Look at that sunshine! Oh yeah, that means some outdoor time is sure to be a part of everyone’s weekend, right?
How about to entice you to hit the water, we show you the brand, spanking new 2018 Fishing Prospects? These web pages provide in-depth information detailing 32 reservoirs and 18 rivers in one convenient location.
“Anglers, let me tell you, if you have used the annual Fishing Prospects in the past, you are in for a treat for 2018 – each prospect is now connected to an interactive map, providing a new layer of information to this already excellent resource,” says Thom Litts, Operations Manager for WRD Fisheries Management Section. “If you are not checking out these prospects for your favorite water body before heading out, you are making a mistake!”
Arm yourself with ALL the knowledge, including our fresh reports below from Central and Northeast 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 1.0 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S
Bass fishing is good. For a bigger fish, use a 1/2 ounce black and blue and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the heavy cover. Find thick brush piles on points as they will hold bass. The Ito Vision 110 in the shad pattern and a small Fat Free shad are fair as the water warms later in the day. Start out using worms and jigs worked slowly. The Zoom smoke red u tail worm in the brush using a Texas rig with light sinker will draw a few strikes. Crank baits are better in the creek and bright perch or bream colors are fair. Avoid any fresh muddy water and go down lake to the dam and fish any clearer water with a Zoom all black trick worm and no weight around wood in the creek mouths. Add some Jacks Juice garlic scent too. On the old road beds, points and submerged stumps, use the Lowrance down Scan technology to spot the old roads and ditches as this can cover four times more bottom than sonar. Also, this technology can see the structure in real life, not two dimensional like sonar.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 4.2 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are moving up to shallow water and some are being caught in the grass, right along the bank. Use the Carolina Rigs to catch small bass and have the #5 Shad Raps and the #5 jointed Shad Raps and X Raps to catch the bigger bass up in the shallow water. This week more of the larger fish will move up on the flats and bedding areas as the full moon approaches. Some bass will go on the bed on the upcoming full moon, but not all the bass lock on to the beds at the same time. Continue to fish aggressively and use the Bandit crank baits and be sure there is a shad and chartreuse pattern ready all day. Never overlook the jerk baits and a pearl Zoom Super fluke. Also take along plenty of the 3/8 ounce spinner baits in white and chartreuse. This week should be a good pre-spawn pattern, so fish hard on areas that bass have been known to bed and feed.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S TO 60’S
(From Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Service, 404-803-0741)
Bass: Lake Oconee is full, the water temperature is 58-62. There is a heavy stain up the rivers, then stained to the river bend area of the lake. Richland creek is clear. Bass fishing is picking up. Spinner baits have been the best producers over the past week. Fish them from the middle of the coves to the back. Docks and wood structure have been the best producers. Match your spinner bait color to the water color. White/chartreus seem to be the best all around. Jigs fished under docks will also draw a few strikes.
Striper: Striper fishing is improving. The best fishing has been in the middle of the lake and in the afternoon, from Lick Creek to River Bend. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and you can catch them with spoons and live bait. I have been using bass minnows but shad will also work. As of today they have not shown up at the dam. If this weather continues much longer they will be there soon.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The fish have started to move into the creeks. Pushing (spider rigging) have been putting the fish in the cooler. Match your color jig to the water color. I like to tip my jig with a minnow. The big fish bite is here. Now is the time to catch a 2-plus fish. Long lining has not as productive as the spider rigging.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 5.33 FEET, STAINED & 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Off-shore hot spots on spotted bass have continued to produce with drop shot rigs and jigging spoons. If largemouth are your focus you are going to need to cover a lot of water with shallow crank baits and spinnerbaits. Look for red clay points and rocky banks with sunlight on them most of the day. Find the warmest water with the Lowrance sonar and be sure there are some bait schools close by. Bait fish love any rocky bank as the water will be a bit warmer. Most of these points and banks will be northeastern shorelines. Make long casts with crank baits and spinnerbaits on the shallow end of points. Slowly reel baits making sure to keep continuous contact with the bottom. The best crank baits are a Bomber 4A and Bandit 200 series in a red craw pattern. Spinnerbait patterns can be limited to a ½ ounce War Eagle white with double willow leaf blades gold and silver.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.21 FEET, STAINED, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Crank baits, jigs, and shaky heads have been the most productive over the past week. Shallow to medium depth crank baits have been good in the early morning and late evening fishing river points and rocky banks near deep water. The Spro Little John 50 and MD 50 crank baits have been getting bites when fishing it really slowly bumping it off the rocks and lay down trees. Chartreuse with a blue back and blood red craw have been the best two colors. The crank bait will produce bites all day long in overcast conditions. On bright sunny days, a jig and shaky head will work best when fished around docks and lay down trees. A ¼ ounce black and blue mop jig paired with a Zoom Super Chunk will produce quality bites around boathouses and brushy docks in 6 to 8 feet of water. A 1/8 ounce Spot Remover shaky head with a black trick worm will be best on tough post front days. Target brush piles, docks, and rock piles in 8 15 feet of water with the shaky head for the best results.
