(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)
Lake Russell (full, clear & lower 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair but cold. All over the lake spoons and jigs are the only baits getting strikes. Be sure to have the drop shot rigs with a small Bass Trix rigged and checkout any point you pass at 30 feet or less. Keep the spoons to 1/2 ounce and work the humps and old road beds all over the lake. The best tip is to keep moving until the active fish are found. It’s cold all over the lake and the bass are just not active. Watch for a warm up to get the fish moving. Slow presentations are required. Use smoke or green worms, lizards and dark jigs. Small Rat L Traps in bleeding shiner and #5 Shad Raps are fair on points on light line. Do not be afraid to fish very shallow. The New Lowrance 3D Technology can shoot all the way to the bank and we can see these shallow fish. Fish any rip rap on the bridges as the sun warms this water and the shad will spawn there. Work crank baits on points, inner creek humps, and old road beds all over the lake. In Beaver Dam Creek spend some time on the bridge right at the ramp. There is a lot of deep water close by and in front and behind the bridge there are huge stands of trees. Spooning and worms can make the fish bite.
Clark Hill (down 1.1 feet high 40’s) – Bass fishing is fair. Use your Lowrance depth finder to locate schools of bait fish. Find the schools of bait fish before you start fishing so spend the time riding the mouth of the creeks and pockets looking. When you find a school use a ½ ounce Flex It Spoon or the drop shot rig with a small finesse worm in sand and drop the bait just under the bait fish. Move your rod tip up 6 to 8 inches then let the bait fall back down. Watch your line as it falls. Bites will come as the bait falls back down. Fish this bait on 10-pound Sufix Elite line and add a swivel to your spoon. This type of fishing will last a few more weeks with the cold water so spend some time learning how to use a depth finder and a spoon to be able to catch a few winter-time bass. Do not be afraid to fish very shallow. The New Lowrance 3D Technology can shoot all the way to the bank and we can see these shallow fish.
Lake Oconee (full, the main lake is heavy stain, richland creek is stained, temperature 46-54 degrees) – Bass fishing is slow. The main lake is still stained. The Richland Creek arm of the lake is not as stained as the main lake. Spinner baits fished around wood and docks have been producing well over the past week. Do not be afraid to fish very shallow. The New Lowrance 3D Technology can shoot all the way to the bank and we can see these shallow fish. Spinner baits with chartreuse in them have been out-producing all other. Jigs with a big dark trailer will also work on the bridge rip rap or on rocks in the Richland creek arm of the lake.
Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time service. Call 404-803-0741
Striper fishing is good. The stripers are all over Richland Creek. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of bait in the creeks and drop a live bait down in to the fish. Shiners have been the best baits over the past few weeks. The spoon bite has slowed down with the muddy water, as the water clears the spoon bite will pick back up.
Crappie fishing is good. The fish are in the mouths of the creek and large coves. Long lines with double jigs trolled at 1 mph has been the best producer over the past week. The spider rigging bite has picked up over the past week. When spider rigging it is best to tip the jig with a minnow. Any jig as long as the lure has chartreuse in it will work. Some of the fish are also on the ledges in 15 to 20 feet of water and minnows fished on down lines will produce good catches.
West Point Lake (down 2.8 feet stained & low 50’s) –
SEE NOTICE FROM THE CORP OF ENGINEERS BELOW.
Bass fishing is slow after another set of cold temperatures. We hope later next week with the warm sunny days fishing will improve. With outside temperatures changing so drastically between sunny days and continued cooler temperatures the bite and pattern has stayed consistently slow. The warmer temperatures should produce some great bites. Largemouth are beginning to move up and will be located in shallow waters with the warmth of the sun. Focus on banks in spawning coves that are receiving most of the day’s sunlight. We have had our best luck by covering long distances using mid depth crankbaits with medium to slow retrieve. Use Bomber or Bandit mid-depth crankbaits in bright colors for dirty water and shad patterns in the clearer water. Do not be afraid to fish very shallow. The New Lowrance 3D Technology can shoot all the way to the bank and we can see these shallow fish. Once you have located fish, stick with them because they have been really grouped up and feeding on bait. A Bill Lewis Rat L Trap or an Excalibur XR50 Rattle Bait in the chrome black back colors will also produce fish on windier days. The most productive areas have been chunk rock and red clay banks close to the main river. On the southern end of the lake, use the same mid depth crankbaits in natural shad patterns. When cover is present slow down with a 1/2 ounce All Terrain jig in dark colors or a 3/16 ounce Davis Baits shaky head tipped with Zoom trick worm all colors green. Do not expect many bites from probing the thick cover, but they will be larger fish.
