Did that little bit of sunshine and warm weather make you want to start organizing your tackle box and re-lining your fishing poles? That was a nice little break in the weather. Maybe don’t get used to it…but just know that Spring will eventually arrive!

In case you missed it:

  • Loss of a Legend: When the sport fishing community thinks of legends, names like Lefty Kreh, Homer Circle, and Bill Dance often come to mind.  But those of us who manage sport fisheries lost a true legend.  Anyone who knows where most of “our” money comes from will recognize the name John Dingell.  You see, the Dingell-Johnson Act, and then the Wallop-Breaux Act created and enhanced the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program. In simple terms, this user-pay program means that sportsmen and women supported taxes on their sporting goods.  Those tax revenues are then allocated back from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to state wildlife agencies based on criteria such as land size and number of paid fishing licenses.  As a result, state agencies receive millions of dollars annually to enhance sport fishing and aquatic education opportunities for our constituents.  You pay and you receive – from fish attractors to fish stockings to boat ramps to kids fishing events.  Thanks to John Dingell and his congressional cohorts, your fishing is better than it would have been without all those angler funds, from a user fee program.  Thank you Congressman Dingell. As the Rabunites say, may you have good luck fishing “around the bend.”
  • Fisharama/Turkeyrama: It starts today! Head on out to Perry for this annual event that runs through Feb. 10. 

Best of luck getting to your favorite fishing hole soon. To help, this week we have HUGE fresh batch of reports from Southwest, Central, North and Southeast Georgia.

SOUTHWEST GEORGIA 

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

Flint River is high, though water levels are slowly dropping since last rainfall about a week ago. Water is still quite turbid which may make fishing more difficult.

The Ochlocknee River is higher than average. Last gauge check was at 12 feet and dropping. Ramps are somewhat inaccessible right now, but water levels should be steadily dropping throughout the next few days until next rainfall.  While this may be hindering fishing for the moment, fish ultimately gain from this as they are able to access floodplain areas for forage when water levels are up.

LAKE BLACKSHEAR

(This report brought to you by Brad McDaniel of Flint River Outdoors in Cordele, GA) — Fishing is finally starting to get better on Lake Blackshear. Crappie are mainly being caught with minnows. Bream are being caught with worms and crickets. Catfish are being caught on rod and reel and on limb lines with rooster liver, night crawlers, and cut bait. CC Power is keeping the lake level right at full pool, but to do that with all the water coming down the river, they have been having to pull pretty hard at the dam. Water is just stained right now, which is much better than muddy! If this forecast holds, this week should be great!

WALTER F. GEORGE

(This Report brought to you by Les Bratcher of Big Bit Baits near Lake Eufaula, AL) — Lake Eufaula has begun to stabilize throughout the last week with all the current and muddy conditions. Anglers have been catching largemouth bass as they begin to stage for the spring. There were a few reports that some bass were caught in shallow waters. Temperatures in the 70’s next week should get the fish moving towards the shallows. The lake will be on fire here shortly!

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, 40’S

Bass fishing is slow.  Spoons and drop shot rigs until mid-day is best.  There is a warming trend but more rain and then another cold front.  Bass are on the main lake and the reef markers and any rocky point can hold fish.  Getting them to bite has been tough.  Rocky points with any brush or submerged stumps and small brush piles seem have fish but they are tight in cover.  Stay off the points as much as possible and make long casts to your target.  Moving in too close will spook the bass and they will move back to the deeper water.  Carolina rigs with a variety of plastics are one option working depths 20 to 30 feet with the rig.  Try the small Zoom green pumpkin lizard and watermelon. 

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 2.06 FEET, STAINED, LOW 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  A crank bait and a trick worm on a Shaky head can catch them on the deeper side of the humps if they aren’t hitting on top.  Use a Shad Rap and stay shallow at less the 5 feet.  The smaller Rat L Traps are also good choices.  Berkley Power lizards and worms in dark colors on Texas rigs on any wood on around the points has been fair.  Also the 3/8 ounce jigs in black or brown colors with a Zoom Chunk will work on the creek ledges.  Slowly fish this bait with the Sufix Elite line and the fish can be tight on the bottom.  So when this happens, zoom In with the Lowrance Down Scan technology and you can see them on the bottom.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  With the drop in temperatures this week the fishing has slowed some.  The fish are still in the middle to the back of the creeks and coves, as is the bait.  The crank bait bite is fair.  Stay in Richland Creek.  Work the structure in the creeks with a white spinner bait in the clear water and a chartreuse spinner bait in the stained water.  As the water temperatures drop, slow down your retrieve.  The smaller crank baits are still producing some fish from under the docks.  When you contact the dock supports stop your bait for a few seconds; sometimes this will trigger a strike. The jig bite is also a great follow up tactic.  Just use small jigs and add some orange colors to the skirts and trailer. 

