(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
The unusually warm weather has all of our north Georgia fisheries on a fast track. In normal years, the walleye spawn is just hitting its peak right now, but this year the peak has already passed. Stripers have been up shallow early, but they’re going down quickly to deeper waters as the sun rises and the shallows warm. Crappie and bass are doing well. Wild trout streams will be a best bet as those cold headwaters get above the fifty-degree mark, and there should be enough stocked fish around from last week to continue providing some fun and fresh suppers.
The catch might slow down just a bit with the weekend cold snap,
but it should pick right up after those chilly mornings pass. It’s another great week to get outside with your rod, reel, and kids in tow. Enjoy these reports and tips.
- A Shocking Lanier Experience
o Enjoy this first-hand account of life aboard a DNR electrofishing boat.
o And this first-hand account from the boat skipper:
On Lake Lanier we are continuing to collect our spring striped bass electrofishing data. The strong 2013 year class has been well represented in our collections at the lake with a large number of striped bass in the 4 to 6lb range. With water temperatures swelling into the 60’s fish are moving out of the shallows <10’ and into deeper water where we can’t get them with electricity but anglers can surely catch a few on rod and reel. Anglers have been reporting doing well on live bait including blueback herring and gizzard shad.
If you plan on going out this weekend be safe, and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know!http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/AnglerAwards
Good luck and tight lines,
Pat Snellings, GA WRD Fisheries Biologist, Gainesville
- Lanier Stripers
- Lanier- Noble Cause Needs Skippers
- Walleye Winding Down
Go soon to catch the tail end of the walleye spawning runs up the rivers. Dredger read Rabern’s walleye guide, tried his spinner&nightcrawler rig on page 5,
and invited two Chestatee River “eyes” home to dinner on Saturday night. Thinking that he now had these fish figured out, he returned with his leftover nightcrawlers on Sunday night and caught a whopping total of one eight-inch spot. Oh, well….
His research continues.
o Lanier Crappie Fishing Report March 16, 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
Water temperature is 63 plus degrees and rising… THE SPAWN HAS BEGUN and fishing is good! Not all fish spawn at the same time, so anticipate the spawn to continue the next two to three weeks. Higher water temperatures will speed up the spawn. The approach of the full moon will also speed up the spawn. You may need to think outside the box. We’ve been used to fishing the deeper docks and submerged brush piles in various depths. The overwhelming majority of the crappie have abandoned these areas in anticipation of the spawn. If you are having difficulty locating fish, pay attention to the backs of pockets and the backs of the creeks, watching for those fishing on the banks. They may clue you in on how and where to catch the crappie right now. They are in shallow water and the majority of the bank fishermen are catching them on a crappie minnow under a cork. Hair jigs and soft body grubs with a straight tail are also working well. You may want to try using a weighted cork with a Bobby Garland jig 2 feet below the cork using the popping method (gently pop the cork and retrieve slowly to keep the jig vertical). You can also target the blow downs. A blow down is a fallen tree partially on the bank, partially in the water. But not all blow downs are equal. There are an unusual amount in the lake from the past winter storms. The older blow downs with algae buildup will produce better than the new. To determine the size of the tree, look at the trunk of the tree and compare it to a standing tree. That will give you an idea of the height of the tree, and therefore the length submerged. Make sure you fish all the angles, including the middle of the tree. Crappie relate to structure, and they’ve found their living room Cast it into the blow down and pop it slowly as you retrieve. If you are a dock shooter you will still find fish on the shallower docks close to the spawning ground. The females have either laid their eggs and headed back to docks, or are hanging out at the nearer docks waiting to spawn. If you want to harvest fish, be mindful that the females holding eggs are our future fish, so consider keeping only the darker colored fish (almost purplish black) and releasing the females. This is the time of the year that you can put your limit in the boat with no problem. The more spots you fish, the more fish you will put in the boat. Always, when you start catching the smaller fish, leave that spot and go to the next pocket, or the next dock. The fish are aggressive now, and are not picky on jig colors. Our favorite line is Mr. Crappie four pound test, high visibility line. We find that wearing polarized sunglasses is very helpful in enabling you to see your line movement. Get out and fish! It is the best time of the year! Stay safe on the water, always wear a life jacket!
