Well, that white stuff always throws us Georgians for a loop, doesn’t it? But, what a nice energy burner for all the little ones in our households!
Hoping for a “little bit” warmer weather to help us all get out of our hibernated state of mind: Let’s get right to the reports. This week, we have reports from North and Southeast Georgia.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Heat wave? What heat wave? We just got iced in… Hey, at least the icy roads kept most of us indoors long enough to clean up our tackle and stock up our fly boxes. Ole Dredge was under the weather himself, so he exercised a nice tying table, a gift from his good friend, Missouri Wayne, while sipping chicken soup and popping cold meds per the Rx. After meeting his Rendezvous donation quota, his personal arsenal of feathered hooks is now partially resupplied for spring. Pat’s rubberlegs, check; Stealth bombers, check; Hairy fodders – need a lot more! Confinement does have a few advantages.
But what about this alleged heat wave? That’s what our forthcoming weekend is going to feel like after the Polar Express paid the Deep South a visit this week and now retreats back to Santaland. The anticipated fifty-degree days are sure gonna feel great, and warming afternoon water temperatures should thaw out our sport fish and re-ignite their appetites.
Watch these temps shoot up and be ready to catch some trout! This weather trend will also make us think of the warm days to come this spring and summer. Enjoy the short sleeves in HERE.
Lake bass and stripers are now active on the upper ends, and some fish are coming shallow again as muddy streams dump into the lakes and that stained water catches some afternoon sun and warms up a bit (see Lanier Intel, below). Check your boat motor batteries and patch all wader holes tonight, because the coming week should be a good one, at least for the dead of winter.
And if you’re really young or really old and still can’t handle these cooler water temperatures, “show season” continues with a few “indoor” things to do:
- ATL Boat Show- Fishing Seminars: From bass to crappie to stripers to trout, there’s something for everyone who plans to stay downtown this weekend. See the boat show seminar schedule HERE ; Event details HERE. Special note: The January edition of the Coastal Angler magazine (ATL edition) also has a yellow sticker on the covers, which is a $3 discount coupon to the show. Grab one at a tackle shop or convenience store where they’re displayed. And when you’re skippering a boat, pay attention!!!
- Reminder – Fly Fishing Show: Coming to Gwinnett the first weekend in February. A true all-star seminar schedule is HERE
- 31st Annual Rabun Rendezvous (Sat. Jan. 20, 2018): The Rabun Chapter of Trout Unlimited proudly presents A Celebration of Rivers, Streams, Trout, and Trout Fishing. Please Join Us for the 31st Annual Rabun Rendezvous (event held at the Dillard House Conference Center with special room rates for those attending the Rendezvous-be sure to ask). Who should come? Everyone interested in protecting cold-water resources, and their families, friends, and all who love clean cold streams, trout, and trout fishing. Cost: $35 for adults. $25 for those under the age of 15. Cash, checks, VISA or MasterCard. This event helps fund the following types of events: Georgia Trout Camp, Smithgall Woods Conservation Education Program, USFS Kid’s fishing event at the Tallulah River, UGA Coldwater Research Endowment fund, construction of a handicap accessible fishing pier on the Tallulah River, Casting for Recovery and Fly Fishing for Vet’s Project Healing Waters, TU National First Cast, Embrace-A- Stream, Southeast Land programs, GA Council of TU statewide conservation program. We provided equipment and manpower for the Chattooga River clean-up day, and In-stream habitat improvement workday with USFS on a brook trout stream in Rabun County.
Friday/Saturday Help Wanted: See Jan 19-20 entries, on left side of page at Gold Rush Trout Unlimited
Trout Stockings: The growing has been good at Buford Hatchery this winter and we now need to make some space there to receive the latest crop of Summerville Hatchery fingerlings, which represent future years of catchable-size fish. WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson is spicing up the Georgia DH streams and tailwaters with a total of about 10K fish this week to create some raceway space for these fingerlings. We hope you enjoy this stocking effort to take advantage of the warm weekend weather. For weeks when we do stock trout, the weekly report is posted late each Friday afternoon HERE. Good luck! Got some woolly buggers, pink San Juan worms, and a new angler in tow?
Smith DH Variety: click HERE
“Gotta Love Dukes:”: Click HERE. reservations: 706-878-3087. Or try walking on and
getting a vacant slot from a no-show. If slots are indeed full, head to Smith Creek DH.
Ami Hydrotherapy: click HERE
Trophy Hooch Brown: Click HERE
The Last Day of My Life: Be careful! It’s not summer, so exercise caution when wading large rivers in the extreme cold. Here’s a sobering reminder, courtesy of midcurrent.com
The Year in Photos: Enjoy a nice photo essay by Todd
Timely Lanier Intel: While coming to work on Tuesday (16th) and today (19th), Dredger watched diving gulls and breaking fish in Wahoo Creek embayment on the downstream side of the Mt Vernon Road bridge.
