Gonna be a hot one this weekend – time to visit some cool water and get your fishing on! So much to share, let’s get to it-
- Keeping Georgia Wild Festival: This event is tomorrow (Sat., May 17) if you are near the Newton/Jasper County area. Super family-friendly, fun outdoors festival.
- Kids Fishing Events: Make plans to get your little ones to an event this Spring/Summer.
- National Fishing and Boating Week: June 1-9, 2019. Includes 2 Free Fishing Days!
- State Fish Art Contest Winners: Not only can you see winners of this K-12 international art contest, but you can see the Georgia Go Fish Winners!
- Trout Fishing on Dick’s Creek: Join Pautzke Bait Company and WRD’s Trout Stocking Coordinator John Lee Thomson to learn more about stocking and catching on Dick’s Creek.
So many fishing reports coming your way this week. We have Southwest, Southeast, Central and North Georgia reports. Whew! Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Amy Cottrell, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
(Report provided by Brad McDaniel of Flint River Outdoors) — The lake is finally back to normal in terms of water level and condition for the first time in recent memory. The lake is clear and warm. Even though spawn seems to be over for Black Crappie, they are still being caught in good numbers. Fish near trees and other vegetation on jigs or minnow patterns. High reports of bream/sunfish being caught all around the lake. Bluegill and Redear Sunfish are bedding in large numbers, regardless of moon phase. Redear Sunfish/shellcrackers bite worms more often and Bluegill are going after crickets. Beetle Spins are also a good bet in hooking a panfish. Catfish are always are biting great at Lake Blackshear using worms, liver, cut bait, or live bream. Largemouth Bass are post-spawn and less aggressive at the moment.
(Report provided by Les Bratcher of Big Bite Baits) — Fishing is still pretty hot in Lake Seminole. Largemouth Bass are feeding on shad in shallow water. It appears shad have spawned early so predation has increased. Anglers report catching fish in shallow water through the day on shallow baits. I saw a few signs of fish beginning to move a little deeper last week. Fish will soon begin to migrate to their summer haunts. If the ledge fishing is anything like the spring has been, it will be a lot of fun. Tight lines till next time.
The lower Flint River is still good to get on and fish for Shoal Bass. The stretch between the Warwick Dam and Albany Dam contains about three separate shoal complexes. This is a great place to float and cast olive and dark brown worms, blue and black spinner baits, and chartreuse minnow patterned flies. In the fall, this area often becomes wadable, especially around the Hwy 32 boat ramp. Additionally, anglers continue to catch panfish, including Redbreast Sunfish, Bluegill, and Redear Sunfish (shellcracker) around large woody debris near the banks. Water levels are good right now, not too high after our stormy weekend.
Biologists sampled the creek this week near the Hwy 118 bridge and the Hwy 45 bridge near Bottsford. We captured a large number of Largemouth Bass and some healthy-looking Redbreast Sunfish. There is a lot of woody structure, making it a little difficult to navigate with a large boat — so be cautious. Other than that, water levels and temperatures are optimal. It’d be a good time to get out and fish these smaller tributaries before water temperatures rise too high – or water levels drop considerably. Muckalee Creek is in the near vicinity and also has boat ramp access points. Additionally, Chickasawhatchee Creek down below Newton, GA, is also a great creek to float and fish and has boat ramp access as well. This creek has plenty decent-sized Redbreast Sunfish, Chainfin Pickerel, Channel Catfish when the water starts to drop out mid-summer. See our boating and fishing outdoor map for more details.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The fish in the rivers (except the Altamaha system, which is still high) and Okefenokee are biting with reckless abandon. Saltwater and pond fishing have been very good, as well. Get ready for some of the best fishing of the year from now until June. Full Moon is May 18th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.
J.J. and Lance at Altamaha Park said that redbreasts and bream were eating crickets this week as the river continued to fall. Anglers fishing in the mouths of creeks are catching 30 to 40 keepers per trip. In the main river, shellcrackers were eating worms in the same areas as channel catfish. Limb-liners are catching flatheads and blue catfish with goldfish as bait. Lance expects the bite to heat up with the slow river level drop, clear weather, and full moon on Saturday. The river level was 5.8 feet and rising (77 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 7.7 feet and falling (76 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on May 14th.
