Central Georgia

North Georgia

Southeast Georgia

Central Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Steve Schleiger and region Fisheries staff; Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)

Lake Russell (down 2.1 feet, clear 60’s) – Bass fishing is good.  Any wind will be an angler’s best friend as the water cools down.  The fishing pressure has lessened and should continue as Christmas approaches.  Now is the time to get out and catch some big Bass.  Use Rapala DT6 and DT10 around the windblown points.  Banks are always a good place to start fishing during December.  Also check out the rip rap after the sun comes up with Rapala Shad Raps and Rapala DT Flats.  Try this with the Lowrance: split the screens and put sonar on one panel and down imaging on the other.  This will make the down scan 4 times wider than the sonar.  Keep a pearl Super fluke rigged all day and work this bait around any schools of bait you find on the Lowrance.

Clarks Hill (down 10.7 feet, 60’s) – Bass fishing is fair and the lake is very low.  This is the best time to take advantage of the Lowrance down Scan technology and you can count the fish on the bottom.  The 1/2 ounce size will catch you an occasional larger fish but not as many.  Small chunk-rock will be the key to fishing these baits.  Look for the larger patches along the bank and even around the smaller islands.  Herring schools are popping up more and more across the lake along with schools of other bait fish.  Continue to hit the channel side banks with Shad Raps and Glass Shad Raps.  Try this with the Lowrance: split the screens and put sonar on one panel and down imaging on the other.  This will make the down scan 4 times wider than the sonar.  A Minnow Rap swims like the blue back and will reach depths up to eleven feet.  X Raps in Olive Green on the points and over the tops of the shallower grass mats are working well also.  In Little River, try spinner baits around the rocky islands and on the rip rap.  Change colors and sizes of your baits in search for bigger bass.  Pearl-colored Wildeye Swim Shad is another excellent swim bait in the four-inch size to use when bait fish are present.  Don’t overlook that top-water bite and watch the birds.  Main lake points with the wind blowing on them is always a good place to start.

Lake Oconee (down 4.5 feet. Low, the lake is clear, light stain up the lake into the river, temperature 62-66) – Bass fishing is good and Sugar Creek is the hottest area on the lake using small crank baits or spinnerbait’s around the shallow water and near the docks or any other structure you may find.  As the lake begins to clear the bite will become better all over.  Work a buzz bait early or all day if the weather is overcast.  Make sure that you work the back corners of the docks and the area where the walkway goes from the shore to the dock.  Try this with the Lowrance: split the screens and put sonar on one panel and down imaging on the other.  This will make the down scan 4 times wider than the sonar.  Rocks anywhere on the lake will have shad and usually lots of them and bass will make their way to this structure anytime of the day.  It’s hard to beat a Shad Rap, shad color on 10-pound test Sufix Elite line.  Bump the rocks with the baits by casting parallel to the rocks.

Crappie fishing is good.  The fish are holding on brush piles in 10 to 12 foot of water around the lake.  Using live bait or casting the jigs over the brush will be your best bet to catch a good number of fish.

West Point Lake (down 8.3 feet, clear and 60’s) – Bass fishing is really picking up with the water rising and the warm weather.  Up-lake in Yellow Jacket Creek and coves around Highland are producing some really nice fish on 3/8 oz white Chatterbait.  Follow up with a ¼ oz. Tommy Head shaky Head rigged with a finesse worm in Bama Bug or any of the green colors.  Look at 5 to 8 feet deep as still the most productive depths to start hunting those largemouth.  Try this with the Lowrance: split the screens and put sonar on one panel and down imaging on the other.  This will make the down scan 4 times wider than the sonar.  Mid to down lake fish are biting on drop shots and Carolina Rigged worms.  Just fishing the shad balls or brush piles and should produce some good bites.  Creek ledges are producing some good fish on jigging spoons but with the stained water coming in I’m not sure the bite will last.  #5 Shad Rap is working around the rip rap and long rocky clay points upriver but you just got to cover a lot of water.

