If you use a light saber for a fishing pole today, I completely understand (“May the Fourth Be With You” and all) – just as long as you grab some kind of fishing pole and take advantage of the sunshine and great temps we appear to be ready to have this weekend!
A few quick items:
- Georgia Bass Slam News Story: This fun story from WRDW Ch. 12 (Augusta) features fisheries biologist Ed Bettross as he talks about the Georgia Bass Slam program.
- The Remaking of Raccoon Creek: Check out Dan Chapman’s great story on how partners and volunteers created this little bit of angler paradise in the shadow of Atlanta. Dan is a public affairs specialist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
On to our weekly reports! This week, we hear from Southwest, North and Southeast Georgia. Arm yourself with all the fishing knowledge below, and then Go (Fourth) and Go Fish 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 largemouth bass fishing is currently very good. It is consistently taking over 20 pounds to win a one day tournament on the lake. There are good numbers of bass in the 3-5 pound range available to anglers. The fish are being caught in the shallows and around the points. There may still be some bass spawning due to the unusually cool spring. The fishing in the grass is beginning to pick up and look for fish along the edges or try a buzz bait on top. The catfish fishing has begun to heat up as well and anglers using noodles have been having good success. The bream are also bedding and good catches of redear have been reported. The crappie have begun to move deeper and can be caught with live minnows along the creek channels and deeper flats.
There have been plenty reports of good bass catches. Largemouth bass anglers should concentrate their efforts along the edges of the hydrilla and in the stumps. A Carolina rigged worm seems to be the bait of choice for most anglers. The redear are spawning and a red wiggler fished under a cork is probably the most effective technique for catching bedded redear on Lake Seminole. Look for Crappie along the creek and river ledges. A live minnow is your best bet for catching schooling crappie.
The Flint River still remains a bit high but is warming and as soon as the water drops a bit 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:
Both largemouth bass and crappie are done spawning in Lake Blackshear. However, good numbers of both are still being caught. Try fishing the creek and river ledges with minnows for crappie, while the shallow bite for bass is still very good. Expect to encounter bedding and willing to bite bream in the shallows. There have been some very good reports of nice channel catfish being caught on cut bait.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Welcome to May, the last month before summer typically takes up residence and drives a lot of fish deep or far upstream in search of cooler water. We have some really nice days ahead, so plan your next fishing trip soon to take advantage of them. As we get into the 80’s in the afternoons, your catching may be a bit better early and later in the day. Follow the shade and shadows and you’ll do well in the cooler air. You have one more month of spring left. Is lawn care really that important on your coveted weekend? Here we go:
Delayed Harvest – Last Hurrah: Welcome to May. As you turn the page of your fishing calendar, also turn the page on your mountain trouting tactics to match flows, water temperatures, and bugs: cahills, caddis and yellow- sallies and stimulators. Remember that the Delay ends on the 14th and Harvest begins on May 15. PS: Don’t forget your bug repellent! Dredger has done fair recently on the Chattooga DH, with an equal mix of rainbows and browns. His last several trips found the bugs smaller (18’s) and hatching later, from 7 to 7:30 PM, with his last fish typically netted around 830 or 845. The fish are smarter and pickier now, too, and he typically had three missed strikes or refusals for each fish to net. Skitters were much more effective than dead drifts, given the emerging naturals. The trips were still fun as the river receded from flood stage, the mountainsides greened up, all flatlanders left early for supper, and Dredger’s 9PM walkouts featured a chorus of spring peepers and a nighttime sky full of stars. This week he even saw the first fairies of the season. If you don’t know about The River’s fairies and twinkies, see page 8. Oh, and he had a real good’un bolt up from the depths to inhale his “strike indicator,” a bushy size 16, tan x-caddis that he could see in the waning daylight. It was tied ahead of his size 18 cahill or cahill emerger, the dropper fly, which drew more attention from the standard stockers. The 18-inch Wallhalla broodstock retiree was fun on a four-weight rod and 6X tippet. He posed briefly for a dusk picture before returning to his lair in the ledges.
Stocker Streams: Trout fishing is on fire at Wildcat Creek in Rabun County – (From WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson) – The Peters family had a great day fishing on Wildcat Creek recently. Eleanor (age 5), Theodore (age 2), and Charlotte (age 8) kept their Dad busy baiting hooks and putting fish on the stringer. These girls found salmon eggs and power bait to be very effective on these freshly stocked rainbows. Don’t miss out on the great trout fishing opportunities this spring. Buy your fishing and trout licenses and then plan a trip to the north Georgia mountains soon.
