As always, if you can get outside to fish this coming week….do it. But, you may need to start stocking up and taking those allergy tablets. Ahhh-chooo! Here is a nice quote to remind us how fortunate we are when we get to fish:
“I’ve gone fishing thousands of times in my life, and I have never once felt unlucky or poorly paid for those hours on the water.” William Tapply
NEWS TO KNOW
- Trout Harvest Time at the Go Fish Education Center: Whether you’re new to fishing or an experienced angler, bring a friend and enjoy this unique opportunity to catch trout in middle Georgia. More info HERE.
- Fishing Forecasts: WRD staff have updated the fishing forecasts for 32 Georgia reservoirs and 18 rivers, and they all are available HERE.
- Zebra Mussels: Aquarium owners – please continue to beware that zebra mussels (a terribly destructive invasive species) have been found in products sold in pet stores (in person and online). More info HERE.
This week we have fishing reports from Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Pack the tissues (or nose-blowing towel), take the allergy meds, grab the fishing pole and bait and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Bass and crappie are moving shallow to spawn, and lakes and ponds are the place to be this weekend.
Teddy Elrod fished with a friend on Wednesday morning in a Brunswick area pond and caught 12 bass up to 4 pounds. They caught all of their fish on wacky-rigged stick worms and Texas-rigged Keitech Mad Wag Worms and Crazy Flappers. The 3 colors that produced were junebug, green pumpkin candy, and watermelon. Crappie reports were good from Waycross area ponds. A few catfish were caught by anglers putting livers and worms on the bottom. Tom and Thomas Katzenbach from Connecticut fished a Brunswick area pond on Friday and caught 32 channel catfish up to 3 pounds on cut bluegill and squid fished on Catfish Catcher Jigheads. Thomas had the catch of the week – a 5-pound bass that inhaled a strip of squid fished on the Catfish Catcher. Anglers putting shrimp on the bottom in the creeks around Waycross caught some bullhead catfish.
Reports were mixed this week. One group traveled to fish the swamp and went right after the big rains. They only caught one flier. But, Okefenokee Adventures staff said that an angler reported catching a couple dozen warmouth. So, it matters if you’re familiar with fishing the swamp. If you are in the right spot doing the right thing, the fish are biting. I’m usually pitching a sally (pink or yellow) for fliers or casting in-line spinners for pickerel and bowfin this time of year. The west side is very high water and is flowing really fast, so factor that into your plans. If you fish the west side, walking around the boat basin and pitching lures for fliers and warmouth would be your best bet. Or, you could put a piece of shrimp on the bottom for catfish. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.2 feet.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
The current PFA bass record holder (Orville Newlin from Bonaire) fished the area on Saturday and had a great trip. His biggest bass was 9.88 pounds, and his biggest 5 fish weighed 27.88 pounds. Crappie are near the hill spawning right now. Remember that bass fishing at the area is catch-and-release only.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
On Thursday, Nate O’Brien fished on the area and caught a 5-lb., 11-oz. and 6-lb., 8-oz. bass along with several 3-5 pound fish. Some crappie and bass were caught around the area, and the bluegill have started moving shallow and feeding, as well. Staff sampled a few of the ponds this week with electrofishing and collected, measured, and released a good number of bass and crappie that had moved shallow. The biggest bass they saw was a 10.16-pound whopper. Most bass are still pre-spawn, but a few have spawned. You should find bass and crappie in all stages of the spawn this weekend.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
I didn’t talk with anyone who chased trout or redfish again this week. A few folks had decent sheepshead trips and a couple people reported catching some whiting inshore. 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 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 1.3 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are moving to the points and creek bends all over the lake. They are roaming on any wood all day and a crank bait cast through the wood will draw a strike. Use a bright color. The full moon is March 28. By noon, spinner baits down lake in the creeks are fair on cover using Lucky Craft Redemption spinner baits with two silver blades. Later in the day, look for shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day. The Zoom watermelon seed lizards on a Carolina rig, has been fair later each day. Also, on creeks on old channels, use a Culprit red shad worm on a Texas rig with the brass and glass combination. Work baits right on the bank around any cover. Use the Strike King 1/2-ounce jig and a #11 Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the points. The crank bait and spinner baits cast on the bank cover and slowly worked will get strikes.