Will 2021 be the year that you make fishing memories with your dad, your mom, your child, your grandchild? Don’t wait. Time is moving fast. Just listen to these lyrics from country singer Trace Adkins (Video Found HERE)
“And she thinks we’re just fishin’ on the riverside
Throwin’ back what we could fry
Drownin’ worms and killin’ time
Nothin’ too ambitious
She ain’t even thinkin’ ’bout
What’s really goin’ on right now
But I guarantee this memory’s a big’un
And she thinks we’re just fishin'”
NEWS TO KNOW
- Bowen’s Mill Fish Hatchery knocked it out of the park again: Fisheries Biologist Tim Bonvechio says check out this impressive 11 month old bass going into Ocmulgee PFA, and some other PFA’s – Go Fish Georgia!
- Striped Bass Tagging Study Follow-up: With many anglers on the water over the holiday season, fisheries staff worked to document several striped bass tag returns as part of our multi-year tagging efforts to better understand striped bass movements and migrations. One particular fish was tagged in December 2017 with both an external tag identification for identification and an internal sonic tag, which is used to track the fish electronically. After annual migrations over the last 3 years, which ranged from the estuary to the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in Augusta, this fish was caught by an angler within a few feet of its original capture and tagging site.
- Georgia Bass Slam Grand Prize Winner for 2020 will be announced next Tuesday on the GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division Facebook page. A whopping 40 anglers completed the Bass Slam – and all are eligible to win! Make plans to get your Slam in 2021.
This week, we have reports from Central, North and Southeast Georgia. Make those memories and Go Fish 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 DOWN 1.1 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Get out the spoons, jigs and worms. Look for the bass in the mouths of the main lake and main river creeks. The lower lake creeks are clearing, and the blue and silver crank baits have been working for anyone that is trolling. Down lake use the 3/8 ounce jigs in black and silver with a small pork. Fish any bank heavy-rock formations with the crank bait all the way to the boat working the lures slowly in cover. Also use the Carolina rig with a small Zoom lizard on the loner points down lake. Find any warming water in the northwest cove’s later in the afternoons. Up the rivers, use a Gator Tail worm in dark colors and add a Venom glass rattle and flip and pitch any wood. The fish are tight on wood and look around blow downs in the major creeks.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 1.3 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair and there is still fresh water flowing into the lake. This water is cooling down and stained slowing the main river fish. A bright crawfish red or brown Rat L Trap or a big jig and pig can draw strikes. Look for the clearer waters in the deep creeks. Float a large green u tail worm on and over any shallow grass after mid-day. The bass are tight under the heavy grass and use a large Rat over this grass. For river bass, head into the cuts and creeks that have any clearing waters. Spinner baits and large red shad Zoom U tail worms will work or grass beds later in the day. The Rat L Traps in the bleeding shiner or red crawfish will work for the bass. Shad are on the move now as fish feed often and try to fatten up before the harsh winter moves in. Crank baits are a winter-time favorite especially in the off colored water mid lake. Swim baits and jerk baits can work during the winter months. Start off by fishing the main river points and fish all the small cuts and bowls along the way. Clay banks are excellent places to fish active baits. Keep the trolling motor on slow and don’t let up. Covering a vast amount of water will be the key.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. The fish are tight to cover. Use a small crank bait fished close to docks and wood structure on the main lake. Up the rivers us a dark jig fished tight to the wood structure. The temperature is lower up the rivers so you will need to slow down. When Georgia Power is pulling water, the same small crank baits will work around the rip rap at the bridges.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 6.5 FEET, CLEAR 50’s