Stocker Best Bets: GAWRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson suggests these weekend destinations: Nancytown and Vogel lakes, Lanier Tailwater, Middle Broad and Panther, West Fork Chattooga, Warwoman, Blue Ridge Tailwater, Holly, Rock, Cooper, Wildcat, and Tallulah. See the weekly list HERE on Friday afternoons.
Buford Dam Road Closure: News to Know
Nice Smokies Pics: Love some good pics!
(This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley Jimbo on Lanier) — Well what a difference a week makes! As anticipated we went directly from April Winter to May Summer in the last week. 80’s for daytime highs and near 60 for lows will heat things up in a hurry! The waters above Brown’s Bridge are still stained in the main river areas and creek arms toward the backs. The lower main lake is clear, and there is still some stain in the lower end creeks, but that is going away quickly with all the sunny days. Things are really picking up in the lower lake right now. The main lake fish are starting to move up and get ready for their spawn. We have been fishing shallow, rock/sand/clay points and flats in the mornings with flukes, top water walking baits, red fins, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits. All have produced well at times, it just depends on the day as always. There is no black and white in fishing folks, it’s all grey. So rotate your bait selections to zero in on the best bite on any given day. The fish are definitely getting more aggressive with the warmer weather which is great to see finally. We hung around the high 50 and low 60 degree water temps for a LONG time. Shallow brush on humps and points is also holding fish, particularly when the sun is up Many of the spots in the creeks are spawning right now also in the shorter pockets off the main creek channels. A fluke, a trick worm, or a 4″ worm on a shaky head or drop shot should do the trick on these fish. Look for sandy areas as well as clay and pea gravel banks. Of course, the docks are still in play also. A Picasso Shake Down head and worm, a Ned rig, or a fluke should get the job done on the docks in those main lake and creek pockets.
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie fishing report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Water temperature is 65 degrees. With the lake level up nearly six inches since last week, floating debris remains a hazard, so be careful. Fishing has definitely improved in the past week. May is typically a good month to fish stand-alone brush piles and is usually relatively easy to locate the fish using good electronics and a familiarity with your spots. However, we are catching more fish on shallow docks at 10 to 15 foot depths than on our usual stand-alone brush piles. The early morning bite is definitely the best part of the day, and the bite lessens significantly by 10:30 or 11:00 on a sunny day. The bite picks up late in the evening around 7:00 and continues until dark, and on certain days, is even better than the morning bite. We speculate that the reason the fish have not moved to stand alone brush piles is the higher lake level. With the lake level up (now almost a foot over full pool), most of our brush piles are in deeper water. As the water temp warms up, the fish should begin to move to the brush piles that are now deeper than normal for this time of year. The water remains moderately stained, so experimenting with various colored jigs is helpful. Certain color jigs may work better in one pocket over another. It is a good time to be on the water before school gets out, so get out there and enjoy some good fishing! Wear your life jacket it can save your life!
Striper: (This Lake Lanier Striper report is from Big Fish on Guide Service) — Striper fishing is fair. We had high hopes that the warm temperatures would fire the fish up but the fishing remains fair. The fish are moving and establishing a clear pattern continues to be frustrating. You can catch fish over open water, shallow points, and pockets and from one end of the lake to the other. The problem is they never seem to be in the same place from one day to the next. Your best bet is pulling baits over points. Try a run and gun approach by pulling free lines over a point and running to the next point. If you catch a fish spent a couple of minutes retracing your pull but do not be surprised if you only catch one fish on any given point. Also keep someone on the deck casting a top water or a buck tail jig. You can try the same run and gun approach using an Umbrella rig. You other option is to pull and area with free lines and planner boards. Fish free lines and planner boards shallow unweighted and weighted with a small split shot. Vary your distance from 50 to 120 feet back. The water is stained on the main lake with a heavy stain to muddy condition in the creeks. The lake level is .6 feet above full pool. The current water temperature is in the low to mid 60’s this week.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS FULL, 70’S, CLEAR
Toona- Something Different: Check it HERE
Bass: (This bass fishing report is from Matt Driver) – Bass fishing is good. We are at the end to the spawn and the beginning of a great top water bite. Soon, we will post spawn fish begin to move to areas where they can recover from this spawn, rest and feed. May is time to think shad. Shad begin to spawn and invoke a feeding frenzy for bass, white bass and hybrids. Shad will spawn along hard surfaces rock and will end that ritual just after daybreak. Try a shad imitation bait like the Picasso Suijin with a Big Bite Jerk Minnow. Also, top water is on fire. Any walking bait will do. We use the Zara Spook or Spro Hydro Pop. The big females are moving to areas of refuge after coming off the bed. Bass will slowly be moving out toward summer areas and mid depth brush. The fish can be targeted with jig head worms, drop shots and finesse jigs. Watch your sonar for signs of bait and active fish.
