Y’all, have you gotten out there in that fabulous sunshine yet? Hopefully, you can enjoy that magical combination of sun and water this weekend. A few things to mention before we get on to the report:
2018 Georgia Bass Slam: We have our first Georgia Bass Slam-mer. Congrats to David Hampton!
Just the Fishing Basics: Know someone that needs the Fishing Basics? The Go Fish Education Center will host a Fishing Basics Class that is free with admission to the Center. You just need a fishing license.
This week, we have fishing 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)
Okay, we won’t mention the snow flurries seen this past Monday (4/16) at Burton Hatchery. Instead, we will “spring forward” into this week’s weather forecast and encourage everyone to put away their winter coats one more time, grab their topwater lures and dry flies, and take advantage of the warmer weather that might finally stick around. There is still a lot of action, from fishing reports to WRD sampling and stocking trips, to provide some beefy fishing intel again this week. The incoming volume here was so great that I had plenty of fodder for an early report. Start making your weekend plans now. Here we go:
Trout Bluelines: Enjoy Damer’s great photo of a wild rainbow from his latest trip, detailed in last week’s fishing report. All headwater fans need in April is a high-floating caddis, cahill, or Adams dry and a short rod to cast it upstream, inside those rhododendron tunnels. They’re hungry! Catch, rinse, dry, and repeat.
Trout Map: Have you zoomed waaay in to WRD’s interactive trout map yet? Check it out HERE
Blue Ridge Tailwater: Another Good Trip
Stocker Streams: Seventy-seven year young Nancy E from Gainesville recently joined her son and daughter-in-law for a trouting trip to Dicks Creek and had a blast. Son just reported to me that Mom’s fried trout tasted great last night!
Best Bets From WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson include: Lanier and Blue Ridge tailwaters, Rock, Cooper, West Fork Chattooga, Tallulah, Holly, Wildcat, and Panther. Heavy spring stockings and some high water should have spread some fish out, so this is a good time to go prospecting in those remote stream reaches, downstream from suspected stocking sites. Sign up for stocking list delivery HERE.
National Forest Trouter Q and A: Q: where can I camp for a weekend trout fishing excursion? A: check out THIS MAP.
Trout Fly Flinging: It’s cahill and caddis time! Carry some of these two April bugs in sizes 14, 16, and 18 to our larger trout streams. Match size, color, location in the water column, and the behavior of the naturals. Are they dead-drifting in the surface film? Or skating upstream as they lay eggs? Don’t forget some emergers, too. Great info HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE
Looney’s Electric Report: WRD-Gainesville Fisheries Tech 3 Chris Looney just came into our office after striper sampling the lower end of Lanier this morning (4/18). He said water temps have dropped ten degrees, back down to the low to mid-fifties, since last week. Shad were around, but stripers were scarce along the bank. They’ve evidently pulled off the bank after our recent cold spell. Hopefully they’ll turn around soon and head back up to the shallows after a few warm days that will heat up more than just the first few feet of surface water.
Big Lanier Cat: Last week we sampled this 38-pound flathead catfish from the Limestone Creek arm of Lake Lanier, near the Clarks Bridge boat ramp. We see several big flatheads every year in this upper area of the reservoir, and they orient to rock ledges and submerged timber. More Lanier fishing info HERE.
Lanier Walleye Stocking Video: Check it out HERE , So far this spring, walleye fingerlings have been successfully stocked into Lanier, Hartwell, Yonah, Tugalo, Rabun, and Seed. Stockings continue. Info on Fishing for Walleye Found HERE; Need to know what to catch, when to do it and how? Check out the 2018 Georgia Fishing Prospects HERE
MORE NEWS TO SHARE
Clarks Hill Lake: My sister and I took our annual fishing trip to Clark Hill last week and caught some real nice crappie in brush and trees, in 14 feet of water. We used minnows and light blue Popeye jigs. Retirement is good! Former WRD region supervisor Ken R.
TVA Lakes: Remember that April is big fish month on our TVA mountain lakes. Here’s a flashback from last year; check out the date of this epic battle.
Ken’s Lake Reports: Get Friday updates HERE
Coosa Basin: Check out this 33-pound female striper captured and released last week by WRD staff on the Oostanaula River near Rome. WRD has been monitoring the striped bass run in the rivers of northwest Georgia over the last two weeks, and have found high numbers of fish right now in the Oostanaula from Rome to Calhoun. Good numbers of fish in the 15-25 pound range with a few large trophies like this one mixed in. We are also seeing good numbers of small fish in the 2-5 pound range, which is great news for future years! – WRD fisheries biologist John Damer
Upsize for Bass: Here’s a little tip for those wanting to catch bigger fish: upsize your baits. This 6.5 pound largemouth from the Etowah River shows why. Fish of many species can often eat bigger prey than you might think. It’s a bass-eat-bass world out there! – WRD fisheries biologist John Damer
Shoal Bass Intel: Here are some tips for Georgia Bass Slam candidates.
Go Fish Pics: The Go Fish Education center in Perry is also posting Facebook fishing stories and photos from around the state. Several of our north Georgia reports are there, too. Give this site a look sometime soon and find our stories that can’t fit on to our Division’s main page. Check out the big bass sampled and released back into Rocky Mountain PFA!
