2018! Fresh and ripe with possibility! What will you accomplish this year?
Before you head out to the water – be sure to check out the brand new 2018 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations. This guidebook can be found online , through the Outdoors GA app (free app for iPhone or Android users), or at license vendor locations.
Let’s get to the news of the week, we have reports from North and Southeast Georgia to get ya excited to get outside and brave these chilly temps!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Brrrr, I think even my state keyboard is frozen. Where do I start? Certainly with the obvious: you must be half crazy and wholly addicted to angling to even think about wetting a line right now! Yet, some of us are….
New folks and fair-weather rod flingers will have a much more enjoyable time staying home this week, watching fishing shows, making flies or lures, and starting travel plans for next summer’s distant trips to Bucket List locales like Yellowstone and Kodiak Island.
But for the rest of us deranged souls, who ignore weather forecasters and insist on some time in the frigid outdoors, there is still hope. It just takes commitment, clothing, dredging, and hot showers afterward to make some wintertime memories and then thaw out enough to share those stories with our sane friends. And since half of our reader list likely doesn’t believe a word stated here, we’ll follow up this introduction with specific reports and an ice fishing shanty’s worth of photos to prove that deep-freeze fishing can still be productive. Here we go, or just stay, if you’re sane!!!
Boston Steve’s New Year’s Report: “There be Monstahs!” Hit the egg yesterday (Jan 1). Was very very cold. Thought I was hung up. That first Rainbow was right at 24+ 4X down to 5X tippet trailing my rubber leg. He recovered well from what I saw so he’s still out there. Definitely a trophy specimen. Ya it was bitterly cold….FYI….passed on my newly acquired Drag Free Drift skills to a father and son….I had caught like 10 fish with the last one another beefcake that I couldn’t put my hand around, so I went and set them up. Showed them the DFD and the whole setup and adjustments. I watched them catch fish after having zero success for an hour 🙂 Thought you’d like that! See how big the tail was on my Rainbow….massive. Gonna try to make the Rabun Rendezvous. Ttyl, Boston. Ed note: Attaboy Steve, you win this week’s Mentoring Award!
Smith DH: News HERE
Dredger’s Holiday Travels: That dude took a little time off to catch up on his catching and to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. In between the Xmas family visit, he book-ended a bunch of trouting treks:
- Dec 23: Hit Luftee in park as monsoon subsided at 2pm. Tried to get there on rising water and monster hunt with big, ugly flies on the bottom before the monsoon created a flash flood. One of these can corrupt us for the rest of our lives, you know… http://www.unicoiliarsclub.com/2011/06/great-smoky-mountain-giant.html Only had an hour before the flood hit and he struck out. Fished from the bank during the flood and found four small rainbows in streamside eddies to save himself from the skunk. The big flock of turkeys and herd of 25 or so elk did save the day, however. No guts, no glory. He shall return.
- Dec 24: Hit Nan DH at lunch. Water 49F. Things started real slow on his traditional bobber rig and he caught about two fish in first hour. Cut off that rig and went full-Euro: 6X tippet, 3mm tungsten silver beaded, #14 Sexy Walt’s Worm for anchor, and 2mm silver, #16 Surveyor for the dropper. Couldn’t keep fish off his hook: all three stocker flavors and some wild browns and rainbows, too.
- Dec 29: Hit Smith DH at mid-afternoon when family departed. Stream was crowded, so he swung a leech as he fished the lower half down to the park property line. He returned near dusk and Euro’d a few good pools to end the day. Rewards were a handful of rainbows and one chunky brook. Lots of short strikes and missed hookups on the leech.
- Dec 30: Hit Nan DH as the big freeze arrived. Water temp around 38F, but nobody told the fish. While they weren’t quite as spunky and gullible as the previous trip, plenty still fell to the Euro rig and made a visit to his net. Biggest were 15 and 19.5 inch stocker rainbows, but best was a 13” wild brown, nailed in a foot of water against the bank. Legs and eggs, under a bobber, were more effective in the deep, slow pools than the Euro flies.
