Did you know that fishing in the cooler months is relatively the same for any fish species? You’ll want to fish a smaller bait with a slower action. Fish are cold-blooded, so cooler water temperatures make them lethargic. Cooler temperatures will also slow their metabolism so they don’t feed as often or on as large of prey. Want some tips on making your winter fishing trip the best it can be? Click HERE!
NEWS TO KNOW
- Announcing the Winner: The winner of the 2020 Georgia Bass Slam Grand Prize is Joshua Diehl (all 40 anglers that achieved a Bass Slam were eligible). Joshua shared a special story about this particular bass photo: “It’s only fitting that the hardest fish for me to obtain would be the one you all chose for the post. Fishing the Savannah River for the first time out of my Hobie, I flipped the kayak just 20 or so minutes in. As some of my stuff floated down stream I clung to my kayak for dear life while two of my buddies came to bail me out of my predicament. When I got back in my kayak I was bleeding profusely, I had gashed open the toe on one of my feet and was shivering from the cold water, and my pride was quite hurt. After about 20 more minutes of floating, patching up my toe, frustration, and getting myself back together, I picked up my rod and went to work, ultimately catching the smallmouth in that photo. It was quite the day, one I’ll never forget.” Congrats to you Joshua and we wish you many more (safer) fishing trips in the future!
- Bass Slam in the News: WRDW reporter Riley Hale traveled out to McDuffie Public Fishing Area to talk about the Georgia Bass Slam. Catch his news story HERE and learn more about the Georgia Bass Slam HERE.
This week, we have fishing reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Whatever you decide to fish for this winter, be sure to Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Lake Allatoona is down 15.5 feet, clear, and in the 50s. Bass fishing is slow. The mud line is pretty much almost at the dam on the Etowah arm. It’s stained up to about the mouth of Stamp and McCaskey Creek then it’s fairly muddy. The Allatoona arm is clear to roughly about the Allatoona landing. It is cold and muddy water and it’s tough. Since the bass are cold blooded they are slow to react to bait. Water temperatures are cold and under these tough conditions stay in the main lake. Look for stumps and brush in 8 feet of water down to 20 especially around points and humps that have deep water access. Try some crank baits and or course the spoon. The best pattern is to arrive early and leave late and cast like heck all in between since there is no pattern. The deep cold and muddy water makes is slow for any angler. When the water clears up the fishing will improve and several different techniques will get going. Be sure to watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to use the right baits during the day.
Allatoona Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Jeff ‘ CrappieMan’ Albright) — Slow morning (1/17) on Toona. Marked tons of fish, but not many takers. Fish at 15-30 feet deep. We ended up catching 14 with 9 keepers. 5 crappie and 4 white bass came home for the grease! Red rooster Jigs caught the most fish – purple body with clear metal flake tail. Water temps 42-44 water and stained pretty good still. Also, bait everywhere in Kellogg & Owl Creek area.
Allatoona Fish Attractor Refurbishment: (From Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — Fisheries staff from Armuchee recently refurbished the concrete fish attractor anchor points at Galt’s Ferry Landing on Lake Allatoona. Over time, these permanent structures had degraded to due to corrosion and constant wave action. In late January, volunteers will secure approximately 250 recycled Christmas trees to these anchors. Then, as lake levels rise in spring, the trees will provide cover for forage fish, which will in turn attract larger predator fish species, which can then be more readily targeted by anglers at this popular access point.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Lake Hartwell is down 1.3 feet 50s. Bass fishing is fair. Fish the points on the south end of the lake for now heading towards the dam. The river channel comes real close to this large rounded point and there is plenty of structure on the channel ledge. Use a Carolina rig and a Texas rig and any green pumpkin and red shad Zoom U tail worms. Be sure to watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to use the right baits during the day. The leader should be 3 feet long and use a smaller ½ ounce egg sinker all day. The Rapala DT10 will work with a slow stop and go retrieve and use either the silver or shad color but use crank baits after mid-day. Hot mustard and crawfish with the off colored water and if rain moves in and makes the water a little muddy. Work the edge of the points and work it slowly. Other areas where the channel makes a sharp turn at or near a major point are good places to check. Any current will be the help.
