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

With the winter storm just hours away, we’re all bracing ourselves for some challenging conditions this weekend.  Given the slick roads and plummeting air and water temperatures, this will be the perfect weekend to stay (safe) at home and get our tackle ready for more hospitable days ahead.


We can overhaul our tackle boxes and fishing vests, getting rid of old, rusty stuff and restocking boxes with all of the new goodies that Santa brought.  While we look far into the future for spring’s magic, let’s also look just beyond our noses to the next winter warm spell.  A couple of days of warmer weather can reverse water temps and really turn the fish on. 



While our January catch rates won’t be what we experience next April, they’ll still be pretty darn good.  Anyone housebound in North Dakota right now would love to have our winter shots at a few big stripers or a half dozen trout.  So be safe this weekend, but look ahead at the ten-day forecasts and take advantage of the warm winter windows to get on the lakes or back into our trout streams this season.

If this idea seems a bit too good to believe, just look at what happened during our warm spell over the holidays.  Warm, overcast, drizzly days turned on reservoir stripers and convinced stream trout to rise to our flies.  As you prepare this weekend for your upcoming trips, enjoy these recent reports and also make some plans to attend some great events over the next month.

Good luck.  Be safe.  Remember that north Georgia’s curvy mountain roads will get much less sunlight and a lot more hours of freeze, so don’t venture forth too quickly.  Stock up your boxes, let the sun’s rays do their job, and return to your favorite fishing holes when our air warms back toward fifty degrees and the water soon follows.  Here we go:

·        Reservoir Stripers – Gray Skies and Birdwatching

o   Running Lanier Thread with Pics: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112164

o   Guru and Accomplice had a great Christmas Eve on Lanier’s lower end as they chased the diving gulls and tossed Henry’s Something Else flies into the swirls.  They landed four stripers up to 28 inches on their noodle rods. The warm, drizzly, overcast skies created perfect topwater conditions for nearly the whole day.  In fact, the two biggest fish were caught late in the day,  at 1:00 and 1:30 pm.

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o   Landon and his buddies capitalized on Guru’s intel a few days later, and landed four fish up to the 15-pound bruiser (photo) on their fly rods. Again, the lower half of the lake was gull-central.

·        Lanier Bass

Subject: Lanier Bass Fishing Report

Water Temp – 51

Water Level – 10.38 feet below full pool

The bass fishing on Lake Lanier remains good. The lake has came up approximately 1/2 a foot over the past week given the heavy rains.  The surface temperatures continue to fall, and with the ultra cold weather coming this weekend, should finally hit more seasonal levels.  The ditch bite continues to be good and we are catching them using the traditional ditch fishing methods – SuperSpin, SPRO Jerkbait, SPRO Crankbait, Jig, and Picasso Shake E Head.  Start back shallow in these ditches early, and then move out deeper in the ditches as the day progresses.  We are starting in these ditches first thing and riding out the bite through the day.  Some days we adjust to much deeper water, others, we are finding the fish are staying shallow in and around those ditches as well as up around docks.  We are starting with a SuperSpin tipped with a boot-tail type trailer right in the ditch. Also, a Spro McStick or McRip has been a good choice as far as jerkbaits go. A Spro crankbait is never a bad choice either, both in the ditches and around rocky/clay points as well.  A finesse worm on a Picasso Shaky Football Head or a Chattahoochee Jig has been a good alternative if the fish are not as aggressive.  When the ditch bite does start to slow, we have been shifting to steeper rocky points and finding success with a jig and worm as well.  Keep that in mind if you start to struggle.  We have also started to spoon up some fish out of the timber, or near the timber, in creek arms/ditches in 30-40 feet. Check for bait and fish out deeper in the ditches as the day progresses.  If you see fish out deeper, a spoon, jig, or shaky head can be a great way to catch them, depending on how they are positioned.  We have a great winter experience in store folks!  Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun!  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 January 4, 2017

