I don’t know about you, but yesterday’s weather made me long for spring time – and it is coming, I know! The sunshine and warm temps enticed me to take some extra outdoors time and that made me feel like it was good for the soul and the mind. Does being outside transform your outlook?
NEWS TO KNOW
- Closure Info: On the days/weeks when the weather might have been extreme (lots of rain, freezing temps, etc.), always a good idea to check that an area is open before you plan to visit. Find area and boat ramp closure info HERE.
- Proceed With Caution: Don’t go beyond your limits. When you do, it sometimes results in a scary situation (such as these young kayakers found out) for you, others, and then potentially law enforcement and additional agencies who may have to come to your aid. Know the area you are in, be sure you are fully prepared for any weather or water conditions, and make sure someone knows where you are and what time to expect your return. Oh, and always wear a life jacket on the water!
This week we have reports from Central, Southeast and North Georgia. Get outside, breathe deeply (before the pollen gets too bad -ahhhhchoo), 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 .52 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. Water temperatures are holding steady and cold fronts continue to move through one after the other. Finding the best time to head out fishing will depend on the wind, so be sure to check those feeding tables before heading out. The spotted bass are still biting those finesse worms and crank baits. Fish the windblown rocky points and up in the Rocky River. Stay with the wind when fishing for the best results. Also fish the 3/8-ounce jig in the deeper water through the stumps and over the rocks in fifteen to twenty feet of water. Some of the bass being caught had been feeding on crawfish and most of them had fat bellies that were full of bait fish. The weather is changing, and warmer days are on their way. The fish want to eat, and they are searching for small schools of bait fish in any size. Do not miss the small cuts and very small flat areas while fishing. Isolated bass in the three to four-pound range are being caught in seven to eight feet of water.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 1.0 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. Small schools of bait fish can be seen throughout the Lake and especially on the warmer and sunny days. The afternoon bite has been the best as the water tends to warm up a degree to two by that time. The river bass are still hitting crank baits, worms, and jigs. Feeding times have been variable the past couple of days and the bass are scattered about the lake. A slow presentation along with downsizing baits and line is always a must during the cold winter months. A drop shot rig with small baits is a good choice to use this week. Medium diving crank baits and a lighter than normal Carolina Rig is fair on the edge of the ledges. Work crank baits later in the day with a slow retrieve and work rocks. Find the fish on the Lowrance Down Scan technology and use Fish Reveal 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
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. Fishing has started to pick up some. Look for any rip rap rock that the sun has been shinning on, as this area of water will be warmer by a degree or two and should be holding a few fish. The rocks on the Sugar Creek Bridge or the Hwy 44 bridges is a great place to start. Use small crank baits like a ¼ ounce Rat L Trap in chrome/back or a number 5 Shad Rap in the silver color. Another good bait is a spinnerbait in white and chartreuse with one silver and one gold blade. The Richland Creek area is been a real good area to spend some time in. The water in this area is a little more stable with the weather changes. When we have a couple of warm days in a row look for the fish to be on points leading into main lake coves around the lake. Fish are holding there until they move into spawn.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. The better fish are being caught in the coves off the main lake north of Sugar Creek. A dark color jig tipped with a minnow is working best. Richland Creek is also holding a few fish in the channel just south of Granite Shoals Marina. The fish have been holding in 15 to 20 foot of water.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 6.8 FEET CLEAR 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Secondary points are the best pattern and shallow to medium diving crank baits will work. There are plenty of these good secondary points all over the lake and the better ones to fish will be the ones with rock and grass on them. Number five Shad Raps along with a DT6 are good choices. As a reminder, there are lots of spotted bass in the lake and they like a little smaller profile in all their baits. A Fat Albert all white or root beer pepper green by Zoom on a ½ ounce lead head jig on the new Berkley Fire Line Crystal will work especially well on rocks anywhere on the lake. The bigger bass last week seemed to want the small cranks and some good fish are starting to show up on the rip rap. The sun should shine this weekend and the rip rap at the bridges just might be worth checking out with the Rapala RS Shad Raps and the Rapala DT10. Also use a weightless Senko in June bug on 10-pound test Sufix elite clear line on a spinning reel. Fish on any wood on the banks in the back of the mid-lake creeks.