“I want to know….have you ever seen the rain….” Umm, yes. Yes, we have. BUT, we also know that rain falling now will make for some great fishing later, right? And, if you do go out – be sure to use caution on lakes and rivers as the waters are high and unpredictable.

In the meantime, let me give you some News to Know:

  • Updated for 2020-Georgia Fishing Prospects: If you have never taken a glance at these prospects – you are missing out! Fisheries staff gathers and provides excellent information about 32 Georgia reservoirs and 18 rivers, including interactive maps, and these have been updated for 2020 – so go take a look. 
  • Look at THIS Lunker from Ocmulgee PFA
  • Time to Crappie Fish: Check out this post from Dodge County PFA!
  • Fish and Learn: Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is pleased to offer a new program series – Fish-n-Learn. This program series is designed for children, ages 8-15, to learn all about fishing, and the equipment needed to fish in a pond, a river, or the ocean.
  • Bass Fishing is the new High School Sport: Check out this news report!
  • Spring Harvest at the Go Fish Education Center: During March, guests may visit our center while open to the public (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) to catch and keep up to 8 fish per person per day. Our casting pond currently contains rainbow trout, channel catfish, hybrid striped bass, and bluegill. More info HERE.

This week, we have fishing reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Get ready to dry off and get out there and Go Fish Georgia!

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Southeast Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)

The southeast Georgia rivers are shot (except for the St. Marys), so stay off the flooded rivers. Full Moon is March 9th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE.  For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.

ST. MARYS RIVER

Ryan Harrell Redfish 3 20
Ryan Harrell caught a hard-pulling redfish in the St. Marys area this week using a live shrimp.

The upper river is still a little high, but the tidal area is fishable. The water in the tidal portion was clear on Monday, but we’ve had rain, so it may have stained up since then. I talked with a friend who went this weekend in the lower river and caught bluegill, crappie, and bass throwing small, white beetlespins. The fish weren’t tearing it up, but they caught some. That bodes well for the tournament this weekend in the lower river. The Shady Bream Tournaments will start back up beginning this Saturday, March 7th. For more details check out the tournament trail on Facebook. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 5th was 6.6 feet and falling.

LOCAL PONDS

I expect a push of big bass this coming week with the forecast of a warming trend. Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson fished in the cold again this weekend and caught some bass up to 5 pounds. Jigs and plastic craw trailers were again the ticket for their biggest fish, but they also got bit with senkos and Christie craws. They ended up with 15 bass on Saturday (in super-strong winds…) and another 10 on Sunday. I got a text from a friend on Wednesday that showed a nice bass that he had caught during his lunch break. That one ate a NED head and NED craw and looked to be about 5 pounds. Another angler caught one pushing double-digits on Thursday mid-day by using a speed craw. With all the rain, fishing a pond spillway is a good option if you can safely access the spillway. The flow attracts fish from downstream, and they usually stack up in the plunge pool below the pond.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The level on the east side is 120.5 feet again this week. With the cold water, the fliers were biting, according to reports. One angler said that the warmouth bite was slow this week. The bite should fire off quickly with the shallow, black water during the coming warming trend.

HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin, more info HERE)

A 10.97-pound channel catfish was caught and certified this week. Crappie up to 2 pounds were caught this week. Most folks only caught a few crappie, but the ones they caught were good-sized fish.

OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)

Big bass are biting at the area. An angler reported catching bass up to 9 pounds this week. Check out the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) Facebook page for a photo of the 13-pounder that WRD staff electrofished and released last week.

PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)

Big bass were caught this week on the area. During a tournament this past weekend, an angler landed an 11-lb. 3-oz. monster and took home first place and big fish honors. Their total was 16.3 pounds. Second place was 15.5 pounds. Bass fishing should remain good, as the fish are moving shallow to spawn. Another good bet this weekend is to fish for crappie from the Lake Patrick Pier. You should be able to catch them on minnows or jigs.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

The weather has kept most folks off the big water, however some folks reported catching fish. The best report I received was from a couple folks who fished Crooked River on Thursday morning before the rain set in. They fished live shrimp and caught and released 19 redfish. The warm-up next week should help improve the whiting bite in the sounds, as well as the inshore trout and redfish. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.

