Are we there yet? Well, we made it through March and April – which both seemed to last a very long time. How are you spending your days? Has your time outdoors increased during quarantine?
News to Know – Bass are Biting!:
- Bass Slammer #3: We already have 3 folks that have achieved a Georgia Bass Slam for 2020! Get out there and social distance yourself to a river or lake and start working on yours today!
- Tired Creek Reservoir in Grady County yielding some lunkers.
- Young anglers reeling ’em in! 15 year old Taylor Gordon caught an 11 lb (not a certified weight), 21 inch largemouth on a private lake near Loganville earlier this week. Great fish Taylor! Check it out in this photo.
This week, we have fishing reports from Central, North and Southeast Georgia.
Everyone continue to stay safe, be responsible, socially distance as required, and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, fisheries biologist and Central Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN .92 FEET 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Crank baits like the flat-sided Little Earl and the Bomber Flat A or a Thundershad coffin bill will work. Watch for shad spawning on the sand banks and pockets. Bass are feeding and some are shallow in the backs of coves and pockets. Bass may not chase a buzz bait but they are all over a blue and chrome Chug Bug early in the morning. Use the #10 Ten Olive Green X Rap on the sides of the points up in creeks. Have the #5 Jointed Shad Rap in the Fire Crawdad color ready. Some of the other bigger bass will bite the Carolina Rig near the rocks. The southern part of the lake has been fair but the up-lake creeks are better for sizes and numbers. Try fishing a little slower than usual. The early bite starts on anything in the water in the shallows. Wood and rocks have fish around them and casting shallow is the best bet. Start the day with almost any color of Zoom’s trick worm.
CLARKS HILL IS .53 FEET OVER FULL 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are still moving into shallow pockets hanging around stick grass and any cover on the bank. Spinnerbaits, square billed crank baits, and Zoom lizards in green pumpkin with chartreuse tails and jigs are all working. Fish on the main lake and secondary points with a Carolina rig and a Zoom lizard especially in the spring. A Trick worm is going to be hard to beat with all the flooded vegetation. Shad Raps are still the best all day lures and baby bass and shad patterns will be best. Zoom Super Flukes in pearl will attract bass and hybrids so be sure to have fresh line all day.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 70’S
(This fishing report by Captain Mark Smith Reel Time Guide Service) —
Bass: Bass fishing is very good. The shad are spawning and the bass are feeding on them. Fish the rocks and sea walls. Use a small crank bait or a Rat L Trap and fish it up on the rocks. As the sun get up, back off of the banks and fish the same crank bait in 4 to 6 feet of water. Now is the time to take a child fishing and you should load the boat. For the bigger fish you can use a white spinner bait on the down current side of the bridges. If Georgia Power is pulling water then your odds go up.
Striper: Line Side fishing is very good. Go to the dam. Most of the fish we have been catching have been hybrids. Use the shad and carry shiners on every trip too. Stripers hitting the shad. One day they are on flat lines and one day they are on down lines.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. Dark jigs tipped with a minnow are working best. The crappie are lake wide from the river down below the river bend area. These fish are in shallow water preparing for the spawn on the next full moon. Boat docks in the back of the coves should hold good number of fish. Night fishing should start in the next few days.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 3.0 FEET STAINED 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The lake is stained with all the recent rain but the bass fishing has been good. Look for fish to be feeding and use the Berkley Flicker Shad 4CM and 5Cm fire tiger shad and clear shad. Fish the dead grass that is in the pockets with a black and blue swim jig and a chartreuse and white spinnerbait. Fish the docks in these pockets with a Zoom green pumpkin Trick worm. When the lake begins to clear look for the fish to be in the backs of the pockets or on any sand patches that are in the pockets. If the water is clear enough use a white or green pumpkin Zoom U tail worm on a Weedless Wonder lead head. If the lake is still stained fish a dark colored Zoom pumpkinseed lizard. Make multiple casts to the same areas and if you get a bite be sure to throw back in the same place.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 FEET STAINED 70’S
Bass are biting and they are on shallow wood and sea walls from a foot of water out to about 5 feet. Use a 3/8 ounce Net Boy Baits flipping jig with a Zoom Pro Chunk and casting a white spinnerbait and ChatterBait. Colors vary from green pumpkin to black and blue depending on water color. Angers can catch fish many ways right now. Start running a jerk bait on the main lake along with a Spro Aruku Shad in chartreuse shad and an Alabama Rig. Stay on the move fishing a Bang O Lure or a fluke and then spin around and work the fish with a white tube or lizard. Use the Zoner Tackle Zoner Mini pencil popper 3/32 and 7/ 32 on a spinning reel. Use the MegaBass Sonicside crank bait green Craw AYU Spring Craw and Sevier Shad.
