Thankful. So thankful. I hope as this week draws to a close and Thanksgiving Week begins, that you have the time to stop (even briefly) and enjoy it.

I hope it brings together family and friends, and (of course) food. Enjoy what you have been given. Hopefully, you are able to urge that family member or friend into spending a little time with you outside and do a little fishing. Make some memories!

On to our reports – this week we have reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Read up, bundle up and Go Fish Georgia!

NORTH GEORGIA

It’s less than a week until Thanksgiving, and it looks like Saturday’s forecast will likely put a damper on North Georgia fishing opportunities. For the die hards, the rain is inconsequential and only offers some excellent pre-front fishing conditions on Friday and Saturday morning. For others that will choose to dodge the deluge, the silver lining might be extra time in the garage or shop to prep your gear and tackle in hopes of better weather Thanksgiving week. Among so many things, one thing to be grateful for this Thanksgiving is this here fishin’ report, bringing you the latest fishing intel and advice complied just for you, courtesy of WRD fisheries staff, local guides, professional anglers, and everyone else with an interest in getting more folks out on the water more often, and catching more fish. Whether you’re dodging the upcoming weather, or dodging interstate traffic for the upcoming holidays, we hope you get out and put some of this fishin’ intel to good use at some point during your Thanksgiving break. Here it is:

RESERVOIRS 

North Georgia reservoir reports are brought to you courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, and other contributors specified below.

Lake Lanier is down 3.8 feet, clear, and 60’s.

  • Bass: (This report courtesy of Jimbo Mathley) — Bass fishing has been in transition as it usually is at this time of year. The lake is definitely turning over in places, as evidenced by the murky water in locations around the lake. Rocky areas at the mouths of creeks as well as main-river points and humps are still holding fish, but the fish are spread out in many different areas. There are some fish moving into the ditches, and can be found both shallow and deep in those areas depending on the conditions and mood of the fish. There are also fish still on points and humps in 15 to 25 feet of water, more towards the mouths of the creeks. Crankbaits, jerk baits, spinnerbaits, under spins, spoons, jigs, swimbaits, and shaky heads are all viable options. It is truly that diverse. The message is that there are many different options and bait choices out there to target these fish located in a myriad of places. Stay flexible and versatile in your approach.
  • Bass: (This report courtesy of Captain Mack Farr) — The Bass fishing is good, they are still scattered out all over the lake and also using several different patterns. Fishing the humps both on the main lake or in the creek arms has been a very good strategy, however the depths on this pattern varies quite a bit. Now that the effects of the turnover have lessened, the fish can find god water in a variety of depths, so humps from 10 to 35 may hold fish. use t he weather as a guideline, and on the days before the fronts and the associated clouds and rain will have fish pulling up on the shallower humps, post frontal they will tend to be on the deeper humps and more oriented to the brush. Worms have probably been the most effective bait for these fish, but jigs are also a good choice. You can always start out with a moving bait, I am still getting some of the more aggressive fish to take the Mini Mack or a swim bait, then follow it up with a worm or jig. The dock bite is really ramping up, and this bite is effective all over the lake. Weedless Wonder Shakey Heads and worms are the baits of choice here, and skipping a Ned head to the docks has been a very good technique. Moving baits may also be effective, especially on docks located towards the backs of the creeks, and there are quite a few fish roaming into the creeks. This pattern can be hard to pin down since there are fish on main lake docks as deep as 30, and fish on some docks as shallow as 5 to 8. As a general rule the shallower docks will be best when we have weather moving in, the deeper docks may offer a better bite on the post frontal, blue bird sky days that have been common lately. With more fish moving into the backs of the creek, bank beating, or “junk fishing” is pretty productive. Targeting shallow structures or bait schools have produced some nice fish, and there are a variety of baits that will be effective for these shallow patterns. Jigs, around the previously mentioned docks, wood, or rock is a viable pattern and is accounting for some of the bigger fish. If you have a little wind, a jerk bait or spinnerbait may also get the bite. To be successful on this pattern means is covering lots of water so put the trolling motor on high and keep moving! If you catch enough fish you can often refine this bite to certain baits, retrieves, structures, etc… to catch some nice numbers.
  • Stripers: (This report courtesy of Captain Mack Farr) — The striper bite is pretty good, with several applicable patterns and fish being taken all over the lake. Down lining Herring is a strong pattern, and perhaps our best overall bite. The Stripers are taking advantage of some good water conditions and are using the whole lake which makes your search area a little bigger. Keep moving and hunting, much like in the summer, until you locate fish. Once you find them drumming will pull the fish under the boat and help keep them there. The fish are showing up in a variety of places, over channels, flats adjacent to the creek channels, in drains and on or around humps and points, so be versatile in your search. The bomber fishing has been good, I think water temps in the low 60’s is where this pattern reaches it peak as that is the temperature range where the greatest numbers of fish are on the saddles and flats. This technique actually works all throughout the winter, typically, the colder it gets the bigger the fish get, but the bites decrease in number. Nothing special on this pattern, start as soon as the sun set, keep moving until you find ‘em. Trolling the Captain Mack Mini Mack Umbrella Righas been a very good technique, both stealth trolling on the electric motor or pulling them with the outboard. The first option, stealth trolling, consists of pulling the Mini’s using the trolling motor. Last winter, this was an extremely prolific technique and it appears to be gearing up for more of the same this winter. Just drop the rig to the depth where you are seeing fish, then set your trolling motor to a speed of .5 to 1 mph. You can fish the Mini with or without a planer board, it is very effective when fished straight down, if the fish are less than 15 feet you will probably find that pulling them on the board is a plus. I caught fish using this technique as deep as 50 feet last year, I think the only depth limitation is the tops of the timber. The question that keeps popping up is which rig is better, bladed or unbladed? Last winter we did not have the bladed model available so we do not have a good comparison, but in cold water I am not sure the rig without blades, particularly for the stealth trolling, is the better option. Of course we still have to mention the schooling fish, they are showing very well, especially on the days prior to the frequent fronts that are rolling in. The good news is we have our airborne visitors on the lake as spotters, making this pattern much easier! I think the lower end is best to look for the schoolers, and afternoons may offer more chances. Sebiles are still a good choice for these fish, small buck tails and the Mini Mack’s have been extremely effective as well. 

