So, we did say it was Spring, right? This weather is just fooling with us. Just means you might need a few extra layers as you head out for those early morning angling trips.
NEWS TO KNOW:
- New Bass Regs at Marben PFA: Marben Public Fishing Area has New Bass Regulations effective April 2021: Daily bag limit is 5 largemouth bass, only 1 of which can be 16 inches or longer.
- Trout Stocking: Trout stocking is in full swing. Find out more HERE and HERE.
Fresh fishing reports found below from Southeast, Central, and North Georgia. Bundle up and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The upper portions of the some of the small blackwater rivers are clearing up but are still high. It won’t be long now that leaves are budding out before the rivers starts dropping out. The St. Marys is the best river option again this week. Ponds, the Okefenokee, and saltwater will be top producers once we get behind this cold front. The incessant late-week cold fronts have hampered fishing, and it will happen again this weekend. As I write this, temperatures have plummeted, and we will likely have some frosts again this weekend. In these conditions, your best bet is to fish the afternoons and evenings once the water warms.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The second Shady Bream Tournament of the year was this past Saturday. Fourteen boats entered, and with the help of Callie-Kays Outfitters, they paid 5 places and a small fish category. Top honors went to Dale and Emma Anderson with 8.22 pounds (10 fish limit). Second was Daniel and Darrell with 7.95 pounds. Josh and Kenny secured third place with 7.93 pounds. Looks like just a few drops of water separated second and third places. Big fish of 0.9 pounds was caught by Daniel and Darrell. The next Shady Bream Tournament will be held Saturday April 17th out of the Kings Ferry Landing near Hilliard. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 1st was 4.1 feet and steady.
Chad Lee had a good week, catching bass before work and during his lunch break at a pond where he works. He caught bass between 2 and 6 pounds. The big fish ate a white floating worm, while several during the week inhaled a Chatterbait. This current cold snap will likely push the bass that were considering spawning this weekend offshore a little bit, but they will return to the shallows shortly. Behind this cold front, the bass bite should be off the chain until it gets super-hot. The bass are as active as they get all year during the upcoming post-spawn period. Moving baits (topwaters, swimbaits, buzzbaits, etc.) usually catch them well early and late, and you can slow down with plastic worms or jigs if they won’t chase. Also, look for the first big wave of bluegills to move up to spawn over the next couple weeks.
Josh and Alisha Forsythe took their family fishing on the east side behind the front on Saturday and had an absolute blast. They fished the afternoon and ended up catching a bunch of warmouth (kept 40) on white and chartreuse plastic grubs. Their son also caught a nice chain pickerel (jackfish). The swamp should be very good fishing this week. 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 warmth behind this weekend’s cold front should spur the bite again. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.08 feet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The high winds AGAIN for the weekend kept most folks off the water. On days you could get out this week, the whiting fleet did ok. Catches I’ve heard about haven’t been great yet, but they will be any day. If you can get out, expect to catch a couple dozen of the tasty fish. I got a report of some folks catching a few trout each trip from a Brunswick area dock. Plastics fooled most of their fish, but live shrimp took a few. A couple flounder were caught from the same dock this week, as well. Seatrout are moving from the winter haunts to creeks and shells around the Intracoastal Waterway, so you should be able to intercept some on days you can get out. Tides are more manageable this week, so catches will probably improve. Winds are forecasted to be stiff early this weekend, so check the forecast before planning a trip to the big water. 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 FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. This is full moon week. Bedding bass will be the focus this week with the full moon on the 28th of March. Most of the bass have not locked on tight to the beds. Many shallow water bass can be found and caught with the shallow running Shad Raps along with the Rapala DT6 and McSticks. Spro has a Little John Type R shallow running crankbait that works well over shallow water submergent vegetation. It has a computer chip style lip for a fast wobble and comes in several great colors. Fish the shallow stump beds and grassy areas. It is a little early for top water, but a week of warming weather will fire them off. Finding a good spot to find shallow water bass will be the key. Fishing secondary points with a Rapala DT6 or a #5 jointed or Glass Shad Rap will work on the spotted bass. Watch the Lowrance and find the heavy bait schools in the shallows for the best action. Pay close attention to the depth finder and temperature gauge during the day.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. This is full moon week. The fish are moving to the early spring areas. These bass are on the secondary points and back into the backs of coves. They are aggressively feeding on shad early in the morning and late in the afternoon. During mid-day, the bass move out into the middle of the pockets and cruise. Jerk baits like a sinking Rapala and other suspended baits that can be fished shallow are the lures to use. Have a top water ready like the Smithwick Devils Horse Rattlin Rouge gold rogue Clown. Cast the Livingston SgredderS3 Sxee Shad Jerkmaster 1 AYU. The best pattern to catch bass is to fish from halfway back into the covers towards the backs of the coves looking for feeding fish. Be sure to use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to find the bait fish and the game fish. Carolina rigged worms and shad colored deep diving crank baits have also been catching some fish.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 60’S
(This Lake Oconee fishing report is by Captain Mark Smith of Reel Time Service. 404-803-0741) —
Bass: Bass fishing is good. This is full moon week. The lake is full, stained up the rivers and over most of the main lake; Richland creek is clear. The fish are following the bait into the creeks. Shad pattern ½ ounce Rat L Traps are the first choice. Fish them around docks and on sea walls. Start in the middle of the major creeks and work your way to the back of the creeks. As the water clears down the lake you can also use a white spinner bait fished in the same area. Another backup bait is a number 7 Shad Rap fished around the same docks and sea walls. For a fast bite use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. At this time of year, you can always look at the rip rap around the bridges when Georgia Power is moving water. Use the same baits and fish them on the down lake side of the bridges.
