(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, it is crappie time at Lake George! Anglers are catching good numbers of fish from 0.5 pounds to fish larger than a pound. The fish are being caught in the shallows near vegetation with small jigs. The bass fishing is also very good at this time. The winning weight from a local bass club tournament last Saturday required almost 27 pounds to win. That is not a bad stringer of bass. Richard said that catching a limit of fish greater than the 14 inch minimum size should not be a problem. The current hot bait for bass is the Big Bite Biting Frogs in the 5 inch size with a ¾ oz. football head jig. The catfish bite continues to be very good on George and many anglers are catching them incidentally while fishing for crappie. If you have not gotten over to Lake George yet this year it is definitely time to plan a trip.
Flint River – The Lower Flint River is still high and turbid but the current river conditions are still good for catfish. There have been reports of channel catfish being caught with worms fished on the bottom. The first catches of bream have been getting reported by anglers fishing worms on the bottom as well. Fishing deep and slow this time of year is the key to catching bream. As water temperatures in the Flint River continue to climb the fishing for all types of fish will continue to improve especially bream. The high water this winter should have provided plenty of food for the bream so anglers can expect the fish to be a bit larger than in previous years. Hybrid and striped bass should be in the tailraces of both the Albany and Blackshear dams. There has been a report of a 38 pound striped bass being caught below Jim Woodruff dam on Lake Seminole this fish was only six pounds less than the Florida state record for striped bass. Some favorite baits for these hard fighting fish include large white jigs, silver spoons and spinners.
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, many bass and crappie have moved shallow and fishing for both is very good right now. The water in the main arms of the reservoir is still turbid and cool but the fish don’t seem to mind and clear water can be found in the backwaters including the bays and sloughs off of the three main arms of the Lake. The water temperatures in the back water areas is currently in the upper 60s. The Flint River arm is the clearest, followed by the Chattahoochee and Spring Creek arms. Steven has heard reports of several nice catches of crappie being caught near lily pads. Steven says to look at the base of the pads for exposed light colored roots indicating crappie fanning and spawning on these plants. The crappie appear to be quite large this year with most fish being caught are close to a pound and even larger. Male bass are cruising and some are even guarding. Try speed worm, lizards and jerk baits to catch these aggressive fish. The Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries Section began their spring electrofishing survey on Lake Seminole. Both the numbers and size structure of the bass population looks very healthy. During one sample last week both an 8 and 10 pound bass were collected. These fish were quickly measured and weighed and released.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
The warm weather has resulted in many of our early spring fisheries breaking loose this week. Crappie are hot, mountain trout are rising to afternoon bug hatches, and even reservoir bass and stripers are beginning to stir. If there is one great indicator of spring fishing success in north Georgia, it’s the magic fifty degree mark. When we see water temps getting over that hurdle, we know that spring has finally arrived. In fact, when we electrofish our lakes, we know our striper and hybrid catches in the shallows will be good above fifty degrees, and almost nonexistent below it. While the fishing reports are still a bit sparse, I don’t think you want to read next week that you “shoulda been here yesterday.” Instead, our north Georgia fisheries staff will put our degrees, years of experience, and especially our “shocking” results on the line and say, “go fishing soon!” This week of warm weather should keep pulling fish shallow, and give you some great shots at them.
- Check and Renew your Licenses
It’s that time of the year for many of us to renew!
Hint- go for the two-year license and upgrade to the plastic wallet card.
- Brand New – 2016 Fishing Prospects
Here are this year’s fishing predictions, written by GAWRD fisheries biologists. They use the most effective “baits” I know of, electrofishing and netting, to sample their assigned lake sand rivers annually and monitor fish population trends. Look at the “best bets” for your favorite species, from walleye to crappie, then read the individual reports and plan your road trips soon.
Here’s a walleye example, Yonah, by Anthony Rabern:
- Speaking of Walleye
o The Lanier fish should start inching up both rivers any day now. The Belton and 400 bridges should be good landmarks.
o It’s on!