Lake Sinclair (down 1.7 feet, clear 60’s) – Bass fishing is good.  Not much top-water activity right now but any warming trend can change that so keep a top-water bait ready.  Watch for signs of shad breaking the surface.  The pattern for bass fishing is primary and secondary points.  Wind blowing in on these points is the one main factor you need to look for this week.  Also fish plenty of rock and wood lake-wide.  Use the #5 jointed Shad Raps and Rapala DT6 in the shad colors.  The water is good and clear so stay with the natural colors.  By midday the bass are holding tight to cover and jigs around boat docks and lay downs will catch you several. 

Lake Jackson (down 2.0 feet, 60’s) – Bass fishing is fair.  The fish are holding and relating to the wood in the lake while the spots are doing their usual thing and roaming around.  Cover a lot of water and use a Rattlin Rapala.  This lipless crank bait is an ideal fall bait and will locate and catch a limit of bass each day.  With the stained water, use the red crawdad or the red fire crawdad color.  Bass will relate to the crawfish colors and attack the bait when it comes past.  Work the small rocky banks and cover as much water as possible.  Check out the small cuts or bowls in the bank and work to the secondary points back in the coves.  Follow up this bait with a RS Shad Rap or Jointed Shad Rap and work the same areas as before on the return back to the ramp.  Stay in the river mouths especially if they are pulling water through the dam.  Any current will drive the bass into a feeding frenzy and cranking the back sides of points and rip rap will get you a limit in a hurry.

Flat Creek PFA

Surface Temperature: Not available at this time.

Water Level: >13’ 2” Below Full Pool

Water Visibility: Not available at this time.

The fishing was reported to be very good despite lower lake levels.  Catfish continue to be caught consistently.  Bass and Crappie fishing has also been good for those lucky enough to have a kayak or small boat to fish from.  Bream are still the fish most anglers reported catching.  Crappie have been caught in large numbers, with one angler reporting to have caught and released over 100 Crappie in one day (he was fishing from a kayak).  Due to the lower level of the lake the boat ramp is unusable, and boats must be launched by hand.

Bass:  Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumkinseed Culprit worms.  Most dark-colored worms.

Bream:  Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig.  Near cover or near the shallower water during a full moon.  Crickets have Not worked well.

Channel Catfish:  Red Wiggler worms, Frozen Catalpa worms, and chicken livers.

Crappie:  Chartreuse/white teaser tails, or similar color pattern in Triple Ripple.

Additional information at http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/FlatCreek

McDuffie PFA 

Falling water temperatures across McDuffie Public Fishing Area: Avg. 60⁰F and falling.

Water Visibility:     19 – 50 inches:

Lake Water levels across McDuffie PFA are still down a foot or more but boats can still be launched at all ramps.

Largemouth Bass:  Overall, the largemouth bass bite will be picking up continually until water temperatures drop below 45 degrees.  Lake Willow had its second spawn of Threadfin Shad so match the size and color of the forage for some exciting surface or below surface action.  A fisherman caught 3 bass in Lake Willow weighing in at 16 pounds.  He released them.  The Bass are responding to the cooler water temperatures and biting readily.  Fishermen are catching multiple fish with most of them being caught and released.  Rodbender, the trophy bass pond, is open and closes again on the evening of the fifteen of December.  The bass action should be improving in Rodbender because a recent stocking of Golden shiners were added to lake from the hatchery program.

Bream: Slowing down: the water is cooling and the panfish should be migrating to deeper water as the water temperature drops.

Channel Catfish:  the Catfish bite has slowed down.  The best fishing is on the bottom in deeper water using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made baits.

Striped Bass:  the small stripers are biting in both Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes.  Stripers are biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while catfish fishermen are fishing for catfish.  Umbrella rigs, diving crank baits and top-water plugs are very effective on McDuffie’s stripers during the colder months.