The fishing on the Satilla was fantastic again this week. Dane Clements and Jessica Bryson fished the middle river on Wednesday and caught 150 (kept 50). Most of their fish were on crawfish, but several ate red/white. They returned on Friday and caught over 200 fish (kept 70). That day crawfish Satilla Spins were the ticket, but they caught a few on crickets, also. Bill and Olivia Evans came down from Atlanta and floated a stretch on the upper Satilla the middle of last week in their tandem kayak and caught a bunch of redbreasts. They had several on crawfish Satilla Spins, but they had a lot of short strikes, so they switched to a hair jig. A lot of the short-strikers would eat the hair jig, and they ended up catching a bunch. I’ve had good success on white and black hair jigs a decade ago but went away from them. Sounds like it’s time to break them out again. Mark and Caleb Williams fished the middle Satilla in kayaks on Friday and spanked a mixed bag of redbreasts, bluegill, warmouth, and other panfish on crawfish Satilla Spins. Danny Brown fished the Satilla over the weekend (not sure whether it was the middle or upper river, but suspect middle river) and caught 46 redbreasts and bluegill and 5 bass on crawfish Satilla Spins. Ronnie Kemp came down from Tybee Island and fished the upper river on Monday. He caught 60 panfish up to 10 inches and 2 big bowfin on 1/16-oz. Satilla Spins. His best colors were crawfish and chartreuse bruiser (with a chartreuse blade). The smaller size worked best for him since the flow was slow. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreast and bream were caught by bank fishermen using crickets and worms. In areas you could get a boat around, he said that crawfish Satilla Spins have been fooling some big rooster redbreasts. Catfish were caught in deeper holes on shrimp and rooster livers. Unfortunately for the native panfishes, an angler caught a 15 and 35 pound flathead downstream from Blackshear Bridge. Fortunately, those are 2 fewer mouths to feed in the river. 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 May 14th at the Waycross gage was 4.5 feet and falling (76 degrees), and the Atkinson gage was 3.6 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse fished the upper St. Marys this week and caught a big crappie on a white tube jig and a handful of bowfin from 3 to 12 pounds on cut shiner. The redbreast bite has been hot in the Folkston area for anglers pitching crickets. Worms fished on the back side of sandbars also produced some nice roosters in the upper river. Some big bream were caught along with the redbreast. As usual, catfish were caught about everywhere. Shady Bream Tournaments will hold a panfish tournament on May 18th out of Traders Hill. It is an artificial-only tournament, and all fish must be alive at weigh-in. For more information check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook. The river level at the Macclenny gage on May 14th was 2.2 feet and falling.
Daniel North fished the river over the weekend and caught 20 redbreasts on crawfish Satilla Spins. Ben Warren fished the river this weekend and whacked the redbreasts on white-red dot beetlespins. He also had a couple on crickets. He said that he’s caught the most and biggest redbreasts ever this spring in the river. All that high water has helped the populations and the growth!
The middle of last week, Jerell and David Wilson fished the Folkston side and caught a limit of warmouth on white beetlespins. Also on the east side, warmouth and bream were reported by those using crickets in the boat basin. Ben Warren fished the west side (at the sill) and caught a bunch of warmouth, catfish, and bowfin on shrimp, crawfish, and worms. They also fished in Billy’s Lake and added fliers to their list of fish. He said fliers ate a yellow sally well, and they also caught a few warmouth on them. Their biggest bowfin was an 8-pounder. Crickets produced warmouth again this week from bridge crossings along Swamp Road heading out of Waycross.
