“I’m walking on sunshine, whoa-oh, walking on sunshine” all the way to the water this weekend! Oh yes, it is really getting gorgeous now and I am definitely making plans to get outside. How about you? 

Some quick news bits (in case ya missed’em):

  • Record Rocky Mountain PFA Crappie: Go break his record! Oh, but, guess what? He already broke it himself with a 2 lb, 4 oz crappie he caught on 3/26. Go get yours!
  • 6 TopWater Fishing Tips You Need To Know: Get ’em HERE
  • Proposed Reg Changes: Public Comment sought for Proposed changes on amendments to current Public Fishing Area (PFA) regulations regarding camping on PFAs, and more. Find out more HERE.
  • But, But….Why? Just in case your allergies weren’t flaring up already…watch this video, if you dare. 

We have ALOT of Fishing News today folks – so let’s get to it. Here are reports from Southwest, Central, North and Southeast Georgia. Read ’em and then get to reeling ’em in. Go Fish 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)

RESERVOIRS 

Gulf Striped Bass from tailrace of Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam

Angler reports of bass, crappie and bream are being reported from Lake Blackshear and Lake Seminole. Gulf Striped Bass have begun to show up below Lake Seminole during our standardized sampling, which means they should be biting as well. This is supported by the number of striped bass anglers we’ve interacted with below the dam in Chattahoochee, FL.   

WALTER F. GEORGE/LAKE EUFAULA

We spent this last week sampling the upper and lower reaches of the reservoir and captured good numbers of largemouth bass and black crappie. Largemouth bass and crappie are both moving to shallow waters along the shoreline. Crappie were often caught in pairs near vegetated edges, likely engaged in spawning behavior. Crappie were all between one and two pounds. Pairs of largemouth bass were also caught, suggesting spawning behavior as well. Largemouth caught in our sampling were in the two – five-pound range. Water temperatures are around mid-sixties; fishing should continue to pick up for both species over the next couple of weeks.

WF George: Black Crappie
WF George: Largemouth Bass

(Report provided by Les Bratcher of Big Bite Baits): The lake is still fishing very well. Fish are still in the process of moving up to spawn. Anglers report catching fish in staging areas about 10 feet deep. Plastics and crankbaits seem to be a good choice for anglers to try. The fishing should continue to be great through the end of the month and into April.

 

FLINT RIVER

We haven’t had a significant amount of rain in a couple of weeks, and gage heights continue to drop. Water temps are slowly rising to mid-sixties, and fish will be moving around and feeding a bit more as spring continues to warm up. Water levels are remaining steady.

OCHLOCKONEE RIVER

Ochlocknee River: Spotted Sunfish
Ochlockonee River: Largemouth Bass

Similar conditions to the Flint River; the river hasn’t seen much fluctuation in depth due to lack of rain. Water levels are slowly dropping and are currently around 5 – 5.5 feet. The floodplain is still a bit inundated, though boat ramps (Hadley’s Ferry, Hwy 93) are becoming accessible. We sampled here earlier this week and the river was navigable with minimal flow. We captured a few nice sized largemouth bass, including one seven-pound individual (pictured above). The Ochlockonee River is also home to many beautiful sunfish species, including the spotted sunfish (pictured above). Fishing should be good down here in the next few weeks if water levels remain in the narrow optimal window of 5 – 8 feet.

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 DOWN 1.23 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  Bass are shallow and feeding well.  This month take several items to fish with:  Carolina rigged worms and lizards, shaky head worms and jig ’n pigs.  All of these will produce fish.  Big numbers will be caught on soft plastics, but quality will be caught on spinnerbaits and jig ’n pig patterns.  The Alabama rig, the Rapala DT crank baits and the spinner baits that all will run from 2 to 7 feet are a must.  The type and kind are not as important as where you fish them.  Use bright colors in stained water and natural colors in clear water.  The spinnerbait pattern should be good this month, also.  Slow roll the bait this month until they begin to spawn, and then move shallow and speed up.  Soft plastics will be good baits starting this month. 

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 1.74 FEET, STAINED, 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Fish boat docks, wood structure, and sea walls.  Work your way to the back of the coves and creeks.  Sugar creek has been the most productive over the past week.  Use Shad Raps and small crank bait with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks.  Dark Jigs with a rattle, brown, blue and black have been the best colors.  Fish these around wood structure on the main river pockets.  Spinner baits fished along any rock bank will also draw a strike.  The Lucky Craft Redemption 5/8 ounce spinner bait is a great choice.  Just make long casts and keep the baits where you can see them.  With warming temperatures daily, look for the fish to start to move into the back of the creeks and major coves off of the main lake.  If it gets colder they will move back to deeper water.  

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S+

(This report brought to you by Mark Smith at Reel Time Service) — The lake is full.  The rivers are stained; the main lake is clearing; and Richland Creek is clear.  The temperature is 59-64.

