It’s the last weekend before Christmas, so we know time is tight, but if you have family and friends around visiting for the holidays, how about bundling up and taking them fishing? What a wonderful, fun tradition you might begin!

QUICK NEWS:

  • Need some Winter Fishing Tips? We got’em HERE.
  • Need Holiday gift ideas? Look HERE and HERE.
  • Bucket Brigade: Approximately 70 volunteers helped region fisheries staff stock trout this holiday season during the annual “Bucket Brigade” event. Catchable-size rainbow and brown trout were stocked as part of the fall and early winter “Delayed Harvest” season. The event was a SPLASH, and we are greatly appreciative of all who participated!

Let’s get to our reports! This week we hear from Central, North and Southeast Georgia. Now grab the kids, the grandkids, the spouse, the aunts, the uncles, all the Who’s in Whoville and Go Fish Georgia!

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 .53 FEET CLEAR 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Deep diving crankbaits like the DT10 from Rapala will get down to these fish and get the job done.  Bass will be suspending on the ledges on or around all major points.  Use the suspending 7 Rapala Shad Rap and add four or five storm suspend strips to the front of the bait.  Long casts will be necessary for full performance and getting down to these suspending fish.  Best bet will be to go about half way up either of the two main rivers and stay off the points and areas around them.  Be ready to get out the Flex It spoons and watch for the fish to be locked on the bottom and you can see them with the Lowrance down Scan beams.  Later in the day make long casts and crank the bait down fast for the first eight to ten feet then slow the bait down to almost a crawl.  Work the area thoroughly then move to another. Early morning to mid-day will be the most productive using this pattern.  Later on it will be necessary to tie on a blue or black/blue jig combination.  Any and all wood structure needs a good application of the jig.  The bite at times will be very subtle and you may not even feel one at all.

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 5.9 FEET 60’S

Bass fishing is fair and the water is cooling down with the cooler weather and colder nights.  Up lake the best baits will be worms and jig and dark colors and larger sizes could prove effective for a big fish.  Main lake creek points and creek bends are fair and Zoom red shad worms on a Weedless Wonder lead heads will work but use lighter heads.  The afternoon will be better as the warmer coves can offer more shad movement.  Work the 1/2 ounce jig and a salt trailer all in black on the docks and points.  Add some Jack’s Juice in garlic scent and make casts to the same location.  Crankbaits later each day can also work, but with the stained waters, use bright Bomber Flat A in chartreuse and crawfish colors.  The same tactics are also fair down lake and add the 1/2 ounce Hopkins spoon and the jigging technique to the plans. 

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, CLEAR, 60’S

The lake is full. The water temperature is 54 to 57 degrees and clear on the main lake, light stain up the rivers.

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  Most of the fish have moved into the creeks like Sugar Creek and Lick Creek.  They are from the mouth of the creeks to the middle.  Start with a deep diving crank bait and work the points from deep to shallow.  Continue to move into the creeks and work the secondary points with smaller crankbaits.  For the fish that have remained on the main lake look for humps and road beds and fish a spoon for the fish that show up on your Lowrance.

Striper: Striper fishing is good.  The fish are all over the mid-lake area around River Bend.  Live bass minnows fished on down lines and flat lines are producing good catches.  Spoons will produce good catches as well.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good.  The long line bite is the best way to target the crappie.  You will need to cover a lot of ground, as the fish have moved out of the trees.  Start looking in the mouths of the creeks and work your way to the back of the creeks.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.8 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass fishing is good.  The two best baits are a jigging spoon and drop shot rig.  For a jigging spoon use silver or gold half ounce jigging spoons.  On sunny days use silver and cloudy days switch to gold.  For drop shot rigs use a number one Gamakatsu drop shot hook tied eighteen inches above a quarter ounce drop shot weight.  Locate bait offshore in depths eighteen to twenty feet of water.  Fish are positioned on structure relating to the main river channel.  Once you have located fish stay put as catching large numbers is very possible. 