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 6.27 FEET, STAINED, 50’S

Bass fishing fair.  Fish have scattered this week.  With a few warm days the bass can feed in the coves and be sure the bait is there.  Fish crank baits and Chatterbaits from five to eight feet depths and sometimes shallower.  Covering water is important.  Using Chatterbaits and crank baits cover main lake rocky points and red clay banks.  These areas can hold multiple fish, but you may have to fish several of them before finding fish.  Lowrance Structure Scan technology can make the search a lot faster.  Scan five times the depth of the water with the Structure Scan Side imagining technology and find the bait and the bass will be there close by.  For crank baits, use Bomber 4A or Bandit 200 in chartreuse pattern similar to a fire tiger or black back chartreuse pattern.  Try a spinnerbait and keep it simple with double willow leaf blades and chartreuse white skirts.  Bites will be further apart on spinnerbaits, but will be bigger fish.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .73 FEET, STAINED, 50’S

Bass fishing is slow.  The fish have been much harder to find and catch over the past several days.  The unusually cold weather has had an adverse effect on most of the lake, especially the shallow water bite.  Finesse 1/2 ounce football jigs and Carolina rigs have caught a few fish in the 15 to 25 foot range on main lake humps and ledges down near the dam.   The keys have been fishing slow, moving your bait one to two feet and letting it sit still for five to fifteen seconds and repeating the process all the way to the boat.   Shell beds have produced the best but they aren’t easy to find even when you know the area.   Don’t be in a hurry to leave an area, slow way down and focus on the next bite.  There is some good news.  The forecast has a warming trend this week but some more rain.  Then another cold front.  This could turn the Shad Rap crank bait bite back.  Fish these baits around boat dock posts and brush making contact with any cover on the bottom with a slow retrieve.

LAKE JACKSON IS 1.09 FEET OVER FULL, STAINED, 40’’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Start the day on the sunny banks and any wood and have the Bitsey Bug jigs in green pumpkin and a small matching Zoom plastic trailer ready.  Mid-day go to the small Rapala DT 10 crank baits in crawfish and shad patterns.  Try the Bagley Killer B II in the Tennessee shad color.  There is a good jig bite just use dark colors in the off colored waters.  Try the 3/8 ounce Stanley jig in green pumpkin and work the lay downs up in the pockets.  Out on the main lake the spots will bite the smaller jigs that are bounced around any rock structure and off sea walls.  The bigger fish should show up in the pockets soon. 

MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info Found HERE

  • Temperature: 48 – 52⁰.
  • Water Visibility: very clear, exceeding 54 inches
  • The Fish Cleaning Station is closed until Spring.

Bass: Nice bass (see photo) are being caught on warmer afternoons in Willow Lake on McDuffielures that imitate 3-4 inch threadfin shad (crankbaits, swimbaits and spinnerbaits).  Both birds and bass are feeding on shad right now, so look for seagulls, cormorants and egrets feeding on the lake surface and the bass should be nearby.  The same approach should also work in Jones Lake where there is a nice shad population along with a lot of bird activity lately.

Bream: There have been no reports of bream being caught lately. The bream bite has been slow with the cold water temperatures.

Channel Catfish: The catfish action has slowed down due to water temperatures but some anglers are still catching on the warmer afternoons.  The fish feeders at Jones Lake are still operating with three daytime feedings and are excellent spots to fish for catfish.

Striped Bass: Stripers can be found in Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes.  There have been no recent reports of stripers being caught.

NORTH GEORGIA

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

ATL fly fishing show 2019 Matt and Ted smallThanks to everyone who came by the WRD booth and chatted with us at the Atlanta Fly Fishing Show.  It was a nice “reunion” with many friends, young and old.   We hope everyone got our Monday email blast on warm weather fishing and enjoyed their brief taste of spring this week.  Fish came up shallow and the catching was pretty darn good, considering that it’s early February.  Now we’re going to cool off and get a dose of rain, so north Georgia anglers should again change their tactics to accommodate the new water temperatures and flows.

