What? The Fishing Blog on a Thursday? Have we gone March Madness crazy? C’mon, just wanted to give you some of this information early and get you excited about getting outdoors this weekend! It’s Easter weekend and many of you may be spending time with friends and family, a perfect time to make a trip to your favorite fishing hole to see what the Easter Bunny may have “stirred up” in the water!

Not sure where to go or what to fish for when you get there? Pick a lake or a river, then check out the 2018 Fishing Prospects for GREAT info meant for you to use! Don’t forget your fishing license!

Let’s get to it, we have fishing reports from Central, North and Southeast Georgia to share with you. Give’em a read and get out there and Go Fish Georgia!

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 DOWN .57 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass fishing is good and a lot of bass have become active.  There are a lot spotted bass being caught all over the lake and up in the creeks.  Spots are chasing the bait fish up to the rocky areas and there are a few still feeding out in the open water.  Keep a Chug Bug or Skitter Pop handy at all times.  Jerk baits like the McStick or even a #13 blue back Rapala and Strike King spinner baits are excellent.  Rouges are being fished both shallow and deep as the waters continue to warm.  Bass are running the banks up shallow and a pink Zoom Magnum trick worm is working all day.  Some largemouth are ready to bed in the backs of the mid-lake creeks. 

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 3.1 FEET, 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  There is a great Carolina rig bite with a Zoom six-inch lizard and on 3/8 ounce all black jigs.  The Little River area is now turning on, but be careful while navigating up in the rivers.  As the moon comes full this weekend, expect the top-water bite to get better.  Bandits and Sebile Swimmers are good choices.  There is also a good bite on jerk baits like the Ito Vision 110 early in the morning.  Secondary points and pockets are great places to use them.  As the sun warms up the water, switch to a Rat L Trap or a Red Eye Shad and a shad and bream DT6 Rapala’s on 10 pound test.  Add some Mega Strike to all your hard baits.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S TO 60’S BY CAPTAIN MARK SMITH, REEL TIME SERVICE

(Report Courtesy of Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Service, 404-803-0741):

Bass: Lake Oconee is full, the water temperature is 55 58.  There is a heavy stain up the rivers, then stained to the river bend area of the lake.  Richland creek is clear.  Spinner baits have been the best producers over the past week.  Fish them from the middle of the coves to the back.  Docks and wood structure have been the best producers.  Match your spinner bait color to the water color.  White/chartreus seem to be the best all around.  Jigs fished under docks will also draw a few strikes.  Carolina rigs in green or pumpkin (or a combination) fished around docks and sea walls on the Richland Creek side of the lake are working.  Most of these docks are in the middle of the coves to the back of the coves.

Striper: Striper fishing is good.  The best location has been around the dam.  Some fish can be found in other locations on the south end but the dam bite is starting to kick off.  Live bait fished on flat lines have been the way to catch these fish.  The fish are hard to see on your graph because they are so high in the water column.  We have been using bass minnows.  Also, pulling the mini Mack rigs have been producing.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good.  The fish have started to move into the creeks. Long lining has been the best producer over the past week.  Any jig color will work as long as it has chartreuse in it.  The fish are deep so you need to make sure you are getting your bait down to the fish.  These fish are in water depths from 10 to 15 feet deep.  Heavy jigs are the ticket.  Some spider rig fish are coming up the rivers.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 3.5 FEET, STAINED & 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  The fish really began to turn on this week.  Fish the warmer pockets which seem to be holding the best fishing.  Fish have been really shallow in three feet or less in a pre-spawn pattern.  The best bites have come later in the afternoon after the sun has had time to warm water temperatures.  Most of our fish have come midway or in the back of spawning pockets on chunk rock or red clay banks.  Use mid depth crankbaits in a shad pattern for these fish.  Crankbaits to choose from are a Bomber 4A, Bandit 200, or a Jackall MC/60.  Make long casts to the bank and retrieve with a slow to moderate retrieve.  The bigger fish will bite the ¼ ounce All Terrain jig in Texas Craw with a green pumpkin Net Bait Paca Chunk.  Spotted bass are on shallow rock on main lake. Use a 1/8 ounce Davis Baits Shaky head with a Zoom green pumpkin trick worms. Most of the spotted bass are in a pre-spawn pattern.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, STAINED, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  There is a slight stain over most of the lake.  Bass are in the stage of the pre-spawn cycle with bass heading shallow.  The stable weather pattern has moved more fish shallow looking for bait fish.  Focus your efforts in the two to five foot depth range on secondary points, shallow flats and spawning banks.  Fish are being caught on a number of baits from jigs to spinnerbaits and shallow cranks.  The best for numbers of fish has been the jig head and Zoom trick worm combo fished around shallow docks and rocky secondary points.  Most of the better fish are coming on 1/4 ounce jigs black and blue with a Zoom speed craw in green pumpkin as a trailer.  It’s hard to beat a Lucky craft Redemption spinnerbait with double Colorado gold blades slow rolled around docks and weed lines first thing in the morning.  Rooty Creek, Crooked Creek and Beaverdam Creek all would be good choices to start out and then move to Potato Creek and Murder Creek later in the day. 

