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Southeast Georgia Fishing Report January 13, 2017

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Featured Image above: The sheepshead have been chowing! Hailei Williams (pictured) caught this pile of convictfish in the Brunswick area last weekend on fiddler crabs.

This past weekend’s frigid snap cooled the fishing along with the temperatures, but folks still caught some fish. The rivers are high again, except for the St. Marys. Full Moon is January 12th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.

Altamaha River – The cold and high water slowed the fishing. Look for the trophy channel catfish bite to pick up in the Darien portion of the river in the coming weeks. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that a few channel and flathead catfish were caught. The warm this weekend should have some crappie biting back in the oxbow lakes. The river level was 12.2 feet and rising (48 degrees – it was 60 degrees last week!) at the Baxley gage, and 9.6 feet and rising (53 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on January 3rd.

Satilla River – Staff at Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the cold, rising river slowed the fishing. Some crappie were caught with Tennessee Shad jigs. With the warming trend, they said that you should be able to catch some redbreasts on the old reliable live worm. Oxbows should also produce some crappie. Shiners and ZOOM worms produced some bass before the extreme weekend cold. The river level on January 3rd at the Waycross gage was 10.6 feet and rising (52 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 7.5 feet and rising.

St. Marys River – This is the river that is in the best shape for fishing. Not many folks fished in the cold, but those who did caught some nice crappie on minnows. Reports were between 20 and 30 fish per trip (most trips were before the cold front), with a few bream and shellcrackers in the mix. The river level at the MacClenny gage on January 3rd was 4.3 feet and falling.

Okefenokee Swamp – The bowfin (mudfish) were still biting anywhere you put a bait in the water before the front. Extreme cold usually knocks them on the head, but they should be biting again in the warmer weather this weekend. The fliers should also feed like crazy this weekend in the warming water. Pitching pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies suspended under a small balsa float is the way to go. These are the conditions when I’ve had excellent success. The shallow, blackwater swamp warms quickly during warm afternoons like we’ve had all week.

Local Ponds – Chad Lee fished hard but only came up with 10 bass this week. Several were over 4 pounds, but most were butterball 2-pounders. Winge’s Bait and Tackle staff said that in the cold weather, the crappie bite was the best. Minnows produced most of the fish. Spinnerbaits and ZOOM worms accounted for some good bass catches, even in the cold. Ponds should be the place to fish over the weekend.

Saltwater (GA Coast) – Dane Clements, Hailei Williams, and Wayne Canady of Baxley fished the Brunswick area last weekend and spanked the sheepshead with fiddler crabs.  They ended up with 32 sheepshead, with the biggest over 8 pounds, one over 7 pounds, and several over 6 pounds. A couple of Waycross anglers fished the Brunswick area on Friday and caught some gator trout up to 19 inches. Almost all of their 20 seatrout were keepers. They used a single Assassin Sea Shad (Mama’s 14K) rigged on an 1/8-oz. Flashy Jighead the entire trip. The spring on that head locks the bait down and keeps it from tearing up. Staff at Winge’s Bait and Tackle reported that trout and redfish were caught in good numbers from the rivers around Brunswick, and the big trout were eating Bang-O-Lure plugs. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, sheepshead, and whiting were landed from the pier. Shrimp were the best bait for whiting, fiddlers and barnacles fooled the sheepshead, while artificials produced many of the trout. Blue crabs were still around the pier in good numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.

Best Bet: With the extended warm spell, ponds should heat up quickly and be on fire by the weekend. Minnows over deep water will fool crappie, as will 2-inch Curly Shads fished around cover or trolled in deeper water. Bass should feed well, especially in the late afternoons. Spinnerbaits, jigs, and plastic worms should work well. In saltwater, sheepshead fishing will be hard to beat. Dabble a fiddler around a piling and hold on. I hope you finished that “honey-do” list last weekend like I suggested, because you need to be fishing this weekend! At the time or writing this, there is no cold front even forecasted for the next 10 days. Assuming the forecast holds (that’s a big assumption!), this weekend will be the time to head to a south Georgia Public Fishing Area or lake for excellent crappie and bass fishing. A few years ago when we had an extended warm spell in January, the fishing was unbelievable.

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North Georgia Fishing Report: January 9, 2017

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)

With the winter storm just hours away, we’re all bracing ourselves for some challenging conditions this weekend.  Given the slick roads and plummeting air and water temperatures, this will be the perfect weekend to stay (safe) at home and get our tackle ready for more hospitable days ahead.

https://www.facebook.com/ChattOconeeNF/posts/1326733804033075

We can overhaul our tackle boxes and fishing vests, getting rid of old, rusty stuff and restocking boxes with all of the new goodies that Santa brought.  While we look far into the future for spring’s magic, let’s also look just beyond our noses to the next winter warm spell.  A couple of days of warmer weather can reverse water temps and really turn the fish on.  Continue reading “North Georgia Fishing Report: January 9, 2017”

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Deer Movement and Habitat

Have you ever had a deer wander right up to your stand? Maybe it’s luck, but it’s most likely the deer is motivated by food or procreation, the two main reasons deer move.