TROUT

Early Stockers: Several Delayed Harvest and general regulation (harvest) waters have been stocked from Burton and Buford hatcheries during the last two weeks.  We are making room for more fingerling transfers from Summerville Hatchery.  Watch our Friday afternoon updates to the weekly stocking list for the latest intel.  This week’s list will be fairly long.  Best bets: small lakes, DH streams (brookie rumor…) Stamp, upper Hooch, Panther and Middle Broad, Holly, and Blue Ridge Tailwater.

DH Reports: Hopefully WRD’s early intel this week (including fish pics from Tooga and Nan DH) put many of you on some fish, maybe even some risers.

 

We’ve had several more good reports this week from anglers who could play a little hooky during the warm spell.

Tooga: N Georgia Rivers-Trout Reports

Tooga: We used a variety of files from mop flies to woolly buggers. Even a San Juan

trout rbt chunky Dale P gang Tooga DH 2-2-19
Nice chunky rainbow trout caught by Rabunite Dale P on the Chattooga 2-2-19

worm and a purple soft hackle for a few. My buddies were stripping buggers and I was letting em swing. They seemed to do better stripping.  –From Rabunite Dale P.

Ami and Toccoa: pontoons for brookies anyone? News HERE, HERE and HERE

 

 

Smith: Lumis reported heavy weekend crowds at Smith Creek, but he still brought five to hand during his morning wade.

 

DH Tips: Now the weather will be changing so DH anglers will have to change their tactics to match the new water conditions.  First, check those stream flows on USGS gauges to see if your hotspots will still be wadeable after the coming rains.  Second, watch stream temperatures.  As they dive, you’ll have to follow.  Change from your shallow dry/droppers back to your winter dredging rigs. Hit the magic 11 AM-3 PM window of warmth if you see those stream temperatures sliding back down to the low forties or thirties.

 

trout bnt wild IDBIS Creek Chatt NF Rodney T Feb 2019
Wild Brown Trout caught on Chattahoochee by Trout Camp Tumlin, Feb. 2019

Warm Spell Bluelines: I went to my favorite wild brown stream in the Chattahoochee NF on Super Bowl Sunday. Nymphs bounced along the bottom has been working since Christmas. –From Trout Camp Tumlin

Hooch Tailwater: News HERE, HERE and HERE

 

 

LAKE LANIER

Crappie: (This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) –Water temperatures are fluctuating between 47 and 50 degrees, which is ideal for winter crappie fishing.  Lake level is 1072, about a foot above full pool.  Creeks in the northern parts of the lake have moderate to heavy stain, heavier in the backs of the creeks.  The water begins clearing North of Clark’s Bridge on the Chattahoochee side of the lake and north of Yellow Creek on the Chestatee side of the lake.  The water is also clear south of Brown’s Bridge. On calm days, you will still see evidence of floating debris.  When the wind picks up, the debris quickly gets pushed to the side, but you still need to take care navigating.  We are still fishing the river channel docks and we are still catching quality fish.  We are taking advantage of this great weather and enjoying as much time on the lake as possible.  It reminds us of spring, but as the saying goes, don’t count your chickens before they hatch!  This is still winter, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t have more cold weather ahead.  We are catching plenty of quality fish, but are not spending more than twenty minutes at a spot unless we hit the jackpot.  Our number one bait remains Bobby Garland.  If you haven’t already been on their website, check out the largest selection on the market of colors and options of Crappie jigs.  I will be at Bass Pro Shops, Macon this Friday Feb 8th at 7:00 pm and Saturday February 9th 11:00 am and 2:00 pm for “Crappie Madness” seminars covering dock shooting and other Crappie fishing tips and techniques using Bobby Garland jigs.  If you’re in the area stop by and say hello! Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!

Lanier Stripers: (From “Academy Jack” –Jack Becker of Academy Sports in Gainesville) — Beautiful Day yesterday. Trolled an Umbrella Rig for a couple of hours on Lanier.  Took a friend’s son. He caught his first Striper.

