Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff)

Big Lazer PFA (Jan. 15, 2015, 36-plus inches of visibility, water surface temp. 47 degrees) – Largemouth Bass:  Fair- a few bass are being caught on crankbaits fished around 10-11 ft. of water; try lures that mimic crayfish.

Crappie:  Fair- Crappie are sometimes hard to locate but fishing live minnows in 8-9 ft. of water in or around standing timber can be productive.

Bream and Channel Catfish:  Poor- Few of either bream or catfish are being caught.  You may be able to catch a few by fishing with live bait, like worms, well off of the banks in deeper water.

In general, January fishing at Big Lazer PFA is challenging.  Also fishing from the shore is particularly difficult because most of the fish are located around structure in deeper water this time of year.  Fishing deeper water from a boat is your best bet until warmer water temperatures push spawning fish into shallow water.

Additional Information:  http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer

Clarks Hill (down 3.2 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair and the cold front that passed through slowed fishing down a bit, but warmer days will arrive soon. They aren’t turning much water out of the Clarks Hill Dam, so anglers are still hea ding up the Savannah River towards the Russell Dam for the better current. Find the water up here has some color to it. The 1/2 to 3/4 ounce jigs seem to be the big bite bait is fair. Structure on or around the main river points and the larger or isolated rock piles in at least ten foot of water is bound to put some good fish in the boat. Finesse worms in the four and six inch size or a Shaky Head, not more than 1/4 ounce will catch you numbers of bass on the rip rap or rocky points on the main lake. Don’t forget to put two teaspoons of Catch and Release in your live well before adding water. Just think for the next few week, slow and deep. It’s hard to beat a jig and a spoon in the winter but the Lowrance sonar is the key. –Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

Jackson Lake (down 0.89 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair and after a spell of stained water, the lake has cleared back up for the most part. Our recent pot tournament, during a very cold spell, brought some very good fish to the scales. Most of our fish were in 6 to 16 foot of water. Crank baits will get a relatively shallow bite when working rock and warm pockets. Also work points, humps, and bluff banks on the main river channel or appropriately deep water. Locations with deep, hard, and rocky bottom, will be more likely to hold concentrations of fish. The key to finding deep active fish is to find a group holding together or stay with the bait. Sun on rocks, wood, docks, and stained water will draw fish shallow when located adjacent to deep water, or in a pocket. On a warm afternoon, compact diving cranks like a Bandit or Shad Rap, should be fished shallow in stained water (if available) and on any rocks. A Fire Tiger or Craw DT 10, depending on water clarity, can also be worked on a chunky 6 to 10 foot bottom. With the weather fluctuations, you really need to get out there and fish the moment. Bites may be had both very shallow and out to 20 or deeper. Spinnerbaits have produced on shallow rock along with the crank baits. Fish a slower falling ¼ ounce Net Boy jig on docks with some depth and bluffs. Also fish 1/2 to 3/4 ounce Net Boy football jigs slowly through the deep water holding areas. Use a brown jig in clear water and a black/blue jig in stained water. Go with a brown or green pumpkin Zoom Super Chunk Jr. on the natural color jig and a green pumpkin or black Super Chunk Jr on the black/blue jig.

Marben Public Fishing Area (Jan. 9, 2015)An angler reported that he went fishing at Marben Farms PFA right after New Years day and caught bass on a jig and pig and on a plastic worm.  Most notably, bass were schooling up on threadfin shad in open water near the dam.  He didn’t have anything in his kayak to catch those fish, but typically jigs with under-head spinners (fishhead spin or su-spin blade) with a small plastic shad body will “match the hatch”.  Just cast to breaking fish and hang on!  Alabama rigs would also be a good option.  These fish may also hit top-water baits as the bass were jumping out of the water to hit the 3 inch shad.  Should be able to find bass chasing shad at Marben PFA in Bennett, Fox, Shepard and Margery lakes. Addtitional information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/CharlieElliott

McDuffie Public Fishing Area (Jan. 16, 2015, 40 inches of visibility, avg. morning water temp. 46 degrees)  – Largemouth Bass:  Excellent.  Best ponds have been Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster.  Catches of 4-5 pound bass in Willow have been reported.  Best fishing times are middle to late afternoon.  Fishing on the downwind side of the pond (especially in Willow) has been very productive.  Variations of threadfin shad imitations (1”-4”), pumpkin-seed finesse worms, swimbait lures, jerkbait lures and frogs have proven to be successful.  In Willow, Clubhouse and Breambuster, bass are schooling and feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad on or near the surface throughout the day.  To locate the shad, look for where the seagulls are circling and feeding.  Seagulls have recently migrated into the area and should be present throughout the winter.  Generally, seagulls are excellent indicators of where to fish for largemouth bass.

Bream:  Good.  Best ponds have been Jones, Willow and Clubhouse.  As the water cools, expect bream (both bluegill and shellcracker) to be found in deeper water and be heavily related to structure.  Many large fish continue to be caught using beetle spins, red wigglers and crickets.

