Bee on the Lookout …

Rusty-patched bumble-bee_Culver's root_Susan Day_UW-Madison Arboretum
A rusty patched bumblebee on Culver’s root at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum (Susan Day/UW-Madison Arboretum)

By Anna Yellin

On March 21, the rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) became the first bumblebee listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Before the 1990s, rusty patched bumblebees were abundant and seen throughout the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec as well as in 28 states from the eastern U.S. to the Midwest. Mountainous North Georgia marked the southern extent of the species’ range.

In the last few decades, however, the population of rusty patched bumblebees has crashed. It is believed the species now persists in only a few scattered locations in approximately 0.1 percent of its known range. None of these locations are in Georgia.

But given that most people do not pay much attention to the type of bumblebees they see, and very few would previously have been on the lookout for this species, it’s possible there are some rusty patched bumblebees still in Georgia. That means we should be watching for them!

The loss of this pollinator has likely led to significant agricultural and economic losses. For growers of cranberries, apples, plums, alfalfa and onion seed, crop yields may already be lower. The rusty patched is known as a generalist forager, tirelessly pollinating hundreds of plant species. It also flies for an exceptionally long season. In fact, specimens held in the Smithsonian Institution insect collection from Georgia were collected in Neels Gap near Suches at the end of November!

In addition to the bee’s prolonged season, this species is a specialist in “buzz pollination.” In this especially efficient and effective method, rusty patched bumblebees assist plants in producing fruit. Some plants, like blueberries, tomatoes and eggplants, buzz pollination is required to shed the pollen from the anther (the part of the stamen where pollen is produced) and enter the pistil for the production of fruit. (The rapid movement of flight muscles by buzz pollinators is transmitted to the anther through their legs and mouth, vibrating loose more pollen grains. Watch this video.)

We are fortunate that the rusty patched bumblebee is not our only native buzz pollinator! Despite efforts by some commercial growers to ensure pollination, such as renting honeybee hives, many crops will not be pollinated if we lose buzz pollinators.

Primary threats to the rusty patched bumblebee are hypothesized to include habitat loss, pesticides (including systemic neonicotinoids), climate change and disease. Many also think that the population crash of this and other Bombus species is due to disease spreading from honeybees, a non-native species imported by European settlers. At least two significant diseases found in honeybees – deformed wing virus (DWV) and the fungus Nosema ceranae – have been found to also kill bumblebees.

The hope in this case is that the genetic diversity the rusty patched bumblebee has evolved to include, over time and geographic variability, may prevent the species from being driven to extinction by disease. Field surveys seem to support the idea that some of the bees have persisted through a resistance to the illnesses, because in the isolated areas the species is still found their numbers are good.

Others point to changes in the types of pesticides used in the 1990s and suggest that chemicals are to blame for the species’ decline. In truth, why this bumblebee is disappearing is unknown.

Considering the wide extent of its historic range, discovery of the rusty patched bumblebee in areas where it’s not known or hasn’t been documented in years will likely be done by the public. The protection of those areas that results from such finds and research to understand why the bees persist there would help scientists protect the species.

So, grab a pair of binoculars and a camera and be on the lookout for rusty patched bumblebees, especially if you live in the Georgia mountains or are hiking on or around the Appalachian Trail. The males and worker bees of this colonial species have a distinctive rusty patch on the back, giving the species its name. If you do spot what you
think is a rusty patched, send a GPS coordinate (or map of the site), the date and a photo – all are essential! — to Bumble Bee Watch (www.bumblebeewatch.org) and to Georgia DNR at anna.yellin@dnr.ga.gov.

Here’s The Xerces Society’s pocket guide to identifying rusty patched bumblebees.

Anna Yellin is environmental review coordinator for DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.

BombusAffinis_ID_USFWS
Bombus affinis (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

In Pursuit of the Georgia Bass Slam: Slam Completed…Now What?

In this blog series, join angler Tyler Lipham as he posts about his pursuit of the Georgia Bass Slam. Need to catch up? Read Blog Entry #1 HERE and Blog Entry #2 HERE.

When I was first started looking for a location to catch a Chattahoochee bass, my mind focused in on tributaries of the upper Chattahoochee. My pre-conceived notions pictured this fish dwelling in a north Georgia stream, sharing crystal-clear water with the likes of stocked trout. Luckily, I had the knowledge of black bass biologist, Andrew Taylor, at my disposal. Given that I was driving back from the Florida state line, I was hopeful of finding the southernmost location possible. To my surprise, Andrew informed me that a decent population of Chattahoochee bass were in a location close to where I grew up – Snake Creek in Carroll County. This creek flows into the Chattahoochee River and is different from most Piedmont streams today because it hasn’t been decimated by sedimentation. The water runs clear and is prime habitat for this redeye bass variant.

Chattahoochee bass.jpg
Chattahoochee Bass

I let out a yelp of excitement when I first walked down to the water and saw how “fishy” it looked. I approached the water with my slack already out and ready to cast. Almost immediately, I spied a spotted bass and placed my woolybugger ever so carefully a few feet from his face. WHAM! He dashed for the fly as soon as it hit the water and inhaled it. Another species on my Georgia Bass Slam list. It was going to be a good day. I continued to walk as far downstream as I could, hitting every hole that looked to contain bass. I was catching spots and redbreast sunfish at every stop, but I began to get nervous about hooking up with a red-tail.

As I approached the last accessible stretch of the creek, I knew, this was it. If the Chattahoochee bass was anywhere, it was going to be tucked against this boulder in a riffle, which filled the pool where I stood.  While my first cast was a dud, the second one was right on the money. I felt a tug and set the hook. The fish put a nice bend in my 5 weight. When he leapt out of the water and gave a classic bass head shake, I saw the flashes of red on his dorsal and caudal fin and instantly recognized this species. The pressure turned on to get this fish in the net. I landed him smoothly, and after verifying the species, I did a little dance for no one, except the deer that had blown at me ten minutes earlier and this 9 ½-inch beauty. I took the pictures necessary to qualify me for the Slam, and gently released my new friend back into his home to continue gobbling up minnows and unfortunate insects.

This bass brings me up to five caught species, and I am absolutely ecstatic that it was the rare Chattahoochee bass. Georgia waters are home to some remarkable fish and I am very thankful to call this state home. And, even though today’s catch marks my “completion” of the Georgia Bass Slam, I just don’t quite feel at ease with leaving another 5 species uncaught.

Follow along on my next entry as I visit the Flint River in search of a 15+ inch Shoal Bass.

For those keeping tabs: Georgia Bass Slam Summary- so far:

  • Caught: 5 (Bartram’s, Smallmouth, Largemouth, Spotted, Chattahoochee)
  • Failed: 1 (Suwannee) – but I will keep trying!
  • Remaining: 4 (Tallapoosa, Shoal, Coosa, Altamaha)

Tyler Lipham, 4th year student at the Dental College of Georgia, previously graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the Warnell School of Forestry. In his free time, he enjoys any and all things dealing with wild waters and woods.

Georgia Fishing Report: May 12, 2017

SO MANY REPORTS TO READ! What does that mean? Great Fishing Info for YOU! Reports this week come from Southwest Georgia, Central East/West Georgia, Southeast Georgia and North Georgia.

QUICK NOTES:

  • Have you been reading along on the journey of one angler going for the Georgia Bass Slam? Come along for the ride as blogger Tyler Lipham shares his pursuit of the Slam.
  • Got something for Mom yet for Mother’s Day? How about give her your time and an adventure. Buy Her a Fishing License, Take her to visit a Public Fishing Area or to the Go Fish Education Center
  • Don’t Miss the Fun Story Below (in the North Georgia Section) about a striped bass tagged in 2009, and just caught again this month. Find out how much he has grown since it was originally tagged!