LAKE JACKSON IS .70 FEET OVER FULL STAINED 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Some bass are shallow in 1 to 3 feet of water. The shad spawn is on and this means Shad Raps and Bandits in baby bass and shad patterns. Work any shallow cover very slow with Texas rigged Zoom lizards Wackem Crazy Baits Big Tater Bug and a Senko. Good colors are June bug black or redbug. Fish the cover slowly especially down lake in the pockets and in Tussahaw creek all day. Fish every piece of cover and look for the shad spawn shallow along rip rap and seawalls. Fish buzz baits and spinnerbaits up tight on the rocks. It can happen fast in the mornings and be over in 30 minutes or less but can be very productive. Trick worms on a SpotSticker are always a good choice too. Try the Berkley Digger 6.5, 8.5, 10.5, or 14.5 Irish Gold Blue Chartreuse.
FLAT CREEK PFA (More info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 70.7˚ F (21.5˚ C)
- Water Level: 1” Above Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 25”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
The unseasonably cooler spring and heavy rains have created some great fishing at Flat Creek. The challenges this year specifically are due the great increase of visitation that we have had due to people wanting to get out of their houses for exercise during the pandemic. To catch more fish, you will have to try different ways to entice the fish to bite, in a way that the masses are not using.
Bass: The bass have seen lots of lures drifted in front of them. That doesn’t mean that you can’t still catch some large bass. After talking with numerous bass fishermen that have been very successful, here is the list that they recommend: Plum colored ‘Ol Monstor worms by Zoom. Watermelon or Pumkinseed Culprit worms. Most dark colored worms. Crankbaits have worked ok.
Crappie: Crappie are biting well, especially in the early hours before daylight around the fishing pier. Try Strike King’s Mr. Crappie Slabalicious Glo behind a Road Runner jig head.
Bream: The full moon on May 7th and June 5th is a dynamite time to be fishing for bream and two dates worth circling on your calendar. Try Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) on a Carolina rig. Tube jigs on a 1/8 oz. jig head. Crickets have worked ok.
Channel Catfish: Insufficient data to report on. The last successful angler interviewed was fishing at dark with chicken livers attached to the hook with sewing thread.
(Fishing report courtesy of Sarah Baker, fisheries biologist with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Happy May! The Sunshine will be cheering us on as we prepare to wet our hooks and (hopefully) land some fish. Beautiful weather is in the forecast for this week- getting into the 80s in the afternoons. Rivers and streams will be cool and crystal clear. That being said- search for the shade to find nice sized fish lurking in shadows.
Bass fishing is starting to heat up! Top 5 lures GON-tel found HERE
Lake Hartwell: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant at Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is fair. The bass are on secondary points, around docks and natural creek ledges. The fish are in the shallows and the secondary points and creeks coves as the full moon next week. The bass will bite floating worms or lizards, spinner baits, stick baits, live lizards and top water lures. The Zoom trick worm in almost any color will get strikes and use light 8 pound Sufix Flex line on a spinning reel. One of the best hooks is the #2/0 Mustad. They are extremely sharp and will easily go through the worm and the fish easily. Cast the all the baits around any shallow wood or docks all over the lake. Even at mid day these bass will strike the baits and they are chasing bait fish right up on the banks. Zoom’s Super Fluke in all white will get strikes from roaming bank fish. Use a #3/0 Mustad hook and let the bass take the lure a foot before setting the hook. Be prepared for a lineside to grab this bait too.
- (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant at Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is good. There are a lot of bait fish spawning right up on the banks and the bass are after them. Rocks on points and bridges are very good places for a lot of action. Fish are active and can be caught with just about any technique you choose. Take the fluke style baits, Ned rigs and popper style top water baits. The top water bite is good most all day but the best times are at daybreak and at dusk. Pockets and secondary point around Red Top State P and Stamps Creek seem to be best right now. Have a second rod rigged and ready because the spotted bass are wolf packing and when you catch one many more will follow it to the boat and many time you can catch multiple fish back to back.
