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

From Patrick's fishing trip to Dukes this past Saturday.

From Patrick’s fishing trip to Dukes this past Saturday.

As soon as the calendar page turned to March, it seems like the switch turned on!  At least it was true for trout, especially on that warm Sunday afternoon.  With more warm days than freezing ones now ahead of us, it should just get better as spring truly emerges across north Georgia.  The weekend weather forecast looks great.   Read this report quickly, call a buddy, and make some plans to wet a line soon.  Trout, walleyes, and crappie should be your best bets this weekend, as we get past this latest cold spell. Biologist Patrick says the stripers should really pick up next week as reservoir temperatures rebound over the weekend.


Smith Creek Delayed Harvest

Sautee reported a fair Saturday afternoon (March 1) of catching on Smith Creek DH, with a small handful of rainbows coming to hand in a couple hours.  Fish refused all offerings except for the Y2K. Rumor has it that the Y2K might be a hot fly pattern  on all Georgia  DH streams by the end of this week…

Dukes Report

“An old grad school buddy and I managed to get a slot on Dukes prior to a business trip he had up our way this week and Saturday turned out to be a great day.  We saw action from 9:30 in the morning through 4 in the afternoon, so it looks like we’re starting to break out of the winter pattern and get more into the spring pattern.  We saw a few mayflies and midges coming off, but nothing big enough to get the fish looking up.  All of them were still hugging the bottom in the bigger pools but stayed active throughout the day as long as we had plenty of lead attached to our lines.  The first fish of the day ended up being the biggest, a female brown just under 23 inches.  All of our fish were caught on 6X tippet, which led to several fish over 18 inches making us (mostly me) look foolish.  We couldn’t get any bites on 5X or larger, so that was just a necessary evil.  All in all a great day of fishing at Dukes that hopefully bought me another redfishing trip in Tampa Bay this summer in return.” – Fisheries biologist Patrick O’Rouke

Toccoa Tailwater  – Caddis Swarm

The gray caddis were thick for Dredger on Sunday afternoon and evening, despite 46 degree water.  Some fish ate the emergers soon after the high flow subsided at 2 p.m.  After a brief, late afternoon lull, the bugs came out of the trees for some evening streamside romance, and the switch was on from 5-7 p.m. A lot of rainbows, a couple browns, and one brookie completed the tailwater hat trick.  The hot fly was a #14 gray elk hair caddis, dead drifted and also skittered.  When the fish got picky, Dredger shaved the fly’s belly by trimming the bottom hackles with his scissors.  That low-rider brought some more looks and eats.  Here’s a great set of tips to help you prepare for your own epic caddis day. For tailwater releases, call 800-238-2264.

Toccoa Delayed Harvest

Jake D at Unicoi Outfitters says he’s been having some great float trips down the river.  It’s still running high, so floating may be a better bet than wading.  Winter stones and caddis had some fish looking up, but the majority of Jake’s fish were dredged from the depths of the cold river. Streamflow.

Stockers for Supper

The cool temps and high streamflows throughout 2013 were great fish-growing conditions.  Our trout hatcheries are now packed full of fish, so we had to relieve a little “pressure” to improve preseason growing conditions.  This weekend, enjoy some early best bets of Holly, Rock, Tallulah, Lanier tailwater, Hooch in Helen, Middle Broad River and Panther Creek.

VIDEO: “I stepped into a real good caddisfly hatch on the Toccoa Tailwater [March 2, 2014]. Here’s a short video to fire up the trout crowd!”Regional Fisheries Supervisor Jeff Durniak

College Boy’s epic day on the Nantahala is chronicled here.

Fisheries technician Tony Anderson with a 4-pound walleye collected while sampling on Lanier.

Fisheries technician Tony Anderson with a 4-pound walleye collected while sampling on Lanier.

Walleye Have Arrived

“Walleye have begun their annual journey to the spawning grounds located in the headwaters of most north Georgia reservoirs.   Walleye in Lake Lanier typically move into the headwaters sooner than the other lakes.  On Feb. 26, 2014, the water temperature in the Chattahoochee River that flows into Lake Lanier was 49 degrees F.  Males, like the one pictured in the photo, were fairly abundant in the deeper pools.  Drifting a nightcrawler, crankbait or curly-tailed grub along the deepest parts of the river bottom will be the key to catching walleye from now through March. – Senior fisheries biologist Anthony Rabern


“Lanier water temps were 50-51 degrees on Monday morning (3/3/14), and most stripers still appeared to be down around 20 feet or below when we took our electrofishing boat out to scout.  With the cold front coming through this week, water temperatures may drop a little more and keep the stripers down for a bit longer.  With consistent weather in the 60s beginning this weekend through next week, those surface temperatures may start bumping up into the mid-50s soon.  If that happens, it will be go time for surface striper action.  Once they’re up, stripers will spend mornings and evenings near the surface feeding on shad and herring schools.  On sunny day’s they’ll usually drop down to 10-15 feet during the day, but on overcast days the surface bite may even last a little longer.  This should go on for several weeks until surface water temperatures increase above 60 degrees.  Go ahead and start getting all of your tackle ready as this is one of the best times of the year to be out on Lanier.  Fish will bite anything from free-lined live herring to big streamers on the fly rod, and you could see fish from 2 pounds to 40 pounds in the same day.  Fish will be spread across the lake in creek arms.  In Forsyth, try Young Deer, Six-Mile, Four-Mile, and Two-Mile Creeks.  In Gwinnett and South Hall, Mud Creek, Balus Creek, and Flat Creek are good bets.  In the Gainesville area, try the Little River and Sardis, Ada, and Wahoo Creeks in the Chattahoochee arm of the lake and Johnson and Lathem Creeks in the Chestatee arm of the lake.”  – Fisheries biologist Patrick O’Rouke


“Crappie fishing has been really good on Lake Lanier the past couple weeks. The crappie are starting to move shallower making it the best time of the year to take kids in the coming weeks and get them hooked on fishing. Rig up an ultra lite rod with four pound Trilene XL and a small light wire size 6 hook and a crappie minnow. Attach a small weighted bobber about 2 to 4 feet above the hook and you are good to go. Be sure to get the weighted bobbers for the kids to increase casting distance. Look for any shallower brush or the shade of any shallow dock. When you catch one there will be more nearby. See you on the water.” – Capt. Clay Cunningham


Lanier Report, GON Forum. Also, DNR Law Enforcement Sgt. Mike Burgamy said he’s seen good stringers up the Chestatee arm while checking fishing licenses this past week.


Small lakes


Bass Pro Shops Reel and Rod Turn-In/Rebate

Remember that much of your used equipment will go toward youth fishing programs.  Also note that the reel turn-in program has been extended to March 8, and it now overlaps with the rod turn-in program (March 7-11).  My thanks to Mike Graber at Bass Pro Shops in Lawrenceville for this news today

A lot of you have waited 2-3 months for spring to arrive.  It’s finally here, so get outside soon and Go Fish Georgia. See if you can top this six minutes of action. Good luck!   P.S.  –  Bring a fly swatter to keep the caddis off you!