Alright anglers – any of you gonna brave this cold blast we are having right now in an effort to get out on the water? Might be worth it!
SOMETHING NEW! There is a new reservoir opening in Walton County – the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. Information about the reservoir and user fee information found HERE.
TALKIN’ TROUT: Did you know that more than one million trout will be stocked in Georgia this year? The Georgia WRD and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have recently begun the 2018 trout stocking effort, and experts say trout fishing will be great this year! Historically, stocked trout were typically 9 inches long. This year, fisheries staff will grow trout to 10 inches before stocking. Abundant rainfall, increased funding (thanks to the passage of House Bill 208 which brought hunting and fishing license fee changes), and excellent growing conditions have made the new goal achievable. More info HERE and you can sign up to be notified each week when the new stocking report is available HERE.
Let’s get on to those fishing reports – today we have news from Southwest, Southeast and North Georgia.
(Fishing report courtesy of Rob Weller, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
The crappie fishing is going full boar however the recent cooler weather may have slowed them down a bit. However, before the most recent cold front, there were limits being caught. The largemouth bass fishing has also been considered excellent. The fish are being caught in the shallows. As with the crappie fishing, the recent cold front seems to have slowed the bass fishing a bit. Soft plastics and spinnerbaits are currently the bait of choice. Hybrid and striped bass fishing has also been good in the open water and there have been several reports of hybrids being caught further downstream below Columbia Lock and dam. Anglers there have been having success trolling Alabama rigs.
Lots of largemouth bass and crappie are being caught shallow. Look for crappie to be bedding on the edges of the hydrilla or in areas with scattered hydrilla in 4-8 foot depths. A couple of places to try for Crappie would be Ray’s Lake, Three Rivers, and the cornfield. A recent WRD sample at the cornfield showed good numbers of crappie in this location as well as the Three Rivers area of the lake. Small plastic jigs and minnows under a cork are effective. Drop these baits in the pockets in the shoreline vegetation. There have also been reports of some good catches of channel catfish and hybrids. The redear sunfish have also moved shallow and it won’t be long before they go on bead.
The Lower Flint River has risen recently with large amount of recent rainfall. However the water has been receding the past week and fishing should be good for white, hybrid and striped bass in the tailraces below Lake Blackshear in Warwick and below Lake Worth in Albany. The increased flow attracts white bass, hybrids, striped bass as well as catfish. As soon as the water drops a bit and warms expect bream, bass, and catfish fishing to really heat up. The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip.
The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The weather has been up and down, but the bass and crappie bites have remained good. Zion Hill Church is holding a bass tournament March 24th. The entry fee is $50 per team of 2. This is a benefit tournament for Mattie’s Mission. For more information call Sammy Story at (912) 393-4528, Drew Barber at (912) 816-6149, or Rob Goble at (912) 282-6800. Last quarter moon is March 9th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Heather at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that catfishing was good in the Jesup area. Donald at Altamaha Park reported a good crappie bite for those using minnows in the backwaters. The river level was 6.3 feet and falling at the Baxley gage, and 8.3 feet and falling (61 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 6th.
Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that catfish were the best bite, and folks were using worms and shrimp for bait. A few bass were caught on buzzbaits, although that bite will likely shut down with the mid-week cold front. A 61-pound flathead was caught in the tidal area over the weekend by an angler fishing with limb lines. The river level on March 6th at the Waycross gage was 8.3 feet and falling (61 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.9 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Brentz and Alex McGhin of Blackshear fished the upper St. Marys on Saturday and caught 23 redbreasts and bream. They had 8 big redbreasts that they kept. All of their fish ate crawfish or yellow Satilla Spins fished in current breaks and treetops. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 6th was 4.3 feet and falling.
The flier bite was decent this week in the boat basins on both the east and west sides. Some catfish were also caught in the boat basin at SC Foster State Park. Worms fished on the bottom produced most of the catfish. I had some reports of some nice bass and jackfish being caught in the Suwannee River around the Sill. Catfish catches were also good in the river.
