Let’s paraphrase the old US Post Office motto: Neither Rain Nor Cold (nor any other weather-related issue) can keep me from my fishing hole. Are you with me?
I hope that January has offered you at least one opportunity to get outside and do a little fishing, and that 2019 continues to fill up with even more trips. And, as always, if you are going – maybe offer to bring along a friend or family member. Without you, they may never get out there on their own!
This week, we have reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Get ready and Go Fish 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, 50’S
Bass are biting. Use a variety of different baits and presentations, so just tie on your favorite lure and start fishing. You can catch them shallow on spinnerbaits, chatter baits, crankbaits and jerk baits or deep on Carolina rigged worms, jigs and a drop shot. The key is to locate the baitfish and be around when the bass are feeding. This time of year it’s not unusual to catch a lot of fish, and it only gets better later in the month as the bass bunch up with the baitfish. Now that the water has cooled, a jigging spoon will be another bait you can add to the arsenal as the fish move a little deeper in the creeks and ditches.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 4.49 FEET, STAINED, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. There is a lot of trash that has been washed into the lake with all the rain so keep an eye out as you move up and down the lake. Look for the fish around the docks in the mouths of the creeks. Use a small crank bait that will make a lot of noise. Rat L Traps are a good pick to fish around these docks. Fish it as slow as you can around the dock poles. Spinner baits with large blades fished around the same dock poles will also produce.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S
(This report by Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service) –The lake is full and muddy from the 44 bridge north with a heavy stain to the dam. The Richland creek arm of the lake is heavily stained to lightly stained depending on day. The temperature is 48 to 51.
Bass: Bass fishing is slow. You will need to match the color of your bait to the water color. As you can see the best fishing is in Richland Creek. Spoons are the hot ticket in the south end of the lake in the light-stained water around humps and just off the river channel in about 30 ft. of water. Small crank baits fished around docks and sea walls from the middle of the creeks to the back of the creeks will also produce some fish. Around 8 feet of water depth at the end of the docks seems to be the best producer. A spinner bait fished around wood in Richland Creek has been producing a few fish.
Striper: Striper fishing is good. As the mud line moves further south so will the stripers. They do not like muddy water. Down lines as well as flat lines will produce. Fish are also showing up in the mouths of the coves. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools of bait and the stripers will be close by. Now is the time to go bait hunting. Find large schools of bait and the fish will be close by. The Captain Mack mini rig has been producing good catches in the cleaner water.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair to good. This is the best fishing on Oconee right now. Long lining (trolling) will produce some nice catches. You will need to run your jigs about 10 to 12 feet deep. Down-lining crappie minnows into tree tops and on ledges on the main lake at 10 foot deep will also produce a lot of fish. Use your Lowrance to locate the fish in the tree tops and then drop your bait down to the fish.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.88 FEET, CLEAR, 50’S
Bass fishing has been slow. The water is cold. 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, use a ¼ ounce bell sinker with an 18” difference between hook and lead. For hooks use 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 be quality fish.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.67 FEET OVER FULL, STAINED, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. The water is still cold and the bass are trying to recover. There was a fair shallow bite and it may return within the next 10 days if the weather warms. Small finesse worms in greens on a light Texas rig mid-day until dark may produce. Work the ditches and runs out coves and any deep dock close by. In the ditches use a jig in a ½ ounce in all black or add a green pumpkin Zoom Creepy Crawler. Also spoons and drop shot rigs can work but the Lowrance is the key to stay close to bait and close to the structure. A shallow cranking bait can work next week if we warm up. Use the Bandits and the Lucky Craft Flat Mini CB in shad colors for the shallow cranking.
BIG LAZER PFA (More info HERE)
In general, the weather is cold, and the bite has become less consistent. Anglers have to be more patient and persistent to have a good day fishing. However, winter weather means less anglers are fishing; thus, less fishing pressure for the dedicated angler
- Surface water temperature: 55o F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 28’’
- Water level: Recent rains have raised the water level to about 2” above full pool.
- Hunters & Anglers remember Hypothermia can be a Killer, so be safe out there!
- Attention: Waterfowl Hunters are allowed to hunt the PFA Wednesdays & Saturdays until noon during the season. See the Georgia Hunting Regs for more details.
Bass: Fair- Plastic baits should be fished slower in the cooler waters. The fish will be in deeper waters now so try to locate food sources for better chances at a bite. The deeper water near the picnic area and around the pier should be good spots.
