Can you believe that Christmas is right around the corner? We hope that you each get to enjoy some holi-days off to spend time with family and friends, and of course, get out and do a little fishing.

We have had several new entries of folks completing their Georgia Bass Slam – congrats to all of them! Andy Middleton, who has managed to catch 6 of the 10 eligible species, wrote a blog post about it. Check it out HERE.

This week, we have reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. We hope that you have a blessed and joyous remaining holiday season.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

Cold, windy weather dominated the week, thus the number of reports was really low. New Moon is December 18th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

The river is rising and muddy, and water temperatures dropped significantly this week. If you just must fish the river, give the oxbows a try for crappie or bass. Otherwise, fish elsewhere. The river level was 5.0 feet and rising (51 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.3 feet and rising (51 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on December 12th.

SATILLA RIVER

The Satilla River is cold, but is not too muddy. I didn’t receive any reports this week from the Satilla, but I imagine you could catch a few crappie in the deep holes. The river level on December 12th at the Waycross gage was 5.2 feet and steady (53 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.5 feet and rising.

ST. MARYS RIVER

I didn’t receive any reports from the St. Marys River this week. The big slug of water from recent rains has crested, but it is still full bank at most places. Catfish would be your best bet, but I’d suggest fishing elsewhere. The river level at the MacClenny gage on December 12th was 8.5 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The weather this weekend was terrible, but 5 ladies braved the cold weather during a Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) fishing workshop at the swamp. In the rain on Friday, they fished the boat basin at SC Foster State Park and caught over a dozen fliers on pink or orange sallies (suspended underneath a small balsa float) and a bullhead catfish (on pieces of shrimp). Later in the afternoon they headed to the Sill and caught dozens of bullhead catfish and bowfin (mudfish) and about 2 dozen warmouth on Catfish Catcher Jigheads and shrimp. One of the ladies figured out that SHRIMP would fool a warmouth. They ended up with a total of about 60 fish that afternoon. In the cold windy conditions on Saturday morning, the bowfin were tearing it up, but catfish had lockjaw. Most of the bowfin ate shrimp and worms fished on Catfish Catcher Jigheads. and Danielle caught the biggest of the day and over a dozen of the feisty fish on chartreuse Assassin 2-inch Curly Shads fished on 1/8-oz. Flashy jigheads. About a dozen warmouth also ate the Curly Shads and shrimp. All 50 of their fish on Saturday morning came from the Sill. During the frigid Sunday morning trip to the Sill, the catfish still had lockjaw, and the bowfin bit shrimp and worms lightly, and most of them pulled off before they could be landed. Out of the half-dozen bowfin that they landed that morning, a 4-pounder was the biggest. The warmouth couldn’t care less that it was cold, and over a dozen of them were landed with the Curly Shads and shrimp. During the weekend, Danielle landed the largest bowfin, weighing 5-lb. 8-oz., but several others had fish almost that big.

LOCAL PONDS

A few crappie and bass were caught this week from area ponds, but nothing impressive was reported.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

Before the strong mid-week cold front, trout fishing was good in the Brunswick area. I heard of several limits of trout caught on artificials early in the week. On Sunday, an angler fishing bank accesses in the Brunswick area caught 6 trout up to 16 inches on Mama’s 14K and motor oil-chartreuse tail Assassin Sea Shads worked through the water column on an 1/8-oz. Flashy Jighead. An angler fishing in the extreme cold on Monday morning in the Brunswick area from a boat didn’t even get a bite. So, the trout fishing has been hit-or-miss based on the day. I didn’t hear any reports of sheepshead catches, but they will usually still bite in the cold. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

Wow, was I ever right about last weekend being a good one for Christmas shopping! It was a brutal weekend. This weekend will be typical winter, but it should be fishable. Ponds will warm more quickly in the afternoons, and should be pretty good for bass and crappie. In saltwater, trout, sheepshead, and redfishing should be decent if winds allow. Check the marine forecast before setting up a trip. Trout will be roaming creek mouths and shell mounds in the Intracoastal Waterway. Redfishing should be decent at the Jetties and inshore mud flats (if you know of an area holding a good redfish population). Sheepshead will bite along hard structure if you have a favorite bridge or rocky area.

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.   

LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The fish are tight on the bottom early in the creek ditches.  Also, look on the points and creek bends all over the lake.  They are roaming on any wood all day and a crank bait cast through the wood will draw a strike.  Use a bright color.  Fish the ½-ounce jig and a Zoom trailer on the points.  The crank bait and spinner baits cast on the bank cover and slowly worked will get strikes.  Midday spinner baits down-lake in the creeks are fair on cover using spinner baits with bright blades.  Look for shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day.  The Zoom water melon seed lizards on a Carolina rig, has been fair later each day.  During a cold front, the temperatures tend to drop with high pressure and blue skies covering the region.  Use the Lowrance 200 kHz sonar frequency and drop the spoon right under the transducer all the way to the bottom.  Use short hops, not big jerks.  You can watch the fish hit the spoon.  Be sure to have a spoon ready.  Three spoons that work are the Flex It, Hopkins and Sidewinder.  Change the hooks to light wire so if they get hung up the hook can be straightened out and save the spoon.  It may take several moves until you find the active fish on structure before getting bit.  Run the side scan technology by these areas before fishing.  The fish will show up as small white dots.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 8.8 FEET, 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The cold fronts and winds slowed the action but there are still fish biting.  Down-lake use the smaller worms and jigs in dark greens.  The bass can move into the weeds in the creeks on a warming trend.  The bass have moved to points and on the old creek channels.  Brush piles on points in 10 feet of water can hold bass and Zoom U tail worms and jigs are fair.  Work all lures slowly.  The Zoom red and black worm in the brush using a Texas rig with ½-ounce weight can draw a few strikes.  Be sure to have a spoon ready.  Three spoons that work are the Flex It, Hopkins and Sidewinder.  Change the hooks to light wire so if they get hung up the hook can be straightened out and save the spoon.  Fish faster moving baits slow with the cold fronts and the cold water.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S BY CAPTAIN MARK SMITH, REEL TIME GUIDE SERVICE

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  The best bite this week has come on the spoon fished on the humps and road beds on the south end of the lake.  Use your Lowrance to locate the fish on the sides of the humps and then drop a spoon into them.  Take a large assortment of colors as conditions change from day to day.  Small crank baits fished around docks and wood structure will draw a strike.  Most of the fish are in the 5 to 10 foot water column range.  There are a lot of fish in the middle of the coves in the middle of the lake.  These fish are not relating to anything, so they are hard to target.  They can be caught with a crank bait fished from 10 to 15 feet deep.

Striper: Striper fishing is good to very good.  The fish are starting to show up all over the lake; the water quality is good everywhere and the fish are from one end of the lake to the other.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and you can catch them with spoons and live bait.  Some have been using bass minnows but shad will also work.  This is some of the best striper fishing of the year so don’t miss out on the great fishing right now.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is slow.  The fish have moved into deeper water and out to the mouths of the creeks.  Long-line trolling has been the best producer over the past week.  The timber in Sugar creek has been the best producer in the last few days; you can also find fish between the bridges in Lick creek.  If the water warms up the fishing will improve.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 6.0 FEET, STAINED & 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The spots are roaming and the largemouth are on the deeper stumps and wood on the creek bends down-lake and are tight on cover.  As the lake drops to winter levels be sure to search the mid-lake creeks with the Lowrance Side and Down scanning technology.  Look on the heavy brush on points and docks on the lake.  Down-lake, use the black and blue or all black half-ounce jig and a Zoom trailer on the heavy cover.  The Zoom watermelon seed lizards on a Carolina rig is a good choice fished slowly.  On creeks in old channels use a Zoom red shad worm on a Texas rig or a Carolina rig.  Work baits on the deeper cover.  Be sure to have a spoon ready.  Three spoons that work are the Flex It, Hopkins and Sidewinder.  Change the hooks to light wire so if they get hung up the hook can be straightened out and save the spoon.  Later each day work the creek banks and use a Shad Rap or a Rat L Trap in the shad colors casting anything to the bank cover.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Work the heavy brush on points and docks on the lake.  Use the Stanley dark green or all black ½-ounce jig and a larger Bo Hawg pork trailer, on the heavy cover.  Cast a dark red and black Texas rigged worm in the larger sizes slowly worked on the docks on the lower lake.  Slow roll a willow leaf blade combo in gold on points.  Larger dark worms over the grass and around docks can get a strike, but fish later each day with warming waters.  This lake can warm up fast with a warming trend and the small bright crank baits can trigger some bites.  During a cold front, the temperatures tend to drop with high pressure and blue skies covering the region.  Bass are cold blooded and depend on the environment for warmth in order to lead a much more comfortable life.  For this reason, as the temperature changes during a cold front, bass tend to change their lifestyle, especially their eating habits, to match the conditions.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .8 FEET, 50’S           