An angler fishing a Brunswick area pond on Friday fished a couple of hours and landed exactly 25 bass and lost several others on crankbaits and green pumpkin vibrating jigs. His biggest was a 4-lb., 11-oz. bass. Scott Klingel caught the biggest bass that I heard of this week, his personal best at 8-lb., 3-oz. He caught it in a Statesboro pond. Chad Lee fished Saturday morning and caught a 6-pound bass on a black buzzbait. He also had 7 other bass from 2 pounds and up on the buzzbait. On Sunday morning he caught 5 bass up to 4 pounds on a hollow-body frog. On Monday, he fished with Daniel Johnson and caught about 10 bass up to 3 pounds (he lamented that Daniel had the hot hand on quality fish while he could only muster dinks). Jim and Garrett Page fished a Brunswick area pond on Saturday and fooled 15 bass up to 2 1/2 pounds into eating their pumpkinseed U-tail worm. Michael Winge reported that in Waycross area ponds, anglers caught bream on crickets and pink worms and some big bass on watermelon-red lizards.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The best saltwater bite I heard of was whiting in the sounds again this week. Some bull whiting were also caught in the rivers in the Brunswick area. Shrimp on the bottom was the best presentation. Steve and Brenda Hampton fished the Jekyll Pier on Friday night and had a great flounder catch. Brenda celebrated her birthday by making the best catch on the pier. She pulled one after another over the rail while others nearby just watched. They ended up catching 6 flatties, with 5 of them keepers. Her biggest was a 15-incher. Some Spanish mackerel have showed up in the channels. Tripletail were caught around the buoys. In the rivers around St. Simons, quite a few trout and flounder were caught on jigs and live shrimp. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle reported anglers catching bull whiting in the 15 to 18-inch range on dead shrimp. Flounder have showed up and are biting mudminnows and jigs. No doormats have been landed, but the average size is around 15 inches. Croakers and black drum were fooled with dead shrimp fished on the bottom. Blue crabs were caught in good numbers by basketeers (yeah, I made that word up….). You can monitor the marine forecast HERE.
If you like throwing artificials for panfish, then the Shady Bream Tournament held at Traders Hill Boat Ramp in Folkston on Saturday is the place for you. Check out the St. Marys River report above for details. The freshwater rivers are the place to be if you like panfishing. It sounds like a broken record with crawfish Satilla Spins working all over the place, but that has been by far the most effective color reported all spring, so far. Just float down the river and pitch your favorite artificial or crickets and you will catch fish. If we don’t get rain soon, you’ll have to use paddle crafts on all the rivers, except the Altamaha system. Warmouth in the Okefenokee are still biting well, as are fliers and catfish. The yellow fly population will be growing over the next few weeks, so go soon. Whiting are still your best bet in saltwater, but you may pick up a few flounder or trout. At the time of writing this, the marine forecast is doable for the weekend, but check back before you go. Tides will be ramping up around the full moon, so expect a big tidal fluctuation.
(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 .36 FEET, CLEAR, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Blue bird skies brought on warmer temperatures and there is a good bite during the afternoon heat. Fish in Beaver Dam Creek and up the Savannah River. The top water bite is good early in the morning. Use a Skitter Walk and Chug Bugs in the shallow water. Use the plastics early concentrating on lay down trees and stumps. Be careful not to fish the plastic baits too early. Bass are being caught on Rapala Glass Shad Raps and Rapala DT 10 baits. Use these baits on wind-blown points and the Rip Rap until about mid-morning. Carolina rigged lizards are catching spotted bass during all the day. Small chunk rock is the best bank structure while fishing the Carolina rig. Use a Zoom mini lizard in green pumpkin and pumpkinseed around rock and wood. Start off with the faster moving crank baits in the morning and then move to the slower moving plastics as they day heats up.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 1.8 FEET, STAINED, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The lake has plenty of water and bass are shallow lake wide. The pattern of fishing will change during the day and everything from top water baits like Chug bugs and Skitter Walks to suspending baits like the Husky Jerks are catching bass. Grass lines are still producing quality bass using the Husky Jerks and plastic worms rigged with no weight. The early morning bite is good until about 9:30 a.m. The winds have been picking up after lunchtime and the DT6’s in the Crawdad color is a good bass catching bait to use on wind-blown points. Try changing the standard black nickel VMC hooks with the same size red VMC hooks. This little trick of changing the hooks seems to be getting a few extra bites on roaming bass. The lighter ten and twelve pound test line is catching the majority of the fish. The lighter line is allowing the baits to move freely and have better action. Main lake points, grass lines and wood are the key this week to catching a limit of quality bass.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70S
(Lake Oconee Line Side report brought to you by Mark Smith at Reel Time Service) — The lake is full. The water temperature is 77-82. The lake is almost clear everywhere. There is a light stain in the middle area around the 44 bridge to Salem camp ground. Richland creek is very clear.
