Well, this is it. The last fishing report for 2017. Are you sad or excited to see 2017 leave and 2018 arrive?
Good news! If you were NOT one of the 13 anglers that achieved a Georgia Bass Slam in 2017, the slate is clean, you can try in 2018. Catch 5 of 10 eligible species and you are an official Georgia Bass Slammer.
Let’s look at what is biting with new fishing reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year!
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Check out Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN 1.8 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. The recent runoff from the snow dropped the water temperatures a lot more than normal. The black bass have moved out into deeper water. On the warmer sunny days, these bass will move up in search for food but not real shallow. 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 go to the #7 Rapala Shad Rap black and silver or black and gold Shad Rap and use 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 and silver. Find the bait and use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to cut the search time. Use this bait to work the channel ledges and humps. The Carolina rig is still a winter time favorite at depths to 35 feet. Use a 3/8 ounce or smaller sinker and throw a 4 ½-inch Storm worm in the darker colors like red shad.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 8.7 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Fish main lake and secondary points especially the ones with rocks on them and the hard red clay banks. Stay out as far as possible and make long casts into 4 to 10 feet of water. Find the bait and use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to cut the search time. Use a slow and steady retrieve and the stop and go retrieve and find out which the fish like best. On the rocky points use the Redd Eye shad in the dark red crawfish color. Work this bait just off the bottom. Try the Zoom U tail worm in red shad rigged Carolina style. Old weed beds is a great place to start and watch your graph for any stumps that have been recently covered up by the raising water.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S BY CAPTAIN MARK SMITH, REEL TIME GUIDE SERVICE
Bass: Bass fishing is slow. Your best bet is to look for shad over the points and underwater islands from the middle of the lake down to the dam and up Richland Creek. Find the bait and use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to cut the search time. Once you find the shad fish a ½ ounce Flex It spoon on 10-pound test line on a medium action rod. Move your rod tip up 4 to 6 inches and let the bait fall back down. Be a line watcher, as your bites will come while the bait falls. With some warmer days some fish will move into the shallow around rocks.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is slow. The numbers are down but the sizes of fish being caught are still big. A few are being caught on jigs but most are caught on a live minnow moving it very slowly. We are only two to three weeks away from the start of the crappie run so get ready. Trolling is your best bet but you need to troll as slow as you can and watch your line.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 6.3 FEET, STAINED & 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. The bass will relate to the deep stumps and wood on the creek bends down lake and are tight on cover. The lake is dropping and this exposes old bank structure. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan the areas for more off-shore structure especially half way back in the major creeks. Look on the heavy brush on points and deeper docks on the lake. Down lake, use the jig in black and blue or all black 1/2 ounce jig and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh, on the heavy cover. The Zoom water melon seed lizards on a Carolina rig, is a good choice fished slowly. On creeks on old channels use a Culprit red shad worm on a Texas rig. Work baits into the deeper heavy off-shore areas. Later each day, work the creek banks and use a Shad Rap or a small chrome Rat L Trap in the shad colors casting anything to the bank cover.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S
Bass fishing is slow. During midday use the Stanley jigs in larger sizes in black and blue or all black; be sure to add a Zoom salt pork trailer imitation and work the lure in and on the heavy cover. Work the lower lake creeks and docks and pitch with a Texas rigged Culprit black shad worm. Use larger worms in dark colors and add the Real Craw scent and a Venom glass rattle. On the deeper rip rap near the channel and on sea walls use a Rapala DT10 in either fire tiger or black and silver. Find the bait and use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to cut the search time. Cast a smaller Zoom finesse worm in and around the docks. Work the backs of these docks as well as the bank cover and the sea walls on down lake. The upper rivers are slow.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 1.44 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. The spotted bass are scattered. Use the spinnerbaits, Alabama rig and jigs. Work the shallows in and 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. Fish all the brush piles you can find and around the docks. This is where the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology scan make finding this structure and the bass easier. The bass are around these so use the jig or a zoom finesse worm in any green color. Work the worm right in the brush pile or under the dock. The added scent and rattle that is built in will aid in getting the bite. A slow presentation is a must this time of the year. This is now a spotted bass fishery so go to the smaller baits. As the sun warms the water up in this area use a ¼ ounce chrome and black Rat L Trap. Fish this bait slow around the rocks.
FLAT CREEK PFA (Click HERE for more info)
- Surface Temperature: 52.3˚ F (11.3˚ C)
- Water Level: 6’ 9.5” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 22”
The temperatures around this time for central Georgia can be described as anything but stable. As the air temperatures continues to rise and fall, the anglers at Flat Creek have had a more challenging time dialing in the perfect retrieval for presenting their lures. After several warm days, a moderately faster retrieval is working great, and a few days later that same speed of retrieval has to be significantly reduced to elicit a strike. The commonality of the reports is that the day prior to a cold front moving through is a great day to be fishing at Flat Creek with many anglers reporting catches of bass and crappie. The other days surrounding that cold front require more finesse and patience. Here’s a list of what the anglers are reporting to have had great success using for each of the following:
Bass: A Finesse Jig with Strike King’s Rage Tail Craw in a Green Pumpkinseed, Plum or June Bug colored ‘Ol Monster worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumpkinseed Culprit worms. Buzz bait.
