Don’t let the cold keep you indoors! Check out these fishing reports to get you motivated to hit up some hot spots.
This week, reports below come from North Georgia, Central Georgia, Southeast Georgia and Southwest Georgia.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Wow, winter returned! And those cold, windy days made fishing a real challenge for the few hardy souls that still gave it a shot this past week. Luckily, we have a warming trend starting today, and if those temperatures continue upward, it should be a great new week of fishing across north Georgia. It will take several days to rewarm our waters, however, so I’d expect the recovery in our catch rates to have a slow start on Saturday, but to build with each passing day that exceeds sixty degrees. Again, watch the weather, monitor the water temperatures, and time your trips to aim for thawed-out, hungry predators.
For the die-hards among us, last weekend was still pretty good. We just had to resort to winter attire and tactics. On Saturday, Dredger met new fly flinger Andrew Seitz on the Toccoa DH. Dressed in fleece and waders and resembling Michelin Men, they still had a real big time catching recently released federal rainbows. While the air temperature was 44 degrees and it sleeted twice, the water was still 46 degrees and gave them hope. They caught a few stripping buggers, but that was a slow bite in the cool water. When they turned around and began fishing upstream, deep, with squirmies and egg flies behind a BB split shot, it was game on. The bottom-bumping technique had their strike indicators jumping upstream all afternoon, and they lost count on fish fondled. Watch out Toccoa, Andrew’s got game! Sunday afternoon brought a cloudy and fairly mild spell, and it was another good day, this time on Lanier. Guru’s trip details are below.
The bottom line is to dress in layers and be versatile with your angling techniques. Let the water temperature dictate your technique and cash in on these fish, soon to stir from their winter relapse. It should only get better with each passing day next week, but don’t wait for optimal conditions. Go when you can. Andrew and the Guru are sure glad that they wet a line last weekend. Maybe you’ll have a similar story for us next Monday.
Ken’s Lanier Reports, The Southern Fishing Report, www.southernfishing.com
LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 9.9 FEET, THE CREEKS ARE STAINED AND THE MAIN LAKE IS CLEAR & 50’s
- BASS (This Report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley, jimboonlanier.com): Well it appears old man winter decided he wanted another crack at us this week. It has been blustery and cold this week and this will certainly change the fishing. Most of my trips this week have been postponed due to the extreme weather we have been experiencing. I would look more towards some very early pre spawn patterns out in deeper water to effectively fish this front. Look in the areas where you have been finding fish and follow the ditch or close drop out to deeper water. Look in and around likely holding areas like deeper brush piles, deeper docks as well standing timber in the 30-35 foot range. Also, with the cool down, you need to slow down. Work all of your baits slower and more deliberately, as well as more thoroughly. I believe the fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general areas, they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front, but we will find out! I am including last week’s information as well so you can reference the baits and areas we had been focusing on making your adjustments from here. We are starting back in ditches early and have found a good early morning schooling bite in some of these areas. Fish are very active for about the first 45 minutes of daylight. This bite is somewhat random, but contained within the ditch. The fish can be busting in 4 feet or over 40 feet when they are chasing the bait aggressively. After the schooling bite slows, focus on the key features you find shallow near the ditches as well such as clay and rock points. We are starting in ditches and staying in them through the day as well as working shallow pockets just off the main lake or main creek channels. Most days we are focusing in 15 feet of water or less. A Spro McStick or McRip has been a good choice as far as jerk baits go, in addition to a Megabass Vision 110. A Pearl White or Blue/White combo have been the best colors. A watermelon candy finesse worm on a Picasso Shakedown Head or a Chattahoochee Jig has been a good alternative if the fish are not as aggressive. Check the shallower brush through the day as well, as we have been finding some fish staging around this brush. As the sun gets up, check the shallow docks in ditches and pockets for activity. Work a jerkbait and a soft plastic swimbait beside these shallow docks, as well as a jig and worm. These fish are already starting to stage in preparation for the spawn. You will find spots and largemouth in these places. This pattern definitely works better when the sun is out as opposed to cloudy conditions. The clouds make the fish scatter and often bottom locked as well. While they still remain close to the dock, they are often not directly under the docks. The fishing is definitely more random under cloud cover. 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! This is a great time to learn the early spring bite on Lanier. They are up and moving! Here are the dates I have open in March: 20, 23, 27, 28, 29, and 30(PM) Give me a call and let’s get out and have some fun! Thanks to all and May God Bless.
