(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 is good and the fish are in transition from pre-spawn to spawn. Fish the primary and secondary points, coves and pockets in any of the major creeks lake wide. Use ½ ounce spinnerbait in a white and chartreuse with a double willow blade combination. Slow roll the spinnerbait around any cover on the points and in the coves and pockets. The important thing right now is to cover a lot of water. Zoom Super Flukes in baby bass and pearl are also all day lures. Use a 2/0 Mustad offset worm hook and a spinning reel with 10-pound test line.
Clark Hill (down .52 feet, 60’s) – Bass fishing is good. The fish have made their move now and are slowly committing themselves to find a good spawning area. A lot of the fish are still staging up, but many are being caught on the shallow flat shelves and around spawning areas. Spinnerbaits will work almost all day. Use the Rapala X Raps and shallow Shad Raps. Bluegill, shad, olive green and silver blue are great colors. Bass are roaming all over the lake chasing shad and a top water bite can’t be ruled out. During the early part of spring use a small Zara Spook Jr and “walk the dog”. Keep the bait moving and don’t stop. Some bass will follow the bait all the way to the boat.
Lake Oconee (full, the main lake is slightly stained, the major creeks are clear, temperature 61-65) – Bass fishing is good. Small crank baits fished around the docks or any wood structure will draw a strike. A chrome Rat L Trap or a small Shad Rap number 5 or 7 in fire tiger, or shad color will work depending on water color. A shaky head worked under the docks from the middle of the creeks to the back will also draw a few extra strikes. White/chartreuse spinner baits fished on mid-cove docks and sea walls have also been producing. This pattern works best when Georgia Power is moving water.
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 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. Use any jig as long as it has chartreuse in it.
West Point Lake (down 4.4 feet stained & high 60’s) – 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.
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. Anglers are using Alabama rig and fan-casting the coves and points to find the schools. Be sure to watch for the larger bait schools as the 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 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 1.2 feet stained, 70’s) – Bass fishing is very good. Bass are still scattered from main lake banks to the very back of coves. The bass are moving into protected coves and bays as they spawn. Spinner baits have been producing around wood cover mostly, and some around seawalls, grass and docks. Try a 3/8 or ½ ounce size in chartreuse and white with double Colorado blades around wood cover. Copper blades work well in any off-colored water with silver or gold best in stained water. Try a single large Colorado blade on the bait in very muddy water. Crank baits and Rat L Traps continue to lure some bass into biting. Other baits that are producing are Texas rigs, jigs, Carolina rigs, and jig head and worm rigs. Jerk baits like Rattlin’ Rogue’s and Slender Pointer’s had been producing, but dirty water will slow this down or totally stop. Rip rap has continued to hold fish, with crank baits, spinner baits, jigs, and Texas rigs being the primary baits of choice.
Jackson Lake (down .70 feet, clearing & 60’s) – Bass fishing is good. Bright colored crank baits and large spinner baits are the best baits with these conditions. The early spawners are already trying to bed but the majority of the bass are roaming and looking for that perfect area to lay the eggs. Stay down lake and fish around the dam or go to Tussahaw Creek and spend the day. A few of the larger bass are taking the white spinnerbaits with the majority of the bass coming off the cranks. 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. Points along with docks and the flats off of points down-lake is the only place limits of bass are being caught.
Flat Creek PFA – As expected the warmer temperatures have been kicking off some great fishing at Flat Creek and many anglers are leaving with heavy stringers and big smiles. This trend is expected to continue and even increase as we transition into the summer warmth. The lake level is still dropping and all we can do is hope for a wet summer to maintain good water levels. Bass fishing has been good for those with a boat. The large bream have been getting close to shore and some anglers have been very excited over the sizes caught. Crappie fishing is the current buzz at Flat creek and the 1.5-2 pound sizes have not been uncommon.
Bass: Plum colored Ol’ Monster worms by Zoom. White Buzz baits. Minnows and worms (Pinks).
Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Worms on a Texas rig.
Channel Catfish: Most catfish caught has been bycatch while fishing for Bream or Bass. 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 (John Deere or yellow and white colored Triple Ripple, or June Bug colored Teaser Tail) fished with light tackle to feel the slightest bite and trolled have been working very great! If you are bank fishing try fishing near the pier. If on a boat try cover (tree tops).