Channel Catfish:  Good.  Best ponds have been Jones, Willow, and Breambuster.  Numerous large fish have been caught in Jones pond.  Fish on the bottom in deep areas using worms, stinkbait and crickets.

Striped Bass:  Good to Fair.  Striped Bass are only in Bridge and Clubhouse, although there has recently been an unverified report of large stripers being caught in Breambuster.  Bigger fish have been caught late afternoon using chicken liver (Bridge) and light colored suspending minnows (especially in Clubhouse).

Additional Information:  http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/McDuffie

Ocmulgee River – Anglers watching the USGS gage on the Ocmulgee below Lake Jackson may be rewarded with some great bass fishing. River access below Lake Jackson is best when the gage registers around 4 feet. Anglers will find shoal, largemouth and spotted bass around the rocky rapids common in this stretch of river. Crayfish imitators fished slow will produce the best shot at a big fish. Insulated waders and life jacket are required equipment for anyone canoeing or kayaking this stretch of water.

Lake Oconee (full, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing fair. The lake is full, heavy stain over most of the lake, some clearing on the south end of the lake. Water temperature is 41 to 48. Jigs worked around docks from the middle of the coves to the back of the coves. Shaky heads fished under docks will also draw strikes. You can also uses spinner baits with a large Colorado blade fished around rip rap. This will work best when Georgia Power is pulling water. There has also been some large mouth mixed in with the hybrids under the birds.

Striper fishing is fair. Striper fishing can be great if you can find the birds diving on bait. If you cannot find the birds, the fishing will be fair at best. When you find the birds think small bait. A 1/4 ounce jig head with a small supper fluke, a small Rooster Tail will work. Keep a spoon ready for when the fish go down. Use your Lowrance to locate the school and drop the spoon down to the school. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service reeltime@bellsouth.net 

Crappie fishing is good to fair. The fish are moving into the coves and major creeks. The major creeks are muddy so make sure you are using a dark jig and tip it with a minnow. Spider rigging is the best option. Start in the middle of the creeks and work to the back. The mud has the fish scattered so keep moving until you find them.

Lake Russell (lake is full, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is slow. Get as far away from the stained waters and use the Lowrance to find the bait down lake in the backs of the creeks. Fish in the pockets and ditches on a drop shot with Zoom Shaky Head worm. The spots seem to be keying on the 25 to 35 feet deep. You can troll the pockets looking for fish on the graph. Once the fish show up on the sonar, and expect them to be on the bottom, they will usually bite. Be sure to sit right over the fish and drop baits straight down. After it warms up a little during the day try fishing some humps and ditches with shallow brush using a Carolina rig. Use the Zoom Dead Ringer in watermelon red or green pumpkin. Also the largemouth and spots will bits a pumpkinseed worm and be sure to dip the tail chartreuse in JJ’s Magic. Now crawling it through any brush on the bottom. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.

The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation department will host an “Outdoor Fun Festival 2015” on April 25, 2015. The location will be the Caney Road Park in south Forsyth County off Highway 141. See the web site at www.outdoorfunfestival2015.com or email Carrie Toth atcmtoth@forsythco.com for all the details and vendor options.

Lake Sinclair (full, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair. Our fish both shallow and deep with the deep bite being most consistent. For the shallow bite, target steeper banks that contain darker colored rocks as they will generally hold more heat. As far as bait selection goes, any crawfish imitating crank bait or jig should work well due to the full moon we had this week. A Spro Little John MD 50 in the fire craw and fire tiger colors have been working well on these steeper banks near the mouth of creeks and on the main river banks. A ¼ to 3/8 ounce Buckeye Mop jig has also been producing a lot of quality bites around docks near the mouth of creeks. Generally the lighter weight jigs work best this time of year as they fall slower and stay in the strike zone longer. Black and blue has worked best on the upper half of the lake in the stained water, while brown has worked best in the clearer water down the lake. There are quite a few deep fish to be had right now as well and they will be more consistent throughout this colder weather. Look for these schools of fish to be holding in 30 40ft where the creek channels intersect the main river channel. If you find the pods of baitfish, you should be able to catch these fish by dropping a Buckeye Jiggin’ Blade or a flex it spoon below the baitfish. Gold works best on cloudy days and in dirty water while nickel works best on sunny days. – Matt Henry, Sinclair Marina, matt@sinclairmarina.com 

West Point Lake (down 6.5 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing has been slow and the cold windy weather has made it difficult to fish. Mid lake has been the best area to start this as the water is muddy up lake. Use a Netbait Finesse worm and a ¾ ounce Strike King football head jig has been the baits of choice. Some fish are being caught in the shallows but most fish are in 10 to 15 feet around deep brush pile or rock piles. Suspending jerk baits are still working but your retrieve speed has to be super slow. Use the Lucky Craft Staysee 90 in the chartreuse shad color. Up lake the water is muddy and fishing has slowed way down from last week. The key this week was to find deep structure and clear water. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener and Rob Weller and regional Fisheries staff)

Altamaha River -Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle and Dannett from Altamaha Park both said that the river is still high, and fishing has been slow. A few crappie were caught from oxbow lakes in the tidal portion of the river. The only bite worth even trying this week is catfish in the Darien area. Put cut bait, worms, or shrimp on the bottom and you should be able to fool lots of white catfish and some channel and blue cats. The river level was 8.4 feet and falling (49 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.5 feet and falling (51 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Jan. 20.

