Ok, ok, nature…wet, cold. Got it. No worries, I can wait to fish. If y’all need me, I am just relining some poles and organizing my tackle box until this spell of showers passes on by. How about you? 

This week’s news:

Reports this week come from Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Plan your day right, and every day can be fishing day – now, Go Fish Georgia!

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA 

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

Last quarter moon is December 18th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.  For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.

ST MARYS RIVER

Matt Rouse fished the upper St Marys this weekend and did really well. On Friday he flung a white/chartreuse curly-tail grub on a Roadrunner jighead (silver blade) and caught and released a dozen hand-sized crappie. On Saturday he had a nice largemouth bass and an “Upper St. Marys Slam” consisting of a big redbreast, bluegill, and crappie. His slam fish ate a tiny white crankbait. The river level at the Macclenny gage was 2.5 feet and falling on December 12th.

LOCAL PONDS

The crappie bite was good this week on the warmer days. Anglers drifted minnows across the deep parts of ponds for their fish. I heard of a few bass being caught, but not as many as the last couple of weeks.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

SE GA
Wyatt Crews had a blast on Tuesday catching this and 5 other bull redfish in the Brunswick area. This one ate a new penny Keitech Swing Impact Swimbait fished on a Flashy Jighead.

Saltwater fishing was very good this week. A couple of anglers fishing the St Simons area on Tuesday had a couple dozen trout on live shrimp and curly-tailed grubs. Wyatt Crews and I fished the Brunswick area for redfish and managed to catch and release 6 oversized reds from 24 to 30 inches. Our fish ate new penny, rootbeer, and figichix Keitech Swing Impact Swimbaits rigged on 1/4-oz. Flashy Jigheads and black/gold Satilla Spin Magnum spinnerbaits. Three other bull reds broke us off in the shells, and another fish spooled me and broke off. We also caught trout and a flounder in the same areas. Anglers fishing from a dock in Brunswick caught a dozen trout up to 18 inches and black drum up to 16 1/2 inches using live shrimp. The Crooked River area was a little slow from the reports I received this week. A couple folks went, but they only caught a few trout each. I received a good report from the St Marys Jetties. The anglers fished live shrimp for their trout. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.

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 .99 FEET CLEAR 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  Spotted bass are roaming up on the points and flats all during the day and retreating to deep water stump beds.  Either way, these bass can be caught with Bandits and Shad Raps.  Try the deeper water for some of the bigger bass.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish school up.  A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish.  The Rapala DT10 and DT6 in shad or hot mustard slowly retrieved over heavy cover caught some bigger fish.  Also try the green tiger and use a stop and go retrieve during the slow periods to trigger a strike.  Carolina rigs can also be used on the ledges and deeper water structure.  Zoom’s green pumpkin u tail worm will work all day.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 5.7 FEET 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  With the rain and cold front this week, running main lake and secondary points were the wind is blowing in are the best tactics.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish school up.  A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish, especially if you find a blowdown tree or break in the wind.  Use a 1/2 or 3/4 ounce spinner bait with a white or chartreuse painted blade and cast it as far as possible and burning back to the boat will draw good bites.  Use a large swim bait such as this Spro BBZ or Gliding Gizzard baits.  If you find a concentration of fish several baits will work, such as a Shakey head worm drop shot and even a jerk bait.  Use a worm with so many active fish.  Continue using the chatter bait first thing in the morning. 

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  Start at the mouths of the creeks and coves with a small crank bait fished down sea walls and around the boat docks.  Continue to move into the coves and creeks until you find the bait.  The fish will be close by.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish school up.  A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish.  The Chatter bait bite is good and be sure to fish it shallow in Richland Creek on the sunny sea walls.  The middle of the coves with wood sea walls have been the best producer.  Make sure you have a trick worm or fluke ready as a backup bait. 

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.2 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Bass are holding on main lake points in the lake due to the consistent water generation.  A mixture of whites, spots and hybrids are schooling below Hwy 109 Bridge on the west bank in 6 to 8 feet of water.  Fish the mouths of the coves using a Rat L Trap, or Shad Raps.  Some fish are still hitting top water early and late; watch the gulls and you can find where the top water action is taking place.  Try a white spinner bait on the banks in coves for largemouths and spots.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish school up.  A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish. 

