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

Caught New Year's Eve 2013 on the Chattooga River.

Caught New Year’s Eve 2013 on the Chattooga River.

Welcome to the slowest time of the year for north Georgia fishing, as winter now takes hold of our waters and freezes both fish and fishers.  It’s a good time to repair gear, buy or build new rods, lures, and flies, purchase a new diary for upcoming memories to be secured, check web reports  and attend club meetings and trade shows. Hopefully we’ll all learn of new techniques or trinkets that might (just might) help our 2014 catch rate. Anglers are optimists, after all.

But, for the die-hards, there are still some good seasonal shots at wetting a line. Savvy winter anglers just learn to carefully choose their windows of opportunity, based on weather and water conditions, and spend those select hours chasing fish before numbing fingers and frozen toes chase them back to the car heater and living room couch. Here we go…


Bass may be slowing down a bit, but the striper bite has remained pretty good for well-insulated souls who have braved the wind and waves. Ken’s reports from his great guide roster may be the most exhaustive.

Here are two “Ken” examples from the west side:

Jan. 3, 2014 Reports:

Lake Allatoona is Down 9.3 Feet, Muddy and 52 Degrees

This Lake Allatoona report is from Matt Driver

Bass fishing is tough. The least with rain and cold weather fishing has been off a little. The float n fly bight is slow, to say the least but the crank bait bite has maintained. Crank baits that run in the 8-12 foot range in orange/craw patterns are the ticket. Fishing areas with cover such as blow downs, stumps and big rock are the best areas to target. We have some really record breaking cold on the way for the first of the week. We believe we will see fish go deeper and hold tight to the bottom, so the jig and drop shot will be the ticket after the front. Call Ken ( about the Southern Fishing Schools exclusive ON THE WATER SCHOOLS for SONAR or Rods Reels and Lures for Bass.

This Lake Allatoona fishing guides report for striper and hybrid has been brought to you exclusively by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service, (770) 827-6282. Lake Allatoona, Georgia. Email:

Line side fishing is slow. The rain we have had the last two weeks risen the lake 9 feet. The lake is muddy to heavily stain from Little River to the dam .There is clear to lightly stain water from Allatoona Landing to Red Top as this is the best water on the lake. This section of the lake is holding fish, but getting to eat is challenging. Our better bite has been coming on spoons and umbrella rigs. The bigger fish are after shad and trout fished on planner boards and free lines. But the bites are very few and far between. The bite has been so slow that we have been and will be moving all of my Allatoona trips to Carters Lake. Lake Allatoona just doesn’t have a bite I am willing to put the Firstbite name to right now.

Carters Lake Special Weekly report from First Bite Guide Service

Striper fishing is good. The bite this month has been decent for numbers, but the size of the fish we are catching makes up for the lack of numbers. Down lining trout has been producing well for us early morning. Most of the fish we are catching early are in the back half of the creeks. There was also a good bite up the river earlier this month. But the recent rain has slowed the river bite down. Once the suns comes up the fish are moving out of the backs of the creeks and can be caught on the main lake pulling umbrella rigs. Color really doesn’t seem to matter but speed does. We are pulling our rigs at 2.9 to 3.1 miles per hour. We have plenty of open dates for Jan. Give us a call 770 827 6282 today and book your trophy trip.

Here’s one from skipper Guru on Lanier:

The Guru, Landon, and Dredger rang in the new year with a dawn boat ride on Lanier.  Birds and bait were abundant in the upper lake, but so was the muddy water.  As the rising sun displayed the turbidity challenge, they moved down lake a couple miles to find better clarity for their two-inch shad snack flies and finally found a small wolfpack of 10-pound stripers chasing bait along the bank. They had three good passing shots at the silver streaks, but struck out  on the big fish.  They were consoled by two 10-inch stripers and a really nice spot.  The stripers are a great indication of a strong year class that will make Lanier anglers happy in the years to come.  Based on some other angler reports via phone (Henry C) and the web (Woody’s and NGTO), other striper chasers are still getting into fish.  If you go, put your life vest on and bring plenty of warm clothes!!!


Fish can’t read signs and sometimes can’t hold up in a flood, either.  If you want to fish uncrowded waters, and maybe even keep a few trout to eat, Landon provides some tips to help you do just that. Plus, he tells some wild tale about winter trout on dries. True?  As one TV station claims: “we report; you decide.”

Dredger closed out the year on the Chattooga DH. The water was up (about 2.3 on the Clayton gauge), but the water temps on 12/31/13 were in the low to mid-40’s, which gave hope.