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN .84 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Bass are shallow and feeding well. The full moon is March 28. This month take several items to fish with. Use Carolina rigged worms and lizards, shaky head worms and jig ’n pigs. All of these will produce fish. Megabass Great Hunting Series has the GH Humpback available in 3 sizes and is an exceptional bait for any application but excels in any current situation. It has a weighted system to get the long casts but to get the bait deeper for better penetration in the water column. Big numbers will be caught on soft plastics, but quality will be caught on spinnerbaits and jig ’n pig patterns. The Alabama rig, the Rapala DT crank baits, and the spinner baits that all run from 2 to 7 feet are a must. The type and kind are not as important as finding the bass with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology. Use bright colors in stained water and natural colors in clear water. The spinnerbait pattern should be good this month, also. Slow roll the bait this month until they begin to spawn, and then move shallow and speed up. Soft plastics will be good baits starting this month.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Use a light Texas rig on the rock and red clay points with a Zoom finesse green pumpkin worm. For the rest of this week use dark June bug, natural blue and gourd green worms in the Zoom u tail style as well as the jig and pig combinations. The full moon is March 28. Try the Alabama rig with some swim baits up the lake for the schooling bass in the pockets. Daiwa has the petite SC Shad and shad style crank bait with a great wobble and looks like a Shad Rap body. It is 2 inches long and 1/8 ounce and mimics the shad. Comes with VMC super sharp hooks so beware. Several great colors too. The Texas rigged worm and a 3/16-ounce weight cast onto the banks and around docks in the creeks will get a hungry bass to strike. With the water temperatures warming, spinner baits and bright crank baits are also good baits. Use bright crawfish and fire tiger crank baits in the Bomber Model A styles.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 5.9 FEET, CLEAR 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Fishing has gotten better as the week progressed. With such fluctuating conditions the best bites have come from covering water with lipless crank baits and medium running crank baits. Fish are scattered in multiple depths right now from three to eight feet of water. Keep the boat in ten feet of water throwing as shallow as possible working the bait slowly back to the boat working as many pockets as possible mid lake. Our best colors have been a shad pattern with chartreuse as the primary color. Bass seem to like the tighter wobbling crank bait like a Rapala Glass Shad Rap in shad pattern. Daiwa has the petite SC Shad and shad style crank bait with a great wobble and looks like a Shad Rap body. It is 2 inches long and 1/8 ounce and mimics the shad. Comes with VMC super sharp hooks so beware. Several great colors too. Using long casts as close to rocky banks, make about five turns with the reel and pause. Repeat this cadence all the way back to the boat. McStick jerk baits can work but be sure to use a jerk and then rest a few seconds before pulling the bait again. Fish the mid part of the lake. Focus on rocky points closest to the main river channel.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 STAINED, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Look for the fish to start moving towards their spawning grounds. Many of the fish have already started leaving their wintertime haunts and are moving up on shallow sandy points and flats to feed. A crank bait is an excellent choice for catching these opportunistic feeding fish. A Spro Little John 50 in a shad or craw color is hard to beat right now. On warmer days when the fish get extremely shallow, a Spro Fat John in the same colors will get the call. Make multiple casts to stumps, brush, and rocks. Daiwa has the petite SC Shad and shad style crank bait with a great wobble and looks like a Shad Rap body. It is 2 inches long and 1/8 ounce and mimics the shad. Comes with VMC super sharp hooks so beware. Several great colors too. The bigger fish are after the 3/8-ounce green pumpkin Stanley Jig with a Zoom Super Chunk under shallow protected docks. Black and blue has been the best color in the stained water areas of the lake. A Buckeye Spot Remover shaky head paired with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog has also been catching the more finicky fish under these same docks. The best docks are the ones with 4 to 6 feet on the front posts. Later in the afternoon, look for the fish to move into 1 to 2 feet of water under the walkways as the shallow water will heat up quicker.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, CLEAR 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The full moon is March 28. Tussahaw creek consistently remains clear. The quality fish are willing to bite the jig in black and blue combination. Spinner baits and crank baits are also fishing well. The spinner bait bite is best in the morning and crank baits should be used to search for staging fish throughout the day. Overcast skies and wind will help the spinner bait produce through more of the day. Rock has been a primary focus through the winter months. Fish are holding on hard clay and chunk rock bottoms but pay attention to wood cover as well. Big fish are holding in the wood and will take a spinner bait in the morning. Other configurations will work, but in the stained water try throwing a 3/8-ounce chartreuse bait with gold Colorado blades. Probe the brush and blowdowns with the jig and crank baits during the day. For cranking, a #7 Shad Rap and the Bandit 200 are among the best choices. In the colored water, choose a crank bait with some color. Fire Tiger is one good choice. A green pumpkin or black lizard can be used Carolina or Texas rigged. A jig of 3/8 ounce or lighter should be used for its slower fall. Go with black and blue in the stain, green in the clear water.