Lanier GONtel:

Lake Allatoona is down 9.9 feet, clear, and 60’s. 

  • Bass: Bass fishing is good. Cover the lake with the square bill cranks like the cell mate Spro Fat John. The spinnerbait and Chatter bait are good as well. It’s a safe bet when the square bill is working so is the Chatter bait. Fish are roaming now and not really holding to any one piece of cover. The shaky head bite is a good plan for numbers as well. We are mixing up between the 3.5 Big Bite fighting frog and a bite 6 inch finesse worm on a 3/16 jig head. Keep a fish Head sin rigged with the Zoom baby fluke in earl and slow roll it on the bottom. Hybrids like this bait too.

Lake Hartwell is down 4.2 feet, 60’s. –

  • Bass: Bass fishing is good. Fish the main lake points and continuing about half way back into the larger feeder creeks. Us the 3/8 ounce Rat L Trap or Rapala Shad Rap in the shad and baby bass colors. Use a steady retrieve to get the Bass to strike. A stop and go retrieve is still working while using the jerk baits. Baby bass and Tennessee shad are good colors and be sure to fish any lay downs or the back side of points going into the cove. At the tops of the trees out in deeper water stop the bait for a three or four count, then a small twitch on two before stopping it again. Flip jigs around the docks after making several casts with the crank bait and a jerk bait.
  • Hartwell_HybridBass_11.21.19Rabern Report (This report by WRD Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern): Fisheries staff completed fall sampling on Lake Hartwell this week and the results were encouraging.  The biggest story is that hybrid bass, like the four-pounder pictured, are abundant and the catching is good right now. The biggest concentration of hybrids were located in Lightwood Log Creek between Hart State Park and the Highway 51 Bridge.  The large numbers of loons and gulls in this area tell me that baitfish are abundant and so the hybrids ought to be thick.  Hybrid bass were also abundant in Gum Log Creek within eye-shot of Tugaloo State Park.  During the twilight hours, hybrids are cruising the shoreline at depths up to 20-feet deep but when the sun hits the water, they are retreating to mid-channel where downlining live herring is the most effective technique.

Lake Weiss is down 3.6 feet, clear, and high-40’s. 