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

Water temps are hovering right around 50 degrees, and the lake level is down about 10 ½ feet. The rains over the last few weeks have finally saturated the dry ground so that any time we have additional precipitation, the result is heavy stain in the backs of creeks.  My advice right now is to stay away from the heavily stained water.   Today, the response from crappie was greater in moderately stained water, and fishing was good to excellent.  We targeted deeper brush piles, in twenty to thirty feet of water and brush piles located close to docks at the same depths.  Bobby Garland’s 2” Baby Shad, Black Gum Twilight, and Monkey Milk paired with 1/24 oz jig heads worked best.  For Hair Jigs, Jiffy Jigs’ JJ 20 also worked well.  The areas we fished, a crappie minnow under a slip cork would also have worked well.  Although fishing was good, the bite was short-lived,  So when the bite slowed, we moved, covered a lot of ground today, but it paid off. 

Another reminder:  if you are on the water in cold weather, it is even more important to wear your life jacket, as a fall can be serious with the threat of hypothermia.  Be safe on the water, bundle up and enjoy fishing during the lower-traffic winter months!

·        Ken’s Reservoir Reports


·        DH Trout Waters

o   Tooga

Dredger had a slow Christmas holiday afternoon on the Chattooga DH.  The water was very low and the fish were picky.  There were two saving graces to the afternoon.  One, after watching rises all afternoon, he finally broke down, tied on a #20 midge to some 6X tippet and fooled several of those risers.  Dried in December- now that’s hard to beat.  Two, the risers took a ten minute intermission, and Dredger was treated to a riverside show by three frolicking river otters.  Once they passed downstream, the sippers returned to their routine and gave Dredger some extra shots on top til slap dark.

o   Smith’s Been Hot

Remember to take both the junk flies and the tiny stuff.



o   Ami

Get deep!



o   Toccoa


·        Winter Bluelines

o   http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112179

o   http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112121

·        Humbling Hooch Tailwater

Dredger finally had a chance to head south and chase the upper Hooch Tailwater’s wild brown trout.  He took advantage of a holiday invite from NGTO’s Big T


and joined him for a morning of wading at Bowman’s Island.  Armed with his decades of trouting experience, knowledge of tailwater trout food habits, and shocking boat intel regarding wild trout addresses, he was read for an epic day. 

And got trounced.  Skunked. Slammed.   Blanked by the browns.  Three skinny stocked rainbows, with only two lip-hooked, saved the overconfident Dredger from complete and total humiliation.  Evidently his mountain bobber technique, with 5 and 6x tippets, and his lack of familiarity with this river reach, cost him dearly.  Luckily, Big T showed him what wild brown trout looked like, with a fish to hand about every ten minutes via his 11 foot rod, Euro jig flies, and 7X tippet.  YES – SEVEN EX.  Dredger couldn’t even see or untangle his 6X, so it must be time for some cheater glasses for his aged eyes. 


It was still a great time together for two new fishing buddies, and a valuable lesson to us all.  We must pay our dues and learn the waters we fish. Anglers can’t learn everything on the internet and expect immediate gratification upon streamside arrival.  We must pay our dues.   Big T, with his home field advantage on where to stand, what to use, and how to drift the offerings correctly, was a true master.  And this student learned- a lot.  Dredger said he’d return to pay his dues.  He vowed a rematch, with new glasses, spiderweb tippet, and jig flies.  And maybe even Pat’s shocking boat if ole Dredge stays desperately devoid of any Bowmans wild brown experiences. 

·        Winter Hatch Chart

Don’t forget some small, black winter stones and blue wing olives – dries and soft hackles – this winter on our larger waters.  Watch during those warm afternoons, even if there’s still snow on the ground.


·        Upcoming events

o   Atlanta Boat Show – Jan 12-15



o   Rabun Rendezvous – Jan 21


o   The Flyfishing Show – Gwinnett (Feb 3-4)

An all-star lineup is here:  http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112130

Good luck with your “bread and milk” runs right now.  Put the pot of chili on, pull out your fly tying kits, and peruse the interweb for secret spots and tall tales to keep you occupied this weekend.  We’ll see you streamside during the next warm spell.  Maybe even at Bowmans.  I’ll be the sheepish looking dude- following Big T.    Happy new year!  Thanks for buying your licenses and TU car tags.