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Walleye Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — DNR sampling crews were busy all over North Georgia this week collecting walleye broodstock. The largest we found this week was this 9-pound female from below Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa, but we also saw some really nice fish on Carters, Hartwell, and the Hooch above Lanier. Fish from these sampling efforts were taken to the Go Fish Education Center where they will be used to produce more walleye for stocking back into our lakes for anglers. The spawning run for these tasty fish is at its peak right now, and they can be found in the headwater areas of many of our mountain lakes that are stocked with walleye. Go to our WRD walleye fishing info page HERE for more detailed info on where to find them and how to catch them.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Allatoona is down 7.9 feet, clear, and in the 50s. Bass fishing is fair. The bass are in transition to shallower water and the spawn will start toward the end of the month. Covering water in search of bass is the ticket. Lipless crank baits and medium and shallow runners will be hot. Spro Little Johns, Spro Fat Johns, Aruku Shads and McStick jerk baits are a few that we will be using. Ten feet and shallower is the depth to target. Stained water or muddy water it all will heat up. The late in the day bite is better as the water warms. Find the bait schools with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and these schools will have bass close by. Use the Kaci’s Kustom jig in green pumpkin and bluegill fire is the ticket to pick them off.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Hartwell is down 1.5 feet 50s. Bass fishing is fair. The fish can be found in main lake pockets and ditches and have been very shallow in some cases, especially with the recent warming trend. The Shad Rap has continued to be reliable in the creek pockets, as well as a jerk bait, Fish Head Spin and a jig. A Bass Hound flat side crank bait or a Spro Little John MD will catch numbers of fish as they move up on the flat points. Fire tiger or chartreuse colors will work best as the lake remains stained. Find the fish with the Lowrance Structure Scan technology and fish with the spinner bait and crank bait. Be sure to fish all the docks in that area with a black and blue Stanley jig. This is a great way to catch a big fish. Concentrate on the walkways and backsides of docks as the shallow water will warm up quickly. The late afternoon bite is best right now since the shallows have had all day to warm up.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Lanier is down 1.3 feet, clear, creeks are stained, 50s. Spotted bass fishing is good. The fish are biting and the fish are relating to rocks, points and even shallow coves. Use all the baits including the worms, jerk baits and crank baits. There are lots of fish on points and around all the lakes docks. These fish are in the man-made and the natural cover and they will bite live or artificial lures. Presentations early should be slow and work the baits all the way back to the boat. Work small worms on any of the main lake rocky points on a light Texas rig. Use the sand and green pumpkin Zoom finesse worms. Some locations to work on early and late each day will be the main lake reef markers around Shady Grove Park and up lake in the River Forks Park. Not much top water from spots yet but next week we should get this bite going. Use the small Pointer Minnows in shad or blue colors and work any sand point half way in the creek. Also use a #9 Rapala in silver and black back after mid-day in the back of any creeks. Small watermelon green and natural blue Zoom finesse worms are very good lures for the spots. All white 3/8 ounce Rooster Tails on light line will get the strikes from spotted bass on the main lake points and make long casts. Lots of spots will spawn next month on the main lake humps and these fish are usually larger. The humps and reef Markers Lake wide are getting ready to break loose. The back of Flowery Branch Creek has several deep docks and some are double docks. These are prime areas for spots to stage and there are already fish shallow around these areas. Small baby bass and all white crank baits and all white spinner baits are good lures for these fish. Work this bait deeper for the better fish. Doodling finesse worms will draw strikes and use a small jig head and a night crawler for lots of bites. 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 very good. The hot bite target zone is 12 to 15 feet deep. The crappie are getting fat. Crappie are on the docks and when you find them they are loaded. I have been finding the crappie at 5 to 8 feet deep over 30 to 35 feet of water. The bite still is super soft keep your pole in your hands and fill for the slightest bump. Try slow retrieval of a Crappie minnow with a BB sized sinker 12 to 16 inches above your hook. 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 slow trolling .5 mph or less with a Crappie minnows and a 1/4 ounce sinker over the submerged creek beds. Try different Jigs colors and styles jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging, trolling 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). On average for me this week has been 50/50 minnows to jig. The most productive jig color has been monkey milk in clear water and try using dark colors in stained waters after the rain. 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
Lake Weiss Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) — Lake Weiss is 2 feet 5 inches below full pool, clear, and 50s. Bass fishing is fair. A lot of fish have moved shallow into the spawning bays and creeks, shallow running crank baits and spinner baits are working well. Crappie fishing is fair. Fish 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, a lot of fish are starting to move into the spawning bays. Striper fishing is poor. No reports on any fish being caught in the last few weeks.
