Happy Valentine’s Day to all you anglers – maybe this weekend you can find time to take that significant other out on the water with you!
GET REWARDED FOR FISHING!
The Georgia Angler Award program recognizes people that catch fish that meet or beat a specific weight or length. We have multiple categories, including Angler Awards for adults and youth, Trophy Bass, and PFA Records. For complete rules about the program (i.e. what photos must be included, application must be completed, weights or lengths of fish, what kind of scale to use to weigh a fish, etc.), click HERE.
Angler Award applicants from 2019: Be on the lookout, hats were mailed yesterday! Did you put in an application in 2019? No? Better get on it in 2020 and rack up some sweet swag, like a certificate, t-shirt and personalized ball cap!
We have some anglers that already are earning their 2020 goodies, including Tim Bonvechio with this impressive largemouth that qualifies for the Trophy Bass Program, and Lea Anne Powell, who finally got herself a tank of a shoal bass for an Angler Award. Great job!
Want to get the info to lead you to YOUR 2020 Angler Award? Read our weekly blog reports. This week, we have reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Now, get out there and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, Northwest Fisheries Region Supervisor/Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Unless you plan to fish a headwater stream or small impoundment this weekend, your SAFE fishing opportunities will be limited following this week’s deluge. Streams and rivers across north Georgia are spilling over their banks and our reservoirs continue to rise as muddy torrents and debris pour in. Floating debris is prevalent and a number of river and reservoir boat ramps are closed as a result of the flood waters (see below). Please, think SAFETY FIRST if you are out and about this weekend. Remember, fish do fine underwater, humans do not.
Lake Allatoona Linesides, bass and crappie: (This report Courtesy of Joseph Martinelli of Heron Outdoor Adventures) — Lake Allatoona water levels have risen rapidly this past week, and just like that there was water in all the creeks again! The heavy rains ultimately brought us above 844 feet today (4+ feet above full pool and rising) and with it, all the debris you would not hope for. Generation is scheduled to begin tomorrow (Thursday) from 3-8 p.m., in case you wondered “when” the ACOE would start pulling. Water temps are rising thanks to the influx of warmer waters from upstream. These have been marked as high as 55 even with the colder air temps, and low 50’s will be prevalent lake-wide.
- Stripers and Hybrids: There is no slowdown on the striper and hybrid bite for the dedicated angler. The fish activity is naturally a little up and down with the barometer and other fluctuations, but we even caught some pretty decent linesides when the barometer tanked into a recent weekend and brought some nice fluffy snow with it. Downlines have been the most consistent method for hook-ups with threadfin shad and medium shiners as well as small to medium gizzards getting the bite. Placing your bait at the correct depths is important and a line counter is as practical as tires on your trailer. Depth ranges can often vary and electronics will typically tell the tale. 17′ and 22′ are typically good depth ranges to be at when scouting or trolling from hole to hole. Active fish may be seen at 35-40′ down or you may find the fish in less than 15′ of water, even this time of year. While there are some decent depth standbys, looking outside of the norms on any given day could put you in an ideal position to catch fish that others could easily pass by. Both casting and jigging with a Flexi-spoon, Steel-Shad or bucktail with trailer has produced fish, and sometimes this method will out-produce live bait. This can often happen in instances where fish are spread out and covering more water proves beneficial, as well as when they are stacked and more easily enticed by a dancing flash. Conversely, sometimes the water conditions and fish activity call for a very slow-moving presentation. Sometimes we just drop into them with a small spoon or even a 1/16 oz jig to entice the bite. With similar results, a small A-rig can outshine the live presentation in many situations. Again, fan casting while working a point or break can help to easily locate active fish and then a decision to move in with live bait can be made if preferred. Do not discount the effectiveness of such a tool. At the end of the day, your fish count could be doubled if you are simply willing to work at it with a rod in hand. Not to mention there is such an awesome feeling when the bump comes on an artificial you are working.
- Spotted and Largemouth Bass: The Spotted Bass and Largemouth bite has been quite fantastic. We are catching a slew of these critters both on live bait as well as artificial presentations. They will chase and strike that small school of shad represented by your A-rig. If I had to go out today and fish a tourney, you can bet that A-rig is being worked continually in my hands, and with confidence. They are eating and know that their spawn is soon upon them.
- Crappie: The Crappie bite has been quite decent overall. Trolling jigs behind the boat has proved effective especially when water conditions of limited top-water debris are found. Pitching a small jig (or tiering 2-4 of them) on light line (4-6#) has been our favorite method as we like to feel the bump when possible. These fish can still be targeted in and around structure such as marinas and brush piles as well as bridge abutments. Their spawn is upon us and these fish are definitely staged up in the creek channels and over flats just looking for a nice jig or minnow-tipped jig to cruise by them at around 1mph. Now, let’s go fishing! If you choose to not go it alone, or simply want a day to be catered to and soak in some new spots and techniques, please reach out to us. Your Adventure awaits. Tightlines, friends.
