Well, it happened, it is actually 2020. Are you the type of person that makes resolutions? If you are, may we suggest adding some fishing-related resolutions? 

  • Check out the Georgia Fishing Report Every Week!
  • Fish in at least 1 new location this year.
  • Take along someone who has NEVER fished in their life.
  • Help out with a Kids Fishing Event. 
  • Need more ideas? Check out this “Wild Bucket List.”

2020FishingRegs CoverBefore we hit the fishing news – we have reports from Central, North and Southeast Georgia (with a little bit o’Southwest info) – be sure to check out the new Georgia Fishing Regulations, now available online and in print. More info HERE.

Now, get out there and Go Fish Georgia in 2020!

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 .74 FEET CLEAR 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The cold fronts roll through quickly and rain is on the way this week.  Some bass are shallow after mid-day.  The shad are moving to the back of the cove’s and creeks and some good bass are starting to move to secondary points and shallow road beds and they are following the bait fish.  Shallow running crank baits are working well, and Rat L Traps, Spinner Baits are also producing some fish.  The top-water bite is good early and late also.  Spy baits have been working and use light line and work these baits slowly. Ken Sturdivant, Lowrance Pro Staff will host all the LET’S GO FISHING SEMINARS at the 2020 Atlanta Boat Show, January 16 thru 19, 2020 at the World Congress Centre on Northside Drive in building C. Meet Lowrance Ken Sturdivant, Captain Mark Smith, Captain Cefus McRae, Rick Burns, Captain John McCalpin, Captain Josh Thornton, Phil Johnson, Stephen Knight AKA Striper Steve, Chris Scalley and Kathy and Jimmy Harris in the Let’s Go Fishing Seminar area. 

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 3.9 FEET 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Look for relatively deep docks where the owners have mounted rod holders.  You will most often find deep brush has been planted out in front of the dock.  A sunny afternoon may pull some fish up on shallow warming rocks.  Shallow stained water will also have the same warming effect, but there is very little stain in the lake this week.  A slow crankbait will be a good bait to search for shallower fish, particularly if the bite picks up.  A shad rap is hard to beat.  Something like Bandit 300 or a deep running Fat Free Shad can also be good choices.  At a slow retrieve, these relatively deep runners will bang noisily into shallow bottom and rock.  They will also cover deeper ranges well.  Fish the crank bait with a pause retrieve on a long cast that quarters or nearly parallels the bank.  Some folks are jigging spoons around congregations of bait as well. 

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass: Bass fishing is slow.  Cold weather will really hurt the shallow bite.  Bait and bass are moving toward deeper water.  Look for fish in 15 to 25 feet of water with the Lowrance Sonar 83kHz frequency.  Once you find them fish vertically over them with 7/8 ounce silver spoons.  Also, fish a drop shot worm in watermelon and green pumpkin colors.  Dipping the worm in some red or chartreuse JJ’s Magic will produce more bites in stained water.  For the shallow bite work some docks in 7 to 10 feet of water with a 3/8 ounce jig.  There may not be a lot of bites but a good one may show up. 

Hybrid Bass: Hybrid fishing is good.  Trolling with umbrella rigs and mini umbrella rigs at the same time can pinpoint these fish and what they want.  Lowrance Structure Scan technology can help cut search times allowing angles to troll and hunt the fish.  Bait is a must and the electronics can see the bait balls extremely well.  Take some live bait and be sure to use small #4 live bait hooks so the baits stay alive longer. 

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.1 FEET, CLEAR, 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The bass are in creeks, ditches and major pockets.  The fish are really keying on bait to fatten up for the winter.  Find the bait on the Lowrance.  Now use the drop shot and a jigging spoon to mimic the bait they are feeding on.  If you notice the fish are really active use the Fish Head Spin rigged with a Zoom Fluke.  Always keep a jerk bait and a Zoom Super Fluke for any bass that chase the busting bait on the surface.  This can be especially good on foggy mornings and overcast days.  It’s hard to beat a Shad Rap now. 