West Point Lake Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — West Point is down 5.8 feet clear 60s. Bass fishing is good. Fishing the mid lake and down is good with the Lucky Craft Staysee 90 in the AYU color. Fish this bait with fast jerks and the occasional pause but see what the fish want from day to day. Fish the mouths of creeks and work back to the secondary points to try and catch the pre spawn fish. Use the green pumpkin 5 inch Gary Yamamoto Senko. Fish this bait around blow downs and other under water structure and caught some really nice sized spotted bass. Good creeks to fish right now are Wedhadkee Creek, Bird Creek and Maple Creek. The trick to finding fish right now is covering a lot of water and learning what key areas are productive. Use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to help find the concentrations of bait and the bass will be there too.
West Point Lake Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) — Bass fishing has been slow but improving with the recent warming trend. Crappie fishing has been good with several folks catching their limit. Striper and hybrid fishing has also been good but less consistent than the crappie. As expected, the fishing pressure and tournaments have increased with the warming temperatures. Also, the lack of rain over the last week has cleared up most of the lake. Now is the time to fish West Point Lake.
Coosa River White Bass Run: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Our crew has been monitoring the Coosa white bass run over the last two weeks. The fish are somewhat spotty this year, with very high densities of fish in some areas, and few in other likely spots. Some of the creek mouths were loaded with whites, while others were not. It seems like they are not as abundant up near Mayo Lock and Dam, perhaps due to the relatively low water levels we are seeing right now. Try areas further downstream. However, this could all change next week as the forecast shows a lot of rain coming. Those of you not familiar with the species or popular fishing methods can check out this great two-part article posted by “Jeremiah” on the GON Forum. Part one is HERE and Part 2 is HERE.
Coosa White Bass Report from GON Forum: (Courtesy of GON Forum contributor “Ryork”) — Put in at the Lock and Dam this morning. Water temp was still in the 48-49 degree range this morning. Started out on some of my usual spots downstream of the first bridge downstream of the Lock and Dam. Fished for a couple hours without so much as a sniff. Went on down to the power plant area and same result for another hour or so. Ran further down past the River Road boat ramp by at least 3-4 miles. When we finally found them it was a fun few hours. Not fast and furious, but consistent. Had one creek mouth that produced well, and also we found them on the shallowest sandy bank there is through that stretch, which in the Coosa still has some depth to it. By the time we left around 3:30 the water temp had climbed into the 51-52 degree range. Water is as low as I’ve fished a Spring run up there in a long long time. Some of my good “usual” spots were more or less out of the water. Two baits produced best today by a long shot, a 1/8 oz lipless ratting crankbait and a 2″ pearl Mister Twister Sassy Shad on a red 1/8 oz head. Hope it’s about to bust loose in the next few days. I think a little more water would go a long way. May be back up on Friday, may go to Franklin, not sure yet……Fish tacos coming real soon! See pics here HERE.
Yellow Perch: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — During our walleye sampling efforts this week we saw good numbers of yellow perch. Yellow perch can often be found in the tailwaters of our large reservoirs during the spring run. Good areas to try would be the Etowah River below Allatoona Dam, the Toccoa River below Blue Ridge Dam, and the tailwaters of the Georgia Power Dams on the Tallulah River chain of lakes. Try small jigs, inline spinners, or worms fished along grassy bottom areas.
West Point/Hooch Stripers, Whites, and Hybrids: (Courtesy of GON Forum contributor Dusting Pate) — Report from 3/8. Figured I’d give an update from the past 4 days. Not a lot has changed honestly. The white bass are very thick from Snake Creek and further south. The hybrids are slowly filtering in along with some very nice stripers. The river continues to drop and extreme caution is needed from Ringer to Brush Creek as there are some trees just under the surface that can cause a bad day really fast. The water is very clear also and the fish have preferred more natural colored baits. Really looking forward to these warming temps this week! Full GON thread with pictures HERE.
Stripers on the Fly: (From Fisheries Supervisor Jim Hakala) — Check out This Podcast on How to Catch Freshwater Stripers, with famed local guide Henry Cowen. You’ll learn their seasons, how to present your fly, and what tackle and flies you’ll need to chase them in rivers and reservoirs.
Etowah River Spotted Bass: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — While searching for striped bass and white bass on the Etowah River, our sampling crew ran into several nice spotted bass. The biggest was 5.5 pounds but several others in the 3-4 pound range were seen, all with fat bellies. Like other spring-spawning species spotted bass are at their heaviest right now in pre-spawn condition, so now is the time to catch a true trophy. Try targeting the Etowah from the Loop 1 Ramp down to the confluence. Off-current areas and back eddies with good rocky cover or blow downs will be your best bet.