Lake Allatoona Lineside Report: (Courtesy of Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Line sides – Decent ! Well we went from 15 feet below full pool to 2 feet above full pool in less then two weeks. All of the rain has completely trashed the lake. We are seeing debris has far north as the dam right now. There are still pockets of Decent water south of Redtop, but I think that will mud up in the next few days. The good news is there is still a bite. Downlining small baits on the south end is still decent right now. All of our fish are coming 18-24 feet deep out over open water. If you go out be careful the lake is rising fast. There isn’t a ton of debris out there but there’s enough to damage your boat if you’re not careful.
Lanier Boat Ramp Closures: Lake Lanier’s current elevation is 1075.5 and rising, and with additional rain in the forecast for North Georgia we can expect ramp closures throughout the lake. The current list of ramps that are now closed can be found on the Army Corps’ awesome and informative GIS map for Lake Lanier (click here to access Lake Lanier map). Refer to this map and the Corps Facebook page for updates on lake conditions and other pertinent announcements. If you are out on the lake during these flooding events, use extreme caution when navigating as floating debris, water toys, and even rogue dock flotation can create serious navigational hazards for you and your fishing buddies.
Spots from the dock:(This report Courtesy of “Academy” Jack Becker) —
With all the rain and high winds I stayed home this week, but I did fish the green lights at our dock for a couple of hours one evening. I caught a nice Spot and broke off a second one when it took me under the dock. Both fish hit a pearl blue Mega Bass 110 plus 1 jerk-bait fished in the shadows outside of the light. Academy Jack
Small ponds and lakes: Don’t overlook your pond and small lake fishing opportunities this weekend. With rivers and streams busting at the seams and many reservoirs rising and full of debris, small impoundments may be a good bet. Vogel, Sloppy Floyd and Fort Mountain State Parks all have small lakes that will be fishable this weekend. The lakes at Rocky PFA in Floyd County may also be a good bet for anglers chomping at the bit to wet a line.
CAUTION……Stream and river levels across north Georgia are extremely high, and in many instances, too dangerous for wading/boating. Small streams may be fishable by this weekend, but most “bigger” waters are not worth the risk. Use your “noggin” if you’re around any body of water this weekend. We all like to fish, but the next several days may be better spent at the fly tying table or prepping gear in the warmth of your home.
“Bucket Brigadiers” Take Note: The President’s Day (February 17th) “bucket brigade” at Whitewater Creek (Chattahoochee River) has been cancelled due to high flows and river levels that may threaten the safety of volunteers and WRD employees. Because the river isn’t fishable during this time, delayed harvest trout stockings for the Chattahoochee will be reserved until river conditions improve. Lake Lanier currently stands at 5.5 ft. over full pool, and with additional rain in the forecast it may take some time for the water to recede. Thanks to those volunteers that registered for the event and, thanks to their tech savviness, were automatically notified of this cancellation.
Be patient and safe: (This report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) — February 12 report – If you’re stuck at work today, don’t feel bad. You’re not missing anything in north Georgia except some life-risking whitewater rafting adventures. Yesterday the Chattooga was a brown, raging flood when I crossed the Highway 76 bridge. Today the DH section is still a foot above fishable flows on the Clayton gauge. The Hooch here in town is clear this morning, but 2.5 times the safe wading flow we consider for our clients. You can actually see the Hooch at Paul’s Steakhouse if you go to that USGS gauge and click on the “Hooch Cam” option to operate it. I took the long way to the shop this morning and found Dukes clear, but still too high for a decent trip there. See the pic of the V-dam just above the streamside shelter near the visitors center. It’s somewhere under all that whitewater! The one possibility for Wednesday warriors is Smith, which was high but clear. There are some good spots along the bank to fish safely. If you do, do it soon, for we are under another flash flood watch Wednesday night. You know, that fly tying alternative still sounds like a great plan for this week. And if you’re around Blairsville tomorrow evening, we’re giving a program to the local TU chapter on fishing Yellowstone. I’m sure Ron and his buddies would welcome guests. Be safe and be patient. We’ll keep you updated.
Vogel State Park Lake: (This report courtesy of WRD Hatchery Technician Jeff Stewart) — This might be your best bet for trout fishing this weekend. The park lake was stocked last week and the lake is fishable.
