Georgia Fishing Report: May 5, 2017

This week’s reports include North and Southeast Georgia.

Like to bass fish? Challenge yourself to be one of the first Georgians to get a Bass Slam! How do you get a Slam? Catch 5 of 10 eligible bass species and get some fun prizes and recognition. Eligible species, rules and more info here: Georgia Bass Slam

NORTH GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Pat Snellings, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

It’s a busy time of year in North Georgia, as we finish up our annual spring reservoir sampling and start stocking fish in reservoirs for you to catch!  Last week, we finished up our Lake Nottely spring electrofishing sample, and if shocking was any indication, the big bass are shallow. Much like Lake Lanier, the largemouth bass on Lake Nottely are finishing spawning efforts as the spotted bass move up shallow to spawn. We found good numbers of largemouth bass over 3 lb, with several fish 6 lb or greater. Our biggest bass this year was just over 7 lb! Most of the bigger fish were hanging off woody debris in coves and pockets in less than 6 feet of water.

Although many times our spring fishing reports are full of big fish found while conducting shocking activities, they aren’t the only stars of the show. Some of our north Georgia fisheries wouldn’t be what they are without a little help of a bunch of tiny fish stocked annually.   While largemouth and spotted bass just need steady spring lake levels to take care of their own re-population, walleye, striped bass, hybrid bass, and white bass sometimes need a little help to make sure there will be enough for you to catch. So, in early spring when those species make their spawning runs, DNR fisheries biologists and technicians are out collecting some of the adult fish. Those fish are taken to one of the WRD South Georgia hatcheries, spawned, then put into hatchery ponds for a month to grow out to fingerling size (about 1”), when they are ready to be stocked.

This past week we got great doses of fingerlings for our north Georgia lakes, which included white bass and stripers for Lake Lanier, stripers and hybrids for Hartwell, and hybrid striped bass for Chatuge and Allatoona. Warmwater fish stockings will continue over the next 1-2 weeks.  Who knows, that 50 lb striper found in Lake Lanier a few years from now might currently be a one-inch fingerling in a South Georgia hatchery pond, ready to be shipped to north Georgia!

If you plan on going out this weekend, be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know (Georgia Angler Awards)!

Good luck and tight lines!

LANIER

Bass

Crappie

This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. Crappie fishing is good to excellent during the month of May. Most of the crappie we are targeting are still on docks with structure at about twenty to twenty five feet deep, but some have moved to stand alone submerged brush piles at similar depths.  Those close to a creek or in the backs of creeks on deeper docks seem to be producing best, as well as docks in channels.  Because community docks are often in deeper water, they will be good targets, too, but you may have to spend time locating the fish.  The crappie are willing to bite, and are doing so aggressively. If you don’t get a bite in the first few casts, move to a new area. If you have down scan and side scan, this will make it easier by locating the fish on the screen. Initially your bite is a little deeper, but once you get the school chasing your bait, you will notice them moving more shallow, and sometimes this will create a feeding frenzy. The key to putting a lot of fish in the boat is to be willing to move from one dock and brush pile on to the next. We usually pre plan our trip ahead of time so that we have an idea of which docks and brush piles to hit first. Some tend to do better earlier in the day, and some do better later in the day. If you notice bait around your fishing spots, that is a big advantage. Always use four pound test line. Our favorite continues to be the high visibility line because it allows you to see the line jump or move when a fish hits. Jig colors still do not matter much this time of year as the fish are feeding well. May is one of our favorite months of the year for fishing. We have witnessed the end of the spawn of the crappie, followed by the spotted bass spawn. Enjoy fishing, and be safe on the water!  Wear your life jacket; it can save your life! 

Additional Reservoir Fishing Reports available from Ken Sturdivant: The shad spawn is on, so its’ topwater time at dawn!  

TROUT

Stocker Hotspots: Rock and Cooper Creek: This week’s featured trouting sites are Rock and Cooper creeks.  They’re fairly close to one another, are heavily stocked, support dispersed camping opportunities, have a few remote sections where hiking anglers can escape the crowds, and are close to other neat recreational sites, including Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery, Rock Creek Lake, the upper Toccoa River at Deep Hole Rec Area, and Lake Winfield Scott.  New trout anglers looking for a weekend camping/fishing destination should take a look at these two north-central destinations in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  Also, remember that WRD’s weekly stocking list is updated late every Friday afternoon, once the week’s stocked trout hit the water.

More info on Rock/Cooper Area:

Trout stocking Buford RBT pour May2017
Enjoy this “trout-pour” photo from Buford Hatchery assistant manager Travis Taylor, who quick-released some good-looking rainbow trout into the Lanier Tailwater this week.

Bluelines Still Hot: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=113268

Delayed Harvest Last Call: Remember that the catch & release regulations for Georgia’s Delayed Harvest streams end on May 15, when natural bait and harvest is allowed on these waters.  Fly and lure anglers should take advantage of the last two weeks of the special regulations to enjoy some high catch rates.  May/June harvest allows good use of the leftover DH fish before high summer water temperatures limit or prevent survival in these marginal stream sections. Some more Georgia DH info HERE.

