Happy March everyone! Let’s get straight to the fishing news:
WINNER WINNER Georgia Bass Slam: Congratulations to Tyler Hutchins on being drawn as the 2018 Georgia Bass Slam winner. Now, for everyone – be SURE to start working on your 2019 Slam, Tyler already has 4 and plans to get all 10 this year!
Let’s check out our new fishing reports. This week, we have reports from North, Southwest, Central and Southeast Georgia. Lots of news! Now, Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Many watersheds across north Georgia received 8-10+ inches of rain last week. While we had a brief reprieve from the deluge, the rain is back again and our streams and rivers are still busting at the seams.
All of the rain has made our forest roads saturated and unstable in certain cases. They are too soft for much vehicle traffic without getting torn up. Our friends with the US Forest Service would sure appreciate all of us staying off their unpaved forest system roads until they dry out a bit. Best bets are still our lakes, small and large. See last week’s report for some named impoundments. Here we go:
Allatoona and Carters’ Lake Levels: Allatoona is 8 feet above full pool and Carters is an astonishing 25 feet above full pool! The only boat ramp currently open at Carters is Ridgeway. Beware, there is LOTS of floating debris on both lakes. Find out info you need HERE, HERE and HERE.
Allatoona Linesides: (Report provided by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Allatoona Line Sides Good!! It is rolling mud on the north end and on the far south end. The better water is in between Bartow Carver and Iron Hill. With all of this rain you would think the bite would be nonexistent. But that isn’t the case this year. The bite is still good and I contribute that to the water temperatures. A couple of weeks ago the artificial bite ( Capt Macks mini rigs and 1/2 oz White Flex it spoons was out fishing live bait 2-1. That’s not the case this week. Shad and shiners are the ticket right now. Free lines and Planner boards early. The key isn’t what creek your in, but finding clearer water is a must. Sometimes it only takes one shade difference in the water color to load the boat. If your looking to get out this month, but don’t have a boat. We have plenty of availability. Just give us a call 770 827-6282.
Allatoona Facebook Fishing Forum: Check it out HERE.
Lanier Ramp Status: Here’s the latest from the Corps on Lanier’s ramps, open and closed.
Capt Mack’s Lanier Reports: The fish “are all over the place.”
Ken’s Lake Reports: News to use HERE.
Best Bet- Crappie! See our biologist’s 2019 fishing forecasts and plan your March trips soon, as the crappie pull up shallow to spawn.
Hartwell Stripers: (From Senior Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — Striped bass are inching their way slowly into the major cove arms of Lake Hartwell. Rising water temperatures, windier conditions and muddy water bunched up the baitfish allowing for stripers to feed more heavily on shallow points. The 18 pounder pictured was caught electrofishing in the Gum Log Creek arm of Lake Hartwell. This fish was implanted with an internal ultrasonic transmitter so that its whereabouts can be tracked over the next few years.
Walleye – A Glimmer of Hope: (From Senior Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — The rivers are running high and fast, but we are finally starting to see an increase in the number of walleye moving into the headwaters of our North Georgia reservoirs. However, the peak of the spawning run is still two to three weeks away. Take a look at Georgia’s walleye fishing guide while we wait for more favorable river conditions
Coosa River: Normally we are gearing up for the white bass run, but river levels are still dangerously high. A picture of the Coosa River at Mayo Lock and Dam taken last Friday shows the river completely obscuring the lock and rising into the parking lot. Some die-hard bank anglers were catching a few white bass between the parking space lines, but it looked to be a slow go. Track river level on the Coosa at the lock and dam HERE.
Oostanaula in the Parking Lot: The Hwy 140 boat ramp on the Oostanaula River in Floyd Co. remains closed due to high water.
Etowah River: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Armuchee staff electrofished a short section of the Etowah River in Cartersville this week. We found a few small striped bass, white bass, and hybrids along with some monster yellow perch up to 1.5 lbs. We also saw a handful of big spotted bass in the 4-5 pound range. It is still very early in the spring spawning run and most species were found in deep, slow pockets of water out of the main current. Expect more fish to arrive in shallower spawning areas in the next few weeks as we move into prime spawning time. Be sure to pay attention to releases from Allatoona Dam if you plan to fish the Etowah as we expect the US Army Corps of Engineers will be releasing lots of water to bring the lake back down to normal levels.
