Georgia Fishing Report: May 20, 2016

Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Southwest Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

 Lake Russell (full, clear, 70’s) – Bass fishing is excellent.  First thing in the morning bass are on shallow clay banks and any rip rap or rocks all over the lake feeding on the shad that are spawning.  A small buzz bait, a small spinner bait or a ¼ ounce Rat L Trap will work all day.  If there is any wind, work the windblown banks with a small crank bait, like a ¼ ounce Rat T Trap in the chrome and black or a number 5 Shad Rap in sliver/black colors.  After the shad have moved to the deeper water as the sun comes up move to points and flats with 5 to 7 foot of water and use a zoom finesse worm or a 5-inch lizard in the watermelon seed color fished on a Carolina rig with a 24 inch leader.  There are also some good fish being caught off the summer-time points and under water islands around the lake.  A Carolina rig fished in these areas will get a lot of fish but most will be small.

 Clarks Hill (full, 70’s) – Bass fishing is very good.  The bass are chasing schooling bait fish and the top-water bite is really good.  Bass will be heavy hanging around the grassy areas.  Fish the white spinnerbaits and the soft and hard jerk baits.  Zoom pearl Super Flukes are working but take some of these same baits in baby bass as well.  All are working along with worms and plastic lizards.  The key will be to finding the right patch of grass and the right piece of structure.  Use the plastic worms, jigs, jerk baits and Rapala’s in the # 5 AND #7 Shad Raps and also use the Rapala jerk baits in the Olive green and purple ghost.

Lake Oconee (full, the lake is clear, temperature 73-77) – Bass fishing is good.  At first light look for spawning shad around rip rap.  If you locate spawning shad small top-water baits like a Pop R’s will draw a strike.  After the sun gets up switch to a spinner bait and work it around the wood or docks in the middle of the main lake pockets and coves.  White or white/chartreuse have been the best color.  Small crank baits fished around the docks will also draw a strike.  A chrome rattle trap, or a small shad rap number 5 or 7 in fire tiger, or shad color will work depending on water color.

Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741

reeltime@bellsouth.net

Striper fishing is good.  The fish are starting to move away from the dam.  Look on the humps and points up the lake from the dam.  Live bait, umbrella rigs and spoons are all working well.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools on the humps then drop a live bait or a spoon down and hang on.

Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are starting to move into their summer locations.  Look on the creek ledges as well as in the deeper timber.  Once you locate the fish you can long line (troll) over them or drop a live bait into the school.

West Point Lake (full, clear & 80’s) – Bass fishing for both spots and largemouth has been very good.  Largemouth bass are on the primary and secondary points, coves and pockets in the major creeks.  Use the Strike King Redemption 3/8 ounce and Bass Pro silver blades and white skirt buzz baits shallow. On the spinnerbaits the double willow blade combination.  Slow roll the spinnerbait around any cover on the points and in the coves and pockets.  The important thing is to cover a lot of water.  Fish shallow using very large baits in bright colors.  Spots are still spawning and shallow.  The spots are holding on shoal markers, humps, and underwater roadbeds in 0 to 5 feet of water.  Several good baits are a green pumpkin or June bug lizard, rigged Carolina style and trick worms.  Top-water action is starting using a Bang O Lures, Rapala’s, Pop R’s.

SEE NOTICE FROM THE CORP OF ENGINEERS BELOW.

From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: due to recent heavy rains, excess sediment deposits have pushed down from the Chattahoochee River leaving silt formations in the lake channel thus narrowing the navigation channel north of the Georgia Highway 219 river bridge.  This area is between Georgia Park and Ringer Park.  In addition, a large sandbar has formed along the west side of the river channel.  To properly mark the river channel, red and green buoys will be replaced with mid channel buoys (black and white vertically stripped) which identify the center of the channel.  Boaters should navigate near these buoys to ensure deeper water.  Shoal markers will be installed to identify the sandbar.  Boaters should proceed with caution in this stretch of river and always be on the lookout for floating debris.