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) -Water temperatures are in the mid- forties. If you go above Laurel Park on the Chattahoochee side or north of Thompson Creek on the Chestatee you will notice that the water is more stained as you get into the “S” turns. Also, the water temperature drops a few degrees at this point. The river channel docks with warmer water temps at 46 to 48 degrees will be your best options. The bait is between twenty and thirty feet deep, and the fish are holding on the deeper docks, with some schools on submerged brush piles. Our dock shooting technique is producing well. We’ve been catching better quality fish on the Chattahoochee side of the lake, however if you want to catch greater numbers, the Chestatee side of the lake will be your best option. The bite is starting deeper at fifteen to twenty feet, but it is amazing how quickly the entire school will shallow up if they decide to feed, sometimes up to eight feet below the surface. The best advice is to pay attention to your electronics, noting the depth the fish are suspended and work the jig directly above their heads. The way the eyes are positioned on the crappies’ heads, they are always looking up. Therefore, if the jig is below them it is difficult for them to see and respond to it. Jiffy jigs in a variety of colors and hair jigs are working well, but the soft body Bobby Garland jigs tend to skip the water easier. This will assist you in getting your jig all the way to the back of the dock when using the shooting technique. My preference however, is still the darker color jigs right now. The fish are holding tight to the structure and it is very critical to keep the jig in their strike zone. With the colder temperatures, their metabolism has slowed and they are not willing to chase your jig. You will also notice that the color of the crappie has turned to pale white, which is an indication they have gone to deeper pockets. The females have begun to develop eggs and you will see their bellies starting to become distended, even though the spawn is still a good distance away. The bait will lead you to the fish, so pay attention to your graph. Threadfins are the bait of choice for crappie. Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket! (Ed note: Lanier rpt found HERE)
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: It looks like Ken has thawed out and his current reports are already up today. Click HERE
Toona Attractors: (From Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) – Volunteers brave blustery cold conditions to improve fish habitat at Lake Allatoona. Members of the Marietta BassMasters, Army Corps of Engineer’s Rangers and volunteers, and WRD staff secured over 200 donated Christmas trees to the lake bottom on Saturday. The trees were affixed to permanent anchor points around the Bethany Bridge Fishing Jetty located near Red Top Mountain State Park. Rising lake levels this spring will inundate the trees with water, creating new fish habitat. Anglers can expect these brush piles to attract bass, bream and catfish to within easy casting distance of the jetty. Most of the more than half a dozen public fishing jetties dotting the lake have been “sweetened” with hundreds of Christmas trees over the years. These brush piles can be found at the Blockhouse, Galt’s Ferry, Proctor Landing, Bethany Bridge, and Victoria Marina fishing jetties. For more information on fishing Lake Allatoona, visit HERE
Winter Tips: Kudos to Aubrey, from our WRD-HQ Public Affairs staff, for her timely blog on winter fishing. Hint- the pictured trouter is trouting in the Tooga.
Biologist’s Winter Lake Intel: (From Fisheries Biologist Anthonry Rabern) – Frigid temperatures are not only unpleasant for people but they can be downright lethal for some species of fish. Clupeids, which include shad and herring, are one such group of fish that do not tolerate prolonged periods of cold. Threadfin shad and blueback herring are a staple in the diet of many reservoir game fish, like bass, stripers and walleye. When the water temperature stays below 45oF for more than two weeks, you might start noticing more and more shad and herring swimming very slowly in the shallows. In fact, dramatic numbers may eventually succumb to the bone-numbing cold. One strategy that shad and herring use during extreme cold is to hold tight to the concrete on the face of the dam or along rip-rap bridge abutments or even in muddy water, which all retain and radiate heat on sunny afternoons. Anglers can use this knowledge to their fishing advantage because where there is prey, the predators are usually not far behind. Even if a winter die-off occurs, there are usually enough hardy survivors around to repopulate the prey base.
How to Fight Big Fish: Given all of this great intel from WRD and expert anglers, you now have an excellent chance to hook into a true whopper this winter or next spring. But once you’ve hooked ole Walter, how do you get him to pose for a picture with you? Enjoy this latest Orvis podcast with tips on fighting and landing big fish. Conway Bowman has a cred card: anyone who has landed an 800-pound mako has my total attention!