Bass: Bass fishing is good. The shad spawn is still going on. White spinner baits on sea walls and rip rap are still producing. Look for shad on the banks early in the morning at day light. As the sun rises and the shad spawn stops switch over to a small crank bait and fish the same areas. The Shad Rap in natural color has been producing very well. Later in the day don’t forget soft plastics under docks from the middle of the coves to the back of the coves. Drop a small shiner into the school.
Striper: Striper fishing is good and getting better. You can find stripers and hybrids all over the lake. The bite has changed as the fish are starting to feed better on the shad. As the water gets warmer the down line bite will overtake the flat line bite. We did not have much success on flat lines last week. Some fish are as deep as 30 TO 50 feet. Keep moving until you see fish on your Lowrance and then drop bait to them. Some fish are coming on spoons but spotty at best. The umbrella bite has taken off this week. So keep them on your boat and pull them over points and humps on the south end of the lake for some great action.
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 1.5 FEET, STAINED, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Most of the fish are small spots but there are lot of them shallow feeding. Numbers are great as fish are winding up their post spawn phase. Just about anything is working right now, but better bites have come from fishing shaky heads and Carolina rigged trick worms. The best colors for both have been a green pumpkin. Spend your time fishing rocky points and roadbeds. Look closely for water generation schedules as this will position fish for feeding. Baits working best are jerk baits, Zoom Pearl Super Flukes, and Rapala DT 10 crank baits. For fun, use a yellow trick worn weightless on anything on the banks.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, STAINED, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Top water lures and spinner baits are producing during early morning from shallow cover such as blow downs, docks, rip rap, grass, and shallow points. You should experiment with varying types of baits because the best lure today may not produce tomorrow. Some excellent choices are: Super Spook Jr., Pop R, Chug Bug, Bang a Lure, buzz baits, and Baby Torpedo. Spinner baits and weightless Flukes and Trick worms can also be the best on some mornings. Try bulging the surface with a 3/8 or ½ ounce spinner bait with double Colorado blades. A weightless yellow Trick worm worked well on one recent morning. When using spinning tackle, make sure to use a swivel about 8 to 10 inches above the worm to control line twist. The shad are spawning in a few scattered areas. If shad are seen spawning, try the top water baits plus a small white spinner bait. Although some bass are still around shallow docks, more are now on deeper docks, especially those that have brush under or around them. Catches from docks have come mostly on soft plastics; with jigs, crank baits, and spinner baits fooling a few fish. Try a Carolina rig Finesse worm along the sides and end of docks. A Texas rigged Dead Ringer or Trick worm can be worked along the bottom, through any brush, and dropped vertically along each post. Small groups of bass can be found on slow to medium tapering points at 5 to 10 feet deep. The Carolina rig is normally best, but crank baits like a Rapala DT10 or ½ ounce Fat Free Shad are worth a try.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, CLEAR, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair on worms and crank baits. The lake is down a foot pulling the bass off the docks and forcing them very tight in cover. The lake is clear main lake with a slight stain in the rivers and creeks. Crank baits are fair and a Shad Rap is a good all day bait. Use a red shad Culprit worm on a brass and glass Texas rig for the best bet on the docks. For a big fish, head up the rivers and flip a dark jig and pig or a worm in the larger sizes on the downstream current pockets. Never overlook a jig even for shallow bass on this lake up the rivers. Blacks, blues and greens are good choices and add a Zoom salt trailer in matching colors.