Lake Sinclair (down 1.7 feet stained, 70’s) – Bass fishing is good.  Lots of small males still are biting.  Use a white and chartreuse spinner baits or buzz baits early in the creeks up the rivers and just off the main lake cuts.  Day fishing is good and run and gun with shad colored and the green Zoom floating worms half way in the creeks and the off river coves.  Berkley Power sand worms on a Texas rig in the small size is catching some bank runners.  Down lake in the creeks, the Rebel Deep Wee R in the parrot color is fair and cast it around any dock or bank cover.  Night fishing is fair and a bigger fish might bite late at night around the lighted docks.  Flip a live bass minnow or a black Trick worm in the lights and be quiet around these docks.  The Culprit black shad worm can work on a light Texas rig.  A black Enticer buzz bait at night can get a big fish and use heavy line.

Jackson Lake (down .21 feet, clearing & 70’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Top-water will target shallow spots in the early morning.  Fish the deeper main lake seawalls and their intersection with docks.  Also fish are off the points very early and late in the day.  Other than that, few quality fish are available in shallow water.  While the post spawn fishing is characteristically slow, some quality fish are being caught in the 10 to 20 foot range.  Looking for reaction strikes with the crank bait is a good strategy.  Use shad raps to take fish from 5 to 8 foot of water.  Throw a diving bait to search for deeper fish.  Jigs work for catching fish in all depth ranges.  Most all your fishing is on the main lake.  Anglers, it is worth noting that main lake fishing can be a difficult proposition.  Fish before and after the crowd shows up and fish the main lake points, wood, docks, and rocks.

Big Lazer PFA

Surface water temperature:   75o F

Water visibility:  Visibility is about 39”

Water level:  Full Pool

Largemouth bass: Good– During our spring sampling, we collected several 3-4 pound fish about 5 to 8 feet off the bank and in 4 to 6 feet of water.  Try using spinners and crank baits in 4 to 6 feet of water.  Also, plastic-worms and lizards fished around the drop off point into deeper water by the picnic area and around the fishing pier may produce some big strikes.

Crappie: Ok- some crappie are still being caught on minnows.  However, the crappie bite has cooled some over the last two months.  Anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappies.  Trolling at varying depths with bright jigs may help locate bunched-up crappie.  Fish for crappie in deeper water than bass; starting in about 6 feet of water and working into deeper areas.

Bream: Good- Bream fishing has improved.  Try crickets, as well as pink and red worms around the fishing pier.  Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it.  Most bream on bed will be located in less than 5 feet of water.  May is traditionally a great time to fish for bream on bed.

Channel catfish: Good- Try using livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam.  Fishing with two poles will increase your chances of getting a strike.

In general, May water temperatures at Big Lazer have warmed up and so has the fishing.  May and early June are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer PFA because spawning fish move into shallower water.   Also, early summer is a great time to not only fish but also picnic at Big Lazer with the whole family.  Finally, the repair work on the old wooden fishing pier concluded last fall.  Some of the fishing pier’s upgrades include sitting benches, rod holders, shelves for tackle, and gaps in the railing for landing fish.

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

McDuffie PFA

Average Morning Water Temperature:   76 F – 76.7 ⁰F and rising

Water Visibility:     25 – 54+ inches

Largemouth Bass:  Action is picking up.  Bass have been biting over the past two weeks.  A few fishermen have caught nice bass in the 4 to 5 pound range from Breambuster and Beaverlodge.  Willow Lake has not produced the same bass action as in previous years.  Rodbender, the trophy bass pond will close on 15th May and will open the morning of June 1st.  A supplemental stocking of Goldfish have been added to Rodbender to increase the overall condition of the all-female bass.  Rodbender will also receive a stocking of Golden shiners.  This lake has been set up with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass.  Bass tags from Rodbender must be sent to the Thomson fisheries office (address on web) or use the drop box at Rodbender boat ramp.  Reward tags must be turned in for the reward to be sent to the fisherman.  Breambuster has a nice population of 2 to 5 pound bass with plenty of bank access, as is the case with most of McDuffie PFA lakes.

