Brrrrr…. If you find yourself with an impromptu “snow day” this weekend – it might be just the spare time you need to head out to the fishing hole (as long as the roads are safe!). But first, let’s all be sure we have dug our proper layering garments out before you head out to any outdoor activities this weekend.
This week, we have fresh reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Stay safe and stay warm!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The arctic blast has hit north Georgia, so this weekend might be a great one to go shopping, put up your holiday decorations, or maybe even rake those leaves you’ve neglected all fall. Stay home and leave the fishing pole in the closet. Why? The fishing may be slow and uncomfortable, for both you and the fish. And the main reason is this sudden plunge in temperature and the fact we’re not yet accustomed to it. We all need to adjust, or acclimate to our winter surroundings.
Let’s think of acclimation in human terms. In July, if we’re acclimated to 80 degrees, we’ll run for a hooded sweatshirt when a thunderstorm suddenly sinks air temps into the mid-sixties. But in winter, once we get used to forty-degree days, we’ll strip down to a short-sleeve T-shirt on a sunny December day that pushes sixty degrees.
As cold-blooded animals, fish are even more sensitive to not only the absolute water temperature, but the relative amount and direction of temperature change. Right now, mountain stream trout acclimated (accustomed to) water temps in the fifties for the last month will be suffering from cold shock and lockjaw for a week or two until they get acclimated to these new water temps, which can drop down into the 30’s and 40’s in just a few hours.
Once those fish are acclimated to, say 40 degrees, a warm front, with a few sunny days that bring that water temperature back up to 45 degrees or so, will feel like a sauna and trigger some great winter action. You might even see hatching Blue Wing Olives or little black winter stoneflies.
In tailwaters and reservoirs with a lot of stored water, the temperature swings are much more gradual, so you may have a better chance there this weekend. Just stay on the upstream ends of tailwaters, where cold air and cold tributary flows don’t have as much of a chance to cool down the main river flow. And lakes, as heat sinks, will be slow to give up their warmer fall temperatures for another week or two, rather than just a few hours, as is the case with mountain streams. They will be a better bet, so follow the diving birds on our reservoirs.
Of course, die-hards are always welcome to try those mountain streams. Just don’t show up before 11AM, and make sure you bottom-bump your flies or lures in the deeper, slower pools and runs where sluggish fish might consider a nibble. Bottom-rolled legs and eggs and pheasant tails can’t be beat.
Just ask the North Paulding High School fly fishing club!
Upper Hooch Brown: Click HERE
Hooch DH: Click HERE
Nantahala DH: I took my nephew who had never fly fished before up to the Nanty the weekend before last. I got him on a fish early but was unable to get a picture before it flopped out of his hands. I was focused on teaching him so I only fished for maybe 30-40 minutes during the day and was rewarded with a nice bow on my glass 3wt. It was slow going all day but turned on right before we called it a day around 2pm. I tied him on a peach egg and he hooked 5 in a row. Flies that worked were aN Olive WB, BH rubber legged PT, a rubber legged blue nymph and the glorious peach egg! Despite the not so high numbers day for a DH stream, it was truly a great day! I believe this young man is hooked! Big Browns….aka….RW
Trouters, Be the Heron! Click HERE
Winter Trouting Tips:
Thank You Feds! Fish Are Georgia Bound
(Report courtesy of guide Louie Bartenfield) – The spotted bass are feeding heavily on tiny threadfin & alewife all across the lake/river. Most of my fish have been coming on drop shots, 1/4oz spoons, & a Spotsticker underspin tipped with a small fluke or swimming fluke. Look for the spots in the back 1/3 of major creeks around channel bends & the steepest/vertical side of points. I’m targeting fish in 30-60ft of water. Keep a very close eye on your electronics and watch closely for schools of spots hovering over bait balls. Some of these fish will also be suspended over much deeper water, 60-100ft. Back off & fish slow!
Park Manager Dennis Shiley reports that West Antioch Lake has been fishing fairly good for largemouth bass. “I know of a 9 pounder and two 7 pounders that were caught and released from there last week”, Dennis said. He went on to say that he has been catching fairly good numbers each day he’s been out (15 plus per day). The key is to find the actively feeding schools. If you can, “it’s pretty much every cast until they move on or get wise.” Dennis added that “The bass are eating spoons and A-rigs when you can find the active ones.”
While West Antioch has been fishing decent, Dennis said “East Antioch has been a real bear since after Thanksgiving”. He thought it may take a while for East Antioch to settle out after the recent turnover, but it should improve with this colder weather settling in.
According to their Sunday Report, the Big Texas Valley Trading Post reported anglers were starting to catch crappie in decent numbers at Rocky Mountain PFA.