- STRIPER (This Lake Lanier Striper report is from Captain Ken West bigfishonguide.com): Striper fishing is good despite the winter weather. We spent more time watching the wind blow this week than fishing. The water temperature dropped to the lowest level of the year; under 50 degrees. The good news is the forecast is for warmer temperatures into the 70’s. Look for the bite to change from small baits (medium minnows) to larger Blueback Herring and from an open water bite to points and humps as the water temperature continues to increase. Also look for the down rod and Umbrella bite to increase. The Sea Gulls should stick around for the next couple of weeks before leaving for their summer home on the New Jersey shore. We have found them to be a critical tool in locating Stripers. The sea Gulls on Lake Lanier are: 1.) Checking out an area by flying in a search pattern. 2.) Feeding on bait fish pushed to the surface by Stripers or Spotted Bass or Loons. 3.) Resting on the water or small island; usually a reef marker. If they are circling an area they are searching for bait fish. Pay attention to these searching Gulls as they will search areas where they have had success recently. These areas often hold inactive Stripers and can be “marked” using your Lowrance HDS. A group of diving Gulls feeding on bait fish is what gets a Striper fisherman’s adrenaline flowing! Before putting out baits approach the area slowly and look for Loons. If you see Loons odds are they are feeding on baits pushed up by the Loons. However, you may want to give these situations a quick check because there may be both Loons and Stripers feeding on a school of bait fish. If you have diving Gulls without Loons you have found feeding fish! If you see a group of Gulls sitting on an island it is almost always a social event; pay them no mind. If you see a group sitting on the water it could be a social event or they could be waiting for the Stripers to start feeding. Give these areas a quick check with your Lowrance HDS. There are Stripers lake wide with the area from mid lake and South outperforming the North end. The lake is 10 feet below full pool and the water is clear on the main lake and slightly stained in the back of the creeks. The water temperature is in the high 40’s to low 50’s. Call Big Fish On Guide Service at 404 561 2564 to schedule a guided fishing trip on Lake Lanier.
- CRAPPIE (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club, laniercrappieanglers.net): March is definitely fickle! I was about to put away my warm clothes, but there you go! As usual, I checked in this week with my die hard fishing buddies to get some feedback, and everyone laughed! We do fish year round in cold weather, but this week the combination of the brutal winds and the cold weather kept everyone off the water. Light tackle does not agree with heavy wind. To satisfy my curiosity about the water temp, I did lower my boat off my dock and turn my electronics on to check it out. Not surprisingly, water temp was 53 degrees in the middle of the day, after a cold but sunny morning. All that being said, over the next few days as it warms up and the winds die down a little, fishing should pick back up where we left off before this front moved in. This time of year, target the shallower docks in 5 to 15 feet of water. The fish should be suspended about halfway between the surface and the lake bottom. If they begin biting, they will shallow up quickly. My guess is the spawn will begin as soon as the weather warms and will continue into the next moon phase. Target blowdowns in the back pockets and watch for schools of bait fish. Where there is bait, there are fish. My plan is to be out on the water before the end of the week. It is definitely going to pick back up! Stay safe on the water, wear your life jacket!
Lanier Still Hot: Despite the cold weather, Lanier’s producing well for experienced anglers!