Chattahoochee: (This report courtesy of Bob Lux, Foothills TU) — The fish don’t seem to bite now that the river is in the parking lot. They must not be used to having light poles and houses for structure. Just in case you have been under a rock, but in that case that rock would be under water, there really hasn’t been much opportunity to fish anywhere in a 200 mile radius. During the snow storm, I slipped (literally) down below the dam on the Hooch and caught a session when they were not generating. The fish weren’t eating very greedily, but I did coax a couple on some small BWO nymphs, but I believe the Corp may be generating Lanier for a while now since Lanier is almost 5 feet high. Even Smith Creek was running high, but you could fish the soft edges to get a couple of fish. The flow is still a bit stiff though. There is a good chance some of the smaller streams will be ready this weekend, so keep your eyes on the flows.
Toccoa River Tailwater: (Report courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) — It will be muddy below Tammen Park, likely through to next week. We’re going to see the TVA crank up the generation schedules soon to begin draining the lake back down to winter pool, so I wouldn’t anticipate doing much wading, but if the schedule gives us any opportunity to do so, Tammen Park will be your only option. I would have some Black Caddis patterns like Better Foam Caddis, Harrop’s CDC Caddis Emerger, and Elk Hair Caddis. For subsurface, I would try to throw some Holy Grails, Thrift Shop Caddis, Zebra Midges, and stonefly patterns in addition to the standard fare. Streamers can also produce.
Toccoa River Delayed Harvest Section: (Report courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Toccoa is likely unfishable right now. Go somewhere else.
Small Trout Streams: (Report courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) — Small trout streams will be unfishable until Saturday at the earliest. I wouldn’t anticipate fishing anything but the upper reaches of these streams either, as we got enough rain Wednesday night and Thursday to blow out these creeks again. If you do try to fish some of these streams, try high sticking wooly buggers and stoneflies with split shot through softer water like eddies and pockets behind rocks, etc.
Miscellaneous: Find Boat ramp, public fishing area and wildlife management area alerts and closures, including a closure on the Oostanaula HERE.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Southeast Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Recent rains have swollen all rivers, except the St Marys. Before the most recent round of rain, a couple of anglers fishing limb lines in the Altamaha River caught an 80-pound blue catfish. I wouldn’t recommend fishing the flooded rivers this weekend, but the high water will be good for survival and growth of the fish populations.
Last quarter moon is February 16th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Anglers reported catching bowfin and crappie in the upper river. Curly-tail grubs, beetlespins, and small crankbaits worked for them. The river level at the MacClenny gage on February 13th was 3.3 feet and falling.
A group of anglers fished a Brunswick area pond late last week and caught 14 channel catfish in about an hour of bottom-fishing. Chad Lee caught a few bass this past weekend, but it wasn’t stellar. His biggest was a 4-pounder that ate a ZOOM crawfish (green pumpkin-orange claws). Three other smaller bass ate a chatterbait. The crappie fishing was good during the week but slow right after the weekend cold front. Minnows accounted for most of the reports from Waycross area ponds.
Recent rains have raised the water level, but it’s still very fishable. I received one report of anglers catching fliers on the east side. Catfish bit on the west side in the boat basin and at the Sill. Put a piece of shrimp on the bottom for whiskerfish. The current level is 120.48 feet. I would not try it this weekend behind the Friday cold front, but next week’s warm-up would be a great time to fish the swamp. Pitch yellow or pink sallies for fliers, dabble jigs or crawfish around trees and cypress stumps for warmouth, and cast in-line spinners for pickerel (jackfish) and bowfin (mudfish). This is a great time of year to fish the swamp before the yellow flies crank up.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
Several bass in the 5 to 7 pound range were caught this week. Anglers started caching them shallow (under 8 feet). The crappie bite was good on pre-frontal days and slow post-front. Both minnows and jigs produced crappie.
HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin more info HERE)
A couple really big channel catfish were caught this week by anglers bottom fishing. The crappie bite was on one day and off the next due to the variable weather. Next week’s warming trend should move both crappie and bass to shallow areas where they can be caught more easily.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville more info HERE)
The water is muddy from recent rains, but there are some big bass and crappie being caught. Most anglers only caught a few crappie per trip, but they were nice ones. Staff sampled the lake with electrofishing on Monday and caught and released 2 bass over 11 pounds and several from 6 to 9 pounds. The bass are in really good condition (fat!!!). The bass and crappie fishing is about to bust wide open.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton more info HERE)
Crappie were caught from the pier on Lake Patrick on both minnows and jigs. Bass fishing was hit-or-miss with the variable weather. The hybrids continued to bite in both Russell and Bobben, especially after rains when water is flowing. Chicken livers were the best bait for linesides.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The number of reports from the brine dropped off this week, but folks still caught fish. The sheepshead bite was good on days you could get out. The best trip I heard of was a group who threw plastics (Keitechs and Sea Shads) on jigheads and Flashy Jigheads to catch a dozen or so redfish (some slot, some oversized) on Monday. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.
where have all those poor walleyes gone?
Robert G Stryker
If you find out, let me know!
Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division
Ed – be sure to read our latest weekly report – we have a little bit of walleye news!