Additional Information:    http://www.gofishgeorgia.com/PFA/McDuffie

Marben PFA

Water temps. : mid 50’s

Largemouth Bass –   December brings cold temperatures and shorter days.  Despite our best efforts at Marben, fishing really slows down this time of year.  Anglers should try crank baits or rattle traps in the 6 to 10 feet of water.  Do not be afraid to try a Texas rig in the same depth.  Mid-day will be the best times to target bass giving the sun a little time to warm the water just a touch.  Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA.  Fishing slow and patience is needed this time of year.

Crappie – Crappie are probably the most aggressive fish anglers will find at Marben this time year.  However, do not expect to hook one with every cast.  Finding them may require a little effort.  Remember though, the crappie bite can turn on at any moment in these small lakes.  Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow/white jigs.  Try fishing cover approximately 10-12 feet throughout the day.  Expect crappie to move into shallower water on warmer days in December.

Bream – Bream fishing will be slow at Marben.  Coldwater temperatures and shorter days all play a factor with the decrease in activity.  Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best with mid-day temperatures.  Remember that bream are deeper this time of year so to be successful anglers will have to target deeper water in order to increase your chances.

Catfish –  Look for catfish to be extremely sluggish this time of year.  Patience is necessary if anglers are in pursuit of this fish.  Anglers should target days when it is sunny which should warm the water in order to get catfish moving.  Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.

Additional Information:  http://www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/CharlieElliott

North Georgia

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

Hey, it RAINED!  And it’s gonna rain some more.  That’s super news for our north Georgia mountains and all of our waterbodies which depend on the rainfall.  Dealing with high flows and icy water sure beats dealing with smoke hazards, road closures, threats of home loss in Jones Settlement, Tate City and Bettys Creek communities, and lack of a river current to drift our flies or to turn our spinner blades.  While we are definitely not out of the woods yet on this drought, at least we have a return to rainfall and some hope of recovery this winter.

 So the good news is that it rained.  Stream flows jumped significantly, but when we look closely at those USGS gauges, we see that the flow spikes only reached a high of historic normal flows, and our rivers are quickly receding to their drought levels.  For anglers, this means that most streams will return to wadeable and fishable levels very quickly after each rain. And the DH stockers should be a bit more spread out from the higher flows.  Learn those stream gauges and call your favorite local tackle shops to better understand the winter angling opportunities ahead of you. Examples:





Hooch (the Dukes and Smith surrogate, which even has a live CAMERA):


The continuing bad news is that we’re still in significant drought, so it’s gonna take a lot of rain to refill our reservoirs and return stream baseflows to normal levels.  We also need several more big rains to bring our wildfire threats back toward zero.  While we may be rained out from fishing during the next week, we should consider it an investment in the health of our forests, streams, and lakes.  And we should root for all rains possible for our fine friends north of the border, in Tennessee.  What happened in Gatlinburg was truly tragic, and our thoughts and prayers go to those folks struggling through a holiday season with heavy hearts and lost homes or even loved ones. 


How close does this incident hit?  I emailed my friend, the current Smokies NP fishery biologist, and asked how he and his predecessor’s families are doing.  Matt said that he and Steve are okay thus far, save for some fallen trees and lost power, but several of their neighbors at higher elevations lost their homes.  We need these forthcoming, steady rains to extinguish all fires, and the threat of reburns, and let us all heal from a tough summer across the Southeast.  Right now, the forest litter layer is still dry just an inch or two below the burned surface layer.  We need that entire forest floor to be a deep, soaked sponge once again.  We are also reminded of how lucky we have been in north Georgia to not have experienced the firestorm that happened just across our border.  We must all stay vigilant this month until the US Forest Service and GA Forestry Commission give us the “all clear” signal on open flames. USFS-GA wildfire status reports are here:   https://www.facebook.com/ChattOconeeNF/

Let’s finish this introduction on a high note.  We have some current back in our streams, clean air to breathe, two or more stockings of our Delayed Harvest waters by our state and federal trout hatcheries, stripers on the loose in the reservoir shallows, and a good excuse to get our expensive winter fleece and Gore-Tex jackets out of our closets.  Or to beg Santa for a set this year!