Bass fishing is fair.  During midday use jigs in black and blue or all black and be sure to add a Zoom salt pork trailer imitation.  Work the lure in and on the heavy cover.  Work the lower lakes creeks and docks and pitch with a Texas rigged u tail style worm and Culprit worm and work these baits slowly.  With a warm up, fish the backs of these docks as well as the bank cover and the sea walls down-lake.  The upper rivers are slow and fish are tight in brush.   During a cold front, the temperatures tend to drop with high pressure and blue skies covering the region.  Be sure to have a spoon ready.  Three spoons that work are the Flex It, Hopkins and Sidewinder.  Change the hooks to light wire so if they get hung up the hook can be straightened out and save the spoon.  Bass are cold blooded and depend on the environment for warmth in order to lead a much more comfortable life.  For this reason, as the temperature changes during a cold front, bass tend to change their lifestyle especially their eating habits to match the conditions.  Jigs and jerk baits are some of the best cold-water baits. 

BIG LAZER PFA

  • Surface water temperature: 52o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 37”
  • Water level: Down 10” from full pool

Bass:  Slow – Haven’t been many caught lately….the water temp has dropped fairly rapid in the last few weeks causing the bite to decrease.   However, once the fish get acclimated, the bite should start getting better.  In the cooler water temps, fish near structure using a slow presentation on either your darker colored plastic baits or shad colored lures. 

CrappieFair – The water has cooled off now, and the crappie are trying to fatten up before it gets any colder, so try minnows and/or brightly colored jigs around the standing timber or along deeper banks to produce a bite.  Also, try the fishing pier where there are artificial attractors in easy casting distance. 

Bream:  Slow – But if you are willing to get out and brave the cold, try some worms under a float near structure.  The earthen piers and the special event pond may be other good places to try. 

Channel catfish:  Slow – The upper end of the lake should still produce some bites using liver, cut bait, or shrimp fished near the bottom.  For bank anglers, try near the picnic area along the deep bank beside the fence.  Just remember fishing past the fence is prohibited due to the deep water and steep bank.  

Attention:  Waterfowl Hunters are allowed to hunt the PFA Wednesdays & Saturdays until noon during the season.  See Hunting Regs for more details. Hunters & Anglers remember Hypothermia can be a Killer so be safe out there!

MCDUFFIE PFA

  • Water temperature range across lakes: 53⁰.
  • Water Visibility: 18 – 54 inches

Bass: Bass fishing pressure has slowed down on PFA.  The bass fishing has remained slow and steady.  Rodbender and Willow Lakes have received a stocking of golden shiners and goldfish forage so if anglers match the forage they could catch a big bass in either lake. Lake Rod Bender, the trophy bass pond, is open year-round and anglers can harvest one bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.  No reports of a big bass being caught in Rodbender. 

Bream: Slow. The PFA’s anglers have not reported catching bluegill or redear since last fishing report. 

Channel CatfishThe channel catfish bite has slowed down due to dropping temperatures.  Channel catfish can be caught during winter months but they must be located in each lake.  Catfish are not always in deep water during winter months. The Lakes Clubhouse, Breambuster and Willow have received some large channel catfish to add some surprises when they are caught. 

Striped Bass: No reports of stripers being caught in Bridge Lake or Clubhouse.  Stripers are school feeders so if one striper is feeding they are all feeding.

NORTH 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 been a busy morning, so forgive the brevity of today’s North Georgia report.  Some of us have just gotten back here to the office after an early morning detail to May-retta.