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS FULL, STAINED 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Lake Sinclair is stained with surface temperatures ranging from 47 to 50. The largemouth bass bite has improved from very tough to tough. Small crank baits like Rapala #5 Shad Raps and Bomber Flat A still will catch a few fish. Fish these on a slow stop and go retrieve around boat docks, sea walls, grass lines and shallow ditches from Crooked Creek to Rooty Creek. Pitch a 1/8-ounce jig head with a Zoom black trick worm around main lake docks. Fish it super slow by dragging it a few inches at a time, letting it set from five to ten seconds next to dock posts. Mid-day start fishing a spinnerbait with a single Colorado on a lift and fall retrieve. This pattern can catch some of the bigger fish. The best color patterns are gold blades with chartreuse and white skirts in stained to muddy water.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN 1.2 FEET, CLEAR 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. Many of the bass are holding around 10 feet and deeper. The bass can be slow to move up and bite. It may be worth the time to search shallow rocky areas with crank baits if the sun is shining. Use a relatively slow retrieve. Cranking rocky features is a classic winter pattern for catching the spots that have moved up to hold near sun warmed rocks. A craw-colored Shad Rap will be hard to beat. Pound the rocky areas and try to cover water when looking for active fish. Search all over rocky points and try quartering steeper rocky banks with your cast. Make sure you work the bait well up shallow and into deeper water. Quartering the bank with your cast will help you keep the crank bait in contact with the bottom throughout more of your retrieve. Bottom contact is key. Don’t forget to pause your retrieve frequently, especially after you have bumped a rock or cover with the bait. Fire tiger can also be a good color.
FLAT CREEK PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 51.4˚ F (10.8˚ C)
- Water Level: Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 20”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
We had about 6.5” rain during February that has brought the lake up to full pool at Flat Creek. The cold rains and cooler temperatures has the lake colder for this time of year than it has been in the past few years The lake is also a bit on the muddy side, We have seen a bit of pre-spawning activity out of the bass before the latest cold rains, but with the warmer days ahead the bass should be moving back into the shallow areas. Anglers have also reported catching a few bass with reports of some 7-9 lb. fish caught. Although we had some warmer days the water has remained chilled and the fish bite has still been light. The crappie fishermen have been catching fish mostly trolling and have picked up some nice crappie, but the numbers have been low. The lights on the fishing pier have been repaired and the night fishing has picked up with mixed catches of crappie, bream, bass, and a few catfish.
Bass: – Minnows fished from the fish pier and around cover from the bank have produced fair catches of smaller fish. The boat anglers have reported that the bass are currently biting. crankbaits, worms, and jigs. Also, white Zoom Flukes, Z-man chatter jigs, white thunder cricket jigs and bass pro ribbon tail worms have caught a few fish.
Bream: – Worms fished on the bottom or around structure.
Crappie: – Crappie fishing has been fair using minnows but trolling and casting jigs to fish attractors and cover seems to produce the best catches.
Channel Catfish: – Chicken livers, red wigglers, and some on stink bait.
MARBEN PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Clarity: Mostly clear but rain dependent
- Surface Temperature: Mid 50’s and rising.
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: The bass are starting to feed heavily on shad out deep and shallow. Choose a lure that mimics shad, especially when you see activity. Remember your lure or bait is one in a million when fishing for bass that are feeding on schooling shad so every now and then try something different like rubber flukes, jerk baits, and shallow running crank baits.
Crappie: The crappie bite is on. We have had several reports of crappie 2 lbs. and larger from Margery. Jigs tipped with minnows are the go-to but a jig without a minnow will also work. Fish brush that is in 2’-4’ of water. Suspend your jig or bait under a float. Make sure you are adjusting your float and trying to find what depth the crappie are located. Remember crappie feed up so if you present your bait below a suspended school your chance of success is slim. Also try different angles – cast from different places to the same spot, retrieving your bait in a different direction.
Bream: A few shellcracker have been caught on the bottom but the bream bite is typically slow at the beginning of March and improves as the water warms. Live worms are your best bet for bluegill and shellcracker.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The weather has been absolutely beautiful this week, and the bite has improved, as well.
Forget about the rivers this week – they’re screaming!
Full Moon is February 27th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.