Bream:  Bream have been biting steady.  Bream are being caught near shore and by fishermen in boats who are fishing deeper.  Bream can still be found near shoreline structure and aquatic plants but also suspended over deep water.  These pan fish make their spawning beds near weeds and logs in shallow water which requires the fishermen to find the fish, so search for the beds areas.

Channel Catfish:  Catfish in the 2-5 pound range are biting well in Willow, Beaverlodge and Bridge.  Local catfish fishermen have reported their fishing line being popped due the size of the catfish they are hooking in Willow Lake.  The best fishing is on the bottom in deep water using chicken liver, worms, and stink-baits.   A local fisherman was using shrimp for catfish near a rock pile in Bridge left side of the boat ramp.

Striped Bass:  Stripers are biting in Bridge Lake and no reports of Clubhouse stripers being caught.  Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse Lakes.  Stripers are biting on cut bait and chicken liver fished on the bottom.  Umbrella rigs, diving crank baits and top-water plugs are very effective on McDuffie’s stripers.

NEW*****

McDuffie Public Fishing Area and Warmwater Hatchery will host its next Kids Fishing Event on June 11th from 8 AM to 12 PM/ 4hours in duration.  Kids ages 2 through 15 years old are allowed to fish during this Kids Fishing Event with parental/grandparent/family supervision and training.

Additional Information:    http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie

North Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)

 Warm weather is upon us and our quarry is starting to avoid the high sun and warming shallows.  Fish early, late, in the shade, and after dark for your best catch rates.  It’s been a very busy May of “shocking and stocking” across north Georgia, so some of our field reports are sparse.   Our WRD “reporters” are in the field, doing that S&S, and haven’t had the desk time to write much. I’ve tried to compensate for light text by filling y’all up with photos.  Hope the strategy works!   We still have some great fishing news that should benefit many of you weekend warriors, so here we go:

  • The Snellings Report – White Bass Restoration

Reservoir sampling was completed last week in north Georgia and it’s now time to focus on our annual river sampling on the Chattahoochee River and stocking our reservoirs. Last Monday we were out on the Chattahoochee River below Morgan Falls and if you’re interested in catching big Striped Bass and a variety of black bass it’s a great time to go! We found several Striped Bass over 25 pounds between Morgan Falls and Cochran Shoals with numerous smaller striper in the area if you’re looking for numbers. Largemouth and Spotted Bass were in good concentrations below Morgan Falls dam which transitioned into more Shoal Bass toward Cochran Shoals. This section of river is also stocked with Brown and Rainbow trout which follow delayed harvest regulations from Sope Creek downstream to HWY 41.

Over the past month our state hatcheries were able to produce fingerlings and fry for many of our reservoirs from the brood stock we collected. It’s finally time to get these fish back into open water and we have some exciting news pertaining to a fishery that’s been sorely missed at Lake Lanier. From April to the beginning of May we have been able to stock 200,000 white bass fry and 210,000 white bass fingerlings into Lake Lanier. Although nothing is certain until these fish are of catchable size we’re really excited to have the chance to restore this fishery! An additional 63,000 white bass fingerlings were directed to Lake Nottely to restore that fishery as well, and hopefully provide an alternate broodstock source in the future. We’d like to thank HQ staff and especially the WRD Walton Hatchery crew for these white bass.  Hopefully we’ll see whether this experimental stocking worked in a year or two, when any surviving fish are large enough for WRD and anglers to sample.  We are working on getting our reservoirs stocked with Striped Bass the rest of this week, and we’re meeting many guests from across the state- Walton, McDuffie, Richmond Hill, and Bowens Mill hatchery folks have all paid visits to north GA.

http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Hatcheries/BowensMill

With numerous fish still 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 Bass

Water Temp: 73 degrees

Lake Level: .62 feet below full pool

This report brought to you by Jimbo On Lanier  770-542-7764  www.jimboonlanier.com

The fishing on Lake Lanier continues to be 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 3/16 oz Davis Shaky Head and work it slow. Focus on main lake rocky points and on secondary points as well.  The spots seem to be finishing up the spawn as we are starting to catch a lot of post-spawners now. There are still a few that have yet to go, but the majority have completed the process. The post spawners are often lethargic and will be for a couple of weeks.  A worm or a fluke are very good baits for these less aggressive post spawn fish.  Often these fish can be found in the 12-15 foot depth ranges around rocky or clay points and humps.  I am completely booked for May. Thank you for all the calls!  Here is what I have open in June: 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 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.

