Alapaha River WMA

Storied Site for Sandhills, Wildlife

Gopher tortoise burrow_Alapaha WMA_Rick Lavender_DNR_1182016
A gopher tortoise burrow at Alapaha River WMA, which has more tortoises than any other state-owned tract in Georgia. (Rick Lavender/DNR)


Alapaha River Wildlife Management Area had achieved near-legendary status in some circles well before the 6,869 acres were opened as a WMA on Sept. 30, 2016. The site has been variously known as the Lentile Tract, the Snake Sanctuary, Dan Speake’s indigo snake study site (by herpetologists familiar with the work of the Auburn University wildlife professor emeritus) and the Pasture (by local hunters).

Providing the border along Irwin and Tift counties between Tifton and Ocilla, the Alapaha River at this point is more a series of lakes connected by vast floodplain forests than a constant flowing stream. During the Wisconsinan glaciation of the Pleistocene epoch, about 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, cold westerly winds blew across what was then a dry riverbed, piling up massive amounts of quartz sand on the lee side. These sandhills dominate the current landscape at Alapaha River WMA, and provided the basis for the state’s interest in seeing this property permanently conserved.

The sand dunes drop directly down to the river floodplain to the west. The highest dune is called Sand Mountain. Previous landowners harvested stands of natural longleaf pine here years ago, but stands of planted pine have replaced them. Farther to the east, the sandy soils gradually thin out to wetter slash-pine flatwoods, with classic Southern rough of palmetto and gallberry. More than 50 isolated natural ponds, some perhaps of karst origin, pockmark the landscape. Recent private landowners kept up with prescribed burning, and the native groundcover at Alapaha River WMA is largely in good to excellent condition.

The list of rare species found here is extensive: eastern indigo snake, Florida pine snake, gopher frog, striped newt, Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, Bachman’s sparrow, pond spice, silky camellia, Say’s spiketail and many others. The population of gopher tortoises is estimated at about 2,000, fairly incredible for a property of this size, and the most in number and density for any state-owned tract in Georgia.

UGA graduate student Erin Cork with an eastern indigo (John Jensen/DNR)

The rare species lineup at Alapaha, in particular the number and density of gopher tortoises, attracted the interest of Georgia DNR, which sought funding assistance from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Defense and private foundations to acquire the site. In what was truly a team effort, the state was able to buy the property in August 2016.

Management of the WMA will be closely guided by a plan focused on the gopher tortoise, and approved by the Department of Defense and Fish and Wildlife Service. The over-arching goal will be maintenance and restoration of longleaf pine and associated wetland habitats. Prescribed fire and gradual conversion of planted slash pine stands to longleaf will be the primary techniques used.

The new WMA has been a hit with the public. More than 1,250 deer hunters signed in during the inaugural season. Students from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton have initiated a myriad of projects, from rare plant surveys in wetlands and under power lines to pitfall traps for the American burying beetle. On any given afternoon you can find other folks just out riding the roads, enjoying the longleaf, the wiregrass, the tortoises and one of the finest slices of natural habitat in south Georgia.

Matt Elliott is assistant chief of the Nongame Conservation Section in DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. This profile originally ran in The Longleaf Leader, quarterly magazine of The Longleaf Alliance.

Dodge County Public Fishing Area

Nestled on 444 acres of beautiful longleaf/wiregrass and pinewood/hardwood stands in Georgia’s middle coastal plains, sits the Dodge County Public Fishing Area (PFA). Known for producing sizeable largemouth bass, the PFA certainly has a lot to offer those who wish to fish the well-stocked waters.


Open year round, sunrise to sunset, this PFA offers anglers the 104-acre Steve Bell Lake stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, and redear sunfish. Meticulously managed by the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, the lake offers plenty of channels, coves, and submerged structures to allow every angler to find their choice spot. The PFA provides concrete boat ramps and fishing piers to allow visitors to take advantage of every inch of the lake.

The Dodge County PFA also hosts a yearly children’s fishing rodeo sponsored by the Dodge County Sportsman Club and the Bobberthon Fishing Tournament. Along with fishing amenities, facilities also include picnic tables, primitive camping, nature trails, group shelters, and an archery range—most of these facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities.

The largemouth bass the lake is known for are most likely to be caught in 8-12 feet deep water in the winter and early spring using crank baits. As it warms up in the summer and fall, the larger bass are more likely to be caught in the timber stands. I myself, though a novice angler, have still managed to catch largemouth bass throughout the year using the tips they provide in their guide. And even if you don’t catch a trophy bass, you can still appreciate the relaxing lake setting and the opportunity to spend time in the outdoors.


If you’re with the family or by yourself, the Dodge County Public Fishing Area provides everyone with beautiful scenery to enjoy fishing and nature. Go Fish Georgia!

For more information, visit our website:


Right Whales Veering off Track for Recovery?

Right whale #1012 with her calf on Jan. 12 (Sea to Shore Alliance, taken under NOAA research permit 15488)

Already endangered, North Atlantic right whales face an even more uncertain future following the Southeast’s second-worst calving season since surveys began in the 1980s.

Researchers with Georgia DNR, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA and Sea to Shore Alliance saw only seven right whales this winter off Georgia, north Florida and South Carolina, traditionally calving central for this species that literally grows as big as a bus. Only three of those whales were calves (a fourth calf was seen in Cape Cod Bay this month).

Clay George, DNR’s lead right whale scientist, said the average number of calves reported in the region has dropped by half, from 24 calves annually 2001-2011 to 12 a year since 2012. This winter also registered a new low for the total number of whales documented — seven. Season totals topped 100 per year in the mid-2000s.

“Is this just the low point in a natural cycle, or are low calving numbers the new normal?” George said. “We just don’t know. All we can do is wait and see.”

Considering there are as few as 440 North Atlantic right whales left, long-term declines in calving could increase the risk of extinction. The number of calves, George said, “just isn’t keeping up with mortality.”

There is no strong evidence that right whales are simply having calves farther north on the Atlantic Seaboard. Also, female calving intervals have increased in recent years, suggesting the whales aren’t getting enough zooplankton on their feeding grounds off Canada and New England. Healthy moms should be calving every three or four years, George said.

“Now, moms are only calving every six to eight years.”

What is driving these big-picture changes isn’t clear. What is, however, is the importance of reducing the risk of ship strikes and entanglement in commercial fishing gear – both leading threats to right whales.

Long-lived species, like right whales, can tolerate periods of low reproduction, but only if adult survival rates remain high. Unfortunately, four right whale deaths have been confirmed in the past 12 months, three of which were caused by ship strikes or entanglement, according to the Center for Coastal Studies.

Another death was probably narrowly avoided this winter. One of the whales seen in the Southeast was an adult male dragging a 135-pound crab pot and 450 feet of fishing rope. Responders cut away the gear and the whale named Ruffian was later seen feeding in Cape Code Bay.

Ruffian is covered in scars from an entanglement a decade ago that left him badly hurt. Such encounters aren’t rare: More than 80 percent of right whales bear scars from commercial fishing gear entanglements.

The calving downturn could right itself. A three-year decline in the late 1990s ended with only one calf in 2000. Then came 31 calves in 2001, followed by a decade of strong calving and population growth.

This season’s fourth calf, documented in Cape Cod Bay, was a welcomed addition. Researchers are hoping for more – many more – next winter.

Georgia Fishing Report: April 21, 2017

This week’s reports include North, Southwest and Southeast Georgia. Need to buy a fishing license before you head out? Get one HERE

And, seriously, how can you look at this gorgeous blog post cover photo (courtesy of fisheries biologist John Damer) and NOT want to head to the water? 


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

When we think about it, we soon realize that most fishing reports are really “old news,” as they document what has already happened.  The best reports are the most recent ones, so that the weather and water conditions are hopefully similar to what anglers will experience on their upcoming trips.  On these WRD reports, we try to combine recent fishing reports with current sampling results (our “shocking and netting”), past sampling trends (often decades-long databases), and also our professional knowledge of these state fisheries resources to help you look ahead toward success, rather than look back at all of those “shoulda been here yesterday” stories that might have you fishing with the wrong baits in the wrong places.  We hope that we’re successful in enhancing your success and creating even more memories to share in the years ahead.

Along those lines, the lake water temps are rising to the levels that will trigger great topwater action, especially early and late in the day.  For north Georgia’s reservoir fishing veterans, it’s approaching “spook and fluke” time.   Spooks and Flukes are two popular styles of shallow water lures that can be deadly for bass and stripers, especially as the shad and bluebacks head toward the shallows to spawn.  Spooks, Sammies, etc are topwater jerkbaits that imitate shad and bluebacks up on the surface.  They cause explosive strikes that will fire up all anglers. . Flukes are soft plastics that can be jerked near the surface, jerked and then paused to dive a bit deeper, or even fished deep by rigging on a jig head. .  Make sure you have a couple of these in your tackle box and know how to use them.  Once again, google is your friend.  Here are a couple of good “how-to” videos to get you started:

On the mountain stream front, the state’s stocking program is in full swing, DH streams are fishing well once they clear a bit from heavy storms, headwater streams are on fire, and lower ends of tailwaters may be a bit too warm for excellent action, so good Hooch trouters are now heading upstream.  Hatch-matchers and expert nightcrawler- drifters are ruling those trout waters.  Details follow.


Redfin: Are You Redfin-Ready? Expert Mack Farr gets us ready for Lanier’s great spring topwater bite, with this slow, surface wiggling herring imitation.


  • Pulling out all the stops using a strategy that included a specific fishing plan which consisted of launching at Gainesville Marina to access various fishing locations within reach of my boat. We offered several techniques until we finally hooked up in front of the Chattahoochee Country Club marina just outside the no wake buoys. It was a pretty good fight with the striper trying to swim under the boat. We did get him in for a short visit posing with anglers and measuring for inches before getting released back into the lake. It took about a minute helping him on the side of the boat until he splashed me in the face on his take off under the water. Adios until another day. Details at by Steve Scott.

Bass: Lanier Bass on the Banks: Video!   

bass LMB est 4lb Pat S Lanier 4-10-16 small
Largemouth (est. 4 lb) caught on Lanier on April 10



  • Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Report (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. Water temperature is in the low 70 degrees and rising.  I suspect that the majority of the crappie have spawned.  However, there are a few big fish being caught in docks that are at 10 feet depths or less, which indicates a few have not completed their spawn.  One good thing about fishing the post-spawn is that most of the fish have headed back to their original habitats.  You can catch them on stand-alone submerged brush piles in 15 foot depths or less, but your best bet is to target docks with structure also at 15 ft depths or less.  The morning bite has been the strongest. .  These fish tend to be the bigger fish.  If size does not matter to you, docks with structure, brush piles and blow downs in 5 to10 foot depths can produce numbers, but mostly smaller fish.  The fish in more shallow water (especially those in blow downs) tend to darken in color and are mostly male.  Keep in mind that the majority of the crappie in Lake Lanier are the black crappie species which change color throughout the year, depending on their depth and water temperature.  Fishing is good to excellent, and the fish are willing to bite live minnows, hair jigs, and soft body jigs.  If you are fishing the deeper brush piles, use 1/16 oz jig heads, especially on a windy day.  When we fish deeper blow downs, we also double rig with 1/24 ounce jig heads.  The trolling bite is good in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening, whether long line trolling with 2 curly tail jigs or tight line trolling with crappie minnows and a 3/8 ounce double swivel sinker in a Carolina rig.  Take advantage of the good fishing and great weather and enjoy the lake before it gets too hot and too crowded.  Wear your life jacket it can save your life!

Ken’s Detailed Reservoir Reports: New editions are spawned every Friday:



Largemouth Bass:


Biologist Jim Hakala just called in a report from the field.  He said the white bass run is over, but stripers are still a best bet.  He reminded us of those details in WRD’s annual fishing prospects .


Rob’s Rabun Recon: We had a great trip to the mountains. Caught over 40 trout and Kathleen (photo below right) caught her first trout. Fished on W.F. Chattooga, Tallulah and Wildcat. We both caught a limit at Wildcat on Wednesday. Thanks for the help! (Report from Rob W. from Albany)

“Stick and Move” on Tallulah and Wildcat: These streams are no secrets.  They’re heavily stocked and easily accessed.   Despite their popularity (read this as “competition”), skilled anglers can still do well by a) hitting the steep, remote reaches, with harder access for most other anglers and by b) “sticking and moving.”  This is my favorite technique for stockers on hard-hit streams. I’ll park at a bridge or streamside pullout (read this as “stocking truck-stop”), walk down the road 200 yards, get in, and fish every little pocket or pool back up to the truck.  I just toss two quick casts into each little niche.  If no takes in two good drifts, I then take a few more steps to the side or upstream and repeat at the next little niche.  When I make it back upstream to the truck, I’ll get out of the water, get in the truck, drive up a bit to the next good bridge crossing, and repeat the technique.  I’ll pick up all those wash-downs that most folks step over in their haste to hit the big, beautiful pool that everyone else has already mobbed.  Try this “stick and move” boxing technique on these two streams and see how YOU do on all those overlooked, washdown rainbows and slinky holdover browns: ; ;

DH Streams: The Delayed Harvest streams should be in their prime, at least for skilled anglers who have a good drift with a hatch-matching fly pattern.  Just remember that bright, sunny days will have those fish glued to the bottom to avoid predators.  Aim for the shade, the heads of riffles, or the cover of impending darkness around 7PM.  I’d be chucking an Adams early, with a soft hackle hare’s ear dropper, and then a cahill-caddis combo late.  Don’t leave early.  Make sure you read and try out all of Dredger’s springtime tips, especially that darn caddis-skitter technique.