Bass fishing has been slow. With the changing water levels, colder day and night temperatures and dirty water has made the bite a day to day opportunity. There are two main patterns working with the current conditions. One is covering plenty of water with shallow water crank baits like a Bandit 200 series or a Bomber 4A; the better colors have been either chartreuse or red crawdad color. Cast these baits as close to shoreline rocky points as possible and then slowly reel them back in with a reel and pause pattern. This pattern has been producing more largemouth but do not look for many bites. The second pattern has been using a drop shot rig or jigging spoon on humps and roadbeds lake wide. With the higher water levels and water current fish have positioned on tops of these locations. A few largemouth and nice spots remain shallow on Little John crank baits, crawfish colored Shad Raps or jigs fished around cover, but that bite depends on a warming trend. The school-sized spotted bass with a few surprise largemouth, are in full swing on some of the deeper wintertime holes and can be caught with a jigging spoon or a drop shot. The usual places roadbeds, humps, and ledges near the mouths of the major creek are holding fish. Lake levels seem to have stabilized over the last few days. Expect the lake level to drop again unless we keep getting rain.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 STAINED, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. The rivers are heavily stained and it’s best to fish down lake. Work the heavy brush on points and docks on the lake. Use the Stanley dark green or all black 1/2-ounce jig and a larger Bo Hawg pork trailer, on the heavy cover. This is a great dock lake all year and especially mid fall into the winter. Just pick a creek and work every dock. Little River is also a great area for fall fishing with a bone or parrot colored crank bait. Cast a dark red and black Texas rigged Berkley Power worm in the larger sizes slowly, working on the docks on the lower lake. Slow roll a willow leaf blade combo in gold’s on points. Use of larger dark worms over the grass and around docks can get a strike, but later in the day with the warming waters.
JACKSON LAKE IS FULL, STAIN, 50’S
Bass are biting better mid-day. Go into the creeks up lake in the rivers for active bass. In the rivers, the bass are on the ends of shallower river points and deeper stump rows. On the main lake points and around the dam, use the shad colored Zoom Flukes over deep standing timber. A Zara Spook is good in blue shad or baby bass. All-green trick worms in the stained water in creeks have been fair. Use a dark red and black Gilraker worm on a Texas rig on wood and brush with very tight bank and river structure can draw a strike. Cast or flip the river docks and shallow bank with a Zoom motor oil lizard. Sea walls mid lake are good places to use the Fish Head Spins with a small pearl Zoom fluke trailer. Use the lighter Sufix Elite line in the ten-pound test and slowly reel this bait back to the boat right on the bottom.
MCDUFFIE PFA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: < 50 F
- Water Visibility: 31 – 48+ in
Bass: Bass bite has slowed down. Several nice bass continue to be caught by throwing crankbaits and shad-imitation lures in and around the shad schools. Recent catches have been made using dead minnows on Bream Buster Lake, using a chartreuse spinner near the back side of Bridge, and near the siphons on Clubhouse.
Bream: The bream bite continues to be slow. Bridge and Bream Buster Lakes are still the best for bream fishing lately. Clubhouse is the lake for fish for larger bream. Fish feeders at Jones, Beaver Lodge and Bream Buster Lakes are good spots to try for bream, as well as any structure in deeper water.
Channel Catfish: Recent stockings of nice sized catchable catfish to Bridge Lake, Jones, Beaver Lodge Lakes, Bream Buster, and Clubhouse have improved the bite in those lakes. A variety of baits have been effective including homemade stink baits, worms, and even shrimp. Fishing early morning and late into the evening really pays off this time of year.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is starting to pick up. Fish are being caught in both striper lakes, Clubhouse and Bridge Lakes. These larger fish have been caught on crankbaits, swimbaits or umbrella rigs but smaller stripers are consistently caught on chicken livers. They have been caught using both passive and active lures and baits.
(Fishing report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The weekend weather forecast for North Georgia calls for more cold temperatures with highs in the 40’s and lows in the 20’s. North Georgia fisheries biologist Jackson Sibley explains how frigid temperatures are not only unpleasant for people, but they can be downright lethal for some species of fish. Sibley tells us, “Clupeids, which include shad and herring, are one such group of fish that do not tolerate prolonged periods of cold. Threadfin shad and blueback herring are a staple in the diet of many reservoir game fish, like bass, stripers, and walleye. When the water temperature stays below 45oF for more than two weeks, you might start noticing more and more shad and herring swimming very slowly in the shallows. In fact, dramatic numbers may eventually succumb to the bone-chilling cold. One strategy that shad and herring use during extreme cold is to hold tight to the concrete on the face of the dam or along rip-rap bridge abutments or even in muddy water, which all retain and radiate heat on sunny afternoons. Anglers can use this knowledge to their fishing advantage because where there is prey, the predators are usually not far behind. Even if a winter die-off occurs, there are usually enough hardy survivors around to repopulate the prey base.”