Lanier Stripers and More: Capt.. Mack’s Report
Capt Clay: Report
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Water temperature is in the mid-fifties and dropping. So far, we have been enjoying moderate temperatures for fishing, and as a bonus, this past Sunday we had a Super Moon. That means that the moon was 7% larger and 16% brighter. A combination of full moon and above normal water temp resulted in a really strong bite. If the water temperature drops significantly with the approaching cold weather, the bite will slow down until the fish adjust, after which it will pick back up. The up side of cold weather is that the bigger fish tend to move to docks with structure, which will hopefully bring them out of hiding. Submerged stand alone brush piles in fifteen to twenty five foot depths should continue to be your main target. Your downscan will help you find the brush piles and let you determine the depth of the fish suspended on the brush. If you want to fish the south side of the lake, Four Mile Creek should be high on your list. If you enjoy trolling, try long lining or tight lining as they are also effective methods this time of year. Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Southern Fishing Report
So there’s your acclimation lesson and your excuse to finally get that Christmas shopping and yard-raking done, knowing that you’re not going to miss any epic catching days in our near future. And if you do brave the cold this weekend because football kept you cooped up during our warm spell, know that you’re among a band of brothers and sisters that are truly crazy about your sport. Dressed right and with a lower expectation of total fish to the net, you can still have a lot of fun on the water (or ice…). Say hello to the crazy dude wading next to you. It might even be me!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Crappie fishing has been off the chain in lots of different systems. Bass fishing has been good. Sheepshead and redfishing were tops in saltwater. By the time you read this, a strong cold front will have started dropping the water temperatures. Last quarter moon is December 10th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
I received a report from an angler who struggled while bass fishing on Friday. He only landed 3 bass and a nice crappie. NED rigs were what he fooled them with. The oxbow he tried to fish was lower than expected, and the fish just weren’t in there like he expected. Heather at Jaycees Landing Bait and Tackle said that redbreasts were caught in good numbers, as were catfish. Minnows produced some good crappie creels. At Altamaha Park, minnows and jigs fished in the backwaters worked well for crappie. Flatheads in the 15 to 25 pound range were caught by anglers using goldfish. The river level was 2.3 feet and falling (64 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.5 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on December 5th.
An angler reported fishing on Friday and catching 8 bass up to 2 pounds. Five of his fish ate buzzbaits, while 3 inhaled NED rigs. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that bass were caught with Rattling Rogues and buzzbaits. Minnows produced some good crappie catches. Catfish were caught by anglers bottom fishing with shrimp. The river level on December 5th at the Waycross gage was 4.3 feet and falling (64 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.1 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Catfish were back to the top bite on the river after losing the top billing to bream for a couple of weeks. Some big bream were still caught with crickets, but not as many as the last couple of weeks. The river level at the MacClenny gage on December 5th was 4.1 feet and falling.
According to staff on both sides of the swamp, the fishing effort has been really close to zero. The bites will be poor in the coming cold snap, but they should pick up quickly during the next warm spell.
Pond fishing provided the best reports this week. Bobby Thompson fished a Montgomery County pond on Tuesday evening for 30 minutes and caught 12 bass, 2 of which were on his last cast! Now that was a hot bite! Another wide open bite was a pair of Waycross anglers who fished an area pond on Friday evening for an hour and landed and released 38 crappie up to a pound. All of their fish were fooled with a 1/16-oz. Tiny Flashy Jighead and chartreuse Assassin 2-inch Curly Shad fished beneath a float. They had 3 small areas that they caught all of their fish from. At some points, they had fish on a half-dozen casts in a row! The biggest bass I heard of this week as a 9-pound class fish caught on a bluegill. Michael Winge said that crappie bit great in Waycross area ponds. Minnows produced most, but some ate jigs. Shiners and topwater frogs fooled some bass, and crickets worked for bream.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The best saltwater bite I heard of was from Michael Deen and Justin Bythwood who
fished the St. Marys Jetties on Saturday and caught 10 redfish and about that many bluefish. They had 7 oversized reds and 3 slot fish. The vast majority of their fish were caught using a 5/8 or 3/4-oz. Jetty Jig with an Assassin Sea Shad skewered onto it. They had a couple on bucktails, as well. Their best Sea Shad colors were black/chart tail, Calcasieu brew, and electric chicken. An angler fishing the Darien area caught 3 keeper trout and several throwbacks over the weekend. An angler fishing the Brunswick area on Friday landed 4 sheepshead up to 6 pounds. Sheepshead should continue to bite even in the cooling water this weekend. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that trout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead and whiting were caught from the pier this week. Lots of the blue crabs caught this week were really large. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
This is probably a weekend to finish up the Christmas shopping so that you can go fishing once things warm up. The super-cold morning temperatures will probably put the skids to the good bites. Your best bet this weekend is sheepshead fishing if you can find some protected areas, as it seems like nothing bothers a sheepshead. In ponds, you might be able to get some crappie to bite in the afternoon as the sun starts dropping, or you might be able to fool a catfish with worms or shrimp on the bottom.