Who inspires you to get outdoors? Is it a friend or family member? Maybe a program you saw on TV or a book you read? The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division is fortunate that we can call one of the most influential outdoors writers one of our very own, Charlie Elliott.
Charles Newton Elliott (1906–2000) lived in Covington, Georgia and served as the first Director of Georgia State Parks in 1937–1938. He became the Commissioner of Natural Resources in 1938–1941 then was the first Director of the Game and Fish Commission (now known as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division) in 1943–1949. Elliott also was Southeastern Field Editor for Outdoor Life magazine from 1950 until his passing. His dedication to the conservation of the natural world and wildlife was evident to those who knew him personally and those who read his many writings. How can you find out more about Charlie Elliott? Visit the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (where you can see an exact replica of his library) or read any of his many books (many are available at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center or check with your local library).
NEWS TO KNOW:
- Marben PFA Regulation Changes: Anglers seeking largemouth bass at Marben PFA need to be aware of new length limit reg changes. Find out more HERE.
- Like and Follow: Are you following Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division on Facebook and Instagram? If not, you should!
This week we have fishing reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Think about your outdoor heroes and let’s get out there and make them proud by celebrating all the bounty that our fabulous state has to offer – and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Sarah Baker, fisheries biologist, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The April edition of The Angler Magazine is absolutely PACKED with everything you need to know about fishing north Georgia this month! Several amazing, local contributors share their fishing tips and tricks. From blue lining for trout (Page 2), to what types of indicators to use when (Page 4), fishing the Chattooga River (Page 5), where to fish for trout and what fly to use (Page 6), dry fly fishing and casting techniques (Page 8), and fly-fishing for crappie (Page 9). Also, find what you need to know about fishing Georgia Lakes; Burton (Page 12), Lanier (Page 14), Allatoona (Page 18), West Point (Page 26), Nottely, and Chatuge (Pages 30 and 31). It is well worth the read from cover to cover!
Lake Lanier: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant at Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) – Lake Lanier is 5.8 feet over full; floating debris lake-wide. Main lake is clear, creeks stained, 50s.
- Bass: (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson, (770) 366-8845 pjsfishing.com) — The last full moon would have been a perfect set up for shallow fishing but all that changed with the weather. With the cold fronts with freezing temperatures and the heavy rains last week the fishing will be slow for a few days. Many lakes are high and there is floating debris to watch for. Conditions will improve over the next the warming trends on the way. The best bet for now is to find the clearest and warmest water. Here is what we can expect in the coming days. Pick TTTr best plastic dark colored lures and spend the day fishing slowly away from the stained cold water. The creeks and pockets at the places to be checking out. Docks, secondary points and small pockets leading back into the creeks are the places to be placing TTTr focus on. Look for pockets with wind blowing into them. A white jerk bait early is a good option in these areas. As the morning moves on throw a white Chatterbait for some good bites. A green pumpkin Senko on a 3/16 ounce head is working on docks next to the creek channels. A Wacky rig worked on the docks is also a good choice. Be sure to work the entire dock front, back, side and middle. Concentrate on any section that has shade. With the cooler weather coming in be prepared to work a little deeper.
- Crappie fishing is good. (From Captain Josh Thornton, (770) 530-6493) — The water temperatures are in the 60s. The hot bite target zone is 4 8 feet deep. The crappie are still in the backs of rivers, creeks and pockets. Try drifting or slow trolling .3 .5 mph over the bait fish with minnows 3 to 5 feet deep in these areas. Look for the stray fish they are typically larger than the schooling fish. Crappie can still be found on the docks. I have been finding the crappie at 5 to 8 feet deep over 30 to 35 feet of water Try slow retrieval of a jig or Crappie minnow with a BB sized sinker 12 to 16 inches above TTTr hook. For best results use a alive minnow! Look under docks that are in 20 to 40 feet of water near a main channel and have brush or structure use TTTr 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 TTTr jig sink and give it time to get down to the fish and retrieve TTTr jig slowly. This week has been another challenging one. With all the rain we have had the water is muddy and full of trash. The most productive jig color combination has been the solid black with and the black with chartreuse tail in the muddy water. The biggest fish this week came on a black plastic with chartreuse jig head. I’m using ATX lure company’s plastics that can now be purchased at Sherries Bait and BBQ. I love the K9 5-pound test high visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on an Act crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my page @crappieonlanier
Lake Weiss: (Mark Collins reports) — The heavy rains and the flood waters have really impacted the fish this past week, look for things to get better as the water recedes and goes back to a normal level.
- Bass fishing is fair. 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.
- 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 have moved into shallow water with the flooding. Look for spawning to begin over the next few weeks.
Lake Hartwell: Region 2 Fisheries staff continues to be busy chasing Striped Bass on Lake Hartwell this week. Hartwell tributaries are starting to produce a few Striped Bass, but they are not in high numbers quite yet. As the water warms later this month, expect increased numbers. Fish spinner baits and bright crank baits. The full moon is April 26th. Congrats to GON member, Carolina rig on his unexpected personal best Striped Bass! What an awesome catch! Read his story here.