Bass: Bass fishing is good.  The fish have started moving into the creeks and coves all over the lake.  A small crank bait fished around wood has been producing the best number.  Slower moving baits like a jig have been producing the larger fish.  Work the docks in the middle area of the creek.  Some good fish are also coming on main lake points going into coves and pockets off the main lake.  Work these areas with the slower baits.  Spinner baits fished on the bridge rip rap has started to produce some fish over the past week.

Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good to very good.  The fish are showing up at the dam but the bite has been up and down like the weather.  I have found fish from Great Waters to the dam and then back up in Richland to Rocky Creek.  Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and you can drop a small shiner into the school.  The flat line planer-board bite has picked up this week; it works best early mornings.  The mini Mack fished on a down line at 0.5 mph has 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 fair, good, great.  The long-line bite has taken off over the past few days.  The fish are in the mouths of the coves and are feeding on double 1/16 jigs.  Match the color to the color of the water just make sure it has some chartreuse in the jig.  The fish have been in the water column from 7 to 12 feet deep.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 3.45 FEET, STAINED, 60’S

Bass fishing is good.   Fishing has gotten better as the week progressed.  With such fluctuating conditions, the best bites have come from covering water with lipless crank baits and medium running crank baits.  Fish are scattered in multiple depths right now from three to eight feet of water. My best success has come from keeping my boat in ten feet of water throwing as shallow as possible working the bait slowly back to the boat working as many pockets as possible mid-lake.  Our best colors have been a shad pattern with chartreuse as the primary color.  Bass have preferred tighter wobbling crank bait like a Rapala Glass Shad Rap in shad pattern.  Using long casts close to rocky banks, make about five turns with the reel and pause.  Repeat this cadence all the way back to the boat.  McStick jerk baits can work but be sure to use a jerk and then rest a few seconds before pulling the bait again.  Fish the mid-part of the lake.  Focus on rocky points closest to the main river channel.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.2 FEET, STAINED, 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  Look for the fish to start moving towards their spawning grounds.  Many of the fish have already started leaving their wintertime haunts and are moving up on shallow sandy points and flats to feed.  A crank bait is an excellent choice for catching these opportunistic feeding fish.  A Spro Little John 50 in a shad or craw color is hard to beat right now.  On warmer days when the fish get extremely shallow, a Spro Fat John in the same colors will get the call.  Make multiple casts to stumps, brush, and rocks as you might be able to catch more than one fish off a single spot.  The bigger fish have been eating a ¼ ounce Buckeye Mop Jig with a Zoom Super Chunk under shallow protected docks.  Black and blue has been the best color in the stained water areas of the lake.  A Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head paired with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog has also been catching the more finicky fish under these same docks.  The best docks are the ones with 4 to 6 feet on the front posts.  Later in the afternoon, look for the fish to move into 1 to 2 feet of water under the walkways as the shallow water will heat up quicker. 

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .62 FEET, STAINED, 50’S

Bass fishing is good.  Tussahaw Creek consistently remains clear and the Alcovy is between clear and lightly stained.  Bass are holding in 1 to 6 feet of water and could be found in the first half of the pockets.  A few fish were found all the way back in some short pockets.  In the early part of this week, a few quality fish are at least 3/4 deep in the pockets.  Spinner baits, jigs, and hard baits can all fish well.  The spinner bait bite has generally been better in the morning. In the recent past; the better daytime search bait has been the crank bait.  Shad Raps and the Bandit 200 are two good choices.  A Bandit 100 and other shallow running crank baits should fish well if not better than the 200.  In stained water, choose a crank bait with some color.  Fire tiger is one good choice.  Other than that, try something natural.  Shad, bluegill, and craw patterns will work.  The jig bite can really have its moments.  Black and blue with a green pumpkin trailer will work in moderate to light stained water.  Go green in clear water.  The ace in the hole is the Senkos.  Fish that don’t take the other baits will often go for the weightless Senkos.  Use 5″ and 6″ baits on a 4/0 EWG hook.  

FLAT CREEK PFA (More info HERE)

The warmer temperatures have been producing some great fishing at Flat Creek and many anglers have been very successful.  This trend is expected to continue and even increase as we transition into the summer.  Bass fishing has been good, and a recent Department of Natural Resource sampling/survey revealed several nice largemouth with five of the largemouth being over seven pounds.  Large bream can be found in the shallows and some bank anglers have been excited over the sizes caught.  Crappie fishing is still going strong at Flat Creek and the crappie anglers using a boat are catching the most fish.  The bank anglers fishing for crappie have had good luck close to the fishing pier or the deeper cove on the far side of the dam.

Bass: Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom.  White Buzz baits.  Minnows and worms (Pinks).

Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig.  Worms on a Texas rig.

