Well, that groundhog saw its shadow this morning, that means six more weeks of winter (if you believe in that sort of thing). Will any of that keep you off the water? We sure hope not as there are certainly plenty of opportunities out there to help keep you busy, including fishing for crappie at Paradise PFA – they are hauling in some slabs right now!

Let’s get you on to that information: Today, we have reports from Central and Southeast Georgia. Have a great week and Go Fish Georgia!

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

We are back in a winter pattern with cold fronts every few days and then warm-ups behind the fronts. This winter pattern typically puts fish in predictable places in whatever body of water you fish. Crappie fishing has been very consistent this week. Numbers of bass have been good, but I’ve been surprised at the lack of true hawgs. The double-digit fish should be rolling in any day. Saltwater has been iffy, especially with the strong winds this week. Last quarter moon is February 7th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE .

ALTAMAHA RIVER

In the upper river, few people fished, but those who did caught some crappie on minnows. In the tidal river, a few crappie were caught on minnows in the backwaters. The middle part of the state got a good bit of rain from the latest system, so expect the river to jump and muddy up some. The river level was 5.3 feet and rising at the Baxley gage, and 6.2 feet and rising (55 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on January 30th.

SATILLA RIVER

Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that some crappie (on the small side) were caught with minnows in the Jamestown and Highway 158 areas of the river. The river level on January 30th at the Waycross gage was 6.7 feet and rising (55 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.9 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The river is rising significantly after the recent rains. Catfish are your only reasonable option in the middle river. Stay away from the upper river. In the lower river, you may be able to catch a few bass by hitting the runouts on the outgoing tide during the next week or so before the big slug of water gets down there. If you choose the right cut at the right time, you can wear them out. The river level at the MacClenny gage on January 30th was 11.3 feet and rising (it jumped 7 feet in a day).

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

Still no reports of anyone fishing the swamp this week. Fliers, warmouth, chain pickerel (jackfish), catfish, and bowfin (mudfish) are numerous if you want to go catch them. The boat basins at both the Folkston and Fargo entrances are excellent bank fishing accesses.

LOCAL PONDS

Tom and Malcolm Katzenbach escaped the cold in the northeast and fished a southeast Georgia pond on Saturday. The father-son team boated 4 bass up to 4 pounds and two dozen channel catfish. For the bass, they used NED heads and green pumpkin stick worms and the catfish ate the same bass baits and also a piece of cut bluegill on a Catfish Catcher Jighead (built on a Gamakatsu circle hook). On Friday a pair of anglers fished a Brunswick area pond and caught 8 bass up to 3 pounds. Their fish ate Texas-rigged Keitech Mad Wag worms (black-blue flake) and NED rigged 3-inch stick worms (green pumpkin-blue flake and sure thing colors). An angler reported fishing Waycross area ponds on Monday and Tuesday. He caught 31 bass on Monday. NED rigged worms and Texas-rigged Christy Craws produced his fish. His biggest that day were 5 and 6 pounds. On Tuesday, he had 14 small bass and a 7-lb., 9-oz. hawg. A white Chatterbait and NED rigs produced his fish that day.  Michael Winge said that some good catches of crappie were reported this week from Waycross area ponds. Minnows were the most common bait.

PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (Located Near Tifton-More Info HERE)

The crappie fishing was great again this week at Paradise Public Fishing Area (PFA).

SherronWilliams Crappie ParadisePFA Jan2018
Sherron Williams and his 2 lb, 4 oz crappie caught at Paradise PFA

Sherron Williams had a a big catch from the Lake Patrick fishing pier on Monday (see photo). He caught several crappie over a pound, but the slab of the bunch was a 2-lb., 4-oz. female that inhaled a jig. Lots of other crappie were also caught, and the two top lakes reported were Lakes Patrick and Tacklebuster. Both minnows and jigs produced fish. Plastic worms over various shapes and colors caught lots of bass, and jigs and plastic crayfish also accounted for some nice bass.

LAKE BLACKSHEAR

Steve Phillips won the Reel Money Trail tournament on the lake this weekend. He had 21 pounds. Local anglers Wendell Bagley and Charles Thompson placed 4th with 13.87 pounds.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

