News to Know:
- TWO Weeks: My child has told me (at least 37 times today) there are only two weeks left until Christmas. How you doing on your list? If you are looking for the gift that gives back, invest in a fishing or hunting license for you, a friend, a child or grandchild. Find more info HERE and HERE.
- Middle Georgia Trout Fishing: Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to catch trout in middle Georgia. More info HERE.
- Boat Ramp Info: Looking for the nearest boat ramp? Be sure to add the free Outdoors Georgia app to your smart phone. Find ramps, nearby fishing areas, store your fishing and hunting license, buy a license and more!
This week, we have fishing reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Hopefully, you will be the “happy emoji face” soon as you get out there and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The rivers are cold after this week’s freezing temperatures and most are swollen near full bank levels. You can try them if you would like, but the offcolor, cold water will be tough fishing, in general. Your best bet would be white catfish in the lower river or crappie in the oxbows and slow areas if you want to try rivers. Flat water and saltwater are much better options to fish right now.
A couple of Waycross anglers fished a Brunswick area pond on Thursday and had a blast. They ended up catching 47 catfish on squid and cut bluegill. They also had a 6-pound hybrid striped bass inhale a piece of cut bluegill. A few anglers bass fishing the same lake over the weekend caught a dozen bass up to 4 pounds and 3 hybrids in the 5-pound range. Crankbaits, swimbaits and plastic worms produced their fish.
The excellent crappie bite was knocked back to just fair to good with the cold weather. A couple people I talked with trolled and caught a few and fished minnows and caught a few over the weekend. This weekend’s warm-up is just what will get the specks fired up again. I would definitely target them given an opportunity this weekend.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton)-More Info HERE
Crappie fishing was very good all over the area, and Franklin Clark had the biggest slab that I heard of. His angler award-sized slab weighed 2-lb., 1/2-oz. and ate a minnow. He and his fishing partner landed 15 crappie, 4 bass (3-4 pound range), and 5 channel catfish on minnows. Crappie fishing is good all over the area. If you would like to catch a hybrid striped bass, fish lakes Bobben and Russell for your best shot at catching them.
My son, Timothy, continued his quest for youth angler awards on Sunday afternoon out of the Folkston entrance. He caught 6 fliers (all were over the 6-inch youth angler award size), with a 7-incher topping the catch. He caught 5 on pink #10 Okefenokee Swamp Sallies and one on yellow fished under a small balsa float. After spending just 15 minutes doing that we trolled Dura-Spins trying to catch bowfin. The water was cold, so it was a challenge getting the slow-moving bowfin to hit. We convinced one small bowfin to eat a jackfish-colored spinner, but a 20-incher inhaled a fire tiger version, and that one was just big enough to earn him a youth angler award for bowfin. So….he is up to 3 angler awards so far this winter. His goal is to get at least 10 before he turns 16 years old and moves to the adult category for the angler awards. Check out his exploits at Timmybug Productions on YouTube or the Bert’s Jigs and Things Facebook page in the coming weeks. The water level on Sunday was 120.9 feet (just getting in the good range).
LAURA WALKER STATE PARK
Staff at Laura Walker State Park will be making repairs to the drain structure and will have the lake drawn down approximately 3 feet through the end of the month. If you can launch a boat from the ramp then you can use it with electric motor or paddle power, but you cannot run the gas motor. There will be some nice bass and crappie caught, and state limits will still apply during the drawdown.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Trout fishing has been excellent during this latest cold snap. The fish have pushed back in the smaller creeks and upper ends of the sounds based on my reports. A couple of anglers fishing the Brunswick smaller creeks over the weekend hammered the trout up to about 22 inches on artificials. They were using mostly smaller, saltwater Keitechs for their catches. One angler reported catching a limit of trout on 4 consecutive days. Some folks reported catching them trolling, and others were casting. Mike Harrell and a friend fished the Brunswick area on Monday and caught a couple dozen trout, a few redfish, a bunch of sheepshead, and a big flounder. Their sheepshead came from around trees and ate small pieces of shrimp. The rest of their fish ate Assassin Sea Shads fished slowly and deep around creek mouths and deep holes. Several anglers did well from Brunswick area docks this week. One angler reported catching 15 on jigs and live shrimp in about 20 minutes one afternoon this week. The key is being there when a school moves through. 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 Anthony Rabern, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The recent flurry of cold fronts blowing across North Georgia is a reminder of just how quickly the weather can put a damper on fishing; that is, unless you know how to use it to your advantage. On our North Georgia reservoirs, a cold, windy blast can quickly lower surface temperatures by several degrees and have baitfish swimming for the warmest water they can find. That warm place usually comes in the form of rocks and shallow, muddy water. Top predators like bass, stripers, hybrids and walleye are sensitive to these sudden baitfish pattern changes and will move in mass to snatch up a shivering-cold shad. Targeting rip-rap banks, concrete boat ramps, natural rocky shorelines or even visible structure in shallow creek runs with dingy water during the afternoon might just be the ammunition you need to turn an unproductive day on the water into a high catch day. The concept also works in trout streams as well with fish moving into the deeper pools and then becoming more active during the warmest part of the day. Just remember, a day on the water is always a day well spent. Below are some of the fishing highlights from around North Georgia over the last week or two. I hope you find them helpful.
