As we dive into this week’s fishing reports, remember that the 2015 Fishing Prospects have been updated on our website. Check out the reservoir fishing prospects and river fishing prospects as we get into prime-time fishing!
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and Region Fisheries staff)
Our early spawning species are now doing their thing. Take advantage of some of these early runs when the weather and water conditions permit your ventures. The striper and bass action should pick up soon afterward as our north Georgia waters warm a bit more in the weeks to come.
Walleye Run – Walleye are now at the peak of their spawning run in north Georgia reservoirs. WRD staff collected male and female broodstock from the Chattahoochee above Lake Lanier this week and delivered them to the Go Fish Georgia Hatchery in Perry for spawning and fry production. Hint: try the deep pools in the mile or two below Belton Bridge to find the big (4-7 pound) females, as they stage daily before their evening trek to the spawning riffles above the bridge. Try the same spots on the Chestatee below Hwy 400. Reminder- walleye guide.
Hooch Fishing Trail – Spring is a good time to float the Hooch above Lanier for walleye, stripers, and river bass and bream. Check out upper Chattahoochee access points.
Crappie – Local Ponds
- “It was ridiculous. Took my kayak for its first trip of the year to a watershed lake near home. I caught the crappie trolling, jigging, under a bobber, casting, and any other way you can think of! I used Slider grubs (black/chartreuse) and white Popeye jigs. My bonus fish was a nice largemouth bass. Got cornmeal?” – Ken Riddleberger, Game Management Region Supervisor
- Sgt. Stan enjoyed a day off from his Hartwell area “game warden” gig to meet a fishing buddy and sample the local farm pond crappie population. Biggest fish pushed 17 inches. Small jigs were the ticket.
White Bass Run – The Coosa River white bass run is building nicely. The rising river temperatures are pushing more and more fish into the river stretch between Mayo’s Lock and Dam downstream to the Old River Road Boat Ramp. WRD sample crews are seeing better than average size white bass females in the river this year. As such, anglers should encounter more two-plus pound specimens in their catch. A few small stripers are making their way into the river too, which can be an added bonus to any white bass fishing trip. – James Hakala, Fisheries Biologist
Chattooga DH – Tex and Dredger gave it a shot on a sunny Sunday afternoon (3/15) in hopes of hitting a Quill Gordon hatch, or any other dry fly action. Alas, the aerial bugs were sparse. The duo still dredged up a nice number of browns and rainbows to fourteen inches with their trusty olive leeches, and Tex nailed a brook trout to complete his Tooga hat trick (rainbow, brown, and brook). The gray caddis finally came out to play as the evening shadows fell and the duo picked off several fish on top with a skittered combo of a #16 gray elk hair caddis and a gray caddis emerger trailing behind it. Mimicking the naturals was the key, as their dead-drifted imitations were ignored.
And the Quill Gordon watch continues…
Hooch DH Reports – GON Forum
Trouting Opportunity at Go Fish Education Center – We currently have the pond open for trout harvest on Fri, Sat and Sun during our normal hours. Anglers can keep up to 3 trout per person, and anyone 16 and over needs a fishing license and trout license. This will continue through March and likely into early April. Don’t forget about the Go Fish Cam! – Jeremy Wixson, Go Fish Education Center Program Manager
Call for Bucket Volunteers, April 6 – We’ve got a date for the reschedule of the Whitewater Creek (Hooch Delayed Harvest) bucket stocking event referenced below. We’re going to hold it on Monday, April 6th. This is the first day of metro spring break. Hopefully by that point we’re out of the woods for any threat of winter weather. – Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist
Helen Trout Party, this Saturday, March 21 – It’s the annual Hooch Hoot!
Good luck. At this time of year, you won’t really need much to have a fine fishing day.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff)
Big Lazer PFA (down 3 inches, 31 inches of visibility, slightly muddy in upper end, avg. surface water temp. 59 degrees) – Largemouth Bass: Fair but improving – Bass seem to be moving shallower with the recent warm temperatures. A few anglers have reported catching a few bass in shallower water using worms and rooster tails. These are likely male bass, which are smaller than the females, who usually are the first to move into shallower water to start making beds for the big females.