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 fishing at Lake George can be described as very good at this time. The current water level is at 189.5 and the shoreline vegetation is submerged and you can find bass there hitting topwater like frogs and buzzbaits. Bass can also be found on the ledges and can be caught with crankbaits and jigs but don’t look for them to be between the shallows and the ledges. The shellcracker bite is slowly improving and there have been some good catches reported from Pataula Creek but the best fishing is probably yet to come for these tasty fish. In addition to the shellcracker the bluegill should be bedding this weekend after this week’s full moon. There have already been bream beds spotted but expect many more to show up over the next few days. Red wigglers seem to be the preferred bait for shellcracker and it is hard to beat a cricket for a bedded bluegill. As usual catfish fishing continues to be excellent on George. Anglers can have success by anchoring on a flat and baiting some in with canned dog food. It takes about 30 minutes to attract the fish, but once they start biting – hold on!

FLINT RIVER

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. 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:

LAKE SEMINOLE

According to Lake Seminole fishing guide Steven Wells, the bass fishing is still good at Lake Seminole. A 6.5 pound fish won a pot tournament last Tuesday evening so the big fish are still being caught.  The shellcracker have slowed a little bit but some bedded fish can still be found. The bluegill fishing is really picking up and there have been several reports of good catches. This weekend should be a great one to catch a mess of bream after the recent full moon. In addition, the willow flies are hatching and the hybrids have also turned on a bit. Overall the fishing should be very good this weekend on Seminole if the weather cooperates.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

This is the weekend of the Satilla Riverkeeper “A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament.” The Altamaha River has produced good bass, bream, and catfishing. Whiting fishing in saltwater has been consistent. Pond bass are still chowing, and some have been big. Last quarter moon is May 18th. To monitor Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Justin Bythwood and Michael Deen barely missed winning a two-day bass tournament out of Jaycees Landing this weekend. They fell 1.18 pounds shy and claimed second

SE GA Brentz McGhin Catfish 5 17 -IMG_0890
Brentz McGhin holds just a few of the 40 blue and channel catfish he, his son (Alex) and a friend (Greg Nelms) caught on the Altamaha. 

place. Their fish came primarily on Texas-rigged plastics this weekend, and they had about 30 bass during the two-days. I saw photos of a 9.4-pound bass caught on the Altamaha this weekend. What a beauty! Joshua and Shane Barber fished the Altamaha on Saturday and caught 2 bass (both were keepers) along with a few nice channel and blue catfish. Brentz and Alex McGhin and Greg Nelms fished bush hooks on Friday night and landed 40 catfish (mostly blues and channels) up to about 5 pounds. Gary Davis, Charles Gilliard, and Ricky Davis caught a 34-pound flathead and about 20 others up to 20 pounds over the weekend. Way to go, guys! Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported good catfishing. Lots of smaller (10-12 inch) channels were caught on worms and shrimp fished on the bottom. Crickets produced some decent bream catches. Donna at Altamaha Park said that mullet have started biting well on green worms, and XL red wigglers. Dark colored Beetlespins and Satilla Spins, along with crickets and worms have been producing great catches of panfish. Some medium-sized catfish were caught on squid and shrimp, while the big cats have been eating goldfish. The river level was 3.9 feet and falling (75 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.8 feet and falling (72 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 9th.

 

SATILLA RIVER

The Satilla Riverkeeper is holding the 3rd annual “A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament”  this Saturday, May 13th. My prediction is that someone fishing from a kayak will win the tournament with a 3-redbreast tally of 2.4 pounds, and the biggest redbreast will be just under a pound (0.96 lb). This year’s species in the spotlight is a bowfin (mudfish). I predict that a 9-lb., 3-oz fish will win that category. The collector t-shirts last year were an awesome print of a redbreast. This year’s shirt has a great drawing of a bowfin. Next year will be a different fish species. Come out and watch the weigh-in under the water tower at Tindall Enterprises in Blackshear and pick up one of the commemorative t-shirts. Spooner Phillips, his dad, and son walked the Satilla on Friday morning while waiting for the rain delay of the state baseball playoffs with Pierce County. They had a blast, catching a dozen redbreasts, including 2 roosters. They threw crickets and Satilla Spins. Several anglers reported redbreasts and bass caught by pitching spiders to shady spots and beds. The redbreasts started bedding this week with the warming, low water. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that bass were caught on shiners, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogues, and buzzbaits. Minnows produced some crappie during the cool-down. Bream were caught with crickets, and channel catfish ate pink worms fished on the bottom. The river level on May 9th at the Waycross gage was 4.2 feet and falling (73 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 2.8 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The catfish bite was again the best for anglers fishing pink worms or shrimp on the bottom. Bream and redbreasts were caught with crickets. Check the West Mims Fire information for closures if you want to fish the upper river, as St. George was evacuated this week, and several roads were closed in the upper St. Marys basin. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 9th was 1.3 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The West Mims Fire was over the 140,000 acres mark (total area burned) at the time of writing this. Kingfisher Landing is still open, but the Fargo and Folkston entrances are closed. Because of the uncertainty of the fires, make sure to call ahead of time to make sure any entrances you plan to fish out of are open. On the east side, you can call Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156. Staff at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side can be reached at 912-637-5274. Updates from the US Fish and Wildlife Service available HERE.

LOCAL PONDS

Julius Conner landed and released a nice 5.6-pound bass on a lizard this week from a Waycross area pond. Chad Lee also caught a 5 1/2-pounder on Saturday on a crankbait from an Alma area pond. An angler reported catching lots of keeper-sized bream on crickets from Laura Walker State Park. Terry Miles also reported catching some nice fliers from the lake. He caught an angler award-sized flier there earlier this spring. Michael Winge reported that bass were caught on shiners and plastic lizards from Waycross area ponds. Bottom fishing with pink worms and livers produced some nice catfish. Crickets and bugs produced some quality bream.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

Wind was manageable early in the week after howling over the weekend. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, black drum, flounder, whiting, and sharks were caught from the pier this week with dead shrimp and cut baitfish. On Monday, Harry Spalding of Brunswick had 4 black drum up to 3 pounds that he caught by fishing around the pier pilings. Several anglers caught whiting on Monday, but they had to work for them with heavy weights holding their shrimp near the bottom. Blue crabs were also caught in decent numbers.  You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The “A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament” hosted by the Satilla Riverkeeper is the place to be on Saturday (see the Satilla River section above). Ponds are also going to be a great place to fish. Some big bream are coming off beds and should feed along shoreline cover or vegetation. Big bass are also still shallow and willing to bite. Buzzbaits early and Texas-rigged worms or swimbaits after the sun gets up are hard to beat right now. In saltwater, whiting fishing should be good if winds allow. Seatrout should be headed to the beach to spawn with the warming weather. A day with a calm wind forecast is a good time to head to the Cumberland Island beach. Mullet fishing on the lower Altamaha is also a noteworthy option.

CENTRAL EAST AND WEST GEORGIA

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

Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 70’s

Bass fishing is good even with the full moon this week.  The warmer surface temperatures are driving the largemouth bass down to deeper and cooler water.  Bass are still roaming the banks early in the morning and by using a Number 5 RS Shad Rap or Jointed Shad Rap, you can catch a limit of small keeper bass.  An occasional three pounder will show up as the post spawn fish start to feed up.  Use crank baits on ten-pound test line and a good cranking rod in the 6’6″ to 7’6″ length.  Wood and rock combinations on the main lake seems to be among the favorite places.  Carolina rigged plastics on wood and point’s close to creek mouths that are near deep water are better areas.  A slow presentation will be the key here.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 7.7 FEET, 70’s

Bass fishing is fair.  Use top water Devils Horse lures and buzz baits day and night.  All white seems to be the hot color with a little green in the skirts.  These baits have been taking some really good fish early in the day.  All white buzz baits are the ticket.  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 and drop-offs mid to lower lake.  Find the fish with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology on the river ledges and look deep to 20 feet.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPRATURE 74-78

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  You will catch a lot of fish, just on the small side; worms under docks will produce large numbers.  Use a dark worm, Texas rigged for best results.  White spinner baits fished on any bridge rip rap or main lake sea walls will produce.  This bite is best early right at sun up.  The buzz bait bite is just starting.  Look along any sea wall from the middle of the creeks and coves to the back.  You can also use a silver black or shad pattern shad rap.  Some fish are starting to move onto the deep water humps late in the day and you can catch them with a Carolina rig green worm.