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.6 FEET, STAINED 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  Some fish are shallow.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish school up.  A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish.  Top water baits continue to produce, including some of the large bass.  Most any top water bait could produce, but a Chatter Bait is probably the most consistent right now.  A good strategy is to have two baits tied on, one a half ounce size and the other a half ounce.  Alternate between the two until a couple strikes occur with the same size.  Black or other dark colors can be good in low light conditions, with chartreuse or white being good otherwise.  Most quality bites are coming from near the mouth of coves to half way back in coves.  Blow downs, brush, stumps, and shallow dock posts have been the best targets for the last few days.  Spinner baits have also fooled a lot of fish lately from the same cover.  If Chatter Baits and spinner baits don’t produce, try jigs and soft plastics around the same wood cover.  A 3/8 ounce jig in black blue with a Zoom Fat Albert Twin Tail works well as a swim bait.  The same jig with a Zoom Pro Chunk works well when slowly working the bait through the cover.

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .72 FEET, CLEAR 60’S

Bass fishing is fair and it’s best to stay down lake where the fish are on docks right off the river bends.  The river is stained and a bright fire tiger or crawfish crank bait can be good on points off the pockets and on ledges at 6 feet.  Down lake use the Rebel Deep Wee R shad colored baits on docks and points.  Also cast a dark Texas rigged Zoom Bush Hog in the larger sizes slowly worked on the docks on the lower lake.  Later each day use the Enticer Chatter Bait on lower lake grass beds.  Cast these baits right on the banks and pull them slowly over the grass.  The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will make finding the bait, the structure and the bass easier.  A larger dark worm over the grass and around docks can get a strike.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish school up.  A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish. 

BIG LAZER PFA (More Info HERE

  • Surface water temperature: 53o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 31”
  • Water level: Down 8” from full pool
  • Attention: Waterfowl Hunters are allowed to hunt the PFA Wednesdays & Saturdays until noon during the season.  See Hunting Regs for more details.  
  • Hunters & Anglers remember: Hypothermia can be a Killer so be safe out there!

Bass:  Slow – Haven’t had many reports of success lately.  The water temp has dropped noticeably in the last few weeks causing the bite to decrease.   However, once the fish get acclimated, the bite should start getting better.  In the cooler water temps, fish near structure using a slow presentation on either your darker colored plastic baits or shad colored lures. 

CrappieFair – The water has cooled off now, and the crappie are trying to fatten up before it gets any colder, so try minnows and/or brightly colored jigs around the standing timber or along deeper banks to produce a bite.  Also, try the fishing the new pier where there are artificial attractors in easy casting distance as well as deeper water.

Bream:  Slow – however, if you are willing to get out and brave the cold, try some worms under a float near structure.  The earthen piers and down trees may be great places to try.  Live crickets and small spinners may also produce some bites.

Channel catfish:  Slow – The upper end of the lake should still produce some bites using liver, cut bait, or shrimp fished near the bottom.  For bank anglers, try near the picnic area along the deep bank and off the newly constructed fishing pier. Just remember there is very deep water and a steep bank in this area so use caution.

NORTH GEORGIA 

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

RESERVOIR REPORTS 

Lake Hartwell Report: (This report Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant)  —LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 4.8 FEET, 50S, Bass fishing is good. As the water gets cooler bait fish are becoming more active. Large single shad ae roaming around the banks in the coves. Use the shallow running Shad Raps when fishing in tight. Skeet Reese Redemption spinner baits are also working early and then again around mid-day. There are some real shallow water fish but they are smaller bass. Use the #5 Shad Raps on the wind-blown points and rocky banks. Follow the wind and find the fish. Make long casts and use a slow but steady retrieve. Slow cranking a #10 Husky Jerk, working mid depths with a Zoom Super fluke or the Ito Vision 110 jerk bait will also work. Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish schools up. A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish. Try to find areas where either a channel or ditch runs close to the points or banks. Bass will be using these deep water channels as highways on roads to get to their feeding grounds. Use the Lowrance GPS to mark the sharp drop offs. The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will make finding the bait, the structure and the bass.

