North Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)

It looks like we’ve survived the frozen precipitation and are now greeted by warmer and longer days, thanks to the flip of the calendar page to March.   As the days have lengthened and warmed, they’ve stirred north Georgia sport fish from their winter hibernation.   Some “mighty fine” (an Oneill-ism) angling reports have started to trickle into this office.   The fishing is good and will only get better as north Georgia water temperatures rise.  Anglers can also slip out for some quick trips to local waters after work, thanks  to last Saturday’s change to Eastern Daylight Time.  While the rains this week may make stream flows in some of our larger waters challenging, there is still a heckuva buffet table of fishing opportunities to choose from.  And those muddied river waters, once they hit the upper ends of our reservoirs, will soak up a lot of sunlight, warm faster, and attract the shad, bass, crappie, and stripers in the weeks to come, so let’s all welcome those springtime “mud lines” of angling action.

We hope the menu below might help you to celebrate spring’s arrival by wetting a line real soon!

Check Your LicensesTime to renew and save a few dollars?

Trophy StriperTake a look at this beast!

Walleye Whereabouts –

4-pound female walleye from Lake Hartwell on March 10, 2015.

4-pound female walleye from Lake Hartwell on March 10, 2015.

We spent a couple of hours Tuesday afternoon (/3/10) in the electrofishing boat looking for walleyes in the Chattahoochee River above Lanier.  The males are in the shoals above Belton Bridge and have some good size on them this year. The females are still mostly down lower as they stage for the peak of the spawn next week.  We haven’t been up the Chestatee River yet but conditions should be the same there. Keep the public canoe launch on Hwy 60 just upstream of GA 400 in mind if you don’t have a boat and need to fish from the bank or wade.

To target walleyes in the river, nightcrawlers or spottail shiners would be a good bet, drifted below shoals and in deep runs. Artificials such as bucktail jigs or spoons may also work. Remember that these fish have other things on their minds besides eating right now, so expect to work to get a bite. Early morning and late evening are probably your best time to go. – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist

Mark and I were looking for walleye on Blue Ridge today too.  We found 7 females: 2 ripe, 2 flowing, and 3 spent.  Males looked good.  – John Damer, Fisheries Biologist

It’s walleye time!  This 4-pound female walleye was collected March 10 by DNR Fisheries technician, Leon Brotherton, in the headwaters of Lake Hartwell. Walleye are now migrating into the headwaters of many north Georgia reservoirs, including lakes Lanier, Hartwell, and Carters, to spawn.  Patient anglers who fish on the bottom with nightcrawlers, jigs, minnows and slow moving crankbaits might be lucky enough to catch a few of these toothy critters.   Walleye seem to bite the best around sunset and right after dark. – Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist

Etowah Perch – Now is the time of year to catch a cooler-full of trophy yellow perch.  These fat beauties were recently captured (and released) by WRD personnel on the Etowah River in northwest Georgia.  Although yellow perch are not listed as a game fish in Georgia, it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t fish for them.  Not only are yellow perch spectacularly colored, but these beauties are also quite tasty.  Target large rivers below dams with small inline spinners or curly-tails grubs for your best chance at success. – John Damer, Fisheries Biologist

More PerchGON Forum

Allatoona Mixed BagGON Forum 1, GON Forum 2

Crappie Time

We haven’t heard much yet, but the time is right for these fish to start moving shallow.  They’re definitely worth a try. Lake Lanier crappie fishing (video)

River Bass

Dredger took advantage of the time change and low, clear water on the Hooch above Lake Lanier.  After work on Tuesday (3/10), he bottom-bumped hairy fodders and black leeches in the ledges at an undisclosed location south of Helen and landed three shoal bass and one spot.  The biggest fish was only eleven inches, but they were a fun way to celebrate spring!

