Oooppss…I did it again. Started to put 2019 on the blog title. Anyone else having a hard time with that?
The New Year is here – back to work, back to school, seeing how much rain might be coming in and how we will figure out our fishing schedule around all this.
Don’t forget those New Years resolutions…encourage that next generation of conservationists!
This week, we have reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Bundle up, bring a friend or a loved one, and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Saltwater and pond fishing were best this week, as most of the rivers are still unfishably high. 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.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Zeb Rouse was visiting his brother (Matt) over the holidays, and the duo went fishing on the upper St. Marys on Friday. They worked for their fish, but they still managed a few crappie and channel catfish and a fat, healthy 3-pound bass. The crappie hit curly-tailed grubs. They bottom-fished for their catfish and a crawfish-colored Satilla Spin fooled their bass. The river level at the Macclenny gage on January 9th was 5.3 feet and falling.
Fishing was slow again this week on both sides. A few fliers, warmouth, and bowfin were caught in the east side boat basin, but not many folks went fishing. Catfishing would be your best bet on the west side. Put a piece of shrimp on the bottom in a deep hole in Billy’s Lake or fish below the sill spillway for whiskerfish.
Dane Clements had a good day Friday on a Baxley area pond. He landed 20 crappie up to a pound using minnows. On Friday a couple of Waycross anglers fished a Brunswick area pond and landed 42 channel catfish and a largemouth bass. They used cut bluegill on a Catfish Catcher Jighead to land their fish. Yes, the 3-pound bass also inhaled the cut bait. An angler fished a Blackshear area pond on Friday and brought home 9 fat crappie for supper. He slow-trolled minnows during the middle of the day for his fish. Most were around a pound, but one of his slabs pulled the scales down to 1 1/2 pounds. Chad Lee caught a good number of bass this week on jigs (watermelon/orange) and NED-rigged plastics (watermelon-red). He had a 6-lb class bass on Thursday while fishing mid-day.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
On Saturday, Dane Clements fished in the St. Simons area and landed 30 sheepshead up to about 5 pounds. His convictfish ate fidder crabs dabbled around hard cover. On Monday Julius Conner and a friend fished the Brunswick area and landed 6 redfish from 23 1/2 inches up to 30 inches, broke off 2 other bull reds on oysters, and pulled off another. Julius sight-fished a 30-incher around low tide, fooling it with a rootbeer Keitech Swing Impact Swimbait rigged on a Capt. Bert’s round head with a spring keeper. Their other fish ate figichix Keitechs and electric chicken and Texas Roach-colored Satilla Spin Magnum spinnerbaits. A Waycross angler fished the Brunswick area on Wednesday and caught several keeper redfish by suspending a live shrimp under a float and fishing it up in creeks around hard cover. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.
(Fishing report courtesy of Hunter Roop, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The new year has arrived, and I hope that among your many ambitious resolutions for 2020 you’ve thought to also include a fishing-related goal. Keep in mind, we all need one “easy” goal to prime us for tackling the harder ones (less weight, less debt, more money, etc). Recently, a wise man correctly observed that commitment to your goals will get you to the starting line, but consistency will get you to the finish line—translation: you now have an excuse to fish more! For some, a 2020 fishing resolution might be fishing for the very first time, and for others it could be pursuing a Georgia Angler Award, which includes opportunities for adults, youth, those interested in trophy bass and setting PFA records. For those of you that have already “done it all,” maybe there’s an opportunity to pay it forward, and so your 2020 goal might be to take a kid fishing for their first time, or to mentor an aspiring pro angler with your expertise and time-tested techniques. Whatever your fishing goal for 2020 may be, we’re here to help you achieve it by providing you with the freshest fishing intel that’ll help you kick off the new year the right way—screaming “fish on!” If the new year signals time to renew your Georgia fishing license, be sure to visit WRD’s official site HERE, and avoid scammers if purchasing online.
Reservoir Reports (North Georgia reservoir reports are brought to you courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant and other contributors specified below)
Lake Lanier is down 1.3 feet, clear, and 50s.
- Jimbo Mathley Report: (This report courtesy of Jimbo Mathley): Bass fishing is good. The warm weather and more rain will get the bass feeding shallow. But, deep and shallow patterns are good 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, underspin’s, 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. Look for the bait in the area you are fishing. No bait likely equals no fish this time of year.
- Captain Farr Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Mack Farr): Captain Mack Farr is reporting great fishing for spotted bass right now, with the ditches and docks producing quality fish. Spooning the ditches or fishing a shakeyhead with a worm around docks holding brush are the best approaches right now. Below are a couple of pictures to prove it!
- Academy Jack Report: (This report courtesy of Academy Jack): Fished the south end of Lake Lanier earlier this week. The air temperature was 38 when we got on the water and 8 mile an hour winds. The only thing in our favor was we were 2 days from a full moon. The water was 49.5. We found loons and bait off steep rocky banks and deep water docks. We caught 11 bass on deep-diving crankbaits and Shakey heads. 2 Largemouth and 10 Spots.
- Captain Farr Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Mack Farr): Captain Mack’s having success catching schooling stripers while pulling the umbrella rig. Judging by this hearty striper (see photo), these mild winter temps have allowed the stripers to continue feeding on schooling baitfish while we were opening Christmas presents and ringing in the new year. Look to troll for stripers in intermediate depths (20’-40’) over points and humps around the creek mouths.