On Sunday, an angler fished a Blackshear area pond and caught 5 bass up to 16 inches on sherbet-colored stick worms. The males were starting to push shallow during his trip. A group of 5 anglers fished a Wayne County pond on Wednesday and caught around 100 crappie. They fished from the bank with plastics rigged on Flashy Jigheads and plain spring lock jigheads with Gamakatsu hooks. Their best plastics were blue-silver curly-tails and chartreuse 2-inch Keitech swimbaits.
This warming trend is exactly what was needed to spur the swamp bite, even with the high water. Often, the bite is put off a week or so when the water level rises quickly, but the fliers are still biting this week. Carlton Paulk and three of his brothers fished the east side on Saturday before the warmup and landed 63 fliers up to about 10 inches. They pitched yellow sallies and red wigglers (unweighted) for their catch. They fished both offerings under a float. You may be able to fool a chain pickerel (jackfish) with an in-line spinner or minnow plug on a warm afternoon. The latest water level was 121.2 feet.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
An angler caught a 7-lb., 10-oz. hybrid striped bass while targeting crappie with minnows on Thursday. What a fish! The best populations of hybrids on the area reside in Lakes Bobben, Russell, and Beaver. The crappie fishing and bass fishing picked up this week with the warming water. Expect the bass fishing to be solid this weekend when the males push shallow. Females won’t be far behind, but you can probably catch the bigger females a little off the bank when they are not in the shallows.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Dillard Winters and a friend fished the Brunswick area on Thursday and landed 6 nice redfish up to about 30 inches. They caught their fish on artificial crab imitations. Jay Turner caught a cooler-full of sheepshead using fiddlers on Thursday in the Savannah area. Sheepshead were caught around rocks and pilings this week in the Brunswick and St Marys areas, also. The whiting bite should not be far off if the warmth continues. 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 Hunter Roop, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
After a couple months of undeniable winter weather, the recent respite of radiating warmth is a long-awaited change of scenery. True to form, anglers here in North Georgia have scratched their itch to challenge Punxsutawney Phil’s seemingly dubious prognostication, and they are testing the chilly but warming waters for signs of an early spring bite. I tried my luck on a small, stained pond over the weekend, and reeled in my first fish of 2021: a feisty but slightly underwhelming 12″ Largemouth unable to resist the allure of a slowly worked, Ned-rigged Coppertreuse finesse worm–I’ll take it. This time of year, anglers are on alert for early buddings and blooms, but not the romantic rosy reds and pinks of February; I’m talking about the Daffodil yellows, Wisteria purples, and Dogwood whites that serve as spring sentinels of fishing mania on the horizon. As the early reports are starting to trickle in, make sure your fishing arsenal is ready to go with fresh line, unpackaged lures, and sharpened hooks so you can make every minute on the water count. As WRD Fisheries staff in North Georgia have been gearing up for spring sampling that will begin next month, we’ve been tracking still cold, but warming, water temps that are steadily approaching the magical 50-degree mark. All we need is a week or two more of weather like this weekend’s forecast, and it will “game on.” Until then, we hope you roll the dice and get out on the water this weekend, because as the old saying goes: the early bird gets the worm! More annelid intel awaits you precocious passerines, below.
Reservoir reports are brought to you by Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant & others as specified below
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 6.8 FEET CLEAR 50S
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair. Secondary points are the best pattern and shallow to medium diving crank baits will work. There are plenty of these good secondary points all over the lake and the better ones to fish will be the ones with rock and grass on them. Number five Shad Raps along with a DT6 are good choices. As a reminder, there are lots of spotted bass in the lake and them like a little smaller profile in all their baits. A Fat Albert all white or root beer pepper green by Zoom on a ½ ounce lead head jig on the new Berkley Fire Line Crystal will work especially well on rocks anywhere on the lake. The bigger bass last week seemed to want the small cranks and some good fish are starting to show up on the rip rap. The sun should shine this weekend and the rip rap at the bridges just might be worth checking out with the Rapala RS Shad Raps and the Rapala DT10. Also use a weightless Senko in June bug on 10 pound test Sufix elite clear line on a spinning reel. Fish on any wood on the banks in the back of the mid lake creeks.
- Mixed Bag (Report Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) Anglers have reported an increase in crappie activity during the latest warming trend. Crappie fishing has definitely been a mixed bag trying to get the correct depth and bait. Largemouth and spotted bass fishing is still slow, but a few larger fish have been caught. Finally, water levels have increased slightly over the last week, but many shallow water hazards are still exposed especially in the upper end of the lake.