Bream and Channel Catfish: Poor – Few of either bream or catfish are being caught. A couple catfish were caught on worms and livers in deeper water. Bream are still hard to catch but should start improving in late early April. However, bream are usually the last fish to start biting in the spring.
Crappie: Fair – Crappie are starting to bite some as they moving toward shallower water. Jigs and live minnows have started to show promise. Crappie have moved in close enough for a few to be caught from the bank.
In general, March temperatures at Big Lazer are starting to warm up and so is the fishing. Late March and early April are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer as pre-spawning fish start to move into shallower water.
Addtitional information: http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer
Clarks Hill (down 1.07 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is good. Bass are shallow and feeding well. This month take several items to fish with. Use Carolina rigged worms and lizards, shaky head worms and jig ’n pigs. All of these will produce fish. Big numbers will be caught on soft plastics, but quality will be caught on spinnerbaits and jig ’n pig patterns. The Alabama rig, the Rapala DT crank baits and the spinner baits that all will run from 2 to 7 feet are a must. The type and kind are not as important as where you fish them. Use bright colors in stained water and natural colors in clear water. The spinnerbait pattern should be good this month, also. Slow roll the bait this month until they begin to spawn, and then move shallow and speed up. Soft plastics will be good baits starting this month. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
Flat Creek PFA (down 2 feet 10 inches, 35.5 inches of visibility, water surface temp. 66 degrees) – The fish at Flat Creek have been biting really well lately and as the water continues to warm the fish are getting more and more aggressive. If there is a cold day expect the fish to be less aggressive. So far (with the exception of catfish) the difference between those with heavy stringers of fish and those fishermen going home hungry has been the size of tackle being used. Light tackle is still catching the most fish.
Bass: Minnows fished in around five foot of water have been what most bass are currently biting. A red crankbait had one angler’s arms tired from catching so many. White Zoom Flukes®(or Berkley Gulp! Alive!® Minnows) thrown when bass are feeding on schooling shad have been working great. Some worms on the bottom near the shallows also have had some strikes.
Bream: Worms on a Carolina rig have been very successful.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is really heating up! Chartreuse jigs underneath a Rocket Float® and cast in the shallows during the warmth of the day have worked great. Renosky® Natural Shad Minnow jigs are also catching many fish. Minnows beneath a float cast near structure are very successful.
Channel Catfish: Fishing for catfish has been great! Worms and frozen Catalpa worms fished on the bottom are doing very well.
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek
Jackson Lake (down 2.1 feet, stained, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is fair and the lake got a lot of runoff recently. Use a light Texas rig on the rock and red clay points with a Zoom finesse green pumpkin worm. For the rest of this week use dark June bug, natural blue and gourd green worm in the Zoom u tail style as well as the jig and pig combinations. Try the Alabama rig with some swim baits up the lake for the schooling bass in the pockets. The Texas rigged worm and a 3/16 ounce weight cast onto the banks and around docks in the creeks will get a hungry bass to strike. With the water temperatures warming, spinner baits and bright crank baits are also good baits. Use bright crawfish and fire tiger crank baits in the Bomber Model A styles.
Stop by www.gon.com on the forum page for current events.
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. Call 770-887-2217 Carrie Toth or email@example.com for all the details and vendor options.
McDuffie PFA (40-plus inches of visibility, avg. morning water temp. 61 degrees) – Largemouth Bass: Excellent – Best ponds have been Willow, Breambuster, and Clubhouse. Generally, fish in Willow for quality and fish in Breambuster for quantity. We have seen three trophy bass (10 lb 3 oz., 9 lb, and 8 lb 8 oz.) caught in Willow over the past 3 days alone and all three fish were released. Now is the time to catch trophy bass as they prepare to spawn! In Breambuster, numerous 2-3 lb fish have been biting very consistently on shaky-head worms and umbrella rigs with soft-plastic swimbaits that mimic schools of threadfin shad fished from the bank. In addition to the numerous medium-sized fish being caught in Breambuster, a 6 lb. 15 oz. bass was recently reported. We had a couple reports of 5-6 lb fish being caught in Rodbender (our trophy bass pond) along with numerous 1-2 lb fish that were short, fat “football” fish. In Clubhouse, medium-sized bass up to 4 lb have been caught on shad imitations, specifically a Super Spot lipless crankbait. Even though most of the action has been close to the banks as bass are moving onto their beds, bass are still chasing shad in deeper water. In Willow, Breambuster and Clubhouse, bass are schooling and feeding heavily on balls of threadfin shad but the shad are staying deeper in the water column than they have been. Numerous 3-4 lb bass continue to be caught in Willow on crankbaits fished about 10 ft. deep around flooded timber and drop-offs. To help locate the shad, fish the downwind side of the pond or look for where the seagulls are circling and feeding. In addition to shad imitations, variations of soft -plastics on shaky-head jigs in pumpkin-seed and other green colors are great standbys to have with you.