Lake Hartwell Striper Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — Fisheries biologist, Anthony Rabern, was working on Lake Hartwell this week and observed large flocks of gulls working over bait in two primary locations: Coneross Creek on the Seneca River arm and Powderbag Creek near the dam on the Georgia side of the lake. Schools of herring were also charted at 60-feet near Powderbag Creek and the arches embedded in those schools seemed to indicate that stripers and hybrids were actively feeding.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Spotted bass are still biting and there are several techniques that are working. Spoons, drop shot rigs and jigs are great all year but especially in the colder waters. Use smaller sizes early in the day and then go to larger baits after noon. Pick some docks in the marinas down lake and use the Lowrance and find the drops at depths of 30 to 45 feet. These drops need to have a good well defined drop and the spots are holding right on the edges. Drop shot rigs with dark Zoom finesse worms are working and be sure to use the larger 3/8 ounce weight to get the baits deeper faster. Be sure to keep the line tight and use 10 pound Sufix Elite line on a medium heavy 6 ½ foot spinning rod and reel. If there are any small jig head around the boat, try a live night crawler on a ¼ ounce lead head jig. Small to medium shiners will also work use keep you line tight to feel the light strikes. Spoons in the ½ and ¾ ounce sizes are still deadly and Flex It’s in whites, blue/white, and all chartreuse are the choices. The water is stained there but spots are still being taken on Strata spoons in 35 to 50 feet of water. The sharp points on the left at the no wake area in Flowery Branch Creek are good areas for slow moving baits. It’s deep enough to spoon this creek channel and lots of shad are in the area. With the cold water add some Mega Strike scent and use it or a substitute often. All dark brown or all black Stanley Jigs in the 3/8 ounce size with a dark Uncle Josh trailer are the only choices for the bass. Downstream points at the mouth of Taylor Creek hold some good cold weather fish. Sharp drops instead of slopping areas are easier for the fish to move up and down. They do not expend a lot of energy in cold water. The fish all over the lake can be expected to feed only on major feeding periods. Larger docks that are totally enclosed up the lake will warm the surrounding waters all day with the sunlight. Pitch and flip or even skip baits under these larger docks. Go the gang planks around in the shallows later each day and make precise presentations and be quiet. Look in the backs of the Six Mile and Four Mile Creeks and fish the docks and the wood with jigs and worms. Afternoons the water may warm a little but only on the surface. Bump the deep wood and bump this bait off rocky points as well. The creeks mid lake around the Cheastee Bay are a few of the areas to look for the fish. In the bays around River Forks Park, look on and in the old creek bends and ditches for the bass. Drop shot rigs and a 4 inch green Cut Tail Yamamoto worm on a 3/16 ounce Texas rig or a Spot Getter head fished DEAD on the bottom is working. Work the baits right ON the bottom with a slow twitch. Docks around mid-lake around Browns Bridge on the north side of the river are good docks all month. Avoid the muddy waters up both the rivers until the water warms. Some spots are still right in the tops of the trees in the middle of the lower lake creeks. Look in ninety feet of water with trees coming up to the 50 or 45 feet range. Drop a Flex it spoon right on their heads. Drop shot rigs and a small Zoom min lizard on the humps in these creeks will work. Never overlook deep main lake docks. Find the fish on the Lowrance Down Scan technology and if have Fish Reveal use it on the DOWN Scan so the fish appear like on regular Sonar. Use the vertical jig in a 1/2 to 3/4 ounce spoon. Phil Johnson is our Lake Lanier Bass fishing guide. (Pjohnson15@hotmail.com 770-366-8845)
Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton, 770-530-6493) — Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures are in the upper 40s. The hot bite target zone is 15 to 20 feet deep. This week a 16 inch, 2.26 pound crappie was landed. The biggest I have seen at Lanier. You can see pictures on my Facebook page. Congratulations, Steve on a nice catch. The bite is super soft keep your pole in your hands and feel for the slightest bump. This week I have found that the 15 to 20 feet fish want minnows and the deeper 25 to 35 foot range wanted jigs. When using jigs try putting two different colors on one line about 16” apart see what color they are hitting. Then concentrate on what they want, no need in throwing all jigs if they only want minnows that day. This week has been 90% minnows. Look for open water deep brush piles in 30 to 45 feet of water use a heavy jig head to get you down there quickly. Look under docks that are in 20 to 40 feet of water and have brush or structure use your electronic charts to locate these areas. Try down lining a Crappie minnows with a sinker or set up a slip bobber. Jigs have been slow producers this week for me but the colors that worked best for me are a pink over white with a green split tail or a blue over silver. Jigs can be used for short casting vertical jigging or dock shooting. I’m using ATX Lure Company’s jigs on 5 pound 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 Find me on Facebook and like my page.
