You know, we often say “Take a kid fishing” because it is important to get that next generation out on the water. But, this weekend, I have a different directive – “Take your mama fishing!” Happy Mother’s Day everyone! MomsDay

Some quick news items you might have missed:

  • Have you ever wanted to know how we make more catfish for stocking? It’s a tale as old as time…check out the love story…I mean, news story HERE.
  • Congrats to Jeffery Goodman of Decatur on reeling in this new Lake Sinclair blue catfish record – a whopping 51+ pounder . More info on Lake and River Records HERE.
  • Kids Fishing Events (KFEs) are starting up all over the state. You can find upcoming KFEs on our Events system and get more info on fishing with kids HERE. More about adults and kids having fun learning how to fish in this story from writer Steve Hudson with Herald Newspapers.
  • Two of America’s greatest past times collide on Wednesday’s in Georgia. Join the Gwinnett Stripers baseball team for “Worm Wednesday” where you can get two tickets for the price of one just by showing your fishing license!

Enjoy the following reports from North, Central and Southeast Georgia, and don’t forget to thank your mom for putting up with all the fish tales you told growing up.

NORTH GEORGIA

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

Dear Spring, Where are you? Spring is missing in action (MIA) as we’ve seemingly jumped from winter straight into summer. Our hot weather is pushing lake surface waters into the seventies, and the bass and stripers are now pulling off the bank, according to our DNR electrofishing results this week.  Most trout streams are still cool, given their high elevations, cold nights, shady riparian zones, and adequate flows, so trouting is still a good bet this week.  Remember that, on May 15, the Delayed turns to Harvest in our DH streams, so grab some nightcrawlers and a kid on that date and harvest some of those big Delayed Harvest trout before the hot summer water does them in.  In fact, that why the DH program is set up that way: we take advantage of cool winter water to optimize the catch/release trout fishery, then allow fish harvest just before those lethal summer temperatures set in for the season on these marginal, lower ends of designated trout waters.  But this week’s best-est bet might just be river fishing via canoe, yak, or even a wet set of nylon fishing britches.

RIVER REPORTS

Stripers: Skipper Jake and first mate Unicoi Guru motored up the river above Lanierstriper 6lb Lanier up Hooch 5-5-18 last weekend and caught some small stripers to six pounds, a spot or two,  and one lingering white bass who had not yet gone downstream to the lake shad feast.  All the fish were fun on eight-weight fly rods, with white rabbit zonkers and game changers the flies of choice for larger fish.    Smaller stripers and the lone white bass liked chartreuse-over-white clousers.

Black Bass: River bass fishing has heated up.  The Guru and Sautee caught bookend big’uns on Saturday afternoon with two completely different techniques: one dredged with a black Hairy Fodder while the other stuck with a popper, one of Bert’s specials.  They backed their text claims with photos of obese shoal bass.

bass shoal Sautee IDBIS 5-5-18Dredger went out last night (9th) to confirm those rumors and he did, indeed.  As the shadows fell from 7PM to 830, he caught a nice handful of shoalies to 16 inches and some small, brave redbreasts on a #4 white popper with rubber legs.  Watching a chunky bass bolting up from the crystal-clear depths to smash a popper is a sight to behold! In fact, Dredger’s gotta find some better glue instead of his SHAN and super glue, as one 16-inch shoalie smashed the popper body right off his homemade, feathered hook.   One dead popper was a small price to pay for a great evening of topwater fun. The dropping, clearing, and warming river water from this hot, dry week made Dredger’s first wet-wade of the season an enjoyable one. River wade and float fishing is definitely a best bet this week, as long as afternoon storms miss these rivers and they stay clear.  Give them a try for river bass, bream, and even a stray striper that has hung around after her spawning run. Where?  These sites may help your trip planning:

