Ho, Ho, Ho…I mean Go, Go, Go Fishing! Chilly outside? Yep. Rainy outside? Yep. We know you still want to get out there and catch something. Let us help get you to where the fish are biting.
Some quick notes:
- Clock is Ticking on your 2018 Bass Slam – will you get yours this year? There is only about 3 weeks left to nail down a Georgia Bass Slam.
- Looking for that perfect Holiday Gift? Skip the stores and get the outdoor lover in your life the gift that keeps on giving the whole year. More info HERE or Buy a License HERE.
Now, read on to find out the places that we think will provide you with the best success, including reports from Southeast and North Georgia.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Saltwater and pond reports were good this week. The weekend’s rains have shut down all of our river fishing here in southeast Georgia. I had 11 inches of rain in my gage, and a friend on the other side of Waycross had 12 1/2 inches in his gage. The good news is that with all the high water we’ve had this year, the river fish populations should be in great shape next spring if the water levels are such that we can fish when temperatures warm up. New Moon is December 7th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
Nope, not this week. The river level was 13.2 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and rising (59 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.6 feet and rising (57 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on December 4th.
Don’t even think about it…The river level on December 4th at the Waycross gage was 15.7 feet and rising (62 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 13.2 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Not here, either…The river level at the MacClenny gage on December 4th was 8.4 feet and rising.
The big rains in the swamp have caused the water level to rise even more than it already was. Fast rises usually kill the bite in the swamp, as the fish spread out into the newly-flooded areas. It was already high and slow fishing, so it is easy to conclude that my recommendation is to fish somewhere else this week.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman – More info HERE)
Only a few people fished this week, but they did pretty well on crappie. Most of the fish came from around the offshore timber or the fishing piers.
HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin – More info HERE)
Effort was light this week, but anglers caught some bass and crappie. This time of year I like to fish points and the dam with a jerkbait (I love the Megabass Vision 110 plugs). My biggest at Gillis PFA on that method was an 8-pounder.
Pond fishing was very good this week. Chad Lee caught 8 bass up to a pound and a half on Friday from an Alma area pond. He used a white 2.8-inch Keitech Crazy Flapper rigged on a Capt. Bert’s Shrimp Hook to fool them. On Saturday he fished another pond and got on another 8 fish up to 5 pounds. A swim jig was the way he fooled them that day. He was using a green pumpkin Christie Craw trailer on the jig. A couple of his smaller fish jumped on a white spinnerbait, but the jig fooled all of his bigger fish. Another angler fished a south Georgia lake on Friday with live bait and landed a 2 and a 4-pound bass. On Monday, Joady Johnson slammed a 9-pound bass on a white spinnerbait. Michael Winge said that the plunge pool below the spillway at your favorite pond is the place to be this week if you can safely access it. The flow attracts fish to the base of the dam, and they hang out in the plunge pool.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Anglers fishing piers in the Brunswick area had the best catches I heard of in the brine. On Friday, an angler caught 6 trout by fishing a Sea Shad on a Flashy Jighead underneath an Equalizer Float. Another angler fishing other plastics without the float didn’t catch any. On Tuesday (mid-day) an angler fished just an hour with fiddler crabs and caught a limit of 5 keeper redfish and a 15-inch sheepshead among the pier pilings. On Friday, an angler fishing from a kayak caught trout, flounder, and slot redfish in the backs of the creeks in the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that sheepshead were the deal this week from the pier. On Saturday, fish from 5 to 7 pounds were caught with fiddler crabs and barnacles fished around the pilings and rocks. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The only recommendations I have for this weekend involve flat water. With the cold weather forecasted, crappie fishing in a pond or lake is probably going to be the best option. There is more rain in the forecast for this weekend, so keep an eye on that when planning a trip. Saltwater fishing (seatrout and redfish) will be good if weather allows. This time of year the weather usually takes about 75 percent of the days, so be ready to go when there is a good forecast.
BONUS INFO: CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS
Here are a few ideas for gifts for the angler: Satilla Spin or Okefenokee Swamp Gift Kits – Assortments of Okefenokee Swamp Sallies or panfish spinnerbaits are always a great gift for swamp or river anglers. Costa or Calcutta Polarized Sunglasses – A good pair of sunglasses are a must for cutting through the glare and seeing cover, bait, and fish. Fishing Licenses – Covering your loved one’s fishing license fees for a year or a lifetime is a great gift.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
This is gonna be a great weekend – for holiday shopping, Christmas card mailing, fly
tying, rooting Atlanta United to a Saturday victory, and overdosing on Sunday afternoon football and naps. As for the fishing, well, that’s not a good menu item. We can pick some better dates in the future to wet a line. Cold, heavy rains are on their way, with some snow and icy roads suspected in our higher elevations. Near-freezing temperatures and 2-3 inches of rain are not the most hospitable conditions for me to fish in (although I’ve done so…). How about you?
Dry, safe, and productive fishing opportunities in north Georgia this weekend are basically nonexistent, so save your gas money and handwarmers for better weather and safer road conditions in the weeks ahead. Hopefully we will dry out and warm up a bit before the holidays, and maybe we’ll have a dry weekend for a change, too.
In the meantime, in this season of stocking stuffers, we do have some fishing report “filler” to keep you interested and prepared for the abundant cold-weather fishing opportunities ahead of us in north Georgia. Here we go.
Lake Burton: Check it out HERE.
