Keep calm and Go Fish Georgia. Preferably standing at least a fishing pole distance away from each other. 

Need a recap of some of the “fishy” news to know for this week? 

  • Fish-N-Learn at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center: Don’t forget to register your soon-to-be angling buddy and yourself for this fun and educational weekend happening Mar. 27-29. 
  • 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. 
  • March Means Spring Harvest at Go Fish Education Center: Visit the Go Fish Education Center in Perry during the month of March and reel in and keep up to 8 fish (of your choice) to take home to the dinner table! More info HERE.
  • What to do with all the fish you catch? Eat ’em, of course! Check out these recipes for bass.

This week, we have some great fishing reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Read up, gear up and get out and Go Fish Georgia!

CENTRAL GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)

Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant. 

LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  These fish are ready to move up into the shallow waters as the pre-spawn period begins.  Crank baits and jigs will be best baits.  The Rapala DT6 and DT14 are a must for the next month.  The full moon is gone and the bass are eating and finding the bait is important.  Using the Lowrance Structure Scan technology, scan out 120 feet both ways and head into the mid lake creeks.  This technology can see schools of bait easily and the game fish will be close by.  Water temperatures are important now and finding even one or two degrees difference can make a huge difference.  The bait wants tis warmer water.  Zoom pearl Super Flukes and the Kietech Silver Minnow will be the baits to use to match the hatch.  Pick any rip rap on bridges apart and cast parallel, not to the sides, and along the edges of this structure.

CLARKS HILL IS 3.08 FEET OVER FULL, 50’S

Bass fishing is fair.  These fish are ready to move up into the shallow waters as the pre-spawn period begins.  Crank baits and jigs will be best baits.  The Rapala DT6 and DT10 are a must for the next month.  The full moon is gone and the bass are eating and finding the bait is important.  Using the Lowrance Structure Scan technology, scan out 120 feet both ways and head into the mid-lake creeks.  This technology can see schools of bait easily and the game fish will be close by. Water temperatures are important now and finding even one or two degrees difference can make a huge difference.  The bait wants tis warmer water.  Zoom pearl Super Flukes and the Kietech Silver Minnow will be the baits to use to match the hatch.  Pick any rip rap on bridges apart and cast parallel, not to the sides, and along the edges of this structure.

LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S

(This fishing report by Captain Mark Smith, Reel Time Guide Service) — The lake is full.  The water temperature is 56-59.  The north end of the lake is stained, the main lake is stained, and Richland creek lower end is lightly stained.

Bass: Bass fishing is fair.  The fish are starting to move into the coves and creeks.  You will need to match your bait to the conditions.  Add sent, and noise to your bait for best results.  Spinner baits with big blades fished around rip rap at the main bridges are your best bet.  The large rocks on the south end of the lake are also holding some feeding fish. Small crank baits are drawing some strikes around docks in Richland Creek.  Also look for secondary points off the major creeks work them with a dark color crank bait.  If the water temp drops with this cold front just back off the points and fish the same bait.

Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good.  Live bass minnows fished on flat lines, have been producing good catches.  The shallow trolling bite has also picked up.   Mini Mack’s have been working very well, as well as shad raps, and rattle traps.  Most of this action is on the south end of Richland Creek.  Some fish are starting to show up at the dam.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good.  The spider rig bite has been the best way to put big fish in the cooler.  Darker colored jigs tipped with a minnow are working well.  Locate your fish on your Lowrance add drop you jig to that depth. This is big fish time.  They are feeding even with all the muddy conditions.  The long line (trolling) bite has picked up over the past week.  The schools are moving into the coves and creeks.  Locate the school depth with your Lowrance and troll to that depth.

WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 5.1 FEET, STAINED 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  Start mid-lake and head  down south and find the clearer water in the backs of the creeks.  With the full moon that just passed the bass are looking for shad schools.  Use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan 100 feet out and find these schools.  The bass will be close by.  The warming of the surface will trigger the bass to move in search of food.  Plan on crank bait fishing and also use the suspending jerk baits.  Use the Rapala DT10 series crank baits by Rapala.  With the jerk baits use fast jerks and the occasional pause.  Practice retrieves until the fish react to the actions.  Fish the mouths of creeks and work to the secondary points.  Try the green pumpkin 5” Gary Yamamoto Senko around blow downs and other under water structure.  Try Wehadkee Creek, Bird Creek and Maple Creek.  The trick to finding fish right now is covering a lot of water and learning what key areas that are productive.

LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.3 FEET, STAINED, 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The full moon has passed.  The bass are looking for food.  Using the Lowrance Structure Scan technology scan out 120 feet both ways and head into the mid-lake creeks.  This technology can see schools of bait easily and the game fish will be close by.  Water temperatures are important now and finding even one or two degrees difference can make a huge difference.  When the sun pops out this will be a plus for crank baits on the rip rap or any long stretch of larger rock.  Early in the morning or after mid-day, the Carolina rig is still a good bet.  The red shad Storm worm is still working on bass holding to cover in the deeper water.  Keep a Zoom Super Fluke ready in pearl and baby bass as feeding periods are long all week.

LAKE JACKSON IS .78 FEET OVER FULL, STAINED, 60’S

Bass fishing is fair.  The recent batch of muddy water that came in the lake is fading to a moderate stain.  Tussahaw Creek consistently remains clear and the Alcovy is between clear and lightly stained.  Bass are holding in 1 to 6 feet of water and could be found in the first half of the pockets as of last weekend.  A few fish were found all the way back in some short pockets.  In the early part of this week, a few quality fish are at least 3/4 deep in the pockets.  Spinner baits, jigs and hard baits can all fish well.  The spinner bait bite has generally been better in the mornings.  The better daytime search bait has been the crank bait.  Shad Raps and the Bandit 200 are two good choices.  A Bandit 100 and other shallow running crank baits should fish well if not better than the 200. In stained water, Choose a crank bait with some color.  Fire Tiger is one good choice.  Other than that, try something natural.  Shad, bluegill, and craw patterns will work.  The jig bite can really have its moments.  Black and blue with a green pumpkin trailer will work in moderate to lightly stained water.  Go green in clear water.

MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)

  • Water Temperature: 61 F
  • Water Visibility: 20 – 54+

Largemouth Bass: Nice bass are being caught throughout the area, but especially in Willow Lake.   Bass are chasing shad and other forage fish that are congregating where the siphon drains flow into the lakes.  A couple very nice bass (see photos) were caught on super flukes where the upstream siphon drain flows into Willow Lake.

Bream:  The bream bite has picked up some and should be getting even better as water temperatures continue to warm up and stabilize.  Bridge Lake has been the most consistent lake for bream fishing lately.  Fish feeders are good spots to try for bream, especially in the coming weeks.

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 and raw shrimp has been the most effective bait. Deep water around the siphon drain structures on the dams 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. It’s the time of year where larger stripers really start biting crankbaits, swimbaits or umbrella rigs, but they are consistently caught on chicken livers as well.

BIG LAZER PFA (More Info HERE)  

  • Surface water temperature: 58o F
  • Water visibility: Visibility is about 27”
  • Water level: Water level is up 3” from full pool

In general, March water temperatures at Big Lazer are starting to warm up and so is the fishing.   Late March and early April are some of the best times to fish Big Lazer as pre-spawn largemouth bass start to move into shallower water followed by bream.  Good luck!

Largemouth Bass: Fair- There have been some reports of decent largemouth bass fishing trips as they begin to move to shallower water.  Bass fishing should really start picking up in the coming weeks.  Try throwing spinning baits or crankbaits in 6 to 8 feet of water.  Baits should still be fished slower due to cool water temperatures.  Casting your line near good cover should yield some decent bites.

Crappie: Poor- There have been few reports of crappie being caught as they are difficult to locate.  However, crappie fishing should pick up as spawning season approaches.  Try locating groups of crappie by trolling the lake with minnows.  Most bites will be in 8-10ft of water.  You can also try bright colored jigs to try to entice bites.  Remember: Only two poles are allowed per angler.

Bream: Fair- There have been some reports of good bream fishing due to the approaching spawning season.  Anglers seem to be having luck fishing with worms around the fishing piers.  This time of year, bream are located in 4-6 feet of water.  Try locating woody structure for increased chance of bream bites.

Channel Catfish: Poor- Catfish bites are hard to come by this time of year but you may have good luck fishing with livers or shrimp near the bottom.  The rip rap along the dam and around woody structures will be your best bet of landing a cat.

SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

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

The southeast Georgia Rivers are still too high to effectively fish, except for the St. Marys.

Last quarter moon is March 14th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.

ST. MARYS RIVER

The upper river is going to be right for fishing this weekend. The first Shady Bream Tournament of the season was held Saturday March 7th out of the Kings Ferry ramp in the lower river area. Only artificial lures are allowed in their tournaments. First place was Kyle Higginbotham and Austin Cribb with 7.31 pounds. Daniel and Tamara Gullion caught 6.74 pounds, good enough for second, and they also had a 1.05-pound bluegill that won big fish honors. Ethan and Andy Riggins finished third with 6.50 pounds, and Johnny Wildes and James Moody claimed fourth with 6.04 pounds. The trail will be starting up regular Friday evening tournaments (starting Friday, March 13th) along with the monthly Saturday tournaments Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 12th was 5.3 feet and falling.