To prove that Jackson knows what he is talking about, here is his personal fishing report for Rocky Mountain PFA along with some pictures. “The winter bite is on at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area! As the season progresses, bass and crappie will continue to stage in deep water, waiting patiently to ambush lethargic threadfin shad made vulnerable by cold water temperatures. Slow retrieval of shad-imitating lures are producing good catch rates. Keep a trained eye on your sonar display, schools of shad are unmistakable and are often accompanied by larger arches near the bottom, indicative of predators lurking just beneath the schools.”
Cold temps slow down the bite and force anglers to scale down their tackle and slow down their approach. Here are some tips from Georgia Outdoor News’ reporters.
Bass (This report is provided by fishing guide, Ryan Coleman) — “Spotted bass fishing is good out deep and up shallow. The shallow fish are holding on rock in 5 to 10 feet of water and on boat docks on sunny days. The best way to approach these shallow fish is with a crankbait or jig and take your time. Those fish are spooky, so don’t just blast in there. Take your time casting and approaching with your boat. The deeper fish have gotten on the football head/swimbait bite, and it is wide open. Take a 3/8- or 1/2-oz. SpotSticker football swimbait head and tip it with a 3.8-inch blueback herring or pearl swimbait. Put this rig on 12- to 15-lb. fluorocarbon line and get busy for the next couple of months. Fish are holding anywhere from 10 to 50 feet of water depending on the time of day right in the middle of the ditches. Make a semi-long cast with the football swimbait and just slowly drag it on the bottom back to the boat. Repeat. For less than 20 feet of water, I use the 3/8-oz. For deeper fish, I typically always go with the 1/2-oz. head. This will ensure that you keep your bait on the bottom, which is the most important part of fishing this rig. Give it a try. It will become your favorite technique for winter spots on Lanier. As the day goes on, I have been working a 3/8-oz. Georgia Craw casting jig out in the timber, along with a green-pumpkin-purple 6-inch Finesse Stick rigged on a 3/16- or 1/4-oz. screwball shaky head. Keep it slow and in contact with the bottom/trees.”
Crappie (This report is provided by fishing guide, Josh Thornton) —“The hot bite target zone is 15 to 18 feet deep. Be flexible in your technique. Figure out what depth the crappie are biting and figure out if they want jigs or minnows. When using jigs, try putting two different colors on one line about 16 inches apart. See what color they are hitting, and then concentrate on what they want. There is no need in throwing all jigs if they only want minnows that day. Look for open-water brush in 15 to 35 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 that have brush or structure. Use your electronic charts to locate these areas. Try downlining a small crappie minnow with a sinker or set up a slip bobber. Jigs have been producing some big numbers. My jig recommendation is a baby shad green over chartreuse or a royal blue over silver single tail. Jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting. I’m using ATX Lure Company jigs on 5-lb. test, high-visibility yellow K9 braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on a light action 6-foot B&M rod. 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, Humminbird 360 or Lowrance’s LiveSight). Set waypoints on your electronic charts so that you can quickly return to productive locations. You can do this on a smartphone using the Navionics Boating app.”
Bass: (This report is provided by tournament angler, Matthew Justice) — “The winter patterns have set in completely. Fish the points, rockpiles and ditches with underspins and brown football jigs. Fishing a red crankbait in stained water can catch a big fish from now until March. Another pattern is fishing a crankbait that’ll dive 10 to 15 feet deep on main river points. This can find schools of spotted bass that are actively feeding.”