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN .98 FEET, STAINED 60’S

Bass fishing is fair and there are bass almost all over the water column.  Fish the main lake points with worms and the jig and pig.  The up-river fish are on the points and the dark Stanley’s in the 3/8th ounce sizes with a #11 Uncle Josh trailer is fair.  Use the blacks and silver colors in these jigs; cast shallow on the points and docks up-lake and work these baits slowly.  The Zoom u tail worms in the red shad and green pumpkin on a light Texas rig are fair.  Also try a watermelon seed lizard on the short 2 foot leader Carolina rig.  Be sure to use the egg sinker in 1/2 ounce sizes that work best on the rig.  The Flat “A” Bombers in the fire tiger and baby bass colors are also fair on the points and around docks.  Keep the line sizes down to 10 pound Sufix Elite and these baits will run a few feet deeper.  Zoom Flukes in pearl are catching a few bass but the water needs to cool off several more degrees for this to become a good pattern.  Watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to fish when the feeding times reflect more movement. 

LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .77 FEET CLEAR 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Bass have moved deep into 18 to 28 feet of water.  Use the deep diving crank baits like a 5XD or 6XD and also a 3/4 ounce Net Boy Baits football jig.  Tip the jig with a 5-inch Trixster Custom Baits Crusty Craw trailer in root beer or green pumpkin color.  There are a few schooling spots on warm days down the lake so have a Fish Head Spin and a Sammy ready at all times.  Cover a lot of water and watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to fish when the feeding times reflect more movement. 

FLAT CREEK PFA (More Info HERE)

The fish at Flat Creek have been biting between the cold weather that moves through the region.  During the cold snaps, the fish tend to be driven into the deeper water and can be challenging to get a bite.  Even during the warm periods, the fish strike softly and as a result light tackle is needed to feel the strike.

Bass: Minnows in the shallows during the warmest part of the day.  White Zoom Flukes®(or Berkley Gulp! Alive!® Minnows) thrown when bass are feeding on schooling shad have been working great.  Some plastics fished near the shallows also have had some strikes.

 

Crappie: Crappie have been biting the best of all species caught.  Most were caught around the dock (at the edge of the lighted water and dark water) during the night time.  During the day time the crappie were often caught underneath the fishing pier in the early morning.  As the day warmed the crappie were caught approximately 10-20 feet off shore to the right of the boat ramp.  Those on a boat had most success fishing around cover.  Try: Chartreuse jigs underneath a Rocket Float® and cast in the shallows during the warmth of the day have worked great.  Renosky® Natural Shad Minnow jigs are also catching many fish.  Light tackle is a must for crappie at this time.

Bream: Worms on the bottom near the shallows with a split shot about 12-20” away from the hook have been successful.

Channel Catfish: Few fishermen interviewed were targeting catfish. The last angler interviewed that was fishing for channels had good success fishing the extended hours past dark, now that Flat Creek is open 24 hours.  

MARBEN PFA (More info HERE)

Bass: January brings cooler temperatures and unstable weather.  Despite our best efforts at Marben, fishing really slows down this time of year.  However, water temperatures are still warm enough for fish to be in shallow water, especially on warmer January days.   Anglers should try crank baits or rattle traps in the 6 to 10 feet of water.  Do not be afraid to try a Texas rig in the same depth.  Mid-day will be the best times to target bass giving the sun a little time to warm the water just a touch.  Shad occasionally will school in early morning, so try to mimic small shad and you will increase your success rate.  Submerged timber and rock beds are good habitats to target when seeking bass at Marben PFA.  Slower fishing techniques are preferred this time of year for those anglers targeting big bass.

Crappie: Crappie are probably the most aggressive fish anglers will find at Marben this time year.  However, do not expect to hook one with every cast.  Finding them may require a little effort.  Remember though, the crappie bite can turn on at any moment in these small lakes.  Flooded timber is the preferred habitat and the most popular bait is live minnows and yellow jigs.  Try fishing cover approximately 8-10 feet throughout the day.  Expect crappie to move into shallower water on warmer days in January.

Bream: Bream fishing will be slow at Marben.  Coldwater temperatures play a factor with the decrease in activity.  Anglers should expect bream fishing to be best with higher mid-day temperatures.  Remember that bream are deeper this time of year so to be successful anglers will have to target deeper water in order to increase your chances.  For anglers targeting bream, pick days that reach the mid-50’s to increase success.  Crickets and worms are the preferred bait.

