Schools will be heading out on Spring Break soon. Have you made your plans to do a few fishing trips with the kids while they are out? What a great time to connect, hear how their school year has been, their plans for the next few months before summer, reminders to stay focused, and oh yeah…time to make some memories using a pole and a line.
NEWS TO KNOW:
- Trout Stocking: Hatchery staff from Georgia trout hatcheries are all working to get streams stocked. Want to know more about trout fishing or the latest trout stocking report, click HERE.
- Woods and Water Trip? Planning to be out in the woods to turkey hunt soon? Make it a “kill two birds with one stone” kind of trip. Make it a fishing AND a hunting trip. Research the area you are headed to see if there is a nearby waterway. If the hunting doesn’t pan out…maybe the fishing will be the ticket!
- Kids Fishing Events: We are starting to see some Kids Fishing Events on the calendar. If you want to help your little ones get started with a fun introduction to fishing, take a look at the Events Calendar and find an upcoming event near you.
This week, we have reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Check the calendar, make your plans, and get out there and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jackson Sibley, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Early spring is perhaps the most anticipated time of year for anglers across the board—and for good reason. Rising temperatures and periodic rain pulses trigger fish to eat aggressively in preparation for the spawn, making them especially easy to target. And the tell-tale signs that spring has sprung in north Georgia are present all around: Bradford pears have bloomed, redwing blackbirds are calling out from the reeds, and best of all, fish are on the move. Peruse this week’s report for some springtime approaches for your favorite North Georgia fishery.
BECOMING AN OUTDOORS WOMAN (BOW)
Join us April 30-May 2nd, 2021 for a brand new Beyond BOW program designed to give women ages 18 and older an opportunity to explore a unique part of the state of Georgia, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Join us for a fun-filled weekend learning about some of the incredible wildlife that call North Georgia home, including bats, bears, trout, and other freshwater fishes! Participants will get to experience fishing, hiking, freshwater snorkeling and more while lodging at Black Rock Mountain State Park. Click HERE for more details and to register or call (770) 784-3059.
Allatoona Lake Levels: Keep track of daily lake level changes HERE.
Allatoona Crappie: (Report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright) –The crappie are on the banks getting ready to spawn. Red Rooster Jigs are killing it when thrown to the banks, around brush piles or fallen trees. You can also fish minnows under floats in the same areas. Go have a blast! Water temps will be pushing the 65 deg. spawning temps soon.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — LAKE ALLATOONA IS DOWN 6.3 FEET, 60S — Bass fishing is good. The full moon is March 28. The spring bite is starting as the water warms. The jerk bait bite has been great, as well as the jig head worm. We are mixing it up with the 95 and 110 Spro McStick on 10-pound Sunline sniper. Sun seems to better the bite. We are working the bait pretty quick. When the fish bite they are crushing it. The 1/8 and 3/8 jig head with a big bite trick stick or shaky squirrel. Duckett Lures has the Sculpo XD for deep water fishing. This bait gets to 12 and up to 15 feet deep and it weight one ounce. Use a heavy rod for this bait. Main and secondary point in the Allatoona creek arm and just north of Victoria are producing best.
Hartwell Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — LAKE HARTWELL IS FULL, 60S — Bass fishing is fair up lake and spinner baits and bright crank baits are working. The full moon is March 28. Work the favorite’s baits and be sure to add the Super Spin and Fluke trailer to the list. Down lake fishing is fair on humps and points in the creeks. Use crank baits, jigs and worms. Go to the mouths of the main lake creeks and humps and use blue and silver crank baits. The Alabama rigs with small grubs and small swim bait. Use a Sculpo MR Rattlin ½ ounce. The backs of the lower lake creeks are stained but use the Stanley jigs in black and silver with a #11 Uncle Josh pork Trailer. Fish any bank cover all the way to the boat, working the lures slowly in cover. Find any warming water in the northwest coves later in the afternoons. Try slow trolling the creeks with Shad Raps on 10-pound test line.
Lanier Stripers (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) –Region 2 Fisheries staff were busy chasing striped bass on Lake Lanier this week. Water temperatures are in the mid-50s throughout the upper reservoir and headwaters, drawing striped bass into the shallows where they’ll be gorging on blueback herring and threadfin shad until they make their unsuccessful spawning runs in the headwaters and major reservoir tributaries. We are seeing bigger fish this year, largely thanks to the advancement of the 2018, 2016, and older year classes. Fish in the 6-8 lb range are much more common, but we are seeing more 10-12 pounders and even some fish pushing 20+ lbs. Stripers can be successfully targeted pulling planer boards or flatlines with blueback herring along points, humps, saddles, and clay flats in the early morning before the sun drives the bait and stripers into deeper water. We are catching all of our fish in 10 feet of water or less right now.
