SO MANY REPORTS TO READ! What does that mean? Great Fishing Info for YOU! Reports this week come from Southwest Georgia, Central East/West Georgia, Southeast Georgia and North Georgia.
- Have you been reading along on the journey of one angler going for the Georgia Bass Slam? Come along for the ride as blogger Tyler Lipham shares his pursuit of the Slam.
- Got something for Mom yet for Mother’s Day? How about give her your time and an adventure. Buy Her a Fishing License, Take her to visit a Public Fishing Area or to the Go Fish Education Center.
- Don’t Miss the Fun Story Below (in the North Georgia Section) about a striped bass tagged in 2009, and just caught again this month. Find out how much he has grown since it was originally tagged!
(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 fishing at Lake George can be described as very good at this time. The current water level is at 189.5 and the shoreline vegetation is submerged and you can find bass there hitting topwater like frogs and buzzbaits. Bass can also be found on the ledges and can be caught with crankbaits and jigs but don’t look for them to be between the shallows and the ledges. The shellcracker bite is slowly improving and there have been some good catches reported from Pataula Creek but the best fishing is probably yet to come for these tasty fish. In addition to the shellcracker the bluegill should be bedding this weekend after this week’s full moon. There have already been bream beds spotted but expect many more to show up over the next few days. Red wigglers seem to be the preferred bait for shellcracker and it is hard to beat a cricket for a bedded bluegill. As usual catfish fishing continues to be excellent on George. Anglers can have success by anchoring on a flat and baiting some in with canned dog food. It takes about 30 minutes to attract the fish, but once they start biting – hold on!
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. 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, the bass fishing is still good at Lake Seminole. A 6.5 pound fish won a pot tournament last Tuesday evening so the big fish are still being caught. The shellcracker have slowed a little bit but some bedded fish can still be found. The bluegill fishing is really picking up and there have been several reports of good catches. This weekend should be a great one to catch a mess of bream after the recent full moon. In addition, the willow flies are hatching and the hybrids have also turned on a bit. Overall the fishing should be very good this weekend on Seminole if the weather cooperates.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
This is the weekend of the Satilla Riverkeeper “A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament.” The Altamaha River has produced good bass, bream, and catfishing. Whiting fishing in saltwater has been consistent. Pond bass are still chowing, and some have been big. Last quarter moon is May 18th. To monitor Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Justin Bythwood and Michael Deen barely missed winning a two-day bass tournament out of Jaycees Landing this weekend. They fell 1.18 pounds shy and claimed second
place. Their fish came primarily on Texas-rigged plastics this weekend, and they had about 30 bass during the two-days. I saw photos of a 9.4-pound bass caught on the Altamaha this weekend. What a beauty! Joshua and Shane Barber fished the Altamaha on Saturday and caught 2 bass (both were keepers) along with a few nice channel and blue catfish. Brentz and Alex McGhin and Greg Nelms fished bush hooks on Friday night and landed 40 catfish (mostly blues and channels) up to about 5 pounds. Gary Davis, Charles Gilliard, and Ricky Davis caught a 34-pound flathead and about 20 others up to 20 pounds over the weekend. Way to go, guys! Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported good catfishing. Lots of smaller (10-12 inch) channels were caught on worms and shrimp fished on the bottom. Crickets produced some decent bream catches. Donna at Altamaha Park said that mullet have started biting well on green worms, and XL red wigglers. Dark colored Beetlespins and Satilla Spins, along with crickets and worms have been producing great catches of panfish. Some medium-sized catfish were caught on squid and shrimp, while the big cats have been eating goldfish. The river level was 3.9 feet and falling (75 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.8 feet and falling (72 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 9th.
The Satilla Riverkeeper is holding the 3rd annual “A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament” this Saturday, May 13th. My prediction is that someone fishing from a kayak will win the tournament with a 3-redbreast tally of 2.4 pounds, and the biggest redbreast will be just under a pound (0.96 lb). This year’s species in the spotlight is a bowfin (mudfish). I predict that a 9-lb., 3-oz fish will win that category. The collector t-shirts last year were an awesome print of a redbreast. This year’s shirt has a great drawing of a bowfin. Next year will be a different fish species. Come out and watch the weigh-in under the water tower at Tindall Enterprises in Blackshear and pick up one of the commemorative t-shirts. Spooner Phillips, his dad, and son walked the Satilla on Friday morning while waiting for the rain delay of the state baseball playoffs with Pierce County. They had a blast, catching a dozen redbreasts, including 2 roosters. They threw crickets and Satilla Spins. Several anglers reported redbreasts and bass caught by pitching spiders to shady spots and beds. The redbreasts started bedding this week with the warming, low water. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that bass were caught on shiners, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogues, and buzzbaits. Minnows produced some crappie during the cool-down. Bream were caught with crickets, and channel catfish ate pink worms fished on the bottom. The river level on May 9th at the Waycross gage was 4.2 feet and falling (73 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 2.8 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The catfish bite was again the best for anglers fishing pink worms or shrimp on the bottom. Bream and redbreasts were caught with crickets. Check the West Mims Fire information for closures if you want to fish the upper river, as St. George was evacuated this week, and several roads were closed in the upper St. Marys basin. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 9th was 1.3 feet and falling.