Toccoa: no reports, but I’d call it a best bet, too, as long as a rain doesn’t muddy it up.  By the way, your awesome staff at Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery made a run up to Erwin NFH earlier this season and brought back some big, retired broodstock rainbows for north GA anglers.  There are some real good’uns in the Toccoa DH.

Amicalola: same story- should fish real well if it isn’t muddied by a thunderstorm. Check the gauge and give it 2-3 days to clear up after a good bump in the flow, and in the sediment load from unpaved roads throughout the watershed.

Nantahala DH (NC): Also worth the long drive, given its great instream habitat, easy access, and abundant bug hatches through May!

Hooch and Morgan Falls Tailwaters – Move Up! Given Corps of Engineers basin management of drought conditions in the upper watershed, cooling Hooch flows form Buford Dam aren’t as abundant as usual.  Biologist Pat Snellings says that savvy anglers will examine tailwater temperature gauges and possibly move the majority of their trouting activity a big farther upstream, where the water is cooler and the fish are in better moods to chase bait, flies, and lures. Quiz: which of these two sites harbors hungrier trout?

Headwater Trout: Great reports are still “flowing” out of our high elevation creeks.  The more frequent showers have also helped streamflows a bit.  Remember that these streams have a really low density of unpaved roads in their watersheds, and clear up super-quickly after any rain events.  They are great Plan B’s for any planned trips to big DH streams that get waylayed by a heavy thundershower and muddy water. , ,

Deadly Damer: I found a few hours last week to hit a small stream in Fannin County.  trout rbt wild Damer1 Apr 2017 smallThis stream has great access, with a USFS road running right along it, and reminds me of a smaller version of Noontootla Creek.  Lots of pocket water mixed in with some long, slow pools.  Very open with good casting room.  I had only fished it once before, but did okay then despite tough conditions.  So, I thought it was worth another shot.  I don’t think the air temp got much over about 65F that day, and it drizzled on me for a couple hours, but I still had a great time catching fat 7 to 8 inch rainbows along with brightly colored Georgia cutthroats (warpaint shiners) and a few creek chubs.  The fly of choice: 16 EHC (surprised, aren’t you?).  I didn’t catch a ton of trout, and I didn’t see any big ones but it was a great day on the water anyway (WRD fisheries biologist -and dry fly addict – John Damer)

katie fish April 2017
Spring Break Smiles

Spring Break: Might be the only fish we caught this Spring Break, but we love that smile! Need tips on fishing with kids? Click HERE.

Goldfish in my Creek? It’s that time of the year again for these calls to our office.  Here is the A in anticipation of your annual Q’s.  What is it – Any ideas? About 3″ long and almost look like tetras or some kind of gold fish. Found on the City of Atlanta tract on a tributary of Shoal Creek (about 25 or so). They are actually yellowfin shiners in spawning colors as they parasitize a chub nest. ;

Free E-Magazine: Lots of Georgia stuff in this edition of Southern Trout, for anyone interested.

Upcoming Events:

Good luck as we take advantage of a warm and fairly dry April.  The spring fishing calendar is accelerating, so don’t get caught napping while cahills hatch and the topwater spook and fluke action takes off on Lanier, Hartwell, Nottely, and Allatoona.  Go fish Georgia soon.  It’s a great time to get outside and make some memories with family and friends.  Maybe even via some explosive topwater action!


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


The bass at Lake George has slowed a bit from the last few weeks but the fishing is still very good. There were two bags over 20 pounds in last weekend’s 30 boat Eufaula bass trail tournament. It took at least 15 pounds to be in the money. Some bass are still spawning but others are starting to move to deeper water ledges. Fish can be caught in both places at this time. Anglers fishing shallow have been having good luck with swim jigs, Texas rigged worms, and hollow bodied frogs in and around vegetation. The shellcracker bite is not quite as hot as it was last year at this time but it might pick up yet. Look for bedding shellcracker during the next full moon. Red wigglers seem to be the preferred bait for shellcracker. There is not much information on the status of the crappie bite but most crappie have probably moved deeper after the recent spawn. As has been the case, the channel catfish have continued to willingly bite at Lake George.


The Lower Flint has been dropping and is at a good level for all types of fishing. Bass, bream and catfish should be available and willing. Fish are still spawning but many have already spawned and are looking for a meal. There have been some reports of good catches of channel catfish this week coming from bush hooks baited with minnows. This weekend would be a great one to get out on the flint whether pitching crickets for bream or throwing a worm for bass. The fishing should be great.

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


According to Lake Seminole fishing guide Steven Wells, “fishing on Lake Seminole continues to be great” There are still some bass spawning and they can be caught on anything you can get in their face. There lots of shallow bass and anglers have been catching them in and around the grass with Kickin Frogs or other fast reeling type frogs. The shellcracker have slowed a little bit but of the 26 shellcracker Steven and his fishing partners took home last Saturday, all of them were bursting with roe and should be bedding during the next full moon. Red wigglers were the bait of choice by the shellcracker. Very good numbers of channel catfish in the 1-2 pound range have been being caught in 25 feet of water in the main body of the lake near the channel. Anglers interested in a guided fishing trip for bass or bream should give Steven a call at 229-254-6863.


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

If you can’t get to the Satilla in the next week, it may be too low to get your boat around. The fish are biting, so give it a try if you have time. Whiting are tearing it up, as are bass in ponds and lakes. New Moon is April 26th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website .


A couple of Waycross anglers fished the middle Altamaha on Saturday during the slug of water coming from middle Georgia, and they had a tough time. They only managed 2 bites. Both were keeper bass, and they sucked down a buzzbait. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that quite a few catfish in the 8 to 10 pound range were caught on bush hooks. The shellcracker bite was good back in the flooded willows. Donna at Altamaha Park said that bream were caught on crickets and worms. Minnows were still fooling crappie in the backwaters. Catfish were biting nearly anything, but the big ones were going after goldfish. Shellcrackers were caught with worms fished around lily pads. The river level was 7.4 feet and rising (72 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.5 feet and falling (70 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on April 18th.


You should be able to catch redbreasts and other panfish however you want to catch them this weekend. Craig James made a couple trips to the upper river this week and caught redbreasts, bluegills, and bass each trip by pitching his Swamp Spider on a bream buster. Pitching crickets, throwing Satilla Spins or Spin Dandy spinnerbaits or pitching bugs should all fool them. From my experience, the bigger fish eat artificials. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that Speed Craws and rattling Rogues are catching a lot of bass. Some crappie were still caught with minnows. Satilla Spins, Beetlespins, and crickets produced good redbreast catches this week. Bottom fishing with pink worms produced some great catfish catches. In the Burnt Fort area, lots of quality warmouth were caught. The river level on April 18th at the Waycross gage was 6.0 feet and falling (71 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.8 feet and falling.


Bream and redbreasts were caught on crickets. Catfish were still biting well on shrimp and pink worms. Some nice bass were reported again this week. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 18th was 2.5 feet and falling.


Camping on the platforms in the swamp has been suspended because of the fires down south, but day trips are still allowed. Robert Fanucci and Keith Johnson fished on Monday morning on the east side and had a blast catching lots of bowfin on jackfish-colored Dura-Spins. On Saturday, I took my immediate family and family in visiting for Easter to the east side. The weeds were MUCH better than last time I went several months ago (thanks to Jackie Carter operating some machinery that removed the maidencane, which was choking the canal!). We fished about 10 minutes out in the canals and caught 12 bowfin on fire tiger and jackfish Dura-Spins. We then cast around the boat basin for about a half-hour and caught another 5 bowfin up to about 8 pounds. My son Timothy had the biggest, tipping the scales at 7-lbs, 12-oz. That one ate a fire tiger Dura-Spin. Michael Winge said that reports were few, but those that went caught good-sized warmouth using crickets.


Chad Lee got back at the Alma ponds this week with good success. He managed 10 bass through the weekend, including a few 4-pounders. Topwaters were the deal for him. Both Pop-N-Frogs and Whopper Ploppers produced for him. Michael Winge reported that plenty of bass were caught from Waycross area ponds by anglers using shiners and bubblegum Trick Worms.


SE GA Report Gynni Hunter Flounder 4 15 17
The flounder bite recently kicked off on the St. Simons pier. Gynni Hunter caught these excellent examples using finger mullet.

A couple of Waycross anglers fished out of Crooked River on Easter Sunday and caught over a dozen trout (4 of them were over 20 inches) and a couple nice redfish (one over the slot and one in the slot). The 30-inch red sucked down a topwater. Most of the trout were caught with plastics suspended underneath a Cajun Thunder float. The whiting bite on the beaches and in the sounds was excellent on days folks could get out. Small pieces of shrimp fished on the bottom were the best bait. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that bull whiting, black drum, sheepshead, trout, flounder, and sharks were caught from the pier this week. A pair of Waycross anglers fished the pier Saturday evening and landed 3 nice flounder up to 16 inches and broke off a couple nice fish, as well. They were using finger mullet for bait. Good numbers of blue crabs and stone crabs were also caught. You can monitor the marine forecast at


The Satilla should be perfect this weekend, and you should be able to catch redbreasts however you want, whether pitching crickets, flinging spinnerbaits, or pitching bugs. Whiting fishing is a great option in saltwater. If you want to pull on lots of strong fish, bowfin fishing in the Okefenokee is a hoot. Bass fishing in area ponds is a solid option for the weekend.

Georgia Fishing Report: April 14, 2017

We hope you soon get a chance to smile as big as 5 year-old Colton Perry did on a spectacular day catching 15 crappie at Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier.  

This week’s reports include Coastal (Freshwater), Southeast, Central and North Georgia.

If you need information on fishing regulations – be sure to check out our online resources – click HERE


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



Like most springs, the panfish and largemouth fishing in our coastal rivers is really starting to pick up.  However, one fishery that is really happening right now is the Ogeechee River striped bass fishery.  Following the drought that ended in spring of 2013, GA DNR fisheries managers have been supplementing the Ogeechee striper population with fish from our hatchery system.  Those stockings, along with a few years of excellent natural reproduction (thanks to great spring flows) have resulted in an abundant number of fish at a size to be harvested by anglers.  During the spring period, these fish can be found throughout the estuary and areas slightly upriver of the estuary, before they begin to spread out in search of summer refuge.  Really large fish, well over 20 pounds, can be found on sandbars as the pair up to spawn but catching large numbers of this sized fish is not likely.  Larger numbers of smaller fish between 2 to 10 pounds can be found on structure (docks, rip-rap, fallen trees, etc) and around the mouths of small tributary streams (old rice canal out-flows) in fairly swift current.  These fish can be caught on live bait (shrimp, mullet, etc.) beneath a cork or on artificial lures like paddle-tail swim baits, crankbaits and bucktail jigs.  Finding the right congregation of fish seems more important than the actual bait or lure.  When you find the fish, they tend to readily take a wide variety of baits. Obviously, when fighting a 10 pound fish in riverine current, fairly substantial tackle is a must.  A minimum of a medium-weight rod set-up is suggested and heavier equipment spooled with a quality braided type of line is highly recommended when fishing in dense structure.


  • Bidd Sand Lake (84-ac) – Bass fishing has been fairly steady as fish have moved off their spawning beds and go into more of their summer-time routine. Crappie fishermen have been finding success while trolling jigs and minnows in the deeper areas of the lake.  Good-size bluegills and red-ear (shell cracker) continue to be caught from the bank and pier.
  • Lake Longleaf (8-ac) –Channel catfish fishing has been excellent with many anglers catching limits using chicken livers on bottom rigs during the morning and late-afternoon periods. Large Bluegill are also being caught fishing from bridge and in the upper part of lake.
  • Lake Woody (30-ac) – Several anglers have been catching good numbers of fliers, catfish (mostly brown bullhead) and some red-ear (shell-cracker) averaging at ½ to ¾ lbs.



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

I hope you each have a wonderful Easter! With the cold and rain, the number of reports was way down this week. The rains have brought the rivers up, which will extend the good fishing farther into the spring. Last quarter moon is April 19th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website


Michael Deen and Justin Bythwood won a bass tournament for the second weekend in a row. This week it was out of Altamaha Park. The pair had a 14.40 pounds. Their kicker was a 4-pounder caught on a flat bladed buzzbait, and a couple of the other solid fish came on a copperfield Flashy Swim Jig. They had a bunch of small keepers on Texas-rigged speed craws. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that flathead catfish were caught on goldfish and shellcrackers were eating worms. Anglers reported catching 30 to 40 fish per trip. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the shellcracker bite was hot and heavy for those fishing pink worms in spawning areas (primarily willow-lined slackwater areas). Some bream were caught with crickets, minnows, and worms. Redbreast fishing picked up this week for those pitching crickets and casting crawfish Satilla Spins. White Satilla Spins produced some good crappie catches this week. Artificials should continue to improve as the water warms back up on the rebound from this past week’s cold temperatures. Catfish were fooled with cut bait in the shallows. The river level was 9.3 feet and cresting (68 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.9 feet and rising (67 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on April 11th.


Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the rising river and cold snap slowed the fishing from its red-hot status, but anglers still caught quite a few redbreasts on crickets and yellow beetle spins. Crappie were caught with minnows at the mouths of oxbows. The catfish bite was great on the rising river for those fishing pink worms on the bottom. The river level on April 11th at the Waycross gage was 8.6 feet and falling (66 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.5 feet and rising.


Bass fishing was good this week, as was bluegill fishing. Crickets worked well for almost everything. Catfishing was productive for anglers fishing worms and shrimp on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 11th was 4.3 feet and falling.