Nearly all of the ice has melted, so get out this weekend and do something- wet a line, take in a seminar, or partake in BBQ and bluegrass. It’s a great weather forecast as we break up winter with a really nice warm spell. Be careful on the mountain roads, where icy patches will still linger in the shade, and dress in layers so you can hopefully shed a few in the afternoons. Good luck as we all poke our noses back outside after a brief hibernation during the Arctic Express. Now you know why we live here and fish here year-round, rather than hunker down for months, instead of days, in Wyoming and have to wait til the May thaw. Go fish Georgia, by golly!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The fishing has picked up, even with the cold weather. Crappie and bass have led the way in freshwater, while trout and sheepshead have been tops in the brine. The rivers, except the St. Marys, are getting blown out from recent rains (and SNOW!), but the high water will be a good thing for the quality of the fishing later in the spring. First quarter moon is January 24th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
A family fishing the Jesup area during the holiday on Monday caught a 20 pound catfish on goldfish. A few crappie were biting minnows. In the lower tidal river, the fishing has been slow. The only reports were a few people catching crappie on minnows in the mouths of the cuts. The river is fishable, but has muddied up with the river level rise this week. The river level was 6.3 feet and rising (47 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.7 feet and rising (50 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on January 16th.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that very few people fished the river, but those that went caught some crappie with minnows. The Burnt Fort area produced some good crappie catches for anglers using minnows. The biggest reported was 1 1/2 pounds. The river level on January 16th at the Waycross gage was 9.0 feet and rising (51 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.2 feet and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The best river reports were from the St. Marys this week. Some crappie bit minnows. As usual, lots of catfish were caught by anglers fishing on the bottom with pink worms. Black and watermelon-red plastics fooled quite a few 2 to 3 1/2-pound bass. The river level at the MacClenny gage on January 16th was 5.1 feet and falling.
Anglers fishing the boat basin this week caught a few bullheads (butter cats). I didn’t get what bait they were using, but chances are it was shrimp or worms. Nobody reported fishing the east side of the swamp this week. Your best bet if you want to fish the swamp is to pitch sallies for fliers, dabble crayfish or plastic curly-tail grubs around cypress knees and stumps for warmouth, or fling minnow plugs or in-line spinners for pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish). You can catch some really big fliers this time of year if we get 4 or 5 warm days in a row. The big females push shallow and will readily suck in a yellow or pink sally in the warmth.
Chad Lee fished in the cold this weekend and for a couple short trips early in the week. He managed 10 bass this week, with the biggest weighing in at 5 pounds. Crankbaits, jigs, and NED rigged plastics (molting crawdad stick worms) fooled his fish. Michael Winge said that crappie were the only reports they received. The specks were fooled with both minnows and jigs.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (NEAR TIFTON): Click HERE
Lakes Patrick and Tacklebuster produced some great crappie catches this week. The largest was a 2-lb., 4-oz. slab. Both minnows and jigs produced the fish. Bass fishing will take off during the next warming trend. Check out the article about fishing the area in this month’s Georgia Outdoor News. It was written by Craig James.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (NEAR EASTMAN): Click HERE
Gary and Shane Knight of Cadwell landed 9 bass on Thursday. They had 4 that were
pushing 5 pounds. Don’t plan on filling a cooler with bass at the area, as each angler can only keep one bass that is over 16 inches (there is no minimum size limit, and the creel limit is 5 fish per person). Crappie fishing was good this week, and lots of anglers (both bank and boat anglers) fooled them with minnows and jigs. Start your search in the deep water near the dam. Find some wood cover in the deep water and you have likely found a school of crappie.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
On Friday, an angler fishing the Brunswick area from the bank caught and released 35 trout up to 21 inches. He was bouncing plastics on the bottom. He caught his first 6 trout on a Keitech 2.8” swimbait on a Flashy Jighead before losing his only one. He then switched to a plain 1/8-oz. jighead and Assassin Sea Shads to do most of his damage. The best colors of Sea Shads for him were mama’s 14K and bone diamond. He caught a couple fish on minnow plugs. In the Brunswick area, some trout and redfish were caught in deep holes in the creeks by anglers fishing live bait and grubs. Fiddler crabs fooled sheepshead along bridge pilings and other hard structures at the St Simons Causeway accesses. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that anglers fishing the pier caught whiting, croakers, and yellow tails on dead shrimp. A few blue crabs are still being caught. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
Late this week we will have another arctic blast with temperatures as low as they get here in south Georgia. But, by the weekend, the temperatures will moderate back to typical wintertime weather, and the bites should begin to pick up. Crappie will be the first to start biting again this weekend, but bass in ponds won’t be far behind them. Last cold snap, the crappie in both Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton and Dodge County Public Fishing Area bit even in the frigid weather. Minnows and jigs both produced. The fishing piers at both areas were where most of the action took place, so you can catch some nice fish even if you don’t have a boat.