Getting Spring fever yet? This warm weather sure makes most of us think about heading out to our favorite fishing hole!
Trout Harvest Time! While Perry, GA isn’t the first place you might think about to harvest trout, beginning March 2nd – it’s a great place! Visitors to the Go Fish Education Center are allowed to catch and keep trout (or up to 8 of any combination of species, including trout, channel catfish, hybrid bass and bluegill) from March 2 through April 1. Poles and bait are included with admission. Personal tackle allowed if preferred. Don’t forget the ice/cooler for kept fish and if you are age 16 and older, your fishing and trout license!
The Go Fish Education Center is a great place to go! Visitors can see freshwater aquariums, explore underwater habitats from mountain streams to black water swamps, view aquatic wildlife, including live alligators and turtles, try out interactive fishing and boating simulators, get ‘Reel Tips’ on how and where to fish and so much more! Go Fish Education Center hours: Friday/Saturday (9 am-5 pm); Sunday (1-5 pm)
Well, let’s get to our reports. This week we have a great report from Southeast Georgia. Might be a good time to start collecting your rods, reels and tackle and have it ready to go should the opportunity arise to hit the water – be prepared!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The current warm spell has fired off the freshwater bites. Now is the time to catch a big female bass as they move shallow to spawn. Saltwater is lagging behind, but some trout, redfish, and whiting were caught. First quarter moon is February 23rd. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Heather at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that crappie were caught by anglers fishing minnows in backwaters with clearer water. Fishing around blowdown trees has been the key. A few catfish were caught by anglers using goldfish as bait. Donald at Altamaha Park reported some good catfish catches in the mouths of creeks. The river level was 10.8 feet and falling at the Baxley gage, and 10.1 feet and falling (64 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on February 20th.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that fishing has been slow, but the catfishing should pick up with the falling river level and warming river. The river level on February 20th at the Waycross gage was 11.8 feet and falling (66 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 9.5 feet and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The catches improved this week with the warming temperatures and falling river level. Bream and redbreasts bit worms fished on the bottom, as did catfish (both channel and white catfish). Catfish were caught about anywhere a shrimp or worm was dropped to the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on February 20th was 6.8 feet and falling.
On the east side, fliers and a few bream were caught by anglers pitching crickets. Once the water starts receding off the flats, the catch should pick up. The west side has produced some catfish in the boat basin and in Billy’s Lake, but not many folks have been going. The boat basins at both the Folkston and Fargo entrances provide excellent bank fishing accesses.
A group of anglers fished a local lake the middle of last week as the warm spell was starting. They caught a total of 84 crappie and a half-dozen nice bluegills by trolling Assassin Curly Shads on 1/24-oz. jigheads with sickle hooks. Their best colors were Texas hippie (pink/gold), crystal shad, and candy corn. They tried spider-rigging minnows, but it didn’t produce as well as long-line trolling. The magical trolling speed was 1.1 miles per hour and the best depth range was 6 to 8 feet deep. The biggest bass I heard about this week was an 11-pounder caught on Friday. A couple anglers fished a Waycross area pond on Saturday and ended up with 20 bass. They fooled 15 bass during the afternoon by working a green pumpkin Keitech Mad Wag Worm and Noisy Flapper frog along vegetation edges. During the evening they caught 5 bass (up to 5 pounds) on shiners and also had 3 big crappie inhale their baits. Michael Winge said that the big crappie were still biting minnows in Waycross area ponds, and bass were slamming buzzbaits. On a sad note, Waycross lost one of its most avid anglers, Memphis George, this week. He was known for catching big bream, catfish, and specks, and would always share his bounty with anyone in need. He is in Heaven fishing with the angels in an “undisclosed pond.”
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (Located Near Tifton, More Info HERE)
The bass bite has take center stage this week at the area. Several 7 and 8-pounders were landed (and released). This weekend’s tournaments took a little less weight to win than last weekend’s. Quite a few bass were caught off beds already. Expect the bed fishing to pick up over the next month as waves of fish head shallow. Crappie fishing was still strong this week, but not as many monsters were caught. Both minnows and jigs produced fish. Catfish and bream fishing will pick up significantly if the warm weather stays.
An angler fished the lake the better part of Saturday morning with little success before moving shallow to a traditional spawning area. He whacked them on topwaters when he got in the right shallow area. A small tournament this weekend took just under 15 pounds to win.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Trout and redfish were caught in the St. Simons area over the weekend. Live shrimp was best, but artificials also produced. A few sheepshead were caught from bridge pilings and other hard structures with fiddler crabs. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting and dogfish (a species of shark) were caught from the pier. Dead shrimp accounted for most of the whiting, while cut bait fooled most of the dogfish. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE .
Now is the best time of the year to catch a trophy bass as the big females move shallow to spawn. Throw a topwater like a Keitech Noisy Flapper, buzzbait, or prop bait first thing in the morning and then a big worm or swimbait once the sun gets up. Crappie fishing is still very strong, so pitch a jig or minnow to docks or shoreline cover to catch a great mess of slabs. You can’t go wrong at a Public Fishing Area, local pond or lake, or an oxbow off a river.