Stripers: (This Lake Allatoona Fishing Guides Report has been brought to you exclusively by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Line side fishing is great. The fish are back on the main lake and are feeding well. The bite is good from one end of the lake to the other. Up north there are good numbers of line sides being caught at the mouth of Sweet Water also the flats at the Delta and in the S Turns. Mid lake is also producing good numbers from Kellogg to Bartow Carver. And the south end is also fishing well from the dam all the way up Allatoona Creek to the Lake Acworth spillway. Free lining shad early is the ticket to getting your day started off right. After the sun comes up, look for schools of hybrids on your Lowrance off of any main lake points and humps. We are catching most of our fish in less than 30 feet of water fishing right on the bottom. The key to loading the boat is fresh bait. Change your bait often and be sure to take plenty with you. Summer time is awesome for numbers on Lake Allatoona give us a call at 770 827 6282 and let’s take the kids fishing.
LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL, CLEAR, 60’S
Bass: Bass fishing is very good. Use this week will include Shad Raps, Bandits and Rat L Traps and use the shad, olive green or moss back shiner colors. Shad Raps in the shad pattern and the jigs or spot removers in the 1/8 to 1/4 ounce size are all working. Use the 3/8 ounce jigs and the jerk baits are working on the points, especially the rocky ones. Early use the small all white trick worms or a small 1/4 ounce white buzz bait. After the sun gets high, go to the rivers and use the bream and shad colored crank baits in the pockets can get a strike. Down lake the Lunker Lure buzz baits with all white skirts and silver blades is fair run and gun docks. Stay in the creeks and on shallow docks up the rivers for best day fishing. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology to scout the areas before you fish. Even in 10 feet of water, this technology can scan 70 feet from right to left if you use left, right and down imaging at the same time. The short Carolina rig with a small zoom lizard or finesse worm on points down lake. For the river fish, use a Shad Raps and the Red Eye Shad.
Hybrids: (This report brought to you by Steve Scott, See my Striper reports in the Angler Magazine and in the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division blog) — We went to the Tugaloo River Lake Hartwell today (4/27) launching at Stephens County Park in Toccoa, GA. We headed south from there as the water was quite muddy and full of debris from the heavy early morning rains north of the ramp. Just as we passed the old bridge it was fish on for the next several hours. Water temp was 62.7 and the hybrids were turned on. We ended up catching 17 using Blueback Herring on Planer Boards, Freelines, Directional Bobbers and a long range ball bobber 165 feet from the boat. Everything got hit. We got a double within 6 minutes from launching. We are heading to the Soque River on Sunday for some trout.
WEISS LAKE IS FULL POOL AND LIGHT STAINED AND 70 DEGREE’S BY MARK COLLINS SERVICE
(This report brought to you by Mark Collins Service)
Bass: Bass fishing is good. Fish shallow rip rap and sea walls and any docks in the backs of spawning bays. The spotted bass have moved to points, humps and the old river channels use a Fat Free Shad crank bait in citrus shad color or a 1/2 ounce spinnerbait in chartreuse and white. Keep the Zoom Super fluke ready and have two colors, pearl and baby bass on a 3/0 Mustad offset work hook.
Striper: Striper fishing is fair up the river. Fish the old river channels in the Chattooga River and Little river and the Coosa River, use live shad on a down line 8 to 12 feet deep and work the drop off from 12 feet down to 25 feet. Look for the schools of stripers on your fish finder and adjust your bait depth to get it a foot or so above them.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The spawn is on and the fish can be caught on jigs and spider rigs on the shallow creek cover and ledges. It’s hard to beat JJs jigs and have lots of colors.