LAKE JACKSON IS UP 1.8 FEET OVER FULL, 60’S

Bass fishing is fair to good Jackson Lake.  Bass are in a variety of areas hitting a variety of baits.  Fish from the main lake to secondary points and in back in the warm coves and pockets.  Target wood cover and docks along the way and work the floating docks.  Net Boy Screwball jig heads and Flippin Jigs have performed very well on bottom, on wood, and on the fall.  Rig jig heads with Trick worms or Senko’s.  In 60+ degree water, throw weightless Senko’s in the shade of docks for good clear water fishing under sunny skies.  When the bite on moving baits slows with calm and flat conditions, these baits get the bite.  Spinnerbaits and Chatterbaits can be effective early and late, but will perform better all-around when we have some stain back in the lake.  White and pearl will be the way to go for color choices.  Pearl flukes on a Fish Head Spin will work in warmer clear water.  The crank bait bite is strong.  Hard baits should be used to cover water and should be fished close to cover.  The clear water again calls for natural shad and pearl colored hard baits.  Strait pearl or some slightly brighter pearl variation, like a citrus shad, will be good choices.  Warmer water also means baits with a wider wobble, such as Bandit 100 and 200s, will be productive.  Bomber Fat Free hard baits are another one of many baits that can perform well.  Never count out a Shad Rap and don’t count out lipless baits either. 

FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)

  • Surface Temperature: 57.9˚ F (14.4˚ C)
  • Water Level: 8’ 11.5” Below Full Pool
  • Water Visibility: 21”

Usually during the months of February or March the seasons in Middle Georgia goes from winter, skips over spring and goes straight to summer.  The sudden heat usually produces an awesome time of year to fish.  This year has been different in Middle Georgia.  We have had a true spring, and the fish are as confused as the fishermen in their attempts at pursuing them.  The successful fishermen have been those that are dodging the cold fronts moving through the area and fishing the windy days prior to the front moving through.   The crappie are still biting though their bite has been at times sluggish and has required a very slow retrieval and a Rocket Bobber to detect the slightest bite.  Most success came when fishing in six foot of water.  The bass fishing has been “ok” with nothing overly exciting to report on.  There has been limited data on fishermen targeting bream or catfish.  Here’s a list of what the anglers are reporting to have had success using for each of the following: 

Bass: When the bass are biting here’s what was working:  A Green Pumpkinseed, Plum or June Bug colored plastics in worm or crawfish. Buzz bait.

Bream: Limited data to report on.  The last successful anglers were using Red Wigglers and crickets fished near tree tops.

Channel Catfish: The last anglers had success catching Catfish using uncooked shrimp.

Crappie: Minnows (worked well for catching smaller Crappie), a Rocket bobber six foot above a 32 ounce jig head with a little bit of the jig head trimmed off to make it shiny, with a chartreuse and white 2” Stinger with yellow jig head.

MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)

  • Lake temperature at last reading lakes was 55 ⁰.
  • Water Visibility: 16 – 54 inches
  • The fish cleaning station is open.

Bass: Bass have slowed down across MCDPFA.  Anglers are catching bass across the PFA but none are bragging size.  Anglers should match the forage like shiners, shad and goldfish so they could catch a big bass as the weather begins to warm up again.  The largemouth bass are back on their spawning beds; so bass action should become better this month. 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.  Anglers reported catching some small bass in Rod Bender.

Bream: Anglers were catching warmouth, bluegill and redear fishing worms on the bottom around structure near the shoreline in Bridge Lake.  The redear and bluegill should bed on April’s full moon.

