Georgia Fishing Report: February 17, 2017

Info About Featured Image Above with a Quick Tip: WRD Fisheries Technician Mark Bowen captured and released this 8-lb largemouth in the river just below one of the major dams in Northwest Georgia.  This healthy bass was found amongst thousands of small threadfin shad, and has the belly to prove it!  Now may be a great time to target such areas below large dams as both predator and prey species begin to migrate upstream with the approaching spring and warming temperatures.

Get Ready – Loading y’all up with Fishing Reports this week: Scroll down to see reports from Southwest, Southeast, Central, and Northeast Georgia

SOUTHWEST GEORGIA

(Fishing Report Courtesy of Rob Weller, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

FLINT RIVER – The Flint River remains high but things should be heating up in the tailrace below Lake Blackshear in Warwick and below Lake Worth in Albany. The increased flow attracts white bass, hybrids, striped bass as well as catfish. The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip.

The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:

LAKE SEMINOLE – According to Guide Steven Wells, the fishing on Lake Seminole is on fire. Both largemouth bass and crappie are beginning to bed and the bream have also moved shallow and are active. Sight fishing for bedded bass is always poplar on Lake Seminole and soft plastics such as lizards are a good bet. It took a four pound average to win last weekend’s very competitive Hog Wild bass tournament held out of Big Jim’s and a seven pound fish won big fish. Look for crappie to be bedding on the edges of the hydrilla or in areas with scattered hydrilla in 4-8 foot depths. Small plastic jigs and minnows under a cork are effective. If you haven’t already done so, it is time to dust off the boat and fishing gear and head to Lake Seminole.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

(Fishing Report Courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

Get ready because the best crappie and bass fishing of the whole season is about to bust wide open. The bass spawn will probably begin with the first push of fish during next week’s warm spell. Last quarter moon is February 18th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.

ALTAMAHA RIVER – The river is still high and muddy. The non-tidal Altamaha isn’t a good option again this week, but the lower river is getting decent again. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that catfish in the 30 to 40-pound range were caught on bush hooks. Crappie were reported, as well (mostly from oxbow lakes). Donna at Altamaha Park said that the river is finally fishable again. Crappie were caught in good numbers on both jigs and minnows. Goldfish fooled some flathead catfish. A few bream were caught by angler fishing worms on the bottom, but no shellcrackers were reported yet. The river level was 9.0 feet and steady (59 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.5 feet and steady (59 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on February 14th.

SATILLA RIVER – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that anglers caught crappie on minnows and dark colored jigs. Bass were eating topwater frogs fished around heavy cover. Catfish were fooled by bottom-fishermen using pink worms and rooster livers. The white catfish bite in the White Oak Creek and Woodbine areas should be excellent over the next few weeks with the dropping and warming water. The river level on February 14th at the Waycross gage was 10.9 feet and falling (61 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.0 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER – Another giant bass was landed this week. This time it was a 10.8-pound hawg that was weighed in during a tournament and then released. Catfish are tearing it up for those putting worms or rooster livers on the bottom. For the lucky anglers who found deep holes, big red wigglers on the bottom produced some nice bream and redbreasts. The river level at the MacClenny gage on February 14th was 2.3 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP – Swamp anglers have been almost non-existent lately, but the few folks who reported caught bowfin on the east side. The bite is about to turn on with the dropping water and warming temperatures. Expect the flier bite to pick up first (pitch pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies around wood and vegetation edges) and then the pickerel (minnow plugs and in-line spinners, such as Dura-Spins are hard to beat). Warm afternoons are the time to go.

