Fishing Reports: November 18, 2016

  • Central Georgia
  • North Georgia

Central Georgia

Mark your calendars for some post-Thanksgiving Day fishing fun! While most anglers go-fish-edu-centerknow that you will not find a trout in natural habitat below the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, the stocking of approximately 800 catchable trout in the Go Fish Education Center fishing pond provides a special wintertime treat to those that visit this Middle Georgia destination.  Visitors to the Center will be able to start catching trout on Fri. Nov. 25. For more information, visit

North Georgia

 (Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)

The big story up here continues to be wildfires and especially their smoke  (Tallulah copter video:  A contingent of WRD staff was dispatched yesterday to assist the Georgia Forestry Commission with wildfire fighting and mop-up operations in far northwest Georgia.  We wish safe travels and timely returns for all of north Georgia’s federal, state, and local firefighters this fall.

While we have several active fires in Georgia (, North Carolina has it worse right now  (    Details on each fire can be read by clicking on the individual incident name within these websites.    Both sets of fires can deliver some very aggravating smoke levels across north Georgia.    That smoke sometimes travels to Atlanta and beyond, and can affect our line of sight and especially our breathing on popular waters like Lanier and Allatoona.  For example, I passed up a great Lanier striper invitation after work yesterday (11/16) to protect my lungs from the “code red” air quality of the Cohutta smoke plume.   The smoky haze at the Balus ramp was just too much for me to hop aboard a boat.  Those stripers will still be there for me next time, when the air is clear and safe.

In terms of our holiday fishing opportunities, we’re not totally out of the ball game.  We just have to plan better.   Typically, we’re planning our fall fishing trips around anticipated rainfall and river flows.  Now, however, we should plan around the expected wind direction.   We have some opportunity to work around the fire effects by closely monitoring weather reports and the Chattahoochee National Forest updates (especially road closures) on those fires.

The detailed weather reports that predict wind speed and direction will be most helpful to anglers.

If we know where the smoke plumes are heading, we can head the other way.  It will be important to have some alternate angling destinations in mind, in case the winds shift, so look for streams or lakes that would be smoke-free during a certain wind direction and have those “Plan B’s” in your back pockets.  So until we get some rain, we’ll all need to watch the winds and head the other way.  Here we go:

  • Chattahoochee National Forest Fire Updates

See the satellite photo of smoke plumes in here, as well as this morning’s briefing on the Tallulah River fire.

  • Georgia Drought- Trout Management

State and federal hatchery managers worked hard to survive the summer and have fish for you this fall and next spring.  Brief story here, on page 24:


  • Buck Shoals Success!

  • Upper Hooch Tailwater

  • DH streams

Many of our mountain streams are getting hit hard with smoke.  Check wind directions and call local tackle shops or state parks for smoke reports before burning a lot of gas on your northern treks.  Chattooga DH may be especially smoky, given its proximity to both GA and NC wildfires.



If you make it, here’s a fishing hint: toss downstream.  Both stocked and wild fish are in “fright mode” in this low, crystal clear water.  They’ll spook as soon as an angler is spotted or a line slaps the water surface.  Consider sneaking in above them, tossing your offering out, and letting drift down to the fish so that the fly or lure is the first thing seen, with no disturbance around it.  Right now a small woolly bugger on 5x, with a #16 soft hackle wet fly dropper twitched in the current, can be a killer combo.  Smith DH angler Landon also said that long, light (6X) tippets helped him to succeed last weekend.  Good luck as the DH fish smarten up and begin testing your skill set!

  • Hooch DH

  • Reminder- Tuesday Hooch DH Bucket Brigade

  • Bluelines

Given the dropping air temps this weekend, we may be looking at a last call for consistent topwater action on our bluelines.  Fish the afternoons, when the water warms.  If it’s still slow, add a small nymph dropper to put the fly down, in front of their noses.  If it’s broken water, fish upstream.  If it’s a long, flat pool, fish it from above, as described previously.