Delayed Harvest Trouting Report – 3/7/15

Landon’s latest travels are chronicled here:

Remember that the bug activity and fishing techniques are very similar between southern NC and northern GA, so have your gray caddis, quill gordons, blue quills, and march browns in your vest pocket. By the way, Georgia’s DH streams received their March dosage of fish last week, so Y2K’s and pink san juans should be also “hot flies” for the next week or so before these hatchery “natives” smarten up.  The Chattooga has some great Quill Gordon hatches, so be on the lookout in the days ahead.  While you wait for the hatch, try dredging and swinging some #14 hares ears and hold on tight to your rod!

Stocked Trout Best Bets – Give these a try:

  • West Armuchee Creek
  • Holly Creek
  • Nancytown Lake
  • Hooch Tailwater
  • Toccoa Tailwater
  • Rock Creek
  • Tallulah River
  • Vogel Lake – “Thank you! Thank you!! for stocking fish in Lake Vogel. Ricky was in the Blue Ridge Comp this weekend and it was awesome for competitors and casual lake fishermen. Please note the older couple in their pond prowler who anchored amongst the competitors. They caught fish too!”  Sincerely, Ricky’s Mom (3/9/15)

For Fly Flingers – Caddis Time!

Additional links:

Have fun shedding your layers of fleece and once again feeling your fingertips and toes.   Hopefully you can now detect more strikes and put a few extra fish in the net this month.  Good luck and thanks for buying your licenses.

South Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener, Fisheries biologist Rob Weller, and region Fisheries staff)

Altamaha River – The river is still too full for fishing to be enjoyable (Baxley is still above flood stage). Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle (912-588-9222) in Jesup said that the river is really high, and the best fishing has been in Jesup area farm ponds.  Dannett from Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) said that some crappie were caught by anglers fishing the creeks and oxbows with minnows. The river level was 13.3 feet and falling (58 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 11.4 feet and falling (57 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Tuesday evening.

Teddy Elrod caught this chunky bass last month from a Brunswick area pond by pitching a creature bait rigged on a Glider Head.

Teddy Elrod caught this chunky bass last month from a Brunswick area pond by pitching a creature bait rigged on a Glider Head.

Lake Blackshear – According to Rusty Parker, the crappie are still biting if you dare to brave this crazy weather.  A friend of his went this past Monday morning and he and his partner were able to catch 37 decent size crappie.  They were long line trolling jigs and he said the crappie were hanging in deep water.  Now with this 20 degree weather hitting us for the next couple of days it may “knock them in the head” for a few days. However, Rusty feels that they will still bite. The surface temp as of Monday the 16th averaged around 49 degrees. This most recent cold snap will probably cause it to drop a few degrees.  If you go, Rusty suggests tight lining minnow rigs in around 25 to 32 feet of water.

Flint River – The first reported catch of a large striped bass being caught in the tailrace of the Albany dam occurred last weekend. A 36-pound, 39-inch striper was caught on a live shiner. Both stripers and hybrid stripers should be showing up below both the Albany dam below lake worth and the Warwick Dam below Lake Blackshear. Live shad, spoons, and large bucktail jigs are popular baits for these fish.

Okefenokee – Swamp reports have been surprisingly non-existent. Warm afternoons are the perfect time to chase fliers in the swamp. The fish sit in the cuts that join the Suwannee Canal with the vast prairies. Pitch yellow, orange, or pink (pink has been my best color so far this year) Okefenokee Swamp Sallies on a bream buster pole and hold on. When you get to a magical spot, you will catch them on every pitch. Catfishing on the west side should be very good if you put a piece of shrimp on the bottom.

Satilla River – Most of the river is still too high to safely fish, although it is falling fast. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle (912-283-9400) in Waycross reported that the fishing in the Waycross area is non-existent, but a few folks caught crappie on minnows in the extreme upper river (near Pearson). A few bass were also reportedly caught on rattling rogue jerkbaits. Bank anglers caught some catfish with the warmer weather. The catfishing in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas of the river will be on fire as the river level drops back out and the water warms. For details on my approach to fishing the tidal Satilla for white catfish, see my article in the March issue of the Georgia Outdoor News Magazine. The river level at the Waycross gage was 13.6 feet and falling (58 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 14.4 feet (13 feet is flood stage) and falling on March 10.