Striped Bass: Line side fishing is good. The fish are starting to show up at the dam area. Live bait has been the best producer over the past week. Use a flat line and planer board early in the day. After the sun gets up switch to down lines and fish them just above the fish you see on your Lowrance. Keep a Capt. Mack’s umbrella rig ready when the fishing slows down; this will put some extra fish in your boat. We recommend the 4 arm 9 jig rig fished 100 feet behind the boat at 3 mph.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good. Spider rigs fished in the back of the major creeks are catching fish. Use a black/blue jig tipped with a minnow. As the weather gets warmer the fish will move further into the creeks.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 4.0 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is very good. This is full moon week. Fish shallow points, coves, and pockets on major creeks such as Wolf Creek, Beech Creek, Turkey Creek and Wilson Creek. Use ½ ounce spinnerbaits in a white and chartreuse with a double willow blade combination. Slow roll the spinnerbait around any cover on the points and in the coves and pockets. The important thing right now is to cover a lot of water. For a fast bite use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. Try the Suspending Rogue 18 in clown color. Due to recent rains, the up lake will be stained but it is warm, and this will bring the lake level up moving the largemouth bass up into shallower water.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.6 STAINED, 60’S
Bass fishing is great. This is full moon week. Bass are being caught shallow water at 3 to 10 feet. Also, there are a good number of fish remaining deep. The primary key right now for catching shallow fish seems to be rocky bottoms or clay and rock mixed, especially near the mouth of coves. Some of these areas tend to be a couple degrees warmer which means more aggressive fish. Concrete seawalls are also holding fish for the same reason. A slow rolled spinner bait is another good bait choice. For a fast bite use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. Try the Suspending Rogue 18 in clown color. Retrieve the blade bait just fast enough to keep it from turning sideways on the bottom. Another good choice that is seldom used as a slow-moving bait is a Rat L Trap. This bait can be slow rolled like using a spinner bait. Also, try using a retrieve like a medium speed Carolina rig. Jigs, Texas rig and Carolina rigs can also produce fish from the same areas. Docks, boat houses and rip rap are also holding fish. Deeper fish can be found on points along the main river and creek runs. Depths are varying from 8 to over 20 feet deep. Carolina rigs are probably the number one choice, but other baits should not be overlooked. These include crank baits, drop shot rig, Little George, jig head and worm and Rocket Shad.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, CLEAR, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. This is full moon week. The bass are chasing bait all over the lake. Side imaging and a good sonar are key right now. It is funny when we get a little warm weather in early spring you think the fish will go shallow and bite. Spro has a Little John Type R shallow running crankbait that works well over shallow water submergent vegetation. It has a computer chip style lip for a fast wobble and several great colors. Some fish are in the middle of creeks and are keying in on bait fish in the 10-foot range. Baits like the Spro McStick, the Scrounger tipped with a big bite 4 in jerk minnow and the A-rig with big bite Cain thumpers are doing the trick when you get it to the right dept. it is that time of year when hybrid, white bass and spots are running together. It is a fun time to be on the water. Use the bright Bomber Model A shallow and Deep Model A.
FLAT CREEK PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 66.7˚ F (19.3˚ C)
- Water Level: 11.5” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 16.5”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
As we move from March into April the water temperatures have been warming and the bass have been moving into the shallows for spawning. But as we have continued to have several cold fronts move thru with cold rains, the bass have been hard to pattern. We have seen several good catches and had reports of several fish in the 6 to 8 lb. range. Casting to the shallow areas seems to produce the best bite. The crappie fishing has been good with trolling and casting jigs. Fishing minnows at night has continued to produce catches from the fishing pier.