From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: due to recent heavy rains, excess sediment deposits have pushed down from the Chattahoochee River leaving silt formations in the lake channel thus narrowing the navigation channel north of the Georgia Highway 219 river bridge. This area is between Georgia Park and Ringer Park. In addition, a large sandbar has formed along the west side of the river channel. To properly mark the river channel, red and green buoys will be replaced with mid channel buoys (black and white vertically stripped) which identify the center of the channel. Boaters should navigate near these buoys to ensure deeper water. Shoal markers will be installed to identify the sandbar. Boaters should proceed with caution in this stretch of river and always be on the lookout for floating debris.
Lake Sinclair (down 1.6 feet stained low 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair. The largemouth bass bite has improved from very tough to tough. Small crankbaits like Rapala #5 Shad Rap, and Bomber Flat A still continue to catch a few fish. Fish these on a slow stop and go retrieve around boat docks, sea walls, grass lines and shallow ditches from Crooked Creek to Rooty Creek. Do not be afraid to fish very shallow. The New Lowrance 3D Technology can shoot all the way to the bank and we can see these shallow fish. The other pattern is to pitch a 1/8 ounce jig head with a Zoom black trick worm around main lake docks. Fish it super slow by dragging it a few inches at a time, letting it set from five to ten seconds next to dock posts. When the surface temperatures are above fifty degrees, start fishing a spinnerbait with a single Colorado on a lift and fall retrieve. This pattern can catch some of the bigger fish that you will see all spring. Good color patterns are Gold blades with chartreuse and white skirts in stained to muddy water.
Jackson Lake (down 1.5 feet, very stained & mid 50’s) – Bass fishing is fair and should improve this week. Shallow crank bait fishing had been the predominant tactic in stained areas. Deep Net Boy football jigs and vertical tactics, such as spoons and drop shot baits, have been producing quality bites. Jerk baits also come into play with increased water clarity and a little wind. In the stained water, fish are on shallow on rocks and hard bottom especially afternoons with a warm up. Lake surface warming on sunny days and some wind can put the shallow fish in a feeding mood. Crank baits are the right reaction baits for covering shallow water on south to west facing rock and points. Do not be afraid to fish very shallow. The New Lowrance 3D Technology can shoot all the way to the bank and we can see these shallow fish. Flat-sided baits like a Little John or lipless baits can be good choices. A #7 Shad Rap will work well. The water color in different areas is right for fire tiger to pearl colored baits depending on the degree of stain.
Flat Creek PFA
Surface Temperature: 60˚ F (15.6˚ C)
Water Level: 5’ 8” Below Full Pool
Water Visibility: 21”
As we progress into our brief spring, warmer water temperatures are expected to kick off some great fishing at Flat Creek. The good news is that the particularly wet winter has helped maintain the lake level so the fish are not all bunched together; this should also help for better bass fishing. The Crappie fishing is still going strong and those lucky enough to have a boat have had great success trolling jigs.
Bass: Lipless crank baits. June bug or watermelon colored Zoom Trick Worms, and Zoom Centipede worms with a slow retrieval. Worms fished on the bottom.
Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Worms on a Texas rig.
Channel Catfish: No interviews available for Channel Catfish at this time. The last angler interviewed that was catching catfish had great success with worms fished on the bottom.
Crappie: Minnows have been the go to bait, while jigs fished with light tackle to feel the slightest bite and trolled have been working very well! If you are bank fishing try fishing near the pier as lots of happy fisherman have left with heavy coolers from the fishing pier.
Water temps. : Low 50’s and climbing
Largemouth Bass: March starts the best time of year to be fishing at Marben PFA. Following similar trends to February, afternoon temperatures will vary but be patient. Unlike February, fish are less lethargic as feeding behavior begins to increase. Many anglers begin to target their efforts for bass at Marben PFA. Their reason: as water temps begin to rise threadfin shad become more active as well as other forage. Successful anglers mimic shad by casting jerk baits and crank baits. Mid-day will be the best times to target bass giving the sun a little time to warm the water just a touch. Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA. This is a good time of year to try many different techniques and baits because the bass are not as “picky” this time of year.
Crappie: Crappie will remain the most aggressive fish anglers will find at Marben this time year and this will only increase. However, do not expect to hook one with every cast in early March but later in the month-hold on!! If you fish for crappie a lot, then March (especially late) is extremely exciting. Anglers should see a significant change in the crappie bite during March. Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 6-8 feet throughout the day. Expect crappie to move into shallower water on warmer days in March.
Bream: Bream fishing will typically start to pick up in March especially on warmer days. Even though other species have picked up bream are not quite there yet. Warmer days in March will produce good catches but unstable morning temperatures will make the bite slightly uncertain. Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best with mid-day temperatures. Remember that bream are moving into shallower water but still move between deep and shallow water depending on water temperature.
Catfish: Catfish are still a little sluggish but the bite is picking up significantly. Patience is still necessary if anglers are in pursuit of this fish. Anglers should target days when it is sunny which should warm the water in order to get catfish moving. Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.