MORE NEWS TO USE!
Commerce Crappie: I caught this on Sunday April 29, 2018 at the Commerce Watershed Lake. I released her. I don’t eat fish, but I love to fish! Could someone please tell me what she weighs that would be awesome. Beautiful Healthy Fish!!! Thanks. The great thing is it will be bigger next time! -Angela F
Ken’s Fresh Fishing Reports: The Southern Fishing Report
Lake Seed Trophy: Check it out HERE
Free Fishing Seminars: Ken Sturdivant will be hosting FREE! Fishing seminars at 4 Forsyth County Library Branch’s. These seminars will cover Bass fishing, Striper fishing, Crappie fishing and SONAR. These are the dates and times. Registration will be open soon. Events at Cumming Library Branch Cumming 585 Dahlonega Street, Cumming, GA 30040 Session 1 Tuesday, June 12 at 7pm Bass Session 2 Tuesday, July 10 at 7pm STRIPERS! Location is Sharon Forks Branch Sharon Forks 2820 Old Atlanta Road, Cumming, GA 30041 Session 3 Sunday, June 24 at 2pm Crappie Session 4 Sunday, July 22 at 2pm SONAR! Location is Hampton Park Branch Hampton Park 5345 Settingdown Road, Cumming, GA 30041 Session 5 Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Crappie Session 6 Saturday, July 7 at 2pm SONAR! Location is Post Road Branch Post Road 5010 Post Road, Cumming, GA 30040 Session 7 Saturday, June 2 at 2pm BASS Session 8 Saturday, July 14 at 2pm STRIPERS!
Walleye Wrap-up: The last of our 2018 walleye crop was harvested from Burton Hatchery ponds and stocked into Lake Lanier today, May 4. More than 600,000 walleye were stocked into ten different waterbodies during our 2018 production season. Kudos to all growers at Burton, Summerville, McDuffie, Richmond Hill, and Go Fish center hatcheries for successfully mitigating for Walton Hatchery’s lost production, as it is offline this year for complete renovation.
More Reservoir Stockings: Coastal Region (Savannah) fisheries technicians Roger Harrell and Steve Mincey (pictured) took the long ride north to Lake Lanier on May 2 to deliver 377,000 striped bass fingerlings, grown at Richmond Hill Hatchery. Their Lanier “tour guide,” Gainesville fisheries tech Chris Looney, took them to three ramps on the upper lake where the plankton bloom looked good and where shad have started spawning, and the trio stocked these fish into those food-rich environments. On the same day, Burton district biologist Anthony Rabern took the long drive down to Cordele Hatchery and loaded up on hybrid bass (striped x white bass cross). After his return trip north, he gave some of his load to waiting fisheries tech Tony Anderson in Hartwell, who acclimated the fish and then stocked them into Lake Hartwell. Rabern continued on to acclimate and stock his remaining loads into lakes Nottely and Chatuge. It’s just another spring day in the lives of WRD fisheries technicians and biologists, from the coast to the mountains, as they manage reservoir fisheries to benefit Georgia anglers. They often work these stocking trips in between their spring shoreline “shocking” samples to monitor important sport fish species, including black bass, bream, stripers, and hybrids, when water temperatures bring these target species into the shallows. Sometimes they even “shock” and then “stock” on the same, long day! Springtime shockings and stockings continue across the state.
All the Tips and Tricks for Georgia Reservoirs: For more information on fishing these reservoirs, see the managing biologists’ annual fishing prospects.
It’s May. We have one month left to our spring angling extravaganza, so we’ve gotta get our cool water species before June’s hot weather sends them deep or way upstream, in search of colder water. Take some cold drinks, a tube of sunscreen, and two flashlights.
And don’t forget that bug repellent. Good luck. Thanks for buying your fishing licenses and fancy TU-Brookie car tags! The Rabunites claimed that their catch rates soared after slapping one of Broderick Crawford’s designs on the rear of their ole river pickups!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
In saltwater, the whiting bite has been great. Panfishing is about to be prime! The rivers (other than the Altamaha) are dropping out to good levels, clearing up, and heating up to the point where the panfishing should be great this weekend. Last quarter moon is May 7th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Heather at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that a few catfish (mostly flatheads) were caught by limb-liners, but bream fishing was slow in the upper river with the rising water. Donald at Altamaha Park said that catfish (mostly channels) were tops in the lower river. Some redbreasts and bream were caught before the rise on crickets and worms. With the current rising water, catfish will likely be your best bet. The river level was 10.0 feet and rising at the Baxley gage, and 9.3 feet and rising (69 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 1st.