Capt Mack’s Report: Get the report HERE

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Get the report HERE 

MORE LAKE NEWS

Prepare for GA Walleye: Check it out HERE

Carters’ Linesides: (Report courtesy of First Bite Guide Service) — Lineside fishing is good!  Carters has been producing well for us. All the major creeks are holding good schools of Stripers and monster Hybrids. Live bait is a must right now, but keep a rod ready for top-water action. On my last three trips to Carters, we have caught fish busting top water. A white Fluke has been working best, but that’s a secondary bite and isn’t nearly as consist as the live bait bite. Shad, trout and shiners are all working equally well on free lines, planer boards and down lines. This time of year I always run a full spread. I have been starting in the very back of the Creeks in the early morning.  And working my way out to mid-creek by lunch time.  We are even catching a few Walleye right now. Watch the weather and get out there when you can. If you don’t have a boat give us a call. We have plenty of availability as of now.

Allatoona Linesides: (Report courtesy of First Bite Guide Service) — Well the lake is 18 feet below full pool and stained to muddy from little River to the dam and the loading docks are out of the water. About 90% of the ramps are unusable.  But the good NEWS is the fish are EATING. This has been the Best winter bite I can remember. The best bite is within Eye-site of the dam from Stamp Creek to Red Top Mountain Campgrounds.  Live bait ( Shad Shiners and small trout ) are all working right now. We are running a full spread of free-lines, planer boards and down lines. There is also a good artificial bite right now. Both The Captain Mack U-rigs and the Mini Macks are working well. The key to the rig bite is sunshine mixed with the cleanest water you can find. The spoon bite is also good right now. And the white bass are killing them. If you find a big school its common to boat 50 plus fish in a couple of hours. These fish are small but fun to catch!

NEWS TO SHARE

A Toast to Monte! Here’s to you!

 

TD Danny! One of our own was honored this week at the annual meeting of our professional society. The GA Chapter of the American Fisheries Society awarded Summerville Hatchery’s assistant manager Danny Edwards with its Fisheries Professional of the Year award for his outstanding achievements last year.  Danny first hired and trained a brand new Tech 2, Auburn grad Eric Wittig.  Just a few months later, our hatchery manager retired, and Danny and rookie Eric ran that hatchery, as only a two-man team, from November until a new manager arrived in June.  The duo grew bumper crops of rainbow trout, sturgeon, and walleye fingerlings while maintaining an aged facility and avoiding fish losses due to challenges with water and power supplies.  With the manager vacancy, Danny also handled nearly all of the nighttime and weekend security duty that is required at our WRD trout hatcheries.  Summerville Hatchery and our state fisheries programs that rely on its fish production are lucky to have this dedicated veteran on our DNR Green Team!  Thank you and congrats, Danny.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Feb 9: Shrimp Fest:  Join that gang.

Feb. 15-March 3: Bass Pro Shops Spring Classic Note the Reel Turn-in Program!   Consider turning in an old reel and upgrading to a new one.  BPS donates those used reels to WRD and several other nonprofits, and they show up in kids’ hands.  Two of our longstanding programs who benefit from the BPS used reels are Rabun Trout Unlimited and the Habersham County Extension Service.  The Rabunites pass out free reels to Boy and Girl Scouts during their May cookout and fishing event at Rabun Gap School.  Habersham extension agent Steve Patrick uses the reels to support many of his 4-H fishing programs for the county’s children.

 

 

Good luck this week as we switch back from summer to winter in north Georgia.  While it’s going to be cooler, we won’t be frozen solid, and the fishing should be good if we go low and slow.  Thanks for buying/renewing your fishing licenses and TU brookie license plates.  We are putting your funds to good use on your favorite sport fisheries, so go fish Georgia soon.

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 are still high, and some are rising again with the new slug of water over the weekend, so I thought this would be a good week to catch up on some of my backlogged photos. The best reports I received this week were for crappie and bass in local ponds. With the current warm spell, it’s a perfect time to fish a pond, lake, or saltwater and get some big-fish photos of your own. Good luck! First quarter moon is February 12th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

Bobby Rykard caught this 7-pound bass while fishing on Sunday at Dodge County Public Fishing Area near Eastman.

Ryan Harrell caught this nice redfish on a Gulp shrimp and released it behind Cumberland Island. Redfishing is a great option during winter when schools are on the prowl looking for baitfish and fiddler crabs.

Andrew Laney caught this 2.36-pound angler award white crappie from Ocmulgee Public Fishing Area near Hawkinsville on January 22nd. The crappie bite has been strong the last couple of weeks.

Wyatt Crews fooled this 4-pound bass using a buzzbait during a warm spell. It won’t be long before the topwater bite heats up again.