NORTH GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, fisheries biologist and Northeast Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)

After another week of rain, it’s great to have a weekend of sunshine.  And with that sunshine comes a slight increase in water temperatures.  After three weeks of decreasing water temperatures, the subtle up-tick in temperatures is all it tales to finally get fish moving. And that’s the headline for this weekend’s fishing report, fish are on the move.  Because fish are on the move, our DNR fish sampling crews had a successful ending to the week by collecting good numbers of walleye, white bass, striped bass and even a few shoal bass for our South Georgia fish hatcheries.  Here are some fishing reports from around North Georgia that will hopefully improve your success.

RIVER REPORT

CoosaRiver_WHB_03.02.20The Coosa River white bass run is ramping up!  Fisheries staff from the Armuchee office were on the Coosa during the down-pouring rain on Tuesday and were rewarded with good numbers of white bass in the section from the Highway 100 bridge to the mouth of Kings Creek.  These fish averaged around 1 pound, but we frequently saw fish in the 2-pound range, and even a couple monsters about 3 pounds.  We also found one white bass x yellow bass hybrid (on the right in photo), which is a rare natural occurrence.  Fish were most abundant around creek mouths but could also be found out of the main current tight to the riverbank.  White bass numbers in the Coosa are higher now than they have been for several years, which is great news.  Not only are these fish great targets for Coosa anglers, but Coosa white bass are also used as broodstock for producing hybrid striped bass and white bass at our warmwater hatcheries for stocking reservoirs all around the state.

MOUNTAIN LAKES 

MountainLakes_YellowPerch_03.02.20Mountain lakes fishing guide, David Pedone, and his fishing buddy landed a huge stringer of yellow perch this week (see photo).  Dave reported that the perch were still deep in the cold water but will be headed to the shallows when the water temperatures finally rise above 50 degrees.  Dave, I think you got your wish.

LAKE LANIER

Our fishing reporter on Lake Lanier, Academy Jack, fished for a couple of hours before dark along the rip-rap banks near Gainesville Marina.  The spotted bass just couldn’t resist the Red Craw colored crankbait with rattles (see photo).  Jack said the ticket was fishing the crankbait with a jerky retrieve with 5-second pauses in between.   The walleye and striped bass have finally started running up the river in bigger numbers.  While electrofishing far up the Chattahoochee River, DNR biologist Hunter Roop observed significant numbers of spotted and shoal bass around boulders and downed trees (see photo) with a few striped bass tossed in for good measure.  Lanier Fishing Guide, Jimbo Mathley, also reported that bass fishing is good.  He suggests starting the day fishing in the shallows and then move to deeper rock and clay points as the day progresses.  Crankbaits, jerk baits, under spins, jigs, swimbaits and shaky heads are good lure choices for fish on the rocky banks and in the ditches.  DNR fisheries biologist Hunter Roop adds that the best bet for fishing up the Hooch is between Lula and Belton Bridge. Targeting the mouths of feeder creeks will increase your chances for success. With Lanier at 4.77 feet above full pool, Lula and Belton Bridge Boat Ramps are still closed according to the USACE website, but access is available at Don Carter State Park. Good luck!

LAKE HARTWELL

InsertingTransmitter#228(2)_03.02.20Lake Hartwell fisheries biologist, Anthony Rabern, has noticed small runs of striped bass into the tributaries after the recent flurry of heavy rains.  Stripers are drawn to the swift water this time of year and can sometimes be found in extremely shallow water.  Rabern is conducting a year-long study to track the migration patterns of striped bass in Lake Hartwell, which are capable of swimming more than 10 miles a day.  This week, Rabern surgically implanted transmitters into a couple of 14 lbers in hopes the data will reveal more secrets about where striped bass roam throughout the year and how the cope with harsh summer conditions. (see photo).  As to bass fishing, Ken Sturdivant reports that bass fishing is fair.  The Big Bite Baits Squirrel Tail worm in pumpkin chartreuse and tilapia colors have been producing numbers and size. A 1/4 ounce shaky head seems to work best. Most of the fish are from 5 to 18 feet deep hugging big chunk rocks and any shallow brush. While fishing the shaky head, pull it along and when you hit something slow down and shake it in place. Also have a crank bait ready like the Red Eye Shad in red and crawfish colors. Down lake use the silver shad colored crank bait. Around docks the Big Bite Baits Flying Squirrel has produced and it is a good bait to flip around docks. Use the same colors as with the shaky head worm.