LAKE JACKSON IS UP .55 FEET OVER FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Go up the rivers and flip and pitch black or blue Stanley jigs with a matching plastic Zoom pork style trailer to the docks and heavy bank cover. Use the darker red colors in all worms and lizards; shad crank baits are good casting them right on the banks. Early and late each day, use a bubble gum Zoom trick worm on the wood and even rip rap on bridges. The bass bite better later in the day, on the grass lines or the rip rap on bridges. On main lake points a 3/8th ounce Stanley sinner bait is good and cast to any stumps. During the middle of the day, the river bass are fair on a larger Gilraker worm and fish them right on the bank cover. The Zoom water melon seed lizard and a long 3 foot Carolina rig can draw a few strikes on points down lake.
FLAT CREEK PFA (Click HERE For More Info)
- Surface Temperature: 65.7˚ F (18.7˚ C)
- Water Level: 7’ 9.5” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 21”
One of the very best months of the year for catching fish in middle Georgia is March. Not only do people feel like getting out of their houses after their winter hibernation, but the fish also become more aggressive as their natural food becomes more available. At the time of writing this crappie is the fish most anglers are reporting to have caught followed by bass and bream. Those fishing for crappie have reported catching up to 20 per day and up to three pounds! The same anglers were most successful fishing cover to the left and right of the boat ramp in the mornings and in the evenings fishing the flats on the other side of the lake. Those in boats have been trolling along the tree line on the lower side of the lake. The best days have been the windy days prior to a front moving through. Here’s a list of what the anglers are reporting to have had great success using for each of the following:
Bass: A Finesse Jig with Strike King’s Rage Tail Craw in a Green Pumpkinseed, Plum or June Bug colored ‘Ol Monster worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumpkinseed Culprit worms. Buzz bait.
Bream: Red Wigglers and crickets fished near tree tops.
Channel Catfish: The last anglers had success catching catfish using uncooked shrimp.
Crappie: Minnows (worked well for catching smaller crappie), a Rocket bobber 18-24” above a 1/32 ounce jig head with a little bit of the jig head trimmed off to make it shiny, with a silver blue 2” Stinger with red jig head. As it warms switch to a chartreuse jig head with a chartreuse 2” Stinger.
MCDUFFIE PFA (Click HERE for More Info)
- Lake Temperature at last reading lakes was 63 ⁰.
- Wind and rain may have dropped water temperature a little.
- Water Visibility: 16 – 54 inches
- MCDPFA’s anglers can now use the fish cleaning station.
Bass: Bass are being caught across MCDPFA but especially in Willow and Bridge. An angler fishing Lake Willow caught and released a 5-pound bass this week. The Shad have survived the winter and still the choice food for largemouth bass. Anglers should match the forage like shiners, shad and goldfish so they can catch a big bass. The bass are preparing to spawn / bedding on the PFA. 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 keeper bass being caught in Rodbender.
Bream: During the past week: anglers are catching bluegill and redear fishing worms on the bottom and crickets under floats.
Channel Catfish: Anglers are catching channel catfish across the PFA. Most anglers are using chicken livers or stink baits.
Striped Bass: Anglers have been catching stripers in Lake Clubhouse.
MARBEN PFA (Click HERE for More Info)
- Water temps. : High 60’s
Bass: March weather can be a little unstable at times. Temperature swings can bring sudden changes to bass feeding behavior. Larger bass remain in deeper water but due to a warmer than average temperatures anglers can find bass in shallow water, especially on consecutive warmer days. Mid-day can produce some big bass but look for these fish in deeper water (10-15 ft.). Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA. Fishing slow and steady, while mimicking lethargic shad is a proven technique on the PFA lakes, especially this time of year.