Bream: Fair – 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. Try fishing with red wigglers, crickets, and beetle-spins.
Channel Catfish: Good – Best ponds have been Beaverlodge, Bridge and Jones. A large catfish was recently caught in Bridge that weighed 12 lb 6 oz. Numerous fish have recently been caught in Beaverlodge using homemade stinkbait. Fish on the bottom in deep areas using worms, stinkbait and crickets.
Striped Bass: Excellent – Striped Bass are only in Bridge and Clubhouse, although there has recently been an unverified report of large stripers being caught in Breambuster. A large striper (6 or 7 lbs) was recently caught in Clubhouse on a large umbrella rig with soft-plastic swimbaits that mimic a school of threadfin shad (as described above). The techniques described above for locating and imitating threadfin shad are excellent techniques for striped bass in addition to largemouth bass.
Additional Information: http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/McDuffie
Lake Oconee (full pool, stained, water temp. 55-60 degrees) – Bass fishing is fair. The lake is full, stained over most of the lake. Start in the middle of the coves and main lake creeks. Fish boat docks, wood structure, and sea walls. Work your way to the back of the coves and creeks. Sugar creek has been the most productive over the past week. Use Shad Raps and small crank bait with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks. Dark Jigs with a rattle, brown, blue and black have been the best colors. Fish these around wood structure on the main river pockets above Sugar Creek. Spinner baits fished along any rock bank will also draw a strike. Remember to slow down your retrieve as the water is still cold below the surface. If we get a few days with worm temperatures look for the fish to start to move into the back of the creeks and major coves off of the main lake. If it gets colder they will move back to deeper water.
Crappie fishing is good. The fish are moving into the major creeks. Use a dark jig tipped with a minnow. Spider rigs have been the best producers over the past week. Use your Lowrance to located the depth and location of the schools and adjust your depth to put the jig on top of the fish. Over the next few weeks the largest fish will be moving into the coves and creeks to spawn so now it the time to fill a cooler with big slabs.
Striper fishing is good. The fish are starting to show up at the dam for the spring run. Some fish are also showing up in the back of the major creeks. Live bait fished on down lines along with flat lines and plainer boards will pick up fish. If the water clears up the umbrella rig bite will also produce fish. – Striper/hybrid report by Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service firstname.lastname@example.org
Lake Russell (full, clear, water temp. low 50s) – Bass fishing is good and the bass are moving to the points and creek bends all over the lake. They are roaming on any wood all day and a crank bait cast through the wood will draw a strike. Use a bright color. By noon spinner baits down lake in the creeks are fair on cover using Lucky Craft Redemption spinner baits with two silver blades. Later in the day, look for shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day. The Zoom water melon seed lizards on a Carolina rig, has been fair later each day. Also on creeks on old channels, use a Culprit red shad worm on a Texas rig with the brass and glass combination. Work baits right on the bank around any cover. Use the Strike Kink 1/2 ounce jig and a #11 Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the points. The crank bait and spinner baits cast on the bank cover and slowly worked will get strikes.