Allatoona Bass Info: (This report Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 11.3 FEET CLEAR, 60S , Bass fishing is good. The jerk bait bite is good. The Jackall DD Squirrel in white and threadfin works great so mix it up with the Megabass Vision 110 and a Lucky Craft Pointer 95. Good concentrations of fish can be found in the creeks near deep water and on main lake points. We also have great results from the 3/16 ounce Picasso tungsten round ball head tipped with a 4 inch soft swimbait. Fish the swimbait on 8 to 10 pound Sunline fluorocarbon. Cast and count it down about 10 seconds, and slow reel it back. The bite is light sometimes. Keep a Zoom Super Fluke in pearl ready in case any fish schools up. A spinning reel and some Sufix braid can help make the super long casts to get to the fish. The Picasso Rhino Ned rig and a Roboworm NED worm in Aaron’s magic is also a great choice. Fish it slow.

Lake Lanier Reports: (This report Courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — This week, Gainesville Fisheries staffers recently completed fall gillnetting on Lake Lanier. Fall is a great time to assess the “fruits” of our stocking “labor”, as we look for larger and hardier versions of the species that our warmwater hatcheries worked so hard to produce and grow prior to stocking in the spring. Lanier’s fall gillnet survey didn’t disappoint! We saw evidence of good stocking success for white bass and striped bass during spring of 2019. Lanier’s 2019 year class of linesides currently ranges from 9 to 12 inches, and we also saw high abundance of the 2018 year class—these fish are currently ~20 inches. Good numbers of small stripers now means great fishing opportunities await Lanier striper anglers in the future, assuming these fish can continue to survive and grow to larger sizes while dodging a variety of potential mortality sources. A little birdy told me one technique that’s working effectively right now is downlining the umbrella rig. Once you mark a school, drop the rig down to 2 feet below the target depth, and then slowly crawl through the school at ~0.5 mph. Is it trolling? Is it downlining? Sounds like something in between…Experiment with a variety of rig sizes to match the preferred prey size, which could range from large bluebacks to small threadfin.

LANFGN_hamel&george_STBWHB_121119Lanier’s white bass appear to be on the rise, as indicated by relatively good numbers of fish and a variety of size classes. Since 2016, WRD has stocked white bass in Lake Lanier in an effort to restore this once-popular fishery. Pictured, UGA’s brand new (and former cornhusker) fisheries professor Martin (Marty) Hamel and WRD Fisheries Technician Collin George show off some examples of the quality white bass that were netted this week (for reference, the striper Marty’s holding on the left in the photo is ~20”). Look for these white bass to pile up in Lanier’s headwaters this coming spring, when water temperatures get above 55 F. These fish can be a ton of fun to catch in numbers and they are fighters on the end of the line.

Black crappie were also abundant in our nets, and crappie exceeding 10” were fairly common. Channel catfish were very abundant and we caught a range of sizes from several 4-5 lb fish and many 1-2 lb fish. We even caught a couple of quality (10 lb) flathead catfish closer to the Chattahoochee River. Talk about good eatin’! Target these flatheads with freshly killed or live bream (redbreast sunfish or bluegill), fished on limb lines or right on the bottom in the upper section of Lanier (hint: Clarks Bridge is a great place to start). Other notable species were spotted bass—Lanier’s (arguably) most STB_spoon_LANFGNpopular sportfish could be found at nearly every sampling station on the lake, with a good representation of size ranges including an handful of weigh-in worthy, chunky adults and many young-of-year. By the way, it’s obvious that spooning the ditches for spotted bass is a popular fishing pattern this winter, as we found this spoon (see photo) snagged in the belly of one spotted bass around Lake Lanier Islands…possible owner: Scout’nStripers.

In summary, it looks like 2019 was a good year for both hatchery production and reproduction. We can thank mother nature and an abundance of flooded vegetation for providing suitable spawning and nursery habitat for supporting spawning success and young-of-year survival among our naturally reproducing sportfish. For our stocked species, we can also thank the fine folks running our warmwater hatcheries (that’s Cordele, Summerville, Bowen’s Mill, Walton, McDuffie, Dawson and Richmond Hill) for their hard work all spring to produce the sportfish we love to catch on Lake Lanier. Now, bundle up, and go catch ‘em! 