TROUT

Trout – BOLO Coffins! No, nobody died, but I’ve now “caught” your attention, so read on. Folks who stay late or even camp alongside our largest freestone trout waters can learn a lot about trout food items.  At mid-month, Southeastern big stream veterans will be on the lookout (BOLO) for the huge mayfly duns called green drakes (check out this and this), and their spinner counterparts, called coffinflies.  These huge mayflies, imitated with dries tied on size 8, 3X-long shank hooks, have enough calories in them to call up even the biggest stream trout.  Those big, smart, wary trout will position themselves in the shallow tails of slow, silty pools right at dark, where those coffins will mate and drop eggs just above the riffle.   Rabunites call the Dark30 trout rises to these drakes and coffins “commode flushes.” Get the picture?

 

 

Late or Overnight Fishing Benefits: Here are a few great notes on the advantages of staying late or even overnight, and reaping the benefits: Coastal Angler Magazine (p. 25). PS- Don’t suffer heartbreak by line-break: snapping your 5X tippet on a true trophy. Pull out that thick 3X and test your knot on the big dry before tossing it into the darkness, where lunkers lurk.

Hooch Tailwater Reports: Click HERE

Stocker Best Bets: WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson aims us here for the upcoming weekend: Lanier and Blue Ridge tailwaters, Boggs, Dicks, Middle Broad and Panther (esp before noon), Hooch thru Helen before and after the pink donut hatch (tubers), West Fork Chattooga, Warwoman and Holcomb, Holly, Hooch on WMA, and Tallulah. More trouting intel and weekly stocking list HERE.

Trout Bluelines: I don’t have any fresh reports, but I know these things will fish real well in early May because of cool water, good flows, and a variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects causing those little wild trout to “look up” for a meal.  Check out our interactive map on WRD’s trout webpage for some prospective waters to investigate, and find a few extra tips HERE.

Making Room: As those nice ten-inch stockers hit the water for your angling pleasure, their hatchery exits make some room in those concrete raceways.   The stockings create coveted hatchery space to grow next year’s crop of fish.  Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our own Summerville Hatchery, trout fingerlings are produced at these two stations and then transported to WRD’s Burton and Buford trout hatcheries for grow-out and eventual stocking next year.  Some fingerlings are also kept at the two former sites for their own catchable trout production.  Enjoy the photo of our May 8 fingerling convoy, delivering 45,000 small rainbow trout from Chattahoochee Forest National Hatchery to WRD’s Lake Burton Hatchery.  The trout production and stocking program, a 24/7/365 operation, is a great partnership between Georgia’s state and federal wildlife agencies.

LAKE REPORTS

Allatoona Bass: Info HERE

Toona and Carters: (Reports from Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala)

  • Carters Report: Louie Bartenfield of Carters Lake Guide Service hoists a thick-shouldered 14.6 pound hybrid striped bass boated by angler Alan Armstrong onhybrid carters 14lb LouieB May2018 Carters Lake earlier this week.  Alan is from San Pedro, California and was visiting friends here in Georgia.  He and longtime friend, Jeff Orwig of Lilburn, Georgia boated a mixed bag of hybrids and spotted bass while at Carters this week.  Louie said that the fish are being caught using down lined shad and top water “wake style” artificial baits.  Both the threadfin shad and alewife are up shallow spawning.  This is attracting spotted bass shallow, as they themselves wind down their spring spawn.  Find out more about fishing Carters Lake HERE.
  • Allatoona Report: The spotted bass appear to be winding down their spawn on Allatoona.  Recent electrofishing surveys have found fewer spots in the back of coves and more on main lake points.  Wind-blown points and rocky shorelines were the ticket.  These areas often had large schools of threadfin shad holding on them, which was attracting big schools of hungry spotted bass.  Find the shad and you will likely find spotted bass willing to bite close by! The shellcrackers and bluegill are also spawning.  Shallow woody debris in the backs of secluded coves or tributaries often held some very nice sized fish.  We saw a number of shellcrackers over a pound guarding nests tightly packed around tree tops or logs in shallow water.  The water is relatively clear, so a stealthy approach will likely be need to get within casting distance of these big bream.