Hartwell Headwaters Bass Report: (From WRD Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — The headwaters of our major reservoirs are great places to catch bass, even in the winter. The constant flow of water seems to pull in shad and herring and those other critters that feed on them. This week, sampling crews working on the Tugaloo River headwaters of Lake Hartwell found a number of spotted bass with a few Bartram’s bass mixed in (see photo). All the bass were found near downed trees and were feeding on 6-inch blueback herring. Catching multiple bass species reminded me of our Georgia Bass Slam, which is a program that challenges bass anglers to catch at least five of the ten different black bass species found in our state. To learn more about the Georgia Bass Slam, click HERE.
Bass (This bass fishing report is provided by tournament angler, Matt Driver): “In the month of January, I typically key on two different patterns: (1) suspended fish and (2) deep-bottom fish. For suspended bass, I like the jerkbait and the Float-n-Fly. My go-to jerkbait is a Jackal DD Squirrel in white or threadfin. Slow is key. I do mix it up with the Megabass Vision OneTen and a Lucky Craft Pointer 95. This time of year, the bite is subtle and not as aggressive. Pattern two is the jig on deep rock/bluff walls. I like to throw crawfish colors with a compact trailer that has little movement. I throw the jig on a medium-heavy Shimano Expride and 16-lb. Sunline fluorocarbon. Feel is very important to catching bass on the jig. Right now, I’m throwing a Picasso 1/2-oz. football head and a Picasso Little Spotty. Both jigs are tungsten, and the tungsten does not get hung up as bad in the rock and also has good feeling. If the water is stained and we get a warmer day with the sun out, the muddy water warms much quicker and bass will move shallow for short periods to feed. Squarebill crankbait or a medium-diving bait such as a Spro Little John can be a great way to catch a big fish when the go shallow to feed. This is a better late-day pattern. Areas of the lake to key on will be from Red Top to just north of Galts Ferry.”
Linesides (This fishing report is provided by fishing guide, Robert Edison) — “Good news, the winter bite is finally here. The live-bait bite has been very good. Trout and shiners are fishing well right now. Fish planer boards and freelines early, and then change over to downlines once the sun comes up. Our guides have been doing really well from Bartow Carver to the Delta. The white bass are doing great. Fishing 1/2-oz. spoons on any flat from Kellogg Creek to Little River can and most days produces a lot of fish. The Mack Farr Mini-Me is also producing on the flats.”
Read Up: Ryan Sather provides an excellent Lineside Fishing Article on the GON website. Click Lake Allatoona Winter Linesides (gon.com)
Dead Shad Not Cause for Concern: This week, fisheries biologist John Damer saw thousands of dead and dying threadfin shad on the Etowah River downstream of Lake Allatoona. “No need for concern,” he says, “as this is a natural phenomenon that occurs almost every year on many rivers below our large dams. Threadfin shad are sensitive to dropping water temps and become lethargic when the water gets too cold. Sometimes a large school of shad will swim near the dam intake in the reservoir above and cannot swim fast enough to escape the swift current. These fish are then stunned or killed by the drastic pressure changes that occur as they are sucked through the dam. Many anglers know this, and look forward to the annual “shad kill” on our big tailwaters as it draws predator fish out in search of these easy meals. Now would be a great time to tie on a small shad-imitating lure or fly and try your luck in the first few miles below some of the bigger dams.”
Bass: (This report is provided by fishing guide Bill Payne) –“The winter bite is in full swing, and it really is my favorite time of the year to be on Carters. As you might expect, there are plenty of fish out in deeper water, but a few remain in the 15- to 25-foot range in cover like pallet piles and brush, especially near breaklines or drop-offs to deeper water. Jigs like a 3/8-oz. Picasso finesse tungsten football head with a Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer or a small Super Chunk Jr. in natural colors like shades of green pumpkin can work well. Also, as is the case nearly year-round, the old reliable shaky head in 3/16-oz. worked slowly around the same structures will continue to account for a few fish. I like the Picasso Rhino head with a Softy Lures Finesse worm. This is a great time to break out the Float-n-Fly technique. Concentrate on bluff-type walls and steeper banks with 10- to 12-foot leaders under your float. Red Rooster makes an excellent fly in some great colors for this technique. There are plenty of deep fish 60 to 80 feet deep, and this bite revolves around finding the big schools of bait and the schools of bass that are always nearby. This is where having good electronics can pay big dividends. You don’t have to have a $10K sonar array to do this. Just a good 2D traditional unit will work, and if you have a unit with Down and Side Imaging, that can help. I use Humminbird units, and they do a great job, and the other brands work, too. Lures such as jigging spoons like the Georgia Blade, blade baits like the Silver Buddy, and swimbaits such as the Keitech Fat Impact are some of my favorite baits to go after the deep fish on Carters. Again, the key to this bite is realizing the bass are relating to bait and not to structure. This bite should last throughout the winter months and can produce some very good results.”