SMALL LAKES: BEST BET
Small Lakes – Best Bet: Small lakes and ponds remain good bets as we wait for the water to recede elsewhere. You can try for our stocked trout in those lakes that get them, such as Nancytown, Black Rock, Vogel, and Winfield Scott. Better yet, the early season bass and crappie fishing in ponds and small county water supply lakes can be great. Link information HERE, HERE, and HERE. Look for fish “warming” in the shallows around fallen trees or rock. This 7 pound largemouth (see pic.) came off a fallen tree in the shallows of James “Sloppy” Floyd State Park’s upper lake during a recent DNR survey.
Rocky Mountain PFA: (Report courtesy of angler Clint Henderson) –Water temp. is running 52-54F and is on the rise at Rocky. The bass are starting to move shallower and “feed-up” for the spawn. Most of these schooling fish are keying in on pods of shad and can be caught using smaller shad-imitating lures. Find the shad and find the bass. Clint caught and released this nice seven-pounder (pic) from Rocky PFA earlier this week. He also reminded me that the Peach State Kayak Anglers and Reel Krazy Kayak Tournament series are teaming up to host the “King of the Rock” kayak tournament at Rocky PFA on Saturday March 9th.
Building Fish Habitat: What do we do after being stuck in the office for a few days due to the weather……spend a day on the water making fish attractors, of course. This “standing timber” brush pile (pic) was one of several new fish attractors placed by WRD staff into Lake Arrowhead (15 acres) on Arrowhead WMA in Floyd Co. The trees were placed inside a log crib not visible from the water’s surface. All the new fish attractors were placed within easy casting distance from the bank. Lake Arrowhead is open to adult/child fishing for bass, bream and catfish
Trout Stocking: The waters will hopefully recede and stocking will really gear up in March as we implement our 2019 statewide trout stocking plan.
Keep abreast of what has been stocked each week by going to our “Weekly Stocking Report.” You can also sign up to have the weekly stocking report sent directly to your email. Agency policy prohibits us from releasing trout stocking information ahead of time, in order to give all GA trout anglers an equitable shot at state and federal stocked trout. But our Friday afternoon stocking reports let you know where we’ve been, once we’ve ensured that those waters have indeed been stocked.
National Forest Fees: News about a fee increase HERE.
2019 Georgia Bass Slam Begins: Yes, the water is high, but you can still start planning your 2019 quest to catch five of Georgia’s ten bass species. Thirty-three anglers accomplished the slam in 2018 – will you be on 2019’s list? Lean more HERE
Go Fish Hatchery’s Smallmouth Are Laying Eggs: Read the story HERE.
Be patient and safe this week. Head to flat water before considering running water as you celebrate the arrival of March. Now, if we could just string together a week’s worth of dry days…Good luck and thanks for buying your fishing tackle, licenses and TU car tags.
(Fishing report courtesy of Amy Cottrell, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Water levels are pretty optimal here in the southwest part of the state. The Ochlockonee River is around seven feet with a nice even flow. Boat ramps are accessible and water temps are around mid-sixties. Biologists went out last week to sample for bream and bass and got some nice sized Suwannee Bass. Adults were between 1.5 – 2.5 pounds and had beautiful coloration. Bream (bluegill, redear, redbreast, and red spotted sunfish) are also in abundance. Other smaller water bodies in the area (Kinchafoonee, Muckalee, Chickasawhatchee, Spring Creek) are seeing water levels drop out. Get out on the rivers before the next rain and cold snap and you’ll be sure to catch something!
(Report provided by Dwayne Newborn) — Lake Seminole has been experiencing drastic fluctuations in weather, especially cold snaps. Last weekend the lake experienced strong temperature fluctuations which lead to fluctuating catch rates. Bass and crappie are being caught but colder temps have pushed fish off beds. Things will start to level off and fishing will improve when water warms up and becomes more constant.