The walleye run is in swing in North Georgia lakes. The 4lber in the picture was caught by electro fishing by a DNR field crew in the headwaters of Lake Hartwell.
-WRD senior fisheries biologist Anthony Rabern
o Burton Slabs
As water temperatures in North Georgia move up into the low 50s the crappie are moving up as well. Crappie fishing this past weekend was good, targeting schooling crappie on drop offs using 1/32 oz Bobby Garland jigs and crappie minnows. A good set of electronics will help you find these fish stacked up along drop offs. On Lake Burton we didn’t catch a lot of fish but those we did catch were good quality including a 2 pound slab. We also drowned some nightcrawlers and invited three chunky rainbow trout to supper, too!
WRD-Gainesville fisheries biologist Pat Snellings
Crappie Fishing Report March 9, 2016
This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. See our club’s website,www.laniercrappieanglers.net
As to be expected, fishing is good to excellent this time of the year. Water temperature is very critical in the pre-spawn. If you can find water temperatures above the mid-fifties, it will work to your advantage. With the full moon about two weeks away, combined with warmer weather, the stage is being set for the spawn. These conditions will stabilize the water temperature at around sixty degrees, which will be perfect for the spawn. The trolling bite is good, using double rigged curly tails in a variety of colors. Try tipping some with minnows. This technique will result in bagging bigger fish. For dock shooters, the bite has been consistent all day long, Target shallower docks, fifteen foot depths or less. As you start at a dock, you will notice you are catching the bigger fish. As they tend to get smaller, move on to another dock. As we mentioned in the past, you are competing with a large number of fishermen this time of year, so it is very important to keep moving if you are not getting bites. The secret to putting a lot of fish in the boat is to simply cover a lot of water. Keep moving! We’ve been asked the last several weeks, “what has happened to the fish on submerged brush piles?” They have abandoned their brush and moved into shallow water, preparing for the spawn. Four pound high visibility line is very important. Your jig color should vary depending on the water color. The more stain, the darker the jig should be. Stay away from heavier jig heads. 1/24 ounce remains our number one choice. As we mentioned in the past, keep asking your friendly bait store to carry that type jig head. They tend to be difficult to find. We’ve been painfully avoiding the word “blowdown”. Normally at this time of year, we target blowdowns, but the water temperatures are not yet supporting that. Water temperatures need to be around 60 degrees for a few days in a row, which we’ve not consistently reached. Watch for it though, it’s coming, and that will be the first sign of the spawn. Another sign of fish moving to blowdowns is seeing turtles sunning on the exposed portions of blowdowns. Once the water temperatures rise, the turtles will come out of hibernation. Best blowdowns are the ones that have been submerged a year or longer, in the backs of pockets. They’ve had a chance to build algae, which attracts the plankton, which attracts the bait…..you get the picture!
Stay safe on the water, always wear a life jacket!
- Big Bass Tip
Our smaller lakes will warm quicker than the major reservoirs. Consider visiting small lakes like Russell (Mt Airy), Cedar Creek (east Hall Co), Yargo (Winder) and Zwerner (Dahlonega) and crawling a crawdad imitation along the warming shallows. Each year we see or hear of some 8-pound plus largemouths coming from one or more of these small lakes. Grab a johnboat or kayak, or walk the banks of farm ponds and find the warm shallows. Take some crappie minnows along with you for a Plan B.
It’s that time of year again where the Striped Bass are finally up shallow enough in north Georgia that we biologists can snag a few with electricity! Wednesday we were able to get onto Lake Lanier (in the Flat/Balus area) to collect some valuable population data on about 30 fish, as well as scout for male broodstock Striped Bass. Needless to say we found some big fish that soon will be ready to be spawned!
Water temperatures in the morning ranged from 55 to 56 degrees and the fish were moving up onto points into about 10 feet of water. A good proportion of the fish we sampled were in the double digits, with one fish over 20 lbs. These fish can be expected to move back into deeper water throughout the day so if you want to target them shallow be sure to get out early.