Crappie: Crappie are now the most aggressive in early afternoon and evening, crowded around submerged timber in deeper water. Anglers should find this species dominating the catch. When it gets quiet at Marben, the crappie are usually biting. Don’t expect those fishing to give up their favorite fishing spot when the crappie “bite” is high. Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 10-12 feet throughout the day, especially in the evening. Full stringers of crappie are common this time of year.
Bream: Bream fishing will start to pick up but will not be as aggressive as crappie. Warmer water temperatures play a factor but overall this is just not the right time for anglers seeking quality bream. Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best in mid-day but a little slow in early morning and evening. Remember that bream are still a little sluggish so be patient when fishing this popular species.
Catfish: Catfish also will remain sluggish this time of year. Patience is necessary if anglers are in pursuit of this fish. Anglers should target days when it is sunny which should warm the water in order to get catfish moving. Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It’s on! While we’ll likely get one more blast of cold weather before spring moves in permanently, we’ve still had plenty of warm weather and higher, warmer water to turn the fish on. Therefore, I’m announcing that winter’s slow fishing is now dead and gone, and the good days of spring have arrived in north Georgia! That’s the really good news. But what’s the bad news? Again this week, we have to work around monsoons and flash floods to get to these warmer, hungrier fish. Just today we have high stream flows from 3+ inches of rain in the past 24 hours, with another inch likely. For example, notice that the Hooch in Helen has already jumped up two feet! Check out more water data info HERE.
This means that our rivers and tailwaters will have limited fishability during this wet season, despite a lot of fish swimming in those heavy currents. Folks will have to look at dam discharge schedules and USGS streamflow gauges for windows of opportunity between flood flows. Tailwater flows should be lower and clearer right up near the dam, rather than farther downstream, after muddy tributaries have emptied their contents in the main channels.
Once again, the safer bets for anglers are reservoirs for crappie, bass, and stripers, and small streams and little lakes for stocked trout. Reservoirs have some good color to them from all the rains, and those fifty-sixty degree water temperature spikes from a week of warm days are now pulling shad into the shallows, with crappie, bass, and stripers chasing them.
NEWS FROM FISHERIES BIOLOGIST ANTHONY RABERN
Obese Bass – Winterkill: It’s a term that fisheries biologists use to describe the lethal effects of prolonged cold water temperatures on several species of shad and herring. Right now, anglers may notice dead blueback herring floating near the surface (like the one pictured from Lake Yonah). Herring and even threadfin shad have recently experienced a major winterkill in several north Georgia reservoirs. The winterkill was most severe in the mountain lakes, where temperatures were the coldest for the longest amount of time. There are some benefits to winterkill. Riding around the lake last week, I saw a number of gulls, osprey and even eagles grabbing an easy herring snack on the fly. Predatory fish like bass, walleye and stripers are also enjoying these easy pickings. Because winterkills reduce the herring population, many of our most popular sportfish species such as largemouth bass, white bass, crappie and yellow perch, will even have a greater chance of their eggs and fry surviving the onslaught from herring predation. In two or three years, you may actually catch more bass, crappie and perch as a result of this year’s winterkill. So, when you see those dead herring, remember that for better or worse, it’s a winterkill.
The Walleye Run is On! The recent high rainfalls and unusually warm air temperatures have triggered walleye to make an early spawning run. This week, DNR crews found walleye in the headwaters of several north Georgia reservoirs, including lakes Yonah, Lanier, Hartwell, and Blue Ridge. Shallow running plugs and light-weight jigs are effective lures for catching walleye in the river sections of these lakes. Nightcrawlers attached to a bottom bouncer are more effective at catching walleye that lag behind in deeper water. Anglers should concentrate their efforts on the channel ledges. For more information on walleye fishing in Georgia, click HERE
NEWS FROM FISHERIES TECHNICIAN CHRIS LOONEY
“Shocking” Hooch Survey: DNR biologists and technicians were out earlier this week on the Chattahoochee River around Belton Bridge. We collected walleye broodfish to be sent to Richmond Hill and Go Fish hatcheries for making the next batch of fingerlings for stocking into north Georgia lakes later this spring. We found decent numbers of females down low around Belton Bridge, but better numbers of males can be found further upstream, all the way to Bull Shoals. These walleye averaged about 3 lbs each, with fish up to 6 lbs common. We saw numerous smaller striped bass throughout that section of river as well. All stripers were under ten pounds, with most being four to eight pounds. Our crews also saw several dozen white bass during this sampling and heard several reports of catches in the Belton Bridge area. This is encouraging news as it shows that our white bass stocking efforts during the last two years appear to be successful. High flows might limit fishing opportunities in the short term, but as this water recedes fishing should pick up over the next couple weeks.