BIG LAZER PFA (More Info HERE)
- Surface water temperature: 71o F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 29”
- Water level: 2 inches above full pool
- Night fishing opportunities available. Be sure to check PFA kiosks to know if night fishing is restricted to specific water bodies on the PFA.
In general, May water temperatures at Big Lazer have warmed up and so has the fishing. May and early June are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer PFA because spawning fish move into shallower water. Also, night fishing is now in full swing and will continue until the end of September. A new pier is currently being constructed in the picnic area and should be ready to fish soon!
Bass: Good– Bass will be finishing up spawning and switch their focus on feeding. Try using spinners and crank baits in 4 to 6 feet of water. Lures that mimic newly spawned bream may be very productive. Also, plastic worms and lizards fished around the drop off point into deeper water by the picnic area and around the fishing pier may produce some big strikes.
Crappie: Fair- Some crappie are still being caught on minnows. However, the crappie bite has cooled some over the last two months. Determined anglers may have to troll to locate schools of crappies. Trolling at varying depths with brightly colored jigs may help locate bunched-up crappie. Fish for crappie in deeper water than bass; starting in about 6 feet of water and working into deeper areas.
Bream: Great- Bream fishing has improved and there has been reports of many good catches recently. Try crickets or worms around the fishing pier. Also, target areas that have structure like woody brush and blow downs associated with it. Most bream on beds will be located in less than 5 feet of water. May is traditionally a great time to fish for bream on beds.
Channel Catfish: Fair- Try using livers or shrimp at or almost at the bottom and at several different locations around woody structures and the rocks around the dam. Fishing with two poles will increase your chances of getting a strike.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 76⁰F
- Water Visibility: 28 – 54+ in.
- The Fish Cleaning Station is open.
- Night fishing opportunities available. Be sure to check PFA kiosks to know if night fishing is restricted to specific water bodies on the PFA.
Bass: Nice bass continue to be caught in Jones, Willow and Breambuster on baits that imitate shad. The cool mornings we’ve had seem to be improving the bite across the area. Especially in Breambuster, shad are schooling where the siphon drains flow into the ponds (especially after a rain) and schools of nice bass are aggressively chasing them.
Bream: Quality bream are being caught in Bridge Lake mostly in the mornings and evenings. The bream bite in Jones has been hit-or-miss lately but nice shellcracker are being caught in Willow. Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge Lakes are excellent spots to fish for bream.
Channel Catfish: The catfish action has really picked up this week, with many anglers having a lot of success fishing in the mornings and evenings. Night fishing is now open in Jones Lake, which is an excellent time to fish for catfish. Many nice catfish have been caught in Bridge Lake lately and numerous smaller catfish have been caught in Jones Lake. 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.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jeff Durniak, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Welcome to the end of spring, as our rains subside and the daily air temperatures increase. For our sportfish, it’s all about water temperatures, so the bite will follow the water temps, which follow air temps. As we approach the end of May, we now start the transition to summer mode. We have some hot weather moving in now, which should push a lot of lake fish off the banks and into slightly deeper and cooler water. If we are lucky, we’ll get some cooler days in the weeks ahead, which will slow down this transition to summer and extend our excellent spring fishing opportunities. Our trout streams are still holding out real well, thanks to the cool nights. Also, with the cessation of heavy rains, many of the largest streams have now dropped to safer levels (check HERE and HERE) for wading and fishing.
Other than the hot midday sun, it looks like another great weekend ahead for north Georgia fishing. And it should only get better next week, when we ramp up our trout stocking in advance of the long holiday weekend. Here we go with the latest news from your hard-working north Georgia fisheries biologists, technicians, their partner anglers, guides, and tackle shops. Here we go:
Ken’s Reservoir Reports: News to Know HERE
Captain Mack’s Lanier Report: Report HERE
Lanier Bass: Monday Morning Limit
Toona: Allatoona Stripers Hybrids
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
The Roop Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — This week Gainesville Fisheries staff have been busy writing reports, scouting habitat, netting catfish for EPD, and stocking Morones in Lake Lanier. Intel has been trickling in some this week, although many anglers prefer to enjoy their best fishing holes than widely broadcasting them across the internet. Here are a few nuggets and general FYI’s out of Gainesville this week.