The wildfire is in the extreme southern end of the swamp (in Florida), and while there may be some smoke on some days, everything is open at the time of writing this. Reports were few this week from the swamp. The water level rise last week probably put the bite off a little bit for a few days, but it should be right back on by this weekend with the falling water and warmer temperatures. Pitching sallies will be the way to go for fliers and warmouth, while flinging in-line spinners like Dura-Spins will catch pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish). Michael Winge said that reports were very good on the east side, and anglers were catching warmouth by pitching crickets.


Michael Winge reported that good numbers of bass were caught from Waycross area ponds by anglers pitching lizards to shallow cover and beds. Topwater frogs also produced some big fish. Bream were fooled with crickets.


The whiting bite on the beaches and in the sounds was the highlight in saltwater this

SE GA Garrett Page Whiting 2 17.png
Garrett Page caught this and several other nice whiting. Put a piece of shrimp on the bottom and something should eat it pretty quickly this weekend!

week. Some small sharks have been mixed in the catch. Putting small pieces of shrimp (or squid and shrimp) is the ticket for the tasty fish. A few tripletail have been caught off Jekyll Island. That bite will only improve as spring progresses. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that good catches of trout, flounder, black drum, cownose rays, sharks, and stingrays were made from the pier this week. Bottom fishing with shrimp or cut baitfish produced most bites. You can monitor the marine forecast at



The rivers are still a little high for prime panfishing, while the Altamaha bass fishing has been the most consistent in flowing water. Pitch swim jigs or Texas-rigged plastics for numbers of bass, but buzzbaits will be hard to beat for quality this week. In saltwater, whiting are the way to go on days when you can get out to the sounds. The Okefenokee will be a great destination for fliers and warmouth this week, and pitching yellow or pink sallies will catch the panfish. In ponds, you should be able to catch bream and bass again this weekend. Add some topwaters to your mix for bass, especially early and late in the day.


(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 by Ken Sturdivant ( 


Largemouth Bass: Bass fishing is good.  The water continues to warm and bass are shallow.  Fish all the shallow bedding areas all day week and then find a deep ditch or channel ledge and fish the area with either a Rapala DT6 or a Rapala #5 Shad Rap.  The bass will strike at any aggressive crank bait now including Fat Free Shad and Wiggle Warts.  During the midday period fish any wood on the banks.  For the larger bass go to the swim jigs by Striker King and a light Texas rigged Zoom trick worm rigged with a pegged sinker.  Finding the right color will be the key but green pumpkin is your first choice.


Largemouth Bass: Bass fishing is fair to good.  Main lake points are best and if there is a pocket close by, even better along with the numerous boat docks.  An early top-water bite is still present on the points, especially those located near the river channel.  Try using a 3 1/4 inch Chug Bug in either a gizzard shad or Tennessee shad color.  A four-inch number 10 Husky Jerk in a Glass Blue Minnow and a Glass Perch color are working on the side of points.  Light jigs and Texas rigged worms are working around and underneath the boat docks.


Largemouth Bass: Bass fishing is good.  The shad spawn is in full swing.  Small crank baits fished along the side of the docks, sea walls, and riprap from the mouth of large coves and the major creeks to the back of the creeks has been producing.  You can also add fishing a rattle trap around any deep dock and around rip rap early.  Spinner baits fished on any bridge rip rap will also produce.  White and chartreuse have been the best color.  This bite is best early right at sun up.  Up the rivers the fish have been holding tight to wood cover, dark jigs have been working in this area of the lake.

Stripers (Note: This Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time service. Call 404-803-0741, Striper fishing is good.  The fish are starting to move away from the dam.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of fish in the mouths of the coves and on the humps on the south end of the lake.  Live bait (shad) have been the best over the past week.  As seen below, the Giddens Family boys sure did have fun catching stripers and hybrids on a recent Lake Oconee trip!

Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair.  The fish are scattered from shallow to already moving into the timber on a summer pattern.  You need to be versatile and be ready to fish jigs in the back of creeks to dropping minnows into the deep timber.


Largemouth Bass: Bass fishing is good.  Some top-water action is there early and until 10 am.  Use big top-water bait like the Devil’s Horse and all white buzz baits.  All white seems to be the hot colors with a little green in the skirts.  These baits have been taking some really good fish early in the day.  After the sun gets up, slow rolling spinner baits and large crank baits has been the best way to get to the deeper fish on the river.  The bass are tight on the creek channels half way into any of the creeks as they stage for spawning.  Carolina rigged Zoom green pumpkin Trick worms or the same color in the Zoom lizard in the six-inch size will work.  Add some extra Jack’s Juice garlic into the bags of all the soft plastics.  This scent will make the fish hold the baits longer.  Spots will take a #5 and #7 Shad Rap all day.


Largemouth Bass: Bass fishing is very good.  There are tons of shallow fish.  Top-water baits and spinner baits have been especially good during the last few days.  Popping baits like Pop R’s and Chug Bug’s, and prop baits like Torpedo’s are producing numbers and quality of fish.  Start the morning in the clearer water till the bite slows and then move to stained water and give it a try.  Spinner baits will work with winds and a choppy surface.  If the bite slows or stops, try using a lightweight Texas rig in the same areas around any cover present.  Rip rap along the roadway bridges are holding fish that are hitting crank baits, spinner baits, Texas rigs, and jig head and worm rigs.  Docks and boathouses are still holding bass that are mostly hitting Texas rigged worms.  The normal summer humps, points, and ledges have slowed to a crawl, but should again hold lots of fish once the sun shines for a couple days.  Large crank baits like Norman DD22, Poe’s 40 and Fat Free Shads are good choices when the fish are real active, especially during power generation.  Carolina rigs and Texas rigs are the other primary choices for these deep fish.


Largemouth bass: Bass fishing is fair.  Some small bass are roaming the banks as well as on the ends of points.  The bass are shallow around any wood and cast baits to shadows all day.  Use a gourd green Berkley tail worms down lake on Texas rig and use the brass and glass on the rig for more sound.  Look in the mid lake half-way back in the creeks and hit any dock or on points.  Brush is a must and the fish are on the shady sides of docks.  Up the river the fishing is fair.  Use a buzz bait in all black and then use a Lucky Craft Redemption spinner bait and add a large trailer.  Zoom Bush Hogs and dark worms in the u-tail style in reds and grays will work fished slowly on wood and docks.  Use a Texas rig and fish all lures slowly and let them fall.  Zoom trick worms in pink or yellow are also fair around the docks in the shadows in the creeks.

Upcoming Event: On April 29, 2017 in Blue Ridge Georgia, the Blue Ridge Trout Festival & Outdoor Adventures will be there for their second year. Vendors, seminars and much more are planned.


  • Surface water temperature: 67o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 36”
  • Water level: At Full Pool

Largemouth bass: Fair but improving– we sampled many bass 5-10 feet off the bank.  Try using spinners and crank baits in 4 to 6 feet of water.   Try using spinners and crank baits fished parallel to bank.  Also, plastic-worms and lizard fished around bass beds should produce some good bites.

Crappie: Good- There are a few big crappie for the taking for the dedicated angler.  Minnows as bait should provide your best chance at a strike.  Also, anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappies.  Trolling at varying depths while alternating between both bright jigs and live minnows may help locate bunched-up crappie.

Bream: Good- Bream fishing has improved.  Some good fish are being caught around the fishing pier and woody structure. Best chance at a bite is with pink and red worms as well as crickets.  Bream will soon be moving up to begin spawning.  When they do, look for bream beds in the backs of shallow coves.

Channel catfish: Slow- however, you may get lucky using livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam.

In general, bass and bream fishing will continue to improve.  Also, spring is a great time to fish and picnic at Big Lazer PFA with the whole family.  Also, our spring kids fishing event is coming up on June the 3rd.  Good luck!


  • McDuffie Public Fishing Area: Water temperature range across lakes: 70.34 – 71.6 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 21 – 54+ inches
  • McDuffie PFA’s Fish cleaning station is now open.

Largemouth Bass: The lunker-size largemouth bass have slowed down due to bedding activities. Anglers are still catching small bass and some bass in the three and four pound range.  McDuffie PFA’s anglers are spreading the fishing pressure across the seven PFA lakes.  An angler reported catching six bass on April 13th.   McDuffie PFA has a 14-inch length minimum on largemouth bass. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond, is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.  This regulation is strictly enforced.

Bream: Full moon of April.  Bream, both bluegill and redear are being caught in shallow water across the PFA.  Willow Lake is producing nice shellcrackers and anglers are finding the spawning beds.  Rodbender also has bream both bluegill and redear.  An angler at Bridge Lake was catching nice bluegill with crickets under a float along shoreline.

Channel Catfish: Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes with Willow being the hot spot.  Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish from Willow Lake.  Anglers fishing Rodbender have reported several five and six pound channel catfish being caught.  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 worms or crickets under a bobber.

Striped Bass: Stripers were biting in Bridge Lake and no reports of stripers being caught in Clubhouse.   Stripers are biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while anglers were targeting catfish.



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

The hot April action continues across north Georgia, as warmer air draws lake and stream temperatures up to their optimal ranges for our target species.  Take a look at this week’s headliner: a lucky young man and his Nottely monster striper!


Stripers: (From Fisheries Biologist Pat Snellings) – This week we completed our annual Striped Bass spring electrofishing sample on Lake Lanier. Images from sampling efforts seen below. Each year, we go out in the spring when the Striped Bass move into shallow water and use electrofishing gear to get a representative sample of the population. These data help us determine out how strong the year classes are and help evaluate stocking rates. For each fish we measure the length, weight, sex, and take a scale from the fish to later determine its age. This year we saw good numbers of fish in the 2-4, 5-7, and 8-10 pound range. This indicates strong 2015, 2014, and 2013 year classes respectively. Typically, the biggest and smallest Striped Bass aren’t easily susceptible to electrofishing gear. However, this year we found above average numbers of Striped Bass less than 12”, which indicates good survival of our 2016-year class. Our best success this year were along gently sloping clay banks and points in Ada Creek, below Thompson Bridge, and around Laurel Park. Our best day this year was shocking clay points below Thompson Bridge on Wednesday (4/12), which yielded 60 Striped Bass. This upcoming week we will begin our annual spring Black Bass electrofishing sample on Lake Lanier, followed by Lakes Nottely and Chatuge.

If you plan on going out this weekend be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know!, Good luck and tight lines.

Crappie: (Lake Lanier Crappie report from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club, – This time of year we often hear the comment “if the dogwoods are blooming, the crappie are biting”.  There is truth in that, but fish need to eat all year, so we target them all year using various methods.  Current water temps are in the mid-sixties.  Fishing is good to excellent.  We are still fishing both the pre-spawn as well as the post-spawn, with some fish having already spawned and some fish waiting to spawn.  Both have one thing in common:  crappie ALWAYS relate to structure.  They may leave their habitat in pursuit of bait, but they always return.  That is why you can target fish using several different methods right now.  If you prefer using crappie minnows under a cork, the blowdowns and brush piles close to docks in shallower water along with areas nearby are still going to be your best bet.  Blowdowns are beginning to produce quality fish, especially if you see a few surrounding weeds.  Do not overrule using a jig.  In my opinion, it may work better.  As stated in the past, some of these blowdowns are in 10 feet of water, but some are in 20 feet of water, depending on the size of the tree.  Look at the size of the trunk, compare to nearby trees and estimate the height of the similar trees.  Also look at the slope of the bank.  All these factors will help you determine the location and depth of the tree below the surface.  Make sure you fish the blowdown at every possible angle before moving on.  After you finish fishing a blowdown, ride over it with your downscan and it will give you the accurate depth of the tree as a reference for your next trip.  You may also want to mark a waypoint on your electronics if the spot was a good producer.  Hair jigs and soft body jigs are working well.  Long line trolling, is also working well.  The fish chasing bait are the targets of this method.  If you are a dock shooter, game on!  We are catching them inside docks at various depths with structure (both deep and shallow) and getting photos of impressive catches from our members.  Warmer days together with good fishing is a great recipe for an awesome time on the lake.

Be sure to check out that featured image at the beginning of the Georgia Fishing Report for April 14: 5 year-old Colton Perry holds up just one of the 15 crappie recently caught during a fun fishing day at Don Carter State Park on Lanier. What a Smile!

Wear your life jacket it can save your life!


(From Fisheries Biologist Pat Snellings) – This week we completed our biannual sample of Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County. Water temperatures are in the mid 60’s which is when many fish species move shallow to spawn and are often easier to catch. Largemouth Bass are abundant in Bear Creek Reservoir, with majority of the bass being around 12”. We found good numbers of Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker) spawning in shallow water as well. Fishing for Largemouth Bass and Shellcracker is a great way to get a young fisherman or woman hooked on the sport.  They are easily targeted this time of year in shallow pockets and coves using nightcrawlers and crickets. Crappie were also prevalent in our sample with several fish over a pound. Majority of these crappie were found along woody structure in the water such as downed trees. For those interested in fishing Bear Creek, more information can be found at


I went back out to Hollis Q Lathem on Sunday. It was an absolutely great day to be on the water, even better to share it with a great friend! It was around 40 degrees when we met up at 7:30, so I figured it would take a few hours for things to turn on and wake the bass up!  Like I thought, the catching was slow until the sun was high in the sky! A few bass were caught early on a Spook….after that it was wacky rigs, all day long! It’s hard to throw anything else when the Wacky Rig produces as well as it does!  It’s like my not to be named “confidence fly” in fly fishing, the Wacky Rig has become my go to setup!