Lake Sinclair (full, rivers and creeks are stained, lower lake is clear, water temp. 55-60 degrees) – Bass fishing is good. Look for the fish to start moving towards their spawning grounds. Many of the fish have already started leaving their wintertime haunts and are moving up on shallow sandy points and flats to feed. A crankbait is an excellent choice for catching these opportunistic feeding fish. A Spro Little John 50 in a shad or craw color is hard to beat right now. On warmer days when the fish get extremely shallow, a Spro Fat John in the same colors will get the call. Make multiple casts to stumps, brush, and rocks as you might be able to catch more than one fish off a single spot. The bigger fish have been eating a ¼ ounce Buckeye Mop Jig with a Zoom Super Chunk under shallow protected docks. Black and blue has been the best color in the stained water areas of the lake. A Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head paired with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog has also been catching the more finicky fish under these same docks. The best docks are the ones with 4 to 6 feet on the front posts. Later in the afternoon, look for the fish to move into 1 to 2 feet of water under the walkways as the shallow water will heat up quicker.
West Point Lake (down 5.5 feet, stained, water temp. high 50s) – Bass fishing is good. Fishing has gotten better as the week progressed. With such fluctuating conditions the best bites have come from covering water with lipless crank baits and medium running crank baits. Fish are scattered in multiple depths right now from three to eight feet of water. Keep the boat in ten feet of water throwing as shallow as possible working the bait slowly back to the boat working as many pockets as possible mid lake. The best colors have been a shad pattern with chartreuse as the primary color. Bass have preferred tighter wobbling crank bait like a Rapala Glass Shad Rap in shad pattern. Using long casts as close to rocky banks, make about five turns with the reel and pause. Repeat this cadence all the way back to the boat. McStick jerk baits can work but be sure to use a jerk and then rest a few seconds before pulling the bait again. Fish the mid part of the lake. Focus on rocky points closest to the main river channel. – Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant
(Info provided by Fisheries biologists Bert Deener and Rob Weller and regional Fisheries staff)
Well… we’ve gone from some of the coldest temperatures of the year to mid-summer all within a little over a week! The fish don’t know whether they are coming or going. Bass fishing in ponds has been excellent. Saltwater is picking up, and the rivers will be fishable before long if we do not get any significant rains soon. New Moon is March 20. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – I’ve fished the Altamaha at these levels, and it is usually very tough, as the water is still very swift. I’d fish ponds and lakes this week, but it’s your call. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle in Jesup said that some crappie were beginning to bite in the oxbows. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that crappie fishing was decent in the backwaters for those using minnows. Anglers caught some big bream on worms and crickets fished at the mouths of creeks and cuts. The river level was 9.3 feet and falling (65 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.8 feet and falling (63 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 17.
Flint River – Both stripers and hybrid are 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. Fishing for channel catfish has been good with several reports of both large numbers and big fish being caught on limb lines. The most effective limb line bait seems to be medium to large shiners.
Okefenokee Swamp – Warmouth have produced the best reports this week, as lots were caught by pitching worms, crickets, and beetle spins to cover. Fliers have also been mixed in the catch, although that bite has yet to fire off.
Satilla River – The middle and lower sections are still too high to effectively fish. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross reported that anglers caught catfish and crappie from the Highway 158 Bridge up to the Douglas area (the extreme upper river). The crappie ate minnows and jigs. Worms fooled bream, redbreasts, and catfish. Topwaters and ZOOM worms fooled some bass. Shiners fooled some nice channel cats and bass. The catfishing in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas of the river should be heating up any day 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 11.3 feet and falling (65 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 12.0 feet (13 feet is flood stage) and falling on March 17.
Lake Seminole – There have been several reports of bedding bass on Lake Seminole. Wildlife Resources Fisheries personnel have finished their spring electrofishing sample and the results look very promising. Good numbers of 2-4 pound bass were sampled and several fish over 6 pounds were seen. One fish topped the scales at over nine pounds. The bass fishing over the next several weeks should be excellent. Spots where Fisheries personnel saw large numbers of fish included Ten Mile Still, Fairchilds, The Corn Field and the Three Rivers area. The recent mild weather has caused the water temperature to increase in Lake Seminole resulting in increased fish activity.
St. Marys River – Bream and redbreasts were reported this week by those fishing crickets, worms, and beetle spins. Crappie were fooled with minnows. Anglers reported catching from 20 to 40 bream and redbreasts per trip. Catfish were eating up worms, shrimp, and rooster livers anywhere you fished them on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 5.1 feet and falling on March 17.