The West Mims Fire was over the 140,000 acres mark (total area burned) at the time of writing this. Kingfisher Landing is still open, but the Fargo and Folkston entrances are closed. Because of the uncertainty of the fires, make sure to call ahead of time to make sure any entrances you plan to fish out of are open. On the east side, you can call Okefenokee Adventures at 912-496-7156. Staff at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the west side can be reached at 912-637-5274. Updates from the US Fish and Wildlife Service available HERE.
Julius Conner landed and released a nice 5.6-pound bass on a lizard this week from a Waycross area pond. Chad Lee also caught a 5 1/2-pounder on Saturday on a crankbait from an Alma area pond. An angler reported catching lots of keeper-sized bream on crickets from Laura Walker State Park. Terry Miles also reported catching some nice fliers from the lake. He caught an angler award-sized flier there earlier this spring. Michael Winge reported that bass were caught on shiners and plastic lizards from Waycross area ponds. Bottom fishing with pink worms and livers produced some nice catfish. Crickets and bugs produced some quality bream.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Wind was manageable early in the week after howling over the weekend. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, black drum, flounder, whiting, and sharks were caught from the pier this week with dead shrimp and cut baitfish. On Monday, Harry Spalding of Brunswick had 4 black drum up to 3 pounds that he caught by fishing around the pier pilings. Several anglers caught whiting on Monday, but they had to work for them with heavy weights holding their shrimp near the bottom. Blue crabs were also caught in decent numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The “A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament” hosted by the Satilla Riverkeeper is the place to be on Saturday (see the Satilla River section above). Ponds are also going to be a great place to fish. Some big bream are coming off beds and should feed along shoreline cover or vegetation. Big bass are also still shallow and willing to bite. Buzzbaits early and Texas-rigged worms or swimbaits after the sun gets up are hard to beat right now. In saltwater, whiting fishing should be good if winds allow. Seatrout should be headed to the beach to spawn with the warming weather. A day with a calm wind forecast is a good time to head to the Cumberland Island beach. Mullet fishing on the lower Altamaha is also a noteworthy option.
CENTRAL EAST AND WEST GEORGIA
(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.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 70’s
Bass fishing is good even with the full moon this week. The warmer surface temperatures are driving the largemouth bass down to deeper and cooler water. Bass are still roaming the banks early in the morning and by using a Number 5 RS Shad Rap or Jointed Shad Rap, you can catch a limit of small keeper bass. An occasional three pounder will show up as the post spawn fish start to feed up. Use crank baits on ten-pound test line and a good cranking rod in the 6’6″ to 7’6″ length. Wood and rock combinations on the main lake seems to be among the favorite places. Carolina rigged plastics on wood and point’s close to creek mouths that are near deep water are better areas. A slow presentation will be the key here.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 7.7 FEET, 70’s
Bass fishing is fair. Use top water Devils Horse lures and buzz baits day and night. All white seems to be the hot color with a little green in the skirts. These baits have been taking some really good fish early in the day. All white buzz baits are the ticket. After the sun gets up, slow rolling spinner baits and large crank baits has been the best way to get to the deeper fish on the river. The bass are tight on the creek channels and drop-offs mid to lower lake. Find the fish with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology on the river ledges and look deep to 20 feet.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, THE LAKE IS CLEAR ON THE SOUTH END STAINED TO MUDDY UP THE LAKE AND INTO THE RIVER TEMPRATURE 74-78
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. You will catch a lot of fish, just on the small side; worms under docks will produce large numbers. Use a dark worm, Texas rigged for best results. White spinner baits fished on any bridge rip rap or main lake sea walls will produce. This bite is best early right at sun up. The buzz bait bite is just starting. Look along any sea wall from the middle of the creeks and coves to the back. You can also use a silver black or shad pattern shad rap. Some fish are starting to move onto the deep water humps late in the day and you can catch them with a Carolina rig green worm.