After about 1pm, the switch turned on and the green fish decided to play! Fish are still being caught shallow, between 2’-6′ of water. This is a great little reservoir that folks need to check out.  If you have a canoe, YAK or Jon boat, load it up and get out there.  Parking is $5 and it’s electric only!

Here’s a little video made from the day….Ron W:


Headwater Trout:


(From “Alan from Athens”) – The weather with blue skies, bright sunshine, and mild temperatures may not have been ideal “catching” conditions for a day on the Chattooga DH, but it made for a really pleasant day on the river. The rain last week in North Georgia had raised the river level up to the best level I had seen in what seemed like months with good wading conditions (water where there had been sand and rocks a few weeks ago).

Stepped into the River at 10:30 am and decided to fish a dry/dropper set-up (parachute adams and small bead head pheasant tail. After about 30 minutes landed a 10” brown that was positioned in the shadow of a ledge that darted out and inhaled the adams. This turned out to be a common theme with the first three fish I landed all being browns and all were holding in similar areas, it was great watching them in the clear water come up and take the dry (clipped off the pheasant tail and tied on a small caddis dry after the second fish).

Brought two rainbows to hand that were holding in deeper runs and a couple more browns throughout the early afternoon. Started to see more small caddis and mayflies in the late afternoon and saw a few rises to the naturals, definitely seemed to get the fish looking up and landed several larger fish including the best fish of the day a 15.5” brown with great color.

Had landed 14 fish as I walked out of the river at 6:30 pm, only saw two other people fishing as I left. It was a great day on the Chattooga.

Delayed Harvest Trout:

GA’s DH streams got redosed last week and the spring bug hatches are on. It’s a great time to visit one or more of the Georgia and North Carolina DH streams.


Web page reminder- see “weekly stocking report.”, Feel free to call our secretary, William, (770-535-5498) if you would like a printed copy of the GA trout stream map.

Featured Site of the Week: West Fork Chattooga watershed


Remember that the immediate reaches right below Buford and Blue Ridge dams are “clear water” sanctuaries during muddy storm events in the watershed.

Smithgall Partnership:

(From Park Manager Will Wagner) – We at Smithgall Woods are grateful to the Georgia Foothills TU Chapter for their donation of a mounted Brook Trout for our Discovery Room.  The new fish enhances our display and showcases our mission of protecting the Dukes Creek watershed.  We are very privileged to have such a wonderful relationship with our local chapter, and volunteers, as we work toward conservation and education together.

USFS Wants You:

It’s sooooo easy.  Go to this map:

Click to create a comment box, write a few comments on what you’d like to see done on 150,000 acres of your public lands, and you’re done.  And you’re part of the national forest planning process.  Go ahead, give it a shot.  Are your national forest trout streams like Chattooga, Warwoman, Etowah, Jones, and Mountaintown worth FIVE minutes of your time?

Upcoming Events:

  • April 18: Summer Flyfishing Tips: Dredger will provide summer intel at the monthly meeting of Rabun TU, 7PM at Rabun Gap Presbyterian Church.
  • April 22- Youth Class: Youths (ages 10 to 15) are invited to participate in the Sam Rizzio Youth Fly Fishing and Conservation Clinic Saturday, April 22, from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Chattahoochee Nature Center (9135 Willeo Road, Roswell). The clinic is organized by the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Advance registration is required. The clinic is designed for the beginning fly fisher and provides basic instruction in all phases of fly-fishing, including fly-casting, knot tying, insect identification and conservation. Students will be provided all necessary equipment.  Certified instructors and mentors will work with the students to provide individual instruction and answer questions about fly-fishing. Upon completion, each student will be awarded a certificate and receive a box of flies. The registration fee of $20 includes lunch. For more information, go to or contact Tom Hayes at 513.515.7954.

You’ve waited all year for the weather and water conditions to align perfectly.  Well they have, , so the rest is up to y’all.   Go fish Georgia soon!

Georgia Fishing Report: April 7, 2017

Check out these reports, and make the most of the sunshine this weekend!

This week, reports come from Southeast Georgia, Southwest Georgia and North Georgia.

Southeast Georgia

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

At the time of writing this, the Satilla River is in great shape, but rains this week will determine how long that stays the case… Pond bass fishing has been excellent. In areas where weeds aren’t bad, the swamp is providing great fishing and the bugs are nonexistent. Saltwater is hit-and-miss. On days when winds allow, the whiting fishing has been good. Full Moon is April 11th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that striper fishing was good, with several fish caught this week. No details on the lures or bait or locations, but some were caught. Goldfish produced some good flatheads, and shellcrackers bit worms fished around willow trees. Donna at Altamaha Park said that crappie, shellcrackers, and bream were caught with crickets and worms. Bottom fishing produced some good catches of catfish, and worms were the most productive offering. The river level was 4.1 feet and rising (74 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.0 feet and cresting (70 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on April 4th.

Satilla River – Craig and Colt James fished the upper river and pitched Swamp Spiders. They managed some nice bluegill and redbreasts on Monday and then returned on Tuesday and caught a dozen more. About 6 of the redbreasts were roosters. They caught fish on all the colors, but the white version produced more of the big fish. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts were caught in good numbers with Satilla Spins, beetlespins, and crickets. Lizards and Trick Worms fooled some good creels of bass. Shrimp and rooster livers accounted for most of the catfish caught this week, and there were plenty. Right now (Tuesday night) the river is in great shape, but Wednesday’s rains will dictate whether the good conditions will continue or the river will get muddy. The river level is low in the upper and middle river, and getting around is tricky. Plan on dragging a johnboat over some sandbars, but the bite is worth it. The river level on April 4th at the Waycross gage was 5.3 feet and falling (72 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.2 feet and falling.

St. Marys River – Catfish were plentiful this week for anglers bottom fishing with shrimp and livers. Most panfishing reports were 30 to 40 bream and redbreasts per trip. Bass in the 7 to 9-pound range were reported. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 4th was 2.6 feet and rising.

Okefenokee Swamp – A group from the Waycross Fisheries Office took teens fishing at the Okefenokee Swamp as part of the Georgia Forestry Field Day. The students did their forestry skills tests then partook of various outdoor activities, including fishing. About 200 of the students fished, and many caught fish. A few even caught their first fish ever. About a half-dozen fliers ate pink sallies pitched with bream buster poles, but the best bite was bowfin (mudfish), and they ate Dura-Spins worked in the water column and worms fished on the bottom. It was work retrieving the in-line spinners around floating vegetation, but the students were rewarded with more than 50 bowfin that inhaled the spinners. The hot colors were jackfish (white/red/yellow) and fire tiger (lime/orange/chartreuse). Michael Winge said that the warmouth bite has been consistent, and some big bluegill were also caught.

Paradise Public Fishing Area (near Tifton) – The hybrid striped bass bite was still good in Lake Bobben. The best catch I heard of was a half-dozen fish. Catfish anglers fishing chicken livers on the bottom was still the most consistent bite. If you see them busting shad, cast a crankbait or underspin and small swimbait to them. Otherwise, soaking a liver on the bottom is the go-to presentation. Expect the fish to weigh up to 3 pounds.

Lake Blackshear (near Cordele) – Michael Deen and Justin Bythwood won a bass club tournament on Saturday at the lake. Two of their 5 keepers came on a shad colored (blue glimmer) buzzbait with a flat metal blade, while the other 3 were fooled with a copperfield Flashy Swim Jig (gold willow blade) with an Assassin Elite Shiner trailer in mama’s 14-K color. They had 12.76 pounds, not bad on a day when most folks struggled. They also had a few small keepers that did not help their cause by casting a 5-inch watermelon Senko

Local Ponds – Mike Czaplinski and Harry Bardroff from New Jersey fished a Brunswick pond with a friend on Friday and hammered the bass. They started out with a variety of swimbaits, plastics, and spinnerbaits, but it did not take long to dial in that the bass wanted a Texas-rigged Keitech Mad Wag worm. After they figured that out, they annihilated the bass. As dark set in, they boated their 50th bass and headed in. Most of the fish were 2 to 4 pounds, and their biggest was a 5.69-pounder. They went through every bag of Mad Wags they had and caught fish on every color. They kept switching back and forth to other lures, but the fish were dialed in to the Texas-rigged worm, so they kept going back to it. Their arms were sore, but they had big smiles on their faces as they drove back to the cold and snow in New Jersey on Saturday.  Michael Winge reported that big numbers of bass were caught on plastic lizards. Crickets produced a bunch of bream.  Rutland Farms in Tifton is going to host a children’s tournament ($20 covers an adult and a child, $5 for each additional child) this Saturday. For more information, check out their webpage or look them up on Facebook.

Saltwater (GA Coast) – Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that flounder, black drum, bull redfish, and bull whiting were all landed from the pier this week. Blue crabs and stone crabs were also caught from the pier.  You can monitor the marine forecast at

Best Bet: Bass fishing is crazy good right now. The spawn is winding down, and the fish are feasting before the heat arrives. Keitech swimbaits on Flashy Swimbait Heads are great lures when the fish are chasing, and wacky-rigged Assassin Fat Job stick worms are hard to beat when they are neutral. As the water warms, a buzzbait is a great presentation, especially early and late in the day. Quad-blade buzzbaits allow you to slow your retrieve to a crawl, while metal blades put out lots of squeak. Try a variety of retrieves until you figure out what triggers a bite best on that day. Redbreasts are tearing it up on the Satilla, whether you pitch bugs, throw Satilla Spins, or pitch crickets. If we don’t get much rain out of Wednesday’s front, the fish should be chowing on the warm-up before the next front. Bass and bream fishing in ponds should be great late in the weekend and into next week. The winds are forecasted to be high early in the weekend, but check the latest forecast to see if you can get out for whiting or trout.

Mike Czaplinski Bass - 3 31 17 IMGP4783.JPG
Mike Czaplinski from New Jersey fished a Brunswick area pond on Friday to catch this 5-pounder. He and friends also caught 49 other bass, primarily on Keitech Mad Wag Worms

Southwest Georgia

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

LAKE WALTER F GEORGE – The bass and crappie are shallow and good catches of both continue at Lake George. Anglers should concentrate around weed lines for both bass and crappie. In addition, good numbers of crappie have been caught around submerged woody debris in the back end of the coves. The recent stormy weather and slightly cooler temperatures may cause the bite to slow down a bit but should pick up again by the weekend. Anglers should also be prepared for stained or muddy water in some coves due to these recent storms.

FLINT RIVER – The recent rains have swollen and muddied the Lower Flint which may slow down the  bream and shoal bass fishing but not the catfish or striped bass, hybrid, and white bass. When the river levels rise fish are drawn to the tailraces below Lake Blackshear and Lake Worth.

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

Montezuma above Lake Blackshear,00060,00062

Highway 32 below Lake Blackshear,00060,00062

Lower Flint River below Albany,00060,00062

LAKE SEMINOLE – According to Lake Seminole fishing guide Steven Wells, “fishing on Lake Seminole is still on fire. The bass and redear sunfish are spawning and the fishing can’t be any better.” Anglers interested in a guided fishing trip for bass or bream should give Steven a call at 229-254-6863.

North Georgia

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

This week’s reports to our Gainesville region office showed that lake bass fishing really picked up, as north Georgia waters warmed and the spots and largemouths began their first wave of spawning.  Yesterday’s big storm front will likely push those fish back a couple days, but watch for the reservoir bite to heat up again with each new warm day ahead of us.  Recall last week’s report so that you don’t miss the striper spawning runs up the major rivers, which now have enough water in them to keep some fish backs wet for a while. 

On the mountain stream topic, our stocking program is in full swing.  The great news is that these high flows should scatter the stockers a bit better and make the fishing a lot more fun than “drought trouting,” defined as simply sitting on the big pool at the Forest Service bridge crossing.  And way up the mountain, our little wild trout are thawed out, spawned out, hungry, and naive from a winter without you. 

trout stocking wildcat cr 5-1-15 pic6

It’s April.  The grass isn’t that high yet, the big winds and hail missed you, and your favorite waters now beckon you.  Count your blessings and heed the call. 

Toona Bass

Hey Jeff,

Took the yak, aka “The Battle Barge”  out to Galts Ferry this evening for a little Sunset paddle. The spots were willing to play and seemed to love the Wacky Rig. Seems like bass everywhere love the Wacky Rig!  Anyways, bass seem to be in full pre-spawn mode and are moving up shallow! Its a great time to folks to get out there and get after them!

        Ron W

Hollis Latham Bass

Hey Jeff,

I went out to Hollis again last Saturday and wasn’t disappointed. I had my single best day of “catching” ever while bass fishing! It was also my best day ever fishing from the Kayak. I landed 34 bass and 1 lone bluegill, who was the only fish taken on the fly. All but 5 of the 34 bass came on the wacky rig, the rest were on the new to me, Ned Rig.