Allatoona Crappie (Report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright) — First off, want to thank David & Ron for fishing with me today – you guys were a blast like usual. We boated 34 and they took 18 home! Red Rooster Jigs were killing it today. The Albright Special & short bus were on fire! No big crappie 9″- 12″ and threw a lot of small ones back.
Allatoona Linesides (Report courtesy of Robert Eidson of FirstBite Guide Service) — Fishing is decent especially for the smaller Stripers and Hybrids. Most of the fish we are catching are mid-lake from the S-turns up to Bartow Carver. Fishing early morning with trout, shiners or shad on weighted freelines is working well. Once the sun gets up we are swapping over to down lines. With the water temperatures dipping into the low 50’s, the shiner bite has really picked up. Once this weather stabilizes, fishing could get more consistent and hopefully the bigger fish will start biting.
Allatoona Multi-Species GON-tel – Be sure to check out Jeremiah’s fishing report on the GON Forum. Thanks, Jeremiah, for keep us up-to-date on what’s hot on the local fishing scene. Here’s the link to Jeremiah’s report.
Allatoona Bass (This report from Matt Driver was provided courtesy of Ken Sturdivant’s Southern Fishing Report) — Fishing guide, Matt Driver, reports that bass fishing is good. The jerk bait bite is getting good with water temperatures in the 60’s and dropping throughout the month. The Spro McStick and McStick 95 in natural shad patterns fished around bluff walls and points at the mouths of creeks is a real productive deal. Use a 6’ 6’ medium rod and 10 pound test Sunline fluorocarbon line, and mix the retrieve up. If the water is stained, the jerk bait bite goes away, and I’ll go more to a slow rolled spinnerbait or the Scrounger. Don’t let cold weather and fronts keep you from fishing. The Float n Fly bite is real good. Leader lengths between 9 and 11 feet are the way to go. Use sonar to locate balls of bait, and try to put your fly at or just about the depth of the school. The Red Rooster Custom Baits in Carter’s special, blue dun and perch are good choices. Remember to not over work the fly. Less is more. Also, an 8 to 10 foot Float n Fly rod with 10 pound test Sunline fx2 braid will help with casting the long leader. Bluff wall and mouths of creeks are the best areas to target.
Allatoona Fish Attractors – With lake levels falling and fishing heating up, this a good time of year to hunt bass and crappie on one of Allatoona’s 60+ fish attractors. Brush piles, hinged shoreline trees and bamboo, plastic and PVC style fish attractors dot Allatoona’s lake bottom thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Army Corps, DNR, bass clubs, Bartow County, Boy Scouts, non-profits, local businesses and numerous volunteers. Find Allatoona’s attractor locations HERE.
Lanier Mid-turnover (Report by Senior Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) Vertical water quality profiles at Lanier’s forebay on Monday this week revealed that the reservoir is still in its fall turnover phase (check recent pdf at the thermometer icon near Buford Dam). Surface temperatures in the mid 60’s remain constant down 100 feet where the oxycline (a zone of rapid oxygen decline) is associated with small decreases in temperature down to 55 F. Further wind-driven mixing and cooling will eventually result in uniform temperature and dissolved oxygen from top to bottom until lake stratification begins again next spring. Thanks to the cooler temperatures, fishing patterns on Lanier have changed significantly. Stripers are scattered lakewide, and can be found shallow at times feeding heavily on small (2″ – 3″) shad, but also willing to devour a rainbow trout if offered. Spots are transitioning from fall humps, points, and brush to ditches and other deep features, and this offers a wider variety habitat to target during the transition. Schools of crappie holding shallow under docks or in deep brush are also eager to bite this time of year.
Lanier Spotted Bass (Reports courtesy of Academy Jack and Ken Sturdivant) –
- Academy Jack: This week, Academy Jack took advantage of the brief warm spell and fished the back of Balus Creek one afternoon. He reports, “When I started the surface temperature was 56 degrees with a light wind. I checked a cove on the Northwest side where the water was 57.3 degrees. I did not find very much bait but I caught a few fish along deep water docks. A Megabass 110+2 caught a 2 pounder and a Strike King 5XD chilli-craw crank-bait caught a 2.6. Both fish were suspended in 25 to 30 foot of water.”