 Get your raincoats, handwarmers, and hot chocolate ready.  Here we go:

·        Upper Hooch Tailwater

It’s still turbid as the lake continues to destratify.  The actual lake turnover usually happens around Christmas.

This process of destratification and turnover is explained here: http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Hatcheries/Buford.

While dissolved metals are high and the oxygen is low near the dam right now, water quality improves a couple miles downstream.  The turbidity also helps wild browns to feel safer and venture farther from cover during daylight hours.



·        Hooch DH

o   Young man’s smile


o   Whitewater


o   Paces


·        Other Trout Waters

o   Toccoa DH

Dredger’s weekend trips – and his successful techniques for prospective Toccoa DH visitors – are chronicled here:


He noticed a big difference in trout behavior and catch rates between days, as Saturday’s fish were colder (from a frigid Friday night) and it took a deeper, slower retrieve of the bugger to coax the second day strikes.

Map: http://www.unicoioutfitters.com/toccoa-river-delayed-harvest.shtml

And Intel: http://www.gon.com/fishing/new-toccoa-river-delayed-harvest

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

o   Ami DH


o   Vogel


o   Smith DH

“Big Ones:” http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111913



o   Tooga DH


Caught many on the #18 lighting bug you recommended; others on #16 natural pheasant tail nymph; lots of risers but never figured out what emerger they were taking.

        A Rabunite

·        Cold Weather Trouting Tips

o   http://www.bluequillangler.com/Knowledge/How-to-Catch-Trout-in-the-Winter

o   http://www.orvis.com/news/fly-fishing/repost-Toms-Winter-Fishing-Tips/

o   http://orvisffguide.libsyn.com/winter-fly-patterns-and-trout-tactics-with-tim-flagler

·        Toona

Report courtesy of Ken’s website:


               LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 7.4 FEET, 60’S & CLEAR

This Lake Allatoona Bass fishing report is from Matt Driver.

Bass fishing is great. You can catch them on just about anything. The jig bite and shaky had been on fire. Numbers are really good right now with 15 to 20 fish not hard to come by. Larger schools of fish have been found in 10 to 15 foot depth range. There has also been a decent spinner bait bought on long point. The fish are definitely on the move and feeding up. Hopefully by the end of the month we will see a decrease in water temperatures to fire up the jerk bait bite. Red top to Iron Hill has been very productive.

This Lake Allatoona fishing report for striper and hybrid has been brought to you exclusively by Robert Eidson First Bite Service 770 827 6282 www.firstbiteservice.com eidson6260@comcast.net.

Lineside fishing is good. The rain this week has really jump started the bite. The fish and the bait is starting to migrate north. Free lines, planner boards, downlines and spoons are all working. Our best bite has been north of the dam to the S turns.

·        Lanier Stripers

Report courtesy of Ken’s website:


o   This Lake Lanier Striper report is from Captain Ken West 404 561 2564. Contact us on our web site. www.bigfishonguide.com

Striper fishing is good. We finally got some cooler temperatures and the fishing has improved. The fishing will only get better with the much needed recent rains. The key is to fish the creeks with the greatest concentration of bait. You may not be able to mark the fish with Lowrance Sonar but if the bait is thick the odds are there are fish in the area. TWe have been fishing half way back in the creeks with the most bait. Free line Herring has been your best bet early giving way to downlines later in the day. Set your free lines back 70 to 100 feet with a Herring or Trout and pull at .5 mile per hour. Try a small split shot on one of your lines and vary your trolling speed to locate your baits at various depths. If you are using planner boards set your bank side outside board at 15 to 20 feet behind your board and the inside boards at 40 to 50 feet behind the boards. Always hang a couple of down rods over the side when you are pulling baits. In addition, put someone on the front deck throwing a Capt. Mack’s buck tail jig; you may pick up an extra fish or two. The water temperature is in the high 50’s. The water is stained in the creeks and clear on the main lake. The lake is 10 feet below full pool. To book your guide trip call us at 404 561 2564 or contact us on our web site. www.bigfishonguide.com