On Friday, a couple of anglers bank fishing the Brunswick area caught 20 trout up to 21 inches (2 fish over 20 inches), a 13-inch flounder, and an 18-inch redfish. Nice January inshore slam! A Keitech gold flash swimbait and Flashy Jighead caught a half-dozen of their fish, while a regular jighead and bluegill flash Assassin Sea Shad produced the balance. On Monday an angler fished the Brunswick area and landed 27 trout up to 22 inches, a 14-inch black drum, and two 18-inch redfish. All of the trout were keeper-sized, but he released them. Five of the fish ate Keitech gold flash swimbaits on Flashy Jigheads,and the rest were on 1/8-oz. NED jigheads (yes, the same ones folks use for bass) and Assassin bluegill flash and silver mullet Sea Shads.  Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that a few whiting were caught, but the winds kept most of the anglers away this week. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The crappie fishing in area lakes has been great, and it will probably remain excellent this weekend with the fairly stable and warmer weather. Paradise PFA near Tifton, Dodge County PFA near Eastman, and Hugh M. Gillis PFA near Dublin are great destinations for both crappie and bass if you don’t have a favorite pond close by your house. Sheepshead and seatrout are your best bets in saltwater, but check the wind forecast before setting up a trip.

CENTRAL 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, 50’S

Bass fishing is slow.  The temperature of the water remains steady but the sun needs to stay out.  The full moon and another set of cold fronts will keep it tough.  Now is a good time to practice up on some deep water cranking.  Some of the larger spots and largemouth can be caught cranking the ledges with the Rapala DT10 and DT16 series crank baits.  Up in the rivers where the water might still be a little stained, throw the richer colors like fire tiger or the black/silver colors.  Out on the main lake, go to the more natural shad and crawfish colors and work the channel ledges near the points and rocky banks.  Waiting for the sun to come up will be a plus for cranking rip rap or any long stretch of larger rock.  Early in the morning or after midday, the Carolina rig is still a good bet.  The red shad worm is still working on bass holding to cover in the deeper water.  A 24 to 30 leader is all that is needed to complete this set up.  The spoons will still get you a few bites while vertical jigging brush piles.  Work all the baits as slow as possible for best results. 

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 7.44 FEET, 40’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The surface temperatures might be a little lower by the time you hit the water this weekend.  More cold nights along with colder days and a full moon is here.  Fishing the edges of the grass mats is still be a good idea south of Fort Gordon toward the dam and up into the Savannah River.  The conditions can improve if it warms up and will increase the feeding pattern and get the bass moving a little more.  Look for signs of the dead bait fish and work those deep water crank baits and spinner baits along the ledges and deeper water grass.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke tied on in case there is any surface movement.  It may be limited but be ready.  Most, if not all, of the grass should be brown in color and come loose easily.  Once you find the edges, mark it with buoy markers as the winds will have an effect on your boat position. 

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 40’S BY CAPTAIN MARK SMITH, REEL TIME SERVICE

Lake Oconee is full.  The lake is muddy up the river stained from Sugar Creek up to I-20, clear in Richland Creek and on the south end.

Bass: Bass fishing is slow.  The best bite this week has come on spoons fished on the humps and road beds on the south end of the lake.  Use your Lowrance to locate the fish on the sides of the humps and then drop a spoon into them.  You can also find some fish in the river bend area of the lake just off the river channel.  These fish will take a spoon also.  They will be as deep as 30ft.  Some of the bigger fish have come in this area.  Some fish are starting to show up under docks off the main channel.  They are coming on jigs fished up under the docks very slow.

Striper: Striper fishing is fair.  The best fishing has been in the middle of the lake from Lick Creek to River Bend.   Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and you can catch them with spoons and live bait.  I have been using bass minnows but shad will also work.  You can use the birds to locate some bait and the stripers will be close by.  The afternoons have been a little better as far as production.  The good thing now is that the fish are big.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is slow.  The fish have moved into deeper water and out to the mouths of the creeks.  I have seen some fish come from as deep as 30 ft. just off the channel in the main lake.  These deeper fish are coming on minnows fished just off the river channel.  The timber in Sugar creek has been the best producer in the last few days, you can also find fish between the bridges in Lick creek.  If the water warms up the fishing will improve.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.3 FEET, STAINED & 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Several patterns are working right now for largemouth and spots.  One is crank baits on main lake points hitting numerous points and fishing a large area.  The best depth is 12 to 15 feet.  Vertical jigging 23 to 25 feet deep with a 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce spoon can be good if you can find some clear water; try the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek for a mile upstream; also Wehadkee Creek, Veasey Creek, and Stroud Creek have clear water.  Try slow rolling a white and chartreuse half ounce spinner bait around rip rap at the bridges.  Look for rock as it can warm the water with the sun out and tends to attract bait fish which attract bigger fish during the colder months. 

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .88 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The lake is stained to muddy with surface temperatures ranging from 47 to 51 degrees.  Only two patterns produce a few fish.  Use a football jig in deep water around creek and river ledges, humps, points, and roadbeds.  Also, use crankbaits in two to seven feet of water around docks, grass lines and shallow ditches.  Some productive crank baits have been the Rapala #5 Shad Rap in chartreuse and pearl and the Bomber Flat A in a fire tiger color pattern.  Fish them as slow as you can, using the stop and go retrieve.  The extended forecast calls for rain with cold air temperatures.  