- Buck Tails Guide Service Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Buck Cannon of Buck Tails Guide Service): Striper fishing is good. The fish are getting bigger and we had one pushing 25 pounds. Down lines are working using blue backs and small trout in open water. We were fishing a 50 foot bottom between 30 to 35 feet deep. We also caught some on free lines 100 feet behind the boat. So watch for the birds hovering and fish with a small weight above the swivel to keep the birds from picking off your bait.
Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of 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.
Lake Allatoona is down 15.4 feet, clear, and 50s.
Allatoona Bass: (This report courtesy of Matt Driver): Bass fishing is good. 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.
Allatoona Linesides: (This report courtesy of Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service): Lineside fishing good if not great especially for the start of winter. The live bait bite is still extremely good. The fish are really starting to key in on the smaller baits right now. Shiners, threadfins and small gizzards shad are all working well. Most of the fish we are catching right now are out over the river channel from Kellogg’s to Clear Creek. Down lines fished from 18 to 50 feet deep depending on the location of the bait schools has been working best. Early morning there has been good free line bite as well. Trolling is also producing well. And at times it is off the charts. I can’t remember what day it was this week. But the Mini Mack bite was so strong for us. We put close to 30 in the boat in less than an hour. Throw in another 25 on live bait earlier that morning made for one of the best days we have had since July. Hunting season is coming to an end. I personally would wait on putting your boat up for the winter. This bite may not last long but right now it’s good and definitely worth getting out.
Allatoona Striper and Hybrids: (This report brought to you by Joseph Martinelli of Heron Outdoor Adventures): The hybrid and striper bite has been good, especially considering the fluctuating weather conditions we have been experiencing. Downlining shiners, shad and trout have still been producing quite effectively. While fish are relating to the main channels, they are often found pushing bait up onto the ledges of the channels when active. The secondary and tertiary channels /ditches should never be disregarded when the main channel is not visibly holding active fish or bait. Our nicest gems last week were found on a hump’s edge and included a 6 1/2 and 7 pound hybrid along with a 9 pound striper -very respectable fish for Allatoona. To read the full report, containing other techniques and information on Allatoona crappie, click HERE.
Lake Hartwell is down 0.83 feet, 50s.: Bass: Bass fishing is fair. Fish the mouths of the creeks and the timber lines on and around main lake features such as points and humps. In the timber fish on a weed less 1/2 ounce Fish Head Spin in pearl white and albino colors trailed with a matching Zoom Super Fluke Jr. You cannot go wrong with the jig in the tree tops. Keep a drop shot or a spoon handy to drop vertically on fish you see on the Lowrance. Some fish are also being caught on the Fish Head Swarm and jerk baits off of deep main lake points.
Lake Weiss is down 6.5 feet, clear, and mid-40s.
- Bass: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins) — Bass fishing is good. Our bass are on a deeper winter pattern. The large mouth are tough right now. The spotted bass are biting and they are schooling up in Little River and the in The Coosa River near Riverside campground.
- Crappie: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins): Crappie fishing is good. Lots of fish have started to suspend in the river channels at 8 to 14 foot 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 in the river channels is working also. Live minnows on a slip float, fished 10 to 12 feet deep is working well also.
Toccoa Tailwater (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): Toccoa Tailwater is fishing well. The TVA cranked up the generation 24/7 a few days this past week in anticipation of another wet winter following the pattern of record rainfall in the Tennessee Valley the past two years. We’ve had near non-stop rain the past three days, but the tailwater is fishable when not generating. Subsurface presentations should dominate, so typical nymph rigs with a mix of natural stonefly, BWO, and Caddis patterns combined with junky/flashy patterns like eggs, worms, and lighting bugs/rainbow warriors will be productive. Combine in some streamer presentations like dead drifting wooly buggers/lunch money’s and stripping dungeons, ice picks, and other articulated streamers if you’re looking for that bigger bite. Blue Winged Olives, Midges, and Caddis hatches are always a possibility as well.
Toccoa DH (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): The Toccoa Delayed Harvest is high right now. The USGS gauge at Dial Road indicates that the river is flowing at 1010 cf/s as of 11:00AM today. Anything above 500 cf/s is too high to wade, but if the water is clear enough, floating the delayed harvest should be very productive up to 1200 cf/s. Make sure to come equipped with heavy flies and split shot if you float. We’re not anticipating more rain after today until Tuesday, so hopefully you can get some time on the water before then! Be sure to check out our blog post on delayed harvest fishing here.
Small Stream (NW) (by Cohutta Fishing Co.): Small streams fish well when the water levels are a little higher and a little off color, so if you can’t find a place to go on the big rivers, I would recommend hitting some of these creeks. If you end up on a creek and find it to be high, high sticking wooly buggers, pat’s rubber legs, double bead stones and Tungstones, and worm patterns. If the water drops out enough, switch tactics to dry-dropper rigs with Chubby Cherynobyls, parachute adams/purple haze, and Caddis dries in sz 12-20 depending on the dropper size. For the droppers, pheasant tails, hare’s ears, and stonefly patterns in any variation will produce if presented properly. I tend to fish the Pheasant tails and hare’s ears on the smaller side, so 16-20’s. Don’t be afraid to fish bigger 8-10 pat’s and stoneflies on these creeks.
Hatchery Reports-Summerville (courtesy of Summerville Hatchery Manager Josh Tannehill): Moving up and making room for the next generation! Summerville Hatchery personnel and staff from other Region 1 offices have moved 28,000 6” fish around the hatchery to prepare for the next trout egg shipment. Today, we will be moving and grading another 70-100,000 2”fish. In addition, we are taking advantage of empty raceways to clean and sanitize piping, which should reduce the incidence of infection for our fish.