o   Report #2

Guru and a sidekick got out on Lanier one holiday afternoon.  Launching from Balus, they went out a few hundred yards and ran after scattered, breaking fish.  Guru got a nice, fat spot on a fly, while his sidekick got a four pound striper by casting farther with a jig-headed superfluke in blueback herring color.  They then ran from Flat down to Mud Creeks, but found no more surfacing fish.  After dark, their graph showed fish stacked up in 30 feet, off a point in the Flat Creek straightway, but nothing was interested in their jigged offerings.  It was still a nice evening on Lanier, with two fish boated in a couple hours of casting.


·        Lanier Crappie

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

We’ve been praying for rain, and we finally got some! As of this evening, Lake Lanier is just over 10 feet below full pool.  But the creeks will continue to drain into the lake, impacting both the level and the color of the water.  This will result in moderate to heavily stained water in the backs of the creeks.  The bite may slow a bit as the crappie acclimate to the stain, but should pick back up within a few days. With above average fall temperatures, water temps continue to be in the upper 50’s, with slight variation from creek to creek.  Submerged brush piles continue to be my favorite targets.  The bait is present in abundance, and with the current water temps, both the bait and the crappie are roaming aggressively.  Don’t hesitate to cast far beyond the targeted brush pile and retrieve across or around it.  The color of the water should dictate the color of your jig.  Use darker jigs in stained water.  Crappie minnows are still a good substitution for jigs.  The trolling bite continues to be good.  Get out on the water between the rains when you can, and go catch some fish!

Stay safe on the water – wear your life jacket! 

·        Lanier Bass

Water Temp: 59 degrees

Water Level:  10.22 below full pool 

The fishing on Lake Lanier remains good.  There are many patterns working out on Lanier right now for the spotted bass. The fish are definitely in transition right now, and with that transition comes many options.  There are fish very shallow, mid-depth, and deep.  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 Spro Crankbait and spinnerbait on windblown rock and clay points in both main lake and creek pockets. When the moving bait bite slows down, switch to a finesse worm on a Picasso Shaky Football Head or a Chattahoochee Jig. The mouths of the major ditches/creek arms are starting to hold fish more consistently.  There are also some fish and bait present in the actual ditches.  I look for the ditch bite to get very strong in December as we start to see some more seasonable temperatures and conditions.  With the warm fall we have had and the slower than normal transition, I look for December to be an outstanding fishing month on Lanier!  There are still fish hanging around the brush on the points that lead into the main creek arm channels around the lake, and can be caught a number of different ways.  A swimbait and a jerkbait have both worked well at times, 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.   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 early winter experience in store folks! 

Jim “JIMBO” Mathley

Spotted Bass Fishing Guide – Lake Lanier

Mobile – 770-542-7764


·        Lanier-  Awesome Sonar Shots


·        Hartwell

Report courtesy of Ken’s website:



This bass fishing report is from Josh Panyard

Bass fishing is good. The water temperatures are continuing to cool down with the cooler nights. The last few times out the water temps have started at 60 and warmed up to 62 degrees by mid afternoon. We have continued to focus our efforts in the Tugaloo river area both north and south of the 85 bridge. In the first part of the mornings we have been working the back part of the creek arms and main lake pockets shallow with a buzz bait. This bite has been the strongest for the first couple of hours but we continued to throw it throughout the day. This pattern isn’t catching a lot of numbers but the quality of the fish are good. One key we noticed was the bite was better out of the wind and in the sun. Some of the very backs of the creek arms are stained and not that productive. Most of the river arm areas a still really clear and have a lot of bait in them. This has continued to be key as it always is during the fall so take the time to find the bait and fish these areas thoroughly. Key baits to throw this time of year have been a buzz bait, jerk bait, square bill crank bait, jig, and a shaky head. As the sun gets up and you will have to slow down that is where the jig and shaky head worm work the best. Anything in a green pumpkin color is good this time of year. Key for us was to continue to move throughout the day if we didn’t get bit within 10 minutes of fishing an area we picked up the trolling motor and moved on. When we got some bites we slowed down and worked the area with several baits before moving on to the next area. We are going to continue to focus our efforts in the Tugaloo river areas as the shallow water bite continues to get stronger with the cooler weather. Remember the lake is now close to 10 feet low and there are a lot of objects sticking up out of the water and not yet marked. So be safe out there and we hope to see you on the water.

