As we inch towards the Thanksgiving Day Holiday, Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division is thankful for all of YOU – our
supporters, our anglers, our blog readers and those of you that help introduce other people to the great outdoors! We hope that as Thanksgiving Day approaches, you can work in a nice holiday fishing trip, because we are sure that will make it even better.
News to Know:
- Brand New Boat Ramp: The city of Chattahoochee Hills in South Fulton County today celebrated the opening of a brand new boat ramp. This facility provides access to the Chattahoochee River.
- State Fish Art Contest: Encourage kids to enter this international contest. Lots of categories, a great way to learn about native fish, fish habitat and more! Deadline for entries is March 31, 2021.
This week, we have fishing reports for Southeast, North and Central Georgia. If you have the time during the holiday, be sure to Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The river can’t decide if it wants to be high or low. It’s fluctuated a bunch over the last month, but the dry forecast should have it falling out to fishable levels soon. I drove over the Ocmulgee (a tributary to the Altamaha) on Wednesday, and the water was still heavily stained. The best two options for this weekend would be fishing the oxbow lakes in the tidal river for bass and panfish or pitching artificials to pilings in the Darien area for striped bass. The crappie bite should start in the oxbows soon, also. The river level was 8.4 feet and falling (60 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.6 feet and rising at the Doctortown gage on November 19th.
The upper river is at a great level for a float trip targeting panfish, but I didn’t hear from anyone who did it this week. The crappie bite in the Burnt Fort area has just started and should be decent this weekend and for the next few months. The river level on November 19th at the Waycross gage was 5.3 feet and falling (64 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 5.6 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse said that he caught some nice panfish and catfish in the upper river up until the recent cold snap. The level is still good, but he has not been since the cold nights. The catches of bream in the middle river were good through the weekend. The crappie bite in the oxbows and slackwater areas of the main river has picked up in the cooler weather. In the lower river, you should be able to catch some white catfish by putting shrimp on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage on November 19th was 3.8 feet and falling.
Chad Lee hit an Alma area pond on Friday and had a fun day. He put a crappie jig out the back of his kayak and fished bass lures with another rod. He ended up catching 6 crappie on the pink/chartreuse jig he was dragging. The crappie bit well until the sun burned off the fog. While punching plastics through vegetation out the front, he landed a 2-pound bass on a creature bait and missed several other bites. A father-son duo of Waycross anglers ran trot lines at a Brunswick area pond and caught 80 channel catfish up to 2 1/2 pounds. At one point they had fish on 6 straight hooks. The most interesting catch was a 40-pound softshell turtle that startled the one working the line. They caught their fish on cut baitfish, shrimp, and squid. Expect the crappie bite to be good this weekend in area ponds.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
New area manager Stephen Beaman said that anglers caught some nice bass in the mornings on topwaters up through the cold this weekend. The fish are definitely on a cold weather pattern of following around the shad schools and busting through them at an opportune time. The average fish was about 3 pounds, but some 5 to 7-pounders were caught.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
Scotty Storey was back at it again this week. He caught several nice crappie from the Lake Patrick pier on Friday, and one of them earned him an Angler Award from the Wildlife Resources Division. The slab was 2-lb., 3-oz. and hit a jig. On Sunday, Ed Zmarzly fished Lake Patrick for bass and caught several. At one point he caught 4 bass on 5 casts off a magical tree. The fish ate a crawfish-colored crankbait, and they ranged in size from 12 inches to 2 1/2 pounds. Anglers fishing from the bank that day caught some nice shellcrackers up to about a pound on worms.
Okefenokee Adventures staff said that effort has been hovering around zero. The level is dropping but is still at 121 feet (I like it in the low 120 range for the best fishing).
