All night long….all night…all night long…all night.
Even if you are not Lionel Richie, you can still sing and dance your way to most Georgia Public Fishing Areas and start night fishing beginning May 1. This is a great opportunity throughout the warmer weather months to escape the heat and still take advantage of all the outstanding fishing to be found at Georgia PFAs!
Looking for a fishy-fix tonight or tomorrow?
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game: We’re at the Gwinnett Stripers Game Tonight! Visit with North Georgia fisheries biologists Zach and Hunter and check out their trucks/boats at tonight’s Gwinnett Stripers home game.
- Big Saturday Event: Blue Ridge Troutfest! Trout biologist Zach and others will be in our DNR booth. Go See ’em!
Looking for a camp for the kids this summer?
Now, let’s get to those fishing reports! This week, we have a BUNCH of news: Central, Southwest, Southeast and North Georgia. Take some notes and then prep those boats and get out there! Go Fish Georgia.
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN .79 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. There will be another spawn May 4. For all-day fishing everywhere just use a green trick worm all day. The fish are still moving now and are slowly committing themselves to find a good spawning area. Many of the bass are still staging up, but you can still catch bass on the shallow, flat shelves and around the spawning areas. Shad and baby bass Shad Raps are great colors. Spotted bass are still roaming all over the lake and they are chasing shad. Be ready for some top-water action. Soon there will be some top-water so be ready with the Zara Spook Jr and a Skitter Walk. Plastic worms are also working during the day. Pay particular attention to any brush piles and any wood around or near spawning areas; these need to be fished this week.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 2.1 FEET, STAINED, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Spinnerbaits continue to work on a small portion of the bass. Bass are in the backs of the creeks. Slow cranking an X Rap in Olive Green and a #5 Shad Rap on the points, secondary points and flats is working best. Bass are moving back in the pockets in the small creeks. Use the Carolina rig green pumpkin 6-inch lizard, 2-foot leader on a 1/2 ounce weight with 14-pound Sufix Elite line using a 4/0 Gamakatsu hook. When they bite it, that big sharp hook does the job. Fish some top-water in the morning and evening but it may be slow for another week. Use the Shad Rap on the rip rap.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 60’S
(Lake Oconee Line Side Report brought to you by Mark Smith at Reel Time Service) — The lake is full. The lake is clear with light stain up the rivers. The temperature is 68 to 74.
Bass: Bass fishing is good. Nothing has changed from last week. The shad spawn has started. Now is the time for spinner baits on sea walls and rip rap. Look for shad on the banks early in the morning at day light. This is some of the best fishing of the year and should last for two or three weeks. As the sun rises and the shad spawn stops switch over to a small crank bait and fish the same areas. Later in the day don’t forget soft plastics under docks from the middle of the coves to the back of the coves.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good and getting better. You can find stripers and hybrids all over the lake, but the bigger fish are up the rivers or down at the dam. Over the past week the best bite has been shiners on flat lines and planer boards at the dam. As you move up the lake the down line bite is a better option later in the day.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The long line bite has taken off over the past few days. The fish are starting to stack up on the trees. Long-lining down to the top of the trees has been the best producer over the past week. Use your Lowrance to look for the fish in the timber and then pull your jigs over the tree.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 2.58 FEET, STAINED, 60’S
Bass are shallow and fishing is good. Ninety percent of the spawn will occur during the next month’s full moon. The bass are back in the coves on shallow banks. A great bait is a lizard that is rigged Carolina style and fished slow on the bottom. There is some top-water action starting. The bass will move back out into 10 to 12 feet of water on humps and road beds. Fish are congregating around the white shoal markers, so try fishing these markers for some spawning bass by early May. Fish are roaming the banks and later go to the ends of points. They are shallow around any wood and cast baits to shadows all day. Use a gourd green Zoom u tail worm down lake on a Texas rig with a brass and glass on the rig for more sound. Look in the mid-lake half way back in the creeks and hit any dock or on points. Brush on the bank is worth at least 5 casts with a baby bass Zoom Super Fluke weightless even in the stained water. Up the river the fishing is good and use a 1/2 ounce all white Leverage spinner bait and add a large white trailer.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.6 FEET, STAINED, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Bass are in coves and protected bays, although a few remain along main lake banks. It’s hard to beat a Rapala shad rap purple descent. Spinner baits are good especially in the stained water. Single spin baits like the Fish Head Spin have been good during early morning. Seawalls and dock posts are prime targets for single spin models, which are less snag proof than double or tandem spin baits. The single spin generates more vibration, which helps bass zero in on the target in dirty water. Baits with double Colorado blades are especially good around wood cover such as lay downs, stumps, and brush piles. Keep the Super Flukes ready and skip one under any dock for lots of bass.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .76 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Fish the backs of the small creeks and coves with the cranks. A lot of the largemouth are ready to bed and so are the spots lake wide. Small crank baits in the shallow running variety works and the crawfish color #7 Shad Rap and the mid running Rat L Trap is working well in the shallower water. Try the Berkley dredge 14.5 and 3.5. Keep the line size down to the ten-pound range and keep the bait in the water. Top-water is about to break loose. The spots are hitting a few of the spinnerbaits but you will catch a lot more on the #5 Shad Raps and jointed Shad Raps. Jigs are also working around a few of the boat docks but it has to have a lot of wood in and around them to hold the larger males. A fair worm bite with an occasional two to three pounder are being caught. Stay with the crank baits for the limits and then try the jig or plastic after the midday point has arrived.
FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 74.1˚ F (23.4˚ C)
- Water Level: 3’3” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 21”
- Fishing Guide for Flat Creek PFA
- Night Fishing: May 1 is the official starting day for night fishing at most Public Fishing Areas across the state.
As expected the warmer temperatures have been kicking off some great fishing at Flat Creek and many anglers are leaving with heavy stringers and big smiles. This trend is expected to continue and even increase as we transition into the summer. Bass fishing has been good for those with a boat. Large bream can be found in the shallows and some bank anglers have been reporting 10” shellcrackers being caught off the fishing pier. 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. Light tackle is still catching the most fish.
Bass: Zoom Green Pumpkin Magic worms, Shad colored Whacky Worms, minnows and worms fished in around five to six foot of water, also anything shiny or white when the bass are feeding on schooling shad. Plum colored ‘Ol Monster worms by Zoom. White Buzz baits. Minnows and worms (Pinks).
Bream: Crappie Jigs. Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Worms on a Texas rig.
Channel Catfish: Not many people were fishing for catfish at the time of this report, so there is insufficient data to report on. However, fishing for catfish is presumed to still be good as it has been in previous months.
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.
MARBEN PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water temps. : Low 70’s
- CEWC/Marben PFA Fishing Guide
- Night Fishing: May 1 is the official starting day for night fishing for most Public Fishing Areas across the state. At Marben PFA all ponds open to the public will be accessible. Please check the informational kiosks located at the north and south entrances for a list of accessible ponds. Anglers should note- lights have been installed in the parking lots for Lakes Bennett and Margery. This new night fishing opportunity is a great example of your fishing license dollars at work, and part of our ongoing efforts to enhance angler access and opportunity.
Bass: May weather can be a little unstable at times. Afternoon showers can bring sudden changes to bass feeding behavior. The bass spawn is tapering off so look for bass feeding in early morning and late evening on schooling shad. According to some anglers, now is a great time to target bass at Marben PFA. Threadfin are spawning this time of year so especially look for bass in early morning feeding on shad mostly around boat ramps and rocky areas. 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.). Anglers can try numerous techniques as bass move back into shallow water as night approaches. Nighttime will offer an excellent opportunity for those anglers seeking “lunkers.” Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA.
Crappie: The crappie are most aggressive in early evening and night. Look for crappie crowded around submerged timber in deeper water. Anglers should see a slight change as crappie become a little less aggressive then in April but as night approaches look for the crappie “bite” to increase. 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.
Bream: Bream fishing will start to pick up significantly in May. 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 and decrease slightly during night time hours. Bream fishing turns 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 target 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.
(Fishing report courtesy of Amy Cottrell, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
We haven’t had rain for about a week, so water levels are dropping down to around six/seven feet downstream of the Albany Dam. Fishing for Shoal Bass is starting to pick up in the lower section of the Flint River, as adults are now congregating in the shoals. Fishing in swift waters in and around the shoals near Hwy 32 between the Warwick Dam and the Albany Dam should be a good bet. This is also a great place to fly fish for Shoal Bass using black and olive wooly buggers and leech patterns. Shoal Bass have also recently been spotted in large numbers congregating in the tailrace of the Albany Dam. We continue to see high numbers of Threadfin Shad in tailwater areas immediately below the Albany Dam and downstream near springs. This is a good time to be out fishing for Striped Bass and hybrid Striped Bass in these areas. Anglers are also out catching Largemouth Bass in these same areas, specifically between the two impoundments and below Newton. You can access the waters below Newton at the Norman’s Ferry boat ramp.