ACADEMY JACK LANIER STRIPER
Striper Catch by Academy Jack

Academy Jack’s Lake Lanier Report: (This report courtesy of “Academy Jack” Becker) — Made a few Umbrella Rigs and went to Lake Lanier to try them out.  Found Loons feeding on blueback herring in the back of Flat Creek. Water temp. was 56 degrees. Caught several small stripers trolling over the channel with the U-Rig & Little MAC Crankbait.

Lake Lanier Report: (This report Courtesy of Jimbo Mathley) LAKE LANIER IS 3.6 FEET BELOW FULL POOL THE MAIN LAKE AND CREEKS ARE CLEAR & 56, Currently the lake stands at 3.6 feet under full pool, and the surface temperature has dropped to around 56 degrees given the recent cold front. Bass fishing has been good this past week. The fish are still spread out and transitioning into winter patterns. 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. With the recent colder weather, more fish have been moving into the ditches, and can be found both shallow and deep in those areas depending on the conditions and mood of the fish on any given day. The deep bite has definitely proved more consistent this week. However, crankbaits, jerk baits, spinnerbaits, underspin’s, spoons, jigs, swimbaits, and shaky heads are all still 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 Look for the presence of bait in the area you are fishing no bait likely equals no fish this time of year.

TROUT REPORTS 

Toccoa River Tailwater (These reports courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) —The river is fishing well.  Rain from earlier this week blew out the river for a couple of days, but things should be returning to normal.  Don’t let adverse weather conditions deter your fishing and dress appropriately.  We’re primarily looking for the bigger bite and fish this time of year with streamers and nymphing bigger stonefly and wooly bugger patterns, but your traditional tailwater fare of junk, pheasant tails, raindbow warriors, and lightning bugs should all produce.  Keep some caddis and BWO dries on hand in case a hatch comes off.

Toccoa River Delayed Harvest Section (These reports courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) Fishing is still going strong!  Try all the typical junk flies like Y2K’s, San Juan worms, and mop flies, but vary your approach – these fish have seen a lot of the same stuff for the last month, so sometimes it doesn’t hurt to throw the one thing in your box that you’ve never tried.  We like to throw El Diablos, Tungstones, and anything natural with a hot spot, so soft hackle hare’s ears with orange bead heads etc.

Small Trout Streams (These reports courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) —  These also should be fishing well.  I fish dry-dropper rigs almost year-round on these creeks because it provides a great way to cover most of the water column efficiently as well as make good drifts delicately.  I like small chubby cherynoybis, foam PMX’s, and stimulators as my dries and trail them with a stonefly imitation like a small pat’s rubber legs or tungstone.  A black or olive wooly bugger is also a surefire way to catch fish.

MISCELLANEOUS

Cold Weather Wading Safety – A note on that could save your life!  (Courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) – “This morning we received a copy of this letter from Henry Cowen. We can’t stress strongly enough the importance of wading safety. Please be careful out there!” Read his Letter HERE.

LAN_ccf_yellowgrubWhat’s This On My Fish? (From WRD Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop)  As you are fishing Lanier, or any other North American waterbody for that matter, you may occasionally reel in a fish that displays sign of disease or infection. Here at the Gainesville office, we get calls every now and then from concerned anglers regarding two common fish afflictions—red spot disease (information here) and yellow grub. Pictured is a channel catfish we netted this winter displaying signs of the yellow grub parasite.  Yellow grub (Clinostomum marginatum) are trematodes that actually have a complex life cycle that require a series of intermediate hosts (birds and snails) before infecting their final host, in this case, a fish. While unsightly, when thoroughly cooked these little worms pose no threat for human consumption. In fact, by at least removing the fish from the environment once caught, it can’t be a vector for carrying out its life cycle and possible infection of other fish. However, it is not possible to eliminate a natural parasite like yellow grub from a system like Lake Lanier. So while we’re stuck with ‘em, we can live with ‘em, and the fish is safe to eat if desired—just cook it thoroughly!