Channel Catfish: Most catfish caught has been bycatch while fishing for bream or bass.  The last angler interviewed that was catching catfish had great success with worms fished on the bottom.

Crappie: Minnows have been the go-to bait, or jigs (John Deere or yellow and white colored Triple Ripple, or June Bug colored Teaser Tail) fished with light tackle.

MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE

  • Water Temperature: 62⁰ F
  • Water Visibility: 21 – 54+ in.
  • The Fish Cleaning Station is open!

Bass:  Many nice bass are being caught in Jones, Willow and Breambuster.  A group of campers had an unofficial ‘big fish’ tournament all weekend long and all of the largest fish came from Rodbender Lake, including a 5 lb. 3 oz. bass!

Bream:  Quality bream are already being caught in Bridge Lake on the warmer sunny afternoons we’ve been having.   Bream are finally biting in Jones Lake as anglers are catching numerous limits of large bream!   Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge Lakes are excellent spots to fish for bream.

Channel Catfish: The catfish action is picking up fast, many anglers are having a lot of success on the warmer afternoons.  A few two-pounders were recently caught on chicken liver in Bridge and Beaverlodge.   Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge are excellent spots to fish for catfish.

Striped Bass: Stripers can be found in Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes.  Numerous 10-12 inch stripers are being caught in Bridge on chicken liver and worms.   Believe it or not, chicken liver is the most reliable way to catch stripers out here!  If it works, it works. 

MARBEN PFA (More info HERE)

Bass: April is starting out colder and definitely wetter than usual.  It appears that the bass spawn is slow to get started so look for bass to become more aggressive in May.  Afternoon showers can bring sudden changes to bass feeding behavior.   Look for bass to be less aggressive in April but after the spawn expect aggressive feeding behavior to increase.  According to most anglers, spring is the best time to target bass at Marben PFA.   Threadfin will be spawning soon, so look for bass in early morning feeding on shad mostly around boat ramps.  Successful anglers mimic lethargic shad by casting jerk baits and crank baits.   Mid-day can produce some big bass but look for these big fish in deeper water (10-15 ft.).  Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA.  Expect bass fishing to be best in late April into early May.

Crappie: The crappie are most aggressive in early evening, crowded around submerged timber in deeper water.  Anglers will finds crappie still deep, crowded around flooded timber.  Anglers should see a slight change as crappie become a little less aggressive in May.  Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs.  Try fishing cover approximately 10-15 feet throughout the day, especially in the evening.

Bream:  Bream fishing will start to pick up significantly near the end of April.   Warmer water temperatures play a factor but overall this is just the best time of year.  Anglers really see a difference.  Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best throughout the day but a little slow when temperatures get really hot.  Remember that bream are shallow with spawning this time of year so to be successful, anglers will have to fish shallow areas (4 to 5 ft.) in order to increase your chances.

Catfish: Catfish will pick up significantly this time of year.  Anglers will find catfish in 7-9 ft. of water and really aggressive.   Anglers should target days when it is sunny but patience is necessary when targeting these fish.  Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.

NORTH GEORGIA

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

It’s getting warmer and the fishing is heating up, too.  From crappie to bass and stripers to trout, a lot of our mountain fisheries are starting to bloom!   Check out the abundant reports to follow.  We have a very good weekend ahead of us, with Saturday’s weather just perfect.  Then the overnight rain will be clearing out by Sunday afternoon, with only a quarter inch expected.  Streamflows are perfect.  While rivers are still high, most are clear and very fishable.  After a brief cold snap to start next week, spring weather will return around Wednesday and the catching will rebound quickly.

For many old timers, the last Saturday in March is fondly recalled as the “Opening Day” of their trout fishing year, and many friends and family still celebrate this special weekend with a trouting trip to the mountains.  Opening Day brings back special memories to many of us, even me.  Thank you, Mom.

 

To honor this time of the year, GAWRD still loads our streams with stockers and hopes that your traditions continue with family and friends, young and old.  You may have to bring your own rock to stand on in the Tallulah River or Cooper Creek, but that mass of angling humanity is just part of the experience. And if you read the last part of that old WRD blog entry closely, you’ll “catch” some tips for trouting success in the crowds.

Just take in the aroma of wood smoke and all those favorite recipes simmering on Coleman stoves as you bumpity-bump down a streamside, national forest road this weekend.  Those old memories will flash in front of you like they happened yesterday.  Got your niblets, red wigglers, and a new buddy to help make some fresh fishing memories?  Here we go:

TROUT

Abundant Stockings! To celebrate the start of our regular trout stocking schedule for 2019, WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson said that nearly 50,000 trout will be deposited into 58 different waterbodies this week.  His best bets include upper Etowah River, Hooch on WMA, WF Chattooga, Cooper, Rock, Dicks, Boggs, Dockery and Winfield Scott lakes, Stamp, Holly, Johns, Tallulah, Ami State park, Soque, and Panther.  He reminds us to watch for that long list of stocked waters on Friday afternoon HERE.