We were out on this river again this week and had good numbers during our standardized sampling. Redear Sunfish and Redbreast Sunfish were quite abundant, with large individuals of both represented in the sample. We got this beautiful one-pound Redbreast Sunfish (see photo) near the Hwy 93 public boat ramp. Speaking of boat ramps, if the rain holds off after this week, the ramps will continue to be quite accessible. We sampled at the Hwy 93 ramp and Hadley’s Ferry public boat ramp. Both ramps were no longer flooded and were quite dry. River access is as good as its going to get, so get out there now! We also collected a few Suwannee Bass near Hadley’s Ferry, including a couple of age-1 individuals (see photo). This is a good sign that adults are successfully reproducing. Beetle spinners or crickets are good bets if fishing for Suwannee Bass.
Additionally, this week we tagged and released 30 age-1 Suwannee Bass that had hatched and been raised at the UGA Extension hatchery in Tifton, GA. PIT tags containing a unique ID were implanted into each individual, and fish were released near the Hwy 93 and Hadley’s Ferry public boat ramps. Hopes are that the fish will be captured in future DNR sampling efforts so we can assess population structure, growth rates, and levels of mortality.
(Report provided by Brad McDaniel of Flint River Outdoors) — The Redear Sunfish and Bluegill bite was very late coming on this spring, but it is wide open now. They are being caught shallow around trees and grass mainly on worms and crickets. They will continue to bed on the new moon and the full moons for a while.
Crappie: The Black Crappie spawn shallow bite is still working but starting to wane a little. As temperatures continue to rise, they will be moving back to deeper water. They are being caught just about any way you want to do it – minnows and jigs pitched around trees – shooting docks – trolling. So far here at Flint River Outdoors in April we have weighed in a 2 lb 8.5 oz – a 2lb 10oz – a 2lb 14 oz. Casey Tanner of Douglas, GA, caught a whopper crappie at 3 pounds 9 ounces (see photo)- a new Lake Blackshear record!
Catfish: Catfish are always able to be caught at Lake Blackshear. During high muddy conditions like we have now, this is the main species being caught. Baits of choice are worms, liver, or small bream.
Bass: Largemouth Bass are mostly post-spawn and are mostly being caught on dark plastics, chatterbaits, swimbaits, and spinnerbaits.
Fishing in and around the backwater areas of the reservoir is still a good bet if looking to catch largemouth bass and crappie. The Spring Creek and Flint River branches of the reservoir seem to be producing good numbers of healthy largemouth bass. Our sampling here this spring provided a large number of 4 to 7-pound largemouth bass. Anglers are still reporting high catch rates along vegetated edges in the sandy flat areas using crankbaits and spinners.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It was a windy, stormy weekend, but some folks still caught some nice fish. The rivers are headed back up (except for the St. Marys) but the panfish bite has been good even with the high water. The flier and warmouth bites have been great in the Okefenokee Swamp. Pond fishing has been consistent during the poor weather this past weekend. Saltwater was slower than the last week or two with the big tides and winds this week. Last quarter moon is April 26th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
The panfish bite was great before the river jumped up this week. The lower, tidal river was tops with huge shellcrackers eating worms around the lilies and willows. Blue and flathead catfish bit worms, cut bait, and live bait. Some really big redbreasts were caught on crickets and worms fished on the bottom. A few degrees warmer and they should start eating lures well. An angler fished some backwaters in the middle river this week with cut bait on limb lines and caught 3 big, fat channel catfish. The biggest catfish I heard of was a 32-pounder that ate a live baitfish fished on rod-and-reel. The angler also noted that he lost track of how many 8 to 9-inch redbreasts he caught while catching bait. The bite slowed some as the water jumped, but it should pick up again, especially on the lower river, when the level steadies and starts falling. The river level was 8.8 feet and rising (68 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 9.2 feet and falling (68 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on April 23rd.
Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that anglers caught lots of redbreasts on crawfish Satilla Spins. Big bream were also caught with crickets. Catfish ate pink worms and shrimp on the bottom. Rattling Rogues in black back/silver side were tops for bass this week. 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 Satilla Riverkeeper is again hosting the A.J. Strickland King of the River Fishing Tournament on the Satilla River. Weigh-in will be held in the Blackshear Park on May 4th. T-shirts for the event are available ahead of time at local tackle shops. For more information or to register, visit Satilla Riverkeeper. The river level on April 23rd at the Waycross gage was 6.9 feet and falling (68 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 6.7 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Rattling Rogue plugs fooled some bass and gar on Saturday. Some big bream were fooled with crickets and worms. Catfish were caught about anywhere folks put a shrimp or worm on the bottom. That sounds like an exaggeration, but several folks reiterated that this week. The torrid bass bite slowed somewhat with the cold nights after this last front. The river level at the Macclenny gage on April 23rd was 2.8 feet and falling.
Shane and Joshua Barber fished the river on Tuesday and brought home 17 fish. Most of them were catfish that ate shrimp fished on the bottom, but they also had a few warmouth that ate jigs. Joshua caught a big mudfish on his last cast. Another angler turkey hunted early and fished in the middle of the day. He caught some warmouth and bluegills on crawfish Satilla Spins, but his biggest catch was a 27-inch whopper bowfin (mudfish) that pulled him all over the place. The river level at the Fargo gage on April 23rd was 3.4 feet and falling (70 degrees).
The river is still high, but Jess Anderson got on it this week and caught some redbreasts on a yellow Satilla Spin. When it gets right, the fishing should be awesome on the Ogeechee. The river level at the Rocky Ford gage on April 23rd was 6.2 feet and falling.
One angler said that you had to hide while you baited your hook or a big warmouth would jump out of the water and take your bait before you could put it on the hook. Hee Hee. Obviously, he was exaggerating, but the bite was outstanding in the Swamp this week. Doug Bomeisler visited the Swamp from south Florida and had a blast camping and fishing out on the platforms. He brought his fly rod and used a chartreuse fly to wear out the fliers and some warmouth. On Sunday, with the stiff wind blowing his canoe all over the place, he still caught over 70 fish with most of them fliers. About a dozen warmouth ate his fly early in the day but then that bite tapered as the fliers ate it up. The next 3 days he mostly paddled during the day, but he got a chance to fish in the evening. In less than an hour each evening he tore up the fliers and caught a few chain pickerel (jackfish), warmouth, and bowfin (mudfish). His biggest pickerel was 18 inches, biggest bowfin 6 pounds. They fried up some fliers the last evening and loved them. He said that he had so much fun that he plans to make it an annual trip. At Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo, the winds cut down the number of anglers, but folks still caught catfish at the Sill and fliers and warmouth in Billy’s Lake and the boat basin.
Taylor and Riley fished a Statesboro pond with their father and each caught a nice bass. Way to go, boys! Jason Cone recently bought some bruiser Satilla Spins and took them to a Bulloch County pond and wore out the bluegills. He caught several of the fish on the Satilla Spin and ended up with a great mess of fish all approaching or over a pound. His biggest was a 1-lb., 7-oz. giant. Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson whacked the bass in Alma area ponds over the weekend. They had around 40 fish from 1 to 3 pounds, and their best baits were senkos and Christie Craws. Michael Winge reported bass crushing toads on top in Waycross area lakes. Lake Ware is currently closed to fishing during the bream spawning season.
HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin, more info HERE)
The crappie bite is going strong at the area. An angler fishing on Monday caught a limit of 30 crappie up to 1 1/2 pounds. The bluegill and bass have also been biting well at the area. Bass are mostly in the post-spawn phase and are chasing lures early and late and eating swimbaits and worms when the sun is up.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The big tides muddied the water and winds made it tough to navigate and fish, but some anglers still caught them. In the inland waters, anglers caught flounder, tripletail around the channel markers, and trout. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported anglers catching bull whiting, black drum, and sheepshead from the pier. A few sharks were caught, also. Blue crabs were in good numbers. You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
The Okefenokee is in great shape, and the fish are tearing it up. If you like fishing for panfish, pickerel (jackfish), and warmouth, the Swamp is a great option this weekend. The St. Marys panfish bite was a little slow with the cool mornings this week, but the bite should pick back up with the warmer days over the next week. Saltwater should improve with lower tidal fluctuation, so give whiting a try on days when the winds allow. The Satilla should be in great shape to fling lures for redbreasts and bluegills as the water continues to drop and clear up.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Here is a quick report, as I’ve just returned from helping Hunter Roop stock walleye at Lanier’s Clarks Bridge ramp. The rain spared north GA last night, so nearly all of our waters are in great shape for this weekend. The only exceptions are the big rivers, which are still trying to shed the 4+ inches of rain received last week. Check those river gauges on the Toccoa, Ami, and Chattooga before thinking about wading them.