Stripers: (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service or 404-803-0741) – Striper fishing is good.  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.  You can also pick up some fish on the pipeline with a spoon when Georgia Power is pulling water.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are moving into the timber in an early summer pattern.  Long-lining jigs over timber from 8 to 15 ft. deep have been the best producers over the past week.  Match your color to the color of the water.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 2.0 FEET, 70’S

Bass fishing is fair at day break with the full moon and after the spawn.  The water is clear lake wide.  Most of the largemouth bass have already spawned and the fish are relating to the bottom most of the day.  Some small fish are roaming the points and pockets looking for food.  Move around and use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and do not stop until you find the fish.  Use a #5 Shad Rap in baby bass and shad patterns being the best colors.  Most of the day Texas rigged and Carolina rigged worms and lizards will work best.  Try spinner bait in small to medium sizes as well as buzz bait. Use a white buzz bait in any main lake pocket.  The fish are active early and be sure to get a white buzz bait and the same bait in the ½ ounce all white in it and cast on the banks.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S

Bass is good.  There is still a good top water bite most mornings and late afternoon.  Main lake points and seawalls seem to be the best places to get bit on top.  Overall, Pop R’s, Spooks, buzz baits, Chug Bugs, and Torpedo’s are working.  Spinner baits are still producing a few fish, especially around blow downs, rip rap, and grass.  Weightless Trick worms and Flukes have also yielded a few bites around blow downs, grass, and docks.  Boat houses and docks continue to produce bass, mainly on varying soft plastic rigs and some on jigs.  Try a 5” Senko in green pumpkin or watermelon fished weightless or with a small weight such as 1/16 or 1/8 ounce.  Most of Sinclair has been more clear than normal this year.  For that reason, stay away from heavier lines.  Try 12 to 15 pound line in a clear mono or fluorocarbon.  A fish or two may break off, but more bites can be expected.  Also try skipping under docks using a Trick worm with a 1/16 ounce pegged weight.  Most anglers can do this better using spinning or spin casting tackle.  On some days, a Carolina rig worked along the sides and front of docks can be the best choice.  Points, humps, and flats located along the main river and creek runs are also holding bass.  Depths are varying from 6 to over 20 feet deep.  At times, crank baits can be the ticket for multiple bites from the same location.  Use a #6 and #7 Fat Free Shad, Rapala DT10 and DT16, Norman Deep Little N, DD14 and DD22.  Shad colors have worked well along with chrome blue in bright sunlight.  The best bite has been on a Carolina rig on the open water structure places.  Try a green pumpkin or June bug Trick worm on a 3 foot leader with a half-ounce weight.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .55 FEET, 70’s

Bass fishing has been by fair early in the day.  Water temperatures are already very warm and the bass are on the bank and wood structure early each day.  Small top water lures and trick worms around blow down and on docks and wood as well as main lake points have been fair.  Concentrate on the lower lake points and around any over-hanging wood to find these fish.  This cover holds fish all day especially the largemouth.  Spotted bass have been schooling early and late and Shad Raps are hard to beat.  Just pick your favorite color and fish the bank lay-downs all day.  Spots are taking small green crawfish crank baits and Zoom mini craws on light wire hooks mid lake.  There has not been much fishing in the rivers.  Try at least an hour up the Alcovy River and use an all-white jig and pig with the plastic or pork trailer and swim the baits around the creek bends and the stumps.

BIG LAZER PFA

  • Surface water temperature: 70 F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 30”
  • Water level: Full Pool

In general, May water temperatures at Big Lazer have warmed up and so has the fishing.  May and early June are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer PFA because spawning fish move into shallower water.   Also, early summer is a great time to not only fish but also picnic at Big Lazer with the whole family.

Largemouth bass: Good– During our spring sampling, we collected several 3-4 pound fish about 5 to 8 feet off the bank and in 4 to 6 feet of water.  Bass will be finishing up spawning and switch their focus on feeding.  Try using spinners and crank baits in 4 to 6 feet of water.  Also, plastic-worms and lizards fished around the drop off points into deeper water by the picnic area and around the fishing pier may produce some big strikes.

Crappie: Ok- some crappie are still being caught on minnows.  However, the crappie bite has cooled some over the last two months.  Anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappies.  Trolling at varying depths with bright jigs may help locate bunched-up crappie.  Fish for crappie in deeper water than bass; starting in about 6 feet of water and working into deeper areas.

Bream: Good- Bream fishing has improved; try crickets or worms around the fishing pier.  Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it.  Most bream on bed will be located in less than 5 feet of water.  May is traditionally a great time to fish for bream on bed.

Channel catfish: Slow- Try using livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam.  Fishing with two poles will increase your chances of getting a strike.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FISHING AT PFAS: Licenses and More

MCDUFFIE PFA

  • Water temperature range across lakes: 76.64 ⁰F highest
  • Water Visibility: 21 – 54 inches
  • McDuffie PFA’s Fish cleaning is now open.

Largemouth Bass: The largemouth bass are biting.  Anglers are catching bass in the three and four pound range.  McDuffie PFA’s anglers are spreading the fishing pressure across the seven PFA lakes.  Anglers reported catching bass across the PFA in 3 to 6 pond range.  Anglers are catching many undersized bass to as they cast for the bragging-sized bass.  Rodbender’s anglers have figured out they need to use dark colored lures to catch these well-fed bass.  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: Steady bream action, 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.  Anglers are finding nice stringers of bream on beds.

Channel Catfish: Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes.  Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish from Willow Lake and Bridge Lake.  The best fishing is on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made baits.  During summer months, 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, but not much is being reported about Clubhouse stripers.  An angler reported catching stripers in Breambuster this month.  Stripers are biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while anglers were targeting catfish.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FISHING AT PFAS: Licenses and More

NORTH GEORGIA

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

It’s mid-May and, thanks to a nice spell of cool, wet weather, it’s “all still good” for north Georgia angling fans. For trouters, we have lots of fresh stockers hitting streams with good flow rates, small wild trout in headwater “blueline” creeks are still hungry, and the extra-special “Dark Thirty” action is closing out spring’s bug hatches on our larger trout waters like the upper Chattooga, Hooch, Toccoa, and some nearby North Carolina streams.  River bass and stripers are around, have good appetites in the cool waters, and are vulnerable between the muddy stormflows.

We’ll just have to wait and see what tonight brings, in terms of rainfall totals, to plot tomorrow’s trips.  Most small trout streams run off within 12-24 hours.  Stocker streams actually seem to fish better at high flows, since those flows push fresh stockers into slow eddies, and some color in the water hides us better.  Large river fish-ability will depend on total flow and turbidity, so check the spikes in those USFS gauge flows and call local tackle shops or fishing buddies, who can put eyes on those waters and tell you whether or not to burn some Saturday gas.

On the lakes, the warmer surface temperature has stripers and hybrids off the banks a bit, but the largemouths and spots still on them.  This week’s best bassin’ bets will be the mountain lakes, where cool temperatures last week pushed them off the banks when our folks tried sampling them.  After this week’s ending of several warm days, those fish should now come back up, shallow.  And join the bream!  It’s the full moon of May, and that means bedding bream.  Got a kid, a Snoopy pole, and a cage full of crickets?  It’s a good time to be the hero.

Since it’s all still good, check the weather and stream flows, pack the kids in the car, and go soon.  You’ll be glad you did.