Lake Blackshear – According to Rust Parker, the surface temp of Lake Blackshear has been around 50 to 53 degrees.  The water is just beginning to clear up a bit from the rains but up to two inches of additional rain are predicted Friday.  Rusty caught some crappie at the mouth of Swift creek and was able to find a small trash pile in 22ft of water and caught 15 nice slabs tight lining minnows and pitching R.A.G. Fly jigs.  Rusty fished on Wednesday and was able to catch two crappie tight lining minnows at the mouth of Swift Creek and then found a trash pile near Smoak Bridge that produced seven really nice slabs by pitching jigs.

Flint River – The Flint River has returned to fishable levels after the big rain we got around the holidays. However, heavy rain is expected on Friday. You can check out the following USGS gauges on the Flint River to determine water level and rainfall amounts before planning a fishing trip. Rising water levels can be good for catfish anglers and water temperatures have been slowly increasing in the Flint.

Okefenokee Swamp – The water level is falling back out and should start pulling back off the prairies in the next couple of weeks if we don’t get more rain. Before the current warm spell breaks, 100 flier catches will be common from all entrances. Pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies have produced best, but orange and yellow will also fool their share of the panfish. On warm afternoons, try the little fly without the float for the active fish. Catfishing on the west side (near Fargo) has been consistent, also. The Suwannee River below the Sill has also produced some good bullhead catfish catches. Shrimp fished on the bottom is hard to beat for bullheads.

Satilla River – The upper river is still too high to fish. The lower river (near Woodbine) white catfish bite is the only one worth trying again this week. That bite was slower the last two weeks, but should pick back up in the next week or so with the river falling.  Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the river is dropping but is still too high to fish. If you have a good spot to fish from the bank, you should be able to catch catfish in the upper river this week. Worms or shrimp fished on the bottom are a good bet. The river level at the Waycross gage was 12.3 feet and falling (54 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 12.4 feet and falling on Jan. 20.

Capt. TJ Cheek has been whacking sheepshead like this one in the Brunswick area. The sheepshead bite should continue all winter.

Capt. TJ Cheek has been whacking sheepshead like this one in the Brunswick area. The sheepshead bite should continue all winter.

St. Marys River – The St. Marys produced the best river fishing this week, by far. Catfish have been tearing up shrimp fished on the bottom. The crappie bite has been SPECKtacular! Anglers have been catching between 8 and 25 fish per trip. Minnows produced best. A few bream and redbreasts were fooled with crickets. On Sunday, an angler landed 18 crappie, 3 redbreasts, 2 bream, and a bass. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 6.1 feet and falling on Jan. 20.

Local Ponds – Chad Lee reported whacking the crappie on Saturday evening in an Alma area pond. He had 10 slabs that were around a pound apiece by fishing an artificial under a small float for the last hour or so of daylight. A couple of anglers fishing a Blackshear pond on Friday used shiners and caught a 6 and an 8-pound bass. They also missed 3 other bites. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, the crappie bite was great. He said start fishing in the deeper areas with minnows and move shallower as the fish move up in the warm afternoons. John Deere Green Jiffy Jigs produced some good fish by jigging in cover. On the warmer afternoons this week, bass were caught by anglers fishing shiners under floats near shoreline vegetation. A few bream were caught with crickets, while worms fished on the bottom fooled some catfish. Big crappie were reported from Lake Ware. Minnows were the best bait.

Best Bet – There is a cold front forecasted just in time for the weekend. If you can get out on Friday ahead of the front, you should do well for crappie and bass in area ponds. Behind the front, bass in ponds or catfish on the lower portions of area rivers should be good bets. Check the winds behind the front before going to big water.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Capt. TJ Cheek said that he was able to find plenty of clean water this week. He caught trout mostly in the smaller creeks in 5 to 10 feet of water near shells. He also caught sheepshead, black drum, and redfish around heavier cover. The challenge was finding current with the lower tidal amplitudes. If he could get the cork to drift, he caught fish. In the Brunswick area, quite a few sheepshead were caught in the Back River. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the sheepshead bite is all that was going on this week due to the weather. Fiddler crabs and barnacles fooled some big fish. A Waycross angler fished from the pier on Saturday and caught 3 nice fish and missed several other bites. Crabbers caught a few blue crabs this week from the pier. Monitor the marine forecast.