Channel Catfish: An angler had a nice stringer of 1.5 lb catfish from Bridge Lake.  The largest catfish on the PFA will be trying to spawn but all catfish should be feeding during April.

Striped Bass: An angler caught two 16-inch stripers and was fishing chicken liver on the bottom of the boat dock at Bridge Lake.  The stripers should begin feeding more during April as well. 

MARBEN PFA (More Info HERE)

  • Water temps. : Low 60’s

Bass: April is starting out colder and definitely wetter than usual.  It appears that the bass spawn is just getting started so look for bass to become more aggressive in May.  Afternoon showers can bring sudden changes to bass feeding behavior.   Look for bass to be less aggressive in April but after the spawn expect aggressive feeding behavior to increase.  According to most anglers, spring is the best time to target bass at Marben PFA.   Threadfin will be spawning soon, so look for bass in early morning feeding on shad mostly around boat ramps.  Successful anglers mimic lethargic shad by casting jerk baits and crank baits.   Mid-day can produce some big bass but look for these big fish in deeper water (10-15 ft.).  Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA.  Expect bass fishing to be best in late April into early May.

Crappie: The crappie are most aggressive in early evening, crowded around submerged timber in deeper water.  Anglers should see a slight change as crappie become a little less aggressive in April.  Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs.  Try fishing cover approximately 10-12 feet throughout the day, especially in the evening.

Bream: Bream fishing will start to pick up significantly in May.  Warmer water temperatures play a factor but overall this is just the best time of year.  Anglers really see a difference.  Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best throughout the day but a little slow when temperatures get really hot.  Remember that bream are shallow with spawning this time of year so to be successful, anglers will have to fish shallow areas (4 to 5 ft.) in order to increase your chances.

Catfish: Catfish will pick up significantly this time of year.  Anglers will find catfish in 7-9 ft. of water and really aggressive.   Anglers should target days when it is sunny but patience is necessary when targeting these fish.  Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.

NORTH GEORGIA 

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

Spring has finally arrived.  We can tell it from the morning bird songs, the budding trees, the greening grass, and our itchy eyes from elevating pollen counts.  In the fish world, warming waters will enhance stocked trout appetites, poke aquatic insects to emerge and thrill fly flingers, and lure reservoir shad and bluebacks into the warming shallows.  In fact, it happened in just one day, yesterday (3/28), as Gainesville WRD fisheries technician Chris Looney had a slow shocking morning for Lanier stripers in 51 degree water for his annual sampling, but our angling duo found some 58 degree water, loads of shad, and four small stripers yesterday night.

Don’t wait to hear all the great reports next week and realize you should have taken a day off to wet a line. Make plans now to catch this upswing in water temperatures that will “turn the switch on” for this spring season’s fish-catching across north Georgia.  Here we go:

LAKE LANIER

Crappie: The WRD-Gainesville region office is getting some great reports of big fish caught via bank and boat. (Crappie report from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Water temperature is generally 50 degrees, lower before sunrise, which is a few degrees lower than normal for this time of year.  As a result, the bite has again slowed.  The good news is that the weather is warming up for the next week or so, which will cause the water temps to rise and help the fish regain their typical spring spawning behavior. We are still targeting shallow water docks in the morning, however if the bite is not there, we make a quick adjustment to fish deeper docks and short community docks, up to 20 foot depths.  With these temperatures, we are practicing “run and gun” to cover as many docks as possible – we may hit 15 or 20 docks to put fish in the boat, with short stays at each dock.  The bad news is that fishing in general has been tough the last few days, but the good news is that better days are coming!  Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!

Stripers: Guru and two accomplices found a warm midlake cove last Friday night, tossed their flies among the shad pods and landed three stripers to five pounds.  Last night two of the three returned to upper Lanier and hit long creek arms on the east side of the lake, where the sun had fallen the longest yesterday.  The water reached 58 degrees, about 2-3 degrees warmer than the west side coves, and the shad were thick in one long cove.  And the crappie and stripers were under the shad!  Aim for warm water and shad and you should be rewarded!