WEISS LAKE IS AT 3 FEET 3 INCHES BELOW FULL POOL AND CLEAR AND 42-44 DEGREE’S
- Bass (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Service markcollins service.com256-779-3387): Bass fishing is fair. Most of our 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. These are off shore structure for Bass and they are biting small crank baits in shad and baby bass.
- GON-tell: GON subscribers will be interested in this Weiss bass pre-spawn tactics and fishing locations article.
- Crappie (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Service markcollins service.com 256-779-3387) : Crappie fishing is good. They are being caught long line trolling, with Jiffy Jigs, JJ13,JJ17 and JJ20 are the colors that have been catching fish for me, they are suspended in the river and creek channels 7-10 feet deep, some fish are starting to move into the spawning bays. Some fish are still being caught spider rigging, with minnows, on the river channel ledges.
LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN .52 FEET, 50S
Bass: Bass fishing is slow. Water temperatures are holding steady and cold fronts continue to move through one after the other. Finding the best time to head out fishing will depend on the wind, so be sure to check those feeding tables before heading out. The Spotted Bass are still biting those finesse worms and crank baits. Fish the wind blown rocky points and up in the Rocky River. Stay with the wind when fishing for the best results. Also fish the 3/8 ounce jig in the deeper water through the stumps and over the rocks in fifteen to twenty feet of water. Some of the bass being caught had been feeding on crawfish and most of them had fat bellies that were full of bait fish. The weather is changing and warmer days are on their way. The fish want to eat and they are searching for small schools of bait fish in any size. Don’t miss the small cuts and very small flat areas while fishing. Isolated bass in the three to four pound range are being caught in seven to eight feet of water.
LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 1.8 FEET 40S
Bass: Bass fishing is fair. Another day of rain and another cold front came through this week. More rain fell on the northern part of the Tugaloo River at the first part of the week and even more down toward the dam. The Shad Raps are working on the points along with the Rapala DT10 and jerk baits. The Lowrance Structure Scan Down Scan new 3D technology can eliminate a tons of water to find the bait, the structure and the bass. Color depends on where you fish and the clarity of the water. Jigs and Carolina rigs are also working in and around structure. Let us not forget about the deep water docks and those jigs and Texas rigged worms. Try the Alabama rig in the cuts and bowls between two points.
LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 10.8 FEET, CLEAR 50S
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair. The fish are hungry but catching has become a challenge. Find any warmer water use a ¼ ounce Rat L Trap in Fire Tiger or Crawdad colors. Second choice, keep throwing the jigs. Green pumpkin jigs with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer in Root beer green pepper. Pitch it to shallow cover with a Stanley jig in ¼ or 3/16 ounce and use 10 pound test Sufix line on a spinning rod. Concentrate on whatever brush you can find from 2 to 10 feet. The hot colors have been the watermelon, watermelon gold and green pumpkin. Use a Jr. sized trailer on the mini jigs. The spots are after shad schools and that means Shad Raps. Best bet is to fish the NW side of the flats as they tend to warm up first. Rip raps are also producing some fish as well with small cranks like small Rat L Traps and Bandits in any color as long as it is pearl white. Start at the mouths of creeks and pockets and work to the back. Use the same ¼ ounce mini jig with a matching Zoom trailer and be sure it looks a lot like green pumpkin.