TROUT

Stockers:

WRD Stocking List: Remember to refresh the stocking page after lunch each Friday!

trout fishing buford dam 5-11-17 andyw pic

Lanier Tailwater:

DH Streams: Reliable sources suggest that they’re slowing down with May’s longer days and warming water.  Guru and a buddy fished Chattooga DH til 9PM on Wednesday (5/10) and only scrounged up a rainbow, a brown and a redeye.  It’s now time for trouters to migrate upstream and locate more trout-friendly water temperatures, where catch rates will improve.

Dark-30 Troutin’: It’s that time of the year when experienced hillbillies show up late at

green drake on finger 2 adams May 2009
The green drake, part of the family of Mayflies, might make a trout your new best friend

stream-side parking lots, as hungry daytime trouters exit for supper and create some parking spaces.  These locals carry at least two flashlights, go late, and stay even later, knowing the best bug action happens in that last hour of daylight and even the first 30-45 minutes of darkness.   We call it “Dark-Thirty” and it can be great, as mayflies and caddis flies swarm at sunset and ring the late dinner bell for resident trout.  For more Dark-30 tips, check these out:

What is Bluelining?

  • http://www.thesuburbanangler.com/2015/05/bluelining-book-review.html
  • Where?  Dredger actually gave it a shot after work last night (5/11) “somewhere above Helen.”  He was too hasty in his departure and a little rusty in his stalking technique, and it showed in his catch.  He landed a handful of rainbows, but they were all small ones.  The water was low and clear, the fish were spooky, and his patience was lacking in his stealth technique, given a two-hour window of remaining daylight.  Downsizing the tippet and fly might have helped, too.   It was still fun to wet wade in the mountains on a beautiful spring evening, and detour thru Cleveland DQ on the way home.  Gotta luv May! Note to self: Dear Dummy, Next time, grab the OTHER small reel with the OTHER orange line, the 3-weight.  That fat five-weight line sure slapped pool surfaces and didn’t help your efforts at a sneak attack.

LANIER

Crappie: (Report from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) – Water temperature is currently about 72 degrees.  As expected, May fishing remains good to excellent.  With the full moon tonight, we expect the bite this week to be at its best.  All reports are supporting that thought.  With the below average cool temperatures we’ve had the last few days, the water temp dropped into the mid-sixties, but has crept back up.  The biggest challenge we encountered over the last few days was the high wind that made fishing tough for a while.  For now, we recommend that you concentrate on deeper submerged brush piles, using your downscan to locate your brush.  Throw your marker down and give the fish a few minutes to regroup from your arrival.  Fish the brush pile from a distance that you can cast past the brush pile to the other side of it, and retrieve it slowly toward the boat.  If you’re interested in catching fish in larger numbers, zero in on submerged brush piles in 20-25 foot depths.  However, docks with brush piles are also producing bigger fish, but not in the larger numbers.  Both hair jigs and soft body jigs are working well.  The lake traffic is definitely increasing, so be mindful that other fishermen may also be fishing the same spots.  If you don’t get bites immediately, move on.  Chances are very good that you will find alternate brush piles that will put fish in the boat.  If you see a fisherman fishing one of your favorite docks, my advice is to skip it, and go to a different spot.  Once you get the fish to bite, the entire school will shallow up as they chase the bait.  The night bite remains fair at best, as night temperatures remain cooler.  As the evenings warm up, so will the night bite.  As always, our recommended line of 4 lb. test, high visibility line; not because the fish like it, but because it is easier for you to see the line movement and set the hook.  1/24 oz. jig heads is recommended, or 1/16 oz, if you feel like the fish are deeper in the water column, or if the wind is working against you.  If you like a challenge, use a double jigged rig.  Keep them about 16-18 inches apart.  In my opinion, hair jigs work best in that application.  Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket; it can save your life!

Bass:

CARTERS LAKEstriper 30lb Carters w tag 5-9-17

Carter’s Whopper with a Story: (From Jim Hakala, WRD Senior Fisheries Biologist) – Angler catches striped bass tagged over 8 years ago! Angler Troy Kerr of Lafayette, GA caught and released this solid 30-pound striper at Carters Lake on 5/8/2017 while fishing with Carters Lake Guide Service.  Once boated, the anglers noticed the fish carried a tag which they reported to WRD Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala.  Based on the unique tag number assigned to that fish, it was determined it had been tagged by WRD personnel on 3/17/2009.  When tagged, the fish was only 18-inches long and weighed 2.5 lb. It was estimated to be 2 years old when tagged in 2009 – making it 10 years old when caught this month.  While the tagging study is long over, we appreciate receiving such information and the data it provides fisheries managers.

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Southern Fishing

striper oostan sample Bowen 24lb May2017COOSA AND OOSTANAULA RIVERS

Stripers: (From John Damer, Fisheries Biologist) – Striped bass spawning may be just about over in the rivers of North Georgia, but these fish will continue to hang around in certain areas for a few more weeks while water temperatures remain cool enough.  We caught and released this 24-pounder on the Oostanaula River near Armuchee last week, along with many other fish in the 8- to 15-pound range.  Good numbers of stripers can still be found anywhere from above Highway 140 downstream to the confluence with the Etowah River in Rome.  Live or cut shad are probably your best bests for success, but shad-imitating artificial lures like redfins or zara spooks can also do well.

BREAM ON BEDS:

  • (From Cheesegrits – Retired WRD) – My Dad always said that the full moon in May issunfish shellcracker KenR Lanier May2017 pic2

    the time to find bream on the bed.  He was right as usual.  We went out on Lanier with my new pontoon for a little evening cruise and I happened to have a few nightcrawlers with me.  Found a bed of redears and caught some really good’uns! Kept a few to filet for dinner tomorrow night.

  • (From John Damer, Fisheries Biologist) -Check out the colors on this male Bluegill we found at Blue Ridge Lake this spring (zoom in for a better view, if needed).  Blue Ridge is known for producing big bluegills like this, and the most successful anglers target them around the first full moon in May when spawning activity is in full swing.  So, right now is the time to throw crickets, worms, or small jigs at those big bream.  Even if you aren’t fishing Blue Ridge Lake, now should be prime-time for bream fishing statewide!
sunfish bluegill big Blue Ridge sample Damer May2107 small
Male bluegill out of Blue Ridge Lake

Enjoy the abundant hours of daylight, cool evening air, refreshing wet-wades, and the blooming mountain laurel along the banks of your favorite trout waters or mountain bass lakes.  Don’t forget a tube of crickets and a kid if you’re heading to that bream pond. Good luck this week!

And if you’re stuck at home, join us vicariously, HERE.

In Pursuit of the Georgia Bass Slam: Destination – South Georgia

In this blog series, join angler Tyler Lipham as he posts about his pursuit of the Georgia Bass Slam. Need to catch up? Read Blog Entry #1 HERE.

Gear packed, kayak strapped down, and my canine companion Tyke in the co-pilot seat, I headed out of Augusta on my way to snag the elusive Suwannee bass (Micropterus nodius). While this bass had “skunked” me the year before on the Ochlockonee River, I re-worked some logistics and figured the Withlacoochee would be more kayak fly-fishing friendly, and supposedly has a larger population of Suwannee bass than the Ochlockonee.

On the way to my destination, I gained an extra fisherman – my former roommate, fellow outdoor enthusiast, and lifelong friend, Jase Brooks.  Our targeted camp location was the Clyattville Road Bridge, which we reached after a great dinner, and after snagging some fresh Georgia blueberries (a perfect snack for the adventure) from a side-of-the-road stand. Upon arrival, we were greeted by an entire family who had come to the bridge to shoot skeet and do target practice. It was official, we were in South Georgia, and I loved it. Just before dark, we were joined by another long-time friend, Steven Strickland, one of my closest hometown buds. We set up camp, made a fire, and made wishful predictions for the day to come.