Lanier Spots (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 1.0 FEET, CLEAR, CREEKS STAINED 50S — Spotted bass fishing is good. The full moon is March 28. Head to the docks and rocks. The warming weather will fire up these fish. Spots are being caught on docks especially halfway in the backs of the creeks. Look for the warming coves in areas of the last deep water towards the backs of the coves. The first wave of fish should start spawning when the water temperature stabilizes around 60 degrees over the next couple weeks. But this will require stable weather first. Most of the fish can be found in the backs of cuts on any kind of structure you can find, but seem to be relating more to the docks, particularly the last set of docks with at least 10ft of water under them. Target areas should be out of the wind that get the most sunlight, and with a bottom contour of sand or pea gravel. The fish are biting on Shakey Head worm rigs, Mini Me Spinnerbaits and Zoom Flukes in baby bass and pearl. Use a Mustad 4/0 worm hook. Also get ready for the suspending jerk baits to work. Use a Lucky Craft bait in a silver and blue or an orange and copper color, small and midsized crank baits that dive 6 to 12 feet in a natural shad color. Main lake points with rocks and even hard clay are already good areas. Fish around the Lake Lanier Islands and there are lots of warming areas the spots are already heading to. In the back of Young Deer, the old roadbed that crosses the creek has spots on the edges. The Rapala #7 Shad Rap or a Bill Lewis Rat L Trap in a chrome and blue or white color is a favorite. The spots also love the small jigs like the Strike King Bitsy Flip in the black and blue, browns, or the greens and brown color. This week we worked the back of Big Creek from the rock island to the back on the right bank around the water intake all the way to the back of the creek and found spots on Spot Stickers right up on the banks early and late. After the sun is up, the fish are out to 15 feet and an X Rap in pearl is the ticket. Add a brown, black, or green pumpkin chunk such as Zoom’s Super Chunk Jr. Try to focus on areas that will warm the quickest and that are staging areas for spotted bass to spawn at, areas out of the wind with stagnant water, and the back side of windblown points. 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 courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton) — Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures are in the mid-50s. The hot bite target zone is 6-10 feet deep. The crappie are getting fat. The crappie are moving into the rivers and creeks these areas are also loaded with bait fish. Try drifting or slow trolling .3 to .5 mph over the bait fish with minnows 3’-5’ beep in these areas. Crappie can still be found 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 Try slow retrieval of a Crappie minnow with a BB sized sinker 12 to 16 inches above your hook. For best results use a live minnow. Look under docks that are in 20 to 40 feet of water near a main channel 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 different Jigs colors and jig styles jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging, trolling or dock shooting. When dock shooting the biggest fish are usually the first to hit. Let your jig sink and give it time to get down to the fish and retrieve your jig slowly. On average for me this week has been 75/25 minnows to jigs. The most productive jig color has been the Brown and yellow hair jig in clear water and try using dark colors (royal blue/black) in stained or muddy waters. I’m using ATX lure companies’ plastics on k9 5-pound test high visibility yellow braid for my line unless I am using a bobber and a Piscifun reel on a ACC Crappie Stix rod. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my page @crappieonlanier
Reservoir Walleye (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Walleye fishing has been hot during the last week, as peak spawning activity continues on our mountain lakes. Anglers at Blue Ridge and Carters report that walleye are thick on the spawning grounds at the mouth of the main rivers feeding each lake. Blue Ridge regular Dave McDonald reported getting his limit on Wednesday, mostly on small swimbaits with a couple fish hitting a small jerkbait too. He said other anglers near him were having good luck as well. He also saw several fish actively spawning. It won’t be long before these fish finish spawning and head back to the deepwater areas where they can be more difficult to locate. If you are new to walleye fishing in Georgia, now is the time to get out there and try it when they are most vulnerable to your lures.
West Point Fishing Report (From Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) — The water level for West Point Lake is higher than last week and increasing. Thursday’s heavy rains will also muddy up the upper end of the lake again. The striper, white bass, and hybrid bite is still good with nice fish being caught on shad cut bait. Crappie fishing continues to produce on jigs fished in shallow water up to 3-4 feet deep. If the weather cooperates, it should be another fine weekend to fish West Point Lake.
Temporary Boat Ramp Closures: There are two temporary boat ramp closures on the Oostanaula River due to flooding. Highway 136 Boat Ramp in Gordon County and the Highway 140 Boat Ramp in Floyd County are currently closed. They will re-open when waters recede and area is deemed safe for the public. Find closure information HERE.
Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Gainesville staff were busy on Lanier’s headwaters this week while conducting our annual striped bass sampling. The rivers are still low, although the rain has increased the flow and turbidity slightly. Water temps are in the mid-50s. We are starting to see some white bass schools showing up on the Chestatee so bring something flashy or a pack of white curly tail grubs along and cast around woody structure. The white bass are running on the Chattahoochee River! We saw impressive numbers of 1.5 – 2 lb white bass upstream of Mud Creek on Thursday, with plenty of stripers mixed in, too. We are really excited to see a strong white bass run on the Chattahoochee since stocking for this once-popular spring fishery began in 2016. Now is the time to catch a mess of white bass in the Chattahoochee River. Big striped bass are cruising up the rivers and holding in the “deep” holes, which is a relative term compared to the river levels the last couple of years. There are great numbers of 6 – 10 lb stripers in the rivers right now. Cast a suspending jerk bait or a swim bait through deeper runs and around structure on the outside bends. Don’t use anything less than 12 lb test, we are finding some lures that broke off in these fish and it looks undersized line may have been the issue. We are still seeing walleye that are wrapping up their spawn. We caught and released this 7-pound female walleye on the Chestatee near a big rock in the river 😉. Target walleye on the Chestatee at and downstream of the 400 bridge, and on the Hooch anywhere upstream of Mud Creek. We aren’t seeing a ton of bait moving into the river right now, with the exception of the resident spottail shiners that max out at around 4 inches. Now is a great time to go for a mixed bag in the rivers!
