I drove past icicles early yesterday as I crossed Hwy 129 over the mountain to Union County. The changing weather of the last three weeks has been playing games with north Georgia fish and anglers. Folks who were able to work around temperature drops and flow spikes did pretty well, while many others struggled with the tough conditions of the last couple weeks that put a lot of fish down.
The good news is that spring may finally get here and stay here, and the fishing should break loose. The forecast finally shows a warming trend, after some Friday rain, to highlight your holiday weekend and the coming week.
On the positive side, rain beats drought conditions any day of the week for the long-term health of our sport fish populations and habitat. Plus, there’s still plenty of daylight left to wet a line in the evening after your school or work day ends.
The fishing is about to get real good, real quick. I hope you’re ready. Here we go:
Habersham Kids Fishing Event- Saturday (details) – Nancytown Lake is a fun place for adults, too, after the kids event ends. Bass and crappie anglers can bring their equipment and enjoy the 100-acre Lake Russell, which is a half-mile down the paved road. While this USFS Rec Area does not open until May, the Russell boat ramp is open year-round. Note: no gas motors allowed. (PHOTO)
The Chestatee at Highway 400 must have been a pretty good spot last week. College Boy said he caught a couple of walleye and a big white bass on his fly rod, and he shared some pics to prove himself. DNR ranger Shane B. also found some happy campers in that area. Most of these fish should now be heading back to the lake, with its abundant shad and herring groceries. However, big striped fish should replace them. Landon said he almost got spooled a couple days ago…
Stripers and Whites
Biologist Jim Hakala says the spring striper run has started in the Greater Coosa River Basin. Stripers will continue to move upstream over the entire length of the Coosa River and into the Oostanaula and Etowah Rivers above Rome. The high, muddy water conditions of last week have given way to more favorable fishing conditions this week. DNR electrofishing crews have noted spawn-run stripers in all three river systems, but numbers and size have been best over much of the Oostanaula River between Rome and Calhoun. The key to locating fishable striper congregations is finding river sections with good water flow like those near shoals, islands, and debris jams. Live or cut shad are the preferred offerings. For numbers, the Coosa River at Mayo’s Lock and Dam has been holding an abundance of small 1-2 pound stripers. These aggressive young-guns will readily hit, small live shad, crankbaits, sassy shads, and rattle traps pulled through the rapids below the old lock.
Coosa white bass fishing was absolutely phenomenal before last week’s high water episode. Jim looks for catches to again improve as the river stabilizes and we return to more seasonable air temperatures this weekend and into next week. The best areas have been from Lock and Dam Park downstream to the “stair-step” waterfall several miles downstream. Minnows, jigs, flex-it spoons, and crankbaits are all good offerings.
Need to find a boat ramp on one of these rivers? Check out the newly released Georgia Outdoor Map interface on the DNR webpage at: http://www.georgiaoutdoormap.com/
The Lanier fish have been deep much more often than shallow, according to WRD fisheries tech Chris Looney. His annual spring electrofishing samples have been pretty sparse this month, since the method works best in waters less than ten feet deep. Daily samples have been in the single figures, as both the bait fish and predators have hung deep. Last Thursday was an exception, with about fifty fish sampled and released. Best bet for the next two weeks: try the migrating fish up the Hooch and Chestatee, when river conditions allow their pursuit. What they lack in numbers, they compensate with size.
Up on Nottely, try the river under the highway bridge, Coosa Creek, and the upper end of the Ivylog Creek embayment. Our sampling boats always turned real big fish from these spots each April.