Ole Reliable Trout Stream Guide: New anglers should know about this great little book that easily fits into a vehicle glove box.  Combine Jimmy’s book with a WRD trout map or a US Forest Service map, and you’ll be in business this spring.  Take a buddy and go exploring with your trout poles.

 

Wildcat Creek Road Closed: Take note and make some alternative trout fishing plans for a few weeks, such as detouring to the Tallulah, Soque, Dicks, upper Hooch, or West Fork Chattooga, while USFS repairs its road. Wildcat Road Closure: A popular stocked trout stream in Rabun County, Wildcat Creek, will have its trout stockings delayed for several weeks this spring due to the closure of Wildcat Creek Road. The US Forest Service has closed this road due to a landslide that occurred this winter. The US Forest Service has indicated that the public can still walk the road to fish and camp but, for safety reasons, it will remain closed to vehicles for a short period while repairs are made. You can find more information regarding road closures on the National Forest HERE. GAWRD’s scheduled weekly trout stockings will resume when the road is repaired and reopened to the public. Need more trout info? Click HERE.

Stocker Report: (From Academy Jack/Academy Sports/Gainesville Store) — Fished XXXX Creek yesterday with a friend. The water was still high & fast but after a little scouting we found a couple of deep holes in a little slower water that held fish.  First trout of the year on Mop Jigs, Y2K & Panther Martin Spinners.  Where?  I don’t believe I said….

 

Making a Memory: Best Trout Fishing Memory

The Lux Reports: (This recent intel is from avid angler Bob Lux, also known as GA Foothills TU’s newsletter editor) — He’s best known as Daddy Superguide to his twin girls, GATU Trout camp grads who have a great game themselves!

  • Took the kids to Dukes (Smithgall) on Sunday to try out their Trout Camp skills. Athena landed one on her own on a nymph while Angelica snapped off a monster on a Mohair leech. Between saving flies from tree tops, I managed a few casts with one being nice sized leprechaun special.
  • Got that bass on a fly night fishing on Lanier for stripers after the Hoot on the Hooch. Not a lot of lights on and you had to work the lights you found. Landed a smaller 5lb striper that wasn’t picture worthy.
  • The walleye bite was on a Hartwell tributary late Sunday afternoon. One of those walleye was on the fly, the other one (21”) was on a pumpkin Mister Twister with a 1/8 ounce black jig head. Lost a big walleye on a fly and a surprise large striper on a fly that spit the hook while landing it. Caught about 15 spots and ended the evening with 6 large crappie on the fly. Nice mixed back for about two hours of fishing. I didn’t fish after dark, but I’m sure the walleye would’ve bit into the night. The action the last 30 minutes of sunlight was intense and I was upset I had to leave.

Deadly Damer Strikes Gold: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — On Saturday I took a trip up near Dahlonega in search of some gold and struck it rich.  The Forest Service has done a great job maintaining the gravel roads despite the unending wet weather, but there was one section of red gumbo on a descent and that meant I had to park and walk the last 1/4 mile to get to the stream.  The water was still about twice the normal flow for this time of year, but fishable.  It didn’t take long before my trusty elk hair caddis went under, and a colorful 9-inch butterbelly was splashing around my feet.  The action was a bit slow but I still put together a baker’s dozen spread over the four-hour trip.  Most were in the 8-10 inch range with a few smaller ones mixed in.  I’d imagine someone less stubborn or more skilled could have had better numbers by fishing subsurface or using a dry-dropper rig.  Nonetheless, it was a great day, especially when some friendly passers-by saved me the extra walk back out to my car!

 

Ami DH Trophy Trout: Sunday Piggy 

Chattooga DH:  A new fishing trio of 5Rivers, Dr. J, and Dredger hit the river all day last Sunday.  While the fishing was great, the catching was a bit slow with 6-8 trout fondled per fly flinger.  The trio just couldn’t find the right flavor, and landed one or two fish on each of the diversity of flies tried: rubberlegs, squirmies, soft hackle pheasant tails, midges, and even a Quill Gordon dry.  It was still a great day on a crystal clear river, no longer in full-flood stage.  While hatching bugs were scarce, the hatches should improve in April. This week another Tooga angler called me.  Seth said he also fished the DH section weekend.  While most fish came up to his Quill Gordon dry, they refused it.  But he cleaned up on his #16 Quill Gordon nymph, fished as a dropper.  Dredger, take note: HE had the right flavor!

