What do you celebrate? I mean, I know we take joy in celebrating birthdays, holidays, and those types of special occasions. But, do you celebrate the little things? Things like hanging out with your family, going fishing with your kid or your grandkid, or spending time together out on the lake. I think in this day and time, we need to celebrate all of these occasions.
NEWS TO KNOW:
- Angler Awards: Angler Award rewards (hats, tshirts and certificates) have all been sent to 2020 Angler Award recipients. Want to earn yours in 2021? Find out all the categories and read up on the rules HERE. Check out Fred Wammock, Chad Wammock, Austin Miller and Ryland Field – 3 generations that ALL have earned multiple angler awards in MULTIPLE years. Now, that is a reason to celebrate!
- Big Crappie Biting in SW Georgia: Crappie are starting to feed heavily in preparation of the spawning season which will begin in South Georgia sometime in March or early April. Both Lake George and Tired Creek Reservoir should have excellent crappie fish continuing into spring. Click HERE for more info.
- New State Record Fish: Christian Blake Jones of Swainsboro, GA reeled in a new state record hickory shad. Click HERE for more.
- Here Come the Girls: Panic Pond at Silver Lake Public Fishing Area has some new additions. Watch the video HERE.
This week, we have fishing reports from Central, North and Southeast Georgia. Grab a family member and get ready to celebrate as you 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 .95 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. More cold air and strong winds are expected. Spotted bass are still being caught along rocky points and the rip rap from time to time while using crank baits and finesse worms. Smaller bass can be found in shallower water during the mid-day periods getting warmed by the sun. Fishing is tough and a slow presentation is still a must. The ½-ounce Stanley jig with the #11 Uncle Josh pork trailer is the one of the best wintertime lures. As the fish get colder, they will have to be coaxed into striking these baits. The more the fish see the bait the likelihood of drawing a strike increase. Warm fronts that come into the area can draw the bass to shallow cover in stained water up the rivers. Rapala DT10, Deep Diving Husky Jerks along with small drop shot rigs are all catching the bass this week.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 2.2 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. The water surface temperatures continue to slowly drop. Look for the warmest water possible and then fish it thoroughly with the crank baits first then follow it up with finesse worms and small jigs. On the channel ledges use a drop shot rig with small Flukes and worms. Small Rapala RS Shad Raps, the Rapala DT7 Flat and Ito Vision 110 can work on the rocks and points. A good bite is continuing from about 4:00 p.m. until dark. Try the windblown areas as the bait fish will be shallow if there is any warm weather. 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 jigging technique with the 1/2 to 3/4-ounce spoon.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 50’S
(This Lake Oconee fishing report is by Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Service. 404-803-0741)–
- Bass: Bass fishing is slow. The lake is stained from the rivers to Jumping Rock. Richland creek is clear. The jig bite is starting to pick up on wood structure from Sugar Creek north. Docks as well as downed trees will produce with the jigs. One good tactic is to down-size your bait (small lizards) and fish them very slowly on a Carolina rig off secondary points in the major creek mouths. The fishing should start to pick up in the next week or two.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is fair. Look for the birds and the fish will be close by. When you find the birds use your Lowrance to locate the schools of bait with some fish around the bait and drop a minnow into the school. The spoon bite is also good with a white or silver spoon working best.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. Long-lining has been the best producer over the past week. Look for fish staging in the mouths of the creeks and large coves all over the main lake. The Oconee side has been the best producer.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 6.1 FEET, STAINED 50’S
Bass fishing has been slow except for some deep fish on old creek bends and roadbeds down lake. Lots of rain on the way down river will keep it tough until clearing water makes it through the lake. The south end of the lake has the clearest water right now and the mouths of Maple Creek, Veasy Creek, and Stroud Creek are all good places to fish. The fish are bunched up together in 25 to 30 feet of water and a mixed bag of fish can be caught with vertical jigging on the bottom. Find the fish on the Lowrance depth finder and then vertical jig using a 1/2 to ¾-ounce spoon.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.2 FEET, STAINED, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. The sunny days seem to be better whether fishing shallow or deep. Most good catches are coming on crank baits in shallow water and one of several baits in deep water. The following baits have produced nice catches the last few days: Bandit #200, Thunder Shad #306, and Shad Rap RS #5. Several color patterns have worked including chrome and blue, shad patterns, chartreuse, brown, and chartreuse. Most fish are coming from medium to steeper tapering banks that are located very near even deeper water. And most are along or near the main river and creek runs. On most of the lake, these baits must be fished very slowly to draw a strike. However, baits can be speeded up some when fishing in the warmer water of the central lake area. Fish are on the same pattern down the lake in clearer water but hitting more natural looking baits like a Yo Zuri or Spro. A few quality fish are hitting spinner baits that are slow rolled on the same banks. Riprap around the bridges is still producing a few fish, mainly on crank baits, jigs, lightweight Texas rig, and jig head and Zoom Finesse worms. Some deep fish are along the sides of main river and creek flats, points, and humps at 12 to 25 feet deep.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.2 FEET OVER CLEAR, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. A few small spotted bass are roaming up in the shallows and are biting plastics of all kinds; but the best bite is mid-day until dark due to the cold weather. Use a #5 Shad Rap or RS Shad Rap. Move the bait with a medium retrieve through the shallow water and then slow it down as the water gets deeper. With the cold weather, bass will move to heavy cover and now is a good time to go to a light Texas rig and a small weight. Later in the day, use the DT6 or DT10 in the silver or hot mustard color. The red crawdad color is a good color when the water is stained to muddy. Cast real shallow and crank them and bounce them off the bottom. Try to get the baits to keep in contact with the bottom if possible. If the water is just dirty head towards the south end of the lake. With all the cold weather bass fishing is on one day and off two. Carolina rigs are also catching a few small bass all over the lake. Be sure to watch the Fish and Game Forecaster to use the right baits during the day. This is when the Lowrance Structure Scan technology can help scout for the bait schools, and this is key in the winter; you’ve got to find bait.