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, STAINED 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Bass are moving to the points and docks down lake and are tight on cover.  Down lake, use the 1/2 ounce jig and a Zoom salt trailer in green pumpkin on the heavy cover.  The crankbait and spinner baits cast on the bank cover and slowly fished will get strikes.  Later in the day, spinner baits down lake in the creeks are fair, just work bank cover.  Spinner baits with bright blades will draw shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day.  The Zoom water melon seed lizards in the 4-inch sizes will work later each day.  Also on creeks on old channels, use a Rapala DT 10 crank bait in crawfish and shad patterns on the bank around any cover.  Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to fish when the feeding times reflect more movement. 

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

Bass fishing is fair and it’s best to stay down lake and 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.

NORTH GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, North Fisheries Region Supervisor with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and local experts)

RESERVOIR REPORTS 

Lake Hartwell Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) — LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 4.9 FEET, 50S — Bass fishing is fair. Fish the secondary points and moving to the coves all over the lake. Start shallow with a half ounce spinner bait in bright colors and blades and make lots of casts to any wood. Keep a Zoom Super Fluke ready all day and pearl is the best color. Use the Texas rigged lizard in pumpkinseed or water melon and add some Real Craw scent. Around lower lake docks use a green Zoom trick worm on and around the docks and work it off the bottom with no weight. Use some Jack’s Juice and add a glass Venom rattle in the worm and let it sink on a free line. Slowly work the worm right in the brush around these docks. Cover a lot of water and watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to fish when the feeding times reflect more movement. Spoons will be the best way to get the fish to bite. Down scan technology by Lowrance can spot these fish as they will be right on the bottom. Set the down scan on auto depth on both down can and add a panel with sonar on the other also in auto depth. The jig head bite and the Weedless Wonder lead heads can get the baits to the fish. With the weather being up and down be prepared to adjust day by day. The creek points down lake at 10 feet and docks close by have bass close by. Get all baits tight to cover and mid day go to the creek ledges.

Allatoona Bass Info: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) — LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 12.6 FEET CLEAR, 50S — Bass fishing is fair. Fishing has been a little slower this week. Cold fronts and high winds along with the dropping water. The best way to catch them this week is to run and gun with baits like the Spro 95 McStick. Cover a lot of water and watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to fish when the feeding times reflect more movement. Spoons will be the best way to get the fish to bite. Down scan technology by Lowrance can spot these fish as they will be right on the bottom. Set the down scan on auto depth on both down can and add a panel with sonar on the other also in auto depth. The jig head bite and the Weedless Wonder lead heads can get the baits to the fish. With the weather being up and down be prepared to adjust day by day.

Allatoona Lineside Info: (This report Courtesy of Joseph Martinelli of Heron Outdoor Adventures) — Lake Allatoona Fishing Report for 12.19.2019. Greetings fellow fishers, both ladies and gents of all ages. Merry Christmas!

Lake Allatoona is steady cool at 50-52 degrees mid-lake though much cooler temps can be found in the creeks. Today’s water levels are at 827.40 feet. As a public service announcement, it was noted today that the US Army Corps of Engineers has extended the comment period for the proposed Allatoona Lake draft. In these decisions will be Raising the Winter guide curve from 823 to 824.5 feet, as well as a Water Supply reallocation of 33,872 acres. We encourage you to be well informed and more information may be found here directly . We basically fished in the backyard this past week though found active fish from Kellogg Creek to Little River. The continued pressure on the previous weeks’ ‘hotter’ spots has helped moved the fish along from where they just were. Good bet that they continue to use the channels for a southward surge and we hope to be right where that bite is always happening.

These Allatoona fish are adapting to a winter pattern that is predicated by water temperatures and stability of bait supply. Some of these pods of fish are down in the 40′ range and are less affected by a surface temp swing and there are days you need to focus your efforts there. The gizzards are so very hearty and just a staple bait for myself and others time of year. We plan to pull a trout or 30 when the time comes, but right now the gizzard shad are producing well for a live-bait approach.