The number of reports from ponds decreased this week, but lots of bass and crappie were still caught by those who went. Daniel Johnson and Chad Lee fished a bunch this weekend. On Friday, they hit a pond with crawfish squarebill crankbaits, and Chad whacked them right off the bat. He had 11 before Daniel hooked his second one, but it was the biggest of the trip, a 6-pounder. Daniel’s pumpkinseed lizard didn’t get the quantity, but it produced quality. On Saturday, the duo fished a Bacon County pond, and Daniel crushed an 8 1/2-pounder about 10 minutes into the trip while casting a bluegill-colored spinnerbait. They caught 10 more fish between 2 and 3 pounds before dark. Most were on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. On Tuesday, Chad caught 2 bass in the 3-pound range on gold flash Keitech Swimbaits rigged on Flashy Swimbait Heads with gold blades. Michael Winge said that Waycross area ponds produced lots of crappie on minnows.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Winds and cold weather kept most folks from the big water this week, but some good whiting reports still came in. A few trout and redfish were caught from the creeks around St. Simons Island. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting fishing was tops this week from the pier. A small piece of shrimp on the bottom was the ticket. Some good catches of crabs were made from the pier, as well. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The weather forecast at the time of writing this is good for Saturday and iffy for Sunday. Bass and crappie fishing in area ponds would be my top pick. Fish the afternoons for the best success, as mornings are going to be downright nippy this week. Whiting should still be biting well on the coast if the winds allow you to get out there.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It’s Trout Time in north Georgia as the streams warm up slightly and our trout stocking begins in earnest. Really, I should have labeled this week’s report as “Relapse,” as we’ve relapsed into a blustery winter pattern. But then nobody would have opened up and read this report with such a bummer label, so I penned “trout time” instead. Hope you’ve looked.
We must remember that it is, indeed, March, and we should expect these yo-yo’s in weather that is March’s trademark. We’ll have another tough reminder of the season on Sunday when we lose that hour of sleep. The good news is that, once our bio-clocks adjust to the new time regime, we’ll have longer fishing days ahead and even some chances to wet a line after work. Right now, my best advice is to gear up for two seasons. Carry two rigs (winter and spring) and use the gear that the weather indicates. In other words, match your Technique to Temperature.
If it feels like winter and the water is ice-cold, throw your winter rigs. In the case of trout waters, that will be some deep dredging with euro-flies or powerbait. For bass and stripers, slow your retrieves and aim deeper. If the sun’s shining and the water is clear and warm (maybe even hitting that magic fifty–degree mark), be ready with your spring rigs: faster moving spinners for stocker fans and dry/dropper combos for fly flingers. On the lakes, look at some jerkbaits and superflukes in the sunny shallows. See the Chattooga example below for a good case of “adaptability.”
Once again, the weather forecast is a slight downer, with rain forecast for yet another weekend and still some cold weather next week. The first half of Saturday still looks decent for dedicated anglers who own a good raincoat. Streamflows are dropping, the water is clearing up, and there are some fresh stockers all around north Georgia for us to chase, from DH streams to small lakes to popular put-and-take waters. We’ve even developed a means to drop stocking lists onto your Iphones! Some sunlight and more daylight have reservoir fish heading shallow, so work on those crappie, bass, stripers, and even some post-spawn walleye. Remember Henry C’s tips on following the birds to the baitfish and you should be in business. Recall that March is a traditional big fish time, since a lot of females are full of eggs, so this is a great month to aim for size over numbers. You might even win $10,000!
Lanier will be busy this weekend, so be careful boating. And, if you’re near Gainesville and only have a little time to spare, you and the kids can attend one of the FLW weigh-ins (more info below).
Trout Stocking List-Delivered: Be in-the-know, HERE
Notellum Creek: The Guru had a hankering for new, faraway places, so his Trio of Discovery set sail on Saturday for new water. They found it, a lot of it, and wished they had brought their kayaking gear. It was still a fun day among fishing buddies along an absolutely beautiful southern Appalachian mountain stream, deep in the national forest. A handful of wild rainbows and a couple of stockers were nabbed in the very few slow pockets found amongst all of the standing waves and whitewater. Eoronymphs were the ticket. The trip vowed a return, during non-flood conditions, to Notellum Creek. Where? The trio took a few pics before leaving.