Marben PFA – Largemouth Bass: Bass are extremely aggressive this time of year. This aggressiveness is very beneficial for anglers seeking “lunkers.” A variety of techniques can be used this time of year when targeting bass. Texas rigs, crankbaits, slow and fast fishing, shallow and deep just about everything is working this time of year! Look for bass to mainly be in 5 to 10 feet of water. Bass will be occupying a variety of habitat from flooded timber to shallow points. Schooling shad in the morning are often good targets while targeting rocky banks and points on windy days. Four to six pounds are normal this time of year but hearing or even seeing a 10+ is not uncommon on Marben Lakes.
Crappie: Crappie will remain the most sought after fish at Marben, at least through April. Crappie can be found in 5 to 10 feet early morning until evening. Submerged timber is a very popular target when targeting this fish. Reports of anglers catching crappie ranging in size from one to two pounds are numerous this time of year. Sampling efforts on Marben lakes have verified these reports. Yellow jigs and live minnows remain the most popular baits for anglers targeting crappie. This best thing about crappie this time of year is they remain aggressive throughout the day. Do not be surprised if the stringer fills quickly with these fish.
Bream: Look for bream fishing to really pick up in mid to late April. Typically, shellcracker will start in mid-April. Look for these fish in 5 to 7 feet on sandy bottoms. Anglers can find this easily by walking the banks. Anglers will find bluegill becoming the dominant catch by late April. Worms and crickets remain the bait of choice by most anglers. Bream can be caught throughout the day but midday in April have proven the best time. Look for bream to be the most aggressive during the spawn while protecting their territory. Reports of shellcracker weighing over a pound are not uncommon this time of year at Marben. If it is quite on the lake, that means the fish are biting. Rarely does one give up their favorite fishing spot!!
Catfish: Catfish fishing is picking up at Marben. Like other fish, catfish can be found in a variety of habitat and can be caught throughout the day. Anglers targeting rocky banks and submerged logs tend to be the most successful. The best thing about catfish is this species is not too picky about the weather. Stink baits, livers, and night crawlers are the most popular amongst anglers.
McDuffie PFA – Largemouth Bass: Picking up. Bass are biting slowly due to spring weather changes. Fishermen are still catching a nice bass in the 1 to 5 pound range. Willow Lake bass have been biting very differently this year. Goldfish were stocked two weeks ago in Willow. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond will re-open on the 1st of April and will remain open until the 15th. A supplemental stocking of Goldfish have been added to Rodbender to increase the overall condition of the all-female bass. This lake has been setup 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 edge. Reward tags must be turned in for the reward to be sent to the fisherman. Breambuster has a nice population of 2 to 5 pound bass with plenty of bank access, as is the case with most of McDuffie PFA lakes.
Bream: Bream have already started biting steady. No stringers yet but fishermen are catching pan fish in multiple ways on area using worms and flies. Bream can still be found near shoreline structure and aquatic plants but also suspended over deep water.
Channel Catfish: Catfish in the 2-5 pound range are biting well in Willow. Local fishermen caught a 22-inch Albino channel catfish from Willow with pictures to prove it. The best fishing is on the bottom in deep water using chicken liver, worms, and stink-baits. As water temperatures continue to warm up catfish will begin feeding in preparation for the spring spawn. Jones Lake has been a hot spot for catfish during the last two weeks.
Striped Bass: Stripers are starting to bite in Bridge Lake. Striped Bass are located only in Bridge and Clubhouse Lakes. Stripers will be chasing available bait during early mornings and late evenings.
Go Fish Center
(Info provided by Tamatha Beckham)
Rotary Fishing Tournament – Charity Bass Tournament & Raffle
Location: Go Fish Education Center,1255 Perry Parkway Exit 134 (follow the signs)
Time: Saturday, April 9,2016 – Check In 3:00pm – 3:30pm; Weigh-in begins at 3:30 p.m.
About: Are you Georgia’s best angler? Prove it at the Perry Rotary Club Charity Bass Tournament! Fishing begins at daylight and is open to any body of water. Weigh-in begins at 3:30 pm at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry. Even if you choose not to fish in the tournament, be sure to come watch as teams weigh in their catch. $150 per team with cash prizes and a Raffle Grand prize which includes a two night all-inclusive retreat for two at the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island! Raffle tickets are $10 each and can be purchased from any Perry Rotarian. For more information or tournament registration forms please visit www.perryrotary.org or send email to email@example.com
Presented by Perry Rotary Club and Go Fish Education Center
3rd Annual Go Fish Kid’s Fishing Derby – Sanctioned event of the 2016 Perry Dogwood Festival
Presented by the Go Fish Education Center
1255 Perry Parkway Exit 134, follow signs
Sunday, April 10th 1-5pm
Kids, catch and release a fish at the Go Fish Education Center casting pond and earn a chance to win a prize.