- Dec 31: Hit Tooga DH with fellow insane angler FishnBub. Water temp 37F to start, ice in the guides, and net bags frozen flat! But a steady pick on fish through the day, on both the legs/eggs combo in deep water and Euro in the shallows. It was “Zen fishing,” as the Unicoi Guru terms the skill/ability to detect ever-so-subtle strikes by frozen fish.
- NYD: Took Big T’s dare and joined him for our second annual Hooch Tailwater New Year’s morning trek to Bowman’s Island. Pride trumped good judgment, and neither addict would back down from the New Year’s Eve invitation, so both bundled up and hit the water by 9AM. The catching was slow, but the fishing was fun because they were dressed right and waded carefully. The water was much warmer than the air, so their lower bodies were fine. Fingers were numb, though, and success was measured simply in tying a few knots in 6X and 7x tippet. Dredger learned another good dose of Euro Zen from the Tailwater Master and landed four “minnows” up to a very colorful seven inch brown. The Master lost count, as always. They parted ways, returned to their respective homes with hot water, and cleaned up in time to celebrate a Dawggone sweeeeeet New Year’s Day of football fun!!!
- Jan 2: returned to respectability by showing back up at work.
Bass: (This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley – Jimbo on Lanier) — Water Temp – 52 degrees, Water Level – 5.0 feet below full pool. I hope everyone enjoyed a very Merry Christmas with family and friends this past week, and I wish you all the Happiest of New Years! We have some cold weather coming this week and it should cement some of the normal winter patterns we have been experiencing. Some fish have started to move shallower in the ditches, particularly in the mornings, which is normal in colder water conditions this time of year. We have found some good activity in ditches from around 30 feet all the way back to 10 feet or so. A SPRO McStick has worked well on these shallower ditch fish as well as a SuperSpin. A Picasso ShakeDown Head with a finesse worm and a Chattahoochee jig are also good options in the ditches when they are not chasing the jerkbait. The spoon bite is still there on some days but we aren’t finding as much bait out in the deep timber, which makes sense as more fish are starting to move back shallower in the ditches. When we are finding the spoon fish, they seem to be more in the 30-35 foot range. Some days they are relating to the bottom near timber, and some days they are in more clean, flat bottom type areas. Some days they are more up in the water column and easier to spot. When they are down in the timber, rely on your Lowrance 3D Structure Scan to discern the presence of fish. You may not see them well until you hook one, then your display will explode with activity. Now is the time to book your trip if you would like to learn ditch fishing! I know a lot of people have talked to me about learning this bite – it is here! Following is a list of my upcoming open dates January: 1, 2, 9(AM), 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25.
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) -Happy New Year! If you are an avid fisherman, this is not the weather we would prefer to start out the year! However, it is January……. I have reached out to a number of my fishing buddies to see if they’ve braved the conditions to hit the water, and it was a unanimous “NO”! The last day several of us were on the water was this past Saturday during our monthly club tournament, just before the coldest temps blew in. Fishing was fair, at best. If I am to guess, water temperatures right now are in the mid -forties, perhaps lower. Also a guess, is that the fish have moved to deeper brush piles and deeper docks, from the middle of the creeks toward the backs of creeks, and also the main river channel docks. In addition, in this weather, they tend to hold tight to the brush and don’t move much, so it is critical to place the bait in front of their faces – they are not willing to chase it. You can find the fish with your electronics, and it will probably be easier to fish them vertically. So, if you’ve got good cold weather gear and are willing to brave the elements, feel free to give me a call with a report, and I will pass it along! Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!
Capt Mack’s Lanier Report: Check out the report HERE
Chatuge Fish Attractors: Enjoy the photos below and recall the story here.
Prospects and Fishing Tips– Fish attractor data for this reservoir is available for you to upload into your fish finder or other GPS devices, or view in free online mapping applications. The data is compatible with many brands including Lowrance, Humminbird, Garmin and Magellan to name a few.
ADDITIONAL NEWS AND INFO
Ken’s Lake Reports: Check ’em out HERE
- Jan 20 : Rabun Rendezvous
- Jan. 18-21: Atlanta Boat Show
- Feb. 2-3: The Fly Fishing Show (Gwinnett Co.)