Stripers: (Striper report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time guide service or 404-803-0741) – Striper fishing is good. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of fish in the mouths of the coves and on the humps on the south end of the lake. Live bait (shad) have been the best over the past week. You can also pick up some fish on the pipeline with a spoon when Georgia Power is pulling water.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The fish are moving into the timber in an early summer pattern. Long-lining jigs over timber from 8 to 15 ft. deep have been the best producers over the past week. Match your color to the color of the water.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 2.0 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair at day break with the full moon and after the spawn. The water is clear lake wide. Most of the largemouth bass have already spawned and the fish are relating to the bottom most of the day. Some small fish are roaming the points and pockets looking for food. Move around and use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and do not stop until you find the fish. Use a #5 Shad Rap in baby bass and shad patterns being the best colors. Most of the day Texas rigged and Carolina rigged worms and lizards will work best. Try spinner bait in small to medium sizes as well as buzz bait. Use a white buzz bait in any main lake pocket. The fish are active early and be sure to get a white buzz bait and the same bait in the ½ ounce all white in it and cast on the banks.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S
Bass is good. There is still a good top water bite most mornings and late afternoon. Main lake points and seawalls seem to be the best places to get bit on top. Overall, Pop R’s, Spooks, buzz baits, Chug Bugs, and Torpedo’s are working. Spinner baits are still producing a few fish, especially around blow downs, rip rap, and grass. Weightless Trick worms and Flukes have also yielded a few bites around blow downs, grass, and docks. Boat houses and docks continue to produce bass, mainly on varying soft plastic rigs and some on jigs. Try a 5” Senko in green pumpkin or watermelon fished weightless or with a small weight such as 1/16 or 1/8 ounce. Most of Sinclair has been more clear than normal this year. For that reason, stay away from heavier lines. Try 12 to 15 pound line in a clear mono or fluorocarbon. A fish or two may break off, but more bites can be expected. Also try skipping under docks using a Trick worm with a 1/16 ounce pegged weight. Most anglers can do this better using spinning or spin casting tackle. On some days, a Carolina rig worked along the sides and front of docks can be the best choice. Points, humps, and flats located along the main river and creek runs are also holding bass. Depths are varying from 6 to over 20 feet deep. At times, crank baits can be the ticket for multiple bites from the same location. Use a #6 and #7 Fat Free Shad, Rapala DT10 and DT16, Norman Deep Little N, DD14 and DD22. Shad colors have worked well along with chrome blue in bright sunlight. The best bite has been on a Carolina rig on the open water structure places. Try a green pumpkin or June bug Trick worm on a 3 foot leader with a half-ounce weight.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .55 FEET, 70’s
Bass fishing has been by fair early in the day. Water temperatures are already very warm and the bass are on the bank and wood structure early each day. Small top water lures and trick worms around blow down and on docks and wood as well as main lake points have been fair. Concentrate on the lower lake points and around any over-hanging wood to find these fish. This cover holds fish all day especially the largemouth. Spotted bass have been schooling early and late and Shad Raps are hard to beat. Just pick your favorite color and fish the bank lay-downs all day. Spots are taking small green crawfish crank baits and Zoom mini craws on light wire hooks mid lake. There has not been much fishing in the rivers. Try at least an hour up the Alcovy River and use an all-white jig and pig with the plastic or pork trailer and swim the baits around the creek bends and the stumps.
- Surface water temperature: 70 F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 30”
- Water level: Full Pool
In general, May water temperatures at Big Lazer have warmed up and so has the fishing. May and early June are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer PFA because spawning fish move into shallower water. Also, early summer is a great time to not only fish but also picnic at Big Lazer with the whole family.
Largemouth bass: Good– During our spring sampling, we collected several 3-4 pound fish about 5 to 8 feet off the bank and in 4 to 6 feet of water. Bass will be finishing up spawning and switch their focus on feeding. Try using spinners and crank baits in 4 to 6 feet of water. Also, plastic-worms and lizards fished around the drop off points into deeper water by the picnic area and around the fishing pier may produce some big strikes.
Crappie: Ok- some crappie are still being caught on minnows. However, the crappie bite has cooled some over the last two months. Anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappies. Trolling at varying depths with bright jigs may help locate bunched-up crappie. Fish for crappie in deeper water than bass; starting in about 6 feet of water and working into deeper areas.
Bream: Good- Bream fishing has improved; try crickets or worms around the fishing pier. Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it. Most bream on bed will be located in less than 5 feet of water. May is traditionally a great time to fish for bream on bed.
Channel catfish: Slow- Try using livers at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam. Fishing with two poles will increase your chances of getting a strike.