For more information please call 478-988-7190 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Admission rates apply: Adults $5.00, Seniors (65 and over ) $4, Active Military $4, Children (3-12) $3.00, 2 years of age and under free.
Spring Harvest at Go Fish Education Center comes to a close – Go Fish Education Center’s Spring Harvest has ended. Once again we celebrated a successful spring harvest month at the Go Fish Education Center’s casting pond. For the entire month of March, anglers were allowed to harvest 3 trout and 5 catfish per person. Many excited anglers, young and old, came out and participated in this month long experience. If you missed out this spring, please continue to check our website for harvest opportunities next fall.
“Tackling Invasive Aquatic Species in Georgia” –
When: Friday, April 15, 2016, 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: Go Fish Education Center, Perry, Georgia
Come learn about some of the invasive aquatic species currently found in Georgia and the damage they are causing. We will differentiate between native and exotic aquatic species and teach proper methods of identifying invasive species. Georgia DNR currently utilizes several methods of controlling this invasive population. This program is open to the public. We encourage pond owners and managers, educators, researchers, anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and any others that are interested to attend. Regular admission rates apply; however, there is no additional cost to attend this program. Program participants are encouraged and welcome to explore the center before and after the program.
(Info provided by Fisheries Biologist Joel Fleming)
Ogeechee River – We’re still watching the gages on the Ogeechee, as water levels still need to drop a bit before fishing becomes optimal. When the gage height at Rocky Ford (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02202040&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062) drops to between 3.5 and 4.5 feet, conditions should be just perfect for hitting the river for the spring redbreast bite. Keep in mind, these water levels that have been in the floodplain all winter long are providing excellent feeding opportunities for the fish populations, allowing those fish to grow very quickly. So, when the water level does drop, be ready for good catches of some really nice-sized fish. With that said, there are still some opportunities to catch a mess of fish, even with the water levels high. In area from Morgan’s Bridge to the estuary, the high discharge levels in the river are dampened by a widening of the river and daily tidal fluctuations, allowing for better boat ramp accessibility and better fishing conditions.
Also, don’t forget about the spring run of American Shad. Good numbers are showing up this year in the river. One of the more popular areas for shad is around the Highway 80 crossing. Small screw-tailed grubs (many different colors work) tied onto light to medium tackle can provide for some exciting fishing this time of year.
Savannah River – Water level fluctuations in the Savannah River system are dramatically dampened by the upriver reservoirs. Although, the river did experience flooding conditions for a period of time this winter which will contribute to healthy fish populations, the river is now, due to water control at the dams, in a much more “fishable” condition than some other river systems. Expect above average catches of the typical springtime species such as panfish, largemouth bass, striped bass and crappie. Recent electrofishing efforts by the WRD fisheries staff have produced really good numbers of striped bass in the upper estuary. As spring progresses, these fish will begin spreading out throughout the river system, providing great angling opportunities from the estuary to New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam near Augusta.
As the water temperatures continue to climb, expect the catfish bite to really pick up. Speaking of catfish, please be aware that Flathead Catfish are now present in this system. If you should catch one, we encourage the harvest of these invasive fish. Harvesting flatheads in the system will provide you and your family with some excellent table fare and will hopefully slow down the expansion of this population.
Evans County Public Fishing Area – The crappie fishing at Evans County Public Fishing Area has been excellent over the last couple months. Really good numbers of large fish have been caught with minnows and jigs over standing timber. As the water temperature rises, expect the fish to move into shallower areas near structure during the spawn.
Largemouth bass are also in the shallows right now. Within the last two weeks, anglers have been catching a lot of nice-sized fish. Fish plastic worms when the sun is high and try out some top-water plugs in the early morning and late evening for some exciting fishing.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)
- Bass Reports
- Spring electrofishing of Striped Bass continued on Lake Lanier this week and despite the weather changes we found good numbers of fish shallow <12ft, especially as the water warmed throughout the week. Anglers can expect to catch numerous 4-6lb fish from a strong 2013 year class with the chance at some larger double digit fish as well. Our biggest fish caught sampling this week was over 18 lbs.