Bream: Worms (Red Wigglers and Pinks) fished on the bottom or around structure, Carolina rig or slip lead rig near cover or near the shallower water. It may be a little early for crickets, but they should work get better as the water warms up.
Channel Catfish: Red Wiggler or pink worms, chicken livers fished on bottom.
Crappie: Red / Chartreuse Jiffy Jigs, or similar color pattern in Triple Ripple. Blue bodied teaser tail with a chartreuse tail and white colored teaser tails have worked very well.
MARBEN PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Level: All lakes are full.
- Water Clarity: The larger lakes are mostly clear with some stained water at the creeks. Some of the smaller lakes and ponds are stained due to heavy rains.
- Surface Temperatures: 62 to 74 degrees F.
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: The majority of the females have spawned and pulled off the bank in 5-7’ of water. Jigs have proven successful for the females and plastic worms and lizards attract the attention of the males as they guard the fry. Bass Anglers Take Note: New Bass Regulations as of April 2021: Daily bag limit is 5 largemouth bass, only 1 of which can be 16 inches or longer.
Crappie: Most of the crappie have finished their spawn. However, they are still gathered in small pockets in 3-6’ of water. Jigs and jigs tipped with minnows work well. Remember to present your bait above or the same depth the crappie are at. Adjust the depth you are fishing until you find the fish. Brush piles in 3-5’ of water is a good start.
Bream: The shellcracker are preparing to spawn. Use crickets in 2-4’ of water off points and the back of coves. Coarse sand or rocky bottoms are an ideal bedding area for shellcracker. The bluegill are beginning to move shallow and will be preparing to spawn come late April. Red wigglers and wax worms on or near the bottom are your best bet. Small white or yellow curly tail jigs are a great bait for bream and small bass. Road Runners work well also.
(Fishing report courtesy of Brent Hess, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good. This is full moon week. These bass are up and chasing lures more and more as the water warms. The water is stained from Victoria up towards the Little River area due to the recent rains. Most of the areas south of that range from stained to fairly clear near the dam. We are seeing a strong jerk bait and swim bait bite on the main lake for those fish that are in pre spring pattern. Concentrate most of your efforts on the main lake points in the clearer waters. Use a Staysee 90 and a large swim bait. Spro has a Little John Type R shallow running crankbait that works well over shallow water submerging vegetation. It has a computer chips style lip for a fast wobble and several great colors. For the stained water in the upper reaches of the lake use the Flat CB DR Lucky Craft crank bait in Tennessee Shad color. This color is a whitish color with a black back that will match the forage color in muddy water. Baitfish tend to turn a whitish color in the muddier waters so white baits are my color of choice. Start by paralleling the bluff walls and hit any kind of wood structure with the crank baits. The fish will be get shallow daily and be very active and start their pre spawn ritual by staging on main lake points. Any kind of shad bait will work well here. Jerk baits like a Pointer 78, Flash minnow 95MR are best. Use the big swim baits like the Hampton Shad in 6 and 8 inch sizes as well as the big Triple Trout’s in the 10 inch range are also great gizzard shad imitators.
Allatoona Sampling Observations: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — From our sampling observations on March 30th, it was clear that the fish have pushed up into the shallows. Largemouth, spots, and shellcrackers were commonly found in less than 3’ of water. Some bass will be on bed this week, like this 5-pound largemouth, though Thursday and Friday’s cold snap may push fish a bit deeper and stall most spawning by another week or so. Dark-colored soft plastics fished around woody debris in 3’-6’ of water should produce well this weekend, but next week’s warm temperatures should have fish back to normal activity levels. Boaters beware: last week’s rainfall has swept trees and other debris into North Georgia’s reservoirs and the muddy water conditions make such hazards difficult to see, so be especially cautious this week!
Allatoona Lake Levels: Keep track of daily lake level changes HERE.
Lake Nottely (Report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor) — On Tuesday evening while fishing with her mom and dad on Lake Nottely, five-year-old Sadie Reagan caught the biggest fish of her young life – a trophy black crappie weighing 2 lb 3 ounces. Sadie is definitely hooked on fishing, but her prize catch also qualified for an Angler Award. The Angler Award Program certifies trophy-sized sportfish caught in our state and recognizes the anglers who caught them. Sadie’s name will be among those lucky anglers who landed a trophy fish in 2021. More information about the Angler Award Program, including the size criteria, is available on our website HERE. Check it out! Who knows, you may be the next lucky angler to be officially recognized as a Trophy Angler.