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 51 F
- Water Visibility: 31 – 48+ in
- Bass: Bass fishing is starting to pick up again. Several very nice bass have been caught by throwing crankbaits and shad-imitation lures in and around the shad schools. These large schools of shad continue to congregate near the fishing docks at Bridge, Clubhouse, and Bream Buster Lakes. The bass pictured at right was recently the highlight of a family fishing outing on Clubhouse Lake. It, along with 6 others, was caught casting into the shad schools.
- Bream: Bream bite continues to be slow. Some success is being reported on Bridge lake using worms. 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: We have had stockings of nice catfish to all PFA lakes except Rodbender. The 1-1.5lb stocked catfish should improve the bite and are well worth the time spent catching them. Fishing with red and pink worms seem to work best in the back ponds, while fishers using shrimp are doing well on Jones. Fishing early morning and late into the evening really pays off this time of year.
- Striped Bass: 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 Brent Hess, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Attention anglers! It’s almost time for those early spawners to start packing on the weight ahead of spring. Beginning mid to late February look for the crappie and walleye bite to improve. White bass will pick up the feed bag in March, and black bass and striped bass a bit later in the month. Big females will especially be increasing their foraging efforts to gain weight before laying their eggs. This time of year, fishing can be hit or miss, but catching a few healthy pre-spawn fish can make for some great outings. Yes, the temperatures outside are still cool, but February can be considered the “unofficial” start of the fishing season. Don’t let February’s cool temps keep you from missing a great opportunity on the water – Let’s go fishing!
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Start the day by fishing main lake points and flats with a Spro McStick jerk bait in Spooky Shad Color. Be sure to fish the bait very slowly to attract bites. As the day gets warmer, move to the backs of creeks and coves and cast a jig to any cover. A black and blue jig with a blue chunk seems to be working well. If the fish are not on the banks in the creeks, fish the middle of the creek with a Fish Head Spin or a Bandit 300 Crankbait. Use a slow stop and go retrieve. The best crank bait colors seem to be in crawfish or chartreuse and blue patterns. Allatoona bass are still being caught on the Float n Fly as well. If the weather pattern changes toward the end of the month and water temperatures drop, expect bass to pull out to deeper water and suspend until conditions stabilize. If this happens the drop shot and a Big Bite Shaky Squirrel jig head and the Alabama rig bite will pick up.
Allatoona Habitat Enhancement (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — On Saturday, February 6th, volunteers with the E3 Bassmasters and the Corps of Engineers assisted Region 1 fisheries staff in planting 260 button bushes along the Allatoona Lake shoreline. As these semi-aquatic plants mature, their root and trunk structure will provide cover for schools of small fishes which in turn attracts larger predator species, such as the largemouth bass. In addition to their potential benefits to the fishery the native button bush provides myriad ecosystem services including hosting pollinators, bank stabilization/sedimentation control, and serving as a habitat and food resource to a variety of organisms, from invertebrates to birds and mammals.