  • Lanier Crappie

Crappie Fishing Report May 18, 2016

This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. See our club’s website, http://www.laniercrappieanglers.net

Water temperature is about 72 degrees.  As expected, May fishing remains good to excellent.  Concentrate on deeper submerged brush piles, using your Humminbird Helix downscan to locate your brush.  Throw your marker down and give the fish a few minutes to regroup from your arrival.  Fish the brush pile from a distance that you can cast past the brush pile to the other side of it, and retrieve it slowly toward the boat.  If you’re interested in catching fish in larger numbers, zero in on submerged brush piles in 20-25 foot depths.  However, docks with brush piles are also producing, but not in the larger numbers.  Both hair jigs and soft body jigs are working well.  The lake traffic is definitely increasing, so be mindful that other fishermen may also be fishing the same spots.  If you don’t get bites immediately, move on.  Chances are very good that you will find alternate brush piles that will put fish in the boat.  If you see a fisherman fishing one of your favorite docks, my advice is to skip it, and go to a different spot.  Once you get the fish to bite, the entire school will shallow up as they chase the bait.  The night bite remains fair at best, as night temperatures remain cooler.  As the evenings warm up, so will the night bite.  As always, our recommended line if 4 lb. test, high visibility line; not because the fish like it, but because it is easier for you to see the line movement and set the hook.  1/24 oz. jig heads is recommended, or 1/16 oz, if you feel like the fish are deeper in the water column, or if the wind is working against you  If you like a challenge, use a double jigged rig.  Keep them about 16-18 inches apart.  In my opinion, hair jigs work best in that application.   Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket; it can save your life!

  • Lanier Nite Stripers

http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=110280

  • Club Thanks!

Here’s a report from Anthony, who received a nice surprise after his evening presentation to this fishing club, one of his longstanding partners in striped bass conservation and management on Lake Hartwell.

“On May 9, the Appalachian Striper Club out of Lake Hartwell donated $1,000 to DNR’s Fisheries Section to support ongoing striped bass management in Georgia.  Receiving the check from club president Alan Martin on behalf of DNR is senior fisheries biologist, Anthony Rabern.”

striper club donation to rabern 05.09.16 small

  • The Hakala Report

Allatoona:

Surface water temperatures have been in the low to mid 70’s across the lake.  The bass spawn is all but over and bass fingerlings are now common place in the shallows.  Post-spawn adult bass are feeding heavily on shad, which are still themselves spawning on the shoreline at night and in the early mornings.  Find bait and hungry bass should be close by.  Shad-patterned jerk baits, stick baits, spinner baits and jigs are all top offerings for getting into some great post-spawn bass action.

The striper and hybrid bite has been fair to decent, according to Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service.  The fish are spread out from Tanyard Creek all the way around to the “S” turns in the Etowah River arm of the lake.  Like usual, the key to finding actively feeding linesides is locating schooling shad.  Fish live shad on free lines or with planer boards in the early mornings.  Once the sun begins to hit the water, Captain Eidson suggests a switch to downlines in 20-28 feet of water.  As evening approaches keep an eye out for surface feeding activity which can erupt at any time.  Inline spinners and jigs cast to these feeding fish can make for some great surface action as the day winds down.

The shellcrackers spawned during last month’s full moon.  Electrofishing surveys have shown they are still holding in the shallows, but are not as concentrated as they were a couple of weeks ago.  They have almost always been found near some type of woody debris, such as logs or fallen trees in the backs of coves or tributary mouths.  Bluegill have also moved shallow and nests are starting to appear.  Look for the bluegill spawn to fire-up on the next fast-approaching full moon.