Average Morning Water Temperature: 53 – 56 ⁰F
Water Visibility: 30 – 54+ inches
Largemouth Bass: Slow. Bass are biting but slowly due to weather pattern swings. Fishermen are still catching a few bass. Willow Lake remains the lake with most potential for quality and quantity. It receives the majority of the bass fishing pressure for on the area. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is currently open and will remain open until the evening of the fifteen. A McDuffie PFA fisherman reported he caught and released several bass from Rodbender in the 2.5 to 4 pounds in one day. This lake has been set up with multiple bait species for optimum feeding conditions for the all-female largemouth bass. Bass tags from Rodbender must be sent to the Thomson fisheries office or use the drop box at lake.
Bream: No reports of bream being caught. Bream fishing has slowed dramatically due to temperatures swings. Bream can still be found around structure and aquatic plants suspended over deep water.
Channel Catfish: Reported catches. Catfish in the 2-5 pound range are biting well in Willow. The best fishing is on the bottom in deep water using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits. As water temperatures begin to warm up catfish will begin feeding in preparation for the spring spawn.
Striped Bass: No reported catches. Stripers like cooler temperatures and the cooler the better. Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse Lakes. Stripers will be chasing available bait during winter months.
(Info provided by Fisheries’ Tim Barrett)
The Crappie bite is on at Evans County PFA! Consistent catches of 15 -30 per boat are occurring with regularity. I recently gave it a try with a combination of marabou Jigs and minnows. My rig of choice was a double jig rig with a 1/8 ounce jig up top followed by a 1/16 ounce jig tipped with a minnow. The colors of the day were pink and chartreuse and white. I slow trolled these rigs around structure near the creek channel in 4-6 feet of water. Ultralight gear and six pound test made these 10-12 inch fish a lot of fun to catch. I caught 16, and 12 were 10-12 inch keepers for the frying pan! My favorite thing to do with fresh crappie fillets if to construct what I call the Georgia Garage Taco. This consists of a piece of the cheapest white bread you can find, a little horse radish, two or three pieces of fish and a little ketchup. Fold and get after it! Tight lines!
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Rob Weller and region fisheries staff)
Lake Walter F. George – According to Richard Sacco with the Friends of Lake Eufaula, the bass fishing has recently has been very good. A BFL held in late January was won by Scott Montgomery from Big Bite Baits with 21 lbs. 6 oz. A club tournament staged at Bagby the first Saturday in February was won with 27 lbs. Richard fished the week of February 22nd and caught five that weighed about 14 pounds, not a winning catch, but a good one. “I caught seven keepers. Fished “staging spots” in 4 to 10 ft., for the first six hours and caught three. Went shallow (1 – 2 1/2 ft.) and caught four in water willow stubble in 45 min. Left when the seventh keeper was boated. The fish are “white”, but in good physical shape.” Most crappie are still deep. A few small fish can be caught in shallow water. Bigger crappie in greater numbers are coming out of 20 ft. Usually the crappie precede the bass in the shallows but apparently not this year. The lake continues to be full of catfish. Anglers targeting them are complaining that there are too many catfish larger than the size ideal for table fare. That sounds like a pretty good complaint to have!
Flint River – The Lower Flint River is high and muddy but the current river condition is still good for catfish. There have been reports channel catfish being caught with worms fished on the bottom. Hybrid and striped bass should be in the tailraces of both the Albany and Blackshear dams. Some favorite baits for these hard fighting fish include large white jigs, silver spoons and spinners. As temperatures warm and the water begins to fall in the Flint, fishing will continue to improve over the next few weeks.
The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:
Montezuma above Lake Blackshear
Highway 32 below Lake Blackshear
Lower Flint River below Albany
Lake Seminole – According to Lake Seminole fishing guide Steven Wells, the fishing for both bass and crappie is in full swing and should be great the next several weeks. The water is still very muddy and turbid but the fish don’t seem to mind. The Flint River arm is the clearest, followed by the Chattahoochee and Spring Creek arms. This past Monday Steven’s wife Pam Wells took a WCTV Tallahassee reporter fishing on the lake and several nice bass were caught including the first bass ever for the WCTV female reporter. Both bass and crappie are bedding and any bass will be located on pretty much any bare spot of sand you can find. Males are cruising and some are even guarding. Try speed worm, lizards and jerk baits to catch these aggressive fish. Steven also mentioned that although they are not spawning yet the red ear sunfish are gathering in preparation for the spawn and can also be caught.
Panic Pond – Fisheries staff recently sampled a 10 pound bass from Panic Pond on Silver Lake WMA. Panic Pond is a 15 acre all female trophy bass pond. The average size of the bass in Panic Pond is approximately 7 pounds. The pond is open to fishing each Saturday through Monday from dawn until dusk. Only artificial lures are allowed and anglers may keep one bass that is at least 24 inches in length. The numbers of bass in Panic Pond is low but if you get bit expect the fish to be over 5 pounds. The best baits for these trophy size bass have been large lizards or other big plastic worms.