(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, 50’s) – Bass fishing is good. The cooler water and wind have turned the bass very active. The windblown banks up the rivers and the occasional stained water combined with the cooler water temperatures has the fish feeding. Pick any windblown bank and spotted and largemouth bass are sure to be there. Pick up the Striker King all white 3/8 ounce spinner bait. Baby bass crank baits and the silver shiner are working also. Work red clay banks and any small rocky points and watch Lowrance Down Scan technology and you will see the fish. Fish the small bowl areas and don’t be afraid to throw back across a small point. Any wood and large rocky structure that might be present needs a good application of a Texas rigged worm. Red shad is a good winter color for this lake. Throw the Storm red shad worm in and around all wood and remember to work it slow. Try to work it like a jig moving it only an inch or two at a time.
Clarks Hill (down 10.2 feet, 50’s) – Bass fishing is good. Cooler waters have the fish active but the lake is very low. The bass are roaming and they are biting up in the rivers. It is easy fishing, just use a Sebile Swimmer or a Shad Rap in the black and silver or white combinations. Work all the points and red clay banks that contain small rock. Stay out as far as possible and make long casts into shallow water. Use a slow and steady retrieve and the stop and go retrieve and find out which the fish like best. The best bait to use on the rocky points is the lipless bait in the dark red crawfish color. Keep the rod tip high and work this bait just off the bottom. Fish a Zoom red shad u tail rigged Carolina style. Old weed beds is a great place to start and watch the Lowrance Down Scan technology for any stumps that are visible.
Lake Oconee (1 ft. low, the lake is clear, light stain up the lake into the river, temperature 53-56) – Bass fishing is good. Spinner baits fished mid creeks out will produce fish. White and chartreuse have been the best colors. Look for docks with structure under them. When Georgia Power is pulling water the same spinner bait will work on the bridge rip rap. Georgia Power is pulling early in the mornings. Small crank baits fished along the side of the docks in the middle of the coves out to the main lake will also produce. Some fish are starting to show up on humps on the south end of the lake. Use your Lowrance to locate the fish and drop a spoon down to the fish. This bite will improve as the water continues to drop.
Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741
Striper fishing is very good. The fish are mid lake around river bend. Use your Lowrance to locate the large schools of bait and the stripers will be close by. Look for the birds diving; if you see birds go fish them. Live bait as well as spoons will produce large numbers of fish.
Crappie fishing is good. The fish are staging in the creeks. Long lining jigs over the fish will produce good catches. Spider rigging will also catch some fish.
West Point Lake (down 6.7 feet, clear, 60’s) – Bass fishing is fair. Several patterns are working for largemouth and spots. One is crank baits on main lake points hitting numerous points and fishing a large area. The best depth is 12 to 15 feet. Vertical jigging 16 to 25 feet deep with a 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce spoon is producing fish. Fish the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek for a mile upstream. Also, fish Wehadkee Creek, Veasy Creek and Stroud creek as the water is clear. Zoom Super Flukes over old pond dams and old roads can work and any color is fine as long as it is pearl. Try slow rolling a white and chartreuse half ounce spinner bait around rip rap at the bridges. Another good tip this time of year is to look for rock; it tends to attract bait fish which attract bigger fish during the colder months. Small crank baits on light line can take the spots almost all day as the weather is so warm.
Lake Sinclair (down 2.6 feet, clear, 60’s) – Bass fishing is fair. t is getting better with the warming trend. Some fish still remain in creeks and coves that have an abundance of shad present. Small and tight wobbling crank baits like Shad Raps are fooling a few fish near shore and around dock posts. A Shad Rap RS or similar suspending bait should also be used for pausing the bait a second or two beside dock posts. Soft plastics and jigs are also catching a few fish around the docks. Other cove fish are remaining more near the centers or basin at 8 to 15 feet deep. Deeper crank baits like Norman DD14 and DD22, Fat Free Shads in ½ and one ounce sizes and Rapala DT10 and DT14 are good choices if these fish are fairly active. Whether cranking shallow or deep, chartreuse combinations and shad patterns have both caught fish. Carolina rigs have been good choices on days that cranking doesn’t produce. Try a Zoom Finesse worm in green pumpkin or June bug on a 2 foot leader with a half-ounce weight.
