(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
- Mountain Lakes Bass and Shellcrackers
This week we were on Lake Chatuge finishing our annual spring reservoir sampling. If you’re looking for a time to target bass in our mountain lakes this is it. Water temps are in the low 70s and water clarity is about 6ft which is perfect for sight fishing for big Largemouth Bass in shallow water. We found numerous bass on beds in shallow water and some post spawn fish suspended on cover with access to deeper water.
If you’re looking for something other than bass the big Shellcrackers (Redear Sunfish) are bedding up in two to three feet of water in the backs of coves near large woody debris. We saw good numbers of 4-6lb Channel Catfish spawning on riprap banks as well. Remember when catching spawning fish that if you aren’t planning on harvesting them it’s best to get them back in the water where they were caught.
With numerous fish up shallow and ready to feed this is a great time to introduce new anglers especially kids to the sport. So if you have a chance this weekend take a kid fishing and get him or her hooked!
If you plan on going out this weekend be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know! http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/AnglerAwards
Good luck and tight lines,
-Pat Snellings, GA WRD Fisheries Biologist, Gainesville
- Lanier Crappie
Crappie Fishing Report May 4, 2016
This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. See our club’s website, www.laniercrappieanglers.net
Water temperatures are in the low seventies. Fishing conditions are good. The fish are pulling out to deeper docks, as always, with structure. It is an added bonus if you can find a good sized brush pile outside the dock. In this case, stay thirty to forty feet away from the dock and cast your jig to the other side of the brush. Jig it slowly over the brush toward the boat. You may want to experiment and let it fall a little into the brush. This time of the year, four pound high visibility line is very critical. One twenty fourth ounce soft body Jigs and hair jigs are working well. Also, the bigger fish are moving onto stand-alone brush piles in the backs of creeks. Those brush piles are in twenty to twenty five feet of water, topping out at ten to fifteen feet below the surface. As always, the more brush piles you hit and the more docks you fish, the better your chances of boating more fish. If a spot isn’t working, move on. Four to eight mid to large sized fish is about average per stop. So if your hits are yielding only smaller fish, move on to explore other docks or brush piles. Stay safe on the water, wear your life jacket!
- The Hakala Report
- Jim’s Toona Report
The spotted bass spawn is winding down. Bass fry are starting to show up in the shallows throughout the lake. Spots are spread out in the shallows from the backs of coves to deeper main lake points. Routine electrofishing surveys along the lake’s shoreline noted spotted bass holding on rocky points on the main lake, but in coves and tributary mouths, they were relating more to woody structure such as logs and fallen trees.
Like Allatoona, the Carters spotted bass spawn is winding down. The presence of bass fry was noted during surveys this week, but some spots are still nesting. As such, adult spotted bass were scattered from shallow to deep water habitats. The biggest spotted bass observed were holding on rocky shoreline points.
A few walleye can still be found in the Coosawattee arm of the lake, however most have filtered back down into the main lake body. A number of walleye were observed in recent electrofishing surveys holding in the backs of coves around woody debris or standing timber. Others were found relating to relatively deeper woody debris on the main lake. Bottom line is woody debris seemed to be the key for finding walleye in this steep-sided reservoir.
Striper and hybrid fishing has been very good over the last two weeks (https://www.facebook.com/Carters-Lake-Guide-Service-170317873014004/). Both species have been taking advantage of alewife and threadfin shad spawning in the shallows. Find schooling bait fish and the linesides are sure to be nearby. Live bait has been producing best, but artificial lures (ex. stick baits) have also been producing in the early mornings and evenings.