- Striper video: http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112765
- Crappie: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=894130
- Crappie: “Happy days. I’m catching them right off the bank. See the pic.” Landon
- Bass: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=894221
- Yours Truly: Guru invited Dredger out for a Sunday afternoon boat ride (3/11) and it was a good one. Despite the cool air, the fishing was hot. The cloud cover had the stripers running around in wolfpacks, busting bait in the back of a south end creek for over two hours. The circling, screaming, diving gulls were great strike indicators, which could be seen a half-mile way. The duo landed five stripers to 26 inches and one fat spot on their Something Else flies, and wished they had thrown an even smaller pattern to match the one-inch threadfins. With snowsuits and fleece gloves and plenty of action, it was a great afternoon on Lanier!
- Great Lanier Monthly Striper Intel: Check out Steve’s great tips here: https://teamlanier.wordpress.com/month-by-month/
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 7.4 FEET, 50’S & CLEAR
- BASS (This Bass fishing report is by Matt Driver) Bass fishing is good, but has slowed a bit due to the sharp drop in temperature. By the end of the weekend we will see the bite begin to improve as warmer temperatures prevail. With the weather dilemma we have had to change tactics slightly. The fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general areas, they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front. The jerk bait bite is probably the best thing going currently. The Spro McStick in natural pattern finished super slow is getting good quality right now. Also the Big Bite suicide Shad finished on a quarter and ounce jig head and Sunline 12 pounds sniper Fluorocarbon fished on points it’s catching a few fish. Until the water stabilizes slow is the ticket. By the middle of next week we see things changing quite a bit and the soft plastic jerk by and wacky rig finesse worm bite getting good. I also think the crank bait Bite will get good. Bluff walls and points with large rock and boulders are great places to target with the Spro Little John DD and Fat Papa. Be expecting water tends to climb rapidly and the Spawn to begin in a few weeks.
- STRIPER (This report is from Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service, 770 827 6282. firstbiteguideservice.com): Line side fishing is good. The south end of the lake is still holding fish. But not as many as weeks past. We have done really well mid lake this week. And have heard there has been a few good fish caught near the delta this week. The fish are still hitting flat line and planner board’s best early morning. By 930 am change over to down lines and umbrella rigs. The spring run has started. The white have already started running up the river. The top water bite is also starting to pick up. The flats at Little River and the Delta are starting to heat up at sun up and sun down. White Roster Tails are hard to beat when these fish are busting top water. April is one of the best months for Stripers and Hybrids on Lake Allatoona.
Special Event at Bass Pro Shops: Saturday, March 25, 2017 2pm, learn BASICS OF ELECTRONICS BY LOWRANCE PRO STAFF, KEN STURDIVANT
LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 9.91 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S
- BASS (This bass fishing report is by Josh Panyard): Water Level is down 9.73 feet below full pool. The water temperatures are now back in the mid 50’s with this cold front. Before this front moved in we were still finding staging fish up shallow first thing in the morning. The fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general areas, they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front. These fish have now moved back out deeper but have stayed in the same areas. As you move in towards the spawning areas pay attention to where the bait is it is still key to finding these fish. If there is wind we have been using a ChatterBait and jerk bait both of them in a white or pearl color to mimic the shad. We have also started off in the same areas using ether a Rapala DT6, #5 or #6 shad rap focusing on rock and clay or just rock depending on what area of the lake we are on. Look for the banks that the sun is hitting first as this water will warm up first thing. If there are high bright blue sky days use one of the crank baits mentioned above and when you find active fish slow down and start using a jig or Shakey head around brush and docks to catch some fish. 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 will continue to work these areas throughout the pre and post spawn. With the warmer weather coming in the long range forecast look for these fish to move up again quickly and be right back where they were. Remember the lake is still low and there are a lot of objects sticking up out of the water and not marked. So be safe out there and we hope to see you on the water.
- Stocker Success: The cold weather knocked back the streamside crowds last weekend, so there should still be a decent number of stocked trout left over from the release of 42,000 fish in a bunch of streams last week. Despite the cold, fishing was pretty good for those folks who fell back on their winter game (slow and deep), while folks fishing shallow or fast (using a typical spring spinner retrieve speed) struck out.