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant

WRD’s Reservoir Stockings: Most reservoir sportfish (bass, bream, crappie, catfish, etc) are able to reproduce on their own, and WRD simply coordinates with willing reservoir owner/operators (TVA, GA Power, US Army Corps of Engineers) as they stabilize lake levels as much as practical during the spawning/egg incubation periods each spring to promote successful fish spawns.  (Note the flooded brush in the Lanier- Thompson Creek ramp photo. Flooded spring vegetation is great spawning and fry rearing habitat!). For other species, such as striped bass, reservoir spawning conditions limit successful reproduction and WRD supplements those sport fish populations with annual fingerling stockings. North GA reservoir stockings continued this week, with new loads of stripers hitting Lanier, Nottely, Allatoona, Carters, and the Coosa River.

LAKE LANIER

Bass: Info HERE

Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie fishing report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Water temperatures are in the low seventies, with high sixties early in the mornings farther north.  Fishing conditions are good.  The fish are pulling out to deeper docks with structure.  Keep in mind that the lake level is about 6” above full pool, so homeowners have moved docks in, and brush piles that are typically located inside the docks are now on the outside edges of the docks.  So it is an added bonus if you find a good sized brush pile outside the dock, especially if it is not in direct sunlight.  In this case, stay thirty to forty feet away from the dock and cast your jig to the other side of the brush.  Jig it slowly over the brush toward the boat.  You may want to experiment and let it fall a little into the brush.  This time of the year, four pound high visibility line is very critical. One twenty fourth ounce soft body Jigs and hair jigs are working well.  Also, the bigger fish are moving onto stand-alone brush piles in the backs of creeks. Those brush piles are in twenty to twenty five feet of water, topping out at ten to fifteen feet below the surface.  As always, the more brush piles you hit and the more docks you fish, the better your chances of boating more fish.  If a spot isn’t working, move on.  Four to eight mid to large sized fish is about average per stop.  So if your hits are yielding only smaller fish, move on to explore other docks or brush piles.  Stay safe on the water, wear your life jacket!

OTHER NEWS

Scouts program RaineyMtn ColtM 5-5-18Our Eagle Scout in Action: (Ed note: Colt, an Eagle Scout himself, felt an obligation to “give back” to his organization and volunteered for this Saturday event.  Thanks Colt!) – Jeff, This past Saturday, May 5th, the Georgia Forestry Commission  held an event called Fire Wise at Camp Rainey Mountain in Rabun County. The WRD Fisheries section, along with the Game Management section, was given the opportunity to present a taste of our role in Georgia’s resource management. Colt Martin, Fisheries Tech II at Lake Burton Hatchery, volunteered to be our representative at this event. Attendance was great (~1,000 parents and children), and I believe these pictures speak for themselves. Hats off to Colt and the WRD for their participation! Jeff Stewart (Asst. Manager, Lake Burton Fish Hatchery)

Angler Survey: Would YOU like to toss your $.02 into this mix regarding fish attractors?  Click HERE to access the ten-minute survey.

GON Lake Records: Here’s a good reference for anglers who suspect they’ve caught a trophy, so consider bookmarking THIS.

Smiling Gals! Georgia program director Beverly Booth pulled off another fantastic Casting for Recovery event last weekend.  For all you donors to CFR, enjoy these returns on your investments of cash and volunteer time:  countless smiles! For more CFR program information or to donate, take a look HERE.

Upcoming Events:

Making Memories: Here’s a great closer to this week’s report.  Great fishing trips go into our memory banks, where we can replay them over and over again for the rest of our lives.  Here’s a great one by Splatek. Enjoy this proud papa’s adventure to a faraway land.  I sure did!  And I also learned a new technique, the Casttention Deficit Disorder (CDD) method of slaying wily browns! Video and More.