- Water temperature range across lakes: 76.64 ⁰F highest
- Water Visibility: 21 – 54 inches
- McDuffie PFA’s Fish cleaning is now open.
Largemouth Bass: The largemouth bass are biting. Anglers are catching bass in the three and four pound range. McDuffie PFA’s anglers are spreading the fishing pressure across the seven PFA lakes. Anglers reported catching bass across the PFA in 3 to 6 pond range. Anglers are catching many undersized bass to as they cast for the bragging-sized bass. Rodbender’s anglers have figured out they need to use dark colored lures to catch these well-fed bass. McDuffie PFA has a 14-inch length minimum on largemouth bass.
Rodbender – the trophy bass pond is open year-round and anglers can harvest one Bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer. This regulation is strictly enforced.
Bream: Steady bream action, both bluegill and redear are being caught in shallow water across the PFA. Willow Lake is producing nice shellcrackers and anglers are finding the spawning beds. Rodbender also has bream both bluegill and redear. Anglers are finding nice stringers of bream on beds.
Channel Catfish: Catfish are biting in all PFA lakes. Anglers are limiting out on eating-size catfish from Willow Lake and Bridge Lake. The best fishing is on the bottom using chicken liver, worms, stink-baits, or home made baits. During summer months, catfish can also be caught in shallow water by fishing with worms or crickets under a bobber.
Striped Bass: Stripers were biting in Bridge Lake, but not much is being reported about Clubhouse stripers. An angler reported catching stripers in Breambuster this month. Stripers are biting on chicken liver fished on the bottom while anglers were targeting catfish.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It’s mid-May and, thanks to a nice spell of cool, wet weather, it’s “all still good” for north Georgia angling fans. For trouters, we have lots of fresh stockers hitting streams with good flow rates, small wild trout in headwater “blueline” creeks are still hungry, and the extra-special “Dark Thirty” action is closing out spring’s bug hatches on our larger trout waters like the upper Chattooga, Hooch, Toccoa, and some nearby North Carolina streams. River bass and stripers are around, have good appetites in the cool waters, and are vulnerable between the muddy stormflows.
We’ll just have to wait and see what tonight brings, in terms of rainfall totals, to plot tomorrow’s trips. Most small trout streams run off within 12-24 hours. Stocker streams actually seem to fish better at high flows, since those flows push fresh stockers into slow eddies, and some color in the water hides us better. Large river fish-ability will depend on total flow and turbidity, so check the spikes in those USFS gauge flows and call local tackle shops or fishing buddies, who can put eyes on those waters and tell you whether or not to burn some Saturday gas.
On the lakes, the warmer surface temperature has stripers and hybrids off the banks a bit, but the largemouths and spots still on them. This week’s best bassin’ bets will be the mountain lakes, where cool temperatures last week pushed them off the banks when our folks tried sampling them. After this week’s ending of several warm days, those fish should now come back up, shallow. And join the bream! It’s the full moon of May, and that means bedding bream. Got a kid, a Snoopy pole, and a cage full of crickets? It’s a good time to be the hero.
Since it’s all still good, check the weather and stream flows, pack the kids in the car, and go soon. You’ll be glad you did.
WRD Stocking List: Remember to refresh the stocking page after lunch each Friday!
- Lanier’s Drought Continues: EPD water use restrictions: https://epd.georgia.gov/press-releases/2017-05-02/georgia-epd-presses-metro-atlanta-water-conservation-combat-drought
DH Streams: Reliable sources suggest that they’re slowing down with May’s longer days and warming water. Guru and a buddy fished Chattooga DH til 9PM on Wednesday (5/10) and only scrounged up a rainbow, a brown and a redeye. It’s now time for trouters to migrate upstream and locate more trout-friendly water temperatures, where catch rates will improve.
Dark-30 Troutin’: It’s that time of the year when experienced hillbillies show up late at
stream-side parking lots, as hungry daytime trouters exit for supper and create some parking spaces. These locals carry at least two flashlights, go late, and stay even later, knowing the best bug action happens in that last hour of daylight and even the first 30-45 minutes of darkness. We call it “Dark-Thirty” and it can be great, as mayflies and caddis flies swarm at sunset and ring the late dinner bell for resident trout. For more Dark-30 tips, check these out:
What is Bluelining?
- Where? Dredger actually gave it a shot after work last night (5/11) “somewhere above Helen.” He was too hasty in his departure and a little rusty in his stalking technique, and it showed in his catch. He landed a handful of rainbows, but they were all small ones. The water was low and clear, the fish were spooky, and his patience was lacking in his stealth technique, given a two-hour window of remaining daylight. Downsizing the tippet and fly might have helped, too. It was still fun to wet wade in the mountains on a beautiful spring evening, and detour thru Cleveland DQ on the way home. Gotta luv May! Note to self: Dear Dummy, Next time, grab the OTHER small reel with the OTHER orange line, the 3-weight. That fat five-weight line sure slapped pool surfaces and didn’t help your efforts at a sneak attack.