The float began with a beautiful sunrise. We were fishing poppers, and I got several hits, including a few redbreasts and my first ever spotted sunfish. We found ourselves fortunate to share this pristine river with other kayak anglers, and some additional “fishermen,” including a green heron, blue heron and a brown water snake.  The Withlacoochee was quickly becoming one of my favorite floats as at every turn the river found another way to make us gasp at its beauty.

photo4
A deep spring coming up from the limestone river bottom colors the water a crystal clear blue – GORGEOUS!

 

As the sun continued to rise, the fishing got slower and slower. And slower. And slower. Around 2 pm, we found ourselves in dead heat and with only two 9-inch largemouth landed. I kept myself in good spirits by holding on to the fact that I still needed a largemouth for the Georgia Bass Slam.

Just when I was beginning to think our hopes for another bass were completely drained, I tossed my crayfish fly into a cave carved out by the river under a limestone wall. It was as if an arrow might as well been pointing to it with a sign that said, “BIG BASS LIVE HERE!” I gave it a few strips, and BOOM, set the hook on what might as well have been a log, except the log darted at the speed of light into the depths of the river channel with my fly in its mouth. This was it – this had to be a Suwannee! And at the peak of my adrenaline—the line went slack. I curled my head into my palms and cursed the fish gods. How the heck did he get off? But as every angler knows, that’s just fishing. If it wasn’t for the heartbreaks, then special catches wouldn’t mean as much.

We finished our trip with none of us landing a Suwannee. But even though I had a bit of bitterness in my heart, I couldn’t help but smile after such an awesome time doing what I love with a couple of great friends.

On my ride home I was reminded of a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” I couldn’t agree more.

For those keeping tabs: Georgia Bass Slam Summary- so far:

  • Caught: 3 (Bartram’s, Smallmouth, Largemouth)
  • Failed: 1 (Suwannee)
  • Remaining: 6 (Chattahoochee, Tallapoosa, Shoal, Coosa, Spotted, Altamaha)

Tyler Lipham, 4th year student at the Dental College of Georgia, previously graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the Warnell School of Forestry. In his free time, he enjoys any and all things dealing with wild waters and woods.

My Pursuit of the Georgia Bass Slam: An Intro to the Journey Ahead

As I near the end of my third year of dental school, my mind should be fixated with oral pathology, complex treatment planning, and completing graduation requirements. Instead I am as giddy as a 5 year-old girl at a Disney princess convention because my mind is set on one thing: BASS.

Georgia is home to 10 black bass species, each of whom reside in unique habitats and different drainages across the state (except, of course, the welcomed but seemingly omnipresent largemouth bass, which seems to have found a home in every watering hole deep enough to stay wet year-round).  The debut of the new Georgia Bass Slam, in which you must catch 5 of 10 eligible species, gives a perfect opportunity to explore the state’s diverse wild waters to see what each of these species has to offer.

In dental school, we get two weeks of summer break. When I found out about the Georgia Bass Slam, I knew exactly how I would spend one week of that break. Wanderlust, not partial dentures and ceramic crowns, consumed my thoughts.

Lucky for me, I currently live in Augusta, GA, home to what I would argue as one of the most beautiful and thriving rivers in the state—the Savannah River. This river is home to an incredible array of fishes, including the Bartam’s, largemouth, and the recently introduced smallmouth bass. Unfortunately, smallies are making a sore impact on the native Bartam’s bass, but I have made the most of an ecologically poor situation and caught several smallies on the river with my fly rod. As soon as I committed to the Georgia Bass Slam, I hit up the Augusta shoals area, catching a smallie and a Bartram’s, knocking two species off the list. While I have eight more to go to catch all ten bass species, I only have three more to complete the Slam.

As I leave the familiar Savannah River, I can hardly contain my excitement about the opportunity to explore several new rivers.  The next part of my journey will begin with the Withlacoochee River, located just outside of Valdosta.  It is on this river that I plan to pursue Suwannee bass, and probably a largemouth.

Further plans for the week include traveling to my native Carroll County, where I hope to catch a Chattahoochee bass in Snake Creek. Next, I plan to visit the Flint River (Upper Flint , Lower Flint) to try and land a shoalie. Then, I will head to the Tallapoosa for a Tallapoosa bass. I aim to target coosa and spotted bass on the Conasauga, but haven’t yet decided on the upper or lower portion of the river. I will pursue my final fish, the redeye bass, in waters near Athens, GA.

As you can see, I have planned this trip so that I have the potential to catch all 10 speciestylerliphamblog2 of black bass occurring in Georgia. With a lot of luck, and a little bit of persistence, I hope to land all species by sundown at the end of the week, and by catching all of them on the fly.

I am glad you are along for this virtual trip as I pursue the Georgia Bass Slam. My next journal entry will be after a long day on the Withlacoochee. Until then…

Editor’s Note: Find out more about each bass species and where to find them HERE and don’t forget to purchase a fishing license!

Georgia Fishing Report: May 5, 2017

This week’s reports include North and Southeast Georgia.

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

NORTH GEORGIA

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck and tight lines!

LANIER

Bass

Crappie

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

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

TROUT

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

More info on Rock/Cooper Area:

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

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

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

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

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

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

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

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

ALTAMAHA RIVER

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

SATILLA RIVER

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

ST. MARYS RIVER

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

OGEECHEE RIVER

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

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

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

LOCAL PONDS

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

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

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

BEST BET

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

Georgia Fishing Report: April 28, 2017

This week’s reports include Southeast, North and Central Georgia.

Get rewarded for fishing? Yes, Please. For More Info on the Georgia Angler Award Program – click HERE

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

Reports (both freshwater and saltwater) have been good from about everywhere I received reports. First quarter moon is May 2nd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the redbreast bite is excellent. Most anglers were catching between 30 and 45 fish per trip (some were roosters) using crickets. Worms also produced some good shellcracker catches. The catfish bite was hot over the weekend, with several flatheads in the 40-pound range. Goldfish were the best bait for the flatheads. A few crappie were caught with minnows, but the heat is slowing that bite somewhat. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the water was still a little muddy there, but shellcrackers were biting worms fished in the deeper holes. Anglers reported good catches of channel and blue catfish, and most were fooled with shrimp. A few big mullet were caught on green giant worms. The mullet bite is just getting going, and it should remain strong throughout the summer. The river level was 4.1 feet and falling (76 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.3 feet and falling (73 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on April 25th.

SATILLA RIVER

Robert Singletary made a road trip from Darlington, South Carolina to fish the Satilla last Thursday. He fished the middle river and caught 26 nice redbreasts on Satilla Spins (several different colors). He had to drag the boat some, but had a great time. Craig and Alexis James made a trip to the Alabaha River (a tributary to the Satilla) this week and caught several nice redbreasts by pitching pink Swamp Spiders. Craig also fished the upper Satilla and caught a giant bluegill and several other panfish and bass on the pink spider. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreast bite is on in the river. Crickets, worms, and spinnerbaits are killing the roosters. Crawfish Satilla Spins and black/chartreuse Beetlespins have been the top blade baits this week. Bass are biting baby bass Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogues. Rooster livers and shrimp have been hooking up catfish. The river level on April 25th at the Waycross gage was 4.7 feet and falling (73 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.9 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The catfish bite is great, as usual. Most are from 3 to 5 pounds, and the bigger ones are being caught on limb lines baited with shrimp. Bream and redbreasts were caught with crickets. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 25th was 1.7 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

I took my daughter Ellie and her friend Emma fishing in the swamp this Monday. Camping on the platforms in the swamp had already been suspended, and the refuge staff closed private boat access to the Suwannee Canal and also the fishing trail (Cane Pole Trail) the day we went. Not deterred, we ate lunch in the café, then fished from the bank for bowfin in the boat basin. We ended up catching 4 bowfin to 4 pounds on jackfish-colored Dura-Spins in about a half-hour of fishing. Emma caught her first bowfin. We then went to Kingfisher Landing because it was still open that day. We only fished an hour, but we caught 31 fliers up to 8 inches. Emma also caught her first flier ever during the trip. Pink or orange Okefenokee Swamp Sallies suspended underneath a small balsa float fooled all of our fish. I tried yellow but could not get them to eat it before the girls had several fliers in the boat on orange and pink versions (…so I switched!). Stephen C. Foster State Park is closed at the time of writing this. Because of the uncertainty of the fires, make sure to call ahead of time to make sure any entrances you plan to fish out of are open. On the east side, you can all Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156. Staff at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side can be reached at 912-637-5274.

