North Georgia Fishing Report: Jan. 10, 2014

Info Provided by: Jeff Durniak, GA DNR North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor and North Georgia Region Fisheries staff

Welcome to another edition of your favorite reality show, the best since this one with Marlin, and especially this one with Curt (in my aged, humble opinion).

There should be some entertaining and educational tidbits in here for y’all.  Did you know that our staff’s favorite fisheries management tool this week was an ax to break thru the ice?  Here we go, and we’re starting with a bang! Go pop some popcorn and settle in.

The Dukes Creek Student

It’s a bit  long, but this video is an extremely entertaining look at the exploits of young Trout Unlimited Trout Camp graduate Ryan Hartley, as he pays his dues and finds success on Dukes Creek at Smithgall Woods Conservation Center (fishing/lodging reservations: 706-878-3087). Gotta love the Go-Pro!  Special shoutout to “dad the driver,” and several other anglers (Landon and Cliff Speed) who’ve taken time away from their own fishing to mentor Ryan and his brother Myles this past year.

Enjoy your fireside fishing show courtesy of Ron Howard… I mean Ryan Hartley.  He’s a great example of the next generation of angler/conservationist that we all hope for!  And thank you to the Smithgall family for their wonderful gift to Georgia’s sportsmen and women.

Win a Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License!

Entry deadline is Jan 22. Enter the contest and like Wildlife Resources on Facebook!

Walleye Preparation

Biologist Anthony Rabern wants to know… are you ready for walleye?

Senior biologist Anthony Rabern at Lake Burton Hatchery (706-947-1507)says it’s a good time for anglers to do their homework and prepare for the upcoming walleye season, which can kick off as early as late February.  Here’s his report…

“As we are huddled up in our warm houses during the cold blasts of winter, the solace provides time to prepare for some late-winter fishing that will pick up around the first of March.  I’m talking about walleye!  Walleye are among the first species to spawn in the year.  As such, they should be near the top of your fishing “to-do” list, but now is the time to prepare.  How?  First, find a reservoir or river in North Georgia where walleye occur.  The Fisheries Section has developed a FREE downloadable Walleye Fishing Guidebook that introduces potential walleye anglers to locations and fishing techniques.

Many anglers new to walleye fishing in Georgia want to know about bank fishing opportunities.  March is the best time to catch walleye from the shore.  The guidebook identifies several bank fishing locations.  To assist your research, download Google Earth at no cost onto your computer and follow the instructions.  Google Earth is an amazing tool that will allow you to explore potential fishing sites from the comfort of your own home.  So, while the cold wind blows outside, tune up your reels, change your line, and read up on walleye because the walleye bite in March is just a few weeks away.”


Catfish for Next Summer – We’re like the U.S. Mail!

Despite unusually cold temperatures this week, fisheries staff are out and about stocking channel catfish from Walton Fish Hatchery in metro Atlanta ponds that are slated to host kids fishing events in 2014. These catfish will grow quickly as the weather warms up this spring. There are even a few rarely-seen albino catfish in the bunch!

Hooch Wild Browns – Jan. 13, 2014

He not only writes, but he speaks, too.  Learn where the Hooch tailwater’s wild browns are, what they eat, where they go, and how they grow.  Patrick has an “electric” presentation that has helped tailwater anglers understand their resource. Here’s his latest stop on the speaking tour:

GA DNR fisheries biologist, Patrick O’Rouke will speak at the GWFF January Meeting

Patrick O’Rouke, a fisheries biologist with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division will be presenting in the Georgia Women Flyfishers (GWFF) Club meeting on Monday, Jan. 13 about his recent study on brown trout in the Hooch.

Patrick is responsible for sport fish management on the Chattahoochee River in the Metro Atlanta area as well as Lakes Lanier, Chatuge, and Nottely. He is a seventh-generation native of Gwinnett County who grew up fishing the ‘Hooch in the footsteps of his ancestors and now gets the privilege of managing this tremendous resource.