Crappie: (Report from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) – Water temperature is currently about 72 degrees. As expected, May fishing remains good to excellent. With the full moon tonight, we expect the bite this week to be at its best. All reports are supporting that thought. With the below average cool temperatures we’ve had the last few days, the water temp dropped into the mid-sixties, but has crept back up. The biggest challenge we encountered over the last few days was the high wind that made fishing tough for a while. For now, we recommend that you concentrate on deeper submerged brush piles, using your downscan to locate your brush. Throw your marker down and give the fish a few minutes to regroup from your arrival. Fish the brush pile from a distance that you can cast past the brush pile to the other side of it, and retrieve it slowly toward the boat. If you’re interested in catching fish in larger numbers, zero in on submerged brush piles in 20-25 foot depths. However, docks with brush piles are also producing bigger fish, but not in the larger numbers. Both hair jigs and soft body jigs are working well. The lake traffic is definitely increasing, so be mindful that other fishermen may also be fishing the same spots. If you don’t get bites immediately, move on. Chances are very good that you will find alternate brush piles that will put fish in the boat. If you see a fisherman fishing one of your favorite docks, my advice is to skip it, and go to a different spot. Once you get the fish to bite, the entire school will shallow up as they chase the bait. The night bite remains fair at best, as night temperatures remain cooler. As the evenings warm up, so will the night bite. As always, our recommended line of 4 lb. test, high visibility line; not because the fish like it, but because it is easier for you to see the line movement and set the hook. 1/24 oz. jig heads is recommended, or 1/16 oz, if you feel like the fish are deeper in the water column, or if the wind is working against you. If you like a challenge, use a double jigged rig. Keep them about 16-18 inches apart. In my opinion, hair jigs work best in that application. Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket; it can save your life!
Carter’s Whopper with a Story: (From Jim Hakala, WRD Senior Fisheries Biologist) – Angler catches striped bass tagged over 8 years ago! Angler Troy Kerr of Lafayette, GA caught and released this solid 30-pound striper at Carters Lake on 5/8/2017 while fishing with Carters Lake Guide Service. Once boated, the anglers noticed the fish carried a tag which they reported to WRD Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala. Based on the unique tag number assigned to that fish, it was determined it had been tagged by WRD personnel on 3/17/2009. When tagged, the fish was only 18-inches long and weighed 2.5 lb. It was estimated to be 2 years old when tagged in 2009 – making it 10 years old when caught this month. While the tagging study is long over, we appreciate receiving such information and the data it provides fisheries managers.
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Southern Fishing
COOSA AND OOSTANAULA RIVERS
Stripers: (From John Damer, Fisheries Biologist) – Striped bass spawning may be just about over in the rivers of North Georgia, but these fish will continue to hang around in certain areas for a few more weeks while water temperatures remain cool enough. We caught and released this 24-pounder on the Oostanaula River near Armuchee last week, along with many other fish in the 8- to 15-pound range. Good numbers of stripers can still be found anywhere from above Highway 140 downstream to the confluence with the Etowah River in Rome. Live or cut shad are probably your best bests for success, but shad-imitating artificial lures like redfins or zara spooks can also do well.
BREAM ON BEDS:
- (From Cheesegrits – Retired WRD) – My Dad always said that the full moon in May is
the time to find bream on the bed. He was right as usual. We went out on Lanier with my new pontoon for a little evening cruise and I happened to have a few nightcrawlers with me. Found a bed of redears and caught some really good’uns! Kept a few to filet for dinner tomorrow night.
- (From John Damer, Fisheries Biologist) -Check out the colors on this male Bluegill we found at Blue Ridge Lake this spring (zoom in for a better view, if needed). Blue Ridge is known for producing big bluegills like this, and the most successful anglers target them around the first full moon in May when spawning activity is in full swing. So, right now is the time to throw crickets, worms, or small jigs at those big bream. Even if you aren’t fishing Blue Ridge Lake, now should be prime-time for bream fishing statewide!
Enjoy the abundant hours of daylight, cool evening air, refreshing wet-wades, and the blooming mountain laurel along the banks of your favorite trout waters or mountain bass lakes. Don’t forget a tube of crickets and a kid if you’re heading to that bream pond. Good luck this week!
And if you’re stuck at home, join us vicariously, HERE.