What? January…2019…can you believe it? And, it is still raining. So, yep. That is ok. It will stop and we will get to go outside again, I just know it!

This week we have reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Thank you for fishing and Go Fish Georgia!

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 warm spell this week fired up the fish. The best I heard of were crappie and bass bites in area ponds and lakes. I hope you got a chance to fish over the holiday break. New Moon is January 5th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Don’t try the upper river – it’s high and swift. J.J. at Altamaha Park said that catfish were caught on limb lines, a few of which were in the 30-pound range. A few crappie were caught in the backwater lakes by anglers fishing minnows… The river level was 15.6 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and falling (60 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 12.1 feet and falling (59 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on January 2nd.

SATILLA RIVER

Definitely not a good option because of the high water, but a few folks did access the backwater lakes over the holidays and caught some crappie on minnows in the protected water. Don’t venture out on the main river during these high flows. Things are fine while equipment works as planned, but a short hiccup in your motor or any little problem, and it could be a big problem very quickly if you get washed into the flooded trees. The river level on January 2nd at the Waycross gage was 14.1 feet and rising (62 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 13.1 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

Some crappie were caught this week from backwaters. Some reports of up to 30 fish per trip came in this week. Most of the fish were caught with minnows. The river level at the Macclenny gage on January 2nd was 9.9 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

You can fish here if you want to, but it is high and cold, and the fish will be hard to find. Fishing the boat basins at the Folkston and Fargo entrances would be your best bet if you plan to be at the swamp anyway.

PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton-more info HERE)

Okefenokee Bass Angler held a tournament at the area on Saturday. Top honors went to Wendell Bagley and his partner with 9.72 pounds. He had big fish at 6.96 pounds. Crappie fishing at the area has been consistent during the latest warm snap. Anglers caught them trolling, casting artificials, and drifting minnows. Bream started biting decently around shoreline vegetation and cover during the warm spell.

LOCAL PONDS

The warm afternoons have really fired off the crappie, bass, and catfishing.  Friday, the big bass were biting. An angler fishing a Waycross area pond landed two 6-pound bass.

SE GA Scarlett Barber Catfish 1 19
Scarlett had the most unique catch I heard of this week. She landed this nice catfish from a Ware County pond on Monday using a piece of a honeybun.

An angler reported drifting minnows in a Blackshear pond and catching 10 crappie. One ate a wacky-rigged worm, and the other a hard jerkbait. On Sunday, a Waycross angler fished a Valdosta area pond and caught a couple bass when they schooled on baitfish just before dark. He was sick because he lost 3 giant bass that inhaled a swimbait and got tangled in the lily pads before pulling off. On Monday, Daniel Johnson and Logan Deen fished a Bacon County pond and landed 17 bass up to 4 pounds on a junebug Ol’ Monster worm. On Monday, Ellie Deener fished with me at a local lake and trolled Assassin Curly Shads to catch 16 crappie up to 12 inches. Pearl and chartreuse-silver flake were our best colors. We also had a few by jigging a 1/16-oz. Tennessee Shad Specktacular Jig while trolling. There was no real pattern, just keep moving and you would catch one every now and then. Another angler spider-rigging 1/32-oz Tan Shad Specktacular Jigs and minnows that same day landed 10 nice crappie. The next day, that same angler landed a limit of big specks on the same rig by fishing early in the morning. On New-Year’s Day morning, an angler reported catching 10 bass up to 3 pounds, all on a junebug Ol’ Monster worm from an Alma-area pond. Also on Tuesday, a pair of anglers trolled and pitched artificials at an area lake and landed 23 crappie to a pound. They caught half their fish trolling and half by pitching to the bank. A chartreuse-pearl Assassin 2-inch Pro Tiny Shad on a 1/16-oz. jighead and a chartreuse-silver flake Curly Shad rigged on a 1/16-oz. Flashy Jighead produced best for pitching to the bank. On Wednesday, a pair of Waycross anglers fished a Brunswick area pond and caught 47 catfish in 2 1/2 hours using cut bluegill on a Capt. Bert’s Catfish Catcher Jighead. Also on Wednesday afternoon, Ray, Bennie, and Dierks Altman fished a Hoboken area pond and landed 15 slab specks and a few big bluegills by throwing white-red dot beetlespins. Michael Winge said that crappie fishing in Waycross area ponds was great over the holiday weekend. Minnows produced lots of the catches. Some big bream were landed from the spillway at Lake Ware.

 

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The trout bite was very good for those flinging Gulp and Assassin Sea Shads in the upper reaches of the saltwater rivers. The best report I received was from an angler fishing the Brunswick area. He caught a limit of trout in the 15 to 18 inch range. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that lots of yellowtail were caught from the pier by anglers using dead shrimp on the bottom. A few flounder and sheepshead were also caught. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

The warming trend is going to head the opposite direction in time for the weekend. The crappie bite will likely slow somewhat with the cold front passage, but should fire back up in about a day. The fish will likely push back out of the shallows and into the deeper water of ponds and lakes. Big tides this weekend will likely muddy saltwater a little more than last weekend, but you should still be able to catch some trout by casting and trolling artificials. Sheepshead should bite around pilings and rocks this weekend if you can find fiddler crabs to drop to them. You’ll probably need to look for protected waters in the brine, as the wind is forecasted to kick up behind the front then back off late in the weekend. Check the marine forecast close to your trip if you plan to fish saltwater.