Crappie: Poor- In the colder water try using minnows and brightly colored jigs in 10-12 feet of water or near standing timber. Crappie are still difficult to locate but there have been recent reports of some success. Spawning season is quickly approaching so fishing should pick up soon!
Channel Catfish: Poor- Fishing for channel cats is slow this time of year and they are minimally targeted. However, if you want to hook a cat try fishing livers near the bottom in deeper water. The dam and around standing timber should be your best bets.
Bream: Fair- Live bait such as worms or crickets are still your best bet at catching bream. Try fishing structure, such as woody brush, with light tackle underneath a float. Bream will be in 5-8 ft of water this time of year. There are artificial habitat structures located near the piers that may increase your chances.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More info HERE)
- Temperature hovering 48 – 52⁰.
- Water Visibility: mostly clear to 54+ inches
- The Fish Cleaning Station is closed until spring.
Bass: Bass are actively feeding on shad in Jones, Willow, and Breambuster Lakes.Bass are not suspended but can change to winter patterns if water temperatures drop. The bass are feeding on shad on the surface in Bream Buster, Willow, and Clubhouse during the early mornings and late afternoon just before sundown. Bass activity is still slow in 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 per day.
Bream: No reports of bream being caught. Water temperature is below 48-52 degrees’ which slows bream feeding.
Channel Catfish: The catfish action has slowed down due to water temperatures but some anglers are still catching a few on the warmer days. The fish feeders at Jones Lake are still operating with three (3) daytime feedings.
Striped Bass: No reports of stripers being caught. Each angler can keep (15) stripers but only two of them can be over 22 inches. Which means if all stripers are under 22 inches all 15 stripers can be kept.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The temperatures have been up and down this week, but some fish have been biting. The rivers are still high, and flat water has been tops. Crappie were again the best reports I heard of, but bass fishing has also been good in area ponds. First quarter moon is January 14th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
The river is high and flowing fast from rains upcountry. Fish elsewhere this week. The river level was 15.8 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and rising (57 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 11.9 feet and falling (59 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on January 8th.
The high water will allow the fish to survive well and grow fast out in the floodplain, but now is not the time to catch them. Fish elsewhere. The river level on January 8th at the Waycross gage was 14.6 feet and rising (59 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 13.7 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and rising.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The upper river is still high. The tidewater is fishable, although swift. Some crappie were caught this week by anglers fishing minnows in the Browntown area of tidewater. The river level at the Macclenny gage on January 8th was 8.9 feet and falling.
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. The feeder creeks to the swamp have been producing some good catches of warmouth by anglers pitching worms. The creeks on Swamp Road (outside of Waycross) have been the most productive locations.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
The crappie bite has been strong early this week, as the warmer temperatures have spurred the bite. The bass bite picked up for anglers throwing plastic worms, as well. The warmer days this coming weekend should kick off another good bite.
The cold front just in time for the weekend slowed the bite some, but fish were still
caught. On Thursday, an angler fooled a mess of crappie with an Assassin Pro Tiny Shad (chartreuse-pearl) and then chased bass. He caught several bass between 1 and 2 pounds. On Thursday, a pair of Waycross anglers fished a Brunswick area pond with cut bluegill on a Capt. Bert’s Catfish Catcher Jighead (teardrop-shaped head on a Gamakatsu circle hook) and landed 74 channel catfish up to 3 pounds in 4 hours of fishing. On Friday with the weather moving in, an angler reported a good bass bite. He caught 12 bass up to about 5 pounds and 20 crappie. A couple fish bit a Ribbit Frog on top, but most ate wacky-rigged green pumpkin stick worms or Ol’ Monster worms. Right behind the front on Saturday, Jody and Zane Gill, Robbie Berry, and Alvin Rowell, Jr. trolled plastics and minnows on sickle hook jigheads (1/16-oz.) and caught 22 crappie up to 12 inches in an Appling County lake. Popsicle was their most effective plastic color. On Saturday evening, Scout Carter and a couple friends fished a Hoboken pond an hour before dark and landed 7 crappie to 11 inches and 2 bluegills by fishing Assassin Curly Shads on 1/16-oz. Flashy Jigheads. They also had a couple by fishing the jigs under a float. They caught them on pearl and chartreuse-silver flake Curly Shads. Kaitlyn Thigpen caught her first bass of the year this week, and it ate a green pumpkin wacky-rigged worm. Michael Winge said that the best action in Waycross area ponds was for crappie by anglers drifting and pitching minnows. Crappie were caught in the spillway of Laura Walker State Park lake by anglers fishing minnows.