BANKS LAKE (NEAR LAKELAND) – The bass reports have been great from the blackwater cypress-filled lake. Texas-rigged plastics pitched to the cypress trunks and knees have been producing 20 to 30 bass per trip by most accounts.

se-ga-fishing-report-kenny-mcclain-bass-2-11-17

LOCAL PONDS – Pond fishing was great again this week. Kenny McClain (seen in image at left) visited from Knoxville, Maryland and caught 8 nice bass between 3 and 4 pounds out of a Brunswick area lake. Half the fish ate a white River Rat spinnerbait, and the other half inhaled a black-blue flake Keitech Mad Wag worm. Chad Lee of Alma fished Alma area ponds on Friday and Monday and caught 6 and 20 fish, respectively. He caught them on Carolina-rigged Ol’ Monster worms, spinnerbaits, and a very unique lure for freshwater…….a Savage Gear TPE Shrimp. Yep, that was not a misprint. His 6 fish Friday and about half of his fish Monday were on the artificial shrimp. Whether they thought it was a crayfish or dying baitfish, they inhaled it! He didn’t have any monsters, but he had some solid 3 to 4-pounders on it! Way to think outside the box, Chad! Michael Winge reported that the crappie were tearing it up on Waycross area ponds. Minnows fished around the edges produced the best catches. The fish are starting to move shallow. Bass were caught with shiners and plastic worms.

SALTWATER (GA COAST) – A Waycross angler fished the Brunswick area Tuesday and landed 10 trout up to 20 inches. He also managed to hook, but lost 5 other trout. The fish bit weird and did not hook up as well as usual. His best presentations were Flashy Jigheads with Mama’s 14k and Slammin’ Chicken Sea Shads, chartreuse hard jerkbaits, and a prototype trout/redfish spinnerbait. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers caught trout and redfish around low tide in the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting and sheepshead were caught from the pier this week. Dead shrimp also produced a few black drum. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.

BEST BET: It is bass time……the big females are about to head shallow to spawn, and this is the best time of year to catch a trophy. Remember, you can release that big fish to spawn and still get a high-quality fiberglass replica of her for your wall. Some of the best big-bass baits are jigs (and crawfish trailers), spinnerbaits, and swimbaits. Buzzbaits are also hard to beat for giants, but it is probably a little early to get them to come to the top. Start in the early morning in deep water for crappie, but move to shallow cover in the warm afternoons to check for spawning slabs. Spider-rigging minnows out deep and casting 2-inch Curly Shads shallow will be a great 1-2 punch. In saltwater, trout and redfish are a good bet if the winds will allow you to get out.

EAST AND WEST-CENTRAL GEORGIA

(Fishing Report Courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

(Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant. See   http://www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html for most recent updates.

LAKE RUSSELL (FULL, CLEAR, 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  The secondary points seem to be the pattern, but be sure to get to the backs of the coves that have the highest concentration of bait especially after mid-day.  Use shallow to medium diving crank baits on the secondary points lake-wide.  The best ones to fish will be the ones with rock and sand in combination.  The #5 Shad Raps along with a Rapala DT6 have been the best baits.  Some fish are after Chatter Baits in all white with a little chartreuse on the skirt.  The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will work very well even in 10 feet of water.  Anglers can cover 68 feet of bottom at 10 feet deep with the 455 frequency beam.  The bigger bass will go after the small cranks and fish any riprap.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke ready in case there is any surface activity.  With any sunlight fish the rip rap at the 72 bridge with the Rapala RS Shad Raps and the Rapala DT10 in shad and baby bass patterns.

CLARKS HILL (DOWN 9.71 FEET, 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Main lake points near the mouth of the creeks and larger coves is a good place to look for bass.  Crank baits will be bait of choice and the Rapala DT10 and Rapala DT6 along with the RS Shad Raps and Ito Vision 110 jerk baits are catching bass.  Some spotted bass are being caught on secondary points on crank baits and Carolina rigs.  Lizards are a good choice to rig up with here.  The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will work very well even in 10 feet of water.  Anglers can cover 68 feet of bottom at 10 feet deep with the 455 frequency beam.  The key will be to throw in shallow water and work the cranks and lizards real slow.  Usually the bass are hitting the crank baits on the first couple of turns of the reel handle.