 

The warming weather gives us all some great opportunities to take a kid fishing.    Now they can even “wet-wade’ (fall in) and you don’t have to worry about hypothermia.  I’ll bet young Spencer is glad that his dad took him fishing!   Give it a shot yourselves, soon.  And thanks for buying your licenses.

Sincerely, Wet Britches

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 FULL, CLEAR, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  The bass are all over the lake up shallow.  Up the river use the Shad Raps in # 5 and #7’s in the silver and black back.  Rip rap rocks around the bridges with shad colored lures is fair.  Cast parallel to the rocks and bump them with the lures.  Later in the day and at dark small shad and blue combinations crank baits on the points and humps are really working.  Be sure to take the McStick and use it all day.  The Zoom water melon seed mini lizard and a long Carolina rig can draw a few strikes on road beds and creek ditches.  Small top water stick baits on grass lines or stumps can be fair early and late.  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.  Buzz baits in the upriver creeks are fair and get the baits right on the bank.  White and chartreuse buzz baits and spinner baits are fair.

CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  White spinnerbait’s are catching bass while the top water bite is breaking loose.  The best time to head out on this lake for the active bite will be around 11:30am.  The really good bite doesn’t turn on until 12:30pm or so.  A spinnerbait will be a little more productive first and the crank bite turns up a couple of notches later.  Fat Free Shad and Shad Raps will work cranking the edges of the grass lines.  Don’t over crank and work the bait to fast; the stop and go retrieve seem to be the best bet.  Super Flukes pearl will get you a lot of bites when worked over the top and on the edges of the heavier grass mats.  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.  A Texas rig and a 3/16 ounce weight is all that you will need.  Lots of bass are coming off the wood in the shorter coves.  Also check out any and all windblown rocky points for that crank bait bite.  Grass mats and wood will be the key areas to fish during the afternoon hours.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S

Bass fishing is excellent.  The shad spawn is all over the lake.  There are lots of spawning shad on the rip rap in the bridge areas so fish these areas.  The action first thing in the morning is fast so have your bait ready to go.  The shad are shallow at daybreak then they move after the sun gets up so be on the water at daylight.  There are lots of good largemouth bass being caught in the on this pattern.  A buzz bait, white spinner bait, or a ¼ ounce Rat T Trap would be the bait of choice.  A 3/8 ounce spinnerbait in the white with double willow leaf blades will work.  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.  Fish this spinnerbait around any shallow water rocks.  These fish are in less than 5 foot of water near the rocks.  After the sun gets up, fish around docks and long points.  Fish a Carolina rigged worm in the watermelon seed or watermelon candy colors with a 24-inch leader along the bank.

WEST POINT LAKE IS FULL, STAINED & 70’S

Bass fishing is very good.  Now is the time for some great top water action.  Start with top water during the low light hours, early and late and use Pop R’s, Sammy’s and buzz baits.  Also try the Lucky Craft Top Gun and the ½ ounce buzz bait.  Throw them right to the bank and the fish will nail it right away or they won’t at all.  Keep moving and cover a lot of super shallow water in any main lake cove.  Fish back into the coves about half way and then turn around and work back out the opposite bank.  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 gold #11 Rapala is a great back up if they won’t commit to top water.  During the day the best bet is going to be a white pearl Zoom Super Fluke or Trick Worm.  Have a jig handy and cast it to the swirl if the fish takes a swing at a top water bait and misses.  The jig will usually get a strike on the fall.  Use a 3/8 ounce Strike King flipping jig in green pumpkin and add a Zoom Super Chunk trailer in Root beer green pepper.  Concentrate on whatever brush you can find from 2 to 10 feet.  If all else fails, cast a #5 silver black back Shad Rap on ten pound test Sufix line.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.02 FEET, STAINED, 70’S