Chattooga “Unleaded”: Notellum Creek survivor Dredger followed his own weekly reports, and headed to the Chattooga DH on Sunday afternoon (3/4) as the Clayton gauge showed the flow dipping toward a manageable 2.3 (for experienced waders) . A friendly parking lot conversation with Clemsonites Zack and Dave revealed that they had found some dry fly action the previous day, so Dredger dismantled his 10-foot Greys Euro rod, laden with tungsten critters, and unsheathed his limber, 8.5 foot Redington “spring” rod instead. He hiked up the trail and hopped into a 47-degree river around noon with hope for an afternoon warming trend. He walked, waded, and cast a #14 parachute Adams, a great search pattern. He searched. And searched. To no avail. Not even a look. Hmmm, should he have thrown that winter rig after all? The sun continued to shine. And then, at 1 PM, the switch turned on. Working upstream to a favorite pool, he first noticed a single leap above him, in the shallow flats between bedrock ledges. Then another, and another. Wading up there, he noticed a few Quill Gordon spinners in an airborne mating dance, with a few trout on their tails. And then some splashy rises. Soon after, he saw some small, fluttering gray bugs on the surface and just above it. Alas, he had forgotten his trusty, economy bug seine that slips over his landing net, so he guessed “caddis.” He re-rigged and tossed a Quill Gordon dun/gray caddis combo for the next hour or so. With only two fish to hand. Clearly, he had guessed wrong. He finally took the time to carefully wade and intercept a struggling bug in the surface film. Aha: little black stones! He switched up, putting the #16 elk hair caddis first as a buoyant strike indicator and then dropping a #18 stonefly dry 2 feet off the back, and it was on! He had lotsa looks, lotsa takes, and quite a few to the net as he stalked each riser that he spotted, up and down and up that long flat. After 90 minutes or so of success, he hit the trail and wandered much farther upstream in hopes of greener pastures. Alas, the water was too deep and fast up there, and no noses poked up. He returned in the late afternoon to the original honey hole and caught few, then ventured downstream in search of similar flats. He found two good tailouts of long pools that had shallow, smooth water, struggling bugs, and poking noses. He stalked each, spooked some, fooled a bunch, and fondled another good handful.
Final tally was “aplenty,” with two-thirds brown in flavor and the last third, rainbow. The last fish came to hand at 5:45PM. Biggest was only 11-12 inches, but all were on top, spunky, and super-fun on the “unleaded” spring rig! Thank you Clemsonites!
Are you Caddis- Ready? Remember: match the size, silhouette, color, and action. You don’t have to remember Latin names or even fly patterns.
Smith DH: Look, Lumis is learning!
Amicalola DH: The water was still high but visibility had gone back up to about three feet when I crossed it on my way to Summerville Hatchery on the morning of March 7. See the pic (shown to the right) and relate streamflow and turbidity to the USGS gauge, so you’ll know before you go in the future. It should be fishable this weekend, but be very careful wading!
Allegheny Gators: THIS may be interesting to many mountain trouters.
From WRD fisheries biologist Jim Hakala – A March 7 DNR electrofishing survey of the Coosa River found relatively low numbers of white bass in the river from Lock and Dam Park downstream to the Old River Rd. Boat Ramp. While numbers were low, the size quality of fish observed was very good. Several 2 to 3 pound female white bass were measured and released during the day. A few striped bass are showing up, but they tended to be smaller 2-3 pound males. Water temperatures will have to warm some more for the larger striped bass to start filtering into the river from Lake Weiss. Keep track of river temperatures and flows on the Coosa River at the Lock and Dam HERE.