  • Bass: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins)— Bass fishing is good. A lot of fish have moved shallow in the creeks and bays, chasing shad, feeding up for the fall. Rat L Traps are working good right now, and other flat sided crank baits.
  • Crappie: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins)— Crappie fishing is good. The fish have started to suspend in the river channels, 8 to 14 foot deep, long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs is producing some good fishing. Blue color combinations are working best right now.
  • North GA Mountain Lakes (This report courtesy of Jack Becker aka Academy Jack) — I took a friend to the tailwaters of Lake Burton this week in pursuit of Walleyes. The water temperature was 54.5F, but the air temps were 20 degrees warmer than a week ago. We could not find the elusive Walleye, but he caught his first Chain Pickerel and a nice Rainbow Trout for diner. The jackfish came over weed beds in 12’ of water on a jerk bait, and the trout was caught on a rainbow trout pattern rooster tail in 3’ of water. We saw two schools of small blueback herring in the shallows where the trout was landed. I myself couldn’t get the skunk smell out of my end of the boat. It was still a great day in the N. Ga. Mountains – “Academy Jack”.

TROUT 

DH Reports:

Toccoa Tailwater & DH (by Cohutta Fishing Co.)The Toccoa Tailwater is fishing well! This time of year, I like to focus on subsurface presentations, but we’ve been seeing some smaller caddis and Blue Winged Olives, so bring along some dry flies with you. Bigger, size 6-10 Pat’s Rubber legs and stonefly patterns, BWO Nymphs like smaller pheasant tails, split case BWOs, and Galloup’s baetis, caddis patterns, and red, black, and cream midges will cover your natural patterns. Have some flashier patterns like lightning bugs and rainbow warriors as well. If you aren’t catching fish, chances are you need to adjust your depth – change your depth with your strike indicator and split shot any time there is a depth change on the bottom!

The streamer bite should be excellent especially on rainy and overcast days, so pack along a 6-8 weight with floating or intermediate fly line on low water. I like to throw flies that have a built in action (dungeons, zoo cougars, etc) on intermediate/streamertip lines to get them down without killing the action. I also like to use either heavily weighted flies or I will throw unweighted flies with 1/16 slip sinkers/heavy split shot (use the non-lead kind!) on a floating line with a 9-12 foot leader, as this allows the fly to sink quickly and fish at depth more effectively than sinking line when fishing shallow rivers like the Toccoa. If you’re not comfortable with big streamers, smaller dungeons, sparkle minnows, and wooly buggers thrown under an indicator work great! Keep your eye on the fly as well as the indicator if you dead drift a streamer and twitch it every so often.

The Toccoa Delayed Harvest has also been fishing well. The river is at good wading flow. Have a selection of egg and worm patterns, wooly buggers, hot bead pheasant tails/hare’s ears, Holy Grails, and sparkle minnows. I also like throwing out some flashier bugs like El Diablos and Rainbow Warriors. If you’re unfamiliar with the Delayed Harvest system, be sure to check out the blog post from last week HERE!

Chattahoochee River: Lanier tailwater’s brown trout are fishing really well this fall, as I’ve received many reports of some beautiful and hefty browns donning their fall spawning colors. Technicians Mark Rigglesford and Leon Brotherton have been out on the tailwater the past two weeks verifying anglers’ reports with electrofishing surveys of our own. Well, consider the reports verified, and then some! While they saw good numbers of quality fish at the dam, Settles, and Jones sites, they had to do a literal double take while netting these two trophy browns on a certain unnamed stretch of the Lanier tailwater! These 12.5 and 18 lb beauties were quickly weighed, measured, and then returned to the river to (hopefully) be caught by a lucky Georgia angler in the near future. Where exactly were these fish? As Dredger would put it, “I don’t believe I said.” 

Hatchery Reports: (from Buford trout hatchery manager Pat Markey) — Buford Hatchery continues to stock quality DH trout for anglers as we head into the holiday season. Keep in mind, a unique family-friendly activity for you to consider this holidays might be taking the family on a trout fishing excursion to one of our five DH streams (Amicalola, Smith, Hooch, Toccoa, and Chattooga). Just plan to leave the stringer behind!  Pictured, Kinsey Girard, our newest Fisheries Technician at Buford Trout Hatchery, stocks trout into the Delayed Harvest section of the Chattahoochee River at Pace’s Mill (Cobb Co.) Tuesday afternoon 11/19.