Smaller baits have proven most effective when the fish were not in lockjaw mode this past week. On 3 of 4 outings, we enjoyed a fantastic early bite with enough to satisfy your urge to hook and boat fish by 9 a.m. Small Gizzard shad on the downlines from 15-35 and freelines. Yes 2′ – 35′ and beyond. We bounced the bottom with small gizzards in 40′ to catch 2 hungry 5 pound Stripers that took the bait. Jigged some up in 35/55. Maybe more of the Hybrids came on the freelines overall (8 lb. test with a #1 hook and small split shot), but both delivery systems were working well. One morning we were blessed enough to see over 30 lbs. of fish come into the boat in just a little over an hour. Catching 5 good fish an hour was not unheard of. This was new as the late mornings had been producing better just a week or 2 ago. We also enjoyed a cold-front driven winter’s day that produced some Grade-A lockjaw most all day. While our target species was acquired it was a tough bite to find and fewer opportunities were granted by those “wiley” linesides. Huge thanks to Bob Rice and Dick Gillespie for sharing their wisdom and laughter aboard the Sweet Marie this week and we look forward to having them back real soon. Bob and Dick are two of the South’s finest gentleman, both representing the The Angler Magazine – a great publication that we encourage you to pick up monthly at your local tackle shop.

Trolling A and U-Rigs did not produce well this past week when applied, but those were already lockjaw periods. Please feel free to share your go-to’s when the fish are in lockjaw mode. Cast nets don’t count. If there was an easy solution for it, it wouldn’t be called lockjaw. Don’t take it personal. Lockjaw happens. Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile and fish.

Lake Lanier Reports: 

N GA ACADEMY JACK LANIER SPOTTED BASS
Academy Jack with his Lanier Spotted Bass

(This report courtesy of “Academy Jack” Becker) — I made another trip to Flat Creek this week. Fished a steep rock bank in 20 to 25’ of water and caught 2 nice Spots. There was a loon diving along the bank when I got there. This area was only about 50’ long, but it was the only place I found that was holding fish. I had 4 bites in about 15 min. All bites were on a Texas rigged creature bait, green pumpkin, chartreuse tail. The water temp. was 54.5.

(This report Courtesy of Jimbo Mathley) — 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 a little slower this 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, under spins, 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. This will likely be the case until the water temperatures hit the low 50’s. Stay flexible and versatile in your approach. Look for the presence of bait in the area you are fishing with the Lowrance technology and no bait likely equals no fish this time of year.

Lanier GON-tel:

TROUT REPORT FROM UNICOI OUTFITTERS 

Trout Across the Board (This report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters)  — This week’s theme is “Holiday Cheer!” We have much cheer headed our way during this very special week: faith, family, friends, and maybe some extra fishing time, too! Let’s pile on even more cheer: higher streamflows, forecasted warm afternoons in between next week’s chilly days, and some GADNR holiday gifts in our Delayed Harvest waters! One DNR elf also said that Vogel Park’s lake might be a great place for a child to break in his shiny, new Christmas fishing pole. JLT suggested drowning worms under a bobber for little Timmy or Tina’s first fish. For the latest DNR intel, check HERE late on Friday afternoons. Given these presents from your state and federal hatchery elves, decorate your fly patch this week with your big, flashy stuff: orange and red eggs, neon Y2K’s, tan and lime mops, and brightly beaded buggers.

For veteran fish, however, you’ll see a common theme among our guides and anglers: a chunky rubber-legged stone as the lead fly, followed by a tiny trailer like a size 16-18 pheasant tail, hares ear, midge, black copper John, or soft hackle wet. Subtle colors are the key to those small trailers. You’re imitating the top three bugs of our winter stream drift: midges, blue wing olives, and little black winter stoneflies. If you try a bead, try a black one. If you only have silver heads in your fly box, carry a black Sharpie pen with you and “adjust on the fly.” 😉 These reports also illustrate that technique trumps fly pattern. With higher flows after rains, everyone’s adding an extra shot or two to get down to the action. Lesson: adjust your shot numbers and the depth (height) of your strike indicator before changing flies.

While stream temps are cold, they’re not yet bone-chilling like they’ll be in the new year. They’re still running in the mid- to high-forties, so trout are still eating well. The key has been to get the flies rolling along the bottom. During flood flows, drift them through the flood refuges (low velocities). That’s often right along the streambank or behind that big bedrock ledge that runs all the way across the river, perpendicular to streamflow.