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 1.22 FEET, 50’S           

Bass fishing is slow.  The full moon and cold fronts are to blame.  This can change quickly depending on the weather conditions.  Look for the best fishing when the sun is shining and find the warmer water.  Don’t beat yourself up trying to get out real early.  Find the water in the South River and Alcovy Rivers to be stained and cold.  Head down lake and you may find a perfect light stain and 48 degree water.  The areas down toward the dam are best.  Look for many fish to hold from 2 to 10 feet deep.  If the sun shines, look shallow around docks, rocks, and other radiant cover.  Throw a black and blue jig thoroughly on the docks.  Try crankbaits on the rocky areas.  Cranking rocky features is a classic winter pattern for catching bass.  Fire tiger and craws are good colors to try.  Rapala DT6 & DT10, Shad Raps, and Bandit 300s can work.  Look deeper and try a light Texas rigged U tail, or drop shot a 3″ Yum Dinger, if fishing is slow.  Try green pumpkin or June bug in the stain, and watermelon seed in more clear water.   

FLAT CREEK PFA (Info Found HERE)

  • Surface Temperature: 51.4˚ F (10.8˚ C)
  • Water Level: 7’ 0.5” Below Full Pool
  • Water Visibility: 21”

Throughout these cooler days that frequent the area this time of year, anglers are often hesitant about braving the cold days to try their luck.  Those anglers that have tried their luck, are finding that the crappie have been more than willing to make it worth their while.  If after reading this, you decide to go after crappie, try fishing around the tree tops that are accessible for both the boat and bank angler.  It has been reported that the tree tops closest to the boat ramp have been holding crappie, but to increase your odds it is recommended to not focus on that tree top only.  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: Red Wigglers

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.

MCDUFFIE PFA (Info Found HERE)

  • Water temperature range across lakes: Approx. 50⁰
  • Water Visibility: 16 – 54 inches

Bass: Bass fishing pressure has slowed down on PFA.  Anglers are reporting a very slow bite while bass fishing across PFA.  Georgia’s cold weather affects bass feeding activity because their energy requirements are not high.  The cold weather has started killing the shad in Lake Willow.  Seagulls are the signal that a die-off is occurring.  Anglers can match the forage bases which are shiners, shad and goldfish so they could catch a big bass in either lake during winter months. Lake Rod Bender, the trophy bass pond, is open year-round and anglers can harvest one bass (22) twenty-two inches in length or longer.  No reports of a keeper bass being caught in Rodbender, but a bass 22 inches is in the lake.

Bream: The PFA’s anglers have not reported catching bluegill or redear since last fishing report.

Channel Catfish: the channel catfish are biting in Clubhouse.  Channel catfish can be caught during winter months but they must be located in each lake.  Catfish are not always in deep water during winter months. The Lakes Clubhouse, Breambuster and Willow have received some brood channel catfish that will add some surprises for anglers when they are caught this year.  Some of the area’s anglers have caught and released some of these large catfish.

Striped Bass: No reports of stripers being caught in Bridge Lake or Clubhouse.  Stripers are school feeders so if one striper is feeding they are all feeding. 

MARBEN PFA (Info found HERE)

  • Water temps: Mid 40’s

Bass: Historically, February brings unstable weather.  Afternoon temperatures vary significantly from week to week due to unstable weather patterns.  This does not mean to ignore all the opportunities that exist at Marben PFA.  According to some anglers, now is a great time to target bass at Marben PFA.   Their reason, as water temps drop into the 40’s threadfin shad become lethargic.  Late February is a great time to target largemouth gorging on threadfin preparing for spring spawn.  Successful anglers mimic lethargic shad by casting jerk baits and crank baits.   Mid-day will be the best times to target bass giving the sun a little time to warm the water just a touch.  Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA.  Many reports of “lunker” are heard this time of year.

Crappie: Crappie remain the most aggressive fish anglers will find at Marben this time year and this will only increase as March approaches.  However, do not expect to hook one with every cast.  Finding them may require a little effort.  Anglers should see a significant change as March gets closer.  Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs.  Try fishing cover approximately 6-8 feet throughout the day.  Expect crappie to move into shallower water on warmer days in February.

Bream: Bream fishing will start to pick up in late February but not nearly as much as in April and May.  Coldwater temperatures play a factor but a few warm days in February, anglers could really see a difference.  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.

Catfish: Catfish will remain 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.