On Tuesday, 5/14 Mark Rigglesford and I stocked a load of 151,000 white bass in Lake Lanier at Toto Creek and Laurel Park ramps. The fish stocked really well, and assuming good survival will be available for anglers to pursue in the coming years. At the time of stocking, these little fingerlings are only about an inch long, but after two seasons of growth will reach between 12 and 14 inches. Keep an eye out of Lanier whites next spring, as they make their spawning run for 2-3 weeks in March when water temperatures rise above 50 F. Once spring has passed, be on the lookout for unique schools of “Christmas trees” in 15 – 30 feet of water, and hit ‘em hard with your favorite light-to-medium tackle including live minnows, white grubs, roosters, lipless cranks, and jigging spoons when they move deep in the summer time. WRD Fisheries staff begin restoring the Lanier white bass fishery in 2016, and we are excited to see anglers get out and pursue this species in the coming years.
On Thursday 5/16, we sampled Cedar Creek for catfish to provide fish tissue samples to help GA EPD’ update its fish consumption guidelines.
Through this sampling effort we learned there is a low-density population of channel catfish in Cedar Creek, one year class was prevalent in the 6-8 lb range. We found white catfish in our sample as well. The white catfish abundance appears to be higher than channel catfish in Cedar Creek. We also picked up a few yellow bullheads, which according to Mark are great eating. In this forage-limited water supply reservoir, keep these species in mind as opportunities for any anglers that frequent Cedar Creek. We found that the larger catfish were feeding primarily on small gizzard shad, so cut bait dropped over a 20 ft bottom will be your best bet.
Water quality intel from scouting boat ramps for Morone stockings: Upper end surface temperatures on Lanier are currently ranging from 72 F to 77 F. Water clarity is ranging from 2.5 to 5 feet, with the extreme upper reaches of the reservoir being stained/turbid. Lower sites are green thanks to good phytoplankton production. As visibility decreases, consider using baits with bright, flashy colors and spinners to entice a strike.
Lanier striper guides are reporting good fishing conditions with the best success on points and clay flats where stripers are roaming in search of baitfish. Freelining blueback herring or spreading out with planer boards should put linesides in the boat.
Academy Jack is at it again on the GA Power Company’s mountain lakes, having great success with underspins pursuing black bass and pickerel. Jack got close to a an Angler Awards qualifier with a Chain Pickerel this week, and I have a feeling I’ll be seeing his Award application in my inbox shortly. Summer’s almost here, and for any parents fearing the onset of boredom that inevitably follows the euphoria of the school year ending, we have a solution! Challenge your kid to get a Youth Angler Award (or two), and keep them busy fishing all summer long.
Striper Central: Where do Georgia’s stripers come from? Right here.
Coosa Striped Bass: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — WRD striped bass monitoring efforts continue in the rivers of the Coosa basin in Northwest Georgia. The spawn is now over and we are seeing lots of spent fish, but the recent rains from last weekend and cool air temps have kept river temperatures cool as well. That means the fish are still hanging around in the Coosa and Oostanaula which normally start getting a bit too warm this time of year. We are also starting to see fish migrate to the Etowah River, where many will spend the summer using its cold water as a thermal refuge. We are seeing tons of yearling stripers in the 8-12 inch range this spring, which we have not seen in a long time. This is great news for the future, as these fish will quickly grow and recruit to the fishery over the next two years.
Stocker Best Bets: State and federal trout hatcheries have another good week of stocking with 32K trout scheduled for rides, WRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson (706-947-1508) suggests these weekend destinations: Rock, Cooper, Holly, Blue Ridge Tailwater when the dam is turned off, Hartwell Tailwater (GA pier at dam), West Ford Chattooga, Dicks (brookie dosage), Boggs, Soque, Tallulah, Panther, and Middle Broad on WMA. PS- Wildcat Creek road is still closed by USFS (landslide) and we are not stocking that creek.