Bass and Crappie
More from Lanier
LAKE LANIER IS .97 FEET UP FROM FULL POOL, THE MAIN LAKE IS CLEAR AND CREEKS ARE STAINED & 54 DEGREES – April 10, 2014
Bass fishing is very good. The heavy rains from Sunday and Monday have caused the lake to rise almost 2 feet in a short time. The backs of all the major creeks as well as the rivers are heavily stained to muddy. In addition, the water temperature has dropped around 4 degrees due to the front and the cold rain. The fish have been affected and the fishing the first part of this week has not been as good as the previous week. With all that said, fish can still be found in the back of creeks and on secondary points at the mouth of creek arms as well as pockets near the main creek channels. The backs of those creeks are stained to muddy, but this will allow them to warm more quickly as the nice weather moves in for the remainder of the week. The main lake fish are starting to move up and can be caught on points and humps. A Davis Shaky Head and a jerk bait have been the most productive lures still this week. The dock bite is still there, particularly when the sun is out, but is not nearly as strong as it should be. The deeper docks have been more productive for us again this week vs. the shallower docks. Look for the docks in the 20 to 25 feet range at the front to be the best right now, and if brush is around, even better. As the water warms, look to those shallower docks to be better producers. There are some fish bedding now, but it is not prevalent everywhere yet. With the full moon approaching in conjunction with warmer weather, look for a strong push of more spawners in the next week. Now is a great time to learn prespawn fishing on Lanier! I have the following dates left open in April: 15, 22, 25, 29, 30. I am also booking for May. Give me a call and let’s go fishing! – This Lake Lanier Bass report is from Jimbo Mathley. www.jimboonlanier.com
Crappie fishing is good. Water temperature is 60 plus degrees and continuing to rise. We are in the middle of the spawn. Like a highway, some have completed their spawn and are heading out to deeper water while some are coming in toward the shallows in the backs of creeks to spawn. You can target fish on blow downs, preferably older blow downs in the middle to the back of creeks and in pockets. You won’t find fish on every blow down, and they are usually average sized fish. You can find the bigger fish if you target docks from 8 foot to twenty foot depths. Always remember that crappie are structure related fish. Having said that, use your Lowrance to locate some type of brush under those docks. If you are in above average stained water, try using darker colored jigs. The fish are biting anything, whether artificial or live bait 1/24 ounce jig head, either soft body or hair jigs are working well in various colors. Always remember to tie your jig directly to your high visibility four pound test line. Do not use swivels or additional sinkers. This will maximize the number of bites you are getting. Wear your life jacket; it can save your life! – Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, President of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club
More crappie – Don Carter State Park manager Will Wagner reported good crappie catches along Lanier’s shoreline in the vicinity of the park. Will has a really nice, brand-new ramp there, so visit the park soon with your kayak or motorboat. (Don Carter State Park – VIDEO)
“Look at this monster my son caught today! We landed about 20 nice fish!” – DNR Law Enforcement Sgt. Mike Burgamy – 4/16/14
Stocker best bets – Try Buford Dam, the Hooch thru Helen, Black Rock Lake,Rock Creek and lake, Middle Broad River, Holly Creek, and Cooper Creek. If the water’s high, add some more split shot to roll your bait along the bottom. More on trout stocking.
Wild fish – Sautee and the Guru hiked into one of their favorite wild trout streams last weekend and caught browns and specks. They had to dredge for their bites due to the cold water. Right now is a great time for dry/dropper combos, so carry some elk hair caddis, parachute mayflies (adams, cahill) and a few nymphs and soft hackles (hare’s ear, pheasant tail). Stealth is more important than pattern. If the fish don’t see you before they see something buggy, they’ll generally “eat” on these small headwater streams.
DH Streams – …are fishing really well when they’re not blown out from a three-inch rain. The final dose of stockers for this DH season went in recently and now await you: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=102392
We’re pretty sure Spring is here, now that we have this last blast of cold weather out of the way!!On the Chattooga Dry Flies are working well, as well as the UV2 Streamers. The Hatches are excellent and it should be a wonderful weekend of Dry Fly Fishing. For those of you that enjoy Nymphing, that too is working, because the fish have come up from the depths & are striking like they mean it. – Karl at Chattooga River Fly Shop
Toccoa Joe’s Report – The Toccoa Tailwater has been fishing very well as of late. While the fish aren’t looking up much to take dry flies, they’re gorging themselves on the plentiful nymphs in the river, mainly large (very large, like 2-4″ long without tails or antenna) black stones and mayfly nymphs (sz 14-10). Of course they’ll occasionally eat a caddis pupa or two (sz 18-14). There’s lots more, bigger bugs in the river now than ever before (at least in my decade fishing it). Another interesting occurrence, which I’ve been blaming on the weather, is the best bite seems to be through the afternoon. The only slow trip I’ve had in the last two weeks was started at 7 am. all others have seen good numbers and quality of trout and were run from 11-noon until darkish. Thanks for all you guys do!! Jeff you’re welcome to include this info and the photos in your blog/email on n. Ga. fishing. – Joe DiPietro
What’s that minnow? Trout anglers on our bigger streams often catch this critter and wonder what species it is. Here is the answer.
Trout and Wildlife Tags – Georgia’s five wildlife license plates will soon cost less and provide more support for conserving Georgia wildlife, from bald eagles to bobwhite quail. FULL NEWS RELEASE.
It’s spring. Be flexible. Carry your rain coat, a smart phone with your favorite weather app, and an assortment of rods and baits in your car trunk. Like College Boy, adapt to the conditions at hand and you’ll make some fine fishing memories during these unstable weather periods. Good luck.