Anglers are reporting catching striped bass off of points using blueback herring, gizzard shad and cut bait. With warmer weather approaching we are also starting to see largemouth and spotted bass move up into shallow waters. The fish we are seeing are very plump and like the striped bass they are concentrating on points. The walleye runs are coming to an end up the Chestatee and Chattahoochee arms of Lake Lanier but a few stragglers can still be caught as they move back into the lake post spawn.
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
- Whopper Lanier Cat
- Joseph Wilson of Dahlonega dunked some live blueback herring in the Clarks Bridge area of Lake Lanier last Wednesday night (3/23) and landed a monster. His flathead catfish taped out at 43 inches and pulled the certified scales at the Gainesville WRD office down to 29.5 pounds. The most interesting aspect to this story was that Joseph kept the fish alive, had it certified by WRD biologists for a Georgia Angler Award, http://www.georgiawildlife.org/node/371 and headed back to Lanier to release the fish alive. Congratulations to Joseph and good luck to all other anglers on the hunt for their own “river monsters.” WRD fisheries biologist Pat Snellings reminded us that those big flatheads are usually found up the two river arms, where stained water, abundant bait fish, and bedrock ledges and downed timber provide great conditions for trophy flatheads.
- Whopper Lanier Cat
- Carters Lake
- Lineside report courtesy of guide Louie Bartenfield – Stripers and hybrids are starting to move shallow throughout the day following the alewife. I’ve noticed a lot of alewife early each morning piled up in pockets and shallow points. Alewife spawn shallow at night, so your best opportunity at a striper is early in the morning and late in the afternoon/evening. Flat lines, planer boards, & balloon rigs are all producing. Use 5 to 7 inch baits over open-water flats. If you can’t get live bait, use jerkbaits and flukes. Linesides will be eating top water baits very soon, so keep one of those handy as well.
- Some more Carters eye candy: https://www.facebook.com/Carters-Lake-Guide-Service-170317873014004/
- Lake Allatoona
- Crappie, white bass, hybrids, stripers: http://fishallatoona.com/fishing-reports
- Crappie fishing continues to be good at Allatoona. The fish are slowly moving shallower, but plenty are still holding on deeper structure in the 10-15 ft. range. Crappie jigs fished on a slow retrieve or minnows under a cork, if fishing shallow, are both good bets. The crappie bite should only be get better as we move into April.
- Look to the Etowah and Little River areas of the lake for white bass. Spawn-run fish are filtering into these areas on their way upstream to spawn. A few have already reached Rope Mill Park on Little River, but more should be on the way in the coming weeks. Larger hybrids and striped bass are also beginning to find their way into the Etowah River area of the lake.
WRD senior fisheries biologist Jim Hakala
- Coosa River:
- White bass are actively spawning in the river between Lock and Dam Park downstream to the River Road Boat Ramp. Electrofishing surveys this week turned up female white bass with actively flowing eggs and some that had already spawned. Catch rates were below average for this time of year, suggesting this year’s white bass run may be weaker than normal. Inside river bends, creek mouths and the river banks around the power plant were the better locations for finding white bass in this stretch of the river.
- Carters Lake:
- The walleye spawn is winding down at Carters, but a fair number of male walleye can still be found in the Coosawattee River flowing into the lake (see attached pic, Fisheries Tec., Danny Johnson holding a Carters Lake walleye). Walleye that have already spawned are filtering back into the upper portion of the lake. Look for these post-spawn fish to be holding on deep blowdowns, standing timber or other woody debris in the coming weeks. The alewife spawn is fast approaching, which will bring walleye shallow in the early mornings and evening to feed on them. Jerk or crankbaits can be effective lure choices when the walleye are shallow feeding. Live bait fish and night crawlers can be used during the day when the walleye are holding deeper in the water column.
- Blast From Recent Past
- As trout stocking season begins so does another opportunity for Georgia anglers to make lasting memories on the cold water streams across north Georgia. From stocker rainbows, to native brook trout, and perhaps the chance at a legendary wild brown these memories will be trophies all the same. As we look forward to the stories that will be written on our streams in 2016 we look back at this possible state record brown trout that was caught and released on the Chattahoochee River last fall by guide John McCloskey. The following is the fish tale as recounted by Chris Scalley of River Through Atlanta Guide Service.