 

Trout Fishing: (From Fisheries Biologist Zach Moran) — GADNR personnel are in full stocking mode and are stocking some MASSIVE fish. Make sure to check our weekly stocking report and interactive trout map to see where you should focus your fishing this weekend. On the Tallulah River, people were catching fish on spinners, floating trout worms, and mop fly patterns. Making upstream casts to the top of a pool before reeling it in will be your best method for success.  Good luck fishing!

LAKE LANIER 

The Roop Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — This week has been directed towards Morone (white bass and striped bass) sampling on Lake Lanier, as water temperatures are moving back up into the mid 50’s, and these predators are being drawn shallow and into the Lanier’s headwaters (the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers) in an attempt to spawn. Unfortunately, Lanier’s headwaters don’t have enough river miles to keep the semi-buoyant eggs of striped bass suspended long enough for them to hatch, so they end of dropping out of the water column and expiring in the silty bottom of the river channel. Because natural reproduction isn’t possible in Lanier, WRD-Fisheries staff annually stock this reservoir with striped bass and white bass fingerlings to maintain the put-grow-take fishery, and our purpose for sampling these species is to understand how well they have survived and grown year-by-year.

On Monday 3/26/19, fisheries technician Mark Rigglesford and I sampled the Chattahoochee River near the Belton Bridge boat ramp. The river was clear, and river gauges and flows were lower than we have seen them in a long time thanks to a stretch of relatively dry weather AND the Army Corps’ efforts to draw Lanier back down to full pool elevations. After about one hour, we had captured a boat load of striped bass and white bass. The striped bass sample had a good range of sizes, from a few young-of-year (2018 stockers) to a 17 lb (2013 year class) female that thanked us for our picking and prodding by soaking our camera and datasheets right before an untimely photo opportunity. Times like these are when write-in-rain paper and Lifeproof phone cases are a must! White bass are also starting to show up in pockets here and there—we netted ten nice white bass, several of them females, averaging just over 14” in length and 1.5 lbs in weight. The white bass run is around the corner, so get those white curly tail grubs ready!  It looks like WRD’s recent white bass stocking efforts are starting to pay off.

Spring is here, and this is a great time for anglers to get out and fish for Lanier’s Morone species. We are currently finding these fish along the river banks, under trees and in-water structures (rock outcrops and blowdowns), and especially in zones of mixing and eddies where the water is stained or green with phytoplankton production. Especially in stained water, which warms more quickly due to light-absorbing clays and suspended solids, you will find pockets of bait like blueback herring, shad, and shiners that are easy pickings for these hungry predators. Pulling live blueback herring on planer boards over a 10-20 foot bottom is a great technique that will allow anglers to cover more water and find those warm, productive pockets that will be holding fish.

Lanier Bass: Time for Numbers on Lanier

Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Report March 26, 2019: (This Lake Lanier Crappie fishing report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club) –Water Temperature is around 58 degrees and as expected, Crappie fishing is good to excellent. We think that we are in the early stage of the spawn. Some fish remain staged in shallow docks at 10 foot depths or less, waiting to move in to the banks to spawn.  Judging from the looks of their bellies, it appears that others have completed their spawn and are heading back to the docks.  Long line trolling works well this time of year since the fish are roaming back and forth to the shallows.  However, pretty much everything is working. Whether using crappie minnows or a jig under a cork, cast your bait or jig through the weed lines and retrieve slowly. Some blow downs are starting to hold fish in pockets and backs of creeks. (A blow-down is a tree that has the base still on land and the majority of the trunk and branches partly or mostly submerged.)  To gauge the length of the blowdown, compare the diameter of the blowdown trunk to similar standing trees nearby.  That will give you an idea of the height of the blowdown and therefore how far the tree extends into and under the water.   If you ride over it with your down scan, it will look like a stand-alone brush pile.  Shooting docks remains the best method of catching the bigger fish. You should be ten feet or so away from the dock, with a 5 ½ ft. to 6 ½ ft. medium action rod, and high visibility line not heavier than four pound test. Release a length of line about two-thirds the length of your rod, and leave the bail in the open position while you are holding the line with one finger. Grab the curve of the hook (below the barb) and bring it toward your body. Keep the base of the rod parallel to the water while pulling the line toward you to sharply bow the tip of the rod. Release the jig and the line at the same time, while aiming toward your target.  If you need practice before heading out, try raising your garage door a foot or more and try shooting into the void.  Make sure you break the hook off the jig when practicing so it doesn’t harm pets or property.  On the lake, target docks in ten feet of water or less that have some type structure below. Your side scan can be very helpful in locating structure. We’ve been catching fish on docks and brush piles near docks pretty much all day long. Blow downs and weed lines are doing better in the mornings and late in the day. Jiffy jigs or Bobby Garland soft body grubs with 1/24 ounce or preferably 1/32 ounce jig heads remain our number one choice.  Keep in mind that you are fishing shallower docks and you don’t want your jig to go down too quickly to the bottom.  For those who prefer live bait, a slip cork and a trusty crappie minnow will also put some fish in the boat. So, get out there and fish while fishing is good and before the lake gets busier with the warmer weather.  Wear your life jacket – it can save your life!