There were plenty of good fish, several in the 3lb range, with the last fish of the day being 22″ and around 6lbs. I thought that was as good as any time to call it a day! It’s not too often I call it a day at 3:30 🙂

bass LMB HLatham Res RonW Apr2017 small

        Ron W

Subject: Lanier Bass Report

Water Temp – 60

Water Level – 8.86 feet below full pool 

WOW!  We have certainly had some changes since last week’s report.  The lake has came up more than a foot with all the rain, and is still on the rise.  The creeks are stained to muddy and the main lake and pockets are stained as well.  The water temps dropped some with the rain and cooler weather and sit at around 60 degrees currently.  I don’t think the rains will change the pattern too much as we found them post-front today in the same areas as pre-front.  Some of the largemouth are definitely spawning but will be hard to find with the muddy water in the backs of the creeks and pockets.  Some of the spots have started the process as well, but we are still mainly dealing with pre-spawn spotted bass.  We have continued to have some great days for both numbers and size.  We have been focusing on main and secondary clay/rock points and sandy pockets in 15 feet of water or less for the majority of this past week.  A finesse worm on a Picasso Shakedown Head has been money this week for the majority of our catches.  We are working the Shakedown Head on 8 lbs test Seaguar Abrazx fluorocarbon.  I believe the lighter line leads to more bites on this bait as it helps allow the baits to present more naturally.  Look also for the shallower brush on points and in pockets through the day as well, as we have been finding some fish staging around this brush – again in the 15-18 foot range. A new swimbait called the Sweet Herring from the Sweet Bait Company has worked well on some days in these areas also.  The Sweet Herring swimbait has also been good on the windblown rocky points and banks. A Spro MD in Red Craw worked well post-rain in the stained water this morning back in the pockets and on secondary points.   As the sun gets up, check the shallow docks in ditches and pockets for activity.  Work a jerkbait and a soft plastic swimbait beside these shallow docks, as well as a jig and worm.  These fish back in the creeks are also staging in preparation for the spawn.  You will find spots and largemouth in these places. This pattern definitely works better when the sun is out as opposed to cloudy conditions.  The clouds make the fish scatter and often bottom locked as well.  While they still remain close to the dock, they are often not directly under the docks. With the stain in the water, I look for the spinnerbait and crankbait fishing to pick up back in these areas. Perhaps even a buzzbait on the warmer mornings.  This is a great time to learn the pre-spawn bite on Lanier.  They are up and moving!  Here are the dates I have open now through April:  17, 19(PM), 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28.  Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun!  Thanks to all and May God Bless.

Jim “JIMBO” Mathley

Spotted Bass Fishing Guide – Lake Lanier

Mobile – 770-542-7764

Lotsa Lanier Bass!

An online quote: “I agree with the great fishing right now. We fished yesterday & caught over 40 on crankbaits.” Nothing bigger than 3 lbs. but it was a lot of fun!

Lake Burton Pot Luck

It was a breezy day on Burton today with a crisp 9 mph wind out of the NW. We all had dreams of catching Lake Trout today but ended up with a myriad of species. 58 fish were caught by 14 anglers using techniques from planer boards to downlining in the mouths of creeks to the dam. Some caught more than others but the group as a whole enjoyed catching Spotted Bass, Largemouth Bass, Chain Pickerel and Yellow Perch.


        Steve Scott

(See my Striper reports in the Angler magazine and in the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division blog.) 


Don’t forget this place for April bass and some BIG stripers.  These mountain lakes are also much smaller than Lanier, Hartwell, and even Allatoona, so your hunts for big fish and prime habitats are much easier.

striper and hybrid Nottely sample 3-21-17

Huge Bass

Did all of you see #17 on Georgia’s all-time greatest list?

Lanier Crappie

Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Report April 5 2017

This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. See our club’s website,

Water temperature is about 65 degrees, with higher temps in the shallows, especially in stained water.  Crappie fishing remains strong. Although we thought the spawn was going to be early this year because of the mild winter, the cold snap in March slowed everything down and we are now in the middle of the spawn at almost exactly the same time as last year. Some fish remain staged in shallow docks10 feet deep or less, waiting to move in to the banks to spawn.  Others have completed their spawn and are heading back to the docks.  Some of the fish we are catching on the shallow docks appear to have already spawned, while some on same docks still have their eggs.  Long line trolling works well this time of year since the fish are roaming back and forth to the shallows.  However, pretty much everything is working. Some blow downs are holding fish in pockets and middle to backs of creeks. Shooting docks remains the best method of catching the bigger fish. You should be ten feet or so away from the dock, with a five-to six foot medium action rod, and four pound test high visibility line. Release a length of line about two-thirds the length of your rod, and leave the bail in the open position while you are holding the line with one finger. Grab the curve of the hook (below the barb) and bring it toward your body. Keep the base of the rod parallel to the water while pulling the line toward you to sharply bow the tip of the rod. Release the jig and the line at the same time, while aiming toward your target.  Target docks in ten feet of water or less that have some type structure below. Your side scan imagery can be very helpful in locating structure. We’ve been catching fish on docks and brush piles near docks pretty much all day long. Blow downs are doing better in the mornings and late in the day. Jiffy jigs or Bobby Garland soft body grubs with 1/24 ounce or 1/32 ounce jig heads remain our number one choice. For those who prefer live bait, a slip cork and a trusty crappie minnow should put a few fish in the boat. We feel that the majority of the females will be completing their spawn by the full moon, so get out there and fish while fishing is good and before the lake gets busier in the summer.  Stay safe on the water and always wear a life jacket. 

Special thanks to DNR fish biologists Pat Snelling and Chris Looney for updating us at our meeting last week on Lake Lanier’s walleye, crappie and white bass fisheries.  Awesome meeting!

Hak’s River Reports

He is “shockingly” successful and sharing this week’s intel with all of you. 

Coosa River:

The white bass are still spawning in the Coosa River, but water flows are high following this week’s rains.  River conditions should improve over the weekend and into next week.  The spawning run appears weak this year, but the fish present are of good size quality.  The Mayo’s Lock and Dam and tributary mouths still remain the best areas to target these spawn run fish. 

Striped bass are migrating upstream from Lake Weiss and can found throughout the Coosa River.  Live shad, cut bait and shad imitating artificial baits are all good bets for those looking to catch striped bass.  Fish around downed trees and log jams with good current near them.  The typical striper will be 5-8 pounds in size, but fish pushing over the thirty pound mark can be found in the river. 

Oostanaula River:

Spawn-run striped bass are pouring into the entire length of the Oostanaula River.  Numbers are good and some of the early arrivals have already started to spawn.  Fishing should be good over the next several weeks as more fish move into the river.  Find out more about fishing the Oostanaula River by going to:

        WRD senior fisheries biologist Jim Hakala

Family-friendly Stocker Success

Trout Stocking

Reminder- the weekly stocking list is updated each Friday, so all of you can name your own “best bets.” All streams, except for our largest trout rivers, should recede to fishable levels by the weekend.

Tallulah gauge:


Little Wild Trout

Headwater fans are tearing it up right now.  Quote: “ I am beyond excited right now.”


Quote: “All I can think about now is how I want to get back out there.”

Note some wild brown vulnerability in the stained waters.  And I’ve even attached a spring gold nugget for all of you spring dry fly fans.

trout bnt Tex caddis skitter tooga dh 3-15-15

Toccoa Tailwater

Hooch Tailwater

Muddy Water Trout Tips

The latest Orvis podcast features Colorado fishing guide Landon Mayer, with tips on fishing the high, muddy rivers of spring.  Since rain has once again decided to revisit north Georgia, these are timely tips for big-water fans.

Good luck this week as we dry out, watch the rivers recede, and start warming back up to spring’s seventy-degree days.  It will get real good, real quick again over the weekend. As always, thanks for purchasing or renewing your fishing licenses and Trout Unlimited vehicle license plates.  Go fish Georgia soon and share your fish tales with us.

Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area

Looking for a beautiful setting to go fishing? This public fishing area is right up your alley!

The Rocky Mountain Recreation and Fishing Area sits on 5,000 acres in Rome, Georgia and is owned by Oglethorpe Power Corporation. Rock Mountain provides visitors with a scenic setting for hunting, picnicking, fishing, hiking, camping, historic sites, education trails, canoe access, and many other recreational activities.

Rocky Mountain PFA2

Of those 5,000 acres, 559 acres compose the lakes that make up the Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (PFA), Antioch Lake and Heath Lake. Fishing is permitted from sunrise to sunset at Antioch Lake 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Fishing at Heath Lake is also permitted from sunrise to sunset, but only from the first to the tenth of each month. The lakes allow fishing boats with some restrictions and provide boat ramps for easy access.

Rocky Mountain PFA1

Along with all of the recreational amenities, the park hosts a wide array of exciting events such as group hikes, Free Fishing Day, Paddling Sunset to Moonrise kayaking trip, and Movie by the Water. Just as well, there are many days dedicated to improving the quality of the environment and the community. For instance, on May 7, 2017, from 9 A.M. to 11 A.M., the Rocky Mountain PFA is hosting a Trail Clean-Up Day to maintain the wonderful trails on the property.  The park will also be hosting a Volunteer Day for Heath Lake. This incredibly necessary event was created to maintain the refreshing, clean shoreline of Heath Lake to ensure everyone can enjoy the lake for years to come.

So, whether you want to clean the park or clean the fish, the Rocky Mountain PFA is the perfect place for you and your family to connect with nature!

More information about Rocky Mountain PFA

Wild Turkey Wellington

Wild turkey is very lean, so it’s a challenge to keep the meat moist. The mushrooms, cooked in butter, and the pastry shell help keep the turkey breast from drying out. A little bacon doesn’t hurt, either. Fancy mushrooms and shallots aren’t necessary to make a flavorful duxelles (pronounced: “duke-sell”) for this wellington. Button mushrooms and onion still cook up with tons of flavor.

Wild Turkey Wellington

16 ounces (1 pound) mushrooms

½ a medium onion

1 TBS butter

1 tsp ground sage

salt and pepper to taste


1 wild turkey breast

8 slices bacon

1 sheet puff pastry (still cold from fridge)


1 egg


coarse salt

Wash and slice the mushrooms. Dice the onion. Either run a knife through the mixture to get it into small pieces, or run it in a food processor until paste-like with some larger pieces.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the mushroom and onion mixture, the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mixture is dry and has darkened in color (about 30 minutes).

Lay out the slices of bacon, overlapping them slightly to form a sheet. Trim the turkey breast of any silverskin, tendon or yellow fat and roll to make it a loaf-like shape. Lay the turkey on one side of the the bacon sheet and roll it to wrap it in bacon. Cook the roll in a pan, turning frequently, until the bacon is mostly cooked and most of the fat rendered. The turkey should still be undercooked. Let it cool so it won’t melt the pastry later.

Unfold the sheet of puff pastry and roll it to make it slightly larger and thinner. Spread half of the mushroom and onion paste on the puff pastry. Place the bacon and turkey roll in the center and spread the rest of the mushroom and onion paste on top. Make an egg wash by beating the egg with a splash of water. Brush egg wash around the edges of the puff pastry before folding. Fold up the puff pastry around the meat and vegetable mixture, using additional egg wash as glue when necessary. Turn over and place on a pan that has been greased or coated in foil and then greased. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with coarse salt and use a small sharp knife to cut vents in the top.

Bake at 350 degrees until the turkey is cooked through and the pastry brown. A thermometer inserted in the center of the turkey can help track the doneness of the meat.

Georgia Fishing Report: March 31, 2017

If you follow Georgia WRD on any of our social media outlets, such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – you have seen some mighty nice bass caught this past week. These images, plus all the good intel found below, should (hopefully) get you excited and ready to hit the water! Good luck and happy fishing!

This week, reports below include Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Should you be searching for fishing information (tips, techniques and more) on other locations, be sure to check out the Reservoir and River Prospects on the WRD website – these have all been updated for 2017 and give you targeted information for specific locations!


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

The Satilla River is getting right, and the catches were good this week. Ponds produced some good fishing, as did saltwater (primarily whiting). The warmouth bite in the Okefenokee Swamp is firing off. First quarter moon is April 3rd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website


A 10.20-pound bass was certified this week from the Oconee River (a tributary to the Altamaha). Tracy Johnson of Alston caught the new river record bass on the Oconee. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that catfish were tops this week, and some impressive flatheads ate goldfish. Redbreasts and bream were fooled with crickets. Worms accounted for some quality shellcracker catches. Donna at Altamaha Park said that crappie, shellcrackers, and bream were caught in the tidewater. Crickets and worms produced the panfish, while worms fooled some good creels of catfish. The river level was 5.0 feet and falling (70 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.3 feet and cresting (67 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 28th.


I floated the upper river with my son and his friend Eli on Saturday afternoon. We started our day watching Blake Davis catch a 5-lb, 14-oz largemouth bass from a root wad by pitching a plastic worm to it (see inserted image). That was an impressive fish. Congratulations, Blake! After admiring his catch, we continued our float with the boys messing around on SE GA Blake Davis Bass - 3 17 -IMGP4721sandbars while I fished a little bit. I managed to catch and release 24 panfish on Satilla Spins. Early in the trip an 1/8-oz. dreamsicle (orange/white) version worked well, while 1/8-oz. bruised banana gold was best the rest of the day. A half-dozen of the redbreasts were true roosters over 10 inches, but the bluegills were all hand-sized and below. Some hand-sized stumpknockers were also mixed in. The water had just a slight stain to it, and it was significantly warmer than the week before. I have no doubt that a hard-core lure flinging venture by two skilled anglers could result in a 100-fish day right now. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts are biting crickets and a few are starting to hit beetlespins from the reports he received. He also heard of crappie still biting minnows in the deeper holes. Catfish were caught with pink worms and shrimp fished on the bottom in deep holes. The river level on March 28th at the Waycross gage was 5.9 feet and falling (68 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.1 feet and falling.


Bass were again tops this week, with fish ranging from 6 to 10 pounds reported. Good-sized catfish were caught by putting shrimp on the bottom, while bream and redbreasts were eating lures and minnows in the tidal portion of the river. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 28th was 1.6 feet and falling.