Crappie fishing continues to be in full swing at Lake Allatoona. Water temperatures are solidly in the 60’s and the crappie are steadily moving shallower. A recent rod and reel trip yielded decent numbers of crappie and a few white bass in the Etowah flats and Little River area of the lake. Black and chartreuse single tails and slider jigs fished around brush in 8-12 feet were the ticket. Most of the crappie were caught without tipping the jigs with minnows. The reverse was true for the white bass bite. Slow troll areas with brush to find feeding fish. Once you find fish willing to bite, post up just on the periphery of the brush and cast to it. A slow retrieve was preferred by both species. Once the bite dies off, don’t hesitate to move on in search of actively feeding fish.
-Jim Hakala, Angler
- Hartwell Bass
Had a successful trip to Lake Hartwell. My fishing buddy and I picked up about 20 spotted and largemouth bass between us, 17 keepers. The largest fish was 3 ½ pounds, but most were 2 lbs. plus. Almost all of our fish were caught on main points using fishhead spins with a pearl superfluke or on jerkbaits. We did pick up a few with spotstickers and pumpkin zoom worms. We would catch 2 – 3 fish per point, then move to the next one. Good day of fishing!
– Ken R (aka “Cheesegrits”)
- Ken S – Detailed Reservoir Reports
- Coosa River
Steadily warming water temperatures have more white bass moving into the Coosa between Mayo’s Lock and Dam Park and the Old River Rd. Boat Ramp. Recent electrofishing surveys indicate the peak of the spawning run is still to come, but white bass numbers have definitely increased since last week. The egg-laden females are running 1-2 pounds, while the males are typically less than a pound in size. Anglers should concentrate their efforts around the lock and dam and the inside river bends as you move downstream. Crankbaits, jigs and live minnows are all good bets. Look for white bass numbers to continue to increase in this river stretch through mid-April.
Striped bass numbers are also building in the river. Most are males in the 5-10 pound range, but some larger females topping the 20 pound mark have been seen. The stripers are scattered along the river, but tend to hold around woody debris with good water current. Live or cut bait fish are best, however some can be coaxed to strike a crankbait.
Spotted and longnose gar are extremely abundant in the Coosa right now. Large spawning congregations are being found in the slack-water areas behind debris jams or logs on the main river. Live shad or rope lures may illicit strikes from these toothy top water predators.
-WRD senior fisheries biologist Jim Hakala
- Small Lakes
Don’t forget them! They’re definitely a best bet this week.
Swing for the fences and aim for big bass while they are shallow and full of eggs.
- Trout Streams Coming On
Wild trouting in headwater streams will be a best bet, considering the warm weather we’ve had. There might be a small dip in the bite with the cold weekend weather, so aim for the afternoons and be ready for the fish to turn on when water temps go back up next week. Try an adams or caddis dry and a pheasant tail dropper. Or some red wigglers if you’d like to catch more fish. Is NCAA basketball really better than an excursion like these?
- Special Reg Streams
o DH fans oughta grab some woolly buggers, pink san juans, and rookie anglers and head toward Smith and the Hooch this weekend.
o Dukes – New Net Needed
- “Opening Day” Preparations
While we no longer have a trout season in Georgia, our entire stocking truck fleet will launch next week to prepare stocked waters for traditional trouters on the last Saturday in March. Are you ready???
- March 19 Banquet
Reminder- Hooch Hoot in Helen
- Free App!
NEW FREE APP FOR GEORGIA HUNTERS AND ANGLERS – iPhone and Android users have a new tool in the woods and on the water
SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 10, 2016) – Georgia hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts now have a new cutting edge app to enhance their hunting and fishing activities, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“We are very excited about the debut of the official Outdoors GA app,” said Dan Forster, Director of the Wildlife Resources Division. “This new, free mobile app gives both novice and seasoned sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts essential information in the palm of their hand.”
- Quick access to Georgia rules and regulations
- Carry an electronic copy of your license
- Access your current harvest record and Georgia Game Check
- Use geo-locating tools to enhance your recreational experience
- Determine sunset/sunrise times based on GPS location and other useful tools
- Find public fishing areas, boat ramps, and wildlife management areas near you
“This new mobile app is a no-cost enhancement to make outdoor participation easier and more enjoyable,” said Richard Wise, President of app developer Brandt Information Systems. “The free app gives customers access to all of their license documents and outdoor resources in one central place.”