Catfish: Look for catfish to be extremely sluggish this time of year.  Patience is necessary if anglers are in pursuit of this fish.  Anglers should target days when it is sunny which should warm the water in order to get catfish moving.  Livers, worms and stink bait are the preferred choices if targeting catfish at Marben.

MCDUFFIE PFA (More info HERE

  • Water Temperature: 54⁰F
  • Water Visibility: 20 – 54+ in

Bass:  The bass bite has been pretty tough lately but it’s the time of year where it pays to patiently fish jigs slowly in deep water.  A 2 ½ lb bass was caught in Willow recently.  In Breambuster Lake, bass continue to aggressively feed on shad right at the surface throughout the afternoon, especially around the boat dock.  Cormorants and seagulls have arrived for the winter and have been feeding on the surface of Rodbender and Willow.  Look for where the seagulls are diving on the lake surface and bass should be nearby.   

Bream:  There have been no reports of bream caught lately.  The bream bite has been slow with the cold water temperatures.  Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge Lakes are good spots to try for bream, as well as any structure in deeper water.

Channel Catfish:  The catfish action has been pretty good, especially in the warmer afternoons.  Bridge and Willow have been the best lakes for catfish lately.  Raw shrimp has been the most effective bait.  Deep water around the siphon drain structures continue to be good spots.  Fish feeders at Jones and Beaverlodge are excellent spots to fish for catfish, too.  Remember, the PFA record catfish has not been set.  Any channel catfish caught on McDuffie PFA that exceeds 12 lb. will qualify as an official PFA record fish.  Please see application at kiosk for details.

Striped Bass:  Stripers can be found in Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes.  A 5 ½ lb striper was caught in Clubhouse last week.  It’s the time of year where larger stripers really start biting crankbaits, swimbaits or umbrella rigs.

NORTH GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)

RESERVOIR REPORTS 

Lake Allatoona “Heron” Report: (This report Courtesy of Joseph Martinelli at Heron Outdoor Adventures) — Check out the Heron report , it has some great info for stripers, crappie, and spotted bass fishing on Allatoona this week.

Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Matt Driver) — Lake Allatoona is down 17.0 feet, clear, and in the 50s. Bass fishing is good. With the weird winter we’ve had the fishing patters are about a month behind this January. Typically the water is several degrees colder but the lake right now is fishing more like November. There is still a strong jig bite. Fishing a Kacy’s Kustom 3/8 ounce bluegill fire or a Kustom Kicker Dock Monkey on primary points is producing good bags of fish. Fish a 7 foot 2inch Cashion medium heavy jig rod and 14 pound test Sunline fluorocarbon line with a Big Bite twin tail trailer. As the water temperature drops into the low 50’s and 40’s we will see an increase in the Float n Fly bite. Up until now, we really haven’t seen a good jerkbait bite but that is about to change. Primary and secondary points from Galts Ferry to just above Little River are setting up to be on for the Spro McStick jerkbait. Also, fish the Alabama Rig with Big Bite Baits 3.5 inch Cane Thumpers. Watch your graph for baitfish to begin to ball up tightly as water temperatures drop past the low 50’s.

Lake Lanier Report: (This report Courtesy of Jimbo Mathley) — Lake Lanier is 2.4 feet below full pool. The main lake and creeks are clear & 50s. Bass fishing on the lake has remained predictably unpredictable the last week or so. Currently the lake stands at 2.1 feet under full pool, and the surface temps are around 53 degrees. The lake will be fast on the rise with all the rain this week. The warm weather with the intermittent cold fronts repositions the fish regularly. Remain flexible as you search for viable daily patterns. Deep and Shallow are both valid options. 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. The rock fish we found this week have been shallow. The ditches are still holding fish and they are quite catchable, however most are keepers up to 2.5 pounds. Crank baits, jerk baits, spinnerbaits, under spins, spoons, jigs, swimbaits, and shaky heads are all still viable options for both the rock fish and the ditch fish. 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. We did find 2 very different but viable patterns for the bigger fish this week make sure to register for my weekly video reports for a full breakdown on these patterns and locations.

Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report Courtesy of Crappie Captain John McCalpin) — Crappie fishing is very good. We are catching crappie in significant numbers and finding larger fish congregating in brush piles under covered docks. The bite window is pretty much all day, particularly on open water brush piles. Fish are holding at a wide range of depths, typically 10 to 20 feet over a bottom ranging from 17 to 25 feet. Until you determine the depth that the fish are biting on a particular day, try dropping your lure or minnow to the bottom and very slowly retrieve it. If you are using a lure, apply a slight jigging action as you retrieve to spark the attention of the fish. Note the depth at which the fish bite, and adjust your casts accordingly. Jiffy Jigs, Bobby Garland lures and ATX Lures have all produced fish in a variety of colors and styles. I usually start with Jiffy Jigs JJ20 or JJ25 on open brush, sometimes tying two different jigs on my line about 18 inches apart. Under docks, I start with Bobby Garland Baby Shad in blue thunder colors, or ATX Lures Wicked Shad in milk/green colors. I’m using mostly 1/24 ounce jig heads with sickle hooks and 2 pound test high visibility line. These jigs can be used equally well for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting presentations. Moving into January, I expect the current pattern to continue to be productive. Sonar and electronic charting technologies are essential to quickly locate brush piles or submerged trees holding fish. Set waypoints on your electronic charts so that you can quickly return to productive locations. Note that you can do this on a smartphone or tablet using Navionics Boating HD app. Refer to my Sonar Angler channel on YouTube for video illustrations of electronic charting. Also, I’ll be demonstrating this (and how to save time locating fish) in January at the Atlanta Boat Show.

Lanier Striper Report on GON ForumTrolling was the ticket for some respectable-sized stripers on Lanier, check it out HERE.

Weiss Lake Report: (This report Courtesy of Mark Collins Service, 256-779-3387) — Weiss Lake is 6 feet 8 inches below full pool, clear, and 44 to 47 degrees.  Bass fishing is good and a most fish have moved back to a deeper winter pattern. The Spotted Bass are schooling up in Little River and the in the Coosa River near Riverside campground. Crappie fishing is good and a lot of fish have started to suspend in the river channels at 8 to 14 feet deep. Long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs is producing some good fishing, blue color combinations are working best right now. A float and fly technique is working well also. Pushing minnows 12 to 14 feet deep on the edges of the river channels is working also. Live minnows on a slip float, fished 8 to 10 feet deep is working well also.

Lake Hartwell Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) — Lake Hartwell is down 2.9 feet, 50s.  Bass fishing is fair. The weather will play a role all week with the extra rain and runoff. On cloudy and overcast days, the bass are roaming between the shallows and secondary points, Use the crank baits and spinner baits. The birds are starting to show up more on the lake so keep an eye out for this and fish around that area until you find the bait and the bass. Changing water levels can be expected with the heavy weather. When this happens the bass head deep to between 20 and 30 feet, and you can catch them on Carolina rigs and drop shots. As the water cools down the bait will bunch up and this means spoons and drop shot rigs.

TROUT REPORTS  

Stream flows: Be especially careful if you try to fish any north Georgia trout streams this weekend, as the recent rains will likely have them running high and fast.  Check stream flows on the USGS site HERE before you go.  Stay away from the black and blue dots!  Tailwaters will probably be your best bet if you are dying to wet a line over the next few days (Toccoa, Hooch, Smith DH).  

Unicoi Trout Reports: (Reports courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) — Lots of detailed info on the Unicoi Outfitters Facebook page last week.  Scroll down to find the 12/27 post HERE… and check back again soon as they will likely post another update later today.

More Trout Stuff from NGTO: Great trout stream report with a big surprise at the end (pic included), click HERE. A few little tips on what the wild bows were eating last week, click HERE.

WARMWATER STREAM REPORTS 

Cartecay River Tips from GON Forum: Very useful tips for targeting bass on the Cartecay River Near Ellijay, but you can use these same tips on really any other medium sized river in North Georgia. Check it out HERE.

SOUTHEAST (AND SOME SOUTHWEST) GEORGIA

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

I hope each of you had a Happy New Year! As we move into wintertime fishing, coastal and pond fishing are the top bites. The rivers are mostly still very full. Winter fishing is often hit-or-miss, but when you “hit” it can be phenomenal! Check out my latest article about timing a trip during winter in the January issue of Georgia Outdoor News.