Stripers: (This report is provided by fishing guide Eric Crowley) –“Stripers we have been catching have been early in the morning on bigger gizzards. I’ve been pulling boards and running slip bobbers with gizzards in the creeks in 30 to 60 feet of water. I keep the bobber stops at 50, and I’m stopping the boat when I mark fish on the screen. I’m typically 50 feet behind the boards using 20-lb. leaders, and in-line circle hooks are the terminal end right now. After the sun clears the trees, I’ve been switching over and spot fishing in the backs of the creeks. Minnows and trout are both getting bit. Just be sure not to put your minnows in the tank with the trout or you will be missing most of your minnows pretty quick. Downlining baits to fish deeper than 30 feet and just pitching them on spinning rods to shallower fish has been the go-to. As for an artificial bite, I’ve just been fishing the spoons vertically. We have caught a few walleyes and some really nice spots on the 4-inch chrome spoons recently, so I usually have two or three tied on at all times.”
Bass: (This report is provided by fishing guide Mike Carter) —“Weiss is now close to its winter pool level of 5 to 6 feet below full pool. This can be a hazardous lake to navigate during this time, so having a quality GPS unit is very essential. When you do get the opportunity to experience this lake during this time of year, you won’t be disappointed in the action. Focus on main-lake points with 1/2-oz. Rat-L-Traps and MR6 crankbaits for some solid action for Weiss’s quality Coosa River spots. The warmer sun-shiny days can create some great action in the very backs of creeks with 1/4-oz. Rat-L-Traps and Choo Choo Shakers. When looking for fish in these areas, always focus on very shallow stump-filled bays. The action in these shallow bays may not be as aggressive as main-lake points, but the quality will definitely be there.”
Lake Burton (This report is provided by fishing guide, Wes Carlton)
Bass: “The bass bite has been consistent the last couple of weeks. We have been catching most of our fish in and around docks close to steep rock ledges. Spro crankbaits have been working best. The fish are feeding on blueback herring close to these areas. Mid-morning is the best time to catch the bigger largemouth on the bank lines. The spotted bass are still surfacing mid-morning to mid-afternoon. We have caught some really nice spots on jerk baits in a herring color working main-lake points.”
Trout: “The brown trout bite has slowed a little. We are still catching some fish trolling Yo-Zuri Pin’s Minnows 12 to 18 feet deep over the main-lake channel. Most of the bigger schools of fish have broken up and spread throughout the lake. Looking for surfacing action shortly after daylight can be a very successful technique for catching a bigger brown trout on a spinnerbait. We have even caught a few fish on small topwater plugs and jerk baits while bass fishing. This pattern should continue for the next several weeks as we head toward the end of January. The spoon bite should pick up as the water temps dive toward the lower 40s.”