As many of you know Striped Bass will not naturally reproduce in Lake Lanier so in order to produce these big fish to catch we have to collect mature adult Striped Bass and spawn the fish by hand to eventually produce fingerlings to be stocked. These broodstock fish are also used to produce the hybrid Striped Bass you enjoy in many Georgia reservoirs. So the next time you catch a trophy Striper don’t forget where that fish came from and how all of you have a stake in the success of our incredible fisheries!
-WRD Gainesville fisheries biologist Pat Snellings
- Lanier Reports
o Landon said he and a buddy used the float’n fly technique in the upper reservoir and targeted crappie last weekend. They couldn’t find the crappie, but a dozen spots saved their day. The small crappie jigs were set about 3 feet below the corks and cast toward woody debris along the bank.
o March 9, 2016,
Our customers are reporting that Striper fishing has been good for the past two weeks. 14+ pound fish have been caught consistently and in good quantities with all sizes of Gizzard Shad, and large Herring. These baits are being pulled on planer boards, flat lines with balloons and short lines, just behind the transom. Stripers are being found in 12-20 feet of water on points and humps with steep slopes.
Sherry’s Bait & BBQ
2807 Dawsonville Highway
Gainesville, GA 30506
- Coosa Whites
A recent electrofishing survey of the Coosa River between Mayo’s Lock and Dam and the River Rd. Boat Ramp indicates white bass are starting to filter into the area, but are not yet there en masse. Look for things to improve by next week under steadily rising river temperatures (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=02397000). Nevertheless, some nice fish are being caught by those putting in the effort (http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=867097). If you plan to head out ahead of the rain this weekend, target creek mouths and the inside river bends. Crankbaits that dive to 10 ft. and jigs are both good bets. Fish holding deeper may be coaxed to bite ½ -¾ oz. spoons jigged vertically.
– WRD senior fisheries biologist Jim Hakala
The Allatoona striper, hybrid and crappie bite has been great and should only get better in the coming weeks.
- Ken’s Reservoir Reports
- Hooch Tailwater Wild Browns
Find the shoals and you’ll find the browns. Both of Georgia’s major trout tailwaters are still limited by COE and TVA flood control operations, so check generation schedules before heading toward the Hooch or Blue Ridge fisheries (800-238-2264, opt 4, opt 23).
- Mountain Streams Coming Alive
Rabunites Treyman and Landon have been having a big time with quill gordons and blue quills on Nantahala DH (NC). Similar bugs and also some march browns should be popping here in our bigger mountain streams like the Chattooga, so gray and brown should be the colors to throw. Be patient; sometimes the bugs pop at noon, but on the days following cold nights, they might not start popping til 2PM.
Match the Hatch Hint: flip one of these over your dip net so you can fetch a bug, inspect it, and imitate it.
(Tip courtesy of Gink&Gasoline, years ago)
And carry these as a backup, in case flying bugs are sparse: http://www.wideopenspaces.com/10-flies-use-early-spring-fly-fishing/
- Relieving Pressure
WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson said the warm weather has his hatcheries crowded and he’s had to relieve some pressure. Therefore, some weekend “stocker” best bets include: Lanier Tailwater, Holly, Stamp, Middle Broad, Panther, and two impoundments by the names of Nancytown and Rock Creek.
- Spring Trouting Secrets – March 15 Program
Dredger tells all: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=109629
- March 19 Hooch Hoot in Helen
The GATU Yellowstone “Dream Trip” winner and runners-up are also drawn for the raffle bucket during this event.
- Flyfishing 101 Program – March 19
- More Help for Angling Rookies
“Adoption” is the key to accelerated angling success.
It’s spring! “Happy new season,” as the Ole Rabunite says.