Bass fishing is great.  Go shallow as the bass roam the banks in shallow water all day both up and down lake.  They are chasing small bait fish up into the shallows and the baits need to be very small.  Casting small worms and top water lures can get a strike.  This schooling activity lasts all day and it’s a good idea to use small lures.  Buzz baits can catch a lunker.  The Zoom lizards on a light wire hook or a trick worm cast into the shallows can be productive.  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 mini lizards should be in a dark red color or pumpkinseed.  All white Zoom trick worms with the tail dipped in a red dye works around the docks all day.  Keep a #5 Shad Rap ready for any shallow schooling up on the banks.  Move around a lot as these fish are doing the same.  As the day progresses some of the upriver fish are still active on points and around docks.  The bone and pearl colors in the Bill Norman Little N crank baits are fair.

LAKE JACKSON IS .83 FEET OVER FULL, 70’S

Bass fishing is good.  Spots are everywhere and up on the cover.  Fish are being found on sea walls and rip rap where the shad are still spawning.  The action first thing in the morning is fast so have your bait ready to go.  There are lots of good bass being caught on a buzz bait, a white spinner bait or a ¼ ounce Rat T Trap.  A ¼ or 3 8 ounce spinnerbait in the white with double willow leaf blades will be a good bait to use.  Fish this spinnerbait around any shallow rocks and any docks.  These fish are in less than 2 foot of water near the rocks.  After the sun gets up, fish around docks and long points.  Fishing a Wonder Worm rig and a Zoom worm in the watermelon seed or watermelon candy colors along the bank will also catch fish. 

BIG LAZER PFA (more PFA info HERE)

  • Surface water temperature: 73o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 47”
  • Water level: 2” Below Full Pool
  • Management Note: We will begin adding liquid fertilizer to the lake, producing a green plankton bloom- the start of the food-chain. Fertilizing also produces more pounds of fish per acre for the angler!
  • ATTENTION: OPEN FOR NIGHT FISHING THROUGH September 30.

Bass:  Fair to Good– The spawn is winding down now, but you should still find some bass near the shallows looking for food and hanging close, guarding the broods of little hatchling bass.   Try top water lures and buzz baits for early hours and then move on out to ledges and drop-offs using crankbaits and plastics for the post-spawn action. 

CrappiePoor – Haven’t heard of many catches lately, but now the lake is open for night fishing, so get your light set-up out and try sinking some minnows near the standing timbers to get an ol’ slab to strike.  Remember, only two poles per person are allowed! 

BreamGood – Bream should start bedding soon, so all around the lake, fish will be in shallower water.  Try worms, crickets, or small spinner-type lures to entice a bite.    Remember to use small hooks for the bream because they have tiny mouths.  Also, school will be out soon, and fishing for bream is a great way to introduce young anglers to the sport, so get a kid or two and take them fishing!  Kids under 16 do not need a license, but those under 14 must remain under your supervision. 

Catfish:  Fair – We’ve heard of a few good-sized ones being caught lately, but they should start biting better this month since the water is getting warmer!  Try anchoring out near the channel in the upper end of the lake and send down some liver, shrimp or stink bait near the bottom.  Same thing for night anglers, but please take caution motoring around in the dark (IDLE SPEED ONLY); lots of old tree tops just below the surface!

MCDUFFIE PFA (more PFA info HERE)

  • Lake Temperature lakes at 74-76 ⁰.
  • Water Visibility: 22 – 54 inches
  • The fish cleaning station is open. Please tell DNR personnel whenever the fish cleaning station is not working.
  • Night fishing available through September 30. Jones Lake is the only lake open to night fishing on McDuffie PFA. All parking is outside of MCDPFA main gate at Jones Lake.

