This week’s reports include North, Southwest and Southeast Georgia. Need to buy a fishing license before you head out? Get one HERE!
And, seriously, how can you look at this gorgeous blog post cover photo (courtesy of fisheries biologist John Damer) and NOT want to head to the water?
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
When we think about it, we soon realize that most fishing reports are really “old news,” as they document what has already happened. The best reports are the most recent ones, so that the weather and water conditions are hopefully similar to what anglers will experience on their upcoming trips. On these WRD reports, we try to combine recent fishing reports with current sampling results (our “shocking and netting”), past sampling trends (often decades-long databases), and also our professional knowledge of these state fisheries resources to help you look ahead toward success, rather than look back at all of those “shoulda been here yesterday” stories that might have you fishing with the wrong baits in the wrong places. We hope that we’re successful in enhancing your success and creating even more memories to share in the years ahead.
Along those lines, the lake water temps are rising to the levels that will trigger great topwater action, especially early and late in the day. For north Georgia’s reservoir fishing veterans, it’s approaching “spook and fluke” time. Spooks and Flukes are two popular styles of shallow water lures that can be deadly for bass and stripers, especially as the shad and bluebacks head toward the shallows to spawn. Spooks, Sammies, etc are topwater jerkbaits that imitate shad and bluebacks up on the surface. They cause explosive strikes that will fire up all anglers. http://www.heddonlures.com/product/zara-spook-3/ . Flukes are soft plastics that can be jerked near the surface, jerked and then paused to dive a bit deeper, or even fished deep by rigging on a jig head. https://zoombait.com/fluke/ . Make sure you have a couple of these in your tackle box and know how to use them. Once again, google is your friend. Here are a couple of good “how-to” videos to get you started:
On the mountain stream front, the state’s stocking program is in full swing, DH streams are fishing well once they clear a bit from heavy storms, headwater streams are on fire, and lower ends of tailwaters may be a bit too warm for excellent action, so good Hooch trouters are now heading upstream. Hatch-matchers and expert nightcrawler- drifters are ruling those trout waters. Details follow.
Redfin: Are You Redfin-Ready? Expert Mack Farr gets us ready for Lanier’s great spring topwater bite, with this slow, surface wiggling herring imitation. https://www.facebook.com/CaptainMacks/posts/1370061599740839
- Pulling out all the stops using a strategy that included a specific fishing plan which consisted of launching at Gainesville Marina to access various fishing locations within reach of my boat. We offered several techniques until we finally hooked up in front of the Chattahoochee Country Club marina just outside the no wake buoys. It was a pretty good fight with the striper trying to swim under the boat. We did get him in for a short visit posing with anglers and measuring for inches before getting released back into the lake. It took about a minute helping him on the side of the boat until he splashed me in the face on his take off under the water. Adios until another day. Details at TeamLanier.wordpress.com by Steve Scott.
Bass: Lanier Bass on the Banks: Video!
- Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Report (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. laniercrappieanglers.net): Water temperature is in the low 70 degrees and rising. I suspect that the majority of the crappie have spawned. However, there are a few big fish being caught in docks that are at 10 feet depths or less, which indicates a few have not completed their spawn. One good thing about fishing the post-spawn is that most of the fish have headed back to their original habitats. You can catch them on stand-alone submerged brush piles in 15 foot depths or less, but your best bet is to target docks with structure also at 15 ft depths or less. The morning bite has been the strongest. . These fish tend to be the bigger fish. If size does not matter to you, docks with structure, brush piles and blow downs in 5 to10 foot depths can produce numbers, but mostly smaller fish. The fish in more shallow water (especially those in blow downs) tend to darken in color and are mostly male. Keep in mind that the majority of the crappie in Lake Lanier are the black crappie species which change color throughout the year, depending on their depth and water temperature. Fishing is good to excellent, and the fish are willing to bite live minnows, hair jigs, and soft body jigs. If you are fishing the deeper brush piles, use 1/16 oz jig heads, especially on a windy day. When we fish deeper blow downs, we also double rig with 1/24 ounce jig heads. The trolling bite is good in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening, whether long line trolling with 2 curly tail jigs or tight line trolling with crappie minnows and a 3/8 ounce double swivel sinker in a Carolina rig. Take advantage of the good fishing and great weather and enjoy the lake before it gets too hot and too crowded. Wear your life jacket it can save your life!