The best reports I received were from the West side this week. Lots of warmouth and fliers were caught in Billy’s Lake. Pitching crawfish to cypress stumps is the traditional approach for warmouth, while fliers are duped with a little fly called an Okefenokee Swamp Sally. Yellow is traditionally the best color, but pink is my favorite. Right now, fishing it under a float is the best, but you can catch them by pitching the fly without the float also in the waming water. Try both presentations to determine which is most effective on any given day. An angler fishing the Suwannee River near Fargo caught a dozen bluegills by throwing beetlespins. They also caught a few pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish). Weeds are still bad on the east side. Fishing for warmouth and fliers around the open patches has been good, though. Michael Winge said that the warmouth bite has picked up, with the fish moving up to spawn.


Bass, bream, and catfish were caught in good numbers this week. The most interesting bite has been hybrid striped bass caught in Lake Bobben. Catfish anglers fishing chicken livers on the bottom started catching the feisty battlers, and they caught several each trip. Lakes Bobben and Russell were stocked with hybrid striped bass over the last couple years, and the biggest fish are pushing 3 pounds now.


Nathanael Johnson of Blackshear caught a nice bass from the pond at General Coffee State Park on Monday evening. Michael Winge reported that bream, catfish, and bass were the best bites, but a few crappie were still being caught. Artificial lizards produced some nice bass this week. Expect the buzzbait bite to pick up by the weekend with the warming temperatures. A 16.03-pound bass was certified from a Wilkinson County pond this week.


A few Blackshear anglers fished out of St. Marys for whiting and landed 21 of the tasty bulls. Their biggest was well over a pound. Shrimp fished on the bottom was the ticket for them. By the number of boats in the sound, the whiting bite must be wide open. A few tripletail were caught this week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, and sharks were all landed from the pier this week. Blue crabs were caught in decent numbers.  You can monitor the marine forecast at


It is earlier than usual, but the redbreasts and bream are chowing Satilla Spins, worms, and crickets on the Satilla and middle St. Marys rivers. Some giant bass were caught last week, and there will probably be some more wall-hangers caught over the next couple weeks in ponds and lakes. Look for a buzzbait to produce some big fish early and late in the day. Whiting are a great bet in the sounds on days when the wind will allow you to fish for them.


(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  ( for most recent updates.


Bass fishing is good.  The small cuts and shallow coves are sporting low 60’s for water temps and this is where the big bass are hiding.  Look for the small pockets of warmer water near the main river and this is where the bass are roaming.  Fishermen are using the Strike King Spinnerbaits early in the morning looking for that real big bite but are resorting to crank baits.  The water is only a little stained so the numbers of bass will be coming on crank baits.  Lowrance down Scan technology can scan much wider areas with the narrow beams so anglers can see the bait, the structure and the fish four times better than with sonar.  Find the bait and you will find the fish.  Use a variety color of Shad Raps and jerk baits with the shad patterns being the best.  Use a slow retrieve and cast the baits up close to the bank and work the points and bowls thoroughly.  The worm fishermen are finding the watermelon seed is the best color and it doesn’t matter if you rig it Texas or Carolina style.


Bass fishing is good.  The herring are on the move shallow and the bass are eating them. Watch the sea gulls that are diving to the water and cover this area in the shallows.  The numerous small pockets and the points that run out towards the channel are another good place to fish top-water and crank baits.  The spinnerbait bite is working and the Lucky Craft Redemption lure with all silver blades is best.  Use the Shad Raps in shad color in the cleaner water and the fire tiger or crawdad colors if you go into the rivers up the lake.  Lowrance down Scan technology can scan much wider areas with the narrow beams so anglers can see the bait, the structure and the fish four times better than with sonar.  Find the bait and you will find the fish.  Try the larger #7 or #9 Rapala size for the bigger bass and downsize to the #5 Shad Rap for numbers.  Stick with the more natural colors like gizzard shad, silver and blue and shad.  Baby bass colors in the crank bait are another good choice as the smaller bait fish move up to the shallower warmer water as well.


BASS: Bass fishing is good.  The best results over the past week have been on a Carolina rig with a 5-6 in worm in green or pumpkin, fished around sea walls in the middle of the big coves and creeks from 44 bridge south to the river bend area.  Small crank baits fished along the side of the docks in the middle of the coves out to the main lake will produce.  Lowrance down Scan technology can scan much wider areas with the narrow beams so anglers can see the bait, the structure and the fish four times better than with sonar.  Find the bait and you will find the fish.  You can also add fishing a Rat L Trap around any deep dock and around rip rap early.  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: (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time service. Call 404-803-0741, – Striper fishing is good.  The fish are starting to move to the dam.  Live bait (bass minnows) have been the best over the past week.  There are still some fish in the river bend area of the lake, use your Lowrance to locate the schools of bait and the stripers will be close by.  Live bait and spoons are working to catch these fish.

CRAPPIE: Crappie fishing is fair.  The fish are moving into the creeks.  The fish are still deep around 12 feet in most places.  We have been using heavy jigs to get down to the fish.  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.


Bass fishing is good.  Pick any creek and spend the day as the bass are roaming in 3 to 13 feet of water.  Use the Shad Raps, the Strike King 3/8 ounce white Colorado and Willow leaf combination and a trick worm in green pumpkin.  Work the baits slowly early and then go to the crank bait in case the spinner bait bite is not on.  Cast a Bill Norman Deep Little N in a chartreuse color to these same fish.  Use a stop and go retrieve with the crank bait early morning and a fast retrieve later in the day.  A Carolina rig with a 4-foot leader and 3/0 wide gap hook and Zoom lizard in a chartreuse pumpkin seed will work.  Use a Jacks Juice garlic scent lure on the lizard and fish it across the points.  Spots need to see the Mini Me spinner baits with all pearl white blades and a white skirt.


Bass fishing is good.  Crank baits, spinner baits, and jigs will be the baits of choice for the next few weeks.  Fire tiger or Craw colored SPRO Little John crank baits will catch fish consistently the next few weeks on primary and secondary points in the stained water.  Shad colors will work best on the lower end of the lake where the water is clear.  On windy days a chartreuse Buckeye Lures spinnerbait with gold Colorado blades will produce bigger bites on the docks, sea walls, and grass inside the spawning pockets.  Lowrance down Scan technology can scan much wider areas with the narrow beams so anglers can see the bait, the structure and the fish four times better than with sonar.  Find the bait and you will find the fish.  Once you have located a pocket holding a concentration of fish, slow down and flip a Texas rigged June bug lizard or a Buckeye Lures mop jig under dock walkways.  This will produce a big bite from those lazy pre spawn females that wouldn’t fall for the reaction baits.


Bass fishing is good.  The water has finally gotten clear enough to fish Jackson this week and the bass are hitting a variety of baits.  Look for the early spawners in ten days.  There are a lot of bass roaming and looking for that perfect area to start these process.  Go about midway up the rivers and look for the small flats off the main channel.  Lowrance down Scan technology can scan much wider areas with the narrow beams so anglers can see the bait, the structure and the fish four times better than with sonar.  Find the bait and you will find the fish.  These are the areas that will be the most productive this week.  A few of the larger bass are taking the white spinnerbaits with the majority of the bass coming off the cranks.  Several anglers like the crawfish color in the Rapala DT10 while most of the locals are throwing the balsa wood crawfish and perch color Shad Raps.  A slow to medium retrieve and an occasional digging into the bottom seems to be the preferred way to fish the cranks.  Points along with docks and the flats off of points about midway up the rivers and creeks is the only place limits of bass are being caught.


  • Surface Temperature: 73.3˚ F (23.0˚ C)
  • Water Level: 6’ 4” Below Full Pool
  • Water Visibility: 26.5”

As we progress into the warmth of summer the fish are starting to stack up around the fish attractors to take advantage of the shade and gamble on the possibility of an easy meal. During the cooler parts of the day the fish are cruising the shallows hoping to grab an unsuspecting small fish or invertebrate.  If you are fishing from the bank try casting the edges of cover.  If you are fishing from boat try fishing near any of the fish attractors or the large rock piles.  The visibility is currently clearer than usual. Until the lake darkens again, brighter artificial lures are expected to work well.  Here is a list of fish and what has seemed to work the best for each species:

BASS: Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom.  Watermelon or Pumkinseed Culprit worms.  Most dark colored worms.  Crankbaits have not worked well.

BREAM: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Near cover or near the shallower water during a full moon.  Tube jigs on a 1/8 oz. jig head.  Crickets have not worked well.

CHANNEL CATFISH: Red Wiggler worms, frozen Catalpa worms, and chicken livers tied to the hook with thread to prevent the liver from being easily pulled off the hook.

CRAPPIE: Chartreuse/white teaser tails, or similar color pattern in Triple Ripple.  Blue-bodied teaser tail with a chartreuse tail and most brightly (not yellow) colored teaser tails with an inch or two of the tail trimmed have worked very well.


  • Temperature: Current range across lakes: 69.62 – 72.68 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 18 – 54+ inches
  • McDuffie PFA’s fish cleaning station is now open.

BASS: Largemouth bass bite has slowed down due to bedding activities.  Anglers have been catching small bass.  One angler caught a five pounder and another four or five pound bass self-released in Willow.  McDuffie PFA’s anglers are spreading the fishing pressure across the seven PFA lakes. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.  This regulation is strictly enforced.

BREAM: Bream, both bluegill and redear are being caught in shallow water across the PFA.  Willow Lake is producing nice shellcrackers.  Rodbender also has bream both bluegill and redear.

CHANNEL CATFISH: Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes with Willow being the hot spot.  Anglers fishing Rodbender have reported several five and six pound channel catfish being caught.  An angler reported while fishing Rodbender for catfish his twenty pound test fishing line was snapped.  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 worms or crickets under a bobber.

STRIPERS: Stripers were biting in Clubhouse and in Bridge Lakes.  Boat and kayaks anglers are catching stripers on small crank baits and Shad rap mid-lake or along the lake channel.  Stripers are biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while anglers were targeting catfish.


  • Water Temps – Lo/Mid 60’s

BASS: Bass are extremely aggressive this time of year.  This aggressiveness is very beneficial for anglers seeking “lunkers.”  A variety of techniques can be used this time of year when targeting bass.  Texas rigs, crankbaits, slow and fast fishing, shallow and deep just about everything is working this time of year!  Look for bass to mainly be in 5 to 10 feet of water.  Bass will be occupying a variety of habitat from flooded timber to shallow points.  Schooling shad in the morning are often good targets while targeting rocky banks and points on windy days.  Four to six pounds are normal this time of year but hearing or even seeing a 10+ is not uncommon on Marben Lakes.

CRAPPIE: Crappie will remain the most sought after fish at Marben, at least through April.  Crappie can be found in 5 to 10 feet early morning until evening.  Submerged timber is a very popular target when targeting this fish.  However, crappie can also be found hanging around rock piles and edges.  Reports of anglers catching crappie ranging in size from one to two pounds are numerous this time of year.  Sampling efforts on Marben lakes have verified these reports.  Yellow jigs and live minnows remain the most popular baits for anglers targeting crappie.  The best thing about crappie this time of year is they remain aggressive throughout the day.  Do not be surprised if the stringer fills quickly with these fish.

BREAM: Look for bream fishing to really pick up in mid to late April.  Typically, shellcracker will start in mid-April.  Look for these fish in 5 to 7 feet on sandy bottoms.  Anglers can find this easily by walking the banks.  Anglers will find bluegill becoming the dominant catch by late April.  Worms and crickets remain the bait of choice by most anglers.  Bream can be caught throughout the day but midday in April typically is the best time.  Look for bream to be the most aggressive during the spawn while protecting their territory.  Reports of shellcracker weighing over a pound are not uncommon this time of year at Marben.  If it is quiet on the lake, that means the fish are biting.  Rarely does one give up their favorite fishing spot!!

CATFISH: Catfish fishing is picking up at Marben.  Like other fish, catfish can be found in a variety of habitat and can be caught throughout the day.  Anglers targeting rocky banks and submerged logs tend to be the most successful.  The best thing about catfish is this species is not too picky about the weather.  Stink baits, livers, and night crawlers are the most popular amongst anglers.



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

North Georgia’s best bets this week will be crappie and stripers in our lakes and trout of all sorts (stocked and wild) in our creeks and rivers.  The storm front that came through Thursday may dump a bunch of much-needed rain.  That may muddy the rivers for a day or two, so trout fans will have to watch the USGS river gauges carefully to judge when the rivers are fishable again.  Fish-ability/wade-ability will depend on the amount of rain and size of the watershed area (acres) of our favorite streams.  Small watersheds like Smith and Dukes drop and clear up enough to fish in a matter of hours.  The Hooch near Helen takes a day or less, if the storm isn’t a monsoon that dumps 2-3 inches of rain.  The upper Chattooga is nearly always fishable, while the DH section takes a day or two to clear and subside.  The Toccoa DH may take another extra day or two for flows to subside for safe wading.