LAKE OCONEE (FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER, TEMPRATURE 51-57) – Bass fishing is fair.  Small crank baits fished along the side of the docks in the middle of the coves out to the main lake will produce.  You can also add fishing a rattle trap around any deep dock and around rip rap early.  The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will work very well even in 10 feet of water.  Anglers can cover 68 feet of bottom at 10 feet deep with the 455 frequency beam.  Jigs fished around wood structure have also produced some larger fish.  Some fish are starting to move into the creeks and coves so don’t be afraid to move in and out of the coves and pockets, fishing all depths of water.

Striper report by Mark Smith of Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741; reeltime@bellsouth.net

Striper fishing is good.  The fish are mid-lake around river bend.  Use your Lowrance to locate the large schools of bait and the stripers will be close by. Look for the birds diving, if you see birds go fish them.  Live bait as well as spoons will produce large numbers of fish.

Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are moving into the creeks.  Long lining jigs over the fish will produce good catches.  Spider rigging will also catch some fish.  Some of the bigger fish are starting to show up in the rivers.

LAKE SINCLAIR (DOWN .86 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S) – Bass fishing is good as lots of bass are moving up shallow and starting to stage.  Fishing shallow has been best and will continue to get better.  Spinnerbaits, shallow crank baits, and jigs seem to be producing the best.  A 3/8-ounce chartreuse and white spinnerbait slow rolled around docks and seawalls near points seem to be producing the bigger bites.  When you catch one, turn around and fish the area again as these fish are moving up in schools.  The Spro Little John MD will catch numbers of fish as they move up on the flat points.  Fire tiger or chartreuse colors will work best as the lake remains stained.  The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will work very well even in 10 feet of water. Anglers can cover 68 feet of bottom at 10 feet deep with the 455 frequency beam.  Once you locate areas with fish on the spinner bait and crank bait, make sure you fish all the docks in that area with a black and blue jig.  Fish the walkways and backsides of docks as the shallow water will warm up these areas quickly.  The late afternoon bite is best right now since the shallows have had all day to warm up.

LAKE JACKSON (DOWN 1.55 FEET, 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Head to the southern end of the lake around the dam and fish shallow.  Use crank baits along the bank and cast them in real tight.  The shallow water will clear up first and the bass will head there first.  Lipless baits like the Rattlin Raps along with Bandit or Red Eye Shad are a good choices for this kind of water.  Loads of vibration along with plenty of noise will be the key.  But never overlook the silent style crank baits for a different action in the water.  Expect the weather to break soon and the sun to shine.  The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will work very well even in 10 feet of water.  Anglers can cover 68 feet of bottom at 10 feet deep with the 455 frequency beam. Sunny weather will warm the water up some more and move the bass up closer to their springtime spawning areas.

BIG LAZER PFA

  • Surface water temperature: 59o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is at 32”
  • Water level: Full pool

Largemouth bass: Fair – Fish plastic baits slow when the water temperatures are chilly.  Plastic-worms fished around the deep water locations like by the picnic area and around the fishing pier may produce a few bites.  Anglers can try fishing crankbaits slow around 10 feet of water; try lures that mimics crawfish.  Bass will soon move shallower for spawning in the next few weeks.

Crappie: Fair- Some crappie are beginning to bite on bright color jigs and spinners.  Also, fish for crappie in 8-10 feet of water with minnows.

Bream: Poor- Bream fishing is poor but try pink and red worms around the fishing pier.  Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it.  This time of year, most bream will be located in 6 feet of water or deeper.

Channel catfish: Fair- A few catfish are being caught on shrimp, worms, and livers.  Fish for cats 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, February fishing at Big Lazer is challenging.  Anglers have to be more patient and persistent to have a good day fishing.  On a good note, winter weather means less anglers are fishing; thus, less fishing pressure for the dedicated angler.  And, the PFA is again open 7 days a week.  Also, warmer temperatures are on the way, which means fish will start spawning in the next few weeks!

MCDUFFIE PFA

  • Falling water temperatures across McDuffie Public Fishing Area: Hovering 59 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 19 – 54+ inches: McDuffie PFA has not started the Spring fertilization program.
  • All Lake Water levels on McDuffie PFA are back to Full pool.