Lake Chatuge Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — Anglers are wearing out the yellow perch on Lake Chatuge. Successful anglers are vertically jigging a ¾ oz Hopkins Spoon along the river ledge and on rock piles in about 45-feet of water and deeper. Plenty of spotted bass in the 1 to 3 pound range are also being caught along with the perch.
Lake Weiss Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service ) — Lake Weiss is 5 feet 4 inches below full pool, clear, and 40-43 degrees. Bass fishing is fair and most fish are on a winter pattern on the creek and river channel ledges. Spinner Baits and Crank Baits are working well jigs and Carolina rigs are catching fish also. Crappie fishing is good The fish are being caught long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs they are suspended in the river and creek channels 7 to 9 feet deep some fish are still being caught spider rigging with minnows on the river channel ledges. Striper fishing is poor and no reports on any fish being caught in the last few weeks.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
Lake Yonah Yellow Perch: (From Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — Monday (1/18/21) was a cold, windy day but for Matt Dorsey things heated up real fast while fishing on Lake Yonah. Matt was trying to entice a walleye to bite using live blueback herring for bait, but a huge yellow perch took the bait instead. After a brief battle, Matt heaved the trophy perch into the boat. Matt guesstimated the weight to be nearly 3 lb and based on the photo, he may be right. If so, Matt’s fish would have eclipsed the state record of 2 lb 9 oz by several ounces. Seeing the fish was laden with eggs, Matt got a quick photo and released the trophy fish back into the water. Fisheries biologist, Anthony Rabern, was not surprised when Matt called him to report his prize catch. For the past three years, Rabern has predicted a new state record would come from Lake Yonah, and near record-breaking fish were caught in all three years. Rabern says, “Lake Yonah’s yellow perch population is poised to set a new state record. The above average numbers of trophy yellow perch in this small lake is a direct result of the annual walleye stocking program. Walleye feed on yellow perch thus keeping their numbers in check and allowing for the survivors to grow to state record size.” Matt had no regrets about releasing the fish and he plans to make more trips to Lake Yonah in hopes of catching a new state record perch.
Sturgeon Recapture Story: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — WRD staff from Armuchee captured the first lake sturgeon of 2021 on the Coosawattee River last week, and it is one with an interesting history. This fish was first captured and tagged by UGA researchers in 2007 when it was only 22 inches long and weighed little more than 1 pound. In 2015, it was found trapped within the old historic lock at Mayo Lock and Dam Park in Rome during a flood event. WRD staff netted the fish out of the lock, and safely returned it to the Coosa River. During our latest encounter on the Coosawattee River, the fish had grown to 42 inches and 13.4 pounds. Lake sturgeon like this one are on the move right now as they begin to move upstream into the major Coosa River tributaries in search of preferred spawning areas. If you catch one of these beasts, please remember that they must be returned to the water unharmed. More info on WRD’s lake sturgeon reintroduction efforts can be found HERE.
White Bass Primer: (This report courtesy of “Jeremiahisbrown” on GON Forum) — Many of the larger rivers in North Georgia support good spring runs of white bass, which are great fun to catch and they will be running before you know it. Those of you not familiar with the species or popular methods can check out this great two-part article posted on the GON Forum. Part one is HERE and Part 2 is HERE. Now is the time to stock up on your favorite white bass lures before spring is upon us!