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Dane Clements of Baxley made a trip to the Brunswick area over the weekend and caught a cooler full of sheepshead. He caught his fish the last two hours of ebb and first 3 hours of flood tide from around hard cover in 6 to 9 feet of water. All of his fish were on fiddler crabs. He had a total of 18 fish, and the biggest looked to be about 5 or 6 pounds from the photos. The convictfish will be patrolling shell mounds and pilings all winter. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that the whiting bite has been fair, and there are still lots of yellowtail around. Dead shrimp fished from the pier was the ticket for both. A few flounder and sheepshead were also caught. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
Crappie or bass in area ponds will be hard to beat this weekend. Trolling or drifting minnows in the deeper parts of the pond should produce. If you like fishing artificials, set up some poles with 1/16 or 1/32-oz jigheads and Curly Shads and pull them about 0.9 to 1.3 miles per hour in the deeper areas of the pond, and you should score. Chartreuse and shad hues have been most productive for me. Tides should be lower, and water clearer this weekend than last. Try your wintertime deep holes for trout if the weather allows. The best catches I’ve heard of the last couple of weeks have been from anglers using boot-tail or curly-tailed grubs on 1/8-oz. jigheads.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
For this week’s report, we must suffer through yet another crummy weekend weather forecast. It’s gonna be cold and wet and maybe even icy in the mountains, so proceed with caution if you must get a weekend fishing fix. Check those hourly weather reports and identify some winter windows of opportunity to wet a line.
So the weather is the bad news, but we have a lot of good news, too. First, the monsoons have passed, at least for right now, and our rivers and lakes are finally dropping. See Hunter’s good news, below, about the Lanier ramp re-openings. Larger trout streams are very slowly returning to fishable levels. And with less than a half-inch of rainfall predicted, those streams shouldn’t muddy-up too badly. Just watch the USGS flow gauges, be honest with your own wading ability, and judge when those heavy flows drop to an acceptable level for your safe and fun fishing.
The best news is that the middle of winter is Show Season, so we can all celebrate our outdoor passions inside, in some warm, dry air! Check out the Atlanta Boat Show fishing seminars and the expert turkey callers up at Unicoi Lodge, happening right now. Next weekend, you can break your New Year’s dieting resolution in high style at a Dillard House feast, enjoy some live Bluegrass, and maybe even win a guided fishing trip for a fat Georgia trout or a huge Michigan salmon. Fishing is better, but if it’s 34 degrees and rain, with slick mountain roads, then talking about fishing is a nice January consolation prize. Here we go with some good news, even in the dead of winter:
THINGS TO DO
- Unicoi Callers- Jan 11-12: You can trout fish at Smith Creek Delayed Harvest
- Rabun Rendezvous: News HERE
- Atlanta Fly Fishing Show Feb 1-2: Info HERE
Lanier- Capt. Mack: Check out Captain Mack’s report HERE.
Lanier Ramp Status: (From Hunter Roop, Fisheries Biologist) – As the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on Lake Lanier has been generating round-the-clock to draw down Lake Lanier, to the best of our knowledge, all of the boat ramps except Little River Boat Ramp (operated by USACE) and Holly Park (operated by City of Gainesville) are now open. No Hall or Forsyth County-operated boat ramps are closed. Thank goodness for a break in the weather to allow Lanier’s headwater flows to subside while the tailwater has been pumping out an average of 9,500 cfs for the past several days. Now that nearly all ramps are open, this would be a good time to remind all anglers that day passes are now available by credit card only at the following ramps: Buford Dam Park, Burton Mill, Keiths Bridge, Lanier Park, Little Hall, Long Hollow, Lower Pool East, Lower Pool West, Old Federal Day-Use, Two Mile, Van Pugh North and West Bank. Additionally, there are some USACE-operated ramps that don’t have pass machines or cash vaults and these ramps are East Bank, Balus Creek, Little River, Thompson Bridge and Vanns Tavern. Point being, make sure you have your pass before you park! As you are out on the lake, make sure to wear your PFD and watch out for floating debris that poses a real threat to your fishing & fun. Replacing lower units can be costly, but you can’t put a replacement cost on one of Georgia’s sportsmen and women. Be safe, stay warm, stay dry, and have fun fishing.