- Sturdivant Report: Ken Sturdivant reports that the cold nights have lowered the water temperatures and really stirred up the monster spots this week. Drop shot rigs, the Fish Head Spin and then spoons will put some big fish in the boat. The big spots are feeding, so fish deep on as many points as possible. Slow crank a 3/8-ounce Fish Head Spin with a Zoom Super Fluke added to the bait and make sure it is straight on the hook. Just swim the bait slowly. For Ken’s detailed report and other great insights, including how to register for Ken’s on the water SONAR School, check out his full fishing report HERE.
Lanier Stripers (courtesy of Captain Mack Farr): Not much change to report with the Striper bite, with the exception of adding Trout into the bait mix. Most of the bait stores are keeping Rainbows in stock and the fish have responded well taking the Trout on down lines, free lines, or behind the planer boards. Herring and Gizzard Shad are also producing well with the same above mentioned techniques, and keeping a Herring on a weighted free line is a big plus. Look for the fish to be holding up in creeks, and drains from 15 down to 40 feet, over a 25 to 50 foot bottom. Bait can be the key to this pattern, and finding big schools of bait layered up on the bottom will get the attention of the Stripers. To read the rest of Captain Mack’s striper report and for his bass report, click here.
Lanier Crappie (This Lake Lanier Crappie report from Captain Josh Thornton is provided by Ken Sturdivant) — Crappie fishing is excellent. This week’s hot bite target zone is 15 feet to 18 feet deep. Vary your technique until you figure out what depth the crappie are biting and whether they want to eat jigs or minnows. Look for open water brush in 15’-25’ of water. Plan on losing several jigs and minnows because you have to be down there with them in order 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. Check out Josh’s detailed crappie fishing report HERE.
Lake Hartwell (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) – Bass fishing is fair as fish are still transitioning to the cooler temps and turnover. The fish are still holding to lay downs along the bank and most of them are being caught out in the tops of the trees in the heavy branches on jigs. Use a ¼ to ½-ounce jig in brown and green colors with a twin tail or frog trailer. Out on the main lake points, fish are still breaking the surface and on occasion are hitting top water baits. As the lake turns over, bass tend to suspend and Ito 110 jerk baits are excellent. Bass suspend on cloudy days when barometric pressure is dropping or on sunny, windy days. The fish cling to rocky bottoms during calm, sunny weather. In clear water bass hang close to brush piles. Suspended bass can take a lure offered at the right depth and with the right action. The McStick is a suspending stick bait. It looks like the bait fish they are after. It can quiver like a dying shad making an easy meal. Try the Deep Husky Jerk on the deeper channel ledges. Stay on the main lake or in the rivers this week and out of the coves. Spinner baits are catching a few bass that are roaming the banks and most of these fish are small spots. Use the six inch worms, the Rapala #5 RS Shad Raps and trick worms with a very light Texas rig. Fish every point and piece of structure and it may be necessary to fish several baits in one locations to trigger a strike.
West Point Lake (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant) –Ken reports that bass are being caught early on slow moving baits including the Netbait Paca Chunk and Paca Craws in black, sapphire and green pumpkin. The back of White Water Creek, use a Culprit red shad worm on a Texas rig with the brass and glass combination. Work baits right on the bank around any cover. Later each day work the creek banks and use a Shad Rap or a Rat L Trap in the shad colors casting to visible cover along the bank. Chatter baits can catch a lot of fish also in the white 3/8 ounce size in the backs of the creeks. Mid lake and down lake is the best fishing we found. Drop shotting will also work and the hot worms are in these colors: green pumpkin, key lime pie and pumpkinseed. There are a few fish biting spoons and jigs but there is no consistent bite with the water so cold. Pick a creek around marker 54 and work the points and the river bends with a 1/2 ounce Sidewinder spoon. Work the bait right on the bottom and hop it only a few inches at a time. This bait need to look like a dying shad so use shot lifts at depths of 15 to 30 feet deep. All black or all brown in the 3/8 ounce Stanley jig and be sure to use real pork trailers. The Uncle Josh #11 is the all-time cold water favorite. In the coves up lake with any wood, run a #5 Shad Rap in bright colors right through the middle and stop the bait as it strikes any structure.
Lake Blue Ridge (Report courtesy of Senior Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — John Damer and his cadre of outstanding technicians wrapped up their annual fall fish surveys on Blue Ridge Lake and boy do they have some good news to report. John reports, “Walleye from one to three pounds were plentiful, and our total walleye catch was more than double the long-term average. This is great news, considering that not long ago walleye catch rates were declining due to the illegal introduction of blueback herring. WRD has been restocking the lake with walleye fingerlings annually since 2017 to help the population rebound, and these efforts are paying off. We also found more crappie in our nets than we have ever seen before. Crappie were most abundant along rocky points on the upper part of the lake. In addition, some nice Alabama spotted bass were also captured along with a few channel and flathead catfish.”