Hartwell: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Down the lake find the warmer water and fish the docks where the front of the docks will be in 8 to 10 foot of water. Use a 3/8 ounce Strike King Spinnerbait with double willow leaf in the chartreuse shad color. Be sure to fish the bait right next to the docks and let the bait hit the corners of the docks. Have a top water ready like the Smithwick Devils Horse Rattlin Rouge Gold Rogue Clown. A Kitech silver swim bait on a 3/8 ounce lead head is a hot lure now. For a fast bite use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. Fish with this bait using 12 pound test Berkley Trilene line. There are some good sized fish being caught down the lake while also, using a Strike King jig and pig in the black 3/8 ounce with a Zoom Salty Pro Chunk in the Sapphire Blue color under the docks. Let this bait sit and watch your line. Use the bright the Bomber Model A shallow and Deep Model A.
Lanier Bass (Report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770 366 8845 www.pjsfishing.com) — Spring has arrived and the bass on Lake Lanier are chomping. In the Fallen Outdoors tournament this past weekend there were three bags of over nineteen pounds! With the warmer weather and the full moon the bass are beginning their movement up shallow. It’s kind of a pick them time for the different baits that will catch fish for you. As the bass start to move up, begin working secondary points heading back to the bedding areas in pockets. Worms in any color, as long as its green pumpkin flavor, jerk baits and Chatterbaits in white and chartreuse are a great choice to use. I prefer the Megabass 110 jerk bait for this time of year in blue herring color. The docks in ten feet or less of water are also holding fish. The worm, jerk bait and Alabama rig worked particularly on the shady side of the dock will all draw strikes. It’s important to be a line watcher with the worm since you won’t feel many of the strikes as the fish just walks off with the bait. As we get closer to the full moon move farther back in the shallow pockets with the jerk bait and work the sides, middle and back of the pocket. Be alert to the fact that with a full moon the fish will be feeding more at night so the early bite becomes very important. While there will be spotted bass along with largemouth in the pockets don’t overlook the reef poles and humps for the spotted bass as they tend to bed deeper than the largemouth. Sandy reef poles are a great place to learn to throw the jerk bait. A jerk, jerk, pause retrieve is the standard with many strikes coming on the pause. Always try different retrieves to see what triggers them on a given day. If the wind is blowing, always on Lanier, work the wind blown banks and points on the main lake with the Alabama rig and a jerk bait. The banks that tend to be a mixture of red clay and rock have produced the best lately along with the standard rocky points. It’s time to enjoy the weather and the fish! 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.
Lake Weiss Bass (Courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service www.markcollinsguideservice.com) — Bass fishing is good. The warmer weather has turned the fish on. A lot of fish have moved shallow into the spawning bays and creeks, shallow running crank baits and spinner baits are working well.
Lake Weiss Crappie (Courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service www.markcollinsguideservice.com) — Crappie fishing is good. The bite is turning on with this warm weather, and it should improve over the next week. 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 to 10 feet deep, a lot of fish are starting to move into the spawning bays.
West Point Lake Fishing (Report courtesy of Brent Hess Fisheries Biologist) — Because of the crazy and dangerous weather, West Point fishing has been a challenge. A new cold front and heavy rains may again slow down spawning and feeding action by this weekend. Look for most fish to slow their spawning and feeding following the cold front. Also, they may move back into deeper water. Fishing should pick up next week with the increase in temperatures unless more storms move in.
West Point Bass (Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is very good. This is full moon week. Fish shallow points, coves and pockets on major creeks such as Wolf Creek, Beech Creek, Turkey Creek and Wilson Creek. Use ½ ounce spinnerbaits in a white and chartreuse with a double willow blade combination. Slow roll the spinnerbait around any cover on the points and in the coves and pockets. The important thing right now is to cover a lot of water. For a fast bite use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. Try the Suspending Rogue 18 in clown color. Due to recent rains, the up lake will be stained but it is warm and this will bring the lake level up moving the largemouth bass up into shallower water.
West Point Hybrid and White Bass: GON-tel from Dustin Pate found HERE.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area: The spawn is on at Rocky Mountain PFA! We are getting lots of reports of large, egg-laden bass being pulled from the shallows in East and West Antioch. Mud flats with nearby structure or color breaks seem to be the ticket right now. Fish are tightly associated with rock piles, blow downs, standing timber, or mud lines. This ripe female was taken on a blue salamander fished Texas Rig style in 2.5’ of water amongst the timber. Heath Lake is open from April 1 to April 10 and is sure to produce some memorable fish this month. Pro tip: monster bass abound at Rocky, but landing one can take a lot of patience, practice, and skill. Remember that these fish see a lot of lures and are not easily fooled. A careful, deliberate presentation of a natural lure pattern can go a long way!