(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
Best wishes for a great holiday season. Maybe the weather and your family schedules will even allow for a little time afield during your days off. The ten-day forecast looks fairly promising, with some warm temperatures and fairly low rainfall totals.
Overcast and warm is a great combo for reservoir striper chasers, and moderate overnight temperatures
give midday stream trouters a great chance to score in the double digits, especially if they bottom-bounce their favorite winter recipes.
Here are a few reports and hints to enhance your holiday plans. Just like Santa’s trackers, we evidently have some spotters out there who are tracking the DNR trout stocking elves this week. Keep your eyes open and your fishing poles handy. Yes, Virginia, there are stocking elves!
· Volunteer Thanks
The WRD Hooch trout elves (Chris, Pat S, and Buford staff) would like to thank the forty great volunteers who toted Tuesday’s buckets at the NPS-Whitewater Creek access. That river reach should be a best bet during the holidays, especially if folks fish deep and slow enough to tempt the bottom-hugging trout.
By the way, the next Hooch DH volunteer bucket brigade is tentatively planned for Feb 20, so mark your new year’s calendars.
· Ami Stocking Elves Spotted
Your boys are working hard. Enjoy the pic.
Big T on the Ami
12/20 at 1200hr
· Hooch Tailwater
There have been unconfirmed reports of WRD Hooch stocking elves also spotted behind the hatchery and at McGinnis, Abbotts, Medlock, The Jones, Garrad’s Landing & Roswell Shoals this week. The river is clearing as Lanier is finally on the verge of turnover.
Prior to the 1980s, oxygen concentrations (greater than 5 ppm) and temperatures in the thermocline of Lake Lanier, a young reservoir at that time, were adequate to allow trout to survive. Since then, organic matter entering the lake has increased, and the oxygen needs of trout can no longer be met. There just isn’t enough oxygen to keep trout alive through this critical summer period. Today striped bass still find enough oxygen and adequate cool water habitat in the lake’s thermocline to survive the summer; however, they can be stressed by low oxygen conditions (2-4 ppm).
In the fall, as air temperatures drop, the lake begins to lose heat, and the process of de-stratification begins. The warm water of the epilimnion cools and becomes deeper and denser. It still has lots of oxygen. As the epilimnions density approaches the density of the hypolimnion, mixing of the layers can take place. When this happens the stratification is broken and the bottom water mixes with the surface water, and the lake is no longer stratified. This event is called “Lake Turnover, and generally occurs around Christmas each year. After the mixing there are no layers, and the entire lake will have high oxygen concentrations. Within a few days after lake turnover, the dissolved metals become insoluble and settle to the bottom. This leaves the lake water clear from the top to bottom, and the river water clears as well. Metals that have settled on the river bottom are eventually washed downstream by the daily generations.
With the warming of spring, the stratification process will repeat itself, and the plankton, fish, and other aquatic wildlife will react to these changes in their habitat.
· Delayed Harvest Reports
o Chattooga “Rockfish”
o Ami “Fifty Fish” Before the Elves
o Enjoy this report from a highly traveled trouter who hit four DH streams in a week:
· Winter Fishing – Fingers and Toes
· More Winter Zen
Ready for subtle strikes from frozen fish?
· Carters Hybrids
Carters Lake gets a late fall dose of hybrid striped bass courtesy of Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery. Nearly 11,500 juvenile hybrids were stocked in the lake early last week. While most lakes around the state are successfully stocked with hybrids in the spring, this experimental fall stocking is being done in an effort to improve stocked hybrid survival and to increase their abundance in Carters Lake.
This was the second year for fall hybrid stocking at Carters. Recent sample data suggest the hybrids stocked last fall have done well in Carters’ baitfish-rich waters. We anticipate these newly stocked hybrids will do well in the coming year.
– WRD senior biologists Chris Harper and Jim Hakala
· Lanier Stripers
Both Henry C and Landon say the topwater action is still good, especially on the warm, overcast, rainy days that keep the sun at bay. The south end of the lake is fishing better than the north end. Savvy anglers can troll a trout, but also have imitations of the very small (two-inch) threadfin shad ready to cast to breaking fish. Notice the large channel cats that are grabbing striper baits, too:
· Big Lanier Spot on the Fly
· Bigger Spot!