Bass: Bass fishing is hot!  Anglers are catching bass in most of the PFA lakes.  Bass anglers are putting together nice stringers of bass that are chasing shad in Lake Willow.  A kayak angler reported catching three bass over 17 inches in Lake Willow on 5th of May.  An angler today reported seeing spawning activity in Lake Willow.  Bass are chasing shad all over the lake so watch for the splashing/feeding during early mornings and late evenings.  An angler reported catching a five-pound bass in Beaver Lodge Lake.  Anglers are using spinners and shaky-head jigs with worms.  Bass should be finished with spawning and feeding hard by end of May.  So, bass action should continue getting better. 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. 

Bream: Action has been spotty.  Anglers are catching bluegill and redear fishing worms on the bottom around structure near the shoreline in Bridge Lake, Jones Lake, Willow Lake and Breambuster.  Bream fishing action should continue improving as bream return to feeding after this past full moon. 

Channel CatfishBiggest catfish reported has been an 11.5 pounder from Willow Lake. The catfish action has been very steady with anglers catching catfish in every lake except Rodbender. Catfish are in every lake on the PFA. Speckled-catfish a.k.a. bullheads are located in Willow and Clubhouse, mainly.  The old 6E that is located on the east-side of Willow also has a good speckled catfish population. 

Striped Bass: Anglers are catching stripers in Bridge Lake by fishing with chicken liver on the bottom.  The stripers will continue to feed during spring and summer but mostly during low light or cooler periods of the day.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

The rivers have been very good this week (except the Altamaha, which is still high). Some trophy bass were caught this week in ponds. Whiting has been tops in saltwater, but flounder and tripletail have showed up. New Moon is May 15th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

The river is still full-bank, but it has started falling. Heather at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that an angler fishing on Monday caught a limit of redbreasts and bream using crickets. They even had a bonus mullet that jumped in the boat. Catfishing improved some, with fish averaging 12 to 15 pounds. Goldfish was the most common bait. Donald at Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) said that some big shellcrackers were caught from flooded willows by fishing worms on the bottom. Some flathead and channel catfish were caught, with the biggest flathead weighing in at 26 pounds. The river level was 7.8 feet and falling at the Baxley gage, and 9.1 feet and falling (74 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 8th.

SATILLA RIVER

The Satilla Riverkeeper’s annual A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament on Saturday was a success. A total of 67 anglers (19 youth) fished the tournament. The largest 3 redbreast sunfish category was won by Mark Williams and Glen Solomon with a total of 1.82 pounds. Photos from the event found HERE. Jay Murray fished the middle Satilla on Saturday and ended up with 42 redbreast sunfish, including some big roosters. He whacked them with crawfish Satilla Spins. Eddie Nickens and Tim Romano came to Waycross this week and fished the river in the Waycross area on Thursday. They had one nice stumpknocker inhale a bug early in the day, but the rest were fooled with an 1/8oz. red/white Satilla Spin. They had 15 nice panfish of 5 species while fishing a few hours during the morning. Their biggest redbreasts were 9 inches, and they had 4 of them to go along with their 6 to 8-inchers. On Thursday morning, Glen Solomon fished the Satilla and caught 4 nice redbreasts in an hour on crawfish Satilla Spins. Also on Thursday, Bucky Buckner fished from the bank in the Hwy 158 area and caught 15 fish (bass, shellcrackers, redbreasts, bluegill, and warmouth) by fishing pink worms on the bottom.  Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts were caught with crawfish Satilla Spins now that the river has dropped and warmed up. Anglers also caught them on orange froggy beetles and crickets. Some anglers fooled some nice shellcrackers with worms fished on the bottom. Buzzbaits and lizards were tops for bass. Rooster livers fished in the deep holes produced most of the catfish. An angler fishing this weekend reported catching some really big bream with crickets in the Burnt Fort area. The river level on May 8th at the Waycross gage was 4.7 feet and falling (74 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.0 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

SE GA IMG_4233
Timothy Deener fished the Shady Bream Tournament on the St Marys River over the weekend and caught a nice limit of panfish. This redbreast ate a “bus stop”
colored Satilla Spin first thing in the morning.    