- DH Streams
- Hooch Tailwater Unicorn http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112772
- Slick New License Card – Bass Fans Will Enjoy – You can buy it here: https://gooutdoorsgeorgia.com/
- Kudos to Kyle’s Gang! Look what a little bit of personal initiative can accomplish, as Kyle and his gang made the Hooch WMA a little bit nice for all of us springtime trouters and turkey stalkers. http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?p=10643860#post10643860
- Helen Trout Tournament: 2017 Helen Trout Tournament Flyer (002): Please share this with anyone you think might be interested. Our Facebook page has a lot of fun photos & info people might enjoy. https://www.facebook.com/Helen-Trout-Tournament-108687935822485/, Thank you again for your support of our event!
Good luck during the Great Thaw of 2017. May you find screaming gulls and busting stripers in a Lanier cove, a pod of previously undiscovered stockers on Cooper or Tallulah, or the first big hatch of Quill Gordons on a remote section of the Chattooga. Come back Spring, please! http://midcurrent.com/techniques/spring-is-coming/. We’ve missed you and sure are ready to celebrate your return. In fact, I’m gonna go celebrate on Lanier after work today.
As always thanks for buying or renewing your fishing licenses and TU car tags. My staff and I appreciate the operating funds to keep your sport fisheries going.
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant (www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html):
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 50’s
Bass fishing is slow. The recent cold snap has backed the black bass out into deeper water. But they will rebound fast. Once the warmer sunny days return, these bass will move up in search for food and shallow. The fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general areas; they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front. The rip rap is a good place to find these fish after the sun comes up and the heat gets on the rocks. The slight change in temperature, one to three degrees, will get the bait fish active. If the water is stained, try throwing a #7 Shad Rap black/silver or black/gold Shad Rap in the suspending model. Crank the bait down then let it stay still for three or four seconds then work it again in the same manner. For the deeper rip rap near the channel, throw the Rapala DT10 in either fire tiger or black/silver. Also use this bait to work the channel ledges and humps. The Carolina rig is still a winter-time favorite on Russell while fishing in depths to 35 feet. Use a 3/8 ounce or smaller sinker and throw a 4 1/2 inch Storm worm in the darker colors like red shad. The bites will be slow but anglers are reporting good results and 3-4 pound bass are being caught on these patterns.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 9.9 FEET, 50’s
Bass fishing is fair. The fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general areas; they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front. But a rebound will happen fast. Up in the rivers use a pearl white Shad Rap. If that is not available, use the #7 Shad Rap in black/silver and work all the points and red clay banks that contain small rock. Stay out as far as possible and make long casts into 4 to 5 feet of 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 any brand of crank bait with a dark red crawfish color. A lipless crank is noted for catching the big boys on Clark Hill. Use a Zoom small green pumpkin Bush Hog on a light Shakey Head or a light 3-foot Carolina rig on the southern part of the lake. The old weed beds is a great place to start and watch your Lowrance for any stumps.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPRATURE 55-56.
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general areas; they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front. The best results over the past week have been on a Carolina rig with a worm in green or pumpkin, fished around sea walls in the middle of the big coves from 44 bridge south. Small crank baits fished along the side of the docks in the middle of the coves out to the main lake will produce. You can also add fishing a rattle trap around any deep dock and around rip rap early. Jigs fished around wood structure up the lake have also produced some larger fish. Some fish are starting to move into the creeks and coves so don’t be afraid to move in and out of the coves and pockets, fishing all depths of water.