Lake Jackson (down .4 feet, 50’s) – Bass fishing is good. This is now a full blown spotted bass lake and these fish can handle weather changes better than largemouth. Before the next cold front hits some bass will probably move to near the backs of these same coves following shad. A one-half ounce chrome Rat L Trap is the most consistent bait when this happens. Bass can be caught along the main river as well as in the lower lake coves close to the dam. Fish the sides of points, humps and flats as bass are holding 15 feet as an average. Use the deep crank baits, Carolina rigs, jig head and worm and never fish anywhere without using a jig. The best bait normally must be determined daily, although one bait can be the best for a few days consecutively. Rip rap in on the bridges are always going to have some bait fish close to the rocks as this water is warmer. Small Shad Raps will work.
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 cooler temperatures of winter and lower levels of the lake have seen few fishermen try their luck fishing. Those that have braved the cool weather have been catching several Catfish and Crappie. The bream, like the largemouth bass have been a little sluggish, and have required a little patience and a slow retrieval. With the rain that has finally come back in the area the lake levels are finally starting to come back up, however until we get more rain, the boat ramp is still 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
Falling water temperatures across McDuffie Public Fishing Area: Avg. 55 ⁰F and falling
Water Visibility: 19 – 50 inches:
Lake Water levels on the Eastside of the McDuffie PFA are still down over a foot but starting to rise. Boats can still be launched at each area boat ramp. The lakes on Westside of the PFA are full.
Largemouth Bass: Overall, the largemouth bass bite will be picking up continually until water temperatures drop below 45 degrees. The bass are responding to the cooler water temperatures and biting readily across the PFA’s lakes. McDuffie PFA’s fishermen are spreading the fishing pressure across the PFA lakes. A local fisherman reported catching several small bass and two stripers at Bridge Lake on a recent fishing trip. Fishermen have continued fishing through the mild weather. Lake Willow is still providing good bass action due to the threadfin shad so match the size and color of the forage for some exciting action. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond, will reopen on January 1st, 2017.
Bream: Slowing down: The PFA’s water is cooling and the panfish should be migrating to deeper water. No reported stringers.
Channel Catfish: The catfish are still biting and a nice stinger can be caught; the fish are in shallow water less than ten feet. The best fishing is on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or homemade baits.
Striped Bass: The small stripers are biting in both Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes. Boat fishermen are catching stripers on small crank baits and Shad rap. Stripers are also biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while fishermen are targeting 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
Water temps. : Mid/High-50’s
Largemouth Bass: January brings cooler temperatures and unstable weather. Despite our best efforts at Marben, fishing really slows down this time of year. However, water temperatures are still warm enough for fish to be in shallow water, especially on warmer January days. 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. Shad occasionally will school in early morning, so try to mimic small shad and you will increase your success rate. Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA. Slower fishing techniques are preferred this time of year for those anglers targeting big bass.
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 jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet throughout the day. Expect crappie to move into shallower water on warmer days in January.
Bream: Bream fishing will be slow at Marben. Coldwater temperatures 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. For anglers targeting bream, pick days that reach the mid-50’s to increase success. Crickets and worms are the preferred bait.
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
(Info provided by Fisheries biologist Bert Deener)
What a gorgeous week for fishing! Winter will be with us the next couple of days after you read this, but while writing this report we are in a super-warm spell that has the crappie chowing. New Moon is December 29th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the fishing has been great during the warming trend. Crappie were caught on both minnows and jigs. Catches have been as high as 45 fish per boat. A few bluegill were caught with crickets. Some impressive catfish catches were made from anglers who fished shrimp or chicken livers on the bottom (blue and channel catfish) or goldfish (flathead catfish). The river level was 3.4 feet and falling (59 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.1 feet and falling (59 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on December 27th.
Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the crappie bite is “on” in the river. Monday and Tuesday produced some great reports from anglers fishing Tennessee shad jigs. Redbreasts and bream were also mixed in the catches, with crickets and worms working best for them. Chicken livers and shrimp worked for catfish. The river level on December 27th at the Waycross gage was 8.3 feet and rising (60 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.8 feet and rising.
St. Marys River – Crappie catches were typically 15 to 20 good-sized fish per trip this week. A few bream were caught with crickets. Shrimp produced some big number of small catfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage on December 27th was 1.7 feet and falling.
Okefenokee Swamp – I did not receive any reports from the swamp this week, but I’m sure the fliers are tearing it up on warm afternoons. I pitch pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies suspended under a small balsa float this time of year. On cold days fish elsewhere, but the fish feed actively on warm afternoons. The shallow blackwater warms quickly, so a 2-day warm-up is all you need to trigger a good flier bite. Remember, the off-water time for boats at the Folkston entrance is 4pm during winter, so plan accordingly.
Local Ponds – Scout Carter fished with a friend in a Waycross area pond on Monday evening and caught 15 crappie (to 12 inches) and 3 bass (to 2 1/2 pounds). The crappie ate tan shad and popsicle Specktacular Jigs suspended under floats. The little jigs are durable. All of their fish were caught on those two jigs, and they look as good as when the trip started. The biggest bass also inhaled the small jig and cut up on ultralight tackle. Chad Lee has been putting it on the Alma area bass during the Christmas break. He caught a total of 20 bass so far this week, with the biggest pulling the scales down to 4 1/2 pounds. Most of them were caught with Berkley crawfish. Michael Winge said that crappie fishing was still tops. One report was 46 big slabs from a local pond. Their best presentation was fishing minnows around shoreline vegetation and wood. A few bass were caught with shiners and spinnerbaits. Some bream were reported from anglers fishing pink worms in deep areas of the pond. Worms and shrimp produced some decent catfish catches. This week’s warm temperatures were perfect for producing great pond fishing!
Lake Mayers (near Baxley) – A group of Waycross anglers fished the lake on Thursday evening for 2 hours and caught a bunch of crappie. One boat spider-rigged minnows and landed 31 keeper crappie (they threw back a couple dozen smaller fish). The other boat trolled Satilla Spins and Assassin 2-inch Curly Shads and boated 22 specks. The majority of their fish ate fire tiger 1/16oz Satilla Spins (that is not a misprint – the tiny spinnerbaits work great trolled and don’t hang up much) pulled at about 1mph while the balance bit chartreuse-silver flake Curly Shads. Toward dark they flung popsicle Specktacular Jigs suspended about 2 feet under a float and added some more fish to the tally. Their biggest fish of the trip was a nice fish just under 12 inches. The December issue of Georgia Outdoor News (GON) contains an article I wrote about fishing the lake. It includes lots of details for fishing Lake Mayers.
Saltwater (GA Coast) – Shane and Joshua Barber fished out of Crooked River just before Christmas and had 11 keeper trout, 3 sheepshead, and a pair of redfish. The sheepshead ate fiddler crabs, but the rest were caught on jigs. He said that other anglers were catching lots of short fish on live shrimp. Incoming and high tide was best for them. Michael Winge reported that anglers caught some trout and redfish with live shrimp and Sea Shads. Some whiting were landed on shrimp and squid fished on the bottom in the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, black drum, sheepshead, and flounder were caught from the pier. A trio of Waycross anglers fished from the pier on Saturday. They landed 3 sheepshead weighing 4, 5, and 6 pounds. Blue crabs were still around the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
Best Bet: Crappie fishing should pick up by the weekend behind the coming cold front. The specks were chowing during the latest warm spell, and they should eat again as it warms up behind the Friday cold front. In saltwater, sheepshead are a consistent target. Fiddler crabs dabbled around rocks or barnacle-encrusted pilings during the low, incoming tide should produce in your favorite sheepshead spots.