- (This report Courtesy of Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Line side fishing is good. The fish are biting from one end of the lake to the other. The hybrids have started their spawn runs up both the Etowah River and Little River. The run has just begun and should get stronger daily and should stay decent into the middle of May. The main lake is also fishing well. Look for the fish that are returning out of the rivers to start to school up from the Little River Bridge up to the Delta and from the S Turns to Kellogg Creek. There is also a decent south end bite going on right now from Iron Hill to the bay out in front of 3rd Army. The fish on the main lake are up in the water column and are very hard to mark on Lowrance sonar. If you have a Lowrance with side scan you can locate these fish by running your side scan setting on 60 feet on both sides. Small to middle sized gizzard shad have been the ticket.
- Spotted Bass: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant at Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Spotted fishing is good. Look for bait running up and down the banks. A Whopper Plopper and a Zara Spook will work. It’s Super Fluke time and a spinning rod and a pearl Super Fluke will work. Almost any color finesse worm will work and the greens are hot this week. The main lake is best for numbers of spots as well as sizes. All the fish may be in less than 10 feet of water even in the middle of the day. Try a green trick worm also. Let these baits sink and fish them slowly. Strikes will be very light or on the Fluke, they will hammer it. Let the fish pick it up and swim off with it. On the points mid way in the backs of the creeks the Zoom sand, water melon seed and baby bass will work on a Texas rig. Fish the long points and humps. Try some ten pound Sufix Elite line on a spinning reel. A hungry spot will come after a Zoom Fat Albert grub in lime, pearl and chartreuse. Use a 1/8 ounce plain lead jig head and light line to get a lot of strikes. The Sufix 8 pound test is strong and line colors can be clear or green. Light line is a must for spots because lures have to be fished deeper and slower. Top water trick worms in almost any color on a #2 Owner hook and light line cast around anything on the banks as well as on docks can get a hungry spot’s attention. The Rapala and Sammy top water baits will work all day. With the heavy weekend traffic, the fish go deep so top water action works best during the week. Night crawlers on a small jig head or light wire hook and a sinker will almost always work for these fish.
- Striped Bass: (This report Courtesy of Buck Cannon Buck Trails Guide Service) — Striper fishing is good. Lake Lanier striper fishing has been a challenge lately because of the weather changes. Finding the bait with your electronics and put out the buffet of some flat lines without weights, flat lines with a split shot and planer boards the same way. Always a down line ready for some super action and some toothy critters will send chills up your spine wondering what it was, Alabama tarpon. Fish the backs of creeks and midway out in 20 to 50 feet of water using blue backs. North of River Forks up both rivers has fish and always have a top water ready. Remember Buck Tales it like it is.
- GON-tel: Lanier gar fishing techniques
- Carters Lake Guide Service Report — It’s a great time to be on the water! Fishing is textbook right now. Throwing topwater lures (Strike King Sexy Dawg or KVD Splash) just before daybreak then switching to a shaky head around main lake points, pockets and secondary points will get you bites. Also, if the wind is blowing cast jerk baits and small swim baits around these same areas.
- Carters Lake Walleye:(Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jim Hakala) — We are entering the best time of year for catching walleye at Carters. Focus your efforts from the mid-lake area upstream to Ridgeway Boat Ramp. Main lake points, standing timber and downed shoreline trees in deep water are all places walleye may be found. Nighttime is better than daylight hours. The threadfin shad and alewife will spawn at night and into the very early morning. You can often here them splashing around in the shallows at night spawning. Along with them will be the splashes of larger predators (stripers, hybrids and walleye) feeding on them. Walleye anglers are pretty tight lipped about the baits they use, but I have heard anglers using jerk baits at night fished in shallow water around these spawning congregations of shad and alewife. Another technique I know some of the guides use it is to use lights to pull the bait in around your boat and then fish live shad just off the bottom.
- Lake Nottely: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — On Thursday this week the Gainesville crew conducted electrofishing samples on Lake Nottely just north of Canal Lake. The water had 3 feet of visibility, a slight green tint, and temperatures were in the upper 50s and just touching 60 at high noon. Big post-spawn largemouth are patrolling points, and the deep edge of blowdowns, where they can pick off the less-fortunate in a shallow school of bluebacks or brush-holding bluegill. Smaller buck bass are shallower and holding tight to the banks. We saw a similar pattern with black crappie holding in the deeper (6’-10’) sections of large branchy blowdowns. Largemouth and spots can be enticed with a number of presentations, but shallow crankbaits and deep-bodied rattletraps should produce well. Topwater presentations including Whopper Ploppers, Sammys (Lucky Craft), and Hula Poppers should be effective early. Fishing a finesse worm (I really like the Z-man Green Pumpkin TRD on a 1/10 mushroom jig) may be doubly effective in attracting both crappie and bass around shallow structure, or you can go with live minnows or for artificials I like Bobby Garland Electric Chicken to match the hatch right now. More to come next week as we sample the lake north of Canal Lake so stay tuned!