Captain Mack Report: Click HERE

TROUT

GATU Dream Trip Winners: The list of Saturday’s winners is HERE

Wild Trout: Warming water should start thawing out headwater trout.  If it’s above 50 degrees, try a dry. Motivation HERE and HERE

 

 

Latest Fly Fishing Lesson: Last week’s intel should now have you caddis-ready.  This week’s tips are on mayflies.  Have your March Browns and hare’s ears in the box, next to your caddis. Great Info HERE, HERE and HERE

 

 

trout stockers carmen B March 2018 smallStockers: The wife and husband team of Carmen and Mike B from Gainesville made their first trouting pilgrimage of the year to a favorite north Ga stocker stream last week.  They had a blast and limited out. Carmen said that the best part of the trip, other than the fresh trout dinner, was beating her hubby for big fish honors!

Trout Stocking: GAWRD and US Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery staffs stocked  59 waterbodies with 52,000 trout the week of March 26.  Remember our Friday updates on trout waters stocked each week.  Sign up for stocking lists delivered to you via Friday text or email.

 

 

Summerville’s Blue Trout: Video

US Forest Service Road Update: Info Click HERE , PICS Click HERE

Reaching the Next Generation: Forty students from St. Pius X Catholic High SchoolRelease 8 recently released trout into the Chattahoochee River as part of the Trout in the Classroom project, sponsored nationally by Trout Unlimited and supported locally by the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited. This environmental education program involves students in raising trout from eggs to fingerling-size fish, monitoring tank water quality, engaging in stream habitat study, learning to appreciate water resources, beginning to foster a conservation ethic, and growing to understand ecosystems. The trout released by the St. Pius X students were the largest in the chapter’s history with the Trout in the Classroom program. More information on Trout in the Classroom is available at the Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited‘s website.

 Georgian Receives National Acclaim: In fact, UCCTU member Jim is the featured “Stream Champion” in the spring edition of Trout, which is the Trout Unlimited National magazine.  Let’s celebrate one of Georgia’s own conservationists, highlighted in a national publication.  And for those of you who would like to find some great fishing buddies (I call them “free fishing guides”) and participate in some fun conservation and education projects, check out a TU chapter near you.

MORE INFO

Lakes Nottely and Chatuge: Great spots for trophy hunters, without the metro traffic.

Coosa River Update: WRD fisheries biologist Jim Hakala said that this week’s shocking showed that the white bass run is winding down.  Stripers were also scarce, which is actually good news.  Huh?   Jim says this means that they’ve now run upstream from the Coosa mainstream, so striper fans should start aiming for the two tributary rivers.

It’s coming back!: Georgia hit another home run.  Check out the show’s 2019 return to ATL.

Your Wardens in Action: After receiving numerous complaints of individuals catching and keeping over the limit of crappie on Commerce Watershed Lake,  Sgt. Burgamy, Cpl Loudermilk and Game Warden Locke worked an undercover detail and apprehended the subjects. They cited several individuals and discovered them to be 456 fish over the limit (see photo below). Darn good case! (Ed note: Turn In Poachers and Polluters at 800-241-4113 or HERE)

They Hunt and Fish, Too!: Enjoy the pic (above) of DNR LED ranger Ethan Franklin with a nice largemouth from lake WF George.  Three generations of Franklins took their annual spring bass road trip and had a blast.  Ethan is the son of our Gainesville FM region’s operations manager, Shari Franklin and, on his off days, is a fishing and hunting machine!

UPCOMING DATES TO KNOW

Happy holiday to those of you celebrating this Sunday.  I hope that all of you find some weekend time to get outside, or suddenly develop a cough on Monday that prevents you from working.  My recommended Rx is hydrotherapy.  Good luck as you go fish Georgia this spring.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA 

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

Whiting, black drum, bass, and crappie were the best bites this week. Full Moon is March 31st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Heather at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that fishing has slowed with the rising water. Some bream were caught with crickets in the sloughs. Limb liners caught a few nice flatheads with goldfish on their hooks. A couple of the fish were in the 30 to 50-pound range. Commercial fishermen netted lots of  American shad this week. Donald at Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) did not report this week. The river level was 7.6 feet and falling at the Baxley gage, and 8.8 feet and rising (60 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 27th.     