Lake Walter F. George – According to Rick Sacco with the “Friends of Lake Eufaula” the bass have moved into shallow embayments and protected waters. In some cases, the water barely covers their backs. Early in the day, the bite has been aggressive and buzz baits, topwater frogs, and swim jigs seems to be doing the trick. If fishing during the middle of the day, Texas rigs and light jigs will draw strikes. In a recent Alabama Bass trail tournament, 15 teams weighed in over 20 lbs. The crappie fishing has been good and about half the anglers are catching limits in moderate to shallow depths. Eufaula regulars report that the size of the crappie being caught are the best in four or five years.
Local Ponds – This is where the best reports originated this week. Congratulations to Hunter Smith who won the fishing contest at the annual pig-pickin’ hosted by Second Baptist Church in Waycross. Hunter caught his bass on a black/yellow Satilla Spin and won a Penn Battle outfit for his efforts. Second was Noah Tillman of Waycross. Teddy Elrod, Wyatt Crews, and I fished a Brunswick area pond this week and caught 15 bass in 3 hours of fishing. The fish were very shallow (under 3 feet deep) and ate spinnerbaits, Keitech Swimbaits fished on Flashy Swimbait Heads, and Texas-rigged creature baits. Our biggest fish were 5 1/2 and 6lb.-2oz., and both inhaled a spinnerbait fished by shoreline vegetation. Chad Lee of Alma fished Monday and Tuesday and caught a total of 18 bass. His fish primarily ate trick worms and flukes, and his biggest was 3 1/2 pounds. He had a blast with that biggest fish on his ultralight outfit, as it inhaled an Assassin Tiny Shad while he was trying to fool a crappie. Patience won the battle for him. An angler fishing late last week in the Valdosta area whacked some nice bass to 7 pounds on Keitech Swimbaits (gold flash minnow was his most productive color) fished on Flashy Swimbait Heads. Almost all of his fish were shallower than 3 feet, but the spawn had not started anywhere I got reports. The fish should start bedding this week and continue for about a month. Michael Winge said that pond fishing was hot for any species in ponds. Minnows were tearing up the crappie, while worms and crickets fooled most of the bream. Worms and shrimp produced good stringers of catfish. Shiners caught bass and catfish, and topwater frogs also accounted for quite a few bass.
Best Bet – Wow… the rain forecasted for all this past week was a non-event. Take advantage of the warm water temperatures in ponds this weekend and fish for bass or crappie. The fish are in a feeding mode right now and are in the shallow areas of ponds. If you want to fish a river, head to the St. Marys. The Okefenokee should produce good warmouth and flier fishing this weekend.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Capt. TJ Cheek reported that the trout, redfish, and sheepshead bite has been hit-and-miss, but the most consistent bite has come in smaller creeks around shell beds in 6 to 10 feet of water. The sheepshead fishing on nearshore reefs has been really good with the best bite occurring at the change of the tide. He said that St. Simons Marina has a steady supply of fiddler crabs. Michael Winge reported that the whiting bite around Brunswick has picked up. Squid and shrimp fished on the bottom accounted for the best catches. Bass Assassin Sea Shads produced some good trout catches in the rivers and creeks in the Brunswick area. Sheepshead were reported from the St. Marys Jetties this week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that a 50-pound black drum was caught from the pier on Sunday. Small black sea bass and a few whiting were also caught from the pier. Monitor the marine forecast.
Licenses Required at a PFA
Angers 16 years and older must possess a current fishing license, AND a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license to fish.
If you have either a Sportsman’s, Lifetime, Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license), 3-day Hunting and Fishing License, or 3-day GORP Plus you are NOT required to have a WMA license to fish.
A WMA license is NOT required to fish at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.
To access a PFA for non-fishing activities, visitors age 16-64 must have one of the following (visitors under age 16 and/or over age 64 are exempt):
- Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP)
- 3-day hunting/fishing license
- WMA license
- Sportsman’s license
- Honorary (resident disability license or resident one-time veteran’s license)
- Lifetime license
Buy or renew your license(s) at http://georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.