- Striper: (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service. Call 404-803-0741, email@example.com) Striper fishing is good. The fish are starting to move to the dam. Live bait (bass minnows) have been the best over the past week. There are still some fish in the river bend area of the lake; use your Lowrance to locate the schools of bait and the stripers will be close by. Live bait and spoons are working to catch these fish.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. The fish are moving into the creeks. Long-lining jigs over the fish will produce good catches. Spider rigging will also catch some fish. Some of the bigger fish are starting to show up in the rivers.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 3.5 FEET, CLEAR & 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Another set of cold fronts rolled over the south and the shallow fish retreated to the points in the coves. The fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general areas; they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front. Look on these points as well in the lower lake deeper creeks for any warm water. Look for them in 4 to 10 feet of water on gravel points and throw Shad Raps, Rat L Traps, and other small crank baits. The point’s right off the main river at the rail road bridge are good early season areas and look for the gravel on the banks. Right across from the Yellow Jacket access point is an old road bed that runs up and down the bank about 50 feet off the bank. Run the Lowrance on and over this area and the road bed will show up. Vertical jigging is still another good pattern for large mouths and spots. Some are still deep and holding on the flats and road beds off the main lake. Best baits are buck tails and 1/2 once spoons such as a Hopkins spoon. The road bed in Whitewater Creek is a great deep water area. Just run out on the road bed, watch for the fish and the bait and that is where you drop the spoons and old Little George’s.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.2 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow with the weather dropping cold fronts one after the other. Fish in the central lake area from 2 to 10 feet deep. The shallow fish may become active with a warm-up. Fish are coming from several type places within the central lake. Check main lake points with rocky bottoms, secondary points, docks, rip rap, grass, blow downs, stumps, and brush piles. A few random fish are coming from shallow flat banks with little or no cover. Small to medium size crank baits, Rat L Traps, Carolina rigs, jigs, and spinner baits have all produced recently. Some crank bait choices are #5 and #7 Shad Raps, #4 and #5 RS Shad Raps, Bomber Models 5A, 6A, and 7A, and Fat Free Shads in sizes #5 and #6. Some good colors are fire tiger, shad, chrome blue, and gold. A Rat L Trap in the ¼ ounce size can be good on shallow flat banks and points, and near the back of coves. Carolina rigs with a Zoom Finesse or Centipede worm are working well, especially on the points. Use a half ounce weight with a 2 foot leader. Good colors are green pumpkin, June bug, and red bug. Lightweight jigs with pork or plastic trailers are catching some fish around docks, rip rap, and blow downs.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .80 FEET, 50’s
Bass fishing is slow. Another really cold front and the spotted bass are scattered. The fish that have committed shallow for the spawn will stay in those general area;, they just may be much less active. The front will definitely negatively affect those fish that were close to spawning or fish that were just starting to move up. It is truly hard to say exactly what the prevailing pattern will be post front. Can you say jigs? Work a swim jig early around the main lake points but work the bait all the way back to the boat. A few strikes are occurring within a few feet of the boat out in deeper water. Use a green pumpkin Zoom finesse worm and work it in right in the brush pile or under the docks. A slow presentation is a must. Depths will be from 10 to 14 feet. Small Fish Head Spins with the small Zoom Fluke slow rolled over the rocky points will work.
- Surface water temperature: 59o F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 27”
- Water level: Water level is down 2” from full pool
In general, March water temperatures at Big Lazer are starting to warm up and so is the fishing. Late March and early April are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer as pre-spawn largemouth bass start to move into shallower water followed by bream. Good luck!
- Largemouth bass: Fair but improving– the recent cold snap will slow the pre-spawn largemouth briefly. However, several nice largemouth have been caught. Try using spinners and crank baits in 6 to 8 feet of water. Plastic-worms fished around the deep water by the picnic area and around the fishing pier may produce a few bites. Anglers need to be patient and fish baits slowly around heavy cover.
- Crappie: Good- several good crappie have already been caught. Try minnows; most bites are still in deeper water of 8-10 feet of water. Anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappies. Trolling at varying depths with bright jigs may help locate bunched-up crappie.
- Bream: Slow- Bream fishing has been slow but a few have been caught with pink and red worms around the fishing pier. Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it. Most bream will be located in 4 to 6 feet of water or deeper but will be moving up shortly to begin spawning.
- Channel catfish: Poor- however, you may get lucky using livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam.
- McDuffie Public Fishing Area: Current range 52.5 – 55.76 ⁰F
- Water Visibility: 27 – 54 inches
- All Lake Water levels on McDuffie PFA are back to Full pool.