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Don Harrison and a friend fished the Crooked River area on Saturday and caught 18 trout (6 keepers) on Sea Shads under Equalizer Floats. Slammin’ chicken Sea Shads were by far the best color, but they also caught a few on Calcasieu brew Sea Shads and electric chicken and figichix Keitech swimbaits. Don broke off a BIG redfish that inhaled his slammin’ chicken Sea Shad. The duo tried jerkbaits, Sea Shads without the float, and spinnerbaits to no avail. On Tuesday Capt. Greg Hildreth put his clients on some big redfish in the sounds. That bite will probably be prolonged this fall since it is just now getting cold. For guide trip information, call Capt. Greg Hildreth at (912) 617-1980 or check out his website. Check with the Jekyll Island Fishing Center (912-635-3556) for the latest on the Jekyll Island Pier or St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) for the latest on the St. Simons Pier.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala Region Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Lanier Bass (Report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is fair. These fish are about as unpredictable as they can be. Spots are shallow on “nothing banks” in Shoal Creek and deep in the standing timber out on the main lake. So right now it’s pick some baits and go fishing. Jerk baits on the main lake points and the humps exposed mid to lower lake can have a big spot roaming around looking for food. There are some fish still on the deeper docks and ledges especially mid lake. These fish are very fat as they have been gorging on tiny shad. Use small crank baits, small jigs and small worms and work the baits dead stick style. The spots are on the deep points and ledges main lake. Several sizes of jigs with a small twin tail trailer are working as well as under spin lures. With the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology see these fish up under the many docks from up to 100 feet away. Find road beds, humps and deep ledges with the Lowrance C Mapping technology. The fish are roaming, so do not stay in one place too long.
More Lanier Bass GON-tel: Lanier Report
Lanier Stripers: (Report courtesy of Buck Cannon of Buck Tails Guide Service) — Stripers are heading to the shallow waters, so use your electronics to locate humps and points in less than 30 feet. Use blueback herring on down lines, flat lines and planer boards. The top water bite is about to happen, so have a Sebile or your favorite surface lure tied on. Fish the northern creeks above Gainesville marina.
Lanier Stripers and Spots: (Report courtesy of “Academy” Jack Becker) — This week I fished green lights near Gainesville Marina. I started out with a Kietec Swing Impact Swimbait, Jerk-baits and small Crank-baits. After 30 minutes without a bite, I switched to a Spro 1/4 oz. buck tail jig-and tried different depths until I found the fish. I sprayed the hair jig with garlic scent. In the next 45min. I caught 4 small stripers and a 3 lb. spot. All the bites came in the shadows of the green light, with a steady slow bait retrieve.
Lanier Crappie (Report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton) — Crappie fishing is excellent! The water temperature is in the low 70s. The hot bite target zone is 12 to 15 feet. Be flexible in your technique and figure out what depth the crappie are biting and what they want to – eat jigs or minnows. Then concentrate on what they want. No need in throwing 100 jigs if they only want minnows that day. This week has been equally jigs or minnows. Look for open water brush in 15 to 25 feet of water. Plan on losing several jigs and minnows. You got to be down there with them to catch them. Look under docks that are in 15 to 30 feet of water and have brush or structure. Use your electronic charts to locate these areas. Down line a small crappie minnow with a bb sized sinker or try a free line minnow – meaning no sinker. Jigs are also producing. My jig recommendation is baby shad green over chartreuse or baby shad Pearl white and black single tail jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting. I’m using 5 lb. test, high visibility yellow K9 braid for my line and a Piscifun reel. Watch your sonar carefully for bait. Crappie like to live near their food source. Use scanning type sonar (e.g. Down and Side Imaging) to locate schooling fish, and complement this with the latest in live scanning sonar technology (e.g. Garmin’s LiveScope or Lowrance LiveSight). 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 the Navionics “Boating app.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is fair. Largemouth are being found shallow on wood in the creeks and up the river. Target largemouth with a brown jig with a couple of small red stands in the skirt. The largemouth bite is slower than the spot bite, but will produce good fish. Spotted bass are feeding on the droves of tiny shad schools that are moving back into the creeks and flats. The key to finding these fish is using Lowrance side imaging or down imaging unit to cut down on the time it takes to find depth and location. Use a Fish Head under spin and 3/16 ounce Scrounger tipped with a Big Bite bait 4 inch jerk minnow in clear copper flake or pearl. Long cast, then count it down and a slow retrieve. A lineside may grab this bait too. The Booyah by Excalibur is back with the XCS square bill crank bait. There is a ½ and a 5/8 ounce models and these are silent crank baits.
Allatoona Crappie and Cats (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Staff from the Armuchee WRD office completed fall sampling at Lake Allatoona this week. We found good numbers of slab crappie from the S-bends down to Bartow Carver Park. Catfish populations (all three species) remain best in the upper end near Little River and toward Fields Landing. We captured (and released) one monster 35-pound blue cat, plus many smaller catfish.