Ken’s Detailed Reservoir Reports: New editions are spawned every Friday: http://www.southernfishing.com/current-fishing-report.html
Largemouth Bass: http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=896575
Biologist Jim Hakala just called in a report from the field. He said the white bass run is over, but stripers are still a best bet. He reminded us of those details in WRD’s annual fishing prospects .
Rob’s Rabun Recon: We had a great trip to the mountains. Caught over 40 trout and Kathleen (photo below right) caught her first trout. Fished on W.F. Chattooga, Tallulah and Wildcat. We both caught a limit at Wildcat on Wednesday. Thanks for the help! (Report from Rob W. from Albany)
“Stick and Move” on Tallulah and Wildcat: These streams are no secrets. They’re heavily stocked and easily accessed. Despite their popularity (read this as “competition”), skilled anglers can still do well by a) hitting the steep, remote reaches, with harder access for most other anglers and by b) “sticking and moving.” This is my favorite technique for stockers on hard-hit streams. I’ll park at a bridge or streamside pullout (read this as “stocking truck-stop”), walk down the road 200 yards, get in, and fish every little pocket or pool back up to the truck. I just toss two quick casts into each little niche. If no takes in two good drifts, I then take a few more steps to the side or upstream and repeat at the next little niche. When I make it back upstream to the truck, I’ll get out of the water, get in the truck, drive up a bit to the next good bridge crossing, and repeat the technique. I’ll pick up all those wash-downs that most folks step over in their haste to hit the big, beautiful pool that everyone else has already mobbed. Try this “stick and move” boxing technique on these two streams and see how YOU do on all those overlooked, washdown rainbows and slinky holdover browns: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/conf/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=10500&actid=29 ; https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/conf/recarea/?recid=10503 ; http://www.wandernorthgeorgia.com/wildcat-creek/
DH Streams: The Delayed Harvest streams should be in their prime, at least for skilled anglers who have a good drift with a hatch-matching fly pattern. Just remember that bright, sunny days will have those fish glued to the bottom to avoid predators. Aim for the shade, the heads of riffles, or the cover of impending darkness around 7PM. I’d be chucking an Adams early, with a soft hackle hare’s ear dropper, and then a cahill-caddis combo late. Don’t leave early. Make sure you read and try out all of Dredger’s springtime tips, especially that darn caddis-skitter technique.
Toccoa: no reports, but I’d call it a best bet, too, as long as a rain doesn’t muddy it up. By the way, your awesome staff at Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery https://www.fws.gov/chattahoocheeforest/ made a run up to Erwin NFH earlier this season and brought back some big, retired broodstock rainbows for north GA anglers. There are some real good’uns in the Toccoa DH.
Amicalola: same story- should fish real well if it isn’t muddied by a thunderstorm. Check the gauge and give it 2-3 days to clear up after a good bump in the flow, and in the sediment load from unpaved roads throughout the watershed.
Nantahala DH (NC): Also worth the long drive, given its great instream habitat, easy access, and abundant bug hatches through May!
Hooch and Morgan Falls Tailwaters – Move Up! Given Corps of Engineers basin management of drought conditions in the upper watershed, cooling Hooch flows form Buford Dam aren’t as abundant as usual. Biologist Pat Snellings says that savvy anglers will examine tailwater temperature gauges and possibly move the majority of their trouting activity a big farther upstream, where the water is cooler and the fish are in better moods to chase bait, flies, and lures. Quiz: which of these two sites harbors hungrier trout?