Wildlife Resources Division manages nearly one million acres of public lands for wildlife and habitat in Georgia. These Wildlife Management Areas and Public Fishing Areas are featured on the app. Hunters also can use the app to satisfy the new requirement of having a harvest record and Georgia Game Check for turkey and deer.
Download the free app now on your mobile device through the Apple or Google Play Store and search “Outdoors GA.”
- PFA Vote – – and Prizes to Voters
VOTE Now Through March 27 for Georgia PFAs! Encourage your family and friends to vote too!
Three Georgia Public Fishing Areas are up for your vote as America’s Top Fishing and Boating Spot on the Take Me Fishing website:https://takemefishing.prizelogic.com/.
You can vote daily at the above website for your top 3 favorite fishing spots. I encourage you to visit the site at least once to vote for these 3 amazing resources, Marben Farms PFA (at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, Flat Creek PFA and Paradise PFA, operated by Georgia WRD.
Need a perk for voting? Your daily vote also gives you access to win daily instant prizes OR a 4-day, 3-night stay at the Walt Disney World resort, plus a guided fishing excursion.
Thank you for your support!
Jenifer Hancock Wisniewski
Marketing and Communications Manager
Wildlife Resources Division
Good luck this week as we bounce from summer to winter and maybe end up at spring. It must be March Madness! Follow the rebounding weather and grab those fishing opportunities when you can. It is still prime time for wall-hangers, so take some shots at them!
(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, 60’s) – Bass fishing is good. Start running Rat L Traps on the shallow 2 to 3 foot points and inside the pockets off the main lake. The fish seem to be up roaming the flats not holding to any single piece of cover. Some females are cruising around. Provided the cooler temps don’t hurt the water temperatures, bass can be ready to spawn on the next full moon March 23, 2016. Rat L Traps on the flats are still going to be a good choice for the fish still roaming the flats, along with the typical spinnerbait and buzz bait bite. Another cold front could slow this up down, but at this time of the year they don’t last but a couple of days and we are right back in the low 60’s. Keep a Zoom tube ready in pink and watermelon seed in case the fish get right up on the sand areas on the lower lake.
Clark Hill (down 1.2 feet, 60’s) – Bass fishing is good. Many baits are working as the bass are moving to the shallow. Be ready to use a variety of baits as all are catching several sizes of fish. Spinnerbaits on the points will work for the bigger bass especially mid-day. Many bass are on the flats as they get ready to move up to spawn in a week. Rapala Shad Raps, spinner baits and Rapala X Raps are great baits to use on these shallow water bass. Run and gun with faster moving baits is working all day. Keep a Zoom Super Fluke ready all day and pearl and bass are the best patterns. The bottom grass continues to grow and these areas always hold bass.
Lake Oconee (full, the main lake is lightly stained, the major creeks are clear, 61-65 degrees) – Bass fishing is good. The bass have started to move into the coves and creeks. Look around any wood structure, or boat docks. Small crank baits fished around the docks will draw a strike. A chrome Rat L Trap or a small Rapala Shad Rap number 5 or 7 in fire tiger or shad color will work depending on water color. The full moon on March 23, 2016 will get a ton of bass shallow. A shaky head worked under the docks from the middle of the creeks to the back will also draw a few extra strikes. Another pattern that has produced over the past few days is a white and chartreuse spinner bait fish on the down lake side of the bridge rip raps.
Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741
Striper fishing is good. The stripers have started their spring run to the dam and up the rivers. Live bait fished on down lines and flat lines have been producing all week at the dam. Some fish are deep and some are up on the points.
Crappie fishing is good. The fish are in the creeks and large coves. Long lines with double jigs trolled at 1mph 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 it has chartreuse in it will work.
West Point Lake (down 5.1 feet stained & high 60’s)
SEE NOTICE FROM THE CORP OF ENGINEERS BELOW.
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 striped) 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.