  • Lanier Bass

Water Temp: 64 degrees

Water Level: 9.60 feet below full pool

The fishing this past week has been good. The water temperatures have started to drop with the cooler nights and more seasonable high temperatures. The surface temps sit around 6 degrees and falling, and the water level continues to drop as the corp continues to pull water and we get no rain.  We now sit at 9.60 feet down from full pool.  The topwater bite is starting to fade, as expected.  We are still seeing schooling fish on some days, but these are often just stripers, with a few spots mixed in at times.  The stripers, and the spots in some cases, that are schooling right now seem to be focused on the small threadfin shad. Therefore they will often ignore your typical topwater offerings.  Casting a jigging spoon into these fish is one way to imitate the small bait.  There are some other options as well, but it just takes some experimentation to figure out what they will eat. Think small and be creative. We are getting some good fish early in the mornings throwing a spinnerbait on windblown rock and clay points.  I look for the Spro Crankbait bite to pick up soon as well on those same style points.  There are still fish hanging around the brush throughout the lake, and can be caught a number of different ways.  A swimbait and a jerkbait have both worked well at times this past week, and we are starting to have good success with both a Chattahoochee Jig and a Shaky Head in the area of the brush as well.   With the lake down, I look for a great ditch bite as the water continues to cool, so keep an eye out for the bait making their way into the creek arms. That will be the indication to shift your areas of focus.  We have started to spoon up some fish out of the timber, or near the timber, in creek arms/ditches in 30-40 feet.  The process is starting to happen. I look for this to strengthen as we continue into fall, and once the bait gets well established in the ditches, look for the SuperSpin bite shallow in the ditches first thing in the morning to be a predominant pattern.  A jerkbait in these areas should work well also.  We have a great fall fishing experience in store folks!  I am now guiding in a Brand New Xpress Bass Boat – 21’3″ powered by a 250 Yamaha SHO and equipped with the latest Lowrance HDS Gen III units featuring 3D Structure Scan technology.  Come take a ride in this beauty!   Here are the dates I have open in November:  25, 26, 28, 29, 30. I am also booking for December, which should be the peak of the ditch bite. Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun! If you have been waiting for the fall bite, its here, and its time to FISH! Thanks to all and May God Bless.

Jim “JIMBO” Mathley (Spotted Bass Fishing Guide – Lake Lanier, Mobile – 770-542-7764,

  • Lanier Crappie

Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Report November 15, 2016

This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club.  See our club’s website,

Water temperatures are slowly dropping, and vary from creek to creek at around 63 degrees.  Some creeks have a slight stain and since we’ve not had rain lately, these areas can be a degree or two warmer.  If you notice bait in these areas, there are most likely crappie in stand alone brush piles.  We’ve noticed this week that a wave of crappie are moving to the shallower stand alone brush piles in the backs of creeks, as shallow as about ten feet.  Since Lanier’s lake level is about 10 ½ feet below full pool, some brush piles are beginning to show above the water line.  Even though the tops may be showing, there still may be fish in or around them.  The last few days with the super moon, fishing has been off the charts.  Bigger fish are showing up, and are eager to bite.  Yesterday we experimented with a variety of jigs, both soft body and hair jigs, in 1/24 and 1/16 ounce.  The color did not matter.  The bite should continue to be strong, with water temperatures dropping.  Certain docks with brush piles in the middle to the backs of creeks are holding fish, but you may choose to concentrate on the ones that are easier to catch right now on stand alone brush piles. There is plenty of bait out there, and the fish are still feeding on small threadfins, so pay attention to the bait in the creeks you are fishing.  Live bait instead of jigs should also work well.  If you like long line trolling, this is the time of the year that should produce.  The backs of the creeks are ideal areas for that method, using your trolling motor at higher or variable speeds.  Look for flat bottoms in those areas.  Double up on the curly tail jigs with two per rod, each with 1/16 ounce jig heads.  Use the short rods in the back of the boat and longer rods toward the front, with two foot differences in length. Your jigs should be running at about eight to ten feet below the surface.  If you like to fish with live bait, a slip cork is a must if the fish are at eight to fifteen foot depths.  Otherwise, a Carolina rig and egg sinkers with swivels on each side using the down line method with crappie minnows should also work.