It’s April. Need I say more? Hire a teenager to cut your grass for the next two months and grab your fishing pole. You’ll be glad you did.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Winter just won’t let go. The warm-weather species just haven’t cranked up much yet because of the cold nights and the cool water species have slowed down during the warm afternoons. When you find the school, the trips have been productive, but many folks did not find them this week. Bass and catfish in freshwater and whiting in saltwater were most productive. First quarter moon is April 24th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
The bite has been a little slow for most bass anglers, but one tournament in the upper river had some great catches. In that tournament out of Deen’s Landing several anglers had limits, and the biggest fish was about 5 pounds. Also out of Deen’s Landing, the channel catfish bite was good for anglers using commercial dip baits. A few flatheads were caught, and the crappie bite slowed down in the upper river. One angler and his son reported putting in at 2 landings and only catching 1 bass. The river was getting in good shape before the most recent rains, but it’s going to rise some this week. Heather at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the catfish bite was hot over the weekend. An angler landed a flathead in the 60-pound range on goldfish. Shiner anglers have caught plenty of bass in the 3 to 5-pound range. A few redbreasts and bream were caught by anglers pitching crickets or fishing worms on the bottom. Crappie fishing was good in the Jesup area with minnows fished under a float. Donald at Altamaha Park said that a panfish tournament held over the weekend was a success. Over 130 anglers caught bream, redbreasts, crappie, shellcrackers, and catfish. Worms and crickets produced most of the panfish. The winning fish in the women’s category was a 1.22-pound shellcracker. The ladies outfished the men, whose biggest fish was a 1.09-pound shellcracker. The river level was 5.3 feet and rising at the Baxley gage, and 7.5 feet and falling (66 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on April 17th.
Sammy Gaskins and Paul Herrin fished the middle river before the front and caught about 20 redbreasts on Sammy’s signature black/chartreuse Beetle Spin. They kept 6 big rooster redbreasts. The Satilla Riverkeeper is holding its annual Satilla River fishing tournament on Saturday, May 5th. For more information, check their website at http://www.satillariverkeeper.org and then click on Fishing Tournament. Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that before the weekend rains, redbreasts and bream were caught. Most of the action took place on Saturday. Worms and crickets fooled the panfish, while quite a few catfish were caught with rooster livers and shrimp fished in the deep holes. Topwaters and buzzbaits fooled some bass this week. Craig James wrote an article about fishing the Satilla in the April issue of the Georgia Outdoor News, so check it out. The river level on April 17th at the Waycross gage was 6.3 feet and rising (66 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.5 feet and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Shady Bream Tournaments held an artificial-only bream tournament on Saturday out of Kings Ferry Country Store. Travis Sikes and Kyle Higginbotham won the event with 7.12 pounds. Second was Daniel Gullion and Daniel Hodges with 7.10 pounds. The big fish was 1.1 pounds and was caught by Marty Henderson. Check the club out on Facebook for more information. Their next tournament is May 5th out of Traders Hill. In other reports from around the river, a 22-pound channel catfish was caught on Saturday night by an angler baiting a limb-line with shiners. The white catfish bite was hot anywhere you dropped a shrimp or worm to the bottom. Anglers fishing on Saturday reported creels of 15 to 20 decent-sized redbreasts and bream on crickets and worms. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 17th was 7.3 feet and cresting.
The warmouth bite has started on the east side, according to reports. Worms were the best bait. A few bream were also caught. On the west side, catfish were tops, but some fliers were also caught.
The biggest bass I heard of this week was a 10 1/4-pounder caught on a plastic worm from a Waycross area pond. They also caught a couple other nice fish and lost another big fish. The bass bite fired off in a Brunswick pond early this week behind the front. On Tuesday afternoon an angler landed 20 bass up to 5 pounds. Another group had 9 on Tuesday morning and then 25 on Tuesday afternoon. They were good quality 3 to 5-pounders. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bream were eating crickets, while bass were fooled with lizards and frogs. Worms fished on the bottom caught some nice catfish.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Whiting and black drum were tops in the sounds (on days the wind allowed folks to get out) and on the piers. Tripletail have arrived in the Intracoastal Waterway and are hanging out around the markers and buoys. Trout, redfish, and flounder were caught in the creeks. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that whiting, black drum, and sharks were caught from the pier. Timothy Cohen caught a giant black drum over the weekend. Hunter Bechtel also fished the pier and caught a big black drum, and sharks, and saw a couple tripletail swim by. Blue crabs were caught in good numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
This weekend is forecasted (at the time of writing this) to be a repeat of the last couple – nice on Saturday and raining on Sunday. Both days will likely be breezy, though. In saltwater, your best bet will likely be fishing from a pier. Put a shrimp on the bottom for whiting and cut bait or crabs for black drum or bull redfish. Rivers and ponds will probably be your best bet to find protection if the winds are strong. You may be able to get some crappie to bite first thing in the morning, but then I’d switch to casting plastics or topwaters for bass or pitching lures or crickets for bream.