Lake Lanier is 1.62 feet Over Full and More News: (This report brought to you by Jimbo Mathley) –The lake has dropped .4 feet since last week. The Corp has slowed down pulling water at this point. The backs of the live creeks in the lower lake are stained. The lake above Brown’s Bridge is stained and progresses to muddy as you approach Gainesville Marina. Please be careful of floating debris when navigating the lake as there is still some of it out there.

  • Bass: The fish are definitely and finally in full pre spawn mode. They are still somewhat spread out and somewhat unpredictable, but they are moving. A crankbait and a jerk bait have been our best choices for catching fish this week. Shallow is the word for the fish we have been on. We have been working these baits shallow on rocky and clay points at the mouths of pockets and creeks. A Spro McStick jerk bait and a Castaway 1.5 Shad crank are good choices. Also, these baits will work back shallow in the creeks as well. Some days the wood in these areas is holding fish as well, so make sure to make some casts to the now many pieces of flooded cover. The jig and worm bite is still an option when the moving baits aren’t working, so keep those handy as well. Slow tapering clay and rock points have been good this week, especially in the afternoons. Shallower docks are holding fish as well, so those are always worth a check on sunny days. Lots of stuff working out there now get out and fish and have fun.
  • Striper: Striper fishing is good. There is plenty of bait in the creeks and the lake is healthy. Live bait continues to be your best bet. There is a shallow water early morning (before sunrise) bite using Herring on UN weighted free lines and planner boards. Once the sun gets up, weight your lines with several split shots, deploy your down rods in addition to your free lines and move to deeper water. Once the water temperature reaches 55 degrees we should be able to pick up some nice fish on the shallow flats half way back in the creeks. Be looking at points and flats this week. Use the umbrella rigs as a search tool last week and switched to bait when we caught a fish or marked fish on our Lowrance Structure Scan Sonar. 

OTHER LAKE NEWS

Don’t Forget: Ed note: remember some small lakes, too.

The Moran Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Zach Moran) — Chatuge and Nottely: As temperatures in North Georgia increase so does the quality of fishing. Herring and Shad have begun to move into shallow habitats with predatory fish in full pursuit. Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass are beginning to make their ways into coves. Target them around docks, and areas where the lake bottom transitions from mud to rock. Finesse fishing with a drop shot has been the ticket in the past few weeks. See photo (to left) of a 4.9 pound Spotted Bass caught on Chatuge this past Sunday.  Striped Bass can be found in the riverine parts of the reservoirs. If you can find the bait you can find the fish. Trolling and casting live shad and shad imitating baits will be the ticket this weekend.

Hartwell: Captain Macks Lake Hartwell Fishing Report

 

Allatoona heating up: (From Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) — Water temp. 55-57F. Lake level one foot below full pool. Both largemouth and crappie are moving into the shallows and keying on woody debris in the back of coves. This five pound largemouth was collected, measured and released during an electrofishing survey earlier this week in the Iron Hill area of the lake.  Just about any woody debris in the very back of a cove held a few largemouth. Crappie were observed bedding in the backs of a few coves in the area too.  Spotted bass are starting to move shallow, but it appears most are still holding in deeper water.  It probably won’t be long before they too start to move shallow in preparation for the spawn in a couple weeks. White bass are in full spawning mode in the Etowah River above Allatoona. Look for these fish between Canton downstream to the Knox Bridge Boat Ramp.  Striper and hybrid fishing is also on fire all across the lake.  Like usual both species are keying on schooling shad.  Live shad or minnows fished on either free lines or down lines will be an anglers best bet for catching linesides.  Trolling umbrella rigs or even shad imitating crank baits around schools of shad should produce catches.For the bank angler, don’t forget that there are brush piles around every public fishing jetty on the lake.  The newest brush piles were placed around the Blockhouse Fishing Jetty this past January.  All these brush piles are within easy casting distance from the jetty.

Coosa River: (From Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) — The white bass spawning run is in full swing on the river between Mayo’s Lock and Dam downstream to Brushy Branch.  Inside river bends and creek mouths are holding the most fish.  While there are a lot of white bass currently in the river, most are small young fish.  There are very few of the large white bass females this year.  With most of the fish being in the 6-10 inch size range, anglers will have to downsize their baits.  Consider throwing crappie jigs, inline spinners, small crank baits or live crappie minnows. River temperatures are warming, so striped bass are starting to move into the lower sections of the river.  Most of these early spawn-run fish are males, but some of the larger female stripers are starting to show up.  Look for striper numbers to continue to increase in the coming weeks.