Patrick recently completed at 14-month study on the wild brown trout population from Buford Dam to Bull Sluice Reservoir. With help from Trout Unlimited, the National Park Service, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and the Chattahoochee Coldwater Fishery Foundation, this study looked at the growth, movement, and diets of brown trout at four different locations. Patrick will discuss the findings of this study and its implications for the management of the fishery, along with some helpful advice that just may help land a few more trout along the way.

This presentation is not to be missed!

The presentation will start at 7 p.m. Social time starts at 6pm approximately.  The meeting location is at 5 Seasons Brewery Sandy Springs Location.

As usual, GWFF monthly meetings are opened to the public.

Egg Recipe for Trouters

Rabunites usually don’t tell their secrets, but they’re apparently slipping up with age… And you will benefit from this slip regarding Oreck’s Easy Egg.

Trout Stream Partnership Kudos

A little more public land and water for everyone to enjoy, courtesy of these fine partners.

Congrats to a Good Guy

Congratulations to wildlife technician Eric Wood, who is retiring tonight after 34  years of service.  His tour of duty included stints as the Stephens County conservation ranger and manager of Blue Ridge and Cooper Creek WMAs.  His Coopers youth days, with his sportsmens group up there, are legendary in the local community.

We will miss you Eric.  Fish and wildlife resources, and the hunting and fishing fans that followed them up here in north Georgia, are better because of your efforts.  From trout stream law enforcement to food plot planting, and from WMA road maintenance to search and rescue, you were an awesome example of WRD in action.  May we all continue your high standards of public service.  I still remember our first stint in front of a TV camera, the “Fishing Fun with Captain Bill” cable TV show in Smyrna.  All the callers wanted to talk to YOU!

We’re gonna have a great time at Jaemor Farms tonight.  And I sure hope some naïve spotlighter doesn’t pull the trigger in the field behind the farm house!  I believe he’d have a “real bad day” by game warden standards.

Bald Eagle Live Stream 24/7

Did you save some popcorn?

This blog is also available as a newsletter. Anyone interested in joining the mailing list should simply provide a first and last name and email address to our regional secretary, Olivia McClure, at She’ll get you signed up.

Thanks for buying/renewing that license.   Although it’s winter and you may be indoors a bit more, there’s still a lot of news and events concerning Georgia’s outdoors!  Good luck. Don’t forget the boat show’s fishing seminars  at the World Congress Center this weekend.    If it warms up a bit, grab a new angler and be the hero.  Grab the Go-Pro on your way out the door.  You might be the next Curt Gowdy!


Turkey Report: Plan Your Next Turkey Hunt

Turkey harvested at Paulding Forest WMA.
Turkey harvested at Paulding Forest WMA.

Go Hunt Georgia before turkey season ends May 15. Make the most of the remainder of the season, and plan your next wildlife management area hunt using these reports from Game Management staff at the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

Northwest Georgia is having an excellent season and the outlook for the remainder of the season looks strong. John’s Mountain, Crockford-Pigeon Mountain, Paulding Forest and Berry College WMAs are leading the way in terms of harvest-to-hunter ratio, and it appears there are plenty of birds left according to hunters and DNR staff. However, reports from the field indicate turkeys in these areas have been difficult to hunt as they are “henned up.”

The eastern part of the state has experienced lower harvest numbers than previous years. Still, Redlands, Di-Lane Plantation and Tuckahoe WMAs have posted decent harvest numbers so far. Redlands has had 30 turkeys harvested, and Di-Lane Plantation and Tuckahoe have each had more than 20 turkeys harvested.

In southwest Georgia, Hannahatchee and Flint River WMAs are reporting above-average seasons, while Elmodel and Mayhaw WMAs are experiencing normal seasons. Silver Lake, Chickasawhatchee and River Creek quota hunts have been slower than usual, and gobbling activity has been low. However, there are plenty of turkeys at those WMAs as evidenced by tracks, scat and turkey sightings on the roads. Though the season at Chickasawhatchee and Silver Lake has been slow so far, staff expects hunter success to increase, and has high hopes for the remainder of the season at those WMAs.