LOCAL PONDS

Some big bass pushed shallow this week, but I got very few reports from anglers. With the warm weather late this week, the reports should be impressive for next week. Get out to your favorite pond this weekend for some good fishing! David Freeman fished an Emanuel County pond on Saturday and caught some GIANT bluegills using a crawfish-colored Satilla Spin. Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond on Friday and landed 15 bass in the 2-pound range on a paddle-tail worm. On Saturday he fooled 5 more bass from 1 to 2 pounds while flinging senkos. He also fished on his lunch break this week and caught 4 bass from 1 to 3 pounds while using a twin-tail jig and also a NED head and worm. Without more rain, this will probably be the last weekend where the pond spillways will be flowing enough to attract good numbers of fish. If you can safely access the spillway of your favorite pond, give it a try.

OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

The level on the east side is 120.5 feet again this week. The flier bite has been decent during the cool weather. One angler reported catching a limit of the tasty panfish, but I’m not sure what they caught them on. Expect fliers to continue biting well and warmouth to start biting over the weekend with the warmer weather.

SALTWATER (GA COAST)

SE GA Photo
Redfishing has been great in the backwaters of the Georgia Coast this winter. Ellie Deener caught this one and several others on a trip with her dad. This one ate a figichix Keitech rigged on a 1/4-oz. jighead with a spring keeper.

The big Full Moon tides had things muddied up this week. I went over the Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick on Wednesday and it looked like chocolate milk flowing under the bridge. Even so, some folks caught fish – mostly around slack high tide and the first of the ebb before it muddied up. One group fished live and dead shrimp around creek mouths and oyster bars and landed 14 redfish in a half-day trip. Conditions will improve significantly this week with lower tidal fluctuation. The whiting bite should pick up significantly in the sounds, so give that a try on days when the wind allows. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.

DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE), HUGH M. GILLIS PFA (near Dublin, more info HERE), OCMULGEE PFA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE), and PARADISE PFA (near Tifton, more info HERE)

Big bass are the deal this time of year. Last week’s cold wasn’t conducive for good fishing, and I did not get any specific reports. This week’s warm-up, though, is just what we need to push bass shallow where they are easier to catch. Area managers reported seeing lots of bass shallow and paired up in Lake Bobben on Paradise PFA. Crappie fishing has been decent on Ocmulgee and Dodge PFA, and a few big specks were caught on Gillis PFA. Catfish and bream fishing should pick up this week with the warmer weather, as well.

NORTH GEORGIA

(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)

RIVER REPORTS 

Marchant Coosa WHBCoosa White Bass Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — The Armuchee sampling crew was back at it again this week chasing white bass on the Coosa for hybrid striped bass production.  Aside from the continued rain, the conditions were good.  Water temperature was 52 degrees and the river flow had dropped down to about 17,000 cfs, which is high but definitely fishable.  Our overall catch rate for white bass was similar to last week, but the fish had moved out of the creek mouths and into the main riverbanks.  Angler reports are generally good, with anglers catching 20-60 white bass per trip.  Captain Steve Marchant said things were slow but he managed a few nice fish downstream of Mayo Lock and Dam.  Shad imitating crankbaits and white jigs have been working well.  Work your baits as close to the shoreline as possible without getting snagged for your best chance of success.

Oostanaula Striped Bass Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — We have started scouting the rivers of northwest Georgia to keep an eye on the striped bass run in preparation for broodstock collection.  We sampled numerous sites and found only a few small males near the Hwy140 ramp.  No big females have been seen yet but it is still very early in the spring and the run has not really gotten going yet.  So there’s still time to get your striper gear prepped and ready for the bigtime in a few weeks.

Upper Chattahoochee Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — This week the Gainesville crew wrapped up walleye broodstock collections on the Hooch and jumped right into striper sampling. River temps have finally somewhat stabilized in the mid-to-lower 50s thanks to the sunshine. We’re seeing a variety of options for anglers in the river right now: walleye are still running, and can be targeted at the center of the river channel on the bottom; stripers found in small schools here and there in deep pockets and around structure; and we are starting to see some white bass making their way into the rivers as well. As always, spots and largemouth are prevalent and can be caught around creek mouths, pools, and eddies around structure in the river. I fished the Chestatee upstream of 400 yesterday hoping to snag a walleye for dinner. Though I came up short on my target, the river’s consolation prize to me and several other anglers I spoke with was a couple of 1-2 lb spots, and they were caught on a suspending jerk bait in a shad pattern. 