SATILLA RIVER

Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that nobody reported fishing the river. The catfish bite should be the first to pick up as the river crests and starts falling back out. The river level on March 27th at the Waycross gage was 8.7 feet and falling (60 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 7.2 feet and cresting.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The catfish bite was the best this week. Anglers reported catching them wherever they dropped shrimp or worms to the bottom. Some bream were caught from pockets off the main river by anglers using crickets. Two years ago I had a trip where I caught over 2 dozen big redbreasts and bluegills on Satilla Spins (rainbow, crawfish, and copperfield worked best) in the upper river on March 31st. It will still be a little cold this year on March 31st, but we’re only a couple of weeks of warm weather away from the big redbreasts and bluegills chowing down. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 27th was 5.0 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The latest cold snap cooled down the flier bite, but it should pick back up with the forecasted warm spell. I expect fliers, warmouths, and chain pickerel (jackfish) to be caught this weekend. And, the bite should pick up even more next week, unless we get significant rains from the next couple of fronts.

LOCAL PONDS

Zion Hill Church’s bass tournament on Saturday was a big success. Wesley Wilson and Bill Smith of Bristol took top honors with 26-lbs, 10.8-oz. Second was Don Durr and Ryan Sweat of Waycross with 25-lbs., 4.8-oz (including the 8-lb., 7.2-oz. big fish of the tournament). Carroll Herlong and Rob Goble of Waycross came in third with 18 pounds. Fred Ferst and Jeremy Robertson have been catching and releasing lots of big bass lately from a Blackshear area pond. Sexy shad 3.8-inch Keitech swimbaits rigged on gold-bladed Flashy Swimbait Heads and topwater plugs have produced their fish. Jeremy caught an 8 1/2-pounder, while Fred’s biggest was 7 1/2 pounds. Daniel Johnson had a 6-pound bass this weekend on a frog. I can’t wait for that exciting bite to fire off, and it should any day with the upcoming warm weather. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, good-sized bass have been eating plastic lizards. Crickets produced some solid bream catches. Crappie were still eating minnows suspended underneath floats.

PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (Near Tifton More Info HERE)

Wildlife Resources Division staff electrofished and released a 10-lb., 6-oz. bass this week during their routine sampling. This is just one of the many giant bass on the area. The area produced 3 more angler award sized brown bullheads (speckled cats) this week. The crappie and bream bites have also been good. Bass spawning slowed down during the cold this week, but expect another wave of females to push shallow throughout the week with the warmer weather and full moon. With the changes in license requirements, a Wildlife Management Area Stamp is no longer required to fish the area. A fishing license is all that is required, so give the area’s 60+ ponds and lakes a try this weekend.

LAKE BLACKSHEAR (NEAR CORDELE)

The topwater bite is on first thing in the morning around schools of baitfish. If you’re around fish when they surface, the topwater bite is GREAT! Once the sun gets up, plastic worms fished around grass and cypress trees is the most effective presentation. During a Reel Money tournament this past weekend it took over 23 pounds to win.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

Wesley Cox Black Drum 3 18
Wesley Cox caught this monster black drum from the St. Simons Pier this weekend. The black drum bite has just picked up and will continue into April.       

An angler fished some of his favorite bank accesses in the Brunswick area on Saturday and landed 12 seatrout up to 16 inches. Six of the fish inhaled a Mama’s 14K Sea Shad fished on an 1/8-oz. Flashy Jighead, 3 ate a shad-colored minnow plug, and 3 munched a 2.8-inch gold flash Keitech Fat Swing Impact swimbait fished on a 1/8-oz. jighead. The whiting bite continued this week. Jim Page and his dad fished the Brunswick area on Friday and landed 25 whiting in 1 1/2 hours. Two Waycross anglers fished behind Jekyll Island on Saturday morning filled a 60-quart cooler fishing in 10 feet with shrimp and squid as bait. Another boat fishing nearby caught a bunch of trout using a white Gulp Swimming Minnow fished under a Cajun Thunder Float. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that big black drum were caught from the pier over the weekend by anglers using crab for bait. On Saturday about 8 of the giant black drum were landed. The fish are generally in the 30 to 40-pound range. Outgoing tide was the key. Big bull whiting were also caught in good numbers with shrimp and squid. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BETS

If winds allow, whiting fishing in the sounds will be a great option with the warm-up. Pitching bucktails and Sea Shads to the St. Marys Jetties should be productive for bull redfish this weekend if winds allow. Big black drum are great targets in the sounds and from the St. Simons Pier. Crab halves fished on the bottom during the ebb tide is the way to target them. Bass fishing should pick up as more fish complete the spawn and they feed up from now until super-hot weather arrives. It’s a great time of year to go fishing!