Allatoona Crappie (Report courtesy of Jeff ‘Crappieman’ Albright) — The bite is about to be on fire! I plan on being on the water this Sunday. Water temps are still a little on the cool side (44-47F), but the fish are starting to stage. I believe if you troll flats on the north end of the lake in 10-20 ft of water, you’re going to catch fish. A buddy of mine fished earlier in the week and caught 40 trolling Red Rooster Jigs. Purple, blue and John Deere green jigs are catching fish, but honestly I think this time of the year, color doesn’t seem to matter as much if they are hungry. I normally fish 12-16 rods trolling, but sometimes it can be a little challenging when multiple rods go off at the same time – fun nonetheless! I talked to another angler recently, who reported lots of debris in the water today from the rains, so be careful out there.
Allatoona Lake Levels: Keep track of daily lake level changes HERE.
Hartwell: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is slow. Fronts continue to move across Northeast Georgia keeping the majority of the anglers off of the lake. Use the igging spoons over deep water structure. Up in the river in the coves some are catching small spotted bass on shallow to medium diving crank baits. Most of these bass were around the docks or underneath them. Jigs and worms on the docks also were used to pick up an occasional bass. With the weather still unstable and some drastic changes in the forecast, check the local weather and feeding tables before going out. Rapala DT Flat Baits, Shad Raps along with 1/4 ounce jigs and six inch finesse worms are working in the coves and around those docks.
Lanier Bass (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — To keep a pulse on Lanier’s annual water quality cycle, we collected a few vertical profiles this week and you can find them on Lanier’s Fishing Forecast map (just click the temperature icons and select the February-dated pdf). The cold weather this winter has dropped Lake Lanier’s water temperatures to the upper 40s from surface-to-bottom. In response to bitter cold water temperatures, schools of bait and their pursuing predators are moving deep, and sometimes deeper, as the winter progresses. I spoke with an angler pulling out at a boat ramp near the dam this week, and he shared a successful winter bass fishing tactic: Tie on your favorite ~3 inch swim bait (e.g., a Keitech in Sexy Shad) to a heavier jig head (~3/8 oz), or weight your line with split shot sufficient for a steady fall. Once you’ve marked deep fish, throw a long cast over and beyond them—and then wait. The falling, hatch-matching lure mimics a stunned or dying shad, an easy meal that even a lethargic Lanier spot can’t resist. Using this tactic, my pendulum-fishing acquaintance boated five fish in about 30 minutes, with the kicker being a 4 lb 12 oz stud. Not bad for a Wednesday!
Lake Weiss(Courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) — Bass fishing is fair and very few largemouth are being caught. Little River is still producing some good Spot fishing in the upper part on the old river ledges and the steep rock banks, a drop shot rig with a 4 inch worm or a small craw is working great. Crappie fishing is great. Crappie are starting to stage in the bays and coves on a pre spawn pattern. Long line trolling in 8 to 14 feet of water with Jiffy Jigs in 1/24 ounce in colors JJ08, JJ13, JJ17, JJ20, JJ24, and JJ25 is producing some great Weiss Lake slabs.
West Point Lake (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing has been slow except for some deep fish on old creek bends and road beds down lake. Lots of rain on the way down river will keep it tough until clearing water makes it through the h lake. The south end of the lake has the clearest water right now and the mouths of Maple Creek, Veasy Creek, and Stroud Creek are all good places to fish. The fish are bunched up together in 25 to 30 feet of water and they can be a mix bag of fish vertical jigging on the bottom. Find the fish on the Lowrance depth finder and then vertical jig using a 1/2 to 3/4 ounce spoon.
West Point Crappie GON-tel from Dustin Pate: Check out the news HERE.
West Point Lake Habitat Enhancement (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) — On Monday February 8, 20 long-lasting pallet fish habitats were installed in Stroud and Wehadkee Creeks of West Point Lake. Forty-five large Christmas trees were also added to the exposed lake bottom. This habitat improvement project was done with the cooperation from West Point and Armuchee Fisheries, West Point Game Management, Chattahoochee River Conservancy, Corps of Engineers, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, and local anglers. The addition of physical structure provides critical habitat for various fish species, including largemouth bass. In fact, these sites will provide added nursery habitat in support of our ongoing largemouth bass stocking program. Also, hinge-cut trees and other woody materials have been added to the lake bottom during the winter drawdown.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Report courtesy of Assistant PFA Manager Shawn Lewis) — Rocky PFA staff have been hard at work enhancing existing fish attractor sites or creating new ones on Lake Antioch. A combination of recycled Christmas trees, cedar trees, pallets and plastic fish trees have been deployed this winter. It won’t be long before these new additions begin to hold bass, bream, crappie, catfish and perhaps even walleye. Peaked your interest? Check out the interactive map for attractor locations and to learn more about Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.