- Academy Jack Report: (This report courtesy of Jack Becker aka Academy Jack) — I made a trip back up to my favorite Georgina Power Lake this week. I took a friend for his first fishing experience in the North Georgia Mountains. We fished below Lake Burton and above Lake Rabun. This Lake holds a wide variety of fish including Chain Pickerel and Walleye. The water temperature in the River was 58.7. We caught a variety of fish including Crappie, Largemouth Bass and Chain Pickerel. Keitech Swim-baits, Alabama Rigs and Spinnerbaits all produced bites.
- Lake Burton: (From Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker)— Electrofishing samples this week indicate largemouth are just starting to come shallow as water temperatures stay above sixty degrees. Use slow rolling spinnerbaits and jerk baits in coves, near docks and fallen trees. Seek structure!
Oostanaula, Coosa, & Etowah Rivers: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Staff from the Armuchee office were on the Coosa, Etowah, and Oostanaula Rivers this week for routine striped bass monitoring. Water temps were around 60 degrees, which is cooler than normal. We are still seeing females with eggs and very few spent fish suggesting the peak spawn has not yet occurred. The highest numbers of stripers were seen way up high on the Oostanaula a short distance from the Hwy 225 boat ramp, but we also saw fish scattered all through the rest of the river as well. The biggest fish of the week (30.5 lbs; pictured) was captured and released down near Rome. Several 30+ pounders have been seen during this year’s run, which is a positive sign that these fish were able to survive difficult conditions seen last summer in their normal thermal refuges. Very few fish have been seen on the Etowah so far, but they usually start piling in there post-spawn after the other rivers warm up (which has not happened yet).
During our river sampling this week, we found good numbers of post-spawn white bass in several of the big tributary mouths on the Oostanaula and Etowah Rivers. Now should be a great time to target these fish as they are hungry from the spawn and concentrated in small areas. Use small shad or shad-imitating baits for your best chance at mimicking their natural prey.
Check out the awesome yellow color on this flathead catfish we caught and released on the Etowah River near Rome. We see flatheads routinely in our river sampling, but rarely do we see them with such bright color. This one was around 12 pounds. Flatheads are native to the Coosa river basin, unlike most of the rest of the state where they are introduced invasive species.
Delayed Harvest: (From Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — Remember that the delay on Delayed Harvest streams ends on the 14th and harvest begins on May 15th. The three Lanier Tailwater access points are: Hwy 20, Jones Upper Gwinnett, and Buford Hatchery. Tailwaters and streams continue to be stocked by WRD hatchery staff.
That Bug Life: LOTS of bug life in and around our North Georgia trout streams. Yellow sallies and stimulators are effective go tos! Be sure to check our weekly trout stocking report for the latest intel before you head out to the creeks and remember to practice social distancing while going after that trout tug. Our online interactive trout map is incredibly helpful too! If you’re planning on heading to the Chattahoochee or Oconee National Forests, be sure to check out the list of trails and facilities temporarily closed HERE.
The Toccoa Tailwater (Report brought to you by Cohutta Fishing Company) — has been fishing well when generation allows. You should start seeing Sulphurs on the river – this is a favorite hatch for many of our guides, and for good reason. Keep some 14-18 Parachute Sulphurs, Puff Daddys, and Split Case PMD Nymphs on you all month. 12-16 Caddis imitations are a must have right now as well. I like to have some Holy Grails in olive and tan, Walt’s Worms, and Mop Flies to imitate the pupa/larva, and a standard tan or olive elk hair caddis for the dry. Outside of these bugs, you may also see Little Yellow Stones (Yellow Sallies), Golden Stoneflies, and other various dark-bodied mayflies. Prospect with Pat’s rubber legs, tungstones, rainbow warriors, and midges. The Upper Toccoa is still too high to wade. Go somewhere else.
Small Streams in the Area (Report brought to you by Cohutta Fishing Company) — should be fishing well! If higher water conditions persist, stick with a Pat’s Rubber legs or Tungstone high sticked through pocket water and deeper runs followed by a pheasant tail soft hackle or flashback hare’s ear. As water levels drop, its worth breaking out the three weight with a short 5x leader and dry dropper techniques. I like to keep Yellow Stimulators/PMX’s, Sulphur dry flies, and Purple Hazes in my box, but anything that floats and is yellow should get them.