Headwater Trout: Great reports are still “flowing” out of our high elevation creeks. The more frequent showers have also helped streamflows a bit. Remember that these streams have a really low density of unpaved roads in their watersheds, and clear up super-quickly after any rain events. They are great Plan B’s for any planned trips to big DH streams that get waylayed by a heavy thundershower and muddy water. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=113135 , http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=113136 , http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=896376
Deadly Damer: I found a few hours last week to hit a small stream in Fannin County. This stream has great access, with a USFS road running right along it, and reminds me of a smaller version of Noontootla Creek. Lots of pocket water mixed in with some long, slow pools. Very open with good casting room. I had only fished it once before, but did okay then despite tough conditions. So, I thought it was worth another shot. I don’t think the air temp got much over about 65F that day, and it drizzled on me for a couple hours, but I still had a great time catching fat 7 to 8 inch rainbows along with brightly colored Georgia cutthroats (warpaint shiners) and a few creek chubs. The fly of choice: 16 EHC (surprised, aren’t you?). I didn’t catch a ton of trout, and I didn’t see any big ones but it was a great day on the water anyway (WRD fisheries biologist -and dry fly addict – John Damer)
Spring Break: Might be the only fish we caught this Spring Break, but we love that smile! Need tips on fishing with kids? Click HERE.
Goldfish in my Creek? It’s that time of the year again for these calls to our office. Here is the A in anticipation of your annual Q’s. What is it – Any ideas? About 3″ long and almost look like tetras or some kind of gold fish. Found on the City of Atlanta tract on a tributary of Shoal Creek (about 25 or so). They are actually yellowfin shiners in spawning colors as they parasitize a chub nest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsIcoRA2Jg4 ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8ZoywWQbE4
Free E-Magazine: Lots of Georgia stuff in this edition of Southern Trout, for anyone interested.
- Apr 29 – Blue Ridge Trout Fest
- May 11- Forest Service Explains Itself (See post #12)
Good luck as we take advantage of a warm and fairly dry April. The spring fishing calendar is accelerating, so don’t get caught napping while cahills hatch and the topwater spook and fluke action takes off on Lanier, Hartwell, Nottely, and Allatoona. Go fish Georgia soon. It’s a great time to get outside and make some memories with family and friends. Maybe even via some explosive topwater action!
(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 bass at Lake George has slowed a bit from the last few weeks but the fishing is still very good. There were two bags over 20 pounds in last weekend’s 30 boat Eufaula bass trail tournament. It took at least 15 pounds to be in the money. Some bass are still spawning but others are starting to move to deeper water ledges. Fish can be caught in both places at this time. Anglers fishing shallow have been having good luck with swim jigs, Texas rigged worms, and hollow bodied frogs in and around vegetation. The shellcracker bite is not quite as hot as it was last year at this time but it might pick up yet. Look for bedding shellcracker during the next full moon. Red wigglers seem to be the preferred bait for shellcracker. There is not much information on the status of the crappie bite but most crappie have probably moved deeper after the recent spawn. As has been the case, the channel catfish have continued to willingly bite at Lake George.
The Lower Flint has been dropping and is at a good level for all types of fishing. Bass, bream and catfish should be available and willing. Fish are still spawning but many have already spawned and are looking for a meal. There have been some reports of good catches of channel catfish this week coming from bush hooks baited with minnows. This weekend would be a great one to get out on the flint whether pitching crickets for bream or throwing a worm for bass. The fishing should be great.
The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:
According to Lake Seminole fishing guide Steven Wells, “fishing on Lake Seminole continues to be great” There are still some bass spawning and they can be caught on anything you can get in their face. There lots of shallow bass and anglers have been catching them in and around the grass with Kickin Frogs or other fast reeling type frogs. The shellcracker have slowed a little bit but of the 26 shellcracker Steven and his fishing partners took home last Saturday, all of them were bursting with roe and should be bedding during the next full moon. Red wigglers were the bait of choice by the shellcracker. Very good numbers of channel catfish in the 1-2 pound range have been being caught in 25 feet of water in the main body of the lake near the channel. Anglers interested in a guided fishing trip for bass or bream should give Steven a call at 229-254-6863.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
If you can’t get to the Satilla in the next week, it may be too low to get your boat around. The fish are biting, so give it a try if you have time. Whiting are tearing it up, as are bass in ponds and lakes. New Moon is April 26th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website .
