Annnnndddd every time we think we will dry out, we don’t. But, don’t let that get you down! Let’s continue to look at places we can fish, and if those don’t work, we can make preparations for other upcoming days once the waters go down and it warms up a little.
Did you miss this?
- Find out more about why Fisheries Technicians recently planted 30 bald cypress and catalpa trees at Lake Arrowhead HERE.
- The new 2019 Georgia Fishing Regulations are available.
Let’s do some planning, shall we? This week, we have reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Get out there and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Bundle Up! Welcome to the dead of winter. The Martin Luther King, Jr, holiday weekend is always a time of cold, wind, and a wintry mix of precipitation. This winter weather can be as depressing for north Georgia anglers as the dog days of August. But it doesn’t have to be. We all just have to look around for windows of opportunity, indoors and out, bundle up, and grab them when the getting is good. Today and tomorrow are nice and warm and should be good fishing opportunities. One’s dry and the other’s wet, but that’s why we bought our expensive fishing raingear. Let’s use it.
The arctic blast that starts on Sunday will slow things down for the next week, so we’ll have to look closely for any windows beyond the next two days. And if the elements scare you inside, take this time to ready your gear for the spring fishing season just around the corner, and maybe even book some cheap plane tickets for summer trips to the Rockies.
But for the adventurous among you, we have some intel this week that might tempt you outside. Just dress right (as Mom would say, “bundle up”) and have at it.
The lakes are clearing and slowly receding (about 1.5 feet to go on Lanier), so much of that very muddy water is just stained now and prime for fishing. Here we go:
Early Walleye Recon: Hunter and Mark took a test drive up the Hooch yesterday to get familiar with Lanier’s walleye spawning grounds. As expected, they only found one fish, which may have been a river resident. But this trial boat ride is a good reminder to north GA walleye fans that we’re about a month away from the start of the spring runs. Those runs started about two weeks early (mid-Feb) last year, and we were able to capture enough broodstock to produce fingerlings and maintain our reservoir stocking program. We’ll be on the lookout by the first of February, in case those fish try to sneak up early again. Walleye fans should get their tackle ready. More info on our walleye program and fishing tips can be found HERE. Be sure to click on the links in this article!
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Catch the Southern Fishing Report HERE
Maintenance Time: This time of year gives many staffers the chance to spruce up or repair our equipment, from trucks to boats to boat ramps. Thanks to your fishing license and TU brookie tag dollars, we’re able to accomplish much more now that we did during the lean decade in our rearview mirrors. It’s nice to get past the Great Recession and provide you with more fisheries opportunities in the year to come. Thank you. By the way, some of this work isn’t glamorous, but is necessary and appreciated. Gainesville Tech Mark Rigglesford is considering a second career as a firefighter after gaining considerable skills in hosing off a couple feet of flood-deposited sediments from our Hooch ramps (see photos below)!
Reel Georgia: FYI on a boatload of Georgia fishing news. Are you signed up?
LAKE LANIER IS 1.30 FEET OVER FULL, THE CREEKS ARE STAINED AND THE MAIN LAKE IS CLEAR THE RIVERS AND UP LAKE COVES ARE VERY STAINED. 40’S
Lanier Stripers: What would you do with a weekday weather forecast of 45 degrees, rain, and wind? Sane folks would stay at work, with retirees enjoying the comforts of their warm home and a big screen TV. But angling addicts know that low-light conditions often keep stripers and hybrids on the feed, and maybe even shallow in their pursuit of prey. So two bozos gave it a go yesterday (1/18), skipping out of work a bit early and launching the aptly named Blind Squirrel into the storm front that pounded Lanier. With snowsuits covered by Goretex and then PFD’s, Guru and Dredger felt bulletproof, and aimed for (GURU EDITED) Creek embayment. The good news was that the rains and wind quit twice, and there was more much dry time than rain while the boat was afloat. The bad news was that the bait balls were at forty feet. And the predator arches were below them. That’s not real hospitable for two die-hard fly flingers who left their spinning rods and Flexit spoons at home. But they persevered. They spotted one bank runner and Guru hooked up with a short, fat critter with stripes. So it counted, and it bode well for the future of Lanier’s stripers. The skunk was off. Another hour of prospecting yielded nada, but they stayed. And found some arches on a 20 foot bottom in a creek channel. Dredger cast his awful shooting head out and began his long count. At about 18, the Slick Shooter running line twitched and he instinctively set the hook. On the bottom, apparently. And then it moved. A few minute tug-of-war later, a nice 28-incher ended their day of perseverance in grand style. And the two lucky charms of the trip were: a) Henry C’s something else fly and, of course, b) forgetting the net. Thankfully the thumb clamp method still works, even with frozen digits.