Walleye/Perch Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — After a slow start to the walleye fishing season, a few anglers are starting to have some better success.  Matt Elliott landed a couple of nice walleye and a dandy yellow perch on a recent trip to North Georgia and other reports are starting to trickle in, too.  Target shallow water sections of the river with a rocky bottom using shallow running plugs, jigs and live nightcrawlers.   Also, we are still looking for somebody to catch a new state record yellow perch this month before they spawn.  Several anglers who fish the mountain lakes that are stocked with walleye have come very close to breaking the current yellow perch record of 2 lb, 9 oz.  Working a small jig tipped with a nightcrawler over weedy areas near the river channel might be the right combination to land your name in the record books.

RESERVOIR REPORTS 

Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) Lake Hartwell is 1.31 feet over full, 50s. Bass fishing is fair. We’re now past the full moon and the fish are looking for shad schools. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and scan 100 feet out and find these school. The bass will be close by. The warming of the surface will trigger the spots to move in search of food. It is cranking time up on some deep water cranking. Use the Rapala DT10 series crank baits by Rapala. Up in the rivers where the water might still stained use reds and crawfish colors. Use the black and silver colors on the main lake as we go to the natural shad and crawfish colors. Fish the channel ledges near the points and rocky banks. 

Weiss Lake Report: (This report Courtesy of Mark Collins Service, 256-779-3387) — Weiss Lake is 10 inches below full pool, stained to clear, and 54-56 degrees. Bass fishing is fair. Lots of bass are being caught on culverts and anywhere there is fresh water running into the lake. Crappie fishing is fair. The fish are being caught long line trolling in Bay Springs and Little River, Yellow Creek, Ball Play Creek and Three Mile Creek. Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ13, JJ17, JJ24, JJ28 and Marks special blue are working well, jiffyjigs.com 

Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) — Lake Allatoona is 2.1 feet over full, stained, and in the 50s. Bass fishing is fair. The river is muddy and water level have come up some. Shallow crankbaits are working and use the Rapala DT 6 and DT10 and the Spro Fat John are working. Be sure the crank baits are in bright colors of crawfish, oranges and greens. Around Red Top State park the water is stained so use the “nasty shad” color. Shallow rocks and brush piles is the best pattern right now and new trees have fallen around the lake. Also take the jerk baits and a Spro McStick is getting better when used on long points and be patience key! The jig and jig head bite will be picking real soon.

Academy Jack Spots
Academy Jack with some nice Spotted Bass from Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of “Academy Jack”) — Launched at Balus Ramp this week.  Water is still high but all ramps were open.  Water temperature was 49.8. Motor trouble limited us to fishing with the electric motor only.  Most bites came on a Shakey Head with Green Pumpkin, chartreuse tail finesse worm.  Only caught 1 fish on a Crank-Bait, red craw, but it was a nice Spot. 4.5 lbs. Fished the rocky banks on the south side of Balus Creek.

Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Jimbo Mathley) — Currently the lake stands at 3.5 feet above full pool and falling as the Corp of Engineers is pulling water continuously. The surface temperatures have been around 54 degrees. The backs of the major creeks as well as the rivers are heavily stained, but clearly up. Many backs of pockets and creek arms are stained, particularly if they have a live feed in the back.  Bass fishing is good. The majority of our fish this week came from 12 feet or less. You will find the fish are very shallow in the stained water and further along in the pre-spawn process and still a bit deeper and fewer shallow in the clearer water on most days, but that too is beginning to change as fish are beginning to move up all around the lake. Overall, look on rock and clay points and look shallow. Remain flexible as you search for viable daily patterns given the conditions and the fish changing so rapidly. Crankbaits, jerk baits, under spins, jigs, swimbaits, and shaky heads will all still be viable options for rock fish and the ditch/pocket bites that are available. In general, I would chose the shallows early, and move deeper as the day progresses if the shallow bite fails. Also, be very careful navigating the lake. There is still a lot of floating debris.

Lake Lanier Striper Report: (This report Courtesy of Buck Cannon, Buck Tales Guide Service) — Striper fishing is good. Our fish are scattered in all parts of the lake. Watch for surface action with the birds. Flat lines and planer boards and the live blueback herring or small trout will work. Be sure to have a down line on the transom. Use electronics to locate bait and if you mark a fish in the area start drumming to bring the fish up. River Forks Park, Mountain View and where the channel and a creek meet are prime areas. Angler can still fish up both rivers when you find bait. Drumming can make a difference. Remember, Buck Tales it like it is!