Other Trouting News:

YR_otter“Waste Not, Want Not” — A few dead fish is an inherent part of all hatchery programs, but Buford Trout Hatchery has partnered with a local wildlife rehabilitator to put some of those inevitable mortalities to good use.  Melanie Herr, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in Newton County, uses a portion of the hatchery’s fish mortalities to nourish several River Otters she is currently rehabbing near her home along the Yellow River. What better way to turn rainbow and brown-colored lemons into lemonade than to partner up and help rehabilitate our furry river friends down on the Yellow River.

KG_hooch_stockBe Part of the Bucket Brigade: Final reminder that we need your help to stock delayed harvest trout in the Chattahoochee River! Our bucket stocking at Whitewater Creek (directions here) on the Chattahoochee River will be Tuesday, November 26 at 10:30 AM. The stocking truck should be arriving between 10:00 AM and 10:30 AM, and volunteers should bring a five-gallon bucket, waders, and a fishing pole for some post-stocking fun. These events are great for kids to have a chance to help get trout in the water and catch a few fish once they are stocked. We hope to see you there next week!

Ladies-Want to Learn to Fly Fish? For the ladies out there interested in the art of fly fishing, but simply don’t know where to start, Dredger highly recommends Fly Girl Fish as an entry to the sport. FGF is a platform for novice and seasoned female anglers to learn and share in their fly fishing experiences. A recent post on the blog even gives some great holiday gifting ideas for all fly fishers!

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

New Moon is November 26th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.  For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.

ALTAMAHA RIVER

The water was rising pretty fast and cooling this week, but anglers still caught some crappie. The best reports were from Jesup and Altamaha Park, and minnows in the backwaters produced the most bites. Jigs also produced some specks, especially before the front this weekend. Check with J.J. or Lance at Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) for the latest information. The river level was 4.0 feet and rising (56 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 6.7 feet and rising (57 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on November 19th.

PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton)-More Info HERE

SE GA Sherron Williams Angler Award Crappie 11-18-19
Sherron Williams of Valdosta caught this 2-lb.,5-oz. crappie on a jig while fishing at Paradise Public Fishing Area on Monday. It earned him an angler award from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. He also caught an angler award brown bullhead during the trip.

Sherron Williams of Valdosta fished the area on Monday and had a trip to remember. Fishing a jig in one of the many lakes he landed a 2-lb., 5-oz. crappie that earned him an angler award from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division of DNR. He wasn’t finished, though, as he earned another angler award by catching a 2-lb., 1-oz. brown bullhead catfish. The catfish ate a minnow. With the coming warm-up, expect the bass and bluegill fishing to pick up as well as the crappie fishing.

LOCAL PONDS

I only got a few reports this week from pond trips. One angler caught a bass on a crappie jig while targeting specks. He also lost a couple fish on crankbaits. Another angler fished Monday evening and had a good catch of bass on plastic worms. The crappie fishing was ok except right after the cold front passed this weekend. Winds kept most folks from trolling minnows in the open water of ponds. The crappie bite should be great in ponds during the warm-up late this week. Fish afternoons for the best bite.

LAKE BLACKSHEAR (NEAR CORDELE)

Crappie fishing late last week was very good for anglers fishing both minnows and jigs. Of course, with a big tournament coming, a strong cold front came in just ahead of the derby and slowed the bite. It was tough for the anglers fishing over the weekend, but this warming trend should have them biting well again. Minnows and jigs both should produce slabs.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

SE GA Joshua Barber Trout-Sheepshead - St Marys 11 2 19 - IMG_9282
Joshua and his father Shane put it on the seatrout, redfish, and sheepshead a couple weeks back while fishing the St. Marys area. They caught their fish on fiddlers, shrimp, and electric chicken plastics.

The cold front just in time for the weekend brought winds and colder temperatures. Even so, a few anglers got out and caught fish. On Monday a group fished out of Crooked River and caught a couple dozen seatrout and a few redfish. Winds kept most folks off the big water since last weekend, but the forecast is for winds to die back late in the week and temperatures to climb. If you can get out before the next cold front, the trout, redfish, and flounder bites should be great. Redfish are still in the sounds spawning, so give them a try from one of our piers if you like fishing for them. Expect cut bait on the bottom to fool the bull reds. The sheepshead bite should improve over the next few weeks, also. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.