Carters:

Dennis McKeon of Kennesaw, boated this 19 pound Carters’ striper while on a recent trip with First Bite Guide Service.

striper Dennis_McKeon_Carters_Lake

This big Carters’ hybrid was caught by Dr. Zaqri Cohen and wife Alexis of Atlanta while fishing with Carters Lake Guide Service last week.

hybrid Zaqri Cohen Carters Lake May 2016

The best lineside fishing is occurring in the early mornings on main lake points reports guide, Robert Eidson.  Live bait fished on planer boards or free lines is the ticket until the sun comes up.  After sun up, switch to downlines fished in close proximity to schools of shad or alewife.

Guide Louie Bartenfield reported that the Carters’ spotted bass bite has “toughened up” in the post-spawn period.  The fish are in transition from their spawning areas to their deeper summer hides.  As such, he recommended targeting sharp break lines in 18 to 25 feet of water, especially those near spawning areas.  Jig head finesse worms have been the bait of choice over the last week for targeting these transitioning bass.  There is still a top water bite early, so keep a jerk bait handy.

-WRD senior fisheries biologist Jim Hakala

770-387-4821

  • Dark 30 Flyfishing Reports
    • Long walk, short fishing time and a great reward!  My daughter caught this big brown after sunset on the upper end of the Chattooga DH section.
      • Proud Papa Bob L
    • Kyle from Cleveland took his first flyfishing trip to Smith DH recently as a reward for his lawncare favors to his next-door neighbor, who happens to be a Rabunite.  Kyle landed two good’uns before sunset and another five during Dark-30 action on the upper end of the DH section.  A small elk hair caddis was the ticket, even if it was hard to see in the waning light.  Kyle might just be hooked on this flyfishing gig!
    • trout rbt Smith DH Kyle R first on fly May 2016.jpg
    • Will from Smithgall enjoyed his first Dark-30 experience recently on Smith Creek as the DH regulations ended for this season.  With a loaner pole in hand and a Rabunite ono his side, he perfected his skills at eyeballing an itty-bitty dry fly among the foam bubbles at dusk, and brought four nice rainbows and a redbreast sunfish to hand just before “slap dark.”  He’s contemplating the purchase of a flyfishing oufit!
  • Crazy Lady’s Stocker Report

I’ll send you guys a video in a bit but here are two pics.  Went down to the Toccoa on Saturday and the rain drops started up.  The water was a bit higher but not too high at this point but certain parts were kind of murky so visibility was not great.  Had a hit but nothing more casting in my usual spots.  Then the rain really started coming down.  I kept fishing regardless taking cover under a tree.  Actually it felt refreshing since it wasn’t too cold.  Rain then came down harder to almost a complete downpour and then it let up again.  The rain drops were still coming down lightly when I got my first trout!  Hauled that one out of a slower, deeper area.  Then decided to get in the car and go down to Cooper’s simply because I had a friend visiting from Costa Rica who wanted to see that area.  Ironically, she said that the rain and mist down in Cooper’s reminded her a bit of the jungles of Costa Rica.  Fished Cooper’s for about five minutes when more rain came in and then….BOOM!  Not a trout but lightning!  Ran out of the stream getting my line caught on branches and by the time I got to my truck the hail started coming down.  I have a video of this as well.  Waited about thirty minutes eating on some Cajun boiled peanuts and listening to some country and then finally started to drive back towards campground.  At this point I only had one fish so I told my friend that if it cleared again by the time we were driving past parts of the Toccoa that I’d throw another line in.  My fingers were crossed because I wanted two fish…one for each of us that night.  My wish was granted.  The rain cleared (although still cloudy) so I went back down into the Toccoa and cast over the some rapids that fed into a pool and on my second cast, BOOM, I had my second trout.  I was so excited that I caught in such awful conditions and so quickly that I ran up the bank and started doing a happy dance in front of truck with the fish which made my friend laugh.  So if anyone saw a crazy lady in waders off the side of Rte. 60 last weekend soaking wet and dancing around with a fish on her stringer that was me!