Allatoona Crappie (Report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright)– “Wow” is where I will start this post! Had one of my better days on the water today. First off, I want to thank my buddy James for taking me out again! We boated 122 fish today in 3 1/2 hrs – nonstop action. Kept 40 good keepers. Red Rooster Jigs were on fire again! Robbie gave me a couple 1/16 – 1/24 under spins to give a try and we caught over 30 on them. Lots of colors working. All caught trolling with 1/16 oz jig heads and color did not matter. Water temps 59-61F. Trolling speeds 0.7-0.9. You guys need to hit Robbie up and get some Red Rooster Jigs. Bite is about to be on fire!
Carters Spots (Report courtesy of Carters Lake Guide Service) — The trees are vibrant with color, the air is cool and crisp, and the smell of wood burning fire places make fall fishing one of the best times of year to be on the water, especially Carters Lake! The spots are in their fall pattern and can be caught on artificial baits from the surface to 50ft. deep. Look for bait to be half-way back in the creeks and the fish will be close by.
Hartwell Bass: (Report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is fair. The lower lake fish are shallow and schooling all over the lake from Andersonville Island to the dam. Also, on the main lake, look for schooling fish over deep water near points. There are spots, largemouth, and hybrids in these schools. These schooling fish will take pearl white flukes along with a Sammy 115 in chrome when the sun is out. Stick to white when it is cloudy. Also, a Vision 110 jerk bait has been producing a few big bites in these same areas. As always, make sure to keep a pearl white Fish Head Spin rigged to throw into schooling fish. When the bite slows, switch to a drop shot finesse worm in morning dawn red flake and focus on the sharp dropping side of points. The Booyah by Excalibur is back with the XCS square bill crank bait. There is a ½ and a 5/8 ounce models and these are silent crank bait. Look for small ledges near the drops to be holding fish. Rick has also been catching some nice fish in the creeks skipping a brown 3/8 ounce Swarming Hornet stinger jig on rocky points and shallow docks. Use a Zoom twin tail grub in green pumpkin and make sure to use JJ’s Magic to dye the tips chartreuse.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) —
- Bass: Bass fishing is good. A lot of fish have moved shallow as the water has cooled down. Spinner Baits and flat Crank Baits are working well anywhere there is a good shad schools in the shallow pockets, flats and coves. Use Rat L Traps also.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. They are on deeper cover 14 to 20 feet, on the main Coosa river channel ledges from Cedar Bluff to Leesburg. Spider rigging, over brush near the river channel ledges with live minnows and jigs is catching fish. Long line trolling with jigs is starting to turn on, as some fish are starting to suspend in the river and creek channels. Shooting Docks with Jigs is also producing some fish. Book your fall trip now, to get the best dates. It looks like November and December are going to be good months.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor.
Channel Catfish Stocking at Lake Carroll (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) — Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess shows some young onlookers one of approximately 3,400 channel catfish WRD stocked into Lake Carroll earlier this week. The stocking is aimed at improving future fishing quality in this popular City of Carrollton impoundment. Look for these cats to reach “catchable size” later next year.
Fort Mountain State Park Lake (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — WRD staff recently stocked approximately 2,000 channel catfish fingerlings in the lake at Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, GA. This 17-acre lake sits high atop the Park’s sprawling 3,712 acre mountainous facility in Murray County. It’ll be next year before these stockers reach eating size, but anglers can still target the largemouth bass and bream that call this mountain lake home.
New Waters on the Horizon (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — New Public Water Supply Reservoir – Coming Soon. Fisheries staff stocked 122,000 bluegill into Richland Creek Water Supply Reservoir in Paulding County. Richland Creek is a brand new 305-acre lake constructed to supply local area residents with drinking water. It has only recently started filling and is about 2/3 full at this time. The bluegill stocked this week were from WRD’s Steve Cocke Fish Hatchery and are the very first fish ever to be stocked in the new impoundment! These bluegill will be accompanied shortly by redear sunfish, channel catfish, and later by largemouth bass. County officials plan to open the lake to recreational anglers in 2-3 years, once the lake is completely full and the fish population has time to settle in.
DH Run Down, Successes, & Tips (Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker)
- Smith Creek: Looks like the eggs may still be the ticket for a little while longer. NGTO Intel HERE
- Chattooga River: Pats Rubber Legs and vibrant eggs – Click HERE.