·        Healing Waters

Dude, I’ve been FLYFISHING”

Listen to this podcast when you’re trying to pass some time.


·        Future Events

Mark your calendars for:

o   Hooch Bucket Brigade #2 – Dec 20

Details from Biologist Pat next week… 

o   Rabun Rendezvous- Jan 21


o   Atlanta Flyfishing Show – Feb 3&4


Good luck as the chilled winter rains fall upon us.  Usually we’re a bit bummed when November departs and the tougher fishing conditions of December arrive.  Not this year, as we welcome the positive effects of cold rains- recharging our rivers, cooling off our trout streams, refilling striper and walleye lakes with the “winter water” needed to survive the summers, resupplying our mountain trout hatcheries and, most importantly, putting out our wildfires!  Be ready to adapt to changing conditions of flow, water temperature, and air temperature.  And, when you feel a bit frustrated with cold toes and fewer bites, remember how challenging it’s been without the rain and cool weather.  Good luck in this season of fleece and thanksgiving – for family, friends, fish, and RAIN.

Southeast Georgia

(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)

Fishing over the holiday weekend was very good. Crappie, seatrout, and bass topped the list. First quarter moon is December 7th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.

Altamaha River – John and Isaiah Bittle fished with a friend in a tributary to the Altamaha on Wednesday and Friday. They caught about a dozen bass each day. Texas-rigged Assassin Ding Dong worms (junebug hues) worked best, but they also caught some bass on green/silver hard jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and several other Texas-rigged plastics. It was tough getting around, but they caught their fish in the deeper outside bends. Their biggest was a 6-lb., 14-oz monster that inhaled an Assassin Ding Dong worm in a deep hole with blowdown trees. Another group of anglers fished the same area on Friday and caught 16 bass to 4 pounds. Texas-rigged swimming senkos and white spinnerbaits produced most of their fish. A couple of Waycross anglers fished another area of the tributary on Tuesday and caught 15 bass up to 3 pounds. Their fish primarily ate Texas-rigged and Neko-rigged plastic worms, with several colors producing. White spinnerbaits also accounted for several of their fish. In the cloudy conditions, the fish were scattered, and it took a lot of casts to connect with a bass. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the crappie bite is still hot. Minnows and jigs both produced again this week. On Saturday a group caught 47 keeper crappie on minnows. Goldfish produced some nice flathead catfish. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the catfish bite was best. Shrimp, worms, and rooster livers caught channels, blues, and speckled cats. Anglers are fishing in the main river and the creeks to fill coolers. The flathead bite has also been good for those fishing goldfish. Crappie have been biting minnows and jigs. Deep holes in the main river were the deal. Bass have been biting shiners. An angler reported a surprising moment this week as a giant sturgeon swam by his boat while he was fishing. The river level was 1.1 feet (record low for the date) and steady (64 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 1.2 feet and rising (69 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on November 29th. Expect to encounter lots of sandbars at these levels, so DON’T get in a hurry.

Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the river is low, but anglers walking the banks and wading caught bream and redbreasts on crickets, pinks, and red worms. Fish also ate beetle spins and Satilla Spins (crawfish and red/white were most productive). Catfish bit shrimp and rooster livers. In slow moving water in the deeper holes. The river level on November 29th at the Waycross gage was 4.2 feet and falling (62 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 2.4 feet and rising.