Largemouth Bass:  Largemouth bass bite has been slow from late January until last week. A kayak angler reported catching two Bass one (20) twenty inches and the other (15) fifteen inches and released them back into Willow Lake.  The Bass are responding to the warming water temperatures and have begun biting readily across the PFA’s lakes.   McDuffie PFA’s anglers are spreading the fishing pressure across the PFA lakes.  Anglers have continued fishing through the mild weather.  Lake Willow is still providing good bass action due to the threadfin shad so match the size and color of the forage for some exciting action. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.

Bream: Slowing down: No reports of Bream being harvest.

Channel Catfish:  The catfish bite has slowed down.  But as the water continues to warm up the catfish will begin to feed in preparation for the spring spawn.  The best fishing is on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made baits.  Later, in the spring, catfish can also be caught in shallow water by fishing with crickets under a bobber.  An angler reported catching catfish in Rodbender

Striped Bass:  The stripers are biting in both Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes.  Boat anglers are catching stripers on small crank baits and Shad rap mid-lake / or along the lake channel.  Stripers are also biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while anglers are targeting catfish.  Umbrella rigs, diving crank baits and top-water plugs are very effective on McDuffie’s stripers during the colder months.

What You Need to Know About Fishing at A PFA (Licenses, Hours, etc.)

NORTHEAST GEORGIA

(Fishing Report Courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

It’s Monster Month, that time of the year when seasoned north Georgia anglers aim for size over numbers.  The last few weeks of February and the start of March is always a hot time at our north Georgia WRD offices, as trophy hunters weigh-in their Georgia Angler Award catches.  Bass, stripers, walleye, crappie, and trout are all full of eggs, and their appetites increase as water temperatures start their springtime upswing.  Big rainbows will be migrating toward clean spawning gravels, and smart anglers know of upstream, public lands where those whoppers from downstream private fishing operations are heading for a date.  The Lanier Striper Bounty continues for Coastal Angler magazine fans.  Big largemouths often succumb to slow moving pig &jig combos or rainbow trout-colored swimbaits, and several fish over ten pounds from mountain reservoirs or state park lakes usually hit our certified scales at Lake Burton Hatchery.  And may I remind everyone that Wes’ new state record walleye was caught last February 19?  http://www.georgiawildlife.com/node/4083

With a warming weekend again aimed for us, give it a shot.  Maybe start with a big bait and swing for the fences for the first hour or so.  If you strike out, then downsize your offerings and go for the school-sized fish to save the day.  But take a least a few shots at a wall-hanger while they’re big, fat, and shallow in these next several weeks.  Here we go: 

bass-lmb-11-5-reaindeau-pond-feb-2017-small
Craig Riendeau Shares Shot of 11 lb, 5 oz largemouth caught in a small subdivision lake

MEGA BASS (From Craig Riendeau, Off the Deep Edge Warm Water Fly Fishing, offthedeepedge.com) – This season is off to a fantastic start. I went fishing on small lake in my subdivision for my first trip of the year on the last day of January. My first bass of the year went nine inches, my second bass was an 11 lb. 5 oz. bruiser. I started last season with an eleven pounder on the fly too but that one cost me thousands and a flight to Mexico to get her. The irony that I got a bigger one for free in my backyard. Go fish Georgia!

ALLATOONA ATTRACTORS: (From Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) – The Lake Allatoona fishing jetty got a fresh dose of brush this month.  DNR personnel recently assisted Allatoona Corps of Engineer’s staff and local volunteers with the addition of new Christmas trees at the Galt’s Ferry Fishing Jetty.  Over 200 Christmas trees were anchored to the lake bottom near the jetty.  As lake levels rise this spring, the brush piles will be inundated with water – providing habitat for sport fish such as bass, bream, and catfish.  The brush piles are within easy casting distance from the jetty and will be in 10-12 feet of water when the lake is full.  Similar brush piles can also be found around the Proctor Landing, Blockhouse, Bethany Bridge, and Victoria Marina fishing jetties on Lake Allatoona.