WALTER F. GEORGE
(Report provided by Les Bratcher of Big Bite Baits near Lake Eufaula, AL) — The lake is on fire and the proof is in the pudding. It took over 32-lbs. to win the Boyd’s Trail event Saturday. The fish are being caught several different ways. Anglers are catching fish staging on crankbaits in 10 to 12 feet of water and some are catching shallow fish even though the majority of fish are still a little deep. The good news is it’s only going to get better as the fish push shallow. The crappie bite has also turned on with anglers catching them in the day and night. Crappie are being caught on plastics and minnows on their migration routes to shallow water to spawn. Tight lines till the next time!
(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 fishing is slow. Use the smaller jigs in black and silver with a small pork chunk. Any bank cover can hold fish but they are small. Spoons in 1/2 ounce sizes on and over the old tree lines in the major creeks is also fair, just fish them slowly. Try medium all-white Bandit crank baits down-lake on points. Stay on the points on the main lake with small Zoom finesse worms in greens on a Texas rig. If other patterns aren’t working, wait for current to start and head to the rip rap. Main river humps and points are holding fish at 10 to over 20 feet deep. The best bait for a given day must be determined daily and sometimes hourly. The best choices include: spoons like a Hopkins Shorty .45, Flex It .6; Carolina rigs, tail spinners like a Little George; jig head and worm; drop shot rig; and crank baits.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 2.17 FEET, STAINED, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. Weather and lots of rain has kept anglers off the lake. Fishing has been tough with the heavy rains and cold fronts. A few fish can be caught on seawalls, rip rap and docks early and on the sunny afternoons, but you have to work hard to find the bass. Fish the seawalls with flat crankbaits and Shad Raps fished really slowly. Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits and red eye shad baits are other choices. Fish the docks with a jig and trailer or shaky head. If you get a bite, stay in the area and really work it thoroughly. Creating a pattern throughout the lake is just not happening at all right now. The other technique to try is a jigging spoon in 15 to 25 feet on the south end. Some of the fish you mark on your graph will be stripers, but any bite is welcome right now; it’s that tough.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S
(Report brought to you by Mark Smith at Reel Time Guide Service) — The lake is full. The rivers are still muddy and the main lake is lightly stained. Richland Creek is almost clear, still has a light stain. The temperature is 50 to 53.
Bass: Bass fishing is slow. Spinner baits slow rolled near sea walls and rip rap have been producing some good fish when Georgia Power is pulling water. Small crank baits fished around docks and sea walls from the middle of the creeks to the back of the creeks. Also fish are starting to show up off of points in Richland Creek. Shad raps fished off of these points have produced. Jigs and trailers fished under docks and around wood structure in Lick and Sugar creeks have been producing bigger fish; It is a slow bite but good-size fish.
Striper: Striper fishing is fair to good. The fish are from the mouth of Double Branches up to the Ritz. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and you can drop a small shiner into the school. There are a lot of fish in the upper water column. Target these fish with a flat line with no weight on it. The mini Mack fished on a down line at 0.5 mph have been deadly on the down line fish. This is a new way to fish the mini Mack and it is working very well.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. Long line trolling is the best bet for catching these fish. Fish a rig that will get you down into the fish which are holding from 10 to 15 feet deep. Fishermen have been using a double 1/16 rig. The darker color jigs are working best in the dark water. Sugar creek has been on fire the past week. Also the fish are starting to show up in the rivers. Pushing has been the best way to catch the bigger fish up the rivers.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.92 FEET, STAINED, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Work the spoons, jigs and worms. Look for the bass in the mouths of the main lake and main lake creeks. On the lower lake creeks use the smaller jigs in black and silver with a small pork. Fish any bank cover all the way to the boat working the lure slowly in cover. Find any warming water in the northwest coves later in the afternoons. Hopkins spoons in 1/2 ounce sizes on and over the old tree lines in the major creeks is also fair; just fish them slowly. Try medium all white Rooster Tails at daylight down lake on points. Also use a small green worm or a night crawler fished around the main lake marinas. Stay on the points on the main lake with a small Zoom finesse worms in greens on a Texas rig.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.48 FEET, STAINED, 50S
Bass fishing is fair. Weather and lots of rain has kept anglers off the lake. Fishing has been tough with the heavy rains and cold fronts. Bass are scattered and being caught from shallow water in coves to deep water along the rivers. Docks and boat houses are producing a few quality fish using crank baits and jigs mostly. Suspending crank baits like a Rapala Shad Rap RS in size #5 is a good choice for using a slow retrieve with one or two second pauses beside each dock post. Silver or silver blue are good colors with the sun shining and crawfish is a good choice with cloud cover. For the jig, try a 3/8 ounce Strike King Pro Model in black blue or brown with a Zoom Pro Chuck in green pumpkin. Rip rap in Little River and Beaver Dam Creek are holding a few fish that will hit crank baits and jigs during power generation.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.53 FEET OVER FULL, STAINED, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. Some small spotted bass are roaming up in the shallows and are biting plastics of all kinds. Try to a #5 Shad Rap. Weather and lots of rain has kept anglers off the lake. Fishing has been tough with the heavy rains and cold fronts. Move the bait with a medium retrieve through the shallow water and then slow it down as you progress to the deeper water. If the rain that is expected to move through is heavy and the water gets real muddy, switch to the Rapala DT6 or DT10 in the silver or hot mustard color. The red crawdad color will work and make your cast in real shallow and crank them slowly. Try to keep your bait in contact with the bottom if possible. With the water dirty, head towards the south end of the lake and try your luck there. With all the recent rain and the water cold the bass fishing is slow.
FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 57.9˚ F (14.4˚ C)
- Water Level: 28” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 30”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
As we progress into our brief spring, warmer water temperatures are expected to kick off some great fishing at Flat Creek. The good news is that the particularly wet winter has helped increase the lake level, so the fish are not all bunched together, this should also help for better bass fishing. The crappie fishing will also begin to pick up as the lake temperature warms and those lucky enough to have a boat should have success trolling crappie jigs or sinking minnows.
Bass: Lipless crank baits. June bug or watermelon colored Zoom Trick Worms, and Zoom Centipede worms with a slow retrieval. Worms fished on the bottom.
Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Worms on a Texas rig.
Channel Catfish: No interviews available for channel catfish at this time. The last angler interviewed that was catching catfish had great success with worms fished on the bottom.
Crappie: The crappie have still been hanging out in deeper water, but this is all expected to change as we progress into spring. Try minnows, or jigs fished with light tackle to feel the slightest bite and trolled. If you are bank fishing, try fishing near the pier, or the brush piles near shore.
MARBEN PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water temps. : Mid/High 50’s
- Fishing Guide for Marben PFA
Bass: March weather can be a little unstable at times. Temperature swings can bring sudden changes to bass feeding behavior. Larger bass remain in deeper water but warmer days anglers can find bass in shallow water, especially on consecutive days. Mid-day can produce some big bass but look for these fish in deeper water (10-15 ft.). Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA. Fishing slow and steady, while mimicking lethargic shad is a proven technique on the PFA lakes, especially this time of year.
Crappie: Crappie are now the most aggressive in early afternoon and evening, crowded around submerged timber in deeper water. Anglers should find this species dominating the catch. When it gets quiet at Marben, the crappie are usually biting. Don’t expect those fishing to give up their favorite fishing spot when the crappie “bite” is high. Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs. Try fishing cover approximately 10-12 feet throughout the day, especially in the evening. Full stringers of crappie are common this time of year. Look for fishing to pick up during the last part of March.
Bream: Bream fishing will start to pick up but will not be as aggressive as crappie. Warmer water temperatures play a factor but overall this is just not the right time for anglers seeking quality bream. Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best in mid-day but a little slow in early morning and evening. Remember that bream are still a little sluggish so be patient when fishing this popular species.
Catfish: Catfish also will remain sluggish this time of year. Patience is necessary if anglers are in pursuit of this fish. Anglers should target days when it is sunny which should warm the water in order to get catfish moving. Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
I predicted that some double-digit bass would be caught this week. I didn’t hear of any, but I did hear about a 9.28-pounder caught from Paradise Public Fishing Area. The bass fishing was great for numbers and quality this week in ponds and lakes. Reports from the swamp were very good. Saltwater was mostly slow. New Moon is March 6th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
The upper river is still too high and swift for good fishing. In the river around Altamaha Park, the crappie bite was decent for those fishing minnows in the oxbows. The catfish bite has been on fire. An 81-pound flathead was landed on a limb line baited with goldfish. Channel and blue cats were landed in good numbers by anglers using dead shrimp and worms as bait. The bass bite picked up in the lower river, with white ultra-vibe speed worms producing the catches. The river level was 10.5 feet and rising (59 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.6 feet and rising (61 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on February 26th.