LOCAL PONDS

Julius Conner of Waycross had the biggest bass I heard of this week (I saw it!). His 9-SE GA Julius Conner Bass - P1250053pounder (26 1/2 inches) was milling around the shallows and would not bite any of his offerings. He scaled back with a small watermelonseed stick worm stuck in the middle with a Wacky Head, and the fish inhaled it almost immediately. The fight was on, and he was able to land, photograph (check the pic out), and release the monster. Way to go, Julius!!!! Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson fished an Alma area pond on Friday and caught a dozen nice bass up to 6.9 pounds. They also had a 5-pounder and a couple of 4’s. Pop-N-Frogs and plastic crawfish fooled their fish. A couple of anglers fished a Brunswick area pond on Friday and caught 57 channel catfish on cut bluegills rigged on Catfish Catcher Jigheads. They said that the little Gamakatsu circle hook was sticking them perfectly in the corner of the mouth. The nighttime bluegill bite with “glow bugs” has started. Anglers I talked with caught 4, 7, and a dozen big bluegills on trips last week by pitching the bug to cypress trees. That is a hoot if you have never done it. The nighttime glow bug bite is just getting started and will last into the summer. Michael Winge reported that lots of bass were fooled with Trick Worms and ZOOM lizards, as well as Sebile frogs fished around lily pads in Waycross area ponds.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The whiting bite on the beaches and in the sounds is wide open. I received several reports of anglers catching more whiting than they wanted to clean on small pieces of shrimp fished on the bottom. Tripletail have showed up on the Jekyll beach, but you have to be ready to go when the weather allows (winds lately have significantly hampered the ability to get out to the beachfront). Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, flounder (some approaching doormat status!), Spanish mackerel, bull whiting and sharks were caught from the pier this week. Crabbing has been improving by the day. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The Satilla is getting low. You can catch lots of panfish, but expect to drag. The ideal approach this weekend would be to do a float trip. Whiting fishing is your best bet in saltwater, but the wind forecast is iffy for the weekend. Panfish and bass in area ponds should be a consistent bet this weekend, especially if the forecast of strong winds materializes and keeps you off bigger waters.

NORTH GEORGIA

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

April’s hot fishing action continued for another week.  We had a small setback with last weekend’s monsoon, but the two-plus inches of rain and cooler weather over Sunday and Monday were certainly welcome relief for our mountain streams, trout hatcheries, and a very low Lake Lanier.

The current combo of warm weather, shallow bass and bream, cool mountain streams, and heavy trout stockings makes this a great time of the year to get the kids outdoors.  There are several excellent reports and tips in here to help you with family fishing plans for the month of May.  Take those trips SOON and you’ll have memories for a lifetime.  Twenty years from now those kids will recall that quality time together with you on your favorite bream pond or trout stream.

And you might even hook a monster.  Check out the huge Hooch brown and also young Spencer’s surprise: a whopper bass instead of another cookie-cutter bream!

TROUT

Another Monster Hooch Brown: Check out these pics: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=113198 And note the hours of investment in hunting down this trophy.

“Good Fish, Eh?”: From Steven P from Gwinnett –My six year old, Spencer, and I have been hitting the neighborhood pond. Over the weekend we caught about 150 small bluegill, shellcrackers, and small bass. Yesterday afternoon we went back and nothing was hitting, not a single panfish. Then this beast hit a night crawler, I reckon the panfish were laying low with him around.

bass LMB big StevenPs son pond April 2017 pic1
Spencer is clearly thrilled with this big-un of a catch-Great job!

Chattooga DH Report: After hoping to split early at four, Dredger finally left his office on Friday at five and entered the Northern Exodus, also known as the I-985 Commute home.  He got to the DH parking lot and donned waders and a vest in record time.  After a fast walk up the trail a half mile or so, he planted himself in a favorite pool for some hoped-for dark-thirty action.  He had some splashy rises to his cahill/caddis combo, but with no hookups in that first 15-20 minutes.  Aha, they were refusals.  He changed his dropper to a soft hackle pheasant tail, added a small shot (#6 dinsmore), and used that anchoring system to skitter the dry more effectively.  The fish were still very picky, with lots of refusals observed in the clear water, but he managed to land a handful of rainbows and one decent brown in that last hour of daylight.  A hatch never happened and there was only a sparse flight of big (#14) cahill spinners, so the switch never really turned on for the trout population.  Still, there were enough fish in current seams that were looking up for supper to make things interesting.  That last ninety minutes, standing in a river and waving a stick, made the work week disappear and kicked off a really nice weekend in the mountains for ole Dredge. Fly folks- remember the skitter!

Nantahala DH Road Trip: After finishing their yardwork (Dredger) and church good deeds (Rabunite Ray), two addicted Rabunites departed at midday Saturday for a trip over the mountain.  They got to Nantahala DH around four and gave it a shot. The water was actually high and a bit off color due to recent storms, but it was still very fishable. The duo knew they could do well dredging, but this was late April, by golly, and they wanted some trout on top.  Just like the Chattooga the night before, the bugs were scarce, but the fish were there.  But they were picky again, and refused the dead drifted flies.  After thirty minutes of trying, slow-learner Dredger finally resorted to the skitter technique, and the hat trick of brooks, rainbows and browns came to hand, with some wild fish in that mix, too.  They ate both the Adams dry and the pheasant tail (soft hackle) dropper, as long as they were moving via the skitter.  Some cahills and even some yellow sallies finally came out to dance, and a few fish started to rise an hour before dark.

The duo waited for that magic moment right before dark, when thousands of bugs would emerged from beneath every river rock, and ALL trout in the river would eat with reckless abandon.  And the Big Moment happened- with 25 MPG winds and monsoon rains as the storm front arrived.  The two wet rats finally conceded Dark30 defeat and sloshed back to the truck for the drive home.   Oh well, maybe next time…

It was still a great afternoon between special friends on a beautiful piece of southern Appalachian trout water.  Hey, have I mentioned the skitter???

Different Ami DH “Catches”: Here’s a slightly different fishing report.  Sgt Lee Brown with the Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division wasn’t fishing for trout, but for illegal fishers.  Bottom line: you never know who’s sneaking a peek at you through binoculars, while dressed in camo and hunkered down in the streamside vegetation.

From Sgt. Brown: On April 15th RFC Crump and I were patrolling the Delayed Harvest on Dawson Forest WMA at Hwy 53.  As we were on foot patrol we encountered three subjects fishing illegally.  The three of them were fishing with illegal bait (worms and corn) and were in possession of 25 trout.  The infractions were handled and the trout were seized and given to a needy family.

Nice Trout Blog Featuring Hooch: http://www.pautzke.com/north-georgias-chattahoochee-river-getting-weekly-trout-plants , Check out DNR trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson in action!

trout stocker Frogtown Anna M Apr 2017Stocker Fun: From Frank M – My youngest daughter Anna fishing Frogtown Creek (photo to left). She had a blast!

Hot Stocker Tip: As springtime temperatures warm, our smaller, stocked trout lakes will soon have inhospitable surface temperatures for good fishing.  And that’s a good thing.  Why?  Because, just like summer reservoir striped bass, those warming surface temperatures will squeeze the stockers into a smaller volume of preferred habitat, where the water temperature is cold and the dissolved oxygen is high.  They are easier to find!   Where?  That usually means a) the depths just in front of the dam and, better yet, b) the mouths of cold tributary streams.  Savvy lake anglers will stalk those feeder streams like a blue heron and cash in on all of those spring stockers stacked in there, seeking thermal refuge.  Our stocked lakes are listed HERE.