Both the largemouth bass and the spots are heading shallow daily with the warming trends. Early, start on the secondary points and then move towards the backs of coves. They are aggressively feeding on shad early in the morning and late in the afternoon. A nglers are using Alabama rigs and fan casting the coves and points to find the schools. Be sure to watch for the larger bait schools as he bass will be very close by. During mid-day, the bass move out into the middle of the pockets and cruise. Jerk baits like a sinking Rapala, the ITO Vision 110 and the McStick can be fished shallow and these are the lures to use. The full moon is March 23, 2016 and this will bring a lot of fish shallow. The best pattern to catch bass is to fish from 3/4 of the way in to a cove to the back of the cove looking for feeding fish. Carolina rigged worms and shad colored deep diving crank baits have also been catching some fish.
Lake Sinclair (down 1.5 feet stained, 60’s) – Bass fishing is good. Bright colored crank baits and large spinner baits are the best baits with these conditions. The early fish are heading shallow but the majority of the bass are roaming around. The full moon on March 23, 2016 will get a ton of bass shallow. A few of the larger bass are taking the all-white spinnerbaits with the majority of the bass taking Rapala crank baits. Use the crawfish color Rapala DT 10 as well as a balsa wood crawfish and perch color Shad Rap. A slow to medium retrieve and an occasional digging into the bottom seems to be the preferred way to fish the cranks. Always have a pearl Zoom Super Fluke ready and be sure to cast these baits right up on the banks. Points along with docks and the flats off of points is the only place limits of bass are being caught.
Jackson Lake (down .83 feet, very stained & 60’s) – Bass fishing is good. The water has warmed up and the bass are active. The spotted bass are on the move as well and the small largemouth bass are shallow. During this week especially early, use the soft lures and then mid-day go to the faster moving baits. The full moon on March 23, 2016 will get a ton of bass shallow. The Rapala #4 and #5 Shad Raps in the crawdad colors are working near the flats near the dam. Have the small Fluke on a small lead head and a regular Super Fluke ready all day and work these baits in any area you are fishing. Spinnerbaits are working some and the 1/4 and 3/8 ounce sizes are working. Colors need to be both white and chartreuse on any blade bait.
Big Lazer PFA
Surface water temperature: 63o F
Water visibility: Visibility is about 31”
Water level: Water level is down 2” from full pool
Largemouth bass: Fair but improving– several anglers are using spinners and crank baits in 6 to 8 feet of water with some success. Plastic-worms fished around the deep water by the picnic area and around the newly repaired fishing pier may produce a few bites.
Crappie: Good- some crappie are being caught on minnows; most bites are still in deeper water of 8-10 feet of water. Anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappies. Trolling at varying depths with bright jigs may help locate bunched-up crappie.
Bream: Slow- Bream fishing has been slow but try pink and red worms around the new fishing pier. Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it. Most bream will be located in 4 to 5 feet of water or deeper but will be moving up shortly to begin spawning.
Channel catfish: Poor- however, you may get lucky using livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam. Fishing with two poles will increase your chances of getting a strike.
In general, March water 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. Finally, the repair work on the old wooden fishing pier concluded last fall. Some of the fishing pier’s upgrades include sitting benches, rod holders, shelves for tackle, and gaps in the railing for landing fish.
Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/BigLazer
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Freshwater fishing, especially flat water, has been awesome this week! Saltwater has been strong for whiting. Full Moon is March 23rd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – The water is still high, muddy, and swift. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported a slow bite, but folks were catching a few catfish. Morgan Lake produced some crappie again this week. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the catfish bite was the best in the lower river. Both channel and flathead catfish were caught. One angler got into some redbreasts this week, but he would not disclose where he caught them. The crappie bite is still slow. The river level was 11.6 feet and falling (68 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.4 feet and falling (63 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 15th.
Satilla River – The river is still slightly out in the floodplain at the time of writing this. I’m going to stop trying to urge you to go other more productive places than the river right now because I know you will ignore me. One of my friends couldn’t stand it and fished the river (Hwy 158 area) on Monday and did not catch a fish. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the fishing has heated up this week. Over the weekend, anglers fishing in the Jamestown area caught crappie on minnows and dark colored jigs. Some bass were caught with lizards and speed craws. The catfish bite was strong for those fishing worms, rooster livers, or shrimp on the bottom. The Satilla highlight of the week was a trip by Craig and Brandy James to the lower river. The Waycross couple launched at Woodbine (where Brandy used to fish as a young girl with her family) and caught about a dozen big white catfish. Brandy’s trophy was a 17-incher (2-lb., 10-oz.) that earned her a GA Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) Angler Award. The river level on March 15th at the Waycross gage was 10.0 feet and falling (68 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 9.6 feet and falling.