Kind regards,

Tara L

  • Delay is Over, Harvest is On!

Remember that Georgia DH catch-and-release regulations ended on May 14.  Grab your kids and nightcrawlers and go give Georgia’s delayed harvest streams a shot.  And you can harvest the trout!  Hint- toss a half-nightcrawler, with very little weight on the line, into the deepest pools and hold on.  Check camera batteries first, before leaving home.  You might need that camera.

trout bnt Chattooga DH angelica L May 2016

  • Stocker Best Bets

GAWRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson (706-947-1508) points us in these weekend directions: Blue Ridge and Lanier tailwaters, Holly, Rock, Cooper, Nottely, Wildcat, Panther, Middle Broad, Dicks, Soque, Warwoman, West Fork Chattooga, and Tallulah.

  • Amicalola Park Back in Business

After completion of the dredging project at Amicalola State Park, WRD Fisheries Section staff immediately stocked 1600 catchable rainbow trout in the reflection pool to restore this trout fishing opportunity to park visitors. Park staff has noted a positive response from the public.

-WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson

Good luck as the waters warm and bass and sunfish take center stage away from the spring hatches on trout waters.  Enjoy wet-wading and kayak-casting.   As always, thanks for buying your licenses and trout stamps. 

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The rivers are getting right. Reports were good but not great. With the steady warm weather, the panfish bite should pick up this weekend if rains don’t swell the rivers too much. Pond fishing has been great. Saltwater was iffy over the weekend, primarily because of high winds. Full Moon is May 21st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.

Altamaha River – The river is in the best shape of the year, so far. Some of my best panfish reports this week came from the Altamaha. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said that the redbreast and bream bites picked up this week. The flathead bite was also good, with a lot of 20 to 30-pounders making their way to the scales. Goldfish were the best flathead bait. Donna at Altamaha Park said that all species were caught over the weekend. Good numbers of bream, redbreasts, and shellcrackers were caught on worms and crickets. The channel and flathead catfish bite was also consistent. The river level was 4.0 feet and falling at the Baxley gage, and 6.1 feet and falling (74 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 17th.

Satilla River – The cool nights last week dropped the water temperature almost out of the 70’s, but they have rebounded so far this week into the mid-70’s. That is the range where the artificial lure bite should be great. I received some good reports this week, but most anglers caught between a half-dozen and 20 panfish per trip. The best report I heard of was from a Waycross angler who landed 25 redbreasts and 10 warmouth on red/white and black/yellow Satilla Spins. Another angler caught several redbreasts and bluegill during a short trip while using red/white Satilla Spins. Craig James of Waycross caught 15 white catfish and a 3 1/2-pound channel catfish in the Woodbine area by fishing shrimp on a Catfish Catcher Jighead on Friday. His 15 fish weighed 26 pounds. He was cleaning catfish for awhile! Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said the river fishing was good this past weekend. Redbreasts were hitting Satilla Spins and Beetlespins. Pink worms and crickets produced, as well. Rapala topwaters accounted for some nice bass catches, as did ZOOM Speed Craws fished in shallow cover. Anglers using shiners also caught some bass. Catfish anglers brought home some nice fish using shrimp and rooster livers. The river level on May 17th at the Waycross gage was 5.7 feet and falling (74 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.0 feet and falling.

St. Marys River – Panfishing was fair in the St. Marys. The bite above the US Hwy 1 Bridge was a little slow, but the bite below the bridge in the tidal river was still good for redbreasts and bream. Most were caught on worms and crickets. Anglers reported creels of 25 to 30 fish per trip. The bass bite slowed but should pick back up around the full moon. Catfishing was still as good as it gets. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 17th was 1.9 feet and rising.

Okefenokee Swamp – On the east side (Folkston entrance), the warmouth bite is good in the morning and late in the evening. The flier bite slowed, but some were still caught. On the west side, some good warmouth catches were reported. Dabble crawfish or pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies around cypress stumps. Beetlespins produced some good bream and warmouth catches in the Suwannee River below the sill.