Lake Burton Bass: News HERE.
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Check out The Southern Fishing Report
LAKE LANIER IS 2.57 FEET OVER FULL, THE CREEKS ARE STAINED AND THE MAIN LAKE IS CLEAR THE RIVERS AND UP LAKE COVES ARE VERY STAINED. 40’S
Bass: Bass fishing is good. The lake has stabilized and is only up slightly from same time last week. The bait and fish remained scattered, and can be found both shallow and deep. This past week, as in recent weeks, we have caught fish anywhere from 5 feet deep to about 50 feet deep. In the early mornings, work a deep diving crank bait shallow in ditches and on steeper rocky/clay points. The jig with a twin tail trailer as well as a 1/4 ounce Davis Shaky Head tipped with a Wackem Pointy Tail worm in green pumpkin is still a good bet at all depths, from shallow to deep. The main lake and creek pockets and ditches continue to be the focus areas for our fish. You can work a jig, Davis Shaky Head, or even a drop shot in the deeper brush and timber lines on the sunny days for good results right now. A jigging spoon will work well also on some days, particularly when it is sunny. The 30 to 50 foot seemed to be the key depth range this week for the deeper bite. Focus your efforts near sharp drops and ledges in ditches and near the timber line when you are fishing shallower, and fish timber edges as well as right in the thick stuff in the middle of the ditch when you are fishing deep. The jerk bait is also producing a few fish for us, but it continues to be an inconsistent bite. The bites you do get seem to be good ones however. We have been starting shallow in the mornings and working out deeper as the day progresses, although we have found a good shallow bite during the day as well at times. Look for the shallow bite to become stronger as the current warming trend continues.
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) — Lake level is almost very 2½ feet above full pool! This time last year it was over 9 feet lower than today’s level. Naturally, the sudden rise of the lake has caused a heavy amount of debris in the water, making navigation hazardous and hampering fishing. On top of that, it is a challenge to get the jigs below the surface past the floating pine needles. Water temperatures are hovering around the mid 50’s. As expected, the upper parts of the lake are heavily stained. Your best bet is to look for less stained water. Some of the creeks are clearing up faster than others that’s the areas you should target. The bait is plentiful, so follow the bait. River and creek channel docks are your best bets. If you locate a submerged brush pile close to a dock, that is an added bonus. Bobby Garland’s new darker colored jigs have been working well in the stained water, such as “Mo Glo The Shadow and Mo Glo Monkey Milk. In addition, their Slab Slayers in Mo Glo, Indigo Sky are still working well. 1/24 ounce and 1/16 ounce jig heads are still our preference. Concentrate on docks that are at 25 to 35 foot depths. Fishing is fair to good (at best), IF you can exercise patience with the debris, and still cover a lot of area. The best part is the current mild weather, so be careful, and enjoy it while it’s here.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 10.48 FEET, 40S, STAINED
Bass: (This Bass fishing report is by Matt Driver) –Bass fishing on is good. We do have colder weather in the Forecast and things will change up slightly over the next week or two. Fish are still fairly shallow and can be called on soft plastics like the 1/8 Picasso ned rig. The shallow mid depth cranking bite has been good as well. The 1/2 fire tiger Aruku Shad and chrome Rat L Trap have been producing. The water is still stained but as it clears the jerk bait and Alabama rig bite will pick back up. The red top to iron hill areas are still producing but I believe that stamps, and little river will get better as the water stabilizes.
Striper: (This striper report brought to you by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Line side fishing is very good. The despite the heavy rains rising and dirty water the fishing has remain good. The key to catching fish right now is to find clean water. Most of the clean water is in eye site of the dam. Everything thing is working right now. Free lines, planner boards and down lining thread fins, shiners, gizzard shad and small trout out over the river channel has been our best bite. Once the sun comes up trolling u rigs and dark color crank baits near the dam has been very good. Even with the tough conditions this has been the best winter bite we have seen in years.
LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL, CLEAR DOWN STAINED UP RIVERS, 40S
Bass fishing is fair. Fish the long the drop off areas and on the major creek channels. Bass are active mid day and a Weedless Wonder lead head with a Zoom U tail green pumpkin. Be sure to use a 3/16 ounce head and 10 pound test Sufix line. On any major creek channels use a #5 or #7 Shad Rap in either black and white or natural shad colors. If stained water is present, go to a fire tiger or bone color Fat Free shad and make several casts in the same location. Always be sure to have a black and brown pig and jig ready to target any stumps or lay down trees that are in or close to deep water.