  • Lake Chatuge

See page 24 of this e-magazine:

  • Other Lakes

Check out Ken’s Friday updates for more intel on our major reservoirs.

  • Toona’s On Top!

Please join us in congratulating our fine federal partner, the COE- Allatoona staff.  For more than a decade, they’ve worked with fisheries biologist Jim Hakala and volunteer angler groups to place fish attractors into the reservoir.


Fish Attractors on Lake Allatoona

And that’s just one of their many resource management and recreation projects.  Read more about their #1 Corps of Engineers ranking here:

For Immediate Release

Mobile District’s Allatoona Lake Receives Coveted Award

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Allatoona Lake Project, has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Chief of Engineers Natural Resource Management Project of the Year.  The award recognizes exceptional project management with emphasis on natural resources, recreation and environmental compliance management programs.

Allatoona Lake was chosen for the award due to exceptional achievement in management efficiencies, public safety, outreach programs, and management effectiveness. Staff at Allatoona was commended for finding innovative and effective ways to manage the natural resources and public use, leadership in obtaining community participation as well as promoting employee and public safety.

Noteworthy achievements at the project included the creation of the Allatoona Lake Water Safety Task Force which involves area public safety agencies, long-term water safety partnerships with Safe Kids Cherokee County and Safe Kids Cobb County, and environmental partnerships such as the Osprey Platform Project with Georgia Power and Steel Materials Inc. and the American Chestnut Restoration Project with the American Chestnut Foundation and Berry College. Also garnering mention was the Allatoona Lake Volunteer Program with over 51,000 volunteer hours completed last year on projects such as park hosting, water safety, facility maintenance, natural resource management, and the Great Lake Allatoona Cleanup.

“This was truly a team effort in being named project of the year,” said, Lead Ranger Chris Purvis, project public awareness coordinator. “We have received exceptional support from the South Atlantic Division, Mobile District, our many partners, and the surrounding community.”

This is the second time Allatoona Lake has received the award, the last was in 1983. Allatoona was chosen out of a list of 464 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects across the nation.

For more information, please contact the Allatoona Lake Project Management Office at 678-721-6700.

Good luck this weekend and through the Thanksgiving holiday.  Be safe: avoid wildfire-related site closures, dodge the smoke, and refrain from any open flames or tossed cigarettes. Also, be vigilant, as this is a true team effort to conserve our north Georgia forests and local communities. For example, Smithgall Woods site manager Will Wagner and I even saw Smokey Bear patrolling Dukes Creek on Tuesday, ready to scold under-informed campfire fans and to devour known arsonists!  Enjoy the pic and video, and best of luck with your holiday trip planning.  Remember to watch the winds and sidestep the smoke to fishing success.

  • Lake Burton Brown Trout – Worth the Drive!

Brown Trout Stocking at Lake Burton

To take advantage of Lake Burton’s abundant blueback herring population, 16,000 10.5-inch brown trout were recently stocked into the reservoir near Clayton.  This annual stocking by Buford and Lake Burton trout hatchery staff help provide sport fishing diversity in Lake Burton.  The lake’s deep waters stay cold and well oxygenated through the summer, and allow for trout survival and growth over several years.  Brown trout on a blueback herring diet can gain two pounds per year!  The result is a Georgia angler’s chance at a true trophy trout.


Is the fishery successful? Just ask Ms. Amy Waddall of Clayton, GA who landed this beautiful brown trout in late October

For more information on Lake Burton fishing, including a trout fishing guide, visit WRD fishery biologist Anthony Rabern’s fishing prospects here:

Thanks for buying your fishing licenses, trout stamps, and Trout Unlimited license plates, which fuel our trout management program.  Good luck as you Go Fish Georgia this fall.