Full Moon is January 10th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.

LAKE BLACKSHEAR 

A Waycross angler fished Lake Blackshear over the weekend and had a tough trip – as in got skunked. He said that the water is muddy and 54 degrees and that he could not get them to bite jigs or worms. He said that the water near the dam was clearer and that he wished he had spent more of his time that direction.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP 

Reports are that the fishing has been slow this week in the swamp. Typically, flier and pickerel (jackfish) are the targets this time of year, but the high water has the fish spread out. The latest water level on the east side was 120.75 feet, and I usually have my best trips when it’s at or below 120 feet. At the current level it is still worth a trip (unless you’re fishing right behind a quick water level rise), but your expectations will need to be lowered a little bit with the high water.

SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Bainbridge)

Luke Guadagnoli Bass - IMG_3924
Luke Guadagnoli of Brunswick caught his personal best largemouth bass, a 21-incher, on a spinnerbait fished at Silver Lake Public Fishing Area near Bainbridge.

Luke Guadagnoli from Brunswick was visiting family over the holidays and landed a monster 21-inch largemouth bass while fishing the public fishing area. Based on past sampling data, this fish was likely north of 9 pounds and may have even been a double-digit fish. Fish in that system are super-fat from gorging on abundant forage. He used a spinnerbait to fool the trophy, and he released it to be caught again another day.

LOCAL PONDS 

Chad Lee has been tearing up the bass and crappie in Alma area ponds. He had several trips this week where his crappie catches were in the teens. His biggest fish was a little over a pound. Jigheads and Flashy Jigheads in the 1/16-oz size and Assassin Curly Shads produced many of his fish. Spider-rigged minnows also fooled a bunch for him. Crankbaits were the ticket for most of his bass. He caught his first fish of the year (a crappie) at 7:15 on New Year’s Day while fishing with a friend. The duo managed 3 bass and 13 crappie in just a couple of hours that morning. The best Curly Shad color for them was slammin chicken (a purplish hue with glitter). Their bass ate a Texas-rigged green pumpkin 2.8-inch Keitech crawfish. If we get significant rains out of the forecasted weekend storms, the spillways below ponds should produce some great fishing. The water flow attracts fish from downstream, and they follow the flow up until they hit the base of the dam. Typically, you can have some really good fishing in the plunge pool below dams. From my experience, crappie and bass are tops in that situation, but every now and then you can find a good bluegill or catfish bite below a spillway.

SALTWATER (GA COAST) 

On Friday, a couple of Waycross anglers fished the Brunswick area and landed 35 trout. An 1/8-oz. Flashy Jighead and chicken-on-a-chain or mama’s 14K Sea Shad fooled lots of 15 to 17-inch fish. The bigger 18 to 19-inch trout inhaled topwater plugs and jerkbaits. They also had a couple 3-pound bluefish inhale the hard baits. Those are monster blues for our area. I took my daughter (Ellie) saltwater fishing in the Brunswick area on Saturday afternoon while she was home from college, and the bite was a little slow compared to what is has been. Even so, we had 2 bull redfish at 25 and 26 inches on artificials. Hers (her first redfish ever) ate a figichix Keitech on a round jighead with a spring keeper. Mine inhaled an electric chicken Swing Impact Swimbait on a 1/4-oz. Flashy Jighead (electric chicken color). We also had a 20-inch black drum on the Flashy Jighead and a nuclear chicken Swing Impact and a trout. We fished the low tide late in the afternoon, and the water temperature was 65 degrees – unseasonably warm! Chris Moore and his son Nash fished the Georgia coast on New Year’s Day, and Nash caught his first redfish. Their reds were hitting shrimp hard. Congratulations, Nash! Shane and Joshua Barber fished the St. Marys area on Monday and said that the water looked like they were fishing the blackwater upriver. In the windy conditions they landed 5 trout (1 keeper) using both shrimp and jigs. They also had a keeper redfish on dead shrimp fished on the bottom. By dabbling fiddlers around hard cover they fooled a half-dozen (2 keepers) sheepshead. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.