“It was a cold miserable rainy day in November 2015 on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. River Through Atlanta guide John McCloskey had just said goodbye to his client from that morning as river conditions quickly deteriorated. John decided to give it one more try on his own with a big streamer in the murky high flows.
Ten minutes later John landed a 34inch bruiser brown but was faced with a dilemma, whether to keep this fish — which would ultimately kill it — or to release it and let it live. John has made a living guiding on the river for 10 years and to him living by example was more important than being listed as the angler who caught the new state record brown trout in Georgia.
So, with only a cellphone camera and a measuring board, he knew that if he was going to release this fish unharmed he needed to document his catch as quickly as possible. The two previous Georgia state record brown trout were caught by Ford in 2003 and then Doughtie in 2013 which both measured considerably less in length. John was not able to weigh this fish so we will never know its true weight.
One thing is for sure, John’s decision to release this brown trout will live on as a legendary fish tale in Georgia for generations of sportsman to come.”
As you get out on the water this spring be sure to share some of your memorable catches with us. We always appreciate a good fish tale!
- Hooch Tailwater reports
- Give a Little Back –April 9 Hooch Event Needs You
- Come and help “sweep the Hooch:”
- Toccoa Tailwater Update
- We sampled the Toccoa tailwater this week, and there were no big surprises. We netted and released several big browns up to 9.5 lbs and one decent rainbow that was releasing eggs on our measuring board. We also saw some small rainbows and browns that appeared to be from last year’s fingerling stockings. Overall numbers are typically low in this annual spring sample (it has been quite a while since the last stocking in 2015), and this year is no exception, but the size quality of the fish we did see makes up for it. We have also seen several reports of large fish being caught recently by anglers. So, if you want to target the big ones, maybe now’s a good time.
Wildlife Resources Division
- Blueline Trouting
- Hey Jeff,
I took a trip up to Springer mountain and had an amazing trip. I caught 10+ brook and rainbow trout, and managed to catch a solid 1.5 pound rainbow that thrashed out of my hands before I could get a picture.
Conner L from Buford
- Sautee and Dredger drove and hiked “uphill form Helen” on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed the traditional “Opening Day” on some blueline rainbows that favored an Adams parachute dry fly. The key to success was, as always, stealth. If the angler was able to sneak up on the spot withing being spotted, the fish usually rose. Maybe half were hooked. Sautee won big fish honors with a plump 8-incher. The colorful little rainbows were a blast on 7-foot, 3-weight fly rods with short leaders.
Once again, thanks for all the help with fly fishing!
- FlyFishing How-to
- North Metro Outreach
New anglers would benefit from all of the outreach done by our conservation partner, Steve Hudson. Follow his latest treks through fishing talks, fly tying sessions, group outings, and book signings here:
- Trout Open House – April 2
- Mark your calendars for the NGTO Spring Fling at Buford Hatchery. It covers all things trout, from instream lessons to flycasting contests to raffle prizes. There’s a 1 PM hatchery tour, too.
- Fishing One Hundred Trout Streams
- Second stop – Georgia!
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
Freshwater fishing is still excellent in ponds and lakes, but most rivers are blown out because of the weekend rains. Saltwater has been good but not great yet. Whiting are the ticket in the brine. The second annual Satilla Riverkeeper fishing tournament will be held May 7th, and contestants can fish anywhere on the Satilla River proper or its tributaries. For more information, check out flyers in area tackle shops or the riverkeeper website at www.satillariverkeeper.org (click on “Activities”, then “Events”). New Moon is April 7th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Rains in the middle part of the state are making their way downriver, and it is rising again. The river is still full, muddy, and swift. Fish in an oxbow lake like Morgan Lake near Jesup or fish somewhere else this weekend. In time, the river will get down and warm up, and the bream bite will be awesome. Don’t rush it. The river level was 8.9 feet and rising (65 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.3 feet and rising (65 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Tuesday evening.
Satilla River – The upper river is way in the woods after the weekend rains. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that before this weekend’s rains, anglers were catching bass on shiners and ZOOM worms and lizards. Crappie were caught on minnows and jigs from oxbows and trash piles. Channel cats bit worms and shrimp well on bush hooks. Bream and redbreasts were even starting to bite worms and crickets, but that was BEFORE the rains. The high, muddy water has brought the river bite to a screeching halt. The white catfish bite in the Woodbine/White Oak Creek areas is your only real option on the Satilla right now. The river level on March 29th at the Waycross gage was 12.4 feet and rising (66 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 8.3 feet and rising.