McDuffie PFA has started the spring fertilization program.
- Largemouth Bass: Largemouth bass bite has slowed down due to cooler water temperatures. On March 11th, McDuffie PFA hosted Augusta’s Wounded Warriors kayak anglers with one first fishermen and kayaker. These anglers had a brisk morning and they caught multiple bass in Willow and Rodbender Lakes with one bass at 19.5 inches. An angler reported seeing a new shad hatch in Willow Lake. McDuffie PFA’s anglers are spreading the fishing pressure across the PFA lakes. No reports of bass on spawning beds. Rodbender, the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.
- Bream: On March 11th Anglers were catching bream and are being caught in shallow water across the PFA but mainly in Clubhouse. Rodbender also has bream, bluegill and redear.
- Channel Catfish: On March 11th anglers were catching catfish in Clubhouse and Willow. The best fishing is on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made baits. Later, in the spring catfish can also be caught in shallow water by fishing with worms or crickets under a bobber. Catfish are being caught in Rodbender.
- Striped Bass: On March 11th the stripers were biting in Clubhouse and no report of striper action in Bridge. Boat anglers are catching stripers on small crank baits and Shad rap mid-lake or along the lake channel. Stripers are biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while anglers were targeting catfish.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Ponds and the Okefenokee produced some good catches over the weekend, but the cold has slowed the bite this week. Last quarter moon is March 20th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.
Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that crappie were tearing up minnows fished in treetops in the main river before the cold snap. Flatheads were eating goldfish. Donna at Altamaha Park said that the weekend crappie bite was great. Both minnows and light-colored jigs worked well. Shellcrackers were caught with pink worms fished around lily pads. Some bream were also caught on crickets and worms. Rooster livers and squid fooled nice channel catfish. Several flatheads were landed by anglers fishing goldfish in deep holes. The river level was 4.9 feet (record low for the date) and rising (57 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.0 feet and falling (60 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 14th.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that before the cold, the crappie bite was great. Some slab-sized fish were mixed in the creels, and both minnows and Tennessee shad grubs worked well. Bass were caught by anglers flinging crankbaits. In the Woodbine area, Craig James reported catching a few white catfish on shrimp skewered on Catfish Catcher Jigheads. One of them was just over 3 pounds and was 18 inches long! The high winds kept them from being able to fish very effectively, and they finally gave up on trying to control the boat in the whitecaps. The river level on March 14th at the Waycross gage was 7.1 feet and falling (60 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.2 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The bream and catfish bites were great before the cooldown. Crickets were catching bream, and shrimp and rooster livers were working for catfish. Soft plastics produced some nice bass again this weekend. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 14th was 1.8 feet and rising.
I took my daughter Ellie to the east side on Saturday evening, and we absolutely whacked the fliers. It was probably the most intense bite I’ve ever had. We caught and released 136 fliers up to 8 inches. We had the first 100 fish from just 3 spots and then she quit fishing and read a book. We explored for the last hour, and I still caught another 3 dozen fish.
During the hot bite, we caught them on pink and orange sallies fished under a small float (several fish inhaled the float, so you know they were active). Those were the only two colors we threw, but I think they would have eaten about any color, they were biting so well. The floating weeds were bad, and you had to keep an eye on your motor water stream to make sure it wasn’t clogged. It was some work fishing around the floating weeds, but we were rewarded with some FUN fishing, or should I say CATCHING! The fishing will probably be slow by the time you read this, but it will pick back up behind this cold snap. You should be able to catch quite a few beginning during the heat of the day Saturday afternoon. I would not recommend going on cold mornings, as the fish usually don’t wake up and start feeding until the sun starts warming the water. Michael Winge said that the warmouth bite and even the bream bite was picking up some before the cold snap. Crickets were producing both species.