– WRD senior biologist Jim Hakala
- Jimbo Report
Water Temp: 71 degrees
Lake Level: .37 feet below full pool
The fishing on Lake Lanier this past week has been very good. The morning bite has been excellent with a variety of baits to include: jerkbait, swimbait, topwater, spinnerbait, and a fluke. The focus with these baits should be fairly shallow on flats and shallower rocky points and humps as well. When the fun stuff bite slows down, switch to a worm on a 1/8 oz Davis Shaky Head and work it slow. Focus on points at the mouths of spawning pockets and on secondary points as well. The spots are still on bed around the lake. We are starting to see some post-spawn fish as well as spawning fish and still some pre-spawn fish as well. The spots will often be just out of site on points, shallow humps and pockets. A fluke is a great search bait for these fish. A drop shot rig with a 4″ worm is a great follow up bait if the fish does not eat the fluke. Work the rig like a shaky head and watch for light bites. Spots on the bed are generally very agressive. Long running flat clay points are holding fish as well. Often these fish can be found in the 8-10 foot depth ranges or shallower on top of these points. A shaky head and a carolina rig worm are good bets for fish on these areas. I am completely booked for May. Thank you for all the calls! Here is what I have open in June: 14, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30. The spots are on fire and the post-spawn topwater bite in June will be insane!! Don’t miss out! Give me a call and let’s go fishing! Thanks to all and May God Bless.
Jim “JIMBO” Mathley
Spotted Bass Fishing Guide – Lake Lanier
Mobile – 770-542-7764
Georgia trout tag fans,
Your license plate funds are very much appreciated! Here are two recent program benefits from your benevolence:
1. We have resupplied our inventory of Georgia trout stream maps at WRD offices. The only real changes to the new version are the deletion of the color coding for seasonal trout streams and the nice, new cover photo, courtesy of David Cannon.
2. Brianna Mercier recently joined the staff at Summerville Hatchery as a seasonal utility worker. Brianna is a student at Gadsden State Community College and is contemplating a fisheries career. She has hit the ground running and is a great asset at Summerville, where’s she’s feeding fish, cleaning their rearing troughs and raceways, loading stocking trucks, and maintaining the facility. Her extra set of hands is a big help to hatchery manager Rick Wagner and his two technicians, Danny Edwards and Kris Browning, during their busiest period of rearing trout and sturgeon and stocking northwest Georgia trout waters. http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Hatcheries/Summerville
Thanks again for your brook trout tag purchases. GAWRD will keep putting your funds to work for the statewide trout program and its anglers. http://www.georgiawildlife.com/node/3608
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Pretty much everywhere in freshwater is wide open right now, but saltwater is lagging a little bit. In the brine, whiting is your best option. The rivers are getting right and should continue to produce great catches since it appears that we are not going to get much rain this week. The second annual Satilla Riverkeeper fishing tournament (the A.J. Strickland King of the River Tournament) will be held this Saturday on the Satilla. Contestants can fish anywhere on the Satilla River proper or its tributaries. The biggest payout categories are the “slam category” ($300 for the 3 heaviest of 3 different species sponsored by the A.J. Strickland family) and the 3 heaviest redbreasts ($300 – sponsored by Capt. Bert’s Satilla Spins). There are prizes in many other categories for both adults and youth. For more information and to register, check out flyers in area tackle shops or the riverkeeper website at www.satillariverkeeper.org. New Moon is May 6th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – The river is getting fishable, and I heard reports of some awesome redbreast catches in the Wayne County portion of the river this week. The backwaters are producing most of the good panfish, as the main river is still pretty swift. Shellcrackers and the first big wave of bluegills should spawn this week with the New Moon. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the shellcracker bite is still hot, with worms fished on the bottom producing best. Crappie bit well this week on minnows and TN Shad grubs. Redbreast were caught in good numbers with crickets. Lots of catfish in the 20 pound range graced coolers this week. There is a panfish tournament scheduled for this weekend out of Altamaha Park. For more information, give Donna a call at 912-264-2342. The river level was 6.1 feet and rising at the Baxley gage, and 8.2 feet and falling (72 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 3rd.
Satilla River – The upper river is getting right. I heard reports of some catches of redbreasts (10 to 15 per boat) over the weekend in the Hwy 158 area, and the anglers had some really large redbreasts. The most unique catch was from that area when Craig James caught a brown bullhead (speckled cat) pushing 3 pounds on a black/yellow Satilla Spin. I expect the middle river will be in decent shape for panfishing for the Satilla Riverkeeper tournament this weekend. The Highway 122 section should fire on all cylinders beginning early next week. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said the river fishing is getting good. Jackfish and bass were eating shiners in the Highway 158 area. Redbreasts were chowing crickets, beetlespins, and Satilla Spins (crawfish color was best from their reports). Catfish ate rooster livers and pink worms fished on the bottom. In the Waycross area, bass bit Trick Worms. In the creeks and borrow pits out Swamp Road, lots of yellow bullheads (butter cats) were caught. The river level on May 3rd at the Waycross gage was 7.9 feet and steady (74 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 8.3 feet and falling.