Delay Over, Harvest Now Begins: Grab a child and some live bait and enjoy harvesting some trout on Georgia’s Delayed Harvest streams before the water warms up this summer. Whether you are a bait- or fly-flinger, those DH trout will last for another week or two until harvest cleans them out, so give Georgia’s DH streams a “last try” soon. And if you really like the DH program, head up to the cooler waters of North Carolina soon, since that agency’s DH program lasts for a few more weeks.
Mighty Fine Feds in the Forest: See the upcoming opportunities by our fantastic federal partners with the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. Make plans now to take your kids to one of their great fishing rodeos in June.
Amen! Great blog for trout fans to follow. Big Amen on a short line for better drifts, hooksets, and catch rates. Take 60 seconds to read and apply this note and double your catch. Distance casting is to show off to your buddies on the front lawn, or to aim and hope for that distant bonefish. Short casting is for Georgia trout catchin’!
Headwater Trout Streams: It’s May, so that means Dark30 time. The last hour of daylight and the first few minutes of darkness will be best, as the spring bug hatches wrap up for the season. Best bets are tans (caddis and cahill) yellow (sallies and stones) and black (beetles and ants). Have a few size 8 green drakes and coffins and some stout 3x tippet in your pocket if you’re headed to the largest streams in the Southeast this month. Got a flashlight?
Hooch Tailwater: The Army Corps is still generating often at Buford dam to bring Lanier down to normal pool, so the fishing opportunities are still limited. If rainfall continues to be low, there is a good chance that the generations schedule will be more favorable to wading anglers in the weeks ahead.
Toccoa TW Update: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — WRD staff recently sampled the trout fishery in the Toccoa River downstream of Blue Ridge Dam. We found lots of freshly stocked rainbows in the 10-12 inch range, but also some holdovers over 20 inches. The population of brown trout continues to do well in the Toccoa, and we captured many browns that were better measured in pounds, rather than inches. The largest of the sample was the 7-pound, 27-incher pictured.
Blue Ridge Smallies: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — The 2019 smallmouth bass stocking season has started at Blue Ridge Lake, with 3,300 fingerlings stocked this week. This year will mark the fourth year of our cooperative stocking program, which aims to maintain the last fishable reservoir smallmouth population in the state. The fish stocked this week were produced at the Go Fish Georgia Education Center in Perry and were 2-6 inches when released. Young smallmouth are also being raised at the US Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery in Warm Springs, Georgia. Fingerling smallmouth from both facilities will be stocked numerous times through summer and fall as they reach target sizes.
MORE NEWS TO SHARE
Tip of the Fishing Cap: To one of our coldwater conservation and education heroes. RocketRoy was a good one. My double-haul is better because of his Spring Fling tutelage. We all hope he’s now fishing “around the bend” and having a big time on dry flies! Read the obit HERE. Who among you will now rise and take Rocket’s place in our coldwater conservation army? You know, sometimes benevolence has some unexpected fringe benefits. Good things happen to those who “give.” Just ask Robert!
Hydrotherapy = Pure Joy: Here’s a shout-out to Casting for Recovery- Georgia program leader Beverly Booth, her volunteers, and her donors for an awesome weekend retreat for their 14 special guests at Smithgall Woods. Due to high water, the Smith Creek “Plan B” was implemented on Sunday and the breast cancer survivors ended their weekend of joy with some bent rods, big smiles, and high fives with volunteer guides. For more information on the CFR-GA program, click HERE. Nominate an attendee, offer to volunteer, or cut Beverly a check.
Water is Life: Our fishing gals may really enjoy this article – – and Jen’s awesome magazine!
Good luck this weekend. Hit the morning or evening shade for the best fishing and the least chance of a sunburn. Thanks for buying your fishing licenses, tackle, and TU brook trout tags. They have helped us grow a lot of whites and stripers, and some fat brook and rainbow trout for your angling enjoyment!