Bream: Insufficient data to report on.
Channel Catfish: The last anglers that were catching catfish used a combination of the following: chicken livers, frozen catalpa worms and uncooked shrimp.
Crappie: Minnows, Mister Twister Curly Tail Grubs in bright colors. Strike King Mr. Crappie Scizzor Shad Jig in any of the four available colors.
MARBEN PFA (Click HERE for more info)
- Water temps: Mid/High-50’s
Bass: January brings cooler temperatures and unstable weather. Despite our best efforts at Marben, fishing really slows down this time of year. However, water temperatures are still warm enough for fish to be in shallow water, especially on warmer January days. Anglers should try crank baits or rattle traps in 6 to 10 feet of water. Do not be afraid to try a Texas rig in the same depth. Mid-day will be the best times to target bass giving the sun a little time to warm the water just a touch. Shad occasionally will school in early morning, so try to mimic small shad and you will increase your success rate. Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA. Slower fishing techniques are preferred this time of year for those anglers targeting big bass.
Crappie: Crappie are probably the most aggressive fish anglers will find at Marben this time year. However, do not expect to hook one with every cast. Finding them may require a little effort. Remember though, the crappie bite can turn on at any moment in these small lakes. Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet throughout the day. Expect crappie to move into shallower water on warmer days in January.
Bream: Bream fishing will be slow at Marben. Coldwater temperatures play a factor with the decrease in activity. Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best with mid-day temperatures. Remember that bream are deeper this time of year so to be successful anglers will have to target deeper water in order to increase your chances. For anglers targeting bream, pick days that reach the mid-50’s to increase success. Crickets and worms are the preferred bait.
Catfish: Look for catfish to be extremely sluggish this time of year. Patience is necessary if anglers are in pursuit of this fish. Anglers should target days when it is sunny which should warm the water in order to get catfish moving. Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you each a Happy New Year! Before the front, the trout and bass bites were great, but the reports came to a screeching halt once the strong cold front came through Christmas Eve. Full Moon is January 1st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
An angler flung crankbaits around the Altamaha Park area on Tuesday and caught 3 keeper bass and a bowfin (mudfish). The river level was 6.2 feet and rising (55 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.7 feet and rising at the Doctortown gage on December 26th.
The largemouth bass were biting well this week. Mike Czaplinski and Harry Bardroff of Keitech fished a Brunswick area pond on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, just ahead of a mild cold front, the bigger bass were chowing. They ended up catching 37 bass, almost all of them on a Texas-rigged Keitech Mad Wag Worm (green pumpkin candy was the hot color). They also caught fish on junebug, black/blue, and midnight blue versions of the worm once they ran out of green pumpkin candy. Their biggest 5 fish weighed 27 pounds! A mild front passed that night, and the bite slowed. They went to a different area of the pond and caught their biggest of the day, a 5 1/2-pounder on a Capt. Bert’s 3/8-oz. shad colored Flashy Swim Jig. They caught dozens of fish on the hot green pumpkin candy Mad Wag and ran out of that color worm for the second day in a row. They made several passes with a NED rig (3-inch green pumpkin-blue flake stick worm) and caught about 15 additional fish that snubbed the larger baits. Their biggest 5 fish Thursday weighed 22 pounds, and they had a total of 49 bass. An angler fishing for crappie over the weekend in a Blackshear area pond caught several on minnows, but they worked for their fish.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The trout bite in the Brunswick area was great before the strong cold front on Christmas Eve. A couple anglers fishing out of a boat on Friday landed 48 fish and limited out on trout. They also had an 18 1/2-inch redfish. Their biggest trout was 22 1/2 inches, and they had a dozen over 20 inches. The big fish were eating on Friday (they only had a total of 3 short fish, and they released keepers after they had caught their limit). An Assassin Sea Shad (bluegill flash color) fished on an 1/8-oz. Flashy Jighead produced most of their fish, but they also caught some on Savage Gear shrimp, chartreuse-purple jerkbaits, mullet-colored X-Rap jerkbaits, and plain jigheads and bluegill flash Sea Shads. A group of anglers reported fishing bank accesses around Brunwick on Sunday and catching 67 trout. They whacked fish on gold flash minnow Keitech Easy Shiners (both 3” and 4” versions) rigged on plain 1/8-oz. jigheads. They caught a few on a sexy shad 2.8” Keitech Fat Swing Impact swimbait before switching to the Easy Shiner. Their other productive lure was a small suspending jerkbait. Their biggest trout was 20 inches. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
We’re in a pretty stable mid-winter pattern right now. If you like fishing in the cold, you should be able to get some bass to eat jigs or Texas-rigged worms. Sheepshead will inhale a fiddler crab if you want to brave the cold and fish around hard cover (bridge pilings, rocks, or oyster mounds). Long-line trolling for crappie can be productive when the cold pushes the slabs offshore and they hunker on the bottom. I drag 2-inch Curly Shads on 1/32 or 1/16-oz. jigheads at or just below 1 mile per hour to score in the winter.