St. Marys River – The river is still fishable, even after the weekend rains. Very little rain fell in the St Marys basin. Bream, redbreasts, and catfish are plentiful. Lyle Scruggs fished the river last week and caught a mixed bag of rooster redbreasts, warmouth, and crappie while fishing from the bank by a boat ramp. He was using red wigglers for bait. Greg Nelms fished out of Traders Hill over the weekend and caught 10 redbreasts and bluegill to about 10 inches. Beetlespins produced his fish. The bass bite was spectacular this weekend, about as good as it can get. Topwater plugs and soft plastic lizards produced great catches. The Wildlife Resources Division staff electrofished the river this week and saw tremendous panfish populations. The most impressive were the numerous and large warmouth, but there were also lots of quality bluegills and redbreasts. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 29th was 4.2 feet and rising.
Okefenokee Swamp – The folks at Okefenokee Adventures at the Folkston entrance said that anglers did well catching warmouth, fliers, and bowfin (mudfish) this week. The warmouth ate small crayfish, GA Giant worms, and jigs dabbled around trees and lily pads. Yellow Sallies, jigs, and crickets fooled most of the fliers, while mudfish ate anything thrown at them (spinners were the best for those targeting the feisty fish). On the west side, SC Foster State Park staff said that the bite has been good in the boat basin. Lots of warmouth and fliers were caught by anglers using yellow sallies or worms. At the Sill, quite a few bass were caught.
Local Ponds – Spillways were the place to be early this week as lots of water was spilling out of ponds, and fish were attracted to the flow. That bite should be a good option again during the weekend if we get the forecasted rains. Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson fished hard in the rain this weekend and put it on about 40 bass up to 4 pounds from Alma area ponds. Junebug Trick Worms outproduced other baits. Daniel had not fished with the straight-tail worms before this weekend, but he quickly learned the technique and whacked the fish with them. He even hooked a whopper that broke him off. Michael Winge said that bass were eating lizards fished across beds in Waycross area ponds. Crappie were caught with minnows and jigs fished around shallow cover (the crappie are spawning). Bream bit crickets and catfish ate worms fished on the bottom.
Dodge County PFA (near Eastman) – Good numbers of bass in the 2 to 4 pound range have been caught. Plastic worms and crankbaits have been the most productive presentations. Crickets have produced good bluegill catches. Crappie (in the 1/2 to 2-pound range) have been caught from the piers by those using minnows.
Hugh M. Gillis PFA (near Dublin) – The bass and crappie have moved shallow and are biting. Several 6 to 7 pound bass were caught recently. Crappie in the 1 1/2-pound range are not uncommon. A few nice redear sunfish (shellcrackers) have also been caught recently. The area has numerous earthen berms and a t-shaped fishing pier for anglers fishing from shore.
Lake Lindsay Grace (Wayne County) – A giant 13-pound bass was reportedly caught last week. I’ve seen photos of the whopper, but the size has not been certified yet. Remember that the lake has a 15 to 22-inch slot limit for bass. You can keep 10 fish smaller and 1 larger than the slot sizes. Good numbers of crappie up to 11 inches have been caught lately. Live minnows have produced best around the islands and cypress trees. The bite has peaked around the full and new moons.
Paradise PFA (near Tifton) – All lakes are at full-pool. Visibility is about 3 feet on all the lakes, so the summertime bloom is not strong yet. Bass fishing has been good with topwaters, buzzbaits, and Carolina-rigged worms producing. Most bass came from around patches of primrose or water lilies. Lakes Patrick and Horseshoe 5 have been good, but don’t overlook Horseshoe 4, Russell, and Paradise (Lake Paradise is catch-and-release only). Lake Bobben has improved, and the cover in 4 to 6 feet is where you want to concentrate. Catfishing with mullet gut or chicken liver has produced good catches from deep holes in lakes Patrick, Paradise, Tacklebuster, and Horseshoe 2 and 4. Crappie are biting well in 3 to 4 feet of water for those using minnows or 1/32 to 1/16-oz. float-rigged jigs and pinched off pieces of pond worms. Patrick and Paradise produced slabs from 3/4 to 2 pounds. Bream fishing has been fair, but that will pick up significantly during the next month. Red wigglers and pond worms fished along grass edges produced the best bream catches. The piers on Lake Patrick have been good locations for bluegills and redear sunfish (shellcrackers).