And I’ll name a few for your convenience: Nancytown, Black Rock, Dockery, Vogel, Rock

kfe nancytown 08 pic1 dam
Kids enjoying some fun fishing at a Nancytown Kids Fishing Event

Creek, and Winfield Scott immediately come to mind.  Got a float tube or a canoe and a cage full of crickets???? https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/conf/recreation/recarea/?recid=10490 (Nancytown for trout, Russell for bass, bream, and crappie) http://www.aboutnorthgeorgia.com/ang/Forgotten_Lakes_of_the_Chattahoochee_National_Forest

 

ALLATOONA

Bass: Shallow Allatoona Bass Video

HARTWELL

Hartwell Report (Report from Steve Scott with Team Lanier, Oakwood Striper Club, Lanier Striper Club, North Georgia Crappie Anglers Club) – Our club the Lanier Striper Club went to Lake Hartwell last Saturday and I have a fishing report/story to tell:

4-21-2017 Day One – Launching at Stevens County Park then heading south to some honey holes discovered in past years, we started at the open railroad bridge. We stayed in the channel at 20′ deep and started to deploy our spread of Planer Boards, Directional Bobbers, Transom Bait, Freelines weighted and unweighted and Downlines. Before I could get the first Planer Board in position it was fish on. A chunky Spotted Bass nailed it. We drifted slowly to our target locations and caught several nice fish along the way including a Hybrid Bass. Just before turning around to head back up Chris had a Striper on. That day we had a total of 12 fish caught. 5 Spotted Bass, 5 Gar, 1 Hybrid Bass and 1 Striped Bass. Two of the Gar came on a double on Freelines out 75 & 100′ with Blueback Herring.

4-22-2017 Day Two – With no idea where to go we used our knowledge of where to go and what techniques to use when we are on Lake Lanier. We launched at Green Pond ramp in South Carolina and headed to the Seneca River eventually taking the left fork to Coneross Creek. We started putting out the spread just north of Friendship Bridge. We saw some of our compadres stuck in the mud as they ran aground. After about an hour one of our port Planer Boards with a Blueback Herring got hit by a 15lb Blue Catfish. After that we got another Gar. Not doing so well here we decided to move to the ‘S’ curves in the Seneca River starting at the confluence of Coneross Creek & the Seneca River. By the time we got down there the wind had picked up to gusts of 20 mpg and we could not stay on course. We decided to wrap it up for the day and headed back to the launch.

LANIER

Crappie

(This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club ) – Water temperatures are in the low seventies, and the lake level is slowly rising.  After the recent rains, the backs of the creeks are showing moderate to heavy stain. That can work to your advantage, as fish prefer moderately stained water.  Fishing conditions are good.  The fish are pulling out to deeper docks, as always, with structure.  It is an added bonus if you can find a good sized brush pile outside the dock.  In this case, stay thirty to forty feet away from the dock and cast your jig to the other side of the brush.  Jig it slowly over the brush toward the boat.  You may want to experiment and let it fall a little into the brush.  This time of the year, four pound high visibility line is very critical so that you can see and feel the movement of the line when the fish bite. One twenty fourth ounce soft body Jigs and hair jigs are working well.  Also, the bigger fish are moving onto stand-alone brush piles in the backs of creeks.  Those brush piles are in twenty to twenty five feet of water, topping out at ten to fifteen feet below the surface.  As always, the more brush piles you hit and the more docks you fish, the better your chances of boating more fish.  If a spot isn’t working, move on.  Four to eight mid to large sized fish is about average per stop.  So if your hits are yielding only smaller fish, move on to explore other docks or brush piles.  Stay safe on the water, wear your life jacket!

(From Pat Snellings, WRD Fisheries Biologist) – The crappie have all but finished spawning but many are still shallow and holding tight to cover. We found the greatest concentration of crappie on the upper end of the lake. If you happen to see sores on any of the fish you’re catching, there is no need to worry. The sores are a secondary infection caused by spawning stress which is common in bass and crappie.

Bass

Lanier Bass on Bed (This Report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley, www.jimboonlanier.com  770-542-7764) Water Temp – 69, Water Level – 7.97 feet below full pool: The lake has been on the rise with the recent rains.  We are now in 7 feet down range at 7.97.  We have not seen a seven in front of that number for several months.  More of the spots have definitely gone on bed this week.  We are seeing a lot of spawning activity around the lake on humps, shoals, and in sandy pockets.  We are even starting to catch a few post-spawn spots. The fishing has continued to be very good over the past week. We have been doing well on numbers and quality every day.  There are a number of patterns working right now, and you can pretty much catch fish any way you wish.   We are still focused on main and secondary clay/rock points, shallow shoals around the banks and islands, as well as sandy pockets in 12 feet of water or less for the majority of this past week.  A finesse worm or a senko on a Picasso Shakedown Head has continued to produce consistently, and should continue to be a producer for several weeks. Look 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 which is often now just under the surface a couple of feet with the low water conditions. A new swimbait called the Sweet Herring from the Sweet Bait Company has worked very well on some days in these areas also.  The Sweet Herring swimbait has also been good on the windblown rocky points and banks.    As the sun gets up, check the shallow docks in ditches and pockets for activity.  Docks are always as good bet this time of year.  If you want a bite, fish a dock. They will not always be good ones, but you will get a bite!  The fluke has continued to produce well also – points, docks, humps – all of the above are viable.  We are continuing to get a topwater bite in the AM.  A Vixen and a wakebait are starting to produce for us almost every morning.  A sebile swimbait has also been good in the early morning hours.  This is always a fun bite and should continue to get stronger as we move forward through the spring – this is just starting!  This is an AWESOME time to fish!! Here are the dates I have open in May: 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20(AM), 23(AM), 31.  Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun!  Thanks to all and May God Bless.

More Lanier Bass Video: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=896696

“Shocking” Lanier Report: If you have been waiting for a good time to hit the water and wet a line, this is the perfect time to catch a big one! Last week we completed our annual spring electrofishing sample on Lake Lanier and the largemouth bass are finishing spawning while the spotted bass are moving up to spawn. The best place to target these vulnerable fish are in shallow water in the backs of pockets and coves. Check out today’s header photo to see 2 of the nice bass found while sampling.

cat flathead Lanier Looney sample Apr 2017Catfish

(From Pat Snellings, WRD Fisheries Biologist) -We found several large flathead catfish during our sample this year, the biggest of which was 43 lbs. This species is not native to the Chattahoochee and can make for a great fish fry if you happen to catch one.  Try the reach between Clarks Bridge and Don Carter and target downed trees and submerged bedrock shelves. If you plan on going out this weekend be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know! http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/AnglerAwards Good luck and tight lines.

 

Stripers

Lanier Stripers:

EXTRA! EXTRA!

Georgia Waters Receive Walleye Re-dose: Thanks to fisheries staffers at  the Gainesville Region (March broodfish collections), Go Fish Center (spawning), and Walton Hatchery (fingerling production and stocking), nearly 300K one-inch walleye fingerlings hit north Georgia waters this week.  Lakes receiving fish included Lanier, Hartwell, Yonah, Rocky PFA (Antiochs), Carters, and Blue Ridge.  They should be available for a date with you and a fresh jar of tartar sauce in about two years.

Walleye fingerling in Hand 4-04

Scouts Outing Made Better Thanks to Loaner Fishing Equipment: On a bright and

kfe william scouts FDR April 2017
Helping Cub Scout Pack 410 Enjoy Some Fishing and Catching Thanks to Loaner Poles and Equipment!

sunny Saturday morning the hopeful scouts of Cub Scout Pack 410 ran to the lake at FD Roosevelt State Park with fishing poles in their hands ready to catch a fish and indeed they did. My thanks to Region One Fisheries for providing them with fishing poles and tackle to help them have a successful Cub Scout fishing rodeo.  Loaner poles are available here for any organized groups planning a kids’ fishing outing.  Just call me to schedule your loan. (William Goldman, Fisheries Secretary, 770-535-5498)

Kudos on Kids’ Outreach: (From UCCTU member Jim Smalls) – Approximately 35 boys and girls ages 10-15 were introduced to fly-fishing by the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Georgia Women Fly Fishers. The Sam Rizzio Youth Fly Fishing & Conservation Clinic took place April 22 at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.