Our seasonal Santa watch has begun across north Georgia.  GA DNR Law EnforcementTrout stocking Hooch DH Paces w Partners 12-15-17 small Division and National Park Service rangers reported no sightings of Saint Nick yet, but they did observe significant activity among his elves.  DNR game warden Brooks Varnell and his furry associate warden, Taz, tracked down an elf mass at the Paces Mill boat ramp this morning.  Rangers spotted other elf platoons across north Georgia this week, with gatherings focused on the Delayed Harvest streams.  Inquiring minds wanna know what’s up? HINT

OTHER NEWS

TROUT

Dukes Reports: Last Saturday Dredger waited til 2Pm for the White County roads to clear and then tried to cure his cabin fever with a quick trip to Smith.  Alas, Highway 356 was still shut down, but he hung a left onto Hwy 75A, detoured to Smithgall, and grabbed a Dukes opening.  He hooked a total of nine inches of fish and landed three inches’ worth (a baby rainbow) on the snow-lined stream.  While his catching was pitiful, two experienced Euro-nymphers who arrived earlier put a licking on the fish.  Dredge even watched Youth Fly Fishing Teamer Ricky pose for a pic with a big brown.  Time to dust off the Euro rod and fly box, Dredge!

More on Euro: HERE

Smith DH noob Rob M 12-11-17Smith DH: New Georgian Rob M of Fort Benning ventured north last Sunday for an inaugural trip to Smith DH.  He got a few quick lessons on drag-free drifting from a random Rabunite and then was “released” to catch a nice handful of brookies and rainbows on his egg/prince combo.  He gripped and grinned and vowed to return to north Georgia soon.

Almost forgot this one: T23 is a member of Rabun TU. Information HERE and HERE. They are angling addicts and often bypass common sense in their rabid quest for fish.  Enjoy the story and pics of a great trout trip that T23 survived to scribe.  PS- note that Smith DH is actually a small tailwater, with some mediating effects from Unicoi Lake.

LAKE LANIER

Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) – Water temperatures are warmer than I would have predicted.  On the south side of the lake, today’s water temperature ranged up to 56.5 degrees.   On the northern side of the lake, both the Chestatee and the Chattahoochee had water temps of 53 degrees th further north you go.  These water temps are ideal for crappie fishing.  The wind has been our worst enemy the last few days, making it difficult to position your boat and place your jig in the perfect spot.  Having said that, if you get a chance to fish on a day with less wind, the bite is definitely on!  The more areas you cover, the better quality of fish you will put in the boat.  Crappie relate to structure, and you can catch them at 20 foot depths or shallower right now, concentrating on submerged brush piles – especially those close to docks.  If you start catching small striped bass (5”-6” lengths), my advice is to leave the area, as they will make the spot a waste of time.   In addition, we should give them a chance to survive.  A helpful tip this time of year:  you will notice your line tend to coil up.  Change it as often as you can, as it will save you from having to untangle it on the water.  I don’t have the authority on live bait fishing, but the people that do, are reporting good catches. So dress in layers, load up your gear and get out and fish! Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!

Bass: (This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley – Jimbo on Lanier) Well, we got some changes, that is for sure. Hello Winter!  With the recent snow and cold weather, the lake temperature has dropped to 53 degrees. The lake level has held fairly steady, even with all the precipitation. The water is starting to look better in most areas, but it is still cloudy in some areas and still showing signs of turnover.  A Picasso ShakeDown Head with a finesse worm and a Chattahoochee jig are still good for some bites on clay and rock points as well as in shallower pockets adjacent to the deeper ditches I have been referencing in the recent reports. No surprise – the spoon bite has once again been very good over the last week. We are finding spoon fish out in 50-60 ft at the mouths of ditches, as well as further back in some cases at different times of the day.   Some days they are relating to the bottom near timber, and some days they are in more clean, flat bottom type areas.  Some days they are more up in the water column and easier to spot.  When they are down in the timber, rely on your Lowrance 3D Structure Scan to discern the presence of fish.  You may not see them well until you hook one, then your display will explode with activity. The spoon bite has definitely been our dominant pattern this past 4 weeks and seems to be consistent every day in terms of its presence.  The depth the fish are holding and their relevant activity levels vary day to day.  The bite is always there, but some days it is better than others – that’s just fishing. If you want to learn the deep bite, now is a great time to do so!  I also look for the ditch bite to be here after the cold front passes – more to come on this one.  Here is a list of my upcoming open dates in December:  27, 28, 30, 31.  Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun!   Thanks to all and May God Bless.

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Check ’em Out HERE 

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