- Amicalola River: Fishing Report and P.S. If you haven’t seen Mark Williams’ incredible videography, you’ve been missing out!
- Toccoa River: Check the gage at Dial, GA before you go; Safe wading is from 350 to 400 cfs.
- Chattahoochee River: Morgan Falls has been stocked! Wait for the warmth of the sunshine to lure them into feeding mode. Try egg patterns and squirmy wormie artificials (not the live kind!) this weekend.
- For tips to fishing DH streams check out page 2 (Delayed Harvest University- by Jeff Durniak, Unicoi Outfitters), page 6 (Delayed Harvest in Georgia- by James Bradley, Reel Em In Guide Service), page 7 (Chattooga River- by Karl Ekberg, Chattooga River Fly Shop), and page 22 (Destinations for Winter Trout- by Nick Carter) of November’s issue of The Angler Magazine. (PS- check out page 19 for my home state’s record Yellowstone Cutthroat- on the fly!!!) Might want to put your stocking cap on this weekend, it’s going to be a chilly one! Best of luck!
Unicoi Outfitters Sharing Tips: Click HERE for the Holiday Report from Unicoi Outfitters.
Chattooga River DH (Report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitter’s) “Legs and eggs” are one of our most effective coldwater combos at this time of year. In fact, yesterday afternoon (16th) on the Chattooga DH, “Dredger” found that egg imitations finished first and rubberlegs were a close second on menu choices by the (new) resident rainbows. Make sure you have some “legs and eggs” in your fly box from now until March. Whether you use both of them concurrently, or just one as your attractor with a small pheasant tail trailer for picky fish, dredged “legs and eggs” will keep you in the game all winter.
Hooch and Morgan Falls Trout Fishing (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) River Through Atlanta’s Chris Scalley has proof the Chattahoochee River below Lake Lanier has been fishing well recently thanks to cooler weather and low and cold flows. Be sure to check Buford Dam’s generation schedule before you go. Brown trout are sporting beautiful fall colors right now, but to see these colors up close you’ll have to expertly present your nymph, wooly, or flashy spinner right in front of these fish to get a bite–they have more important, romantic endeavors on their minds right now. If you want to further diversify your color palette, head south of Morgan Falls Dam to see rainbows and browns. Stockings of the Chattahoochee River Delayed Harvest (DH) section took place this week now that the river levels have receded. This was a great opportunity to introduce Buford Hatchery’s newest technician Kyle Trenda to this incredible resource, and also “learn him” on the diverse utility of a Home Depot bucket. Remember, no harvest of trout may occur within this the DH section, and only single-hook artificial lures can be fished. Good luck!
Chattooga River (NE Georgia) (Report courtesy of Fisheries Supervisor Anthony Rabern) Looking for a backcountry fishing opportunity? About 10,000 rainbow trout recently took a helicopter ride as part of an annual trout stocking effort in the backcountry section of the Chattooga River. This is an annual cooperative effort among several partners including the U.S. Forest Service, Trout Unlimited, Chattahoochee National Fish Hatchery (USDOI), South Carolina DNR and our agency. Stocking by helicopter is an effective way to distribute trout widely in the rugged sections of this Wild and Scenic river.
Parting Trout Note: Want to do more to support trout fishing in Georgia? Consider upgrading to a Trout Unlimited license plate this year. Aside from being a great looking tag, each purchase or renewal of a Trout Unlimited license plate directly supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs. Hatcheries and wild trout efforts both benefit from the trout tag.