Unfortunately, as deer movement increases with the rut, they tend to cross roads more frequently and with less caution. Rut is the mating season for deer, and the deer hunting season is scheduled to overlap it. Bucks are most active during the rut. They have a slightly larger roaming range during this time so they can find does and maintain a diverse gene pool. Unfortunately during this three-month-long event, deer may roam into human developments, causing them harm. Hence the increase in deer-car collisions during the rut.

Extreme weather and drought can also cause deer to seek more supportive stomping grounds. Excellent native habitat Continue reading “Deer Movement and Habitat”

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Deer Population

Currently, the estimated deer population in Georgia is 1.27 million. This may seem small compared to the 10.1 million people living in Georgia, but it does not account for an accurate number of deer in urban areas. Deer living in suburbs and areas not zoned for hunting are hard to monitor due to the fact that most of the data about the deer population is from hunters in more rural areas. Urban neighborhoods also provide safety and food which attract more deer and desensitize them to human activity. This can be dangerous for both the humans and the deer. It’s important to remember that deer are wildlife, with an emphasis on the “wild.”

Once a wildlife species has entered an urban area, others are sure to follow. In the worst case scenarios it is the predators that decide to join their prey. Predators such as coyotes, and in northern Georgia even bears, will wander into areas of high human population posting a threat to both humans and deer. This predatory threat contributes to the 22% decrease in the number of fawns per doe that survive to hunting season, also known as the fawn recruitment rate. This decrease in the fawn population must be balanced by decreasing the number of does that are allowed to be harvested each year. Decreasing the number of does increases the odds of fawns surviving because more fawns have the chance to be born.

Although coyotes can prove useful in maintaining other wildlife populations, too many can be a bad thing. Determining the extent of the coyote population is a job for trail camer
as. These motion detecting camouflaged cameras take pictures when something moves in front of it, and seems to be the most accurate way to estimate the number of any animal that may be present. If there is in fact a coyote infestation a heavy amount of trapping preceding and during fawning will yield the best results. However, the cunning nature of coyotes may prevent their capture with live traps, consequently making hunting the best and most effective option.

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Bears are also a predatory threat to fawns but less to adult deer. While this is a problem primarily in the northern region, it is a very complex issue that may include competition over habitat, clashing with other species, and supplementary predators. However, the exact reasons and circumstances are unclear and call for more research to gather accurate information for addressing this issue.

Scout Carter caught this quality bass on a tan shad colored Specktacular Jig on Monday evening while crappie fishing with ultralight gear. What a fight!

Georgia Fishing Report: December 30, 2016

Central Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (full, clear, 50’s) – Bass fishing is good.  The cooler water and wind have turned the bass very active.  The windblown banks up the rivers and the occasional stained water combined with the cooler water temperatures has the fish feeding.  Pick any windblown bank and spotted and largemouth bass are sure to be there.  Pick up the Striker King all white 3/8 ounce spinner bait.  Baby bass crank baits and the silver shiner are working also.   Work red clay banks and any small rocky points and watch Lowrance Down Scan technology and you will see the fish.  Fish the small bowl areas and don’t be afraid to throw back across a small point.  Any wood and large rocky structure that might be present needs Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: December 30, 2016”

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Georgia Fishing Report: December 23, 2016

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

North Georgia

(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. 

http://www.intellicast.com/Local/Weather.aspx?location=USGA0267

Overcast and warm is a great combo for reservoir striper chasers, and moderate overnight temperatures

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv?site_no=02176930

give midday stream trouters a great chance to score in the double digits, especially if they bottom-bounce their favorite winter recipes.
Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: December 23, 2016”

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Georgia Fishing Report: December 16, 2016

Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (full, clear, 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  Fish on the lower end of the lake near the dam as the water is clear and will warm faster.  Use the small jigging spoons and a 1/4 ounce jig.  Bass will usually strike a smaller bait in the winter months better than a larger one.  The spotted bass are still roaming.  They are more active than largemouth due to Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: December 16, 2016”

Winter is sheepshead time. Ed Zmarzly of Waycross caught these beauties (the 7-pounder on the left is his personal best!) from the St Simons Pier.

Georgia Fishing Report: December 9, 2016

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Southwest Georgia

North Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)

It’s December and the Georgia weather has finally caught up to the calendar.  Get ready for some chilly days and frosty nights to come. http://www.intellicast.com/Local/Weather.aspx?location=USGA0267 

What does this mean?  Answer:   “Low and slow!”  Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: December 9, 2016”

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Georgia Fishing Report: December 2, 2016

Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (down 2.1 feet, clear 60’s) – Bass fishing is good.  Any wind will be an angler’s best friend as the water cools down.  The fishing pressure has lessened and should continue as Christmas approaches.  Now is the time to get out and catch some Continue reading “Georgia Fishing Report: December 2, 2016”

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5 Tips for Waterfowl Season

#1. Make sure you are properly licensed

No matter your level of experience, it is always a good idea to review the requirements for any kind of hunting. Regulations and requirements can change season to season, leaving you in the dark and with a possible fine. Just a few minutes looking over what licenses you need can save you some headache and some money. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources calls for hunters to have a Georgia Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program, also known as a HIP License. There is also the Federal Duck Stamp that all duck hunters sixteen years of age and older must have. These are in addition to a standard hunting license and a Georgia Waterfowl Conservation license.

#2. Know your limits and the species

Different species of waterfowl have different limits per day, and even Continue reading “5 Tips for Waterfowl Season”