St. Marys River – The St. Marys fishing is on FIRE. One report said that “fish are jumping in the boat”. Most creels were in the 25 to 30 fish range, and most fish were hand-sized or bigger. Redbreasts and bream were caught with crickets and worms. Catfish were supposedly everywhere. Bass were eating soft plastics fished in eddies behind trees and points. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 3rd was 2.9 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – The chain pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin were chowing this week! Jason Shipes of Homerville brought in the biggest limit of jackfish I’ve seen in my 22 years in Waycross. His 15 fish weighed almost 34 pounds! He said that white Dura-Spins were tearing them up, and he also had a bunch of bowfin (mudfish) and even a big warmouth on the in-line spinners. Awesome catch, Jason! On Saturday, Ron and Nathanael Johnson, my son Timothy, and I participated in the archery workshop at the refuge and then fished for 3 hours afterwards. The bowfin bite was awesome, as we caught 46 bowfin (2 of them were 8 pounds), 18 fliers, and a warmouth. The bowfin all ate Dura-Spins (skirt color didn’t matter but the flashy silver blades produced the most strikes), while the fliers and warmouth inhaled sallies suspended underneath a float. The boys like to pull on big fish like bowfin instead of small fliers, so we spend most days flinging in-line spinners when the boys are onboard. I talked with several other anglers who landed great messes of warmouth, mostly on crickets or crayfish. Pink sallies dabbled around the limbs will also fool the warmouth who should start spawning among the wood and other hard structures any day now. The warmouth bite has also picked up at the Sill this week on the west side. Bullhead catfish were caught in big numbers by those putting shrimp on the bottom in both Billy’s Lake and the Suwannee River.
Local Ponds – Most anglers I talked with were wandering away from ponds and gravitating toward the rivers, but the pond catches remained strong. Michael Winge said that pond fishing in Waycross was mostly about bream this week. They were caught in big numbers on crickets and topwater flies. Shiners and soft plastic lizards produced most of the bass catches. The catfish bite was good for those fishing shrimp or worms on the bottom.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – I only talked to one group of Waycross anglers who fished the Crooked River area over the weekend, and they did ok for sheepshead, whiting, and a mess of trout on live and dead shrimp. A guide fishing the St. Marys area reported catching some giant trout on artificials. This is the time of year I typically catch (and usually release) several big sow trout per trip by fishing Sea Shads under Equalizer Floats around the Crooked River area. I like to release the bigger trout, as they are heading to the beach to spawn. A 16 to 17-inch trout, however, typically becomes the guest of honor at a fresh fish supper…. The whiting bite should be on fire over the next month in the sounds on days when the winds allow you to get out. Dead shrimp fished on the bottom is the way to go for whiting. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported some great catches of 16 to 20-inch trout on grubs and shrimp. Flounder fishing was fair, with most fish in the 14 to 16-inch range. Bull whiting were caught with shrimp and squid, and some black drum were also landed. Blue crabs are numerous under the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: Fishing the Satilla Riverkeeper tournament on the Satilla is the best option for the weekend. Rarely do you put a date on the calendar several months out and a river cooperates, but it appears that is the case this go-around. All tributaries and the Satilla River proper should be fishable, and I expect the upper river to be perfect for fishing. My prediction is that it will take 2-lbs, 14-oz. to win the 3-redbreast category, and I predict that all 3 fish will be caught with panfish spinnerbaits. For the slam category, I predict that a bass, bowfin, and catfish will add together to weigh 13 pounds even. For the biggest redbreast category, a 1-lb., 3-oz “rooster” will win it (I predict that fish to eat a crawfish-colored spinnerbait). Good luck, everyone!