Don’t let bad weather scare you away. Remember, the fish are already wet and cold, and fairly happy. They just need to come up a bit more shallow and give us more chances to play with them. It is happening sporadically now, and will happen more often when the muddy shallows warm with the sun’s rays. Enjoy the pic of the one decent nut that the Blind Squirrel stumbled across yesterday. If there’s hope for these two bozos, there’s hope for us all!!
Lanier Bass: Check it out HERE
Capt Mack’s Lanier Report: Get the report HERE
The Birth of Lake Lanier: Reservoir fans should watch Natureman’s video in post #10:
Lanier: (This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley) — The lake continues to drop as the Corp of Engineers has been pulling water steadily this week. Currently the lake stands at 1.3 feet over full pool and down nearly a foot from my last report. The rivers are still heavily stained to muddy and mid-lake is stained. The live creeks in the lower lake are stained, and the lower main lake remains clear. The floating debris is virtually gone, but still keep an eye out for random logs and such. Shallower rocky points with a jig and worm in the mornings and sometimes throughout the day have been our best pattern overall this week. Not a ton of bites, but the ones you get are good ones usually. Also we are getting a few on a crankbait on some mornings up on the rock as well as later in the day, particularly on sunny afternoons when there is a breeze. We are also catching some worm and jig fish in the 20 to 30 foot range, but the presence of rock seems to be a key, and generally, I am dropping to these fish with a shaky head to catch them. The spoon bite as virtually vanished this week. There are plenty of fish out deep but they are scattered for the most part which makes it tough for the spoon. A drop shot will work at times but requires steady patience and an undying will to catch them deep without giving up and heading back to the shallow rock. LOL. Which means I am not fishing deep much. LOL. The creek ditches are still holding some fish now in shallower water and we have been catching a few on the SuperSpin down in the ditches on some days, but this pattern has not been as predominant for us as it has been in past years. Also, with the cooling water temperatures, look for the jerk bait bite to pick up back in pockets. This hasn’t happened yet, but with the cool down coming this weekend, it could happen fast. I hope you will make plans to come join me as we soon will be heading into the early pre spawn bite. There is some winter fish to be caught, but we will shifting our focus to our early pre-spawners in the coming weeks. I hope the Groundhog allows for an early spring! Here are my open dates for January: 29, 30, and 31. February 4, 5, 6, 7, 8(AM), 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28.
Jimbo On Lanier is hosting a Fishing Swap Meet on February 2, 2019 at Midway UMC on Atlanta Hwy and Post Road. You can rent a table and sell your tackle or just come and shop. We expect a packed house so let me know ASAP if you would like a table. Contact Jimbo directly for details or table rental. There is a $5.00 entry fee.
Striper: Striper fishing is good. With the colder temperatures this past week the bait has been deep over a 40 to 70 foot bottom. The warmer temperatures forecasted for this week end will bring the bait shallower onto flats and into the backs of the creeks. Fishing the backs of the creeks and flats will be the key this week. When you find an area you want to fish put out a “spread” (combination of free lines and planner boards) of Herring and Trout and vary your depths and distance behind the boat and boards. As an example; use a small split shot with a medium Trout 12 feet behind your planner board closest to the bank. Use a Herring on your inside board 50 feet behind the board. Continue to vary the distance and weight as you put out your free lines behind the boat and “deep water side” planner boards. Don’t forget to drop a couple of down rods over the side and vary the depth based on the bottom. Herring and Trout have been working equally well. Also, vary your trolling speed from .2 mph to 1.2 mph. don’t spend a lot of time in any one area. The back of Flat Creek, Six mile creek and Short Creek are all good places to start.
Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) –-Water temperature is around 48 degrees. If you go above Laurel Park on the Chattahoochee side or north of Thompson Creek on the Chestatee you will notice that the water is more stained as you get into the “S” turns. Also, the water temperature drops a few degrees at this point. The river channel docks with warmer water temps at 48 degrees will be your best options. Our dock shooting technique is producing well. We’ve been catching better quality fish on the Chattahoochee side of the lake, however if you want to catch greater numbers, the Chestatee side of the lake will be your best option. The bite is starting at fifteen to twenty feet, but it is amazing how quickly the entire school will shallow up if they decide to feed, sometimes up to eight feet below the surface. Many community docks and marinas are holding fish. If you are willing to invest the time to find them by scanning with your electronics, it can pay off. When you locate them, note the depth that the fish are suspended and work the jig directly above their heads. The way the eyes are positioned on the crappies’ heads, they are always looking up. Therefore, if the jig is below them it is difficult for them to see and respond to it Jiffy jigs in a variety of colors and hair jigs are working well, but the soft body Bobby Garland jigs tend to skip the water easier. This will assist you in getting your jig all the way to the back of the dock when using the shooting technique. I’ve been trying many different Bobby Garland colors new to me, and I am very impressed. Bobby Garland is by far my favorite bait right now, especially with their exciting new colors. The fish are holding tight to the structure and it is very critical to keep the jig in their strike zone. With the colder temperatures, their metabolism has slowed and they are not willing to chase your jig. You will also notice that the color of the crappie has turned to pale white, which is an indication they have gone to deeper pockets. The females have begun to develop eggs and you will see their bellies starting to become distended, even though the spawn is still a good distance away. The bait will lead you to the fish, so pay attention to your graph. Threadfins are the bait of choice for crappie. Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket.
BassMaster Elite Series: The Bassmaster Elite Series holds its second event of the 2019 season in Gwinnett, Georgia, on Lake Lanier February 14, 15, 16 and 17.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 16.36 FEET, 40S, STAINED
Bass fishing is fair but winter is coming back. There has been little change since last week’s conditions, except for another extended set of very cold weather. The first option is to fish a small crankbait on main lake points. Cast a #5 Shad Rap in Fire Tiger or a Norman Deep Tiny N. Fish these baits very slowly on light line to attract bites. The second choice this week is to fish small jigs in the same areas. A small Bass Patrol in Black or Brown should do the job. Fish the bait with a slow dragging action. The last, and my personal favorite, is to use the Float N Fly. Even in the stained water, you can still catch them on this bait. Fish the steep rock banks and let the bait sit for long periods of time. The bright colors, like Punisher’s Clown or Royal Blue seem to be the best choice. The new Perch Color Red Rooster is also producing well
LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL, CLEAR DOWN STAINED UP RIVERS, 40S
Bass is fair. This will change with a double set of very cold weather fronts coming. The bait fish will head back to any warm water they can find into creeks and main pocket. The birds are just beginning to show up and they are good indicators as to where the fish and the bait are located. Ride over the area’s with the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology and see what areas of the lake they are keying on. With more cold weather expect the baitfish and bass to bunch up more. Spoons are the ticket or a drop shot rig.
WEISS LAKE IS AT 3 FEET 7 INCHES BELOW FULL POOL AND LIGHT STAINED AND 42-44 DEGREE’S
The fishing is getting a lot better as the water has cleared and lowered closer to its winter level, this past week. But, there are two more very severe cold front heading our way.
Bass: Bass fishing is fair and most fish are still on a deeper winter pattern on deep brush, and on the creek and river ledges. The spotted bass are biting well in the upper Coosa river near Riverside, in Little River and the Chattooga river. Jerk baits are catching a lot of Bass. Alabama rigs are also catching fish.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. 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, Blue color patterns seem to be working best, casting a float and fly is also catch a lot of fish. Fishing minnows under a float 6 to 10 feet deep is also working well.
Rivers are still high and cold. Experienced waders might find a few opportunities as those big waters recede, while rookies should play it safe on the bank, or aim for smaller streams like Dukes (706-878-3087), Smith DH, or small national forest streams on a warm afternoon. In the dead of winter, it’s hard to beat the dredging combo of a big fly up front (egg or Pat’s rubberlegs) and a small, natural fly (pheasant tail, zebra midge) dropped off the back of the first one. The Hooch Tailwater looks like a no-go for a while, since the Army Corps still has to drop Lanier 1.5 feet to simply get back to full pool. And with 2.5 inches of rain expected next week, heavy generations from Buford Dam are likely, as it takes about six days of generations to drop the lake a foot. Pick another spot to toss for trout.
- Atlanta Fly Fishing Show (Feb 1-2): More info HERE.