The river is still high, but is falling. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that in the upper river anglers caught bream and crappie on minnows and crickets. Bass were caught on Rattlin’ Rogue minnows plugs. Take note of the Highway 158 Bridge landing being closed due to construction of the replacement Hwy 158 Bridge. This will affect anglers fishing that upper river area this spring, so plan accordingly. The river level on February 26th at the Waycross gage was 10.2 feet and falling (64 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 9.7 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The St. Marys is in good shape. In the Browntown area, angler reported catching bream and redbreasts on worms and crickets. Some crappie were also caught on minnows. The catfish bite has remained good all along the river for anglers fishing shrimp or worms on the bottom. The river level at the Macclenny gage on February 26th was 4.9 feet and falling.
A group from the Chattanooga Christian School paddled and camped for 3 days in the swamp during the middle of last week. They caught an estimated 200 fish, including flier, warmouth, and chain pickerel. I didn’t realize it was possible, but they didn’t catch a single bowfin (mudfish) during their trip. They caught about half the fliers on pink and half on yellow sallies fished both under a float and without a float. They also caught some fliers on 1/32-oz. crappie jigs. The jackfish ate Dura-Spin in-line spinners. Matt also did some fish prints of several species while in the swamp. You can see some of his art at his website themightybluegill.com. Catfishing at the Sill is your best option on the west side. Shrimp on the bottom is the ticket. Catfish were caught on worms and shrimp the bridge crossings over the creeks out Swamp Road in Waycross.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
The big bass have moved shallow and are eating. Andy Hendrix of Waycross caught a 9.28-pound bass just shy of 25 inches long this week. Crappie have moved shallow also. You can catch some in the deeper water, but make sure to check shallow cover several times during the day so that you’re there when they move up to spawn. Look for some bass to start spawning this week, also. They’ve been mostly pre-spawn at the area, but they will likely spawn during the current warm trend. Bream and catfish have started biting with the warmer weather.
Bass fishing has been great. Ty Bennett caught an 8-pound bass on a buzzbait last Wednesday evening from a Ware County pond. A 7.1-pounder was caught on a Rat-L-trap on Friday in a Glynn County pond. The angler caught another half-dozen fish between 2 and 5 pounds, also. Bobby Thompson and a friend fished a Vidalia area pond and landed exactly 100 bass up to 6 pounds in 3 hours of fishing. Most of their fish ate Rapalas, but a few inhaled topwaters. The fish were shallow, and a few were even on beds. On Tuesday an angler reported catching a few bass up to 3 pounds and missing a big fish in a Tifton area pond. He said that he saw a few balls of bass fry with males guarding them, so the spawn is happening in the shallower, weedy ponds. Michael Winge said that crappie were the most consistent in Waycross area ponds. Minnows fooled most of them. Shiners produced some good bass catches. The spillway at Laura Walker State Park produced a great catch for an angler fishing on Friday. They caught crappie, bream and warmouth on minnows and worms.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The best report I had from the brine this week was from Shane and Joshua Barber who fished out of St. Marys. They cast Sea Shads for trout with no success before switching to sheepshead fishing. They dabbled fiddler crabs around hard cover for a great mess of convictfish up to about 4 pounds and a keeper redfish. Brentz and Alex McGhin fished the St. Simons area on Saturday and got fogged out. They fished some, but had to cut the trip short due to dense fog. They still managed 11 whititng on dead shrimp. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that crabbing was tops this week. There were also some whiting caught with dead shrimp fished on the bottom. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The big bass should continue biting great up through the forecasted cold front late in the weekend. You should be able to get them to chase swimbaits and even some topwaters ahead of the front. After the front, they should still be shallow, but you’ll probably have to coax them into biting with slower-moving lures like wacky worms, Texas-rigged plastics, or jigs. For crappie, I would look to shallow vegetation and cover until the cold front. The front will probably slow the crappie bite. Flier fishing in the swamp has been great, even with the high water. Pitch sallies on a bream buster pole to shoreline vegetation and wood to catch a mess of the tasty panfish.