- GON-tel:‘Toona Hybrids
LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 1.09 FEET, CLEAR, CREEKS STAINED, 40S
- Bass: Bass fishing is still tough but warm weather is on the way. Spots are deep-water fish in cold weather, and 40 feet is not uncommon. So look for the better fish on deep points, main lake humps, and ditches of the last deep water going up into coves. Areas where there are brush piles and bait in about 25 to 40 feet of water are best. Try jigging with a small spoon or blade style bait with a small profile and a slow flutter. The points in Shady Grove Park and main lake marker #7 have been holding spots all day. But be sure to get out to 30 feet on any location before looking for the fish. Many fish are dead on the bottom and a spoon or a Shakey Head dropped to them will get them up off the bottom. Use a small Flex It and Silver Buddy Cicada type bait in the ¼ and 1/2 ounce sizes. Use the white or silver color on a sunny day and a gold or solid white on a cloudier day. On sunny days, some fish are being taken on deep rocky banks out of the wind on suspended jerk baits. Use Strom Suspend style baits in silver and blue or an orange and copper color. Also use a Zoom finesse worm rigged on a 3/16 ounce round plain jig head. Use the green pumpkin and natural blue colors. Spots will get moving soon and look to any area that will warm the quickest. Pick sun baked early morning pocket like the ones in the mouth of any down lake creek. Sand and rock areas out of the wind with stagnant water that has no wind blowing into it are the better areas. In the back of Shoal Creek right across from the ramp are a set of points and banks that warm during the afternoon. After mid day, get to areas like this one with warming water, Try a 1/8 ounce plain lead head and half a live night crawler on a spinning reel and 8 pound test Sufix Elite line on points and deep double wide docks in the middle of the creeks. Look in the pocket at the old Lanier Harbor and fish these small pockets also.
- Bass (This report courtesy of Captain Mack Farr’s Lake Lanier Fishing Report): The Bass bite is still pretty good, the difficulty is dealing with the changing water conditions and fish movement. There are many patterns producing, and also many baits that are effective. The deeper patterns I think offer more consistency, particularly after last weeks inconsistent weather. Look for the pre-spawn bite to ramp up with the improving weather, and the shallow patterns that really were starting to develop should become reenergized. Fish moving into the creek backs, up on clay banks and points should respond quickly to the Rock Crawlers and Rapala DT’s, along with spinnerbaits and jerk baits. Until then, deep brush, rock bluffs, rocky points, ditches and drains are all likely areas to target. The depth range is also wide, 20 to 40 feet, so try and narrow that down as your day progresses. One of last week’s patterns, fishing the creek backs, drains and ditches is still a productive pattern. The ditches and drains may be the best choice, because they do not get the influx of new water like the creek channels. The fish on these structures may also be using a big depth range, but generally moving into the shallow end of that range early, getting deeper as the day progresses. Cast green and brown pattern jigs with Hula grubs or twin tails, the smaller Keitechs on a lead heads, or the worms on a Shakey Head. Super Spoons also remain productive on the deeper fish, especially in areas where the bait is layered up on the bottom. Our best bite may arguably be fishing after dark. Lights, both submerged and above water lights, are holding some good numbers of fish with some big fish, both Largemouths and Spots. The night bite is not limited to fishing lights, with some fish roaming around points and reef poles. With improving weather, night fishing may be more appealing, and the full moon may also benefit this pattern as well. Flukes, small buck tails, and Keitechs on the lead heads are effective on the lights, as are pitching live Herring. Jerk baits and crank baits are effective on the points and reef poles. As a bonus, you’ll probably get some Stripers off the lights to help keep you awake.
- Crappie (courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton call to book a trip 770 530 6493): Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures are in the low to mid 40s. The hot bite target zone is 12 to 15 feet deep. The crappie are getting fat. The crappie are on the docks and when you find them they are loaded. The bite still is supper soft keep your pole in your hands and fill for the slightest bump. 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. Remember crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows of a dock. Try down lining a Crappie minnows with a sinker or set up a slip bobber. Jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting. If you are not dock shooting right now you are missing out on some slabs (let your jig sink give it time). This week jigs was 50/50 minnows to jigs. The most productive jig color has been amber but with all the rain we have had try using dark colors in stained waters. I’m using ATX lure companies plastics on k9 5-lb. test high-visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on a light action 5’ B&M rod. I use Garmin LiveScope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my page @crappieonlanier.