On the coast, Little Satilla WMA had a great start to the season, with 18 turkeys being signed out as of last week. The harvest has slowed recently, but there are still turkeys being signed out each week.

We hope you’ve been able to bag some gobblers of your own this season, and if you haven’t, you still have a few more weeks. Visit a WMA near you before turkey season ends!

Top WMA Turkey Harvest Numbers:

Paulding Forest: 34 turkeys

Redlands: 30

John’s Mountain: 29 turkeys

Berry College: 27

Tuckahoe: 23

Di-Lane: 21

Crockford-Pigeon Mountain: 19

Like us on Facebook and view more photos from the 2013 turkey season in Georgia!

Mid-Season Turkey Update

This turkey is one of many harvested this season on Dawson Forest WMA.

Report by: Kevin Lowrey, Wildlife Resources Division Senior Biologist

The 2012 turkey season is well underway and saw a fast start in Georgia. Many regions are reporting outstanding turkey hunting, with hunters seeing, hearing and harvesting plenty of gobblers, particularly in the Piedmont, Ridge and Valley, and Blue Ridge areas.  Berry College WMA (Ridge and Valley area) and Dawson Forest WMA (Upper Piedmont area) are on pace to break all time harvest records, while hunting in the Upper and Lower Coastal Plain has generally been described as decent. Increased foliage due to the early green up has made gobblers difficult to hear in parts of the coastal plains. Also, the mild winter and 90 degree opening week days in these regions made snakes and mosquitoes more active, which have kept some hunters out of the woods. Additionally, the drought in the coastal plain has forced some turkeys into inaccessible creek drainages, further slowing success. There are reports of a good amount of turkeys being seen and heard in the coastal plain, but that has not been represented by the harvest.

With the season a little more than half complete, where should you go hunt now? Below, “Table 1” shows the top two producing WMAs in each region this spring.  While these areas will likely continue to produce some turkeys for the remainder of the season, there may be better choices.   After speaking with several GA DNR biologists about their strategy for late season success they were nearly unanimous in the idea of looking for less pressured areas.  For example: 1.) Areas with less vehicle access, 2.) Bowhunting only areas, 3.) Areas that were quota early in the season and are now general open hunts the remainder of the season and 4.) Small overlooked areas.  These are the types of areas where a late season hunter, who puts in the time, can have great success. “Table 2” has a list of WMAs with some late season potential in each region.

Now is the time to get after wild turkeys. Most hunters have given up for the year so there is less competition. Hens are nesting, gobblers are lonely, and with spring in full bloom it’s a great time to be in the woods.  Late season hunting does come with challenges. Many turkeys that have been called to become a little call shy, so vary your technique late season by calling less often and softer. Scout harder to locate turkeys and be alert for smart gobblers to come in silent.

Wherever you end up hunting this last leg of the season, remember three things: Be safe, have fun and introduce someone new to turkey hunting!

Remember: Turkey hunting requires a Big Game license in addition to a Hunting license. To hunt on a WMA, you need a Wildlife Management Area license. BUY A LICENSE!  Click HERE for a map of all WMAs in Georgia!

Table 1:Top WMA’s (Total Turkey Harvest) This Season (2012)

Region WMA Number of Hunters Total Harvest


Berry College




Paulding Forest




Lake Russell




Dawson Forest












Cedar Creek












Silver Lake




Bullard Creek




Flat Tub








Griffin Ridge



Table 2:Best WMA’s for Late Season Success


Sheffield WMA


Rocky Mountain PFA


Warwoman WMA


Chestatee WMA


Tuckahoe WMA


Dilane WMA


Big Lazer Creek WMA


Blanton Creek WMA


Chickasawhatchee WMA


Silver Lake WMA


Bullard Creek WMA


Big Hammock WMA


Altamaha WMA


Townsend WMA