For the reservoirs, the muddy river flows should actually help our catch rates.  High water should encourage the river striper spawning runs, add some color to upper areas of the lakes to draw crappie into the bank, and create some reservoir mudlines that will be prime ambush zones.  Those mudlines in the lakes are a great place for our ambush predators, like spots and stripers.  The herring and shad will be up in the muddy water, warmed by the sun.  The predators will be just downstream, in the dingy water.  That lower water clarity gives the advantage to the ambush predators, so search out the mudlines and fish them hard in the days to some.  Here we go:

Did You Know? Accessible Trouting Sites: Some of us are not as agile as we used to be.  Please recall our lists of accessible trout fishing sites.  And there’s a brand new one this year- a really nice pier on the Tallulah River.  Thanks to the partnership between the US Forest Service and Rabun Trout Unlimited, there’s another great facility here: to help those less mobile anglers to enjoy some mountain trouting. More info and the WRD list of accessible sites:



  • Lake Report from Jake/Unicoi Outfitters ( – I fished the northern creeks both Saturday and Sunday. Found them from the middle portions of the creek to the back. Had some luck early on fishing minnows on a slip bobber over brush, then loaded the boat shooting docks once the sun came up. I had the most luck with a 1/32 oz jig in chartreuse.
  • Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Report (March 29 2017 – from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. – Water temperature is about 63 degrees and rising.  Fishing remains good to excellent.  Early morning and late afternoon – evening are the best times to fish.  Signs of the times:  turtles are swimming and sunning in the backs of the creeks; the ducks and geese are laying their eggs and are on their nests; the daffodils and tulips are in full bloom, the trees are continuing to bloom; pollen is everywhere, including floating on the water; the bluegills are near the banks in the shallows; but the most telling sign is that we are catching the dark colored (purple-black) male crappie near the banks.  All these signs indicate that the spawn is in full swing, and should peak with the full moon phase.  The biggest challenge this spring on Lake Lanier has been that the water level is ten feet below full pool.  Our typical fishing spots for this time of year are on dry land, and we are having to discover unfamiliar spots that are now in the correct depths.  The fish are scattered.  Some are in the shallows, some are on docks with structure at 15 feet or less and some are anywhere in between.  It is challenging to find those sweet spots, but once you do, it will pay off.  That is why we are always on the move, not spending more than about 20 minutes per spot.  Bobby Garland and Jiffy Jigs remain our “go to” jigs, and a minnow under a cork is always a good option right now.  You may need to take your allergy medicine before heading out, but getting out on the water right now is worth it! If you are local, drop in to our club meeting this Thursday (March 30) to hear the DNR fish biologists Pat Snelling and Chris Loony discuss the walleye, crappie and white bass fisheries on Lake Lanier, 6:30 at Hammonds Fishing Center. Stay safe on the water and always wear a life jacket!


The first two weeks of April are the annual period when stripers run out of our north GA reservoirs and up the rivers, in their failed attempts to spawn (because there aren’t NE GA striper lanier alan on fly 3-22-17enough free-flowing river miles to allow eggs to hatch before hitting the sediment).  Low river flows this year will make navigation hazardous, so exercise extreme motorboating caution, float a yak, or hike in and bank fish where there’s some public access.  Folks can still head toward the Coosa, Etowah, Hooch, Chestatee, Nottely, and Tugalo rivers to intercept some of these spawners on their mission.  Good luck.  Remember the $10K Lanier bounty on a fifty pound striper, too.

(From WRD Fisheries Biologist Pat Snellings) – Lanier Stripers and Spots

  • This week we continued our spring striped bass electrofishing sample on Lake NE GA striper lanier 27lb shock 3-28-17Lanier. Water temperatures are in the low 60s and we are still seeing good numbers of fish shallow especially where you can locate bait. Our best numbers of striped bass came from Ada Creek along clay banks and points. Most of the fish we have been seeing have been in the 6-10 lb range, however, we did get a nice 27 lb female in 4 mile creek on Wednesday (see image to the right). If you plan on going out this weekend be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know!



(From WRD Senior Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) – The white bass spawning run is in full swing.  Best bite is at Mayo’s Lock and Dam and many of the tributary mouths along the main river channel.  While female white bass numbers seem lower than normal this year, size quality is very good.  A number of 2-3 pound egg-laden females have been observed in recent surveys.  Crankbaits and jigs are always good bets for anglers pursuing white bass.  The smaller, but no less aggressive yellow bass are VERY abundant in the river now as well.  These mini-linesides look very similar to white bass, but have a distinctive yellow tint on their body.  Small crankbaits, inline spinners, crappie jigs and even worms will illicit strikes from yellow bass.

Striped bass are also moving upstream from Lake Weiss into the Coosa and Oostanaula River systems.  Anglers can expect striped bass numbers to increase in the river over the next couple weeks.  Stripers are ranging in size from 2 pounds all the way up to 30+ pounds.  Live shad, cut-bait and crankbaits are all good bets for targeting stripers on their spring spawning run.



(From WRD Senior Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) – The white bass run is in full swing on the north end of the lake.  Best concentrations are in the Etowah and Little rivers.  Prop boats should be able to cautiously navigate the Etowah River up to the first shoal where the rocks are still 1+ feet out of the water. Going above that shoal in a prop boat will be risky.  Target shallow banks just about anywhere in these areas with crankbaits (ex. rattle trap), roostertails, and Alabama rigs.  If fishing deeper water with a spoon, the bite is best early in the day.  Later in the day follow the birds to find feeding schools of fish.  Hybrid striped bass have been mixed in with these schools of white bass.  Both have been seen busting the surface right before dark on the north end of the lake near Knox Bridge.  Live bait and artificials are both working on the hybrids.

(From Hollis Latham) – I took the kayak out to Hollis Q Lathem Reservoir today 3-26 and had an absolute blast. The bass are super feisty right now and can be found in shallows. I worked pockets of timber all day and it paid off big time. I managed 11 to hand and lost several others in about 3.5 hours-time. Most of the fish came on a Wacky rigged Senko with the rest being fooled on the fly with a Gurgler. Biggest to hand was pushing 3 lb. I did have 6 lb+ fish wrap me around an underwater tree and snap my line.  Why is it always “The one that got away?”

NE GA bass lmb HLatham 3-26-17
Pretty Largemouth Caught By Hollis Latham


Small Stream Wild Trout: Got an Adams and a caddis?  It’s on, everywhere:

NE GA trout stocking loading Chatt truck at Buford2 Apr 2016

Chattooga Hatches: Rabunites Dale P and Injun Frank got into a great afternoon hatch of caddis and mayflies last week somewhere in the Chattooga backcountry.  When I asked where, I got the standard Rabunite autoreply of IDBIS: Where? – “I don’t believe I said.” (I.D.B.I.S.) , I guess we’ll all have to hike in and discover these honey holes on our own!


Sad Chattooga News: After several years of bliss, yesterday (3/28) members of the GA Foothills TU chapter reported that several of their vehicles were broken into at the Highway 28 parking lot, with vehicle contents stolen.  Law enforcement staffs of both wildlife agencies and the US Forest Service have been notified.  Please be aware of this problem and take the necessary precautions to protect your valuables.  When I go, I leave nothing of value inside the passenger area of my (old) car, and only bring minimal equipment with me.  Anything that is not on my person is locked up in my trunk, out of sight.  Hopefully our fine LE officers will find and nail this wrongdoer soon.

Family Trouting: Try the small lakes that are stocked early in the season, when water temperatures are cool enough for some good trout action.  Sites: Nancytown, Vogel, Black Rock, Rock Creek Lake, Winfield Scott.  Learn more by visiting the national forest or state park website for each.

Trout Friendly Pipes! Kudos to our US Forest Service friends for safe speck passages:

Helen Trout Tournament Winners:

Georgia Fishing Report: March 24, 2017

Our cover photo brings the reminder that 70,000 trout “hit” North Georgia waters this week thanks to stocking efforts of Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division staff.  More on Georgia trout fishing found here.

This week, reports come from North Georgia, Southeast Georgia and Southwest Georgia.


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

Frozen Burton ponds…then 86 degrees…then hail…then 60 mph winds – gee, it must be March! 

In fact, it’s the end of March, and that means it must be trout and turkey “season.”  Yes, this Saturday is a big day as turkey season opens up and as we get all of our trout streams stocked for our traditional ‘opening’ weekend crowds.  Hopefully the weather will calm a little bit as we slide into April.  At least the ice is gone, and the water temps are creeping up toward the OPTIMAL range for our crappie, bass, stripers, and mountain trout.  This is the time of the year that we all live for.  Dodge a few spring showers that are delivering desperately needed rain, and go have a lot of fun in the mountains.  Real outdoorsy folks might even do a surf-and-turf weekend, with some dawn turkey hunting followed by some midday trouting.  The WMA’s are here for you, so do a little evening homework this week and plot your weekend trails to trek.

Here we go, in an agency effort to help you scribe those top secret plans:


“Opening Day”: While we no longer have a closed season for trout fishing in Georgia, we still have a trout stocking season that honors Georgia’s traditional “Opening Day” of the last Saturday in March and stretches until Labor Day.  (The “offseason” trout hatchery space is used to grow this year’s fingerling (4-inch) trout up to catchable size for next season’s stockings.)  This week our state and federal hatchery staffs are releasing 70,000 trout to celebrate the beginning of our 2017 stocking season.

We hope you have a chance to head to the mountains and celebrate this tradition once again.  It’s a special time, with many special memories. It was truly a highlight of my early years on the water, and likely influenced my career decision.  This narrative now has a few years on it, but it’s still a good read as we trouters prepare for the weekend celebration:  (Note to Jimmy with Savannah River TU- I dedicate that chain stringer paragraph to you!)

New Goody – Weekly “Trout Stocked” List: WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson worked with WRD-HQ web guru Chris Semerjian during the offseason, and they now present you with our weekly trout stocking list, online.  DNR’s longstanding policy trout rbt IDBIS Sautee 3-18-17 pic1prohibits the release of trout stocking information before the fish are stocked (in order to give everyone a fair shot at the fish).  These lists will be updated weekly, on Friday afternoons, as each week’s stocking is completed.  WRD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do hope that this will lead to more fishing fun for you and your family.

Toccoa DH Fishing Report: March 18th and 19thJeff, We had a large and diverse group on the DH this past weekend, including eight members of the North Paulding High School Fly Fishing Club. Unless we get some substantial rainfall expect the water conditions to be low flow and very clear. This makes wading easier but, it makes the fish spooky and selective. Results were varied in the group so start with 5x tippet and be prepared to go to 6x later in the day. Fly selection varied quite a bit from the standard DH types, y2ks, squirmy worms worked for some, others found the naturals to their liking such as; hare’s ears, pheasant tails and caddisfly larva patterns, smaller sizes of 14 and under for these, as well as black midge droppers in size 20 . There was a good hatch that occurred in the afternoon and evening, with Blue Winged Olives and Adams in size 18 being consistent producers. Lets hope for some big rain events to keep our streams healthy through the summer. Good fishing to you all! (From: Steve Westmoreland, Cohutta Chapter of Trout Unlimited,

Ami DH:

Tooga DH:

  • Video:
  • Yellowstone buddy Alan from Bogart reported good action on the Chattooga DH.  In fact, he recently got into a heavy Quill Gordon hatch and caught a bunch of rainbows on top, with one hitting the sixteen inch mark. Folks heading that way will be smart to carry some of the April bugs- March browns, caddis, and cahills.  Details: google “Rabun TU-Tightlines.”


  • Sautee’s Saturday Report: Shortly after lunch, when the sun broke free and the diamonds started sparkling across the riffles, the rainbows got curious and started looking up. It must have been the bright sunlight that confused them, but a #14 parachute Adams caught their attention. They ate like they were hungry and the color indicated spawning may not be completely over. Nothing like rising fish on a beautiful, sunny, early March afternoon. Things are definitely “looking up”.

Smith DH Risers: While on their way to a friend’s house on Saturday evening, Dredger and furry sidekick Marley detoured into the Smith Creek parking area.  They snuck down to the creek and watched abundant rises at 7:30PM, with not an angler in sight.  The evening hatch is on at Smith DH!  Don’t leave early, folks.

Another Hooch Tailwater Monster:

Buford Dam: “Rainbows that were not picky:”

Dry Fly How-to: Finally, it’s dry fly season for Georgia fly fishers!  Those fly rodders new to this surface game would benefit greatly from the Orvis Learning Center’s videos.  Take a look here:

We’re Nationwide! The “Georgia Cube” reservoir fish attractor, designed by our own biologists and technicians, is getting some mileage in other states.  They attract a lot of fish, are easier to wrestle than Christmas trees, and last a whole lot longer!

Tying-One-On For Education: Trout Unlimited members from around Georgia convened recently at the Lawrenceville Bass Pro Shops for “Tie-1-On,” the Georgia Council of Trout TU Tie1On 2017 smallUnlimited’s annual fundraiser. Proceeds from the event benefit educational programs at Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen and the 5 Rivers Programs at North Paulding High School, the University of Georgia, Rhinehart College and Young Harris College.

The 5 Rivers Program organizes campus clubs that teach students fly casting and tying along with volunteer stream conservation activities. Students in Trout Unlimited 5 Rivers Clubs have the opportunity to join a sponsoring chapter in their region, lend a young voice, and help shape the future of Trout Unlimited.

See the Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited website for additional information on the organization. (Photo: Georgia Council Trout Unlimited Vice Chairman Kathy Breithaupt and Chairman Carl Riggs).


BASS: Jack Becker, weekend fishing manager at Academy Sports in Gainesville, told me that he and a buddy have been wearing out the spots on freelined shiners, trolled slowly behind their boat.  They were searching for stripers, but couldn’t find any because they ran out of bait on all the spots!