Bass: (This report is provided by fishing guide, Eric Welch)“We’ve finally been getting some cooler weather, which is helping bring the water temps down. Still not seeing any topwater action, and the bait we’ve been marking is still deep. It’s that time of year to get out the 1/2-oz. spoons and start dropping down on fish you mark on your depth finder. I’m still catching fish on a 3/16-oz. shaky head with either a Zoom or Strike King finesse worm. This time of year, it’s also hard to beat a Ned rig with a Z-Man TRD. On sunny days, the fish will pull up on any type of rock or laydowns due to these areas warming up quicker. You can still catch fish on a drop shot with a 4.5-inch Roboworm and on a Texas rig. You just want to slow down on how you work it. This time of year, I like a 3/8-oz. jig. My three colors are black/blue, pb/j and green pumpkin. I play around with different trailers, like a twin-tail grub, craw and a chunk. It just depends on how cold and what kind of action I think they’re looking for. Wintertime is always a good time the throw a crankbait, like a Rapala No. 5 Shad Rap, a DT6, a Bandit 300 and a Strike King 1.5 deep Squarebill. Once the water gets down in the mid-50s, it’s a good time to throw the A-rig. Now’s a good time to fish the Float-n-Fly around deep, rocky banks and points. I always downsize on my line in the winter months. I like 7-lb. Gamma Touch fluorocarbon for the shaky head, Ned rig, Texas rig and tube. I like 10-lb. Gamma Edge fluorocarbon for jigs, 14-lb. Edge for the A-rig and 12-lb., 10-lb. and 8-lb. mono for crankbaits.”
Stripers: (This report is provided by fishing guide, Jeremy Seabolt) — “Fishing has been average, so far. We have been on some nice schools of fish, and they have been hungry. Most of our fish have been coming from downlines over a 40-foot bottom, but we have also been catching some nice fish up shallower in the afternoons pulling large herring and trout. The key is having a good fish finder. Find the bait and the fish will not be far behind. Fish have been schooling up from Point 9 to the dam. Going into January, we will start looking for the birds to move in. The way the weather is looking, I’m thinking we may have a good threadfin kill. We are overrun with threadfins. January is a good month to throw bucktails on points and work them back slowly. Just remember we are in the colder parts of fishing, so always be safe when out on the water. The Bait Shack is always stocked up with your striper candy.”
Lake Blue Ridge
Bass (This report is provided by fishing guide, Eric Welch) “Fishing has been up and down the past couple of months, but the water temps are now down where they need to be. We’ve been catching bass on deep, rocky banks and long points using the Z-man Ned rig with a TRD in green pumpkin, a 3.5-inch tube, a 3/16-oz. shaky head with Strike King 5-inch finesse worm. I also like throwing a 3/8-oz. jig around rocky banks and any brush you can find. If you mark fish on your depthfinder, try throwing a Flex-it Spoon or a drop shot with a 4.5-inch Roboworm. This time of year is also a good time to throw a small crankbait like a Shad Rap, a Strike King 3X and a Bandit 200. Also try throwing a jerkbait like a Lucky Craft Pointer in a shad pattern. If you have never tried fishing the Float-n-Fly, now is a good time to throw it around deep, rocky banks. Fishing should be good all month. Good luck.”
Stripers: (This report is provided by fishing guide Eric Crowley) ”The bass bite has been on and steady for a few weeks now. Schools of fish are cruising in 20 to 30 feet of water looking for pods of baitfish. Our best bite has been on the edges of the creek and river channels in 40 feet of water. Live bait has been putting good numbers in the boat, as well as some quality spots and a few smallmouth mixed in. The spoon bite is still solid, as well. Two to 4-inch spoons dropped right in the school has been the deal. Be ready to drop the spoon as soon as you mark the fish. Work the spoon for a few minutes, and if nothing bites, keep it moving and find the next school. The bait is moving in and out of the pockets and creeks at night, so look in these areas at first light and locate the big schools of herring. Some days you can fish one school for hours and never have to move. Other days it’s one and done on each school as the fish seem to scatter after the first bite or two.”
Destination Suggestions: Flyfishing enthusiast and outdoor writer, Jimmy Jacobs, offers some excellent trout fishing destinations in Northwest part of the state in the January Newsletter of On the Fly South. Here are the links:
- Wild Trout in the Cohutta WMA Trekking to Georgia’s Conasauga River – ON THE FLY SOUTH Hot Tip: “Drift nymph patterns through the pools under a strike indicator, or use a dry-dropper rig. Prince Nymphs and Red Copper Johns have been a couple of patterns that have worked here. For some of the bigger pools, you might want to slow strip a weighted Wooly Bugger looking for a bigger trout.”