Local Ponds – Chad Lee whacked the fish this weekend at night on black quad-blade buzzbaits. They were chowing it reeled slowly around shoreline vegetation. When you get a bite, keep reeling until you feel weight when fishing buzzbaits at night. They will often come back and hit multiple times if you keep reeling, but if you swing and miss you are done. Michael Winge said that pond fishing in Waycross was great for bluegills during the waxing moon. He thinks that the bedding around the coming full moon should produce some great bream catches. Crickets pitched among beds produced best. Buzzbaits fooled some nice bass in the evening and night.

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman) – the shellcracker fishing over the last week has been phenomenal. Limits of ‘crackers bigger than your hand were common this week for those fishing red wiggler worms.

Saltwater (GA Coast) – Ed Zmarzly and Scott Hamlin fished the Crooked River area this weekend and caught some nice flounder on Sea Shads rigged on Flashy Jigheads. Flounder are suckers for a shiny bladed bait! Michael Winge reported that the black drum bite has been picking up, with 3 to 5-pounders common on dead shrimp. Flounder were plentiful from the creeks around Brunswick. On the south end of Cumberland Island, whiting were plentiful on the outgoing tide. Shrimp fished on the bottom was the best presentation for the whiting. Tim, Hannah, and Lily Bonvechio went crabbing in the Brunswick area over the weekend and caught a couple dozen by hand-lining the crustaceans using chicken necks for bait. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported that the flounder bite has picked up. On Tuesday morning an angler caught a 22 inch flattie on a mudminnow. The black drum bite has been good with shrimp producing the most fish. Trout, mostly from 14 to 18 inches, were caught in the afternoons on mudminnows. Sheepshead were fooled from around the pier pilings with fiddler crabs. Whiting were caught all day long by fishing shrimp on the bottom. Blue crabs were caught in good numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.

Best Bet:  The river fishing will hinge on how much rain we get. If we don’t get much, the levels should be perfect and clarity good. If we get a deluge over the next few days, fish in flat water or saltwater until the water starts falling again. The yellow flies will be picking up as we head into June, so give the swamp a shot now before the bugs are bad. Warmouth are a great option, as are pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish). For warmouth, dabble crayfish or sallies around shoreline wood. For pickerel and bowfin, cast Dura-Spins or other in-line spinners around shoreline vegetation. The faster you retrieve it, the more jackfish you will catch. Slower retrieves will slant your catch more toward bowfin.  In saltwater, flounder and whiting should be the deal this weekend if the winds and storms allow you to get out. 

Bert Deener Redbreast IMGP4018
Redbreast fishing in our rivers has been very good and will be improving as the water warms. Bert Deener landed this “rooster” redbreast last month on the St. Marys River. It inhaled a bruised banana gold Satilla Spin.

 

Southwest Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Rob Weller and region fisheries staff)

Lake Walter F. George – The latest reports indicate that both the crappie and redear sunfish have left the shallows and returned to deeper water.  The water level is slightly lower than it has been the last few weeks and some of the shoreline vegetation is no longer submerged. Channel catfish fishing continues to be excellent. According to recent reports, the bass fishing has recently been a little slow. Tournament winners have been catching most of their fish off brush piles and ledges and winning weights have been in the 18 pound range.

Flint River – The lower Flint River has finally receded within its banks and is in great shape for a fishing trip. There have been numerous reports of excellent fishing for bream. Large redear sunfish (shellcracker) have been seen spawning and some great catches have been reported. The Flint River tributaries are also in great shape for fishing and if you enjoy wade or kayaking fishing now would be a great time to get out. Fishing for shoal bass is good and anglers targeting the numerous shoals using both top water and jerk baits should have success. The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:

Montezuma above Lake Blackshear

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02349605&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062

Highway 32 below Lake Blackshear

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02350512&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062

Lower Flint River below Albany

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02353000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062

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