- Rabun Rendezvous Tomorrow (Jan 19): Diet-busting buffet pics and a long prize list found HERE All are welcome.
Good luck as we power through the dead of winter. There are still some great winter windows around, when we can pop outdoors and get a quick fix before returning inside to hibernate or to eat way too much banquet food. And the best is yet to come, with spring fishing opportunities only four to six weeks away. Are your licenses renewed and fresh line spooled up yet? Make ready! Better yet, bundle up now and give it a go during a break in the winter weather. Like the Blind Squirrel’s duo, you might just find a nut, too!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The rivers are still high, but spillways, ponds, and saltwater produced some good catches. An arctic blast is in the forecast for early next week, so get some fishing in this weekend before the temperatures tank. Full Moon is January 21st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
The river is high, cold, and flowing fast from rains upcountry. Fish elsewhere this week. The river level was 18.2 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and falling (52 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 13.1 feet and rising (53 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on January 15th.
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 15th at the Waycross gage was 12.9 feet and falling (55 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 13.9 feet (flood stage is 13 feet) and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river is getting fishable, and anglers have caught crappie (some of them slabs) on minnows in the oxbows. Catfish were caught about anywhere folks put bait on the bottom. The cold front early next week will chill the water. You might want to hit it this weekend if you want to fish a river. Crappie in the backwaters or catfish on the bottom will be your best bet. The river level at the Macclenny gage on January 15th was 6.7 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 produced some good warmouth catches again this week. Worms were the best bait, and the creeks on Swamp Road (outside of Waycross) were again the most productive locations.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
The 4 to 6-pound bass are on shallow cover right now. The area manager and biologist sampled with electrofishing (and released them) on Monday and measured and weighed several 5-pound plus bass and crappie up to 1 3/4 pounds. Just before the cold front late this weekend, fish big swimbaits, hard jerkbaits, and big worms if you want to try for a quality bass. I’ve caught bass up to 9 pounds at the area this time of year on jerkbaits.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
Anglers have been doing well for crappie from the Lake Patrick fishing pier and from boats. Both minnows and jigs have produced well. Logan Spears had a blast catching a pair of hybrid striped bass from Lake Russell. Hybrids have been stocked into lakes Bobben and Russell.
On Thursday, Bucky Buckner fished the spillway of a lake and hammered the fish. He ended up with 32 fish, including bass, bluegill, crappie, and warmouth. Pink worms fished on the bottom and minnows suspended 2 1/2 feet deep produced for him. He said that the bottom bite was really tricky. He had to hold the pole and set the hook as soon as they started to bite or they would wrap him up on cover and get off. An angler fishing on Monday landed 15 nice crappie on both minnows and jigs from a pond. He also used a green-red flake senko to land 8 bass up to 2 pounds. Michael Winge said that the best action in Waycross area ponds was for crappie again this week. Minnows were the best bait. The crappie bite in Lake Ware (Jamestown) picked up this week for anglers using minnows.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Rickey and Chris O’Berry whacked the trout behind Cumberland Island while fishing out of St. Marys on Saturday. They used Houdini and electric chicken Assassin Sea Shads skewered on a red and also rootbeer1/4-oz. Capt. Bert’s jighead. They ended up with 25 trout (17 keepers up to 20 inches). I heard of other good trout catches in both the Brunswick and Crooked River areas, but I also heard of some folks that didn’t find them. The docks and piers in the Brunswick area have been producing black drum, redfish, and whiting. An angler fishing shrimp on the bottom on Sunday caught 4 black drum up to 20 inches in just an hour of fishing. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the whiting bite has been strong at the pier. Dead shrimp produced the good catches. Blue crabs were caught in good numbers from the pier, also. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The bass and crappie bites should be great on Friday and Saturday before an arctic blast slams us early next week. I would troll for crappie to start with and look shallow if you can’t catch them deep. The warm afternoon on Saturday should move some fish to shallow cover where you can cast Curly Shads, tubes, or minnows to them. Bass should feed up before the cold snap, as well. Try moving baits like swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits at first then switch to jigs and worms if you can’t get them to chase. Saltwater will likely be hit-or-miss for trout and redfish. If you are around fish, then you will catch them during this warming trend. Fish are usually tightly schooled this time of year, so if you are off by just a few yards, it is possible to zero. It’s worth a trip to saltwater if winds allow you to get where you want to fish, but check the marine forecast first.