CRAPPIE(This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club, www.laniercrappieanglers.netWater temperature is about 54 degrees.  Although it is a little cooler than typical spawning water temps, the females are full of eggs and we think that we are at the very early stage of the spawn.  Normally, when the fish move to shallower water and you can catch them on blow-downs, that is an early sign of the spawn.  Two weeks ago, we were beginning to catch fish in shallow water, but the cold snap pushed them a little deeper.  As the water temperature gradually warms, they are slowly hitting the shallows again.  For the first time this week, I noticed that the turtles are sunning on blow downs, which is also an indicator of the spawn.  With the lake level down about 10 feet, the normal spawning ground that we are used to fishing is obviously now on dry land.  But you should still zero in on docks, blow-downs, and even shallow brush piles in 12 foot depths or less.  The wind has been a challenge, but that is typical for March.  Having said that, the early morning bite or late afternoon bite when it is less windy, is the optimum time right now for fishing, Obviously for dock shooters, jigs are the best option, such as Bobby Garland and Jiffy Jigs.  You can substitute a minnow, using a #6 long shank Eagle Claw hook if you prefer.  Use the smallest split shot you can, based on the wind to allow the bait to swim naturally.  Long line trolling in 12 foot depths or less remains a good option It is critical to use 4 lb. test or less on all your reels when crappie fishing.  It’s a great time to be fishing – Stay safe on the water and always wear a life jacket!


  • Capt Mack’s Wisdom:
  • Guru and Dredger snuck out last Friday night and hunted” for gulls and loons on the south end.  They found some scattered flocks, which signaled scattered fish schools.  There was a boil here and there, with no concentrations of predators on the baitfish.  Guru was still able to connect with a 6.5 pound striper to save the vessel from a striper lanier 6.5lb JH 3-17-17 smalldreaded skunk.  Last night (3/22), Guru and Athens buddy Alan got a last-cast striper as the sun set on their south side creek.   As always, the fly of choice was the Something Else.  Hint: tie a few without the dumbbell eyes, on smaller hooks, to imitate the tiny threadfins, too.  The original chef cooks one up here:



  • Toona’s Wacky Bass: Ron W said he’s been whacking the bass on Allatoona with a wacky worm rig while floating in his wacky yak rig.  He provided some photo evidence of his claim, too!
  • Toona White Bass: Senior biologist Jim Hakala just called me today (3/23 at 3:30pm) and said the whites have moved into Little River around Rope Mill Park.  Water temp was 54 degrees.


WHITE BASS AND STRIPERS: WRD senior biologist Jim Hakala’s sampling this week showed that the white bass run is still a bit early, as river temperatures hovered around 60 degrees. A decent number of large female whites were found, along with the smaller males and also a few striped bass.  The migration of white bass out of Weiss should pick up speed over the next week or two, with stripers hitting their peak about two weeks later.  Best bets for the whites: the mile of river downstream from Mayo Lock and Dam.


STRIPERS(From WRD Fisheries Biologist Pat Snellings) This week we had a chance to get on Lakes Lanier and Nottely for our annual spring striped bass electrofishing sample. The water temperatures were in the mid-50s on both reservoirs and the striped bass have been moving up into shallow water, especially in the early morning. We had our best success along clay banks and points, especially in locations where bait was present. There are good numbers of 6 to 10 lb stripers in both lakes with fish over 10 lbs common this time of year. This upcoming week we will be continuing our spring striped bass electrofishing on Lanier. If you plan on going out this weekend be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know!

WALLEYE(From WRD Senior Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) North Georgia’s walleye fisheries are definitely growing in popularity thanks to a successful stocking program.  Over the past two weeks, approximately 40 female walleye were spawned at the Go Fish Center Hatchery, producing about one million eggs.  Once these eggs hatch, the fry will be stocked into hatchery ponds and then released into one of ten north Georgia reservoirs in late-April.

Our walleye surveys and angler reports this week indicated that walleye are still in the headwaters of many north Georgia lakes. The 8 lb fish pictured below was caught this past Thursday morning on Lake Tugalo. Walleye should soon be moving back down the lake and can be caught around downed trees in about 20-feet of water using worms and minnows slowly bounced along the bottom.

walleye Tugalo 8lb 3-23-17 pic1 small

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Updated every Friday:

USFS Foothills Project: Have you taken these opportunities yet to comment on 150,000 acres of your woods, wildlife, and water?  There are lots of trout streams and some small impoundments in this project area.  What would you like to see done there?  Reasons for you to care are listed on the bottom of this report:

Foothills Landscape Workshop II: March 28: 9:00am – 3:00 pm and/or March 29: 5:00 – 8:00pm North Hall Community Center. 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville, GA 30506

The US Forest Service: Beep! Beep! We are coming up on the next bus stop! This is the perfect time for you to jump on the bus and join us on this awesome Foothills Landscape collaborative roadtrip. During our second workshop we will: narrow the focus of the project by determining the greatest needs for restoration using the information harvested from Workshop I, turn the identified needs into specific, practical, reasonable and measurable goal statements, and frame what the Collaborative Community will recommend in Workshops III and IV.

Learning and Sharing: Visit to keep up the conversations online. This online forum is the place to continue discussions, start new ones, post ideas and add comments on the restoration goals, treatment locations, and methods of treatment. The forum has been refreshed to build upon our recent conversations during Workshop I. You can still find last fall’s Community Conversations here. ***Do us a favor and REGISTER so we know how many to plan for***

Young Guns Need Your Money: My name is Liam Cunningham and I am the president of Young Harris College’s TU 5Rivers Fly Fishing Club. This is our first year as a program and we are trying to do our best to spread our love of fly fishing and conservation around our area. One of the ways we plan to do this is by bringing the Fly Fishing Film Tour to Young Harris. We are looking to attract people from all over North GA, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and surrounding areas to Young Harris to share the passion of fly fishing.

We invite you to join us on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at Young Harris College Rollins Campus Center for the 11th annual Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T). Participate in our casting competition, visit with area outfitters, guides and fellow fly fishing folk starting at 5:30pm. Dinner will be served at 6:30pm with films beginning at 7:00pm. Proceeds will benefit Healing Waters, Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition’s Corn Creek Project as well as YHC TU 5Rivers Fly Fishing Club.

Advanced tickets may be purchased on the Fly Fishing Film Tour website or at by April 4th and are $20 adult and $15 with a valid student ID. All tickets purchased at the door will be $30.

Please share our invitation with your club members and other fly-fishing enthusiasts. For more information please call or email Hayley Burch, YHC Events at 706-379-5016 / or myself at 912-373-5250 /

Our club would really appreciate your support. Come out, eat some food, enjoy great films and hangout with other fly fishers. We hope to see you there.


  • Saturday Trout Tourney– Helen
  • Chattooga- Top to Bottom – March 28: Dredger will be telling some Rabunite fibs regarding The Border River to the Cohutta TU bunch on Tuesday, March 28.
  • Trouting  Open House- April 1:
  • April 8 Film Tour: See above.
  • April 22 Kids Class: Youths (ages 10 to 15) are invited to participate in the Sam Rizzio Youth Fly Fishing and Conservation Clinic Saturday, April 22, from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Chattahoochee Nature Center (9135 Willeo Road, Roswell). The clinic is organized by the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Advance registration is required. The clinic is designed for the beginning fly fisher and provides basic instruction in all phases of fly-fishing, including fly-casting, knot tying, insect identification and conservation. Students will be provided all necessary equipment. Certified instructors and mentors will work with the students to provide individual instruction and answer questions about fly-fishing. Upon completion, each student will be awarded a certificate and receive a box of flies. The registration fee of $20 includes lunch. For more information, go to or contact Tom Hayes at 513.515.7954.
  • April 28 Troutfest:

Good luck as we celebrate the outdoorsmen and womens’ return of spring with the opening of trout stocking and turkey seasons.  The warming weather should turn the fish on, and the next six weeks will be our absolute best time of the year for fair-weather fishing success across north Georgia.  Check those licenses before you head out the door:, and have fun harvesting your trout and turkey for dinner fixin’s.


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

The fishing has really picked up behind last week’s cold snap! River fishing is starting to crank up, but saltwater was a little sluggish. The Okefenokee and ponds are still producing good catches. New Moon is March 27th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website


Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that striped bass were caught this week. One of the bigger fish was 30 inches and 11.5 pounds. Crappie, bream, redbreasts and shellcrackers all picked up behind the cold snap. All species of catfish bit well for bottom fishermen. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the best bite was shellcrackers, and the most consistent presentation was pink worms on the bottom. Crappie were caught in creeks and oxbows off the main river on minnows and jigs. Rooster livers fooled channel catfish, while goldfish did a number on flatheads. The river level was 5.3 feet (record low for the date) and falling (63 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.7 feet and falling (60 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 21st.


I floated the upper river with my daughter Ellie and her friend Suzie on Saturday afternoon. While the main objective was paddling (we had 10 miles to cover and 5 hours in which to do it!), I could not help but make a few casts. First fish was a 10 1/2-inch bluegill that hammered a 1/16-oz. dreamsicle (orange/white with a white blade) Satilla Spin. The next 4 fish ate a 1/8-oz. red/white Satilla Spin. One of those 4 was a 10 1/2-inch redbreast, and another was a 14-inch bass. That was 5 more fish than I expected to catch in the swift, cold water, but the fish were fairly active. With the warm temperatures this week, I

SE GA Report BertDeener SatillaRedbreast
Panfish bite starting to crank up! Bert Deener caught his first redbreast of the year by casting a 1/8 oz red/white Satilla spin in the upper Satilla river.

suspect you could catch quite a few redbreasts this weekend on the little spinnerbaits. The water was surprisingly clear with last week’s rains, and it should only get clearer heading into the weekend. Craig James floated the upper river this week and managed to catch half a dozen bass averaging 2 pounds apiece on junebug and Okeechobee craw colored Bruiser Crazy Craws. A new river record crappie was submitted to Georgia Outdoor News this week. More details will be forthcoming if it is accepted as the new river record. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that crappie were still biting well on minnows. Bream and catfish were caught with worms fished on the bottom in deep holes. ZOOM Lizards in black and Trick Worms produced a good number of bass, as did shiners. The river level on March 21st at the Waycross gage was 7.0 feet and falling (61 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.9 feet and falling.


On Saturday a 2-day bass tournament was held out of Temple Landing. The heaviest stringer the first day was 17.8 pounds and the second day was 17.0 pounds. The 2-day winning aggregate weight was 24.9 pounds – stout for a blackwater river! Big fish was an 8-pounder, and all fish were released back in the river. Soft plastics were the most productive lures. Bream were also caught this week, and as usual, the catfish bite was great for anglers putting shrimp in any deep hole in the river. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 21st was 1.7 feet and falling.


I did not receive specific reports this week from friends, but I’m sure you can still whack the fliers at any of the swamp entrances, like when my daughter and I caught 136 fliers 2 Saturdays ago in under 3 hours of fishing. The warm afternoons will be the best time to fish this week. Michael Winge said that the warmouth bite has been good, and some bluegills are still being caught by anglers fishing worms on the bottom.


Michael Winge reported that crappie were the best bite this week, and anglers are catching them by pitching minnows and jigs around shallow cover. Bass were caught in good numbers by anglers free-lining shiners and casting ZOOM Trick Worms. Worms and rooster livers produced some good catfish.


Joshua and Shane Barber fished the Brunswick area on Friday and part of the day Saturday. They managed 25 seatrout, but all of them were throwbacks. Their fish ate chartreuse grubs fished on 1/8-oz. jigheads. Saturday afternoon they switched locations to the Darien River and tried their hand at stripers and catfish. Both bites were surprisingly slow, but they managed one striper and a few catfish up to 3 pounds. A couple of Waycross anglers fished out of Crooked River over the weekend. They managed about 20 trout, with 6 of them in the keeper range. Most of their fish were on natural colored (silver and gold glitter colors) Sea Shads fished underneath an Equalizer Float. The fish came up for the offering in the clear water. A few were fooled with Sea Shads fished on a Flashy Jighead. On the beaches, whiting are thick and are biting dead shrimp on the bottom. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle  said that the big news was a goliath grouper caught from the pier. The monster, estimated at about 100 pounds, was hooked on a whiting rig baited with dead shrimp, which is why the fish straightened the hook once it rolled to the surface then took off. Whiting fishing has been strong, with lots of the tasty fish clearing the rails of the pier. On Tuesday, a 9.4-pound sheepshead was caught dining on a fiddler crab, but then the next day was dined upon by his captor. Blue crabs were caught in good numbers.  You can monitor the marine forecast at


With the warmer weather this week, you can take your pick this weekend. The crappie bite should still be good in ponds and rivers. Redbreasts and bream should be chowing Satilla Spins, worms, and crickets since we did not get rain this week and have had warm weather. Bass are still shallow and eating well in ponds. Seatrout (although many are throwbacks) are cruising mud flats and shell mounds looking for shrimp or Sea Shads. Whiting are numerous in the sounds and on the beaches if the wind allows you to get to saltwater. Catfishing is picking up in ponds and rivers. You can hardly go wrong fishing this weekend.


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


The Fisheries Management Section of the Wildlife Resources Division began spring electofishing samples on Lake George this week. The bass and crappie have moved into the coves to spawn along with threadfin shad. Anglers should concentrate around weed lines for both bass and crappie. In addition, good numbers of crappie were observed around submerged woody debris in the back end of the coves. These seem to be the first wave of crappie to head shallow and more should continue to do so.


The Lower Flint River is a bit low for this time of year but fishing should be good. The shoal bass have entered spawning shoals and areas where anglers have had success in the past should be good again this year. All other species should be picking up as well including striped bass, hybrids, white bass and channel catfish.

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


The fishing report for Lake Seminole is very short. According to Lake Seminole fishing guide Steven Wells, “fishing on Lake Seminole is on fire.”  The bass are spawning, redear sunfish are in the cutgrass and anglers are catching large numbers of bluegill pitching crickets and worms.