Ken’s Reservoir Reports: Check out The Southern Fishing Report by Ken Sturdivant

 

Lake Allatoona is Full, 50s: (Report from Matt Driver) — Bass fishing is great. Numbers of pre spawn bass are being caught all over the lake. Fish are holding in pre spawn areas of deep water near spawning coves and creeks. Most fish I’m catching right now have been in the 8 to 12 feet on secondary rock points and a few fish are on pole markers. The Picasso 3/4 ounce football Jig in green pumpkin as well as the Picasso Rhino Ned rig are working great. The football Jig allows you to stay in contact with the bottom will covering water. The fish are biting but are scatter while they are in transition to shallower water. Spinner baits tipped with 4 in jerk minnows are also working great. A nice slow retrieve is working for now but will speed up once the water temperature gets into the mid 60’s.

Lake Allatoona Fishing Guides Report: (Report from Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Lines sides fishing is good. The white bass have started their spawn runs up both the Etowah and Little River. And the Hybrids and Stripers are soon to follow. The river bite should stay decent into the middle of April. The main lake is also fishing well. The fish are starting from Little River Bridge up to the delta. And from the S Turns to Kellogg’s Creek. There is also a decent south end bite going on right now from Iron Hill to the bay out in from of 3rd Army. The fish on the main lake are up in the water column and are very hard to mark on the Lowrance 2D sonar. If you have a Lowrance with side scan you can locate these fish by running your side scan setting on 60 feet on both sides. These has been working Great for me on my Lowrance 12 in Touch. If you don’t have side scan, the best way to find these fish is to put out a spread of planner boards and free lines and pull the banks and open water until you get bit. Planner boards and freeing live shad on the main lake has been our best bite. And are a counting for at least 95% of our catch on both Lake Allatoona and Carters Lake. Small to middle size gizzard shad and thread fins has been the ticket.

Lake Hartwell is .61 Feet Over Full, Clear Down Stained Up Rivers, 50s: Bass fishing is good. Bass are moving to the points and creek bends all over the lake. They are roaming on any wood all day and a crank bait cast through the wood will draw a strike. Use a bright color. By noon spinner baits down lake in the creeks are fair on cover using Lucky Craft Redemption spinner baits with two silver blades. Later in the day, look for shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day. The Zoom water melon seed lizards on a Carolina rig, has been fair later each day. Also on creeks on old channels, use a Culprit red shad worm on a Texas rig with the brass and glass combination. Work baits right on the bank around any cover. Use the Strike Kink 1/2 ounce jig and a #11 Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the points. The crank bait and spinner baits cast on the bank cover and slowly worked will get strikes.

Weiss Lake is at 1 feet 8 inches below Full Pool and Light Stained and 58-60 degrees: (Report from Mark Collins Service) –Bass fishing is good and a lot of fish were caught shallow this past week. Crappie fishing is Good and fish are being caught long line trolling in most all of the bays and creeks in 6 10 feet of water, Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ13 and JJ17 and Marks special blue are catching fish. Striper fishing is Poor, no reports.

Big Bass on Swimbaits: Big Bass News

UPCOMING EVENTS

Good luck this week. Go have some fishing fun with family and friends.  Even our older dudes will turn into kids again! 

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA 

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

Briggs had a productive cast last week. He caught 2 bass on a single cast with a Gunfish topwater plug. Wow! Way to go, Briggs!

The fishing is starting to bust wide open now that the rivers are getting close to fishable. The swamp fishing is still great, and saltwater is good when winds allow you to get out. Last quarter moon is March 28th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

The upper river is still too high and swift for prime fishing, but it is getting closer. J.J. at Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite has been hot. Some limits were caught with minnows. Some big bluegills have been caught in the backwaters by anglers pitching crickets. Limb liners have been pulling in flatheads and big blue cats using goldfish for bait. The river level was 7.7 feet and falling (63 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.1 feet and falling (63 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on March 26th.

SATILLA RIVER

Chris Nugent had quite a weekend. He fished several days in the upper river and caught rooster redbreasts each trip. He caught them on 1/16oz crawfish Satilla Spins. The river is still high and off-colored, but the population is high after many months with the river in the floodplain. A group of Waycross anglers fished for just a couple of hours on Monday afternoon at the Blackshear Bridge and managed to catch 11 fish (5 bass, 5 redbreasts, and a stumpknocker). Their fish all came on 1/8oz black/chartreuse and crawfish Satilla Spins. The river was still very swift and off-color, but the fish were hitting well on well-placed casts. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that some crappie were caught on minnows and jigs in the Duncan Bridge area of the river. Bass were caught on buzzbaits and Whopper Plopper topwaters. 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 March 26th at the Waycross gage was 8.9 feet and falling (62 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 9.8 feet and falling.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The river is in good shape, and catfish are king. Coolers were filled with the tasty whiskerfish this week. I saw photos of tailgates covered with white cats. Shrimp dropped to the bottom in deep holes has been the go-to approach. There haven’t been a ton caught, but the redbreasts making it over the gunnels were BIG. Beetlespins produced most of the reports. Soft plastics fooled some good bass, with black or black-grape topping the color preference. The river level at the Macclenny gage on March 26th was 4.0 feet and falling.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