· Ken’s Reservoir Reports
Fresh on Fridays – http://www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html
Thank you and happy holidays from the North Georgia Region Fisheries staff, stationed at Summerville, Buford, and Burton hatcheries and our two offices in Armuchee and Gainesville. We hope that you receive the blessings of good health and the love of your family and friends this season. Maybe you’ll even discover that an elf has beat you to your favorite holiday fishing hole!
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
I wish each of you a very blessed Christmas! The Christmas week slowdown was evident, as more people finished off Christmas shopping and fewer hit the water. Crapppie fishing was the most consistent bite. New Moon is December 29th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Shane and Joshua Barber fished the river on Saturday and ended up with 10 keeper bass. Most ate crawdad or fire tiger crankbaits and plastic worms, but Joshua’s biggest, a 4-pounder, ate a jig. They said that the bite was slower than a few weeks ago, but it was still a fun day. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the fishing was still slow this week, but the few anglers who went caught some crappie on minnows. Nobody reported catching catfish this week, though. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite slowed with the rising river. The best reports were downriver in the deeper holes. Minnows produced some decent fish. The river level was 3.6 feet and rising (56 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.4 feet and falling (58 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on December 20th.
Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that very few folks fished this week. Crappie anglers produced the few reports. Fishing minnows or jigs in the mouths of cuts produced the fish. Decent numbers of crappie were landed in the Burnt Fort area (that is typical this time of year). The river level on December 20th at the Waycross gage was 7.1 feet and falling (59 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 7.4 feet and rising.
St. Marys River – Catfish anglers fishing the upper river provided the only reports. Catfish were on the small size, but there were plenty caught. A few crappie ate minnows, as well. The river level at the MacClenny gage on December 20th was 1.8 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – The fliers should start biting well during the next extended warm spell. I like 2 or 3 sunny days in the 70’s. When we get those conditions, you can fish the afternoon and catch all you want. I pitch pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies suspended under a small balsa float. Set the hook as soon as the float twitches, as the fliers will inhale it and sit there instead of turning and sinking the float like a bluegill will do. The most productive habitat for fliers is usually lily pad flats and cuts that lead out into the prairies. If you find lily pads near one of the cuts, you have probably found a honey-hole.
Local Ponds – Chad Lee caught 5 bass on Saturday morning. They inhaled a small crankbait in the cold water. That evening he pitched an Okeechobee craw colored Keitech crawfish rigged on a weighted swimbait hook and caught 2 more bass. Michael Winge said that crappie were king on Waycross area ponds. In fact, Memphis George was spotted with a bucket of minnows headed to an undisclosed pond. He said that he knew the specks were biting because he passed a field full of cows that were up feeding, so the fish were feeding too.
Lake Mayers (near Baxley) – Jamie Hodge took Eric Roland, Shannon Roland, and Robbie Hodge of Dublin to Lake Mayers on Saturday. The group dragged spider-rigged minnows around the lake and ended up with 36 crappie. Long-line trolling curly-tailed grubs also works well this time of year. Once you find a concentration of crappie by spider-rigging or trolling, try casting and working a Specktacular Jig underneath a float in the area. You can slowly work it in the “zone” and draw some extra bites. Shad or chartreuse hues of 2-inch Assassin Curly Shads and tan shad Specktacular Jigs typically produce the best catches. The December issue of Georgia Outdoor News (GON) contains an article I wrote about fishing the lake. It includes lots of details for fishing Lake Mayers.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Trout reports were mixed this week. Most anglers I talked with caught 5 to 10 trout per trip. The best report I got was from anglers who caught several dozen, but they were all throwbacks. This time of year you could run across schools of small fish one day and the next day the fish are quality keepers. You just have to keep moving until you find the schools of fish. From my experience, seatrout fishing is often feast or famine during winter. Michael Winge reported that seatrout fishing was hit-or-miss this week. The better catches were made with live shrimp and Sea Shads. A few sheepshead were caught from around pilings and rocks in the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, black drum, bull whiting, and sheepshead were caught from the pier. A few flounder were also mixed in. Blue crabs were still around the pier, waiting to sink their claws into a chicken neck in a basket…. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: Crappie fishing should be good over the Christmas weekend. The warming trend should have them eating minnows and Curly Shads. Sheepshead should be your most consistent target in saltwater. Dabble fiddler crabs around rocks or barnacle-encrusted pilings during the low, incoming tide and get ready to set the hook.