The Satilla Riverkeeper is holding its annual Satilla River fishing tournament this Saturday (May 5th). Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that some good redbreasts and a few bream were caught in the Highway 158 portion of the river on crawfish Satilla Spins and crickets. The water is still a little cool for a good “bug” bite, but this week’s heat should improve the topwater activity. In the Burnt Fort area, creels of 25 to 35 BIG bream were the norm. Crickets and worms fished deep fooled them. A 30-lb flathead was caught by Edison and Troy (sorry I didn’t get their last names) on a limb line baited with bream in the middle river this week. They have declared war on the flatheads to protect their favorite species, redbreasts. The river level on May 1st at the Waycross gage was 6.0 feet and falling (70 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 5.4 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
A pair of Waycross anglers fished the Traders Hill area of the river on Saturday and landed 11 fish (5 different species) on Satilla Spins. They tried other lures and couldn’t get them to eat them. Their best colors of Satilla Spins were 1/8oz. red/white, 1/16oz dreamsicle, and a prototype junebug color with a chartreuse blade. Their biggest redbreasts were a pair of 9-inchers, and they had a stumpknocker almost as big. Their catch also included a couple small bass and a 2-pounder that inhaled the tiny spinnerbait. Anglers reported catching a mixed bag of around 25 panfish per trip this week on crickets. Catfish were again caught about anywhere you dropped a worm, liver, or shrimp to the bottom. The next Shady Bream Tournament is scheduled to be held out of Traders Hill this Saturday (May 5th). Check the club out on Facebook for more information. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 1st was 3.5 feet and falling.
Swamp fishing picked up some this week. A group fished way back the canals on the east side over the weekend and caught some big bowfin and a few pickerel (jackfish). They said that the water is still a little too high and the temperature a little too cold for a peak bite. On Saturday, a couple of anglers pitched yellow sallies on the east side and caught about 25 fliers and warmouth. A couple other reports were that the warmouth bite was good on the east side for anglers pitching around cypress trees. I didn’t hear anything from the west side other than some catfish being caught at the sill and in Billy’s Lake by anglers putting shrimp on the bottom.
Chad Lee whacked some bass on Thursday evening, catching 9 bass in a half-hour. Wacky-rigged bubblegum floating worms fooled his fish up to 2 pounds. A Waycross angler reported pitching minnows to a tree-top and catching a couple nice crappie this weekend. The crappie bite was overall slower, and expect that to continue with this week’s warm temperatures. The bream bite, though, should improve with the heat. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bream bit crickets, and bass ate topwaters early and then swimbaits and plastic worms after the sun came up.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The whiting bite was again tops for the week. At the St. Marys Jetties, the redfish bite is still slow but should fire off any day. Black drum are in good numbers in the deep holes. Cut bait and crabs work well for them. Flounder have started showing up all along the coast, so look for the flatfish making more of a presence in upcoming reports. Tripletail have started showing up on the beaches. Surf anglers have been doing great on whiting. Trout fishing has been hit-and-miss, but an angler fishing the Altamaha Sound area on Friday caught a bunch of trout. A group of anglers fishing behind St. Simons Island with live shrimp caught 25 seatrout and one of them was a gator trout. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the pier has been good for whiting and black drum. Hunter Bechtel landed a rare keeper tripletail from the pier on Saturday. Crabs have showed up in big numbers under the pier. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The Satilla Riverkeeper will host a tournament giving up to $300 per category for the biggest redbreast, bass, native catfish, bowfin, and panfish (other than redbreast), as well as for the biggest total weight of 3 redbreasts and a “grand slam” for the biggest aggregate weight of 3 different species. The weather should be GREAT for the tournament, so check out the details on their website at www.satillariverkeeper.org and then click on Fishing Tournament. The Okefenokee should be firing up with the warmer weather, as should the Satilla and St Marys rivers. The Altamaha will be high and cool this weekend from last week’s cold rains upcountry. Ponds are a great option for bass, bream, and catfish. Your best bet on saltwater is whiting if the winds allow you to get out to the sounds. If not, try them from the pier or beach. Small pieces of shrimp fished on the bottom should fool them well.