Fresh intel from this week’s angling elves: Ben S: Small stream action has been very good, with many fish fondled on his favorite egg pattern, which is top secret. Both DH and wild streams have fished well. He also caught one on top, on his strike indicator – a buoyant hopper!

More small stream reports

TN Tourist: Regular shop guest “TN Tourist” said he took some coveted UO intel and put his GA buddy on his first true speck. He showed us a pic of a beautiful seven-inch brookie. I believe they were tossing Caddis dries inside the Rhododendron tunnels. Where? Well….IDBHS!

Tallulah: Young bucks like Ben S, Trey, and Ben D have also been harassing the abundant, little wild rainbows in the Tallulah. Hot flies were eggs and squirmies, trailed by a #16 or 18 hares ear nymph. Hint: hi-stick to achieve perfect dead drifts and fool these wily “natives.”

Weekend guide Ben D sez: Water was high and a tad more challenging than usual. Had to run slightly larger flies such as stones, mops and other leggy bugs. Ran super heavy just to get the flies down in the seams. Fish were spread out whereever they could take refuge. Average size was 10 to 12 inches. No tanks netted all weekend. Had two clients break off very nice fish, though.

Private Waters: UO Guide Hunter Pittman’s Report: With the rain we have had recently and with more rain on the radar, my “go-to” rig lately has been a heavy, two-fly nymph rig. Up top I am using a black rubber legged stone fly pattern or a girdle bug. If they don’t like it then that will be replaced by an egg or a creme mop fly. My dropper or bottom fly in my rig has been a soft hackle with a dark or tan body, or a hares ear. If neither of those work I’ve been able to catch them on a root beer midge and a trout crack midge when they were being more picky. Even with this rain some places have remained very clear so I have been using 4x to my top fly, and 5x to my lower fly in those places. I also make sure that I have enough weight to reach the bottom. Sometimes I have to use multiple medium-large BB’s to get down there. I always try to add extra weight and change flies before changing spots, that little change can often produce for you. With the incoming rain and rising water levels, I would be focusing on the middle to back of pools.

Tooga: New fly flinger Walter G from Greenville happened upon a random Rabunite while wading the Chattooga DH last Sunday afternoon (15th). He re-rigged with the Rabunite’s suggested “legs and eggs” combo, added two shot, and looped a thingamabobber way up his leader butt. With a few practice casts, he was schooled on the deadly art of the drag-free drift and…Was immediately into fish, with a nice handful of rainbows and a fat, strong 14-inch brown fondled. To top off his day, he was invited to the Rabun Rendezvous on Jan 18, where 250 of north GA’s trouting fans will gather at Dillard House for bluegrass, BBQ, and a boatload of prizes. You’re invited, too!

Dukes: has been hit or miss. The high batting averages were by veteran hitters who took lots of batting practice through the years and know how to fish that trophy stream. Fish up to 24 inches were reportedly landed. Rookies with crummy averages are striking out in the clear water because they haven’t yet developed their home field advantage. Smithgall rookies can learn by clicking more than once on the internet and reading the scouting reports there, articles and YouTube vids. And then by fishing the place to develop their stream reading skills. We vets call it, “paying your dues.”

Fires on fire: check out Big Browns’ great Fires Creek trip report on NGTO.

Stocking stuffers: need one more? Grab a Dream Trip ticket from your local TU chapter. For ten bucks, you have a shot at winning the March raffle for a summer week in Yellowstone. You’ll be lodged and guided by our fishing buddies, John and Laine McGarity. How about that for a memorable Christmas gift??? Tix will also be available at the Rabun Rendezvous on 1/18.

Thanks for taking a look at this week’s report. We hope it puts a few more holiday fish into your nets. Feel free to share your own fish stories with us. Also, please remind your older web grinches (like Dredger) that they don’t have to be Facebook members to sneak peeks at our UO Facebook page and snag all of this timely “trouting” intel.

The UO staff sure appreciates our gifts of your friendship and patronage. We’ll be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day, but open on all others. Give us a call or, better yet, stop by the shop to swap some lies with our Liars Club. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you! Sincerely, The UO Staff. 