St. Marys River – The St. Marys bite was great before the weekend rains and should still be good by the weekend (if we don’t get much more rain late in the week). Redbreasts and bream were killing crickets with a vengeance. Anglers reported going through more than 100 crickets per hour when the bite was on this week. Most anglers reported creels of between 30 and 40 fish. Catfish were still eating shrimp and rooster livers about anywhere you dropped a hook. Topwaters produced some nice bass on the warmer days. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 15th was 4.1 feet and rising.
Okefenokee Swamp – The best swamp report of the week came from an angler who fished the west side around the Sill and caught some nice bass. He fooled them with a white Dura-Spin in-line spinner. The flier and warmouth bite also turned on this week on the east side. Pink and yellow sallies are fooling the fliers, while worms produced the most warmouth.
Local Ponds – Ponds are still on fire. Wyatt Crews and several family members and friends fished a Waycross pond on Friday and Saturday evenings. On Friday, he had 20 slab crappie that came up and ate shiners fished under a float. Then, on Saturday they got a few crappie to eat shiners, but a giant chain pickerel (jackfish) stole the show. The monster ate a Keitech worm that Wyatt was casting for bass. The 3-lb., 10-oz. fish earned him an angler award from WRD. Another buddy sent a photo of a big redbreast that he caught from his pond while using a Satilla Spin. He also caught warmouth, bluegill, and bass on the little spinnerbait (about a dozen fish total), so the panfish are getting active. Crawfish and bruiser were his best colors. A friend fishing a Brunswick area pond had one of the best days he’s ever had for bass. He and a friend ended up catching 61 bass averaging 3 pounds (their biggest was 6 pounds) and 37 channel catfish (on bass lures!). ZOOM Lizards fished on a Lock Tight Worm Hook and also Berkley Pit Boss (both were Texas-rigged) produced all of their fish. The bass would not chase anything, but they gobbled up the slow (TX rig) presentation. Chad Lee fooled 8 bass to 2 pounds on Saturday in Alma area ponds. Most were caught with Trick Worms and shallow crankbaits. Michael Winge said that Waycross area ponds produced some great bass fishing. Anglers fishing lizards around beds caught some quality bass. Great crappie catches were reported again this week by those fishing minnows and jigs near shoreline cover. Bream bit crickets well, and catfish ate pink worms.
Paradise Public Fishing Area (near Tifton) – The bass and crappie bites were tops this week on the area. A couple of anglers fishing Lake Patrick on Wednesday fooled some slab crappie up to 2 pounds. Minnows produced their catch. Bass are locked on beds in smaller lakes and have started to spawn on the larger lakes.
Lake Blackshear – A bass club out of Waycross fished Lake Blackshear on Saturday and had respectable catches. Wendell Bagley (fishing by himself) won the tournament with over 16 pounds of bass. Shaky head worms factored into his win. Michael Deen and Justin Bythwood caught 13 pounds of bass and earned second place honors. Stick worms fished around trees produced most of their fish.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Brentz and Alex McGhin of Blackshear fished out of St. Marys on Saturday and caught 29 whiting. The bigger fish came from the deeper holes, and their higher numbers of smaller fish came from the 8 to 15 foot range. They fished shrimp on a Carolina rig for their catch. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers were catching sheepshead around bridge pilings and rocks, whiting off the Jekyll Island Pier, and trout in the inshore rivers around oyster beds on the outgoing tide. In Gould’s Inlet, some flounder from 17 to 20 inches were caught on mudminnows. The beaches produced some decent whiting catches for those fishing dead shrimp on the bottom. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the blue crabs showed up in great numbers this week, but many were females with eggs on them (they must be released). Black drum, sheepshead, and whiting were caught from the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: The freshwater pond bite will be hard to beat this weekend. Some questionable weather is forecasted, so a pond will allow you to seek cover quickly. Take your pick, as bass, crappie, bream, and catfish have all been biting well in ponds.