We’ve had a short (4-day) work week because of the Monday holiday, but it was action-packed. Normally this is our “shocking and stocking” season, but we added another “S” this week, Sawing. Stay tuned for Hunter’s narrative about our agency’s great teamwork and quick response. Here we go with shocking, stocking, and sawing!
Biologist Anthony Rabern had some great sampling reports from his northern waters:
- Two six pound bass – one a largemouth and one a spotted bass – from Lake Burton this morning. The bass are starting to spawn and are also hanging up on blue backs that are spawning along sea walls. Now is the time to get after them!
- This photo is proof that the Hartwell hybrid run is on! The hybrid weighed 4 lb.
This week’s trout stocking list is already posted on our website and has been delivered to all of you who signed up for the email or text notifications.
Walleye stocking continues across north Georgia. We had loads heading toward Tugalo and Lanier today. We’ll wrap up this year’s walleye fingerling stockings next week. Enjoy the April 26 video of biologist Hunter Roop quick-releasing 22,000 walleye at Clarks Bridge, after getting them from Walton Hatchery and first acclimating them to lake water for an hour at the ramp.
Good news: thanks to tremendous teamwork between WRD’s Game Management and Fisheries region staffs, the Hooch-Mossy river access has been reopened. We like those wildlife guys with their big farm implements to maintain wildlife habitat and access roads for outdoor enthusiasts!
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
The Roop Report (from Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): On Tuesday (4/23/2019) this week, Mark Rigglesford and I responded to reports of significant storm damage to Mossy Creek State Park. Numerous large trees were uprooted and toppled over on the property, blocking ingress to the access road, canoe launch, and popular picnicking areas. In response to WRD’s announcement to shut down the facility until clean-up efforts could be arranged, Gainesville’s GM Supervisor Scott Bardenwerper immediately offered assistance of sawyers and some grappling skid steers to help the Fisheries Section restore the site. On Wednesday morning (4/24/2019; the very next day), FM staff met Scott at the site and got right to work running chainsaws. Throughout the day, an estimated 50 trees were removed and felled to restore access and usability at this site. The crew worked together flawlessly. We (FM staff) can’t thank GM enough for their immediate support, without which this 24 turnaround would not have been possible. GM staffers that pitched in their time and sweat were Scott Bardenwerper, David Reed, Joel Payne, Ryan Watts, and David Shattuck. FM staffers involved were Jeff Durniak, Mark Rigglesford, Zach Moran (Burton District), and myself. Thanks to all of the office and field staff in both sections that stepped up in the impromptu absence of supervisors and technicians who prioritized this effort over their regularly scheduled duties. What a great example of partnership and synergy within WRD!
A Favorite Spot: Gotta luv the tips from this young dude with a great game!
FEEL GOOD NEWS AND COME SEE US
BPS Used Reels: Many thanks to Bass Pro Shops- Lawrenceville for their used reels! Gainesville district staff obtained our annual allotment of used fishing reels from Bass Pro Shops. The Lawrenceville store has a reel turn-in program during its annual spring sale, when anglers get a store coupon in return for their old reels. WRD staff distribute these used reels to support kids fishing opportunities. Our 2019 recipients included Rabun County kids via Rabun Trout Unlimited’s annual spring scouts cookout and Kids Fishing Event (photo), the Habersham County 4-H fishing program (Steven Patrick), Armuchee District kids via Jim Hakala’s distribution efforts, Smithgall Woods and Charlie Elliott education centers, and a resupply of our region’s KFE and loaner pole inventory.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game: We’re at the Gwinnett Stripers Game Tonite! Visit with biologists Zach and Hunter and check out their trucks and boats at tonite’s Gwinnett Stripers home game.
Big Saturday Event: Blue Ridge Troutfest Tomorrow! Trout biologist Zach will be in our DNR booth.
Good luck. It’s gonna be another prime weekend for making fishing memories in north Georgia, so don’t miss it.