It’s a great time of the year to slam some bass and tackle some mountain trout.  Take advantage of this sudden surge of cool weather and great stream flows to extend your spring fishing season in north Georgia.  Bring some extra camp firewood and even a heavy sweatshirt if you plan to wet a line at dawn!

As always, thanks for buying your licenses  and TU brookie car tags – we appreciate the operating funds!

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

While the number of anglers was low this weekend due to high winds and low river levels, but folks still caught fish! The best reports came from the Altamaha (panfish and catfish) and ponds (bass and bream). Full Moon is May 10th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

SE GA Alexis James Redbreast 4 17 (002)Catching fish = Smiles, as evidenced here by Alexis James who caught this rooster redbreast last week while pitching spiders (pink was her color of choice). Way to go, Alexis!

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Bass, panfish, and catfish fishing on the big river was very good this week. A couple of bass anglers from Waycross fished the lower river on Saturday and ended up catching almost 20 bass (12 keepers) up to 3 pounds on Flashy Swim Jigs, crankbaits, and plastic worms. Their biggest inhaled a copperfield Flashy Swim Jig, but pulled off in the lily pads. The buzzbait bite was slow for them, but crawfish-colored crankbaits and junebug plastic worms filled in well. Danny Brown fished the river on Saturday and caught a really nice box of redbreasts and bluegills on crawfish Satilla Spins. I saw the photo, and it looked like big Satilla River redbreasts, not typical Altamaha fish. Anglers fishing limb lines had some excellent blue and channel catfish catches.  Donna at Altamaha Park said that water conditions improved this week, and the fishing followed suit. Shellcrackers ate pink worms well, while bream ate about anything (both artificials and live bait). The catches of flatheads picked back up, and some large mullet were also caught (red wigglers were the best bait). The river level was 5.0 feet and falling (78 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.0 feet and falling (75 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 2nd.

SATILLA RIVER

The Satilla Riverkeeper organization is hosting the 3rd annual “A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament” on the Satilla River May 13th. For more information, go to satillariverkeeper.org or grab a flier from a southeast Georgia tackle shop. With the river low, most anglers are walking or floating right now, as fishing from a motorboat is difficult with the trees and sand bars. I love floating in a kayak or canoe this time of year, as the fish are in the deeper runs with cover, and they will hit well if you can drag a lure or pitch a cricket near them. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle (912-283-9400) in Waycross said that the redbreast bite is great for those throwing crawfish Satilla Spins, as well as white-red dot Beetlespins. You should be able to get some big roosters to react if you pitch a bug, also. Bass were still hitting Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogues and Trick Worms. The river level on May 2nd at the Waycross gage was 4.4 feet and falling (77 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.2 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The catfish bite was tops as the water temperatures rise. Shrimp on the bottom will be the deal for the next few months. Some good catches of bluegills were also reported. Crickets produced most of the bream. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 2nd was 1.4 feet and falling.

OGEECHEE RIVER

Clay Grace fished the Ogeechee on Saturday and whacked the redbreasts with Satilla Spins. His best colors were black/chartreuse, chartreuse, and yellow versions. The Ogeechee is still stained, but it’s getting right. If we don’t get significant rains out of the Thursday front, the Ogeechee should be prime during the next couple of weeks.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The effort tanked this week with the fires. The wildfire in the southern half of the swamp crept over 100,000 acres (total area burned) this week. Kingfisher Landing is still open, but the Fargo and Folkston entrances are closed at the time of writing this. Because of the uncertainty of the fires, make sure to call ahead of time to make sure any entrances you plan to fish out of are open. On the east side, you can all Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156. Staff at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side can be reached at 912-637-5274. Updates from the US Fish and Wildlife Service available HERE.

LOCAL PONDS

Hanna Sears of Alma caught the biggest bass I heard of this week. It was a 9-pound whopper that she landed Monday evening. Congratulations, Hanna! Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson fished an Alma area pond this weekend and caught a few nice bass up to 4 pounds. Pop-N-Frogs and large (10-inch) plastic worms worked best for them. Michael Winge reported that lots of bream were caught with crickets. Watermelon-red ZOOM lizards produced nice bass, while pink worms fished on the bottom accounted for most of the catfish.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The whiting bite would have been good if the wind hadn’t blown a gale….. Maybe a little exaggerating, but the winds kept almost everyone off saltwater this week. The tripletail fishing on the Jekyll Island beach will pick back up after a few calm days. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that some whiting, black drum, trout, flounder, and sharks were caught from the pier this week with dead shrimp and cut baitfish. Blue crabs were also caught on days when the traps weren’t flapping in the breeze. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

It looks as if the Altamaha is going to be the river to fish this summer. Upcountry rains have kept the river up, and it is very fishable right now. Bass fishing has been strong, and panfishing has been consistent. If you have a canoe or kayak, you can catch lots of redbreasts from the Satilla right now. If you want to road-trip, the Ogeechee is getting right for redbreasts. In saltwater, whiting fishing has to get the nod again this week if winds will allow you to get out. Some big bass will probably be caught again this weekend from ponds. The bass bite will probably slow down a couple days behind the forecasted late week cold front, but temperatures should still be where they like to bite throughout the weekend.

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