North Georgia Farm Ponds (Report courtesy of “Academy” Jack) — Fished for an hour this afternoon on a farm pond in North Georgia. Caught two Largemouth Bass, one was pretty nice and weighed around two pounds. They took a Rapala Rip-Stop 09, which is a great shallow water presentation, as it only dives 2 ft. The bait and Bass in this pond were in shallow, 4 ft of water on the North side of the pond. We had wind from the South, which blew the warmer surface water and bait to the little pocket where I caught the fish.
Fly Fishing for Trout – (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — In case you missed it; Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter. If his prediction is correct, anglers may be combatting high and heavy flows for a while. Using a dropshot style rig will help you to get your nymphs down into the lower section of water column where trout (and other species) will be feeding. Unicoi Outfitters recently uploaded a helpful tutorial on their Facebook page. Check it out and give it a try! If you feel as though this rig is an abomination to cast, I assure you, you’re not alone; I encourage you to just keep practicing as the technique will certainly produce fish. As Helen Keller once wrote, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
General North Georgia Delayed Harvest (Report courtesy of Trout Stocking Coordinator John Lee Thomson) — Trout anglers can check out the weekly stocking location report HERE. Remember the Delayed Harvest areas are artificial lure only and catch and release. Good luck.
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 Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Spring-spawning fish are moving toward the hill, and the colder weather is not holding them back much. Some good crappie and bass catches were made this week. The new doses of rain kept the rivers high, and even the St Marys is booming again.
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.
Christian Jones headed out to try to catch a couple crappie with minnows on Sunday, but ended up catching the new state record hickory shad instead. His 2-lb, 3-oz record eclipsed the old record by a few ounces. Congratulations, Christian!
Todd Kennedy headed to his favorite big-fish pond again this past weekend and caught 20 bass (most in the 3 to 5 pound range) and pulled off a big fish in the 8 to 9-pound range. Plastics were the key on that trip. He and a friend made another trip to a pond and caught 60 bass and 30 crappie and bream. On that trip they used green hued TRD big ned rigs and Texas-rigged lizards for their bass catch. They had 10 fish over 5 pounds, with their biggest at 8 pounds. They also lost another 8-pound class fish. The bass bite is on! Matt Rouse went to a pond this week flinging a white Satilla Spin for crappie and bluegills, but he managed to catch a really nice 5-pound class channel catfish. I talked with another angler who hooked some nice bass this weekend but wasn’t able to land any of the 4 lunkers that ate his offering. Crappie fishing around Waycross was ok but not on fire by most reports I received. Anglers caught a few fish between the cold fronts.
The flier bite has been great the last couple weeks. Carlton and Mike Paulk fished out of the Folkston entrance in the cold drizzle on Saturday and caught 15 really nice fliers by pitching sallies. They caught all but one of them on yellow sallies That oddball ate a pink sally. Ms. Roberta fished the boat basin at Folkston on Friday morning and caught some really nice bluegills on worms. This is the time of year to catch the big female fliers while they are still pre-spawn. Try to catch a warm spell and head to the swamp with your bream buster and some sallies. I’ve done best by fishing the day when a cold front is approaching. The latest water level was 120.9 feet.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
Crappie and bass fishing have been solid on the area. A regular angler on the area fished Thursday and landed and released over a dozen bass on crankbaits and shaky-head plastic worms. His biggest 5 bass weighed 21 pounds. Stephen Beaman and a friend fished Thursday and caught some whopper crappie and a nice bass. They fished the shoreline trees to no avail, but found some feeding fish on windblown banks during the mid-afternoon. Keitech 3-inch Swing Impact swimbaits on 1/8-oz. Capt. Bert’s Bugeye Jigheads fooled all of their fish. They ended up catching 8 crappie to 1 1/2 pounds (15 inches) and 7 bass up to 3 1/2 pounds. Their 2 best colors of swimbaits were Tennessee shad and smoke-silver flake. The fish didn’t want the bright colors that day.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
Andrew Laney fished Tuesday from his kayak and had 11 slab crappie between 1.6 and 2.2 pounds. He also landed an 8 1/2-pound bass on his crappie gear with 4-pound test. I’m not sure what he was using (probably artificials since it was from his kayak), but he uses both minnows and jigs. A Waycross angler fished the area on Thursday and caught 4 bass by flipping shallow cover with plastics. All of his fish were on the small side. Wildlife Resources Division staff continued their population check at the area and electrofished (and released) a 12-lb., 12-oz bass and several others over 10 pounds. If you want to catch a trophy bass, this is a great place to fish. Remember, bass are catch-and-release only at the area.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Freshwater fishing has been so good that most folks who report to me opted for that rather than the wind and rain in saltwater. Dillard Winters and Wendell Stone fished around Brunswick this weekend and caught 14 trout, 2 oversized redfish (to 31 inches). A few of their fish ate live shrimp, but most were on plastics. 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.