- Sept. 22: National Hunting and Fishing Day: This special day brings special events across the state, including the Unicoi Outdoor Adventure Day
So there are still some fishing opportunities available for north Georgia’s angling addicts. While this week is still held hostage by the arctic blast, there’s a break expected around the middle of next week.
And if we get some fifty-degree days and a quick upshot in water temperatures, the fishing conditions will be fairly comfortable and the catching could be light’s out! Pick your preference: home hobbies, warm indoor events, or even ice-covered trips afield for crazy critters who tolerate this weather.
There’s a little bit for everyone right now, based on our degree of sanity and the thickness of those wool socks from Santa. Good luck. And thanks for buying or renewing your fishing licenses and TU license plates – – even the ones covered in ice!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The new year has started with a deep freeze. At the time of writing this we waiting for a snow and ice storm…..WHAT?!? It’s a crazy start to the year, but the fish will bite even in the cold once the water temperatures stabilize. There was very little effort during the cold this week, but a few folks caught fish. Last quarter moon is January 8th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Jaycees Landing Bait and Tackle staff said that a few crappie were caught on minnows by anglers fishing the backs of the sloughs. At Altamaha Park, very little effort is happening, but folks caught a few crappie. The river level was 5.3 feet and rising (46 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.1 feet and steady at the Doctortown gage on January 2nd.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the few brave souls caught some crappie in the deeper holes with minnows. The river level on January 2nd at the Waycross gage was 6.2 feet and steady (50 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.9 feet and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
There was not much to report, except a few catfish caught this week. The river level at the MacClenny gage on January 2nd was 4.4 feet and rising.
Chad Lee of Alma is a fishing machine. With the days off work, he donned bibs, warm hats, and parkas and fished as hard as he could over the new year weekend. Last Wednesday, he had 4 bass up to 2 pounds by throwing swimbaits in a Ware County pond. On Friday he had 10 bass up to about 4 pounds on gold flash Keitech 3.8” fat swing impact swimbaits rigged on 1/8-oz. Flashy Swimbait Heads with gold blades and also some on jigs. On Sunday afternoon, he and Daniel Johnson pulled out the rain suits and warm clothes and caught several crappie and bass on spinnerbaits and swimbaits. On New Year’s Day, he and Jody Johnson fished an Alma area pond and landed their first fish of the year, a chunky bass at about 9:30. The water temperature that day was 46 degrees, but they toughed it out in the cold. They had 4 bass and several crappie, and all of their fish ate minnows in the cold water. Michael Winge said that some crappie were caught by drifting minnows and casting jigs in Waycross area ponds.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (NEAR EASTMAN)
An 11-lb., 8-oz. bass was caught from the area lake before the cold front came through. Several 5 to 7-pound bass were also caught. Crappie averaging about 12 inches were fooled in good numbers last week, as well.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the cold and wind kept anglers away this week. The sheepshead and whiting bites should be decent once the weather stabilizes. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
Last week’s warming trend is just a memory, and the frigid air that has engulfed us has been relentless this week. It is forecasted to break some this weekend and then get back to typical winter temperatures next week. Crappie and bass usually start biting when cold temperatures stabilize. By the weekend, I would look for both species in the deepest water in the pond you are fishing. Locate them with your electronics, then back off and throw small worms (NED rigs or shaky heads), jig-and-crawfish, or jerkbaits for bass or troll or cast Specktacular Jigs or Assassin Curly Shads for crappie. Remember, with water temperatures in the 40’s, work your lures very slowly. One of my favorite wintertime presentations while I was in Athens was to use a 1/2 or 3/4-oz. spoon and vertically fish bass when I found them on the graph. It is one of the most effective ways to fish for neutral fish, but is tedious jigging it up and down all day. In saltwater, sheepshead are your best bet, as they bite in about any temperatures. I would not fish for trout in these temperatures, as they usually shut down when water is as cold as it will be by the weekend. Redfish will still bite if you know where a big school lives and the winds allow you to get to them.