NEWS FROM FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JIM HAKALA’S “WEST SIDE”
Coosa River: Based on a recent electrofishing survey, white bass have started to filter into the Coosa River between Lock and Dam Park downstream to the AL state line. Despite the warm river temperatures, their numbers are still relatively modest. The heavy rains this week will hopefully push more into the river by early next week. The size quality of the fish present is relatively good, with some female white bass observed approaching the two pound mark. Crappie numbers in the river are good and fishing should pick up again as river levels recede. Anglers should key in on downed trees and log jams along the river banks. Crappie jigs tipped with minnows should be the ticket for getting into some Coosa slabs.
Lake Allatoona: Crappie fishing has been excellent for the last couple weeks. Slow trolling crappie jigs tipped with minnows has been the ticket. With water temperatures in the high 50’s to low 60’s, the fish are moving shallower. Sweetwater Creek and the Little River area of the lake are one of many places producing good catches right now.
Carters Lake: Water temps. 57-60F and stained. Main lake points, especially those with clay banks, are holding stripers, hybrids, spotted bass and walleye. These fish can be caught on live bait and jerkbaits in the morning hours. Toussaint Hayes of Marietta recently boated his first ever walleye on a main lake point using a Strike King jerkbait. In addition to the walleye, he landed his personal best striper (14 lbs.) and several Carters’ Lake magnum spotted bass while fishing with Carters Lake Guide Service earlier this week. Good numbers of walleye can also be found in Coosawattee River feeding into Carters, but getting these spawn-run fish to bite can be difficult. Carters’ Army Corps of Engineers and DNR fisheries staff recently placed 60 plus fish attractors at two new locations in Carters. The attractors were placed in 20-30 ft. of water and are expected to hold bass, bream, catfish and walleye. There are now 55 fish attractor sites at Carters Lake. Locations and coordinates for all these sites, including these two new sites (#’s 54 and 55), can be found on the WRD website HERE.
Rocky Public Fishing Area: Report provided by Rocky Mountain PFA Manager, Dennis Shiley after a mid-week trip to Lake Antioch. Dennis said the bass fishing is good right now. The fish are shallow and feeding on flats. Small crankbaits, chatterbaits and soft plastics were all producing. Dennis’s largest bass of the day was 6.8 lbs. He also said the crappie were scattered along deep banks. He was able to put a number in the boat using live minnows. Best fish of the day was a solid 1.7 pound slab.
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) –Water temperature is in the low 60’s. Lake Level is less than 6 inches below full pool and more rain is forecast. (Oh boy, all we need is more stained water and more debris!) Today’s fishing was excellent. If the fish are not yet spawning, they are definitely in the pre-spawn mode. When we say the fish are shallow, we are not kidding – we are catching them as shallow as two feet. This time of year, there are several signs that Mother Nature sends that help us gauge fishing conditions and the movement of crappie. For example, when we see daffodils or jonquils blooming, that is an indication that the spawn is imminent. (I just learned the difference –daffodils are white and jonquils are yellow – who knew?!) Some people wait to see the dogwood trees blooming, but we feel that if you wait that long you will have missed out on several weeks of good fishing. When we see turtles sunning on blow-downs that is an indication the crappie are moving to blow-downs and shallowing up in preparation for the spawn. The water temperature impacts more than just the fish. Spiders are out and starting to build their webs, which is most apparent on docks. As a dock shooter, when approaching docks I pay attention to whether or not there are cobwebs present in certain areas. They tend to get knocked out of the way by shooting jigs, so if they are present where jigs would be targeted, it can indicate that the dock has not been fished in the last few days. If it is a dock that I fish regularly has broken cobwebs, I may not spend as much time there if it doesn’t produce right away. The moon phase also has a big impact on the spawn. The spawn often begins around a full moon and continues for the entire moon cycle. We will have a full moon in a few days. Lastly, we are seeing bank fishermen out in full force. The overwhelming majority are fishing with crappie minnows under a cork and are having good success. The darker colored crappie are the males, and their job is to fertilize and protect the eggs. So catching them in shallow water means the spawn has definitely begun. So, if you are planning to fish, target spawning areas and docks at 12 foot depths or less. Get out and enjoy the good weather and great fishing! Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!