The clinic provided basic instruction in all phases of fly-fishing, including fly-casting, knot tying, insect identification and conservation. Certified instructors and mentors worked with the students to provide individualized instruction and answer questions about fly-fishing.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Good luck as spring starts winding down over the next four weeks.  Don’t miss it!    Thanks for buying your licenses and also supporting HB208, which Governor Deal signed this week.  “May” you find some family fishing time together and make memories that will last for decades.  And check your drags on those reels before you cast.  The next bite might be from a true trophy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il07UxbK3WY

CENTRAL GEORGIA

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

LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 70’s

Bass fishing is fair.  Start early each day with buzz baits and stick baits and use brighter colors.  Work rocky points, humps and bridges.  Use pearl chartreuse back Shad Raps in #7’s sizes and cast them on the rip rap around the bridges and cast parallel to the rocks and bump them with the lures.  The silver tiny Rat L Traps are fair.  Look in the creeks with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan the banks and shallows before making a cast.  This technology can see the fish all the way into the shallows.  Later in the day and at dark, small shad and blue combinations crank baits on the points and humps are fair.  Any blow down will have bass in it.  The fish are small and the big fish are still not biting.  The Zoom water melon seed mini lizard and a long Carolina rig can draw a few strikes on road beds and creek ditches.  Clear or red and white tiny Torpedoes will get a lot of strikes on the reef markers and mud banks.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 7.8 FEET, 70’s

Bass are fair and shad crank baits on 10 pound test line will work.  Shad and blue colors are best on points and stay close to the current.  The river fish are still more active.  On the river ledges close to the current, use a jig and plastic or pork trailer in black and blue.  Watch for any activity on the shallow grass lines and cast to them quickly.  Use a watermelon seed worm on a Texas rig around the deeper wood and bank cover.  Look in the creeks with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan the banks and docks before making a cast.  This technology can see the fish all the way into the shallows.  Jerk baits like the Ito Vision and the McStick are all great all day baits.  Fish the baits fast on the first 10 casts then slow down.  Main lake bass are on the main lake and secondary creek points.  Shad Raps in the shad black back on points all day can be productive, just move a lot.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPERATURE 70-75.

Bass: Bass fishing is good.  The shad spawn is in full swing.  White spinner baits fished on any bridge rip rap or main lake sea wall will produce.  This bite is best early right at sun up.  You can also use a silver black or shad pattern shad rap.  Some fish are starting to move onto the deep water humps late in the day and you can catch them with a Carolina rig green worm.

Striper: (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741) – Striper fishing is good.  You can still find fish at the dam but it is hit or miss.  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.  You can also pick up some fish on the pipeline with a spoon when Georgia Power is pulling water.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are moving into the timber in an early summer pattern.  Long-lining jigs over timber from 8 to 15 feet deep have been the best producers over the past week.  Match your color to the color of the water.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 2.0 FEET, 70’S

Bass fishing is good on almost all lures and live bait.  Zoom’s pumpkinseed lizard either on a Texas or Carolina rig is always a great start on the lake.  Live lizards and bass minnows are fair on points in Yellow Jacket Creek.  Up river dark jig and craw worms on the heavy bank cover or a buzz bait can get a strike.  Stay close to the river current on points at 5 to 10 feet.  The long 3 foot leader on the Carolina rig and a full one ounce weight can work midday on the road beds and pond dams down lake.  Medium crank baits in bone and blue and green colors are fair on light line on points.  Shad Raps are fair in the shad and baby bass colors on 10 pound test line.  Rat L Traps in the bleeding shiner has been fair in the middle of the lower lake creeks all day.  Spinner baits in 1/2 ounce sizes will catch bass all over the lake.  Cast them right on the bank and hit the old pond dams.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.8 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  Start the day with a buzz bait all white.  As the sun gets high, fish a Strike King chartreuse and white 1/2 ounce spinnerbait in less than 5 feet of water in the backs of coves and around and under docks.  Use the Carolina rigged plastics anything from finesse worms to big magnum lizards, in depths from 3 to 10 feet on points, channel swings and areas with lots of stumps and brush.  Try the Strike King 2.5 square bill crank bait and cover lots of shallow water with it.  Throw it in between docks and in little creeks off the main river. If the bass fishing slows, go to the all brown Strike King flipping jigs.  Also use green pumpkin in off colored river water.  Also try the black and blue jig with matching Rage Craws.  Flip docks with brush and single out stumps and brush piles.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .82 FEET, 70’s

Bass fishing is good.  Jerk baits like the Ito Vision and the McStick are all great all day baits.  Fish the baits fast on the first 10 casts then slow down.  Go into the creeks up lake in the rivers for active bass.  In the rivers, the bass are on the ends of shallower river points and deeper stump rows.  Look in the creeks with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan the banks and docks before making a cast this technology can see the fish all the way into the shallows.  On the main lake points and around the dam, use the shad colored Zoom Flukes over deep standing timber.  A Zara Spook is good in blue shad or baby bass.  All green trick worms in the stained water in creeks has been fair.  Use a dark red and black Zoom U tail worm on a Texas rig on wood and brush in very tight bank and river structure, can draw a strike.  Cast or flip the river docks and shallow bank with a Zoom motor oil lizard.  Keep a Super Fluke ready all day in pearl and baby bass.

FLAT CREEK PFA

  • Surface Temperature: 77.7˚ F (25.4˚ C)
  • Water Level: 6’ 11” Below Full Pool
  • Water Visibility: 27”

Until June 21st arrives (the official first day of summer) variety is expected in the lake surface temperatures.  On the warmer days the fish will wait until evening to start feeding close to shore and will head for cover or deeper water as the morning sun starts heating the shallows.  On the cooler days or days with cloud cover the fish may change their feeding habits staying closer to shore for a longer time.

Bass: The Bass have seen lots of lures drifted in front of them.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t still catch some large bass.  After talking with numerous bass fishermen that have been very successful, here is the list that they recommend: Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom.  Watermelon or Pumpkinseed Culprit worms.  Most dark colored worms.  Crankbaits have not worked well.

Bream: The full moon on May 10th and June 9th is a dynamite time to be fishing for bream and two dates worth circling on your calendar.  Try Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig.  Tube jigs on a 1/8 oz. jig head.  Crickets have not worked well.

Channel Catfish: One angler has had great success using uncooked shrimp and has limited out on numerous trips.  Other great options are Red Wiggler worms, frozen Catalpa worms.

Crappie: Insufficient data to report on.  The last time an angler was interviewed, however, the Crappie were biting well.

McDUFFIE PFA

  • Water temperature range across lakes: 73 ⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 24 – 54+ inches
  • McDuffie PFA’s Fish cleaning is now open.

Bass: The largemouth bass are biting.   Anglers are catching 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 seven bass last week.  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:  Steady bream action, 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.  Anglers are searching for bream which have moved to deeper water after spawning.  During our next full moon the Bream should be bedding again.

Channel Catfish:  Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes.  Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish from Willow Lake and Bridge Lake.  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 Bridge Lake and no reports of stripers being caught in Clubhouse.  Angler reported catching stripers in Breambuster this month.   Stripers are biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while anglers were targeting catfish.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FISHING AT PFAS: Licenses and More

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)

By Matt Elliott

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.

Indigo_ErinCork_JohnJensen_DNR
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.

DodgeCounty1

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.

DodgeCounty2

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: http://www.georgiawildlife.org/PFA/Dodge

 

Right Whales Veering off Track for Recovery?

Eg1012&calf-S2S-12JAN17-0035
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.