- Fishing the Toccoa Tailwaters Georgia’s Other Tailwater – ON THE FLY SOUTH Hot Tip: “Black Caddis, black or cream midges, Hendricksons or March Browns. When rings start appearing on the surface, the fish are likely targeting on one of those.”
Chattahoochee Tailwater Trout: (Report from Chris Scalley of River Through Atlanta) — Reports are fantastic from our group of guides. Lake turn-over is complete and we are seeing gin clear water. Fish populations are good near the Buford Dam area. We are also getting reports of blue wing olive hatches in the 18-20 size. We too, are receiving reports that the size 24 cream midges are on the rise and fish are looking up. Also the lower section below Morgan Falls is fishing well. Look at swinging buggers, or dead drifting junk flies for the win. Stay posted or call the shop for updates. For the Chattahoochee, state regulations require a certified personal flotation devise be worn by all anglers from Buford dam south to highway 20. Pay special attention to water release info online, or call the number below for release schedules. Make sure to call the Corp of Engineers release hotline at 770-945-1466 before making your trip.
- If you are new to wade fishing the Chattahoochee Tailwater: Here’s a great video that walk you through how to know when to fish based on water gauges.
- Also, The Atlanta Fly Fishing Club has an excellent resource for access points, float times, and fishing tips here.
Running High: Rivers and large streams are still running high, so give smaller, headwater streams a try while you wait for the bigger streams to shed their excessive runoff. Remember to match your bugs to the stream conditions. If the water is big/high/stained from a rain, use bigger and brighter bugs. Check water data HERE and HERE.
Smith Creek DH: On the NGTO Message Board, “Blue Smoke” provided this recent report, “Close to the top around the bridges, pink Y2K/Pat’s Rubber Legs using indicators worked ok. Caught a few there. As we went down to the bottom, the fish ignored all junk. Switched to very small, natural flies and 6X tippet dropped off large Stimulators and the catch rates went way up. The fly called the Pocket Water Baetis in 20 was a clear winner. And my buddy caught this really nice brown (see Smith DH photo) when it came out from a root ball and smoked the Stimi. I think I was way more excited than he was.”
NGTO intel Chattooga River: A decent day on Brown Streamers and Pat’s Rubber Legs
Sarah Baker’s Chattooga Recommendations: Check water level at Burrell’s Ford Bridge here, and local weather on the Chattooga River here. Periods of low water can be fished with an assortment of small nymphs and midges. Modestly weighted Hare’s Ear nymphs and Silver Copper Johns, have worked well, especially on mild and cloudy days when small Blue Winged Olives might hatch. Periods of higher flow provide opportunities to chuck some bigger streamers. Aggressively strip ‘em in. When fishing in moderate flows, smaller streamers and egg-flies have worked well.
Trout Tips: (From Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny, and very cold weekend for trout fishing. I was able to get out earlier this week, and fish didn’t become interested in my brown Pat’s rubber legs or black wooly bugger until right at noon. I got there early to beat the crowds, but waited impatiently for the sun to do its job of rousing the fellas awake. A few fish were kind enough to give me a gentle nibble to keep my hopes up. The frost in the tree limbs sparkled when the sunshine streamed down into the valley. I worked my way upriver. Alas, as the water warmed, my flies were slapped with more gusto giving me enough time to hook them. I added on a black nymph and fished the deep pools (Standard indicator nymphing rig). I casted above where fish were feeding to let my flies sink through the pool’s feeding zones and watched my indicator closely. Trout metabolism slows down in the winter months. This means they aren’t eating as ravenously, so don’t get discouraged if you have a slow day. I recommend stuffing your socks with foot warmers. Good luck and good memories!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
What a cold, windy week! I only received a couple reports all week, and those weren’t very good reports. So….I am going to take this break to catch up on some additional photos that I haven’t been able to run yet. The warming trend starting the middle of next week should have them biting late next week, but this weekend looks like another cold, windy, brutal weekend for fishing. Finish up that inside honey-do list this weekend so you are ready to go fishing during better weather.