I took my daughter Ellie to the east side (Folkston) on Wednesday afternoon, and we caught (and released) exactly 100 fliers, and it only took 2 1/2 hours to do it. The fliers were tearing up sallies fished under a float. We caught fish on our first 11 pitches…..before we even put the trolling motor down! We fished during the early afternoon, and the fish were holding in shaded pockets. We caught fish on all 3 colors we threw, but yellow was the most productive color. We caught about half the fish on yellow, and a quarter each on orange and pink. That evening, Matt Rouse pitched a sally around the boat basin and caught some giant warmouth. On Tuesday a couple of anglers fished the east side and threw black/chartreuse Dura-Spins with chartreuse blades to catch 9 chain pickerel up to 20 inches and a big warmouth. They also pitched sallies (pink and yellow) and caught 11 big fliers that they kept and a bunch of other smaller fliers. The water is still high, but the fish are biting. At Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo, anglers are catching several different species. My family went on Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours and had trouble finding places in Billy’s Lake where the current wasn’t ripping. We only caught one big bowfin on a 3-inch stick worm in the areas with current. We did find one small bay where there was no current and a little bit of open water. We nosed the boat in and pitched to the open areas and caught 9 big fliers on yellow sallies (fished under a float) in about 10 minutes. We fished a couple minutes in the boat basin before taking out and caught two more big fliers. The fish we caught averaged 9 inches. Another pair of anglers dabbling crawfish-colored plastics around the pilings had caught 20 warmouth and a few bowfin (mudfish). At the Sill anglers caught some bass, warmouth, fliers, and catfish.

LOCAL PONDS

The pickerel (jackfish) were biting in south Georgia this week. Jason Shipes fished a Clinch County pond on Thursday and whacked the jacks. He caught 23 jackfish (kept 14 of them) on black/chartreuse Dura-Spins with a chartreuse blade. He had fish on back-to-back casts several times during the day. All 23 of his fish ate the same bait, and the lure was still in good shape at the end of the trip. From most reports, the bass are in all stages of the spawn right now in southeast Georgia. An angler fished a Brunswick area pond on Thursday for just 1 1/2 hours, but what a great bite it was. He landed a 2 1/2-pound bass on a copperfield-colored vibrating jig after pulling off a big fish. Then he moved to a shallow cove and caught a 4 and a 5-pound bass by pitching a golden shad-colored Keitech Mad Wag Worm. He then caught another chunky 4-pounder on a junebug Mad Wag Worm before finishing up the short trip with a 6-pounder on the copperfield vibrating jig. The bite at that pond slowed, though, as other anglers only caught a handful of bass over the weekend. They thought that the post-spawn funk might have started at that lake. Chad Lee caught a 7-pound bass this weekend from an Alma area pond. It ate a wacky-rigged junebug senko. He caught 25 up to 2 pounds on Sunday morning before church. All those fish ate a wacky-rigged worm. On Sunday afternoon Daniel Johnson caught 9 bass and Chad caught 7 bass on pumpkin-chartreuse lizards and wacky-worms. Michael Winge said that in Waycross area ponds, bass were killing shiners. Minnows were fooling lots of crappie. Crickets were tops for bluegills.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

Whiting fishing was the best I heard of this week. Anglers caught quite a few using dead shrimp on the bottom in the sounds and rivers around St. Simons Island. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported anglers catching whiting on dead shrimp, sheepshead on fiddlers and black drum on cut bait. Some bull redfish were also caught this week from the pier. Crabbing has remained strong, but there are more females with eggs than males. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.

BEST BET

At the time of writing this, the weather late in the week is going to be super-windy, but it is forecasted to calm down by the weekend. Whiting fishing should be good if the wind allows. Put a piece of dead shrimp on the bottom in the sounds and you should pull back on a whiting. Bass fishing should still be great with the fish shallow, but some of the post-spawn females are still in a funk where it is hard to get them to bite. As soon as they shake it off, my favorite time of the year will start. I love the post-spawn period when bass are feeding with reckless abandon until summer heat arrives. The Okefenokee panfish bite has been excellent, especially with the high water. If you want to get in on the action, suspend a yellow, pink, or orange sally under a small balsa float and pitch it on a bream buster around shoreline vegetation and wood in the swamp. Set the hook as soon as your float twitches, as a flier doesn’t usually sink the float – it just sits there when it inhales the fly. The rivers are getting fishable. If you can’t stand it any longer, you should be able to catch a few fish.