St. Marys River – Panfishing improved with the warmer weather this week. The stretch below Folkston produced the best reports, with most reports between 20 and 25 fish per trip for those using crickets. In the upper river the water is so low that wading is the only reasonable approach. You have to work for them, but you can catch some nice panfish by walking the river. Catfish are still being caught about anywhere you drop a bait to the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on November 29th was 1.5 feet and steady.

Okefenokee Swamp – The water levels are getting very low. On the East side, you can still access the canals, but they were full of floating vegetation when I went last. Find areas without the vegetation and pitch yellow or pink sallies to catch some nice fliers right now. Or, fish the boat basin at the Folkston entrance late in the afternoon for fliers. Pink sallies fished under a float worked best last weekend. You can also catch pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish) on Dura-Spin if the water’s surface in the boat basin is clear of floating vegetation. On the west side the water is really low, and they are monitoring the level to determine if a boating closure is needed. If you are considering fishing out of SC Foster State Park, give them a call (912-637-5274) to make sure it is possible to access Billy’s Lake.

Lake Mayers (near Baxley) – A couple of Waycross anglers fished the lake on Tuesday in the strong winds and managed a dozen nice crappie. They trolled curly-tailed grubs for their catch.  By the time you read this, the next cold front will be cooling the water, but the fish should start biting well again in the warmer temperatures over the weekend. Spider-rig with a spread of tan shad Specktacular Jigs tipped with minnows and some minnows with plain hooks. If you like long-line trolling, the lower half of Lake Mayers is the place for you. Put 3 or 4 rods rigged with Assassin 2-inch Curly Shads out the back of the boat and troll at about 1 mph. Shad or chartreuse hues typically produce the best catches. The December issue of Georgia Outdoor News (GON) is out, and there is an article about fishing Lake Mayers that has lots of details for crappie fishing.

Local Ponds – Chad Lee reported catching 24 bass, with a couple of 3-pounders over the weekend. His go-to baits were plastic crayfish and crankbaits. A couple of Waycross anglers fished a Douglas area pond on Monday and caught 30 crappie by trolling 2-inch curly-tailed grubs (black-chartrueuse, silver flake, white, and chartreuse-silver flake worked best). Michael Winge said that local Waycross area ponds produced some good catches. He believes that the growing moon had the crappie fired up. Anglers reported good size fish eating minnows and jigs. John Deere Green and Tennessee shad were consistent colors. With the warmer temperatures, the bass bite has turned on. Free-lined shiners worked great.

Saltwater (GA Coast) – I received several great trout reports this week. The bite is wide open right now, so catch some trout now in the Intracoastal Waterway before it gets too cold. Michael Winge reported that trout fishing was still on fire. Anglers reported catching limits of keepers and quite a few throwbacks mixed in. Live shrimp fished under Cajun Thunder Floats produced many of the fish. Electric chicken Assassin Sea Shads and white Gulp Swimming Mullet were also deadly. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, sheepshead, flounder, black drum, and sheepshead were caught from the pier. Grubs and Sea Shads produced many of the trout and flounder. Sheepshead ate fiddlers and barnacles fished around the pilings. Black drum, whiting, and small black sea bass were caught on dead shrimp. A group of Waycross anglers caught 3 dozen “dinner plate”-sized blue crabs with baskets fished from the pier on Saturday. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.

Best Bet: The winds will be stiff late in the week behind the next cold front. By Saturday the weather should stabilize, and you should be able to catch a bunch of crappie from your favorite hole. Trout fishing should be good if the winds aren’t too high. White catfish fishing in the lower Satilla, St. Marys, or Altamaha rivers is a great option. Put shrimp on the bottom and hold on. You can put out a spread of Catfish Catcher jigheads tight-lined behind the boat and fish several rods since the circle hooks will set themselves. Anchoring the boat at the mouth of a creek or runout on the outgoing tide is a sure way to fill a cooler of tasty white catfish.


Isaiah Bittle (left) fished with his father John in a tributary to the Altamaha River last Friday and landed this nice bass along with 14 other bass. This one ate a Texas—rigged junebug lizard.