- Stripers(This report courtesy of Captain Mack Farr’s Lake Lanier Fishing Report ): After a brief glimpse of spring, last week’s cool down squelched some of the activity in the backs of the creeks. I think those patterns will reemerge soon with the pending weather forecast. The stained water in the rivers and creek backs should warm quickly, attracting the bait and the gamefish right behind them. Until then, many of the Stripers are still in the creeks around the bait schools, over a 30 to 70 foot bottom, basically the same patterns/places we have utilized for several weeks now. Use the mud lines where applicable, the activity will often be best around the color change is most pronounced. Of course the smaller creeks, and the coves that did not experience an influx of new water will remain stable and fish in those areas are probably still hanging around. A mix of free lines, down lines, and planer boards will still be applicable, and a little weight on the planers and free lines has been a plus. Keeping a Mini Mack in the spread is also beneficial, either as a flat line or behind the Perfect Planer. Herring, Trout, Shad and Shiners have all been productive, and give the Stripers a mix until you see a preference. Don’t rule out using spoons and dead sticking jigs to catch these deeper fish, both of these techniques should remain viable methods for a last a couple more weeks. You will have plenty of stained water areas to fish, and you may be able to use this to your advantage. This stained water will often warm quickly and the Stripers are not hesitant to venture into the of colored water. Basically, if the bait is there the Stripers will likely be there as well. I think that the fish in the stained water are often easier to catch, especially with artificials. Casting a bait to the banks while you are pulling the live baits will often be very productive. Small jigs, 3/8 1/4 and 1/2 oz, Flukes on a lead head, flukes on a weighted keel hook are also excellent choices.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN PUBLIC FISHING AREA
(This report courtesy of Rocky Mountain PFA manager Dennis Shiley) — Some good-sized largemouth are being caught at RMPFA if you look in the right places. The Shad have moved up into 20 -25 feet of water and are being lethargically chased by the bass. Fish the schools of shad from top to bottom and/or use your electronics to find the schools that are actively being pursued by the Largemouth. The Largemouth have been seen schooling in groups of 20 to 30 fish but are very reluctant to bite. Be patient, throw something that will match the baitfish. Swimbaits, Under spins, spoons and Umbrella Rigs have all been producing at certain times. The thing to keep in mind is that with water in the mid 40’s don’t put your mind on catching a bunch, just be ready for the PB to get on your line. Dennis caught a 7.62 lb Largemouth on Antioch recently (see image to the right)! Some Crappie are being caught in 30+ ft of water, they are still schooled close to the bottom and can be found with electronics.
Chattahoochee Headwaters (courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop): This week, Gainesville Fisheries staffers Mark Rigglesford and Hunter Roop sampled walleye on the Chattahoochee River above Mud Creek in anticipation of upcoming broodstock collections. While our catch rate for walleye doubled that of our early-February reconnaissance sample, overall numbers were relatively low and all fish surveyed were male, indicating the walleye spawn is drawing near but nowhere near its typical mid-March peak. Despite the recent rain, the river was running low (~1,100 cfs), cold (45 F) and clear, a welcome contrast to river conditions over the last two years. A couple of tips for anglers targeting walleye this spring–fish the major tributaries just downstream and upstream of shoal complexes over gravel bars, boulder runs, and don’t forget to hit the creek mouths! A number of presentations can be effective (e.g., a night crawler/drop shot set up, live herring weighted to the bottom, suspending jerk baits, or shallow-diving crankbaits), but the key is get your presentation right in front of the fish’s mouth. A walleye taking your bait is reactive and subtle, especially this time of year, as their main mission is to spawn. Allowing your subsurface presentation to drift down river looks like an easy meal for a walleye, and this will help you cover water and increase your chances of hooking up. Lastly, plan to bring a flashlight with you as walleye feeding activity peaks in low light conditions, which means sunset if you’re like me (not a morning person).
Coosa White Bass Report (courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist John Damer): WRD staff from Armuchee were electrofishing on the Coosa River this week in search of white bass. It is still early, but we are seeing encouraging numbers of fish for this time of year. We expect the 2021 run will be a good one, as long as the weather cooperates. We found good numbers of fish in the creek mouths, where water temps are often a bit higher than the main river. But, fish were surprisingly abundant in the main river as well. We hit several schools in the mainstem that turned the river white with floating white bass. Not many boats out there right now, but we expect that will change soon. The incoming rain may make fishing tough but could also draw more white bass upstream into the spawning grounds. If the rain isn’t too bad it might be worth a try this weekend before the next big rain event on Sunday night.
GON-tel: As the Coosa & neighboring waters warm, follow this thread to track the white bass bite.
Baker’s Blueline Report (courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker): Thursday’s sunshine made me very eager for spring; I know it’s just around the corner, but we’ve still got a few weeks to go. With the forecasted rain, be sure to stay safe and be alert to road conditions/closures; Small streams might be your best bets this upcoming week. Headwaters will be clear but high–watch the gauges! I’ve stuck to weighted squirmy wormy flies which have produced several little wild rainbows. Pack your raincoat.
