Info provided by regional fisheries staff.
In southeast Georgia, the current warm spell has really fired the bite up after last week’s deep freeze. Freshwater and saltwater are both producing impressive catches. Bass fishing has also picked up on Lake Seminole in southwest Georgia. Additionally, the mild spell has really “turned the switch on” to great fishing across north Georgia too, from bass to stripers to trout. Check out the reports below!
Chattooga River – Landon, Sautee, and Dredger hit the Chattooga DH twice last weekend. It was so good the first day for L and D that S wanted to go the next day, so we obliged. Despite 41-degree water, the fish were hungry, especially as the water temp rose from 39 after lunch. They weren’t picky, either. The trio landed a lot of rainbows, a nice handful of browns, and just a few brookies. A few fish hit the 17-inch mark. Hot flies were anything near the bottom: a 5mm tungsten-beaded Pat’s rubber legs (size 8 streamer hook), a beaded black leech, Oreck’s eggs, and soft hackle hare’s ears all got destroyed by the end of the day (see “before and after” pic). Each angler fished his own way: dry/dropper, indicator, and Euro, and each had a great day. While Sautee and Dredger simply tallied their catch as “enough,” Landon actually counted. As dusk fell on Saturday, he quit at 93. Well, at least that’s what he said. Whether we all choose to believe him is up to us, right? Looks like other folks had fun up there, too.
Coosa River – Fisheries Technician Mark Bowen holds a blue catfish from the upper end of Lake Weiss near the Georgia-Alabama line. This 32-pounder was caught on a trotline during cooperative sampling with US Fish and Wildlife Service staff. Unlike most other river systems in Georgia, blue catfish are native to the Coosa River Basin, which includes the Coosa, Oostanaula, Etowah, Conasauga, and Coosawattee Rivers. Trophy-sized fish like this can be caught in any of these rivers, but are most abundant in the lower reaches of the Coosa River. Check out this Guide to Fishing the Coosa River for more info if you would like to reel in one of these big cats.
Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that crappie bite has still been the best in the Jesup area. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite has been awesome. Both minnows and grubs produced. The S & C crew from Waycross spent most of the week at the park. During their stay, they reported very little angling pressure on the river, but they had a phenomenal catch. They reported catching over 1,000 pounds of flathead catfish on goldfish, more than 200 crappie, over 100 warmouth, and about 50 bream. Minnows and worms produced their panfish. The river level was 5.4 feet and falling (55 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.9 feet and falling (56 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Dec. 2.
Lake Blackshear – Bass fishing has been good to fair and fishing pressure is very light. Bass can be found on the ledges at 12 to 15 feet with Carolina-rigs and slow-rolled spinner baits. Crappie fishing is relatively slow but some can be caught by slow trolling jigs or minnow and jig combinations along the river and creek channels. As in the other reservoirs, both catfish and bream fishing continues to slow down as water temperatures cool. Hybrids and striper fishing should continue to improve as water temperatures drop, look for schools of these fish feeding in the main lake basin.
Coastal Georgia – Justin Bythwood and Bert Deener the salt marshes around Cumberland Island and Crooked River last Saturday. After several mornings of freezing temperatures, the trout were lethargic to say the least. They only managed 11 throwback trout during the day, and all of them ate Assassin Sea Shads fished underneath an Equalizer Float. Another group of anglers fishing mostly live shrimp caught 3 keepers and about 20 throwbacks on the same day. They also caught a few on the new VooDoo shrimp. Live shrimp were not a guarantee, though, as another group fished live shrimp that day but did not even catch a single trout! On Friday, some local anglers reported catching some trout around the St. Marys Jetties. Electric chicken and new penny Sea Shads and live shrimp produced their fish. An angler reported catching a 44-inch redfish on a live shrimp in the Intracoastal Waterway behind Cumberland Island. Check the December issue of Georgia Outdoor News for an article detailing my favorite approach to fishing artificials for trout. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that bull whiting were the best bite this week from the pier. Dead shrimp fished on the bottom fooled them. Sheepshead, trout, and a few redfish were also caught from the pier. Blue crab numbers were good.
Flint River – Shoal bass fishing should remain fairly good as long as water conditions remain stable and relatively clear. Try fishing large jigs slowly in the deeper shoals to catch fish more consistently as the water cools down. Shoal bass can still be caught on topwater during the middle of warm sunny days. Channel catfish can still be caught in deeper pools. Both bream and crappie fishing are slow.
Okefenokee Swamp – The flier bite was excellent before the big rains but has slowed a little. Instead of catching over 100 per day, you can expect to catch about half that number right now (still not a bad catch!). Orange sallies fished with a small split-shot and suspended underneath a float was the best presentation before the rains. With the warmer weather this weekend, expect to catch quite a few without the float, also. Anglers reported catching a bunch of chain pickerel (jackfish) on the west side (Fargo entrance). Minnow plugs fooled most of them.
Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that anglers fishing minnows around shoreline cover caught crappie this week. Tennessee shad curly-tails also produced some quality crappie catches. With the water up, the tree tops in the eddies behind sandbars are the places to focus your attention. Bass were caught on Trick Worms and crankbaits. Shrimp and rooster livers accounted for some good catfish catches from both bank anglers and those fishing from boats. The river level at the Waycross gage was 10.4 feet and falling (55 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.1 feet and rising on Dec. 2
Lake Seminole – Bass fishing has picked up a bit recently with shallow crankbaits doing the trick. Some good size fish are coming from the edges of grass flats on the main lake, with crankbait fishing best when there is a bit of a chop on the water. Another technique to try is swimbaits over hydrilla beds that are starting to die back from the cooler weather. Crappie fishing continues to improve. Try very slow trolling with a jig or jig and minnow combinations along the river and creek channels until you connect. As the water continues to cool down both the bream and catfish fishing will slow down.
St. Marys River – The channel catfish are numerous and hungry right now. Worms, shrimp, and rooster liver fooled them this week. Crappie were also caught with minnows. A few anglers reported catching bream and redbreasts by fishing worms on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 4.8 feet and falling on Dec. 2.
Lake Walter F. George – Bass fishing is good and spinnerbaits seem to be a good bet. Bright color pattern blades in stained water seems to be working well. Continue to fish flooded vegetation and the edges of hydrilla beds with crankbaits. Crappies are deep trying fishing creek channels with minnows or jigs. Both bream and catfish are slow as the water continues to cool off. Recent gill net surveys indicate a robust hybrid striped bass population with the average size fishing pushing three pounds with larger individuals available. Striped bass numbers collected in the net survey were the highest that have been seen in several years with most fish being relatively small but a few larger fish in the 10 pound range being collected.
Good luck this December. If you stay home to watch football, then thanks, you’ve left the rest of us a lot of great water that we didn’t have to share with you! Check weather reports and water temps, and time your fishing trips accordingly. You’ll be glad you did!