The Etowah River (Report brought to you by Cohutta Fishing Company) — The Etoway is fishing well for Spotted Bass, and Striper should show up in the river in the next month. For spotted bass, I like throwing an intermediate line on a 7 or 8 weight rod with baitfish patterns imitating smaller 1.5-3.5 inch shad. I love fishing flies like Clouser Minnows, Cowen’s Coyote’s, Kreelex’s, and lunch moneys right now. Fish structure like laydowns and rock, but don’t be afraid to fish slightly shallower shoals and current breaks with a floating line. If you want to stock up for striper, its hard to beat a flashtail jig or a Major Mullet with a 20-25lb rio striper leader. We also really like fishing different sinking line varieties depending on the type of water we’re fishing.
Thank you for purchasing your fishing licenses, fishing tackle, and TU license plates! We appreciate the operating funds for fish feed to trout maps to fish hauling tanks. Best of luck to your fishing adventures!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Southeast Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The rivers are pretty much all in the floodplains right now in at least some locations. The St. Marys is the only river that to me is at a fishable level. Ponds, the Okefenokee, or saltwater would be my choices for this week.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The reports I received this week were from catfish anglers, and they did well. Most caught channel catfish and white catfish by putting worms or shrimp on the bottom. Chuck Deen and his wife fished a couple hours on Thursday morning and caught a dozen catfish (channels and bullheads) by putting small pieces of shrimp on the bottom. The water is still cool and off-colored from rains, so don’t expect the panfish bite to be outstanding this weekend. Catfish are what you will want to target here. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 30th was 5.3 feet and rising.
The pond bass and bluegill bites have been fantastic this week. Dane Clements fished a Baxley area pond on Friday and landed 20 bass up to 5 pounds. Most of his fish ate watermelonseed Trick Worms, but some inhaled a topwater popping frog. He fished a pond again on Sunday night under dock lights with minnows and landed 19 slab crappie and a nice bluegill. Another angler fished a Waycross area pond for the last 2 hours of daylight on Sunday and caught 14 bass up to 6 pounds. The biggest fish and a half-dozen others ate a black Capt. Bert’s Tiny Buzzbait (1/8-oz). The other half ate an 1/8-oz. copperfield Satilla Spin. Amory caught 25 bluegills between 7 and 9 inches on Sunday evening by flinging black/yellow Satilla Spins from a dock. She caught the biggest one on her last cast. Her dad said that it was all she could do to keep the rod from slamming down into the pier railing as she fought the fish. Way to go, Amory! Bucky Buckner of Waycross fished a spillway on Tuesday and caught 18 warmouth and bluegills. During the post-spawn, bass are feeding up with reckless abandon and will continue until summer heat arrives.
The adjusted refuge hours at the time of writing this are 8am to 4pm (closed Mondays). Okefenokee Adventures is closed but the café will make take-out lunches available during lunch hours (check their website for details). Because of the later start, you will miss much of the good warmouth bite each morning. Jackfishing should be good using in-line spinners and minnow plugs. You can catch fliers by pitching sallies around shoreline vegetation. Catfishing is tops on the west side. Put shrimp or worms on the bottom for whiskerfish.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
The bass bite has been good. One angler fishing live bait caught quality bass on several morning trips this week. The biggest I’m aware of was pushing 7 pounds. The bluegill bite has picked up in the warming weather.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
The bass bite has been good, with most anglers catching fish. One angler reported catching a 7, 8, and 9 pound bass this week. Bank anglers did well for panfish this week.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The whiting bite was again the best numbers bite, but some trout and redfish catches were impressive. Jason Pierce fished out of Crooked River and did great on Saturday. He fished shrimp and mudminnows under a Cajun Thunder float and swimbaits on a jighead on his way to a big box of trout and released several oversized redfish. They even had Spanish mackerel and bluefish mixed in their catch. The key for them was to fish the oyster beds near creek mouths on the outgoing tide. Brentz McGhin and crew fished out of Crooked River and landed a pair of 18-inch trout on artificials. They also put shrimp on the bottom in deep holes and ended up keeping 14 big whiting. They about cried when a giant flounder pulled off at the side of the boat before they could get a net under it. A couple of anglers fishing Sunday afternoon out of Crooked River caught 6 trout, 9 redfish, a Spanish mackerel, and a flounder. Six of their redfish ate silver flake Keitechs rigged on Flashy Jigheads, while 3 ate Assassin Red Daddy spinnerbaits and Texas Roach Sea Shads. They also had a 22-inch trout on the Sea Shad. Check with Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.