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Some decent reports of bull redfish around the inlets starting showing up this week. Michael Winge reported that the trout bite around the St. Marys Jetties was tops. The key was to look for clear water on the incoming tide, and the best lure was Assassin Sea Shads. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that black drum were thick under the pier. Red drum also made an appearance, along with a good number of flounder and whiting. Sharks have started moving inshore and feeding. On Monday night a 6-ft., 9-in. shark was landed. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: For the third weekend in a row, there is rain in the forecast. The pond and Okefenokee Swamp, and St. Marys River bites have been very good and would be my recommendations for this week. In ponds, bass should be shallow and willing to feed, especially the post-spawn fish. Swimbaits (gold flash Keitechs are my favorite in our blackwater ponds), wacky rigged worms, and plastics on a shaky head are all effective post-spawn bass lures. In the Okefenokee, you can’t go wrong by pitching yellow sallies around lily pads and trees (for fliers and warmouth) or flinging in-line spinners in the canals for pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish). On the St. Marys, you can expect pitching crickets to catch the most bream. But, Beetle Spins and Satilla Spins will usually produce some bigger fish (you must fish them very slowly with the cool water). If the winds and weather allow, whiting fishing would be a good saltwater option.
(Info provided by fisheries biologist Rob Weller and region fisheries staff)
Lake Walter F. George – Fisheries Staff began their annual standardized electrofishing survey on Lake Walter F. George this week. The numbers of bass in the 2-4 pound range are very plentiful and can now be found in the shallows both in preparation of the spawn and some fish were showing signs of already spawning. Most fish were found along the edge of alligator weed and hyacinth in 2-6 feet of water. Also, bass were found around the points of the many creek mouths entering the lake. The crappie are beginning to move shallow and can also be found around vegetation and around any woody debris near the shoreline. The majority of the crappie sampled were between 8-14 inches in length. According to Richard Sacco with the Friends of Lake Eufaula, the bass fishing has recently has been very good. Most of the bass anglers Richard has spoken with are of the opinion that there are more bass over five pounds and up to eight pounds being caught this spring than in the last several years. Also, fewer spotted bass are being caught. The crappie have moved shallow and good catches of fish over 10 inches and even larger are being consistently caught. Richard and his partner caught 50 crappie this past weekend in Pataula Creek. They were pitching jigs under a cork along weed edges, blow downs and stump rows. Richard described the size of the fish as “slabs.” Richard has also heard of some very good reports of some large (over a pound) redear sunfish (shellcracker) being captured in the southern end of the lake on the Georgia side. Richard rated the current bream fishing a 10 out of 10 and the crappie a solid 8. The lake continues to be full of catfish and anglers interested in taking some home should have no problem harvesting a mess. Noodle fishing appears to be the favorite technique but if you prefer to sink some worms or liver on the bottom you should also find success. Please be sure to retrieve your noodles after fishing.
Flint River – There have been some reports of shoal bass being caught in the Flint. Travis Ingram caught over a half dozen fish ranging in size from 2-4 pounds in a couple of hours of fishing in the lower Flint River last Saturday. The fish Travis and his partner caught weren’t very selective. They caught fish on spinner baits, crank baits and large jigs. Shoal bass, which are unique to the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system often congregate in large shoals in the early spring months to spawn and can be targeted by anglers at this time. There continue to be reports of channel catfish being caught with worms fished on the bottom and bream being caught with crickets. Hybrid and striped bass are 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 continue 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 bass is excellent. He took some clients yesterday (3/30) and between 11:00 am and 12:30 they caught a “bunch” of fish with the largest weighing 5.5 pounds. They were catching the fish on green pumpkin lizards and speed worms pitching to the shoreline in areas of mixed vegetation and sand. Steven mentioned he saw several fish bedding. He also saw redear sunfish (shellcracker) staging in preparation of the spawn. He recommended that anglers interested in catching these fish look “way back” in the saw grass. The Fisheries Section recently completed their standardized spring electrofishing samples on Lake Seminole and the bass numbers and size look very good. The largest fish collected was a 10 pound fish that was found in Brockett’s Slough. The crappie numbers were average this year but the size of the fish was impressive. Many fish over a pound were collected and a few tipped the scales over 1.5 pounds. Crappie are now in shallow and bedding in the Lake. Anglers should concentrate around lily pads which seem be the preferred bedding areas for crappie in Lake Seminole.