- Carters Hybrid Stocking (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) The Northwest Georgia Fisheries staff assisted Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery with the stocking of 8,761, 6-8 inch hybrid bass into Carters Lake. Look for these young-upstarts to reach 1-2 pounds in size by this time next year. Many thanks to the Richmond Hill Hatchery staff for producing and hauling (from Savannah) another great crop of hybrids for Carters’ anglers this year!
- Spotted Bass: Louie Bartenfield of Carters Lake Guide Service (706/218-6609) says that the big Spotted Bass are biting and you can catch them in a variety of ways. Spotsticker Casting Jigs, Jigheads, and drop shots are all producing as well as the ever-so-popular Float n Fly.
Weiss Lake (This report from Mark Collins Guide Service)
- Bass: Bass fishing is good. Some fish have started moving to a deep winter pattern, on the creek and river channel ledges. Spinner baits and flat crank baits are still working well in the shallow pockets, flats and coves. Rat L Traps are working well also.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. The fish are on deeper cover 18 to 22 feet, on the main Coosa river channel ledges from Cedar Bluff to Leesburg. Spider rigging over brush and the river channel ledges with live minnows and jigs is your best bet. 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.
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Report courtesy of PFA Manager Dennis Shiley) — This past weekend angler Jessie Brock caught and released a 12 pound 15 oz. channel catfish at Rocky PFA, making it the biggest channel catfish ever certified at the PFA. It easily met the criteria for entry into Georgia’s Public Fishing Area Record Fish Program and establishes the record to beat for anglers in the future.
Lanier tailwater/Chattahoochee River trout (Report provided by Senior Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): This week the Gainesville fisheries staff conducted fall electrofishing on the Chattahoochee River section between Buford Dam and Morgan Falls Dam. This annual sampling effort targets wild brown and stocked rainbow trout populations in the river and helps fishery managers understand the health of these popular fisheries. Our crew was excited to welcome aboard CRK Headwater’s Outreach Manager Mallory Pendelton as well, and she was very excited for her first chance to grip some Chattahoochee trout. Rainbow trout stocking has slowed since Labor Day, but we still found rainbows present at each of our sampling stations, though the highest numbers were observed at Jones Bridge where we even found a full-finned bow with parr marks among the stockers (picture). The brown trout population appears to be maintaining well despite some challenging conditions in the river including sustained high flows, which can also complicate our sampling efforts at times. Numbers were good at Settles Bridge, and at Jones we netted a beautiful 15 lb hen brown that was quickly measured and released back to the river. Trophy hunters can attest these fish are hard to fool, but if you’re willing to settle for slightly smaller fish, River Through Atlanta’s Chris Scalley has some really great fishing tips for winter hatch matching: Keep watch for rising fish this winter as blue winged olive mayflies and midges will be hatching all winter. If the fish aren’t rising try dredging deep and slow water with stonefly patterns but don’t forget to drop small nymphs like a zebra midge or blue assassin. Chris is right, we saw swarms of midges emerging this week and sips and splashes at the surface as well.
More Trout Reports (Courtesy of Unicoi Outfitter’s Dredger): For your best bet at fish fondling this week, hit the top of the daily water temperature swings by aiming for the afternoons. If the water slides up toward 50 degrees, you might even get lucky and hook some trout on top! Best trout bugs right now: eggs, rubberleg stones, mops, and small buggers as lead flies. Then add a size 16-18 pheasant tail, hares ear, or rainbow warrior nymph (or their soft hackle versions) as your droppers. Dredger also reports that DH streams are fishing well after a fresh dose of new fish right before Thanksgiving. To read the rest of Dredger’s trout report, click HERE.
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.
- Chattooga River: Pats Rubber Legs and vibrant eggs.
- Amicalola River: The North Paulding High School Flyfishing and Conservation Club with assistance from the Cohutta TU Chapter, helped Assistant Burton Hatchery Manager, Jeff Stewart, stock trout. The club enjoyed a great day of fishing afterwards and many club members caught their first trout on a fly. (photo: Amicalola Trout Stocking Volunteers).
- Toccoa River: Check the gage at Dial, GA before you go; Stream flows for safe wading conditions range 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.
Check The Flow: With rain in the weekend forecast, be sure to check flows before you go wading into favorite trout stream to ensure that conditions are safe for fishing.
Parting Trout Note: Want to do more to support trout fishing in Georgia? Consider upgrading to a Trout Unlimited license plate this yea. 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. Trout hatchery and wild trout management programs both benefit from your purchase of a Trout Tag.