Lake Seminole – There have been sporadic reports of crappie being caught along the creek and river channels. One day they fish are biting well and the next day in the same spots you will have to work for a bite.  However, some reports indicate nice stringers of crappie when they are biting, A few crappie have been caught shallow but the major spawning run has yet to occur. Expect the crappie to move shallow within the next few weeks especially if the weather warms. There have been a few reports of bass moving shallow towards bedding areas then back out as weather and water temperatures change. Expect the first round of bedding bass to occur soon.

St. Marys River – This is the only river I would consider fishing this weekend. The flow is still a little high for good panfishing in the upper river, but catfishing is good. Rooster livers fished on the bottom has been the ticket. From the Folkston Bridge to John’s Fish Camp, some big bream and redbreasts were caught on worms and crickets. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 6.2 feet and falling on March 10.

Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula” the bass fishing has been pretty good. Water temperatures have been in the upper 40s to lower 50s and bass have been caught in a range of depths. Most fish are coming from the ledges in 15 to 20 foot depths but as deep as 28 feet. Rick would not be surprised that two anglers can get a limit of keepers most days with fish over 14 inches being the most common size fish being caught. There have also been some nice 15-16 inch spotted bass being caught as well. Try using Carolina rigs, jigging spoons and other jigs when fishing the ledges. Most of the shallow bass being caught have been in the lower end of the lake and jerk baits seem to be the preferred lure.

Local Ponds – The bass fishing was off the chain this week. The biggest I heard about was an 11-pounder from a pond near Valdosta. In the Waycross area, quite a few 5 to 7-pounders were reported. Plastics were the most common lures fooling them. Chad Lee of Alma won a bass club tournament on Saturday and then caught a couple 5 and 6-pounders at area ponds this weekend. Keitech swimbaits on Flashy Swimbait Heads produced some of the pond bass, and ZOOM Trick Worms produced a bunch, as well. On Tuesday, Chad caught 19 bass, with Trick Worms producing many of them. Color didn’t seem to matter that day. Bass will be shallow all week. One person reported seeing bass so shallow that he could not believe that their backs weren’t out of water. Expect them to start bedding by the weekend with this extended warm spell. Michael Winge said that crappie were eating up minnows and jigs (primarily Tennessee shad and John Deere green Jiffy Jigs). Lizards pitched into shoreline cover produced some nice bass. Channel catfish ate worms, shrimp, and rooster livers. In Lake Ware in Jamestown, nice crappie were caught in good numbers this week.

Coast (Saltwater)

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

The winds didn’t allow folks to get out much this week, but those who whiting fished off St. Simons Island caught a bunch of whiting. It is time to put a small piece of shrimp on the bottom for boatloads of the tasty fish. The quickly warming water will get them chowing. At Crooked River, a group of anglers fished a couple of hours on the mud flats and caught 4 trout that ate Keitech swimbaits fished on Glider Heads and Flashy Jigheads. The trout and redfish bite should heat up with the warming water. Lots of black sea bass were caught this week at G Reef. Big sheepshead will be caught at the nearshore reefs for the next few months. Good luck finding fiddlers, as their supply has been very low (the warmer weather should help improve their supply now, though). Two anglers fishing in the inland rivers around Brunswick reported catching a limit of legal-sized redfish. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that the fishing from the pier was slow this week. The whiting bite should pick up when the water warms a few degrees. Monitor the marine forecast.

Best Bet – The weather is going to dictate the best bite this weekend. Whiting, sheepshead, and trout should feed pretty well if the winds will allow you to get out. Ponds will be a sure thing and you can make a quick retreat if bad weather pops up. It will be warm enough to spur a good bass, crappie, and probably bream bite, as well, but keep an eye out for thunderstorms.