FLW Tour Bass Fishing Tournament: Some of America’s best bass anglers have converged on Lake Lanier this chilly weekend for the FLW Tour bass fishing tournament. Grab your kids and check out the weigh-ins at Hall County’s Laurel Park tournament ramp facility in Gainesville, constructed in partnership with the GA Wildlife Resources Division. You might pick up a hot tip or two from the pros! More Info about the FLW Lanier Tournament HERE
Bass: (This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley – Jimbo on Lanier) – The lake level remains stable resting at .3 feet under full pool. It’s so good to see our lake up for the spawn! The water temp has dropped a few degrees to 52 degrees due to back-to-back cold fronts over the last week. The backs of the major creeks are still stained, and the main lake below Brown’s Bridge is still clear. The waters above Brown’s Bridge are more stained in the main river areas than the lower lake, and the further you go north, the heavier the stain. While the cold has knocked them back somewhat, they are still biting well. Many options to catch fish still exist and you can pretty much chose your approach, although one will work better than another on any given day. A Picasso Shake-down head and worm combo is hard to beat right now for bites, and on some days, big ones. SPRO crankbaits like a Rock Crawler or a Castaway Baits 1.5 shad crank and jerkbaits like a McStick along with double willow spinnerbaits have all been working well. The location and technique for the best bite does seem to vary each day, and sometimes dramatically. So stay flexible in your approach. There are some early spring techniques working out in deeper water, but we have remained focused on the pre-spawn activity in shallower water (1-18 ft). Try one type of area or technique, and if that is not working, move on. We are working shallow, flat points, both rock and clay, both in pockets as well as on the main lake. The steeper stuff has held some fish too, and can be a good choice given the recent cold fronts. Also the longer running points are starting to hold fish as well – check the reef poles and shoal markers on those warmer days. Creeks and main lake are both producing, and as usual, focus more on the main lake or mouths of creeks for the bigger fish, and back in the creeks for numbers, but you are apt to catch a big fish anywhere right now. That’s what makes this time of year so much fun! As usual for this time of year, the docks are also holding fish. Check those docks back in creeks or pockets that are in 20 feet of water and less. With the cold fronts, check some of those in deeper water as well, as these can be productive for those fish just moving up or ones that have pulled back due to the colder conditions of late. Look at the last 2 or 3 docks in any creek arm or pocket for those largemouth. Look for the fish to be under the docks when the sun is up, and more just around the docks in low light or clouds. A Picasso Shake Down head and worm combo or a Spro Jerkbait and a Vision 110 are good options around the docks. Spring is here, the bite is on, and I am filling up fast. I only have a few days left open in both March and April. Please get with me soon if you would like to fish in March or April. My May dates are moving as well, but I am still fairly open as it stands. Following is a list of my upcoming open dates for March: 13(PM), 14(PM), 19, 21, 27, 29. April: 5, 10, 24, 25, 26, 27. Give me a call and come enjoy some outstanding Spring Fishing on Lake Lanier!
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Water temperature is 56 degrees, and the water is moderately stained in the creeks, more so in the backs. The bait is in abundance. Monday’s fishing was good to excellent. I fished the Chestatee side of the lake, and I talked to a number of people who fished the Chattahoochee side. Both are equally as good. Very few stand-alone brush piles in 10-15 foot depths are producing, but some in shallower water are holding smaller fish. Your best bet is to zero in on docks at 15 foot depths or less. However, with the cold front moving in, our guess is that they may stage in slightly deeper docks by the end of the week. The females are still staging for the spawn, but we think that a small number have already spawned as we are catching some darker colored (male) crappie on the banks and blow-downs. Pitching a minnow under a cork close to blow-downs should get you a strike. A helpful tip: because we are catching fish in the shallows, we recommend using 1/32 ounce or nothing heavier than 1/24 ounce jig heads. Mixed in with the bait, there are roaming fish. If you are into trolling, long line trolling has been effective. Pay attention to your graph to find crappie chasing bait. For trolling, your best bet will be the backs of creeks. More helpful tips: no more than four pound test is recommended, and if you feel comfortable with two-pound, use it. Always tie your jig directly to the line (no split shot or swivels added). Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!
Toona Attractions: On a recent electrofishing survey at Lake Allatoona, WRD Fisheries staff swung by and checked to see what types of fish were holding in the newly placed Christmas trees located around the Bethany Bridge Fishing Jetty. Aside from numerous small bream and minnows, a fair number of spotted bass and even a few largemouth were holding in and around the trees. These brush piles were installed in January by members of the Marietta BassMasters, Army Corps of Engineer’s Rangers and their volunteers, and WRD Fisheries personnel. Brush piles like this can be found at nearly all Allatoona’s public fishing jetties. The location of these and other fish attractors at Lake Allatoona can be found HERE.
Ken’s Lake Reports: Check’em out HERE
Slamming Bass: Here’s some intel from a reputable source that will help you toward your Georgia Bass Slam. Wait a little bit for north GA waters to warm before pursuing any Bartram’s up in this part of the world. May might be a good time to start.
More on Flood Control: Remember that tributary reservoirs Chatuge, Nottely, and Blue Ridge are part of TVA’s system.
Hooch Hoot- March 26: Big time in Helen!
Good luck as we deal with March’s traditional roller-coaster ride. We hope some of those dry, warm peaks happen on your off days, so you can toss your spring rig instead of the winter one. Thanks for your license money; we’ve tried hard to put those dollars to good use! Go fish Georgia soon.