A couple of Waycross anglers fished the middle Altamaha on Saturday during the slug of water coming from middle Georgia, and they had a tough time. They only managed 2 bites. Both were keeper bass, and they sucked down a buzzbait. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that quite a few catfish in the 8 to 10 pound range were caught on bush hooks. The shellcracker bite was good back in the flooded willows. Donna at Altamaha Park said that bream were caught on crickets and worms. Minnows were still fooling crappie in the backwaters. Catfish were biting nearly anything, but the big ones were going after goldfish. Shellcrackers were caught with worms fished around lily pads. The river level was 7.4 feet and rising (72 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.5 feet and falling (70 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on April 18th.
You should be able to catch redbreasts and other panfish however you want to catch them this weekend. Craig James made a couple trips to the upper river this week and caught redbreasts, bluegills, and bass each trip by pitching his Swamp Spider on a bream buster. Pitching crickets, throwing Satilla Spins or Spin Dandy spinnerbaits or pitching bugs should all fool them. From my experience, the bigger fish eat artificials. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that Speed Craws and rattling Rogues are catching a lot of bass. Some crappie were still caught with minnows. Satilla Spins, Beetlespins, and crickets produced good redbreast catches this week. Bottom fishing with pink worms produced some great catfish catches. In the Burnt Fort area, lots of quality warmouth were caught. The river level on April 18th at the Waycross gage was 6.0 feet and falling (71 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.8 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Bream and redbreasts were caught on crickets. Catfish were still biting well on shrimp and pink worms. Some nice bass were reported again this week. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 18th was 2.5 feet and falling.
Camping on the platforms in the swamp has been suspended because of the fires down south, but day trips are still allowed. Robert Fanucci and Keith Johnson fished on Monday morning on the east side and had a blast catching lots of bowfin on jackfish-colored Dura-Spins. On Saturday, I took my immediate family and family in visiting for Easter to the east side. The weeds were MUCH better than last time I went several months ago (thanks to Jackie Carter operating some machinery that removed the maidencane, which was choking the canal!). We fished about 10 minutes out in the canals and caught 12 bowfin on fire tiger and jackfish Dura-Spins. We then cast around the boat basin for about a half-hour and caught another 5 bowfin up to about 8 pounds. My son Timothy had the biggest, tipping the scales at 7-lbs, 12-oz. That one ate a fire tiger Dura-Spin. Michael Winge said that reports were few, but those that went caught good-sized warmouth using crickets.
Chad Lee got back at the Alma ponds this week with good success. He managed 10 bass through the weekend, including a few 4-pounders. Topwaters were the deal for him. Both Pop-N-Frogs and Whopper Ploppers produced for him. Michael Winge reported that plenty of bass were caught from Waycross area ponds by anglers using shiners and bubblegum Trick Worms.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
A couple of Waycross anglers fished out of Crooked River on Easter Sunday and caught over a dozen trout (4 of them were over 20 inches) and a couple nice redfish (one over the slot and one in the slot). The 30-inch red sucked down a topwater. Most of the trout were caught with plastics suspended underneath a Cajun Thunder float. The whiting bite on the beaches and in the sounds was excellent on days folks could get out. Small pieces of shrimp fished on the bottom were the best bait. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that bull whiting, black drum, sheepshead, trout, flounder, and sharks were caught from the pier this week. A pair of Waycross anglers fished the pier Saturday evening and landed 3 nice flounder up to 16 inches and broke off a couple nice fish, as well. They were using finger mullet for bait. Good numbers of blue crabs and stone crabs were also caught. You can monitor the marine forecast at www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/.
The Satilla should be perfect this weekend, and you should be able to catch redbreasts however you want, whether pitching crickets, flinging spinnerbaits, or pitching bugs. Whiting fishing is a great option in saltwater. If you want to pull on lots of strong fish, bowfin fishing in the Okefenokee is a hoot. Bass fishing in area ponds is a solid option for the weekend.
Why do you overlook middle GA?
Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division
Johnny – we offer up the weekly reports as our Region folks are able to send them to us. Hope you get a chance to read this past week’s offerings – it does include Central Georgia locations: https://georgiawildlife.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/georgia-fishing-report-may-12-2017/