High/Dry Noon Trouting (courtesy of “Sautee” via UO’s Dredger): In case you missed the postscript, abundant noon rays in our mountain streams are stimulating hatches and a strengthening dry fly bite. Dredger reports on the UO Facebook page: “Sautee slayed the little headwater bows yesterday afternoon (23rd). Most rose to his dries! Burn a vacation day and catch these sunny rays right now. Key color is gray for both the caddis and the mayflies.” And, if you’re into experimenting in the sun with your fly selection, Dredger’s March fly fishing tips can help (from Rabun TU’s Secrets of the Rabunites) – see below:
March: “Big, cold, and slow” Let’s do lunch: midday sun’s warmth Dries: Parachutes, not Catskill style, so the body lies in the surface film Color themes: gray or brown 14 adams – great searcher!!! 16, 18 gray caddis 14 quill gordon 14 march brown 18 blue quill 12, 14 yellow stimulator Wets: Big hares ear- 12, 14 14-18 soft hackle hares ear, pheasant tail Euro nymphs- 14 walts worm, frenchie will sink deep due to tungsten head Two story fishing: A) Short leader (7ft 4x) B) Long dropper with shot (4-6 feet of 4 or 5x with one or two #6 dinsmores) Short Belgian cast- open loop Dredge the dry (add a big shot above the dropper), then shake it off End with a swing, so your dropper looks like an emerger.
Damer’s Wild Trout Stream Report (courtesy of WRD Fisheries Biologist John Damer): I snuck away mid-week (before the rain) to my favorite wild trout stream. The water temp was 48-degrees on arrival around 11am, and the fish were slow to hit my dries. But with air temps in the upper 60s, it didn’t take long for the water to warm up. Once the water reached that magic 50-degree mark about 12:30, it was game on. I caught around a dozen fish, all on a #14 caddis dry. The fish were surprisingly spooky, since it is so early in the season and they likely have not had much pressure over the winter. Long leaders tapering to 5x tippet were critical, along with stealth.
Chattahoochee Tailwater (courtesy of River Through Atlanta’s Chris Scalley): Scalley reports Lanier tailwater’s brown trout are sipping and splashing down at the bug factory, and based on the accompanying photo, their condition is looking great! Chris says, “Check out the bug hatches! Anglers should be observant of sudden surface rises by trout taking aquatic insects on the surface. If you’re lucky enough to spot and I.D. the species of insect hatching and emerging, you could lay into a good one on a dry fly! Look for either little winter stoneflys or caddis both in sizes #14 down to a #18. Try to match size, profile, and coloration for best results.”
Spring Break-Out (courtesy of UO’s Dredger): Dredger prefaces his beefy report with “Welcome to ‘Spring Break-Out.’ This is what we’ve been waiting for! Sunny days in the 60’s will push water temperatures above the magic 50-degree mark, triggering midday bug activity and trout gluttony. It happened a few days last week and will repeat in the weeks ahead. We just have to deal with March’s weather yo-yo’s and hit the warm days when stream-flows aren’t too high and muddy from frequent rains…” The rest of the report is chock-full of fly flinging fodder, from high headwaters to reservoir bassin’, read on at the UO Facebook page .
Less is more: We all know by now proper social distancing means a minimum of 6 feet, but are there similar standards for casting. Check out this great read on proper distancing while drifting by Domenick Swentosky, which should help you fine-tune your drift this spring: The Case for Shorter Casts.
Wildcat Closure: The US Forest Service announced yesterday that the road to Wildcat Creek has yet again been affected by the recent rains, but it is still open to foot traffic. Check the USFS Facebook page for updates and links to the Forest Service Road Closure webpage.
Burton Renovation Update (courtesy of WRD Trout Stocking Coordinator John Lee Thomson): With the warm dry weather this week there was great progress on the Lake Burton Trout Hatchery renovation. Power was turned on to all the buildings and oxygen lines were installed. The oxygen lines are a great facility improvement. They will connect a bulk liquid oxygen tank to low head oxygen units located in the raceways. These low head oxygen units will allow us to increase the dissolved oxygen levels in the water, thus promoting better fish health and improved growth! We are hopeful that this hatchery will come back online by the end of March.