Lake Lanier Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Water temperature was in the mid-fifties earlier this week. With the cold days and nights, expect the water temps to be 50 degrees or below. Currently, fishing is good, but with the change in water temps, I expect the bite will slow and the fish will go deeper. Once they adjust, the bite should pick up. With last week’s rain, the backs of creeks are still moderately stained. If you are fishing in stained water, using darker colored jigs works better. To have a successful day, we are having to cover a lot of water until you find the right spot with schooling fish on submerged brush piles. Channel docks are also holding fish, and the water is not nearly as stained as the backs of creeks. Bobby Garland’s Mr. Crappie, and the Panfish Assassins, combined with 1/24 oz Davis jig heads are a good choice. If you prefer it, our “go to” hair jig continues to be a Jiffy Jig. Because the bite has slowed, you may want to consider a change to 2 lb test line, if you are not already using it. We are catching quality fish, but 2 lb test allows you to feel the action better and should still be sufficient for the size fish. My advice for fishing in cold weather is to always fish with a friend. Accidents can happen, and the best defense is to watch out for one another. Be safe! Wear your life jacket – it can save your life!
Nice Mountain Walleye: Here is the photo (see below). Never too cold to fish if you bundle up. Caught a nice 27 inch walleye up north yesterday in the tailwaters below a Georgia Power lake. Also caught a couple of fat spotted bass and a handful of pickerel. –Academy Jack
Blue Ridge Lake: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — WRD Fisheries staff stocked 1,300 4.5-inch smallmouth bass into Blue Ridge Lake in Fannin County last week (photo above). Altogether, just over 100,000 fingerling smallmouth bass have been stocked into Blue Ridge Lake in 2018! This stocking program is a collaborative effort between WRD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The goal of the stocking program is to boost recruitment and help maintain a fishable population of smallmouth in the lake. Blue Ridge Lake is the last major reservoir in the state that holds a fishable population of smallmouth, but the fishery has declined severely due to illegal introduction of spotted bass by misinformed anglers. We hope to turn this trend around and put smallmouth bass back in the catch at Blue Ridge Lake.
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Always a great place to check for the latest, Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant
Georgia Sturgeon Update: More than 15,000 fingerling lake sturgeon (>4 inches) were stocked this year into the rivers of the Coosa Basin to meet annual stocking goals. An additional 50,000 surplus smaller fish (2 inches or less) were also released because of a great hatchery production year. These fish were raised by Summerville State Fish Hatchery and the Go Fish Education Center, and by US Fish and Wildlife Service hatcheries in Warm Springs (GA) and Genoa, Wisconsin. Lake sturgeon have been stocked every year since 2002 with the goal of re-establishing a self-sustaining population of these awesome sport fish to their native waters. Large sturgeon stocked many years ago as fingerlings are now maturing and being caught by WRD and by anglers. More information on the lake sturgeon reintroduction program HERE. If you catch a sturgeon, please release it and then report your catch to John Damer (firstname.lastname@example.org or at 706-295-6102) so we can continue to assess the developing population.
Mountain Trouting: High, cold water will limit weekend opportunities for nearly all of
our winter fishing fans. Tailwaters will run several degrees warmer than freestone streams, but you’ll still have to deal with high flows, turbid waters, icy air, and heavy rain in most instances. Bluelines will have icy water and frozen fish, and are not recommended until the spring thaw. The few folks in training to climb Mt Everest may find some trouting windows of opportunity at Smith Creek DH and Vogel Lake, while the rest of us wait for lower water and higher air temperatures.
Sounds Like a Great Day: Here is a story about a winning Day in our book.
Amicalola Hitting Hard: News HERE.
Dress for Success: Scroll down this document to find a few of Dredger’s December attire tips that are good til March.
Help with Cold Hands! Got Hot Hands and sweat bands?
Droppahs 101: Tis the season of multi-fly rigs and this Rio video might help a lot of our new trouters to rig right for higher catch rates in the months to come.
There’s No Place Like Home: Dorothy and many anglers really like their home ground, and waters. Many thanks to Midcurrent.com for these links to timely news.
Ugh-oh! You’ve finally hooked that trophy of a lifetime. Whatcha gonna do now? Read this article first before you have that eye-opening moment. The suggestions in here might just lead you to a successful photography session. Dredger remarked that one of his best big fish-fighting techniques, especially with new anglers, is simply patience. He barks, “Let ‘em win the first run” as he coaches new folks who have just hooked their first trophy. Then the side-arming starts.
How to Take Great Pics: Tips HERE.
Stocking Stuffer Idea: Buy a ticket. Proceeds fund GA TU’s kids trout camp. Trip winner and best friend have an awesome summer week in the West Yellowstone region! Been there, done that, again and again. And I want more! Tix via your closest TU chapter. Psst..If you win, remember your closest online fishing buddy, the one that gave you all that great DNR intel for years…
Upcoming Events: Mark your calendars now for some fun events around the New Year:
- December 27: Hooch Bucket Brigade: Grab a bucket and help us stock some trout.
- Jan 10-13: ATL Boat Show
- Jan 19: Rabun Rendezvous
- Feb 1-2: ATL Fly Fishing Show
Good luck this weekend. Seriously. You’re gonna need it if you wet a line. Just put your safety first. Better yet, you might just try life as a soccer fan, at least during our winter weather watches. And this nice, long ‘fishing report” might just be the perfect sedative to help you doze off in your Sunday recliner. Happy holidays and thanks for your fishing license and TU brookie car tag purchases. Stay warm, dry, and safe.