Info Provided by: Jeff Durniak, GA DNR North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor and North Georgia Region Fisheries staff
The late winter yo-yo continues, with most folks’ fishing success mirroring the inconsistent weather. There are still some warm days mixed in that will make your time on the water a lot of fun. There are no summer crowds to contend with, and you’ll have some shots at some really big, prespawn trophies.
As our Amicalola friend, “Dink,” reports, winter fishing methods are still catching more fish right now, but warmer periods are allowing anglers to dust off their spring techniques for an afternoon here and there. Your catching will only get better as the sun shines and as reservoir and river water temperatures finally climb into the magical 50s, with no retreats back down into the frigid 40s. Headwater streams will stay cold longer, so head for the lower elevation streams and tailwaters to find those few extra degrees needed to “turn the switch on” for both the bugs and the fish. Watch the weather forecasts and the water gauges for stream flows and water temps, and you might just place yourself in a “trip of a lifetime” situation this March. In our reservoirs, find those muddy, sunlit, riprap banks and work a hefty pig-n-jig very slowly for that big largemouth, up shallow for her suntan.
Here we go:
Chattooga Report, Feb. 22, 2014
“I fished the Chattooga Delayed Harvest (DH) for about four hours today. The water temp was in the mid 40s right before lunch and warmed up as the day went on. Water was a tad high and slightly stained.
I landed 12 trout and missed 6 more. Not a bad day, but it is going to get better soon. With the temps and bright sunshine there was a lot of bug activity today. I saw quill gordon’s, BWO’s, march browns, winter stones and caddis flying about. The fish are not looking up yet, as I did not see one rise form all day.
There were 10 other anglers there. All that I talked to reported about the same results. Eggs, Hares Ear, brown stone flies, SJW and black boogers were getting takes. With the higher flow, lots of split shot were needed.
It won’t be long before dry dropper time hits.” – Tight Lines, BigOrangeFan
Supper Best Bets
Leftover stockers or Delayed Harvest migrants for the frying pan might be found in the Hooch thru Helen, the Chattooga below Highway 28, the Tallulah’s boulder fields, the Amicalola below 53, and the Toccoa and Hooch tailwaters. Cold water temps still have those fish moving slowly, so consider a bottom-rolled natural bait (worm or salmon egg) and hold on to your spinners until April’s 50 degree waters arrive.
Trouting to Come
- Remember that Georgia’s spring will run a week to ten days ahead of western North Carolina’s. Are you ready?
- Check the date on this one.
- Cheat sheet.
“Striper fishing is fair. The good news is it looks like we can get on the water this weekend without freezing. Focus on creeks with birds and bait. Keep your eyes on your Lowrance electronics for fish and more importantly large concentrations of bait. Target long sloping points and flats with bait. Vary your flat lines and planner board lines from 15 to 120 feet back. Use split shots on some lines to cover a range of depths. The stripers are getting “locked in” on small threadfin shad so downsizing your bait will produce when they will not take a larger herring or gizzard shad. There is also an Umbrella rig bite on points and flats. Downsizing your umbrella rigs with 1/2 ounce jigs and pull them shallower and slower. We have had some reports of a night bite with Bombers, buck tail jigs and bait fished shallow in the same creeks you are fishing during the day. Flat Creek and Balus Creek have been producing and are good places to start if you do not mind the crowds.” – This Striper report is from Captain Ken West and Captain Mike Maddalena of Big Fish On Service, included in Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report (Feb. 21, 2014)
“Crappie fishing is about average for this time of year. With water temperatures creeping up to the high 40s, expect fishing to get better, even with rain predicted toward the end of the week. Rain will actually help warm the water temperatures further. In 20 foot depths, the fish are suspended at 12 to 15 feet around or under docks. Avoid the backs of the creeks. Docks close to the channel are producing more fish. Use chartreuse soft body jigs, either Mr. Crappie by Strike King, Bobby Garland’s Mo’Glo, or our all-time favorite, Jiffy Jigs JJ20, 1/24 ounce. Some of our members are catching them on crappie minnows using slip corks, so you can try that as well. The fish are tightly schooled, and if your bait misses the school (even by a foot), chances are they won’t bite at these temperatures. Electronics are very important. Side imagery and down scan by Lowrance help us locate the fish. Having said that, if you mark a large school of fish on your graph below 20 feet and you throw your jig at them with no response, chances are you’ve found a school of gizzard shad, so move on to your next spot. Be safe on the water, and always wear a life jacket. It can save a life!” – This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, President of the Lanier Crappie Anglers’ Club, included in Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report (Feb. 21, 2014)
Lake Lanier is Full Pool, The Main Lake is Clear and Creeks are Partly Stained and 46 Degrees
“Bass fishing is slow and things continue to be a little tough out on the pond. We look for the warm weather this weekend to really help the bite, so next week we should find some fish that have moved up, particularly in the backs of some creeks. Timber lines in 30 to 50 feet of water have continued to produce at times for us. Typically, a jig or worm has been our best offerings. Our most consistent fish have still been coming off of steep rock in 20 feet of water or less. Our best offering on the rock and around the timber has been the jig. The main key to getting bit right now continues to be a SLOW presentation. When you think you are going slowly enough, slow down. With the warming weather, we look for the jerk bait and crank bait bite to pick up soon. Now is a great time to learn fishing the transition from winter to spring. I have the following dates open next week: Feb 25, 26, 27, and 28. Give me a call and let’s go fishing.” – This Lake Lanier Bass report is from Jimbo Mathley of Jimbo On Lanier, included in Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report (Feb. 21, 2014)
Lake Hartwell is 2.1 Feet Below Full Pool, the Main Lake is Clear and 48.9 Degrees, the Backs of Creeks are Slightly Stained and 47 Degrees
“Bass fishing is fair. We have been focusing in the mouths of the creeks and the timber lines on and around main lake features such as points and humps. Many of the fish are still fairly deep. We have been catching the timber fish on a weedless 1/2 ounce Fish Head Spin in pearl white and albino colors trailed with a matching super fluke Jr. Some fish have started to move into the deeper main lake pockets and ditches in 25 to 28 feet with the recent warm weather. The old reliable shad rap has started to come into play in some of the creek pockets also. The FLW Tour is coming to Hartwell the second week of March. Look for some good weights if this warming trend continues. Come fish with Rick on Lake Hartwell and learn his top secret approaches and strategies that will be used by the pros in next year’s Bass Master Classic. The Classic is coming to Hartwell in February 2015!” – From Jimbo’s Guide Service on Lake Hartwell, Guide Rick Steckelberg. Included in Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report (Feb. 21, 2014)
Walleye – The watch begins.
Good luck as we all hope for more sun than snowflakes in March – and can bid farewell to winter. Don’t forget to renew your licenses as you celebrate the new season!