Behind the Scenes Trout Transfers: (From Summerville Hatchery Manager Josh Tannehill) – Summerville Hatchery and Buford Hatchery personnel successfully transferred 131,844 rainbow trout from the Summerville facility to the larger Buford Hatchery last week. These young trout will remain at the Buford Hatchery until they grow to stockable size next year. Summerville’s primary goal within the state’s trout production program is to hatch and rear fingerling rainbow trout, not only to supply their own catchable trout production needs, but also to supply the larger Burton and Buford trout hatcheries with fingerling rainbow trout. Fingerling trout transfers like this will occur numerous times each year, all with the end goal of growing and stocking quality fish for the enjoyment of Georgia anglers.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Fisheries Biologist and Region Supervisor with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
The few reports that came in this week were mixed. Early in the week, not many trips resulted in good catches in the cold. But, by late in the week, several folks had good trips. We have another front and winds forecasted just in time for the weekend.
Most rivers are still in their wintertime high and cold stage. Some areas are still flooded out into the floodplain, but other stretches are back within the banks. I will let you know when I hear good reports from rivers, but let it suffice to say that your time in the winter will usually be best spent on lakes, ponds, and saltwater. In general, crappie fishing and catfishing for white catfish in the lower portions of our rivers are your best options in the winter. You can usually find crappie in slackwater areas of the main river or in oxbow lakes. During warm spells, specks will pull up to shoreline cover, but you will catch them best when it’s cold by drifting or trolling the open-water areas with curly-tailed grubs (Assassin 2-inch Curly Shads and Keitech 2-inch swimbaits are my favorites) or live minnows. Bass fishing in rivers can be decent during warming trends if you know where they lurk in the winter (oxbows are usually good places to start searching). You can try the rivers if you would like, but they are not easy systems to fish in the winter. I will get back to specific river reports when they get right in the spring, but I will focus attention on the prime flat water bites for the next couple months.
Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond last Thursday and set the hook a bunch. Even in the cold, he fooled a dozen bass in the 1 to 2 pound range by slowly working Senkos. Todd Kennedy roped the bass in a Brunswick area pond while fishing from his kayak on Wednesday. He used NED heads and pumpkin Z-Man Big TRD worms and caught 50 bass, with 30 of them in the 2 to 4 pound range.
The cold and high water have the swamp tough to fish right now, but the warm-up next week should at least have them looking to feed some. Your best bet if headed to the swamp is to pitch sallies (under a small balsa float) for flier or troll in-line spinners for bowfin during a warming trend. The latest water level was 120.8 feet.
LAURA WALKER STATE PARK
Staff at Laura Walker State Park have completed repairs to the drain structure and the lake filled enough that it is now open to motorboats and business as usual. Check park rules if you do not know them, as all rules and regulations still apply.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
A couple of Brunswick anglers fished the Brunswick area on Sunday and found a school of trout. They found a color of old-school curly-tail jig that they would hit, but they only had ONE of them. Not surprisingly, they went to get it off each time they got hung. They ended up catching 16 trout, with 11 of them keepers. A few anglers fishing Wednesday in the Brunswick area used live shrimp to catch a couple of limits of trout, and a few were around 20 inches. On Thursday a Waycross angler fished the Brunswick area and landed 34 trout and a keeper flounder. The key to his catch was to fish 6 to 10 feet deep with a 1/32-oz. (no – that was not a typographical error!) Capt. Bert’s Jighead with a Gamakatsu hook and a 3-inch Keitech swimbait. He fished it on a very light rod and 10-lb. braid with an 8-lb. fluoro leader and would just reel into them and load the rod when he felt a “tick”. The best color was golden shad (lots of gold flake), but he also caught several on blue-chartreuse and sight flash (white-silver flake). The water temperature was 49 degrees at the start of the trip. He offered larger lures, but only had one taker. All the other fish were on the 1/32-oz. jighead. He caught about 20 keepers and kept 10 of them. Winds may be a little high on Saturday for wide-open areas, but it should be fishable in protected waters over the weekend. 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.