Coosa River (From Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — The white bass spawning run is in full swing in the Coosa as well as its tributaries, the Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers. Our sampling indicates an exceptionally strong pulse of fish currently moving through the river and I have received reports of several angler outings resulting in 100+ fish caught. The striped bass run follows the white bass run every year, and we are picking up a few early fish, like the healthy adult pictured, but you can expect the bulk of the run to occur in mid-April.
Statewide Trout Stocking (From Trout Stocking Coordinator John Lee Thomson) — This week begins the trout distribution efforts in Georgia. All waterbodies scheduled to be stocked in 2021 will receive trout this week with a few exceptions. Our stocking efforts will continue weekly from now until Labor Day. For the latest intel, sign up HERE for our trout stocking reports. Remember to purchase your fishing license and trout stamp before you wet a line. Enjoy the beautiful outdoors and have a great time catching your dinner.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The St. Marys is the only fishable river this week, as the weekend rains jumped the Satilla back up into the floodplain. Ponds, the Okefenokee, and saltwater will be top producers with the warming trend this week.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The upper river is in really good shape, and the panfish should start biting well this weekend. With the warm-up, the panfish in the tidal area should start biting well this weekend just in time for the second panfish tournament of the season. The next Shady Bream Tournament will be held this Saturday March 27th out of the Traders Hill Landing in Folkston. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information. The river level at the MacClenny gage on March 25th was 5.0 feet and falling.
The most unique catch of the week was by Dillard Winters. He “fished” some local Douglas waters and collected 80 big crawfish up to 4 inches (about as big as they get around here) and ate them for supper that night. His quote was “They were unbelievably delicious!”. A group of 3 anglers fished an overcrowded bass pond on Friday and whacked them. They ended up catching 115 bass up to 3.1 pounds and 2 big crappie. Their best lures were Chatterbaits, Senkos, and frogs. Ashley Phillips and Ed Zmarzly fished an Ocilla pond for just a short time this weekend and caught 10 crappie up to 16 inches. They used a blue/green beetlespin to fool them. Most of the crappie have spawned, but they are still shallow and easy to catch compared to when they move offshore. Todd Kennedy had some good trips this week. At one pond he caught 15 bass up to 5 pounds on wacky-rigged senkos and jigs fished around submerged trees. At that pond, all of his fish were between 3 and 5 pounds. He fished a bug on a fly rod on Wednesday evening at a Brunswick area pond and caught 23 bass between 2 and 4 pounds. He also fought a big grass carp for 38 minutes! Chad Lee also pond-hopped this weekend in Alma area ponds. He fished minnows on Friday with his uncle Lester, and the pair caught 32 crappie. On Saturday, he caught about 10 bass in the 2-pound range on Christie Craws. On Wednesday during his lunch break, he caught a 6-pound bass on a red shad plastic worm on an ultralight outfit. That one fish burned half of his lunch break! On Saturday afternoon, a Blackshear angler hit a local pond for just a couple of hours and caugh 12 bass up to 4 pounds on Senkos. Sherbet and junebug worked best for him. You can catch bass in all phases of the spawn right now, so give it a try while they are still shallow.
Matt Rouse took his cousin, Aubrey Mapp, who was visiting from Oklahoma. They fished the east side on Monday and used jigs and beetlespins to catch a few big bluegills and a nice chain pickerel. This weekend’s rains didn’t raise the swamp level, so this warming trend should get them biting well by the weekend. If you want to catch fliers, pitch yellow or pink sallies on a bream buster pole. For warmouth, dabble crawfish around trees or pitch sallies or curly-tail grubs. For pickerel and bowfin, fling a minnow plug or in-line spinner down the edge of the canal and hold on. The bite should break wide open any day now. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.12 feet.
HUGH M. GILLIS PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Dublin, more info HERE)
Wildlife Resources Division staff did their spring electrofishing samples this week and were impressed with the good fish population. They had lots of nice bass up to 6 1/2 pounds and plenty of hand-sized bluegill and shellcrackers. The bass and crappie are shallow right now, and the bluegill and shellcracker bites have just picked up. Anglers fishing from the bank caught some nice panfish on crickets and worms.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
The biggest bass I heard of this week was an 8-lb., 8-oz. toad. The shellcracker bite was good for bank anglers fishing red wiggler worms on the bottom. A few anglers quickly caught their limit of 15 panfish. The crappie bite has slowed a little, but you can still catch quite a few shallow.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The high winds and cold morning temperatures kept most folks off the big water this week. The trout were moving, and I heard of a 20+ inch fish eating a live shrimp fished from a Brunswick area dock. That was the biggest trout I heard of being caught. Some whiting were caught in protected waters, and a few sheepshead from docks. 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.