NORTH GEORGIA 

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

Happy New Year! The good news is that we’re drying out.  As I finish this report at mid-morning on the 4th, the front has passed and the monsoon has subsided. And sunshine is on its way! The bad news is that north Georgia lakes and rivers are very high, so our weekend theme is “flotsam and floods.” 

 

 

Be very careful about floating debris in our lakes and throttle down so that a big, partially submerged log doesn’t ruin your boat or your life!  Zip up those PFD’s, too.   On the lakes, look for the “mudlines.”  We’ve said this before, usually during the early spring.  Find those transition zones between red-mud water and super-clear water.  In those stained areas, the sun will warm the water and pull in bait fish.  The predators will follow and will take advantage of the stained water to ambush their quarry (and our hopefully baits).  So start a good distance downlake til you find 2-3 feet of visibility and give it a go.  On Lanier right now, that zone should be between the Highway 60 and 53 bridges on the Chattahoochee arm.  Also check on your favorite ramp to see if it’s still open.  Some park managers have had to close a few ramps due to high water.

Rivers and large streams will be blown out for at least a few days (if not longer), so aim for smaller, headwater streams while you await the big watersheds to shed their excessive runoff.

 

 

Small streams will drop quickly and fish well. So will Vogel Lake.  I can’t stress enough the need to find slow niches on the side of or below the raging main current.  Read the Smith and Dukes reports carefully, study the pics, try out those tips, and see if your trout tally increases this week.  The Zeroes’ offerings will be whitewater rafting on the main flows, while the Heroes will be hooking up often, in the eddies.

And while the outdoors look a lot more promising this week, remember the upcoming indoor events, too.  Here we go with this week’s summary:

LAKE REPORTS

High Water and Ramp Closures: Here’s the latest on Lanier, via WDUN.

Lanier ClarksBR hiwater 1-3-18
Lake Lanier: High Water from 1-3-18

 

Lake Burton: News to know HERE.

Capt Mack: Check out Captain Mack’s Lanier Report HERE 

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: See his statewide list HERE.

LAKE LANIER IS 3.14 FEET OVER FULL, THE CREEKS ARE STAINED AND THE MAIN LAKE IS CLEAR THE RIVERS AND UP LAKE COVES ARE STAINED. 50’S

(This report brought to you by Jimbo Mathley Jimbo on Lanier) — The lake has changed a bunch since my last report before the holidays! The lake is up almost 4 feet since my last report! The rivers are muddy and mid-lake is stained. The live creeks in the lower lake

Lanier ClarksBr debris 1-3-19
Watch for floating debris on Lake Lanier

are stained, and the lower main lake remains clear. Watch out for floating debris on the lake. The sudden rise in lake level always leads to some potentially dangerous floating logs. Recently, with the rising water, shallower rocky points with a jig and worm in the mornings and sometimes throughout the day have been good. Not as many bites, but the ones you get are good ones. One of my last days out before the seminar, I caught a 5.2 spot near the back of a ditch on a boat ramp, pretty shallow. So those shallow areas are viable as well. The fish are pretty spread out right now, which is another common trait of fast rising water on Lanier. We are catching some worm and jig fish in the 20-30 foot range, but I will say the presence of rock seems to be a key. The spoon bite is still there on some days, but is not nearly as strong as it was before all the rain. Look in the 35-55 ft range for the spoon fish, but that can change any day in terms of the depth they are holding based on the bait. Look for the fish to be tighter to the timber on sunny days, and roaming more in those deep ditches on cloudy days. The creek ditches are holding some fish now in shallower water and we have been catching some on the SuperSpin down in the ditches on some days. Also, with the cooling water temperatures, look for the jerk bait bite to pick up soon back in pockets. THIS is the time to learn those winter patterns, ditch fishing, timber fishing, spoon fishing. It’s a great time to learn them all. I hope you will make plans to come join me. This is a great time to learn the deep timber bite with a spoon, worm, and jig, as well as the SuperSpin fishing in the ditches both deep and shallow! Also winter time shallow fishing in backs of pockets and ditches! Here are my open dates for January: 8(AM), 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 28, 29, 30, 31 The weather looks warm and fishy! Give me a call and let’s fish! Thanks to all and May God Bless!

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.88 FEET, CLEAR, 50S

Bass fishing has been slow. We have cold water. A lot of movement with the bait will not get you bites right now. The best bites have been on deep shaky heads, drop shot, and jigging spoons on humps and roadbeds. The fish are really lethargic, so fish very slowly giving the bait only a little movement. On the drop shot rig, we are using a ¼ ounce bell sinker with an 18” difference between hook and lead. For hooks we are using a number one Gamakatsu drop shot hook with a Z Man Rain Minnow soft plastic in a mud minnow color. Let the bait sit in offshore schools with no movement. Try the small jigging spoons as they can produce fish in these same areas. The best roadbeds have been from Wehadkee Creek to the Glass Bridge Access. The secondary bite when the sun is high has been on jerk baits on points. Any suspending jerk bait in a shad pattern will produce. Do not expect many bites but these should quality fish.

LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 6.82 FEET, 50S, STAINED

(This Bass fishing report is by Matt Driver) — Bass fishing is good even though water levels have come up a good bit due to the heavy rain. Water temperatures are warmer than typical. There has been a decent concentration of bass shallow this past week. Lipless Crankbaits and spinner baits have the way to find bigger bass. There has been a decent bite on the Picasso school-e rig. The better the visibility the better bite on the Alabama rig. It doesn’t have to be clear, but real muddy make the bite tough. Last but not least there is a decent jig bite, mid depth around big rock. The Allatoona creek arm of the lake from the dam toward iron hill is the best area in my opinion.

LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 1.31 FET OVER FULL, CLEAR, 50S

Bass fishing is fair. Water temperatures range from the high 40’s to lower 50’s and the lake level still very low. Knowing the lake will be a plus if heading here this weekend. Cast the larger Shad Raps and Risto Raps and get close to the brush piles and any form of wood that is available near the channels. Try locating these fish with your graph and back off and use a ¼ ounce jig or a Zoom U tail Texas rigged worm and get the bait is the brush. The red shad color finesse worm by Zoom work well Hartwell. Add a glass Venom glass rattle into the body. Slow cranking for suspended bass will always net one or two.

TROUT

Headwater Trout: The recent warm spell had blueline wild trout active, and the blueline streams had already dropped to wadeable levels due to their small watersheds.  The same may be true next week, given the predicted daily high air temperatures.  Try a dry/long dropper combo in wild trout streams, and some bottom-rolled salmon eggs or red wigglers when searching for Labor Day leftovers in our heavily stocked streams.

Hooch Tailwater: Heads up on law- and glass-breakers. Do not leave valuables in your vehicles parked at many public accesses. Reports HERE, HERE and HERE.

 

 

 

Smith DH: I’ve seen and heard many good reports from experienced high-water anglers,

trout rbt 16in Smith DH 12-30-18small
Beautiful Rainbow Trout from Smith DH

while the rookie reports were mixed (undoubtedly due to angler skill level), check ‘em out HERE and HERE.

 

 

 

Dredger’s tip, based on his own 12/30 success: hi-stick the flood refuges.  Wherever you can find slower water velocities and enough depth to hide them from herons, you’ll find the fish.  Hit each bank and any slow eddies, pools, and pool tailouts in midstream. Hold your rod high and keep most line in the air and off the water to get the slowest, deepest drift possible.  Ole Dredge found a one brookie and a nice handful of rainbows Sunday (30th) before dark, including one 16-incher which obviously had raided the holiday cookie jar – often. Hot flies: #12 sexy Walt’s worm with a #12 apricot yarn egg dropper (the Oreck easy egg) above it. Where?  Remember to visit the lodge first for your parking pass and free fishing permit.

Dukes:

  • A Leaper!  Guess who’s on winter break from college at MS State and shooting videos again? Congrats Ryan.
  • Ron W’s trio struck again on Saturday.  They had a good day on brighter stuff (eggs and squirmies) when fished deep, in the slower seams next to the raging main current.

Groundpounder’s Fishing Year in Review: Congrats Todd! 

Winter Trouting Tip: Do eggs and small nymphs sound familiar? Check out his rig.

Vote on Nominees: Coldwater Fans, Among the nominees for this year’s award is Monte Seehorn, a member of our Rabun TU chapter and a friend to many. Take time to vote for this deserving friend. You can vote for up to 6 candidates. Deadline is January 15, 2019. —From Charlie Breithaupt of Rabun TU.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Jan 10-13: ATL Boat Show: Check out all the fishing seminars. From Ken S.: The 2019 Progressive Atlanta Boat Show is January 10 to 13, 2019 at the Georgia World Congress Center building A. We will have room 312 for FISHING SEMINARS and there will be one seminar every hour each day.

Jan 19:  Momentum is building for the Rabun Rendezvous.  Wanna win a week’s stay at a Michigan salmon cabin? How about a Smithgall cabin stay?  Or guided trips on prized private waters in GA and NC?

Feb 1-2: ATL Fly Fishing Show – Click on “programs, seminars, and classes.” Do the names Ed Engle, Gary Borger, George Daniel, and Landon Mayer ring a bell with any of you fly flingers?

Hunting Regs Meetings: Hunters and other interested persons are encouraged to attend any of eight upcoming public meetings regarding the development of proposed hunting regulations for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 hunting seasons. Find dates and more info HERE.

Good luck this week as we welcome back the sun.  We’ll still have to avoid flooded rivers and floating lake logs, but we might just be able to shed our raincoats, finally.  As always, thanks for buying your fishing licenses, tackle, and TU brookie car tags.  Happy new fishing season! And, for a change, grab your SUNSCREEN!