before the river rose over the weekend, Kevin Mullis caught a new river record largemouth bass from the upper river. On Friday, Kevin had a 12-pound 0-ounce bass certified at the Waycross Fisheries Office, and the fish was the largest ever documented from the Satilla (those records are kept by Georgia Outdoor News). The whopper inhaled a small chartreuse crankbait. Congratulations, Kevin! If we do not get any more mid-week rains, the extreme upper river should be fishable by the weekend. Target bass, redbreasts, and catfish if you go. 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. The river level at the Waycross gage was 11.2 feet and falling (61 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.1 feet and rising on March 31.

St. Marys River – The bite is on in the upper river. Brentz and Alex McGhin of Blackshear made the most of spring break and fished the river twice since the weekend. On Saturday, the river was rising from recent rains, but they still brought home 32 fish. Their catch included warmouth, redbreasts, crappie, and bluegill. On Monday they fished a different section of upper river and brought home 33 fish. Brentz said that he caught some of the biggest redbreasts he’s ever caught, especially on Monday. He used crawfish Satilla Spins for some of the biggest redbreasts, but caught more of the smaller fish on beetle spins. On Saturday, chartreuse with black dot beetle spins worked well for him. On Monday, he did ok in the morning on that color, but did much better on brown-black stripes for numbers of fish in the afternoon. Warmouth topped the catch on Saturday, while redbreasts were the best bite on Monday.  The catfish bite all along the river continued this week. Worms and shrimp fished on the bottom produced the best. Most catches were between 10 and 30 fish. Brentz and Alex caught 3 different species of catfish on their trips. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 4.7 feet and falling on March 31.

Local Ponds – The cold mornings slowed the bites over the weekend, but I still received some good afternoon reports. Bass were still shallow, and a 9-pounder was the biggest I got reports of from ponds. A Tifton area pond produced that fish and several 5 to 8-pounders. The buzzbait bite has started over the last week, and should improve on the back side of this cold snap later this week. Chad Lee of Alma had an interesting trip on Friday. He used a 16-inch worm, trying for a trophy bass. He didn’t catch the big one, but coaxed over 20 smaller bass up to only 2 pounds to eat the giant worm. He also caught some crappie on panfish assassin lures.

Best Bet – The crappie are shallow and spawning. With the warming trend late this week, expect that to be a consistent bite. White catfishing in the tidal portions of our rivers is another good option for a lot of action. In saltwater, whiting will be your best bet if weather will allow you to get out.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The whiting bite slowed with the cooler water and winds over the weekend, but they should bite well by this weekend (if winds will allow folks to get out to them). Big black drum were caught from the St. Simons Pier by anglers fishing baits on the bottom (it takes heavy weights with the stiff current!) over the weekend. The trout bite has been inconsistent. Those who caught them found clear water. 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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