His experience told him lots of trail walking, careful site selection, limited wading in safe areas, and flies dredged deep in the flood refuges should produce some fish.  He was rewarded with a baker’s dozen rainbows up to around 12 inches during the 4-hour window of afternoon warming. Most fish were too cold and simply bulldogged, but a few at the end of the day took to the sky. The winner tallied four leaps. One Carolina angler said he landed seven fish on a small spinner, while several other fly flingers, who had short leaders and unleaded offerings, reported zeroes to Dredger as they crossed paths.

Dredger’s hot flies were small beadheads fished behind a peach egg or a larger beadhead.  The real key was a lot of weight and a long, thin leader to slide thru the heavy flows and get those flies bumping bottom. The “sliding bobber” trick worked on the deep spots and the “French nymphing” method worked well in the shallows. A simple leader of 14 feet of straight 8-pound mono allowed fairly easy interchange of methods (just slide the bobber on and off).  Dredger recalled that it was nearly a year to the day since he had a similar experience on the River and had shared the steelhead bobber-rigging secrets with fellow die-hards.  Maybe it’s worth a rerun for some of you.

Smokies Video – Floods, Landslide, Tornado, Critters, and Colors!

Many Georgians enjoy our national park just to our north.  I saw this video on Ian Rutter’s website and thought some of you would appreciate it, too. Had you heard  about the landslide that knocked out Highway 441 for several months?


Hey, this place probably has HEAT!  Ken has provided the seminar schedule:

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014

  • 2:00 pm Bass Fishing with Trick Worms, Rick Burns
  • 3:00 pm Lake Oconee Crappie, Al Bassett
  • 4:00 pm Trophy Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • +5:00 pm Big Bass Baits & Tactics, Hawg Trough Fishing Team
  • 6:00 pm Lake Oconee Crappie, Captain Mark Smith
  • 7:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 8:00 pm Fly Fishing Basics, Rami Lehtimaki

Friday, Jan. 10, 2014

  • 1:00 pm Crank Baits for Bass, Ken Sturdivant
  • 2:00 pm Tournament Bass Tactics, Hawg Trough Fishing Team
  • 3:00 pm Lake Oconee Crappie, Al Bassett
  • 4:00 pm Trophy Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • 5:00 pm Fly Fishing Basics, Rami Lehtimaki
  • 6:00 pm Lake Allatoona Bass, Matt Driver
  • 6:30 pm Best Crappie Spots, Captain Mark Smith
  • 7:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 8:00 pm Bass Tournament Tactics, Rick Burns

Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014

  • 11:00 am Crank Baits for Bass, Ken Sturdivant
  • 12:00 pm Introduction to Fly Fishing, Chris Scalley
  • 1:00 pm Trophy Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • 2:00 pm Crappie Secrets, Dan Saknini
  • 3:00 pm Fishing with Finesse on Lake Lanier, Ray Brazier
  • 3:30 pm Bass Tournaments Baits, Matt Henry
  • 4:00 pm Big Bass Baits & Tactics, Hawg Trough Fishing Team
  • 4:30 pm Cold Weather Bass Fishing, Matt Driver
  • 5:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 6:00 pm Fly Fishing Basics, Rami Lehtimaki
  • 7:00 pm Lake Oconee Crappie, Al Bassett
  • 8:00 pm Bass Tournament Tactics, Rick Burns

Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014

  • 11:00 am Big Bass Baits &Tactics, Hawg Trough Fishing Team
  • 12:00 pm Intro to Fly Fishing, Chris Scalley
  • 1:00 pm Jerk Baits for Bass, Matt Henry
  • 2:00 pm Lowrance HDS Technology, Ken Sturdivant
  • 3:00 pm Fly Fishing for Beginners, Rene Hess
  • 4:00 pm Trophy Stripers! Captain Ken West
  • 5:00 pm Crank Baits for Bass, Ken Sturdivant


Georgia World Congress Center

285 Andrew Young International Blvd., NW – Hall C

Atlanta, Georgia 30313-1591


  • Thursday, January 9th 11am – 9pm
  • Friday, January 10th 11am – 9pm
  • Saturday, January 11th 10am – 9pm
  • Sunday, January 12th 10am – 6pm

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.

Good luck to fellow die-hards.   Maybe Santa brought you one of these or these.  May you stay warm and dry, and maybe even catch a fish or two. Right now, leave the new anglers at home until conditions improve and they think going with you is “fun” instead of “crazy.” Happy New Year!