WEISS LAKE IS AT 0 FEET 54 INCHES BELOW FULL POOL AND MUDDY AND 45 47 DEGREE’S
(This report brought to you by Mark Collins Service) — All the muddy water from this past weekend has turned fishing off, look for thing to get better over the next few days as the water clears.
Bass: Bass fishing is fair and the colder water has moved the fish to a deeper winter pattern. The Spotted Bass are doing well in the upper Coosa River near Riverside in Little River and the Chattooga River.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair The fish are suspended 8 to 12 feet deep over the river and creek channels, long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs in 1/24 and 1/16 ounce is producing a lot of fish, casting a float and fly is also catch a lot of fish. Fishing minnows under a float 6 to 8 feet deep is also working well.
Congrats to new Hall-of-Famer Monte: He sends his thanks to all Southeastern trouters who thought enough of his career to cast a vote for him as a Legend of the Fly.
More Public Land on Hooch Tailwater: Buford Hatchery technician Andy Wentworth shares this good news.
Smith DH reports:
- DialDrew and his parents spent the weekend at a Unicoi Park cabin and dialed in the DH trout on Saturday and Sunday. Best flies were some stonefly imitations, small woolly buggers, zebra midge droppers, and a few Euronymphs as Drew tried a new, “sighter” technique on Sunday.
- ATL Drew (no relationship) used his newly acquired knowledge and rod from a
metro Orvis shop to score a couple of nice rainbows, including a strong 15-incher that took him for a brief ride downstream. His free Orvis Flyfishing 101 and 102 classes paid off, as did the magic apricot glo-bug dropped behind a chunky split shot. His initiation to drag-free drifting was a success, and he celebrated his first victory with his awesome netman and driver, better known as Dad. Enjoy the pic of our newest mountain trouting duo celebrating their team victory!
- GADNR LED Sgt Steve Seitz said that, with all the rivers blown out, our smaller creeks have seen more than their fair share of anglers. While most folks were compliant, some were not. Many of the noncompliant folks were simply holiday guests and not wise to the ways of DNR regulations. I watched on Sunday as Steve and his two rangers gave many warnings and even some free rides up to the lodge, where fishing permits were obtained. Better cell signal also allowed those folks to purchase trout stamps, which the new anglers had not realized were also required when they had first purchased their fishing licenses. Other folks, who had been politely warned earlier about violations, received some free gifts- citations! Sgt Steve said LED patrols will continue in these popular areas like Smith and Dukes. He also appreciates your reports of violations through our DNR Ranger Hotline: 800-241-4113, so keep them coming.
Vogel Lake: Vogel this Past Weekend
Rodney’s National Forest Wild Trout: Trouting Tumlin took advantage of the warm spell to prospect for wild trout on the national forest. He said, “Water was clear but fast, used nymphs bounced along the bottom in the slower sides of runs and deeper pools produced some chunky wild rainbows.”
Nick’s Winter Trouting Tip: Aim for the sunny spots!
Fun Hatchery Trip: Hey John Lee, Carsyn and I made it out to Burton Trout Hatchery yesterday with some pals of ours to check out the Baby Brown Trout and then fish a little at the family pond. I think it was a little too cold for the fish to be biting, but Jeff Stewart was awesome with the kids and telling them all kinds of info. I really appreciated it. Carsyn loves coming out there. I am sure this spring and summer you all will see much more of us. Hope you had a great weekend! Carsyn’s Mom
Arrowhead Bait Catching: (From Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) — Fisheries technicians planted 30 bald cypress and catalpa trees at Lake Arrowhead located on Arrowhead WMA in Floyd County. The cypress trees planted will eventually provide habitat for fish and wildlife alike. The catalpa trees will grow and become host trees for the larva of the Catalpa Sphinx Moth. The larva, often referred to as catawba caterpillars or worms, are a favored bait of summer time catfish and bream anglers. Lake Arrowhead is open to adult/child fishing, so the catawba caterpillars will offer anglers, especially young anglers, a unique “bait catching” experience.
Good luck as we find a place to recreate, either indoors or out, this weekend. Remember that we are recharging our groundwater and reservoirs with plenty of clean, cold water to get our fish through next summer. And that’s some good news to celebrate, even in the middle of winter.