During the warm spell, lots of bass were caught from the PFA. The biggest I saw photos of was a 7-pounder. Plastic worms and small swimbaits will usually produce some nice fish when they are shallow. Watermelon hues are great for small worms, while shad colored swimbaits have produced best for me in the past. The crappie fishing was great over the weekend for those pitching artificials. The crappie were bedding last weekend and will probably go back to bedding during the warm-up this weekend.
Brent and Isabelle Tatum fished a local pond and caught some nice bass. Their biggest looked like about a 4-pounder from the photo. Michael Winge reported that crappie and bass fishing have been best in Waycross area ponds. The most productive crappie presentation has been pitching minnows around shoreline cover for spawning fish. ZOOM Trick Worms were the best lure for bass. Some of the better catfish catches were reported by anglers fishing pink worms and shrimp on the bottom.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Michael Winge said that nobody reported going to saltwater with the high winds this week. The sheepshead and whiting bites should pick up on the back side of this cold snap. From my experience, sheepshead are oblivious to weather changes. With the volatile weather we have had, they are a great species to chase! Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting and black drum were caught this week from the pier by those using dead shrimp. Cut bait attracted some sharks. Over the weekend, some nice catches of blue crabs were trapped. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
This cold week will have knocked the fish on the head by the time you read this. The two bites that have been great for me in the past on the warm side of cold snaps have been sheepshead in saltwater and white catfish in tidal freshwater. Dabble fiddler crabs around pilings or any other hard structures for convictfish. White catfish will eat a shrimp put on the bottom in the lower tidal reaches of our rivers (my favorite location is White Oak Creek on the lower Satilla). Find a runout on the first half of the ebb tide and you have as close to a sure thing as you can get with the cold snap we’ve had. Ponds and the Okefenokee will heat up quickly with the warm afternoons forecasted for the weekend. Bass and crappie would be good targets in the afternoons on ponds, while fliers in the swamp will eat sallies pitched to vegetation edges.
(Fishing report courtesy of Rob Weller, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
The dogwoods blooming across South Georgia is a sure sign of spring and good fishing on Lake George. A quote from an angler who fished earlier this week was “the bass have been chomping.” Anglers have been catching bass shallow in and around vegetation as well as around clay points. Angers have also reported catching good number of 2-2.5 pound spotted bass. The crappie fishing has been very good. However, the fish have not moved shallow in large numbers but should very soon. Anglers fishing in 12-18 feet of water have been reporting good catches.
The Lower Flint River is back well within its banks and fishing should be heating up for all species including largemouth and shoal bass, bream, crappie and catfish. Worms fished on the bottom are a favorite of early season bream anglers but as the water continues to warm crickets and beetle spins will also become highly effective. Look for crappie to be hanging around downed trees, the bigger and brushier the better. Look for fallen timber close to deeper holes to find spawning crappie. Shoal bass tend to hang a bit deeper this time of year before heading to shallower spawning locations in shoals. A slow fished jig or worm fished in the deeper holes can be effective.
The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:
- Montezuma above Lake Blackshear http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02349605&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062
- Highway 32 below Lake Blackshear http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02350512&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062
- Lower Flint River below Albany http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02353000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062
Both largemouth bass and crappie have moved shallow and are being cooperative. Both prespawn and spawning fishing techniques such as site fishing should be successful. The recent Costa FLW tournament last weekend was won with a 3-day 15 fish limit of 64 lbs. 11 oz. The recent windy conditions can make getting around and positioning the boat difficult and also makes site fishing more difficult but the fish are there if you are willing to go after them. Due to the warmer than usual winter the amount of hydrilla in the coves is more similar to the conditions during summer than early spring so, be prepared for more vegetation than would be usual for this time of year.
The largemouth bass and crappie on Lake Blackshear have moved shallow and are spawning. Large numbers of bass and crappie were sample by WRD this week during ectrofishing surveys. There were a lot of fish hanging around the base of the numerous cypress tress found in the coves of the Lake. In addition, both bass and crappie can be found around shoreline vegetation in less than 4 feet of water. Try pitching jigs and minnows for crappie in these areas.