LAKE ALLATOONA 

Lake Allatoona is also over full pool and floating debris are scattered across the lake.  Bass tournament angler, Matt Driver, reports that bass fishing has been good during this rain spell.  Water temperatures are hovering around 52 degrees and bass are on the move and headed to pre-spawn staging areas.  Shallow cranks and jerk baits are the ticket and lures with purple and blue are getting more bites. Shallow wood and rock are good targets right now. For those that are worm fisherman it’s the best bait going is the Picasso rhino Ned head and the Aaron’s Magic Ned worm.

SMALL LAKES

DNR Fisheries Biologist, Keith Weaver, works to enhance fishing opportunities on state park lakes and other small public impoundments around the metro-Atlanta area.  Keith offers the following fishing tips on some of his favorite fishing spots:

Marben Public Fishing Area (Charlie Elliott) – DNR’s Marben PFA offers a variety of ponds ranging from 1 to 95 acres in size.  Most importantly, there is ample bank access at all the lakes.  This time of year is really good if you are targeting crappie.  Fox, Bennett, and Shepard Lakes are the most popular.  Minnows on yellow/purple jigs typically are the most popular baits used.

High Falls State Park Lake – Just a few miles south of Atlanta, High Falls Lake supports an excellent fishery.  Bank access is limited so having a boat is the best way to fish the lake.  Canoes are available for rent from the park.  Crappie fishing is excellent this time of year as well as bass fishing.  The lake is only 650 acres and these two species rival many of the larger Piedmont reservoirs in Georgia.

Stone Mountain Park and Sweetwater Creek State Park – Both these lakes have great bass fishing.  In Sweetwater Creek, hybrid bass, bluegill and channel catfish have been stocked.  Sweetwater Creek provides some bank fishing opportunities, especially near the rocky outcropping in front of the bait shop.  If we can get a sunny day, this rocky shoreline is a great spot to fish for crappie.

Hard Labor Creek State Park – The lake at Hard Labor Creek continually produces big bass.  Bank access is limited so having a small boat is necessary if you want to fish the whole lake.

TROUT

Trout Stockings: On the trout front, stream flows are receding from this week’s heavy rains.  After the rain, DNR’s Trout Stocking Coordinator, John Lee Thompson, and his team stocked 10 waterbodies in 10 different counties.  Several small lakes and trout streams were stocked including Vogel Lake, Nancytown Lake and Black Rock Lake as well as Soapstone Creek, Boggs Creek, Smith Creek and the Tallulah River (see trout stocking photo).  The Lanier Tailwater was also stocked.  For more fishing tips, click HERE.

Toccoa Tailwaters: (Report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — Staff with Cohutta Fishing Co. recommend a subsurface approach to fishing the Toccoa River tailwaters.  Little Black Stoneflies, Caddis, and Blue Winged Olives, and standard tailwater fare should produce. I would also carry some larger stoneflies like 6-8 Pat’s Rubber Legs, Double Bead Stones, and Tungstones, small to medium sized streamers like Mini Dungeons and Nancy P’s in Craw, Natural, White, and Yellow, Barely Legals, Wooly Buggers, Sparkle Minnows, and some cream or red midges.   For small streams,  throw bigger stonefly patterns and wooly buggers in addition to egg and worm patterns, but don’t be afraid to downsize flies and tippet if needed. Patterns imitating little black stones, caddis, and blue winged olives in smaller sizes can be a trip saver when the other stuff doesn’t work.

Extra Trout Info: Here are a few other key websites that will give you the “trouting edge” you need to succeed – click HERE, HERE and HERE.