fish-attractors-toona-galts_ferry-feb-2017
Christmas Trees/Brush (seen here on shore) Get a 2nd Life as Fish Attractors on Lake Allatoona at Galt’s Ferry Fishing Jetty

ALLATOONA CRAPPIE HAUL:

COOSA RIVER:

CARTERS LAKE: A thorough report for the walleye hunters out there: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=892489

LANIER BASS: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=892439

LANIER STRIPERS:

WALLEYE: WRD staffers have been out this week on early recons in our northern lakes, in preparation for broodstock collections.  No fish have been found yet in extreme NEGA reservoirs, as senior biologist Anthony Rabern reported 49 degree water temps.  The Lanier team of Snellings-Looney found four fish up the Hooch this week.  The drought makes river boat rides nearly impossible.  It looks like the spring runs are still ahead of us, but will likely happen early again this year because of the warm winter. You might try the upper ends of the reservoirs, where walleye should start staging soon for their upriver migrations (IF our rivers quit drying up).

More walleye tips here: http://www.georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/uploads/wildlife/fishing/pdfs/miscellaneous/Anglers%20Guide%20to%20Walleye%20Fishing%20in%20Georgia_HQ-APPROVED_02.18.11.pdf

TROUT 

Monday’s Bucket Brigade: Grab a kid, a bucket, and a fishing pole and come join us at Whitewater Creek Park on Monday (Feb 20). I hear the trout fishing will be really good…http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112438

Tuesday Trout Fibber: I’ll be the program speaker for Tuesday (2/21) night’s monthly meeting of the Mid-GA Chapter of TU.  The topic is “springtime dries and droppers” as I help these distant trouting fans prepare for their forthcoming forays to our mountains. http://georgiatu.org/wordpress/shortcodes/middle-georgia-chapter/

Hooch Hoot – March 11 in Helen: More BBQ, Bluegrass, and Raffle Prizes! http://www.georgiafoothills.org/2017/02/hoot-on-hooch-march-11_9.html 

Flyfishing 101: Wanna learn how?

Smith DH Success: Two groups of new fly-fishing folks assaulted Smith Creek over the weekend.  With a little help from some onstream veterans, both the Atlanta high school seniors and the Sylvester working mens’ group found some “first trout” on their fly poles.  Grips, grins, and high-fives signaled successful vacation treks to Unicoi State Park.  Hot flies were small buggers and tiny soft hackle droppers behind them.  Both rainbows and browns posed for quick Iphone shots and lasting memories (see some new happy grinning anglers below). 

Amicalola Delayed Harvest: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=887790

Chattooga Flow Calibrations:

Meanwhile, Up In The Forest: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112524

Buford Dam Trout: Big T’s Priceless Intel: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112506

March Madness: Are you looking ahead?

  • Ready for the trout bug hatches and dry fly action that are just about to happen?  Start stocking up on tiny black caddis, http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112280&page=3 #16 gray caddis, 12 quill gordons, and 14 March browns now.  Add some big (size 12 and 14 hare’s ear nymphs and soft hackles to the mix, also, for your droppers under those dries.  More intel from seasoned hillbillies can be found in past editions of “Tightlines,” the monthly newsletter of Rabun TU.
  • http://rabuntu.org/site/tight-lines/ Check the March and April 2016 editions for the hatch charts, which are predictors of your weeks to come, and start tying or buying ASAP!  Also check the Feb 21 event, above.

Cool Spy Cameras: Is anyone else catching this TV series with amazing wildlife footage? http://www.gpb.org/television/shows/nature/episode/ed9636f5-774f-4a27-affd-b5c6715518e4

Good luck as winter continues its disappearing act and springtime temperatures convince fish to come up and play with you early this year.  Thanks for buying your fishing licenses, tackle, and TU brookie license plates. It’s gonna be another warm weekend, so go get ‘em, guys and gals.  You never know, you might just hook a monster, so bring a net, a camera, and a witness!

https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/subpages/grantprograms/sfr/sfr.htm

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