MORE TROUT NEWS

Toccoa River Tailwater (Report courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) — The river was blown out earlier this week due to rain. The river should begin to clear, but the generation schedules will probably start to limit time on the water as the TVA levels out the lake. We’re primarily looking for that bigger bite and fish this time of year with streamers and nymphing bigger stonefly patterns and wooly buggers, but your traditional tailwater fare of junk, midges, pheasant tails, rainbow warriors, and lighting bugs should all produce. Keep some caddis and BWO dries on hand in case a hatch comes off.  For those of you that want to throw streamers, bring 6-8 weights rigged with floating and intermediate fly lines with 12-20lb fluorocarbon leaders. For flies, we recommend throwing a variety of colors, weights, and varying fly actions to see what the fish like. A good place to start is with two or three colors of Galloup’s Dungeon, Strolis’ Ice Pick, and a couple smaller streamers like sparkle minnows and medium sized buggers. Vary your retrieve and cast past your target just like you would while nymphing. This style of fishing is about quality over quantity and takes a lot of perseverance for success, so plan on committing and fish like every cast is going to have big results.

Toccoa River Delayed Harvest Section (Report courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) — It might be floatable till Sunday, and will definitely be wade-able by Friday. We recommend watching the USGS gauge at Dial Road just in case – anything >500 cf/s is okay to wade, but higher than that is dangerous. If the river stays higher, make sure to bring along some #1/BB sized split shot. If you’re unfamiliar with the Delayed Harvest system, be sure to check out the DH blog post here!

Small Trout Streams (Report 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.

RIVERS

Etowah River Tailwater (Report courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company)  — The river was fishing well before the torrential downpour earlier this week. If the creeks clear up by the end of the week and generation allows, this would be a great option this weekend. Water temperatures at the dam are falling into the low fifties, so be prepared to work your flies S-L-O-W. I recommend intermediate or sinking lines with neutrally buoyant flies around structure, so think Galloup’s Dungeons in tan/craw/black, and unweighted 2-3 inch baitfish patterns. Sparkle Minnows/Rubber Buggers and Kreelex’s are also good producers. Be patient and don’t think numbers – some of our biggest Bass of the year come out of the river from now through March.

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

ALTAMAHA RIVER

Okefenokee Bass Anglers held an open tournament Saturday out of Altamaha Park. Even dealing with the cold front, anglers had some nice catches. Kevin Hill, fishing by himself, won with 14.52 pounds. He also had big fish, a 5.66-pound toad. Second place with 14.42 pounds were Shawn Misplay and Michael Williamson. Timmy O’Neal and Shawn Hendrix earned third place with 14.06 pounds. Check with J.J. or Lance at Altamaha Park (912-264-2342) for the latest information. The river level was 10.0 feet and rising (51 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.8 feet and rising (53 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on December 19th.

WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER (NEAR VALDOSTA)

SE GA Marion Suwannee Bass
Marion Baker of Perry becomes the 34th person to grab a Georgia Bass Slam with this Suwannee bass from the Withlacoochee River. The bass ate a shiner-colored Satilla Spin Magnum spinnerbait.

Marion and Brandon Baker of Perry fished the lower river near the Florida line on Thursday so that Marion could try to finish out her Georgia Bass Slam (through Georgia Wildlife Resources Division) for the year. They ended up catching an almost 13-inch Suwannee bass on a black/gold (shiner color) Satilla Spin Magnum with a gold blade. They also caught a solid keeper largemouth and a few redbreast sunfish up to 9 inches on the spinnerbaits. The river level was 6.3 feet and rising (59 degrees) at the Pinetta, Florida gage on December 19th.

LOCAL PONDS

Crappie fishing was tops from the reports I heard from Waycross area ponds. Shane and Joshua Barber had the best catch of crappie reported to me. They fished minnows in a pond and ended up keeping 15 crappie to about a pound, a bass, and 3 nice bluegills. I heard of a few good bass catches this week, but none over about 3 pounds.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The weather (cold and windy) slowed the saltwater catches this week. I heard of a few trout being caught from Brunswick area docks, but that was about it for trout and redfish. Noah Tillman fished with a couple of friends from docks in the Woodbine and White Oak Creek areas on Sunday evening and caught several white and channel catfish by putting shrimp on the bottom on Catfish Catcher jigheads. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.