#1: Check THIS out
#2: (This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley – Jimbo on Lanier) — The lake has stabilized a bit over the last week as we have seen more seasonal temperatures and conditions return to our weather pattern. The backs of the major creeks are still stained, and the main lake below Brown’s Bridge is still clear. The waters above Brown’s Bridge are more stained in the main river areas than the lower lake, and the further you go north, the heavier the stain. We have found water temps near 60 back in some of the pockets on some days, both on the north and south end. The fish are up and chewing! It is fun out there right now. This incredibly fast warm-up has really jump-started the pre-spawn bite and accelerated the process significantly. The fish are biting all over the lake right now, and you can catch them pretty much any way you prefer. Picasso Shake-down head and worm combo, SPRO crankbaits and jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, Chattahoochee jigs – they have all been working well. The location and technique for the best bite does seem to vary each day, and sometimes dramatically. So stay flexible in your approach. Try one type of area or technique, and if that is not working, move on. The fish we are catching are in 1-15 feet of water. We are working shallow, flat points, both rock and clay, in pockets and on the main lake. The steeper stuff has held some fish too, but I am leaning more toward the shallower, flatter stuff in general. Also the longer running points are starting to hold fish as well – check the reef poles and shoal markers on those warmer days. Creeks and main lake are both producing, and as usual, focus more on the main lake or mouths of creeks for the bigger fish, and back in the creeks for numbers, but you are apt to catch a big fish anywhere right now. That’s what makes this time of year so much fun! We hit a pretty good crankbait pattern this week, as Jim Farmer’s Castaway Crankbaits did a number on those shallower rock fish. He has some great spring crankbait patterns and sizes – look him up and make an order. We did a video together this week where I had the opportunity to crank with Jim and also talk about the importance of good quality flourocarbon line for cranking – Seaguar Abrazx is my choice in 10 lbs test. It is durable and stands up to the pounding on the rocks way better than any flourocarbon I have ever used. I highly recommend Seaguar! The docks are holding fish as well. Check those docks back in creeks or pockets that are in 15 feet of water and less. Look at the last 2 or 3 docks in any creek arm or pocket for those largemouth. Look for the fish to be under the docks when the sun is up, and more just around the docks in low light or clouds. A Picasso Shake Down head and worm combo or a Spro Jerkbait are good options around the docks. The fish are CHEWING! It’s time to fish!
Big Lanier Cat: Click HERE
Crappie: Click HERE
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Updated each Friday
Chattooga Trout: News HERE
Trout Stocked Waters: WRD stocking list, refreshed on Friday afternoons HERE
Best bets this weekend: small lakes (Vogel, W Scott, Nancytown, Rock, Black Rock), the three big trout tailwaters when the dam isn’t generating, and Hooch thru Helen, Rock, Panther, Holly, and Johns when their flood flows recede. Recently stocked fish will be spread out well by the high flows, so cover some distance when hunting for them. Hints: How about HERE or HERE
Bluelines: Still a bit cold and slow…
Quill Gordons: Dredger saw some of these dun boats sailing down the Hooch in Helen on Saturday. Are your haystacks and hare’s ears ready? (Top secret Dredger intel: tie some #14 parachute Adams with a dun post instead white.). Check out these 3 links: 1, 2, 3
More Gray Bugs: BOLO caddis this month. (BOLO= LE jargon= be on lookout)
Shout-out to our Volunteer Trout Toters: Thanks to all volunteers at our recent Bucket Brigade event on the Hooch Tailwater at NPS Whitewater Park.
Kids Fly Fishing Clinic: The Sam Rizzio Clinic lives on!
Kid Conservationists! More Info HERE
Good luck this week. Work around the high water, enjoy an entire weekend of sunshine (finally!), and capitalize on the first real hints of spring.
PS- remember to check and renew your fishing licenses before you go! We appreciate those operating funds.