Strip off the fleece and go fetch your sunscreen from the supply cabinet. While we will still have to deal with yo-yo’s, from weather and water temperatures to dam releases and muddy waters, winter is behind us and it should only get better during the next two months. Go soon, before the big females have spawned, and increase your chances at a real trophy. Renew your license and renew your days afield. You’ll be glad you did. Good luck as you:
Go Fish Georgia.
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
The spring melee will be happening by the time you read this. Crappie are in the shallows spawning and bass have moved shallow to begin the spawn. The swamp bite should be excellent this weekend, and saltwater has produced some great seatrout catches. First quarter moon is March 15th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – If you like a swift, muddy river, give it a try. If you like catching fish, then fish elsewhere. The only catches reported this week upriver were a few crappie from Morgan Lake. Donna at Altamaha Park said that a few flathead catfish and crappie were caught from the backwaters. I worked on the Altamaha this weekend out of Altamaha Park, and the water is ripping, so keep that in mind if you want to fish there. The river level was 12.7 feet and rising (59 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.4 feet and falling (59 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 8th.
Satilla River – The river is still high and swift, but Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that there were reports of crappie being caught in the Hwy 158 portion of the river. Some bass were reported by those fishing shiners and plastics in the mouths of sloughs. Set hooks baited with rooster livers and shrimp produced some catfish. The river level on March 8th at the Waycross gage was 11.4 feet and rising (59 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 11.0 feet and falling.
St. Marys River – The St. Marys is definitely fishable. Bream and redbreasts have started hitting crickets fished under floats. The bass bite improved this week with anglers reporting catching them on black Culprit worms. The catfish bite was strong again this week with shrimp producing the best. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 8th was 3.8 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – Craig James and Brent Tatum fished the Folkston entrance over the weekend and caught a nice mess of fliers. They worked for them, but the ones they caught were whoppers – mostly over 8 inches. The only color sally they could get them to bite was pink, and they had to work it really slowly to get bites. They only had one warmouth on the pink fly, but it was a giant. They pitched Sea Shads a little bit and managed a nice pickerel (jackfish) and several bowfin (mudfish). They ended up with about 25 fish. Other anglers reported catching some warmouth with worms and fliers on yellow sallies from the east side.
Local Ponds – Ponds are on fire. The DNR biologists did some electrofishing sampling at Paradise Public Fishing Area this week and noted that the big female bass have moved up to spawn. Crappie were also around shallow cover spawning. Chad Lee managed about 10 bass on Saturday from Alma area ponds. His biggest was a 4-pounder, and black Trick Worms produced well for him. He also missed two giants that caught him off-guard. Michael Winge said that Waycross area ponds were on fire for anglers chasing crappie. Minnows were tops for numbers, but some really big crappie were taken with jigs. Catfish ate shiners, rooster liver, and pink worms fished on the bottom. Bass were caught on spinnerbaits and topwaters.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Justin Bythwood has been absolutely stomping the trout from bank accesses around Brunswick. He fished twice this week and caught 28 and 36 trout and a few bluefish on each trip (kept 19 fish total). About 3/4 of his fish have been keepers (even with the new 14-inch minimum size!), and his biggest was just over 22 inches. Assassin Sea Shads (natural looking glitter colors were tops) fished on 1/8-oz. Flashy Jigheads have produced the best on all trips, but a few fish ate small diving minnow plugs. Brentz and Alex McGhin fished out of St. Marys and had a great catch (several dozen) of whiting. They fished shrimp on the bottom for their bull whiting, and they also had a keeper-sized black sea bass and their first shark of the season. Michael Winge reported that sheepshead were caught in good numbers on fiddler crabs fished around bridge pilings and docks. With the warmer days, the trout and redfish have been active around backwater oyster mounds and creek mouths. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that a few flounder were caught this week from the pier. Sheepshead, black drum, and whiting were also caught. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: The warm weather this week should have all of the freshwater bites on fire (except in the rivers that are still too high). Fish shallow cover this weekend for some of the biggest crappie of the year. The Okefenokee fishing should be great this weekend, as well. In saltwater, look for the whiting catches to improve significantly with the warming trend.