The Shady Bream Tournament held out of Traders Hill on Saturday was a success. The panfish were biting lures for the anglers in the tournament. First place went to Jimmy Dozier and Brandon Daniel with an 8.2-pound limit. Second place and big fish went to Daniel Gullion and Daniel Hodges with a 7.4-pound limit. My son Timothy and I fished in the tournament and had our limit (10 fish) before 8:30 and culled up the rest of the morning to a total of 5-lb., 13-oz. During the day we caught a total of 28 fish (5 different species). We tried several different lures, but the standard red/white and crawfish Satilla Spins were the ticket for us. Check out the tournament trail on Facebook for more information if you like fishing artificials for panfish. The river level at the MacClenny gage on May 8th was 2.8 feet and falling.

WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER (NEAR VALDOSTA)

John Darling fished the river this weekend while it was dropping. He set out some hooks Friday night and had trouble getting back to them Saturday morning, as the river had dropped a half-foot. They had 4 nice channel catfish on the lines they set on Friday night. On Friday morning they had a total of 20 redbreasts, with 10 of them hand-sized. They came on black beetlespins and underspins with black bodies. After running their lines, they fished the rest of Saturday and caught 24 redbreasts on beetlespins and another nice channel cat on a cricket. They worked for their fish, but still managed a good catch. The river is getting low, so floating will soon be the most effective approach. The river level at the Pinetta, Florida gage on May 8th was 6.7 feet and falling (76 degrees).

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The warm weather has the fish eating pretty well. I saw a couple of anglers fishing on Saturday pull out of the east side ramp with a good mess of warmouth and fliers that they had caught on yellow sallies. Others reported catching warmouth on worms at the east side. Catfish were the best report on the west side, although I’m sure folks caught fliers and warmouth, as well. Give the swamp a try before the bugs ramp up.

LOCAL PONDS

Lanny Carter of Alma had the biggest bass I heard of this week. He caught an 11-lb., 9-oz. monster on a chrome-blue Rat-L-trap from a Bacon County pond. Way to go, Lanny! Chad Lee fished with him, and the pair put it on the bass. Lanny’s bass was so impressive that they didn’t even talk about their other fish…. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bass are hitting black buzzbaits late in the evening. Some good bream catches were made with crickets, while pink worms got the channel catfish eating.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

Joshua and Shane Barber fished the Brunswick area this weekend and caught 30 trout on artificials in clear water. Some of their fish came on a popping cork with a white jig suspended underneath, and the rest were fooled with a chartreuse jig. They only had about 7 keepers, but they had a ball! Joshua had a giant redfish on that broke his line. He’ll get him next time! The whiting bite was good on days the wind allowed folks to get out. Tripletail fishing was the buzz this week. Good numbers have shown up on the beaches. The trick is getting to them, as most days have been too windy lately. Whiting fishing was great in the sounds on days you could get out. The traditional areas off the King and Prince at St. Simons Island and also in the Cumberland Sound were producing some excellent catches. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that pier fishing was great this week. Hunter Bechtel fished on Saturday and landed 14 sharks on cut bait. He had 4 different species (blacktip, sandbar, scalloped, and bonnet heads) and the guy beside him caught a guitar shark. Several anglers reported catching limits of trout on live shrimp. Some of their fish were in the 18-inch range. Some nice flounder were caught this week by anglers working finger mullet around the pilings. Lots of whiting and a few Spanish mackerel were also caught. Some folks caught a full bucket of blue crabs over the weekend. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The rivers warmed up well this week, and the bite is very good. If you want to fish from a johnboat, try the lower Satilla and St. Marys rivers. The upper and middle Satilla is perfect for a float trip if you have a paddle craft. 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. In ponds or at one of the Public Fishing Areas scattered around the state, you should be able to still fool a big bass shallow by fishing topwaters early and late. Night-fishing is now allowed (from May through the end of September) on the PFA’s, so give it a try.