(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, CLEAR, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. The best areas are the flat points on the left-hand side up the river. Use the crank baits and the Glass Shad Raps; Deep Warts are working in either crawfish or shad patters. When the fishing gets slow, try changing baits and fish some of the same secondary points and small coves and cuts with the RS Shad Raps and a Fat Free Shad crank bait. Deeper water structure is also producing. Fish the reef markers on the river and fish the channel ledges in the Beaverdam Creek area. The Berkley Dredger is a great all-day crank bait, and these come in several sizes and colors and has a weight in the lip for deep diving. Look for the HD colors to add to the tackle box. There are plenty of stumps and brush piles there that are holding good bass. It is hard to beat points and stay out in 25 feet of water and fan cast the entire point with a Shad Rap and a pearl Zoon Super Fluke.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, CLEAR, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. The fish are on the move up the rivers and in the creeks. Good fish are biting up in Little River. The Shad Raps cast in tight to the banks and around wood are working well. Shad and silver are the choice colors. If the wind is up, this usually will bring the bass up to a good crank bait bite. Work the Rapala DT6 in shad and alongside the Shad Raps. Also continue to fish the wind-blown points. This pattern should continue to hold up for at least a couple of weeks. Zoom green pumpkin u tail worms on a Texas rig is the other bait. Use a 3/16-ounce slip sinker and fish this bait slowly. Pick the upper lake creeks and even go to the backs of the creek in the afternoons for warmer water. Crank baits will not work until later in the day. Try a small 200 series root beer Bandit on 10-pound test and make sure to cast the baits super shallow and dig up the bottom on the initial cast.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL
(This Lake Oconee report is from Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Guide Service, firstname.lastname@example.org) –
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The temperature is 68-71. North of the 44 bridge is stained up to I-20. The rivers are a heavy stain. The main lake is clear. The bait is starting to stack up in the middle of the creeks and large coves in the mid lake area. The buzz bait bite is on, sea walls and rip rap early and late. Small crank baits fished on the secondary points and boat docks in this area will draw some strikes. Also, soft plastics fished under docks and around wood structure will also produce.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is good and improving every day. Some fish are showing up around the bait in the river bend area. Use your Lowrance to locate the schools and drop a minnow into the school. Also put out a flat line or two for an extra fish. Trolling the Mini Mack has been off-the-chart good early. Then switch to live bait. There is a good early morning bite at the dam. Spoons are the best bet there.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. This is the best and most consistent bite going. The summer down line bite on top of timber and brush piles has produced large numbers and size over the past week. Find the fish in the top of the timber with your Lowrance down scan and drop a minnow or a jig into the school and hang on. The long line bite has also started to produce good numbers of fish in the same areas.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 2.1 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Both the largemouth and the spots are moving into coves looking for shad schools. Go upriver in the area just below the Franklin Bridge. Fish the stained upper reaches of the lake with Texas rigged Zoom U tail worms. Flipping jigs is working and use a 3/8-ounce Strike King all black jig with a Zoom chunk trailer all day. Spots are located down lake in the mouths of main coves and are scattered in 15 to 20 feet of water. The Berkley Dredger is a great all-day crank bait, and these come in several sizes and colors and has a weight in the lip for deep diving. Look for the HD colors to add to the tackle box. Use Carolina rigged worms in black, pumpkinseed, dark green and fish the roadbeds mid lake. Berkley Fluoroshield has the strength of fluorocarbon but works like monofilament; easy to cast and manage on all reels. It is almost invisible under water and offers a neutral buoyancy. All the popular pound tests are available. The Booyah by Excalibur is back with the XCS square bill crank bait. There are ½ and a 5/8-ounce models and these are silent crank baits. The McGee roadbed is one of the lakes best areas for schools of bass. The Wilson Creek area off Pyne Road Park is also a good area in the late afternoon. Fish the points in Whitewater Creek later in the day and take along the Ito Vision 110 jerk baits and a Fat Free shad crank bait in citrus shad.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 3.8 FEET STAINED 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The shad are in major coves lake wide and in the middle of the creeks and the first half of pockets. The Shad Rap is a great all-day crank bait, and these come in several sizes and colors. Use the shallow to medium diving crank baits in a white color and a Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head with a Zoom green pumpkin trick worm. The shaky head bite has been the most consistent all day. Fish the shaky head and the jigs around brushy docks and any rock you can find in the creeks. The creeks on the lower end have been best for quantity of fish while the creeks farther up the lake have been best for quality.
LAKE JACKSON IS .56 FEET OVER FULL CLEAR 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. At the dam try fishing the steeper banks with jigs and slow-moving gourd green Zoom U Tale worms. White Strike King Spinnerbaits are catching a few when thrown right up next to the bank and slow rolling it back. Up in the rivers spinnerbaits and Rat L Traps cast close to deep water banks and utilizing a slow retrieve will be a good choice. Black or any dark color jigs worked close to cover is also producing a few good bites. Some or most of the bass are spots and small. Stay with the jig and work heavy cover in shallow water slow and well. Several casts might be necessary before the bass strike. Add some Mega Strike crawfish scent to the hard baits and this will work better in any stained water. The Booyah by Excalibur is back with the XCS square bill crank bait. There is a ½ and a 5/8-ounce models and these are silent crank baits.