Hartwell Tributaries: (Report courtesy of Bob Lux) – With all this high water this year and colder nighttime lows, it just seems like the river fishing has been a bit off as compared to fishing notes from the last few years. Nonetheless, we been trying our weekly late afternoon/early evening expeditions in hopes of some walleye and the other mixed bag of springtime river runners. Well, for the first time in weeks and finally some favorable water conditions, we got into some fish. The first walleye of the year was landed along with a nice mixed bag of walleye, white bass, hybrids and even a Bartram bass thrown in for good luck (photo to left). It’s been a struggle to get into any consistent walleye this year at our normal haunts, so hopefully they haven’t all headed back yet. My old notes show we still caught some into the end of April last year, so maybe there’s still time. The white bass were really the predominant species we got into the other night, but flows were still a bit much to deal with making hitting all the areas we wanted to difficult. Fishing didn’t really pick up until right at that magic time of sundown and into one hour after. Water temps still feel fairly cold, so I look to next week more fish heading up in with these warmer daytime temperatures.
Lake Allatoona- Monster Crappie! (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist, Jackson Sibley) – Check out this monster Allatoona crappie (photo to right) landed by angler Ralph Evans of Marietta on April 6. Mr. Evans brought his catch by the Region 1 DNR fisheries office to verify its weight on certified scales, where it came in at a whopping 3 lb, 2oz. The fish is currently being evaluated by GON as a potential lake record, and if recognized will break a 54-year-old record set by E.T. Winn in March 1967. If the largest Allatoona crappie since the moon landing doesn’t convince you to get out and fish, this week’s DNR electrofishing sample turned up impressive numbers of slabs over the 12” mark, with several going over 14” (see photo). These fish are currently in their spawning pattern and can be found on flats in sheltered coves amongst cover. Try jigs and small live minnows trolled or jigged near structure in 3-5’ of water.
West Point Bass: (Report Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist, Brent Hess)- Bass fishing is slow with spotted bass biting better than largemouth. Again, this weekend your best bets are hybrid bass, white bass, and crappie. Most crappie and bass seem to be back in deeper water since last week’s rain. Hybrids and white bass are still in the upper end of the lake and the Hooch.
Rocky Mountain PFA: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist, Jackson Sibley) – With largemouth at the peak of the spawn, anglers can expect high hook-up rates of big, aggressive fish this week at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area. Anglers are reporting tons of quality catches, such as this 3.6 lb bass (pictured to right) taken in about 3’ of water amongst the timber. The locals say creature baits, Senkos, and chatterbaits are killers right now. Keep ‘em shallow, and try bumping off of rocks, standing timber, and other cover.
Start ‘em young! GON member HuntinJake_23 is showing his son how it’s done! Check out his story here.
Chattahoochee River: Congratulations to Joshua Little on holding the new Largemouth Bass record for the stretch of the Chattahoochee River between Buford Dam and Bull Sluice. Joshua landed the 8-pound bass the afternoon of March 30. Read more about his angling adventure here.
Give the Chattooga River DH a Try! (Report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) –– “If spring break allows you to beat the week-ending rain, give Chattooga DH a try ASAP. The water’s still a bit high, so wade safely. If you miss this week’s window, try it when it drops and clears once again, next week. The following intel should still hold true.
This Forward Observer went on a recon mission today. Based on extensive intel gathered from 1200-2000hr, arm yourselves as follows. During the high afternoon sun, use heavy artillery: dredge the flood refuges with tungsten tan mops or weighted brown rubberlegs. If you want a few bonus fish on top, try a short leader to a #12 or 14 yellow stimulator. Then add 4-6 feet of tippet from the stimmy down to your heavy dropper fly.
When the shadows fall on the water, ditch the big bug, cut the tippet back to two feet, and put a tiny (18-20) gray elk hair caddis behind the stimmy. Reposition to heads and tails of pools and cobbled runs (shallow bug factories). Throw quartering downstream 20 feet, hi-stick, and skitter and v-wake the bug duo back upstream to you. Yes, upstream. An hour before dark, change your dropper to a #16 cahill, so your ammo matches the bug switch that just occurred. Dead drift and skitter the stimmy/ cahill combo. Watch the naturals and make your fakes act like the real things. Charge your phones and cameras. You’ll need lots of battery life. Good luck with your assault. If you need more ammo, stop in or call either UO supply depot in Helen or Clarkesville. Sincerely, Scout.” Check out their blog HERE.
- WRD Trout Page: Here, you can sign up to receive emails that notify you of recently stocked streams. You can also access trout fishing regulations, and the Trout Stream Interactive Map. GADNR hatchery crews stock weekly from mid-March until early September (schedule HERE). Then stocking transitions to Delayed Harvest streams from November 1–May 14.
- Georgia DNR: We have updated our Trout Stream Interactive Map. Zoom into northern Georgia until you see yellow and pink highlighted lines. If you click on the “Legend” in the upper righthand corner, you will notice that we now have streams that have been stocked in the last week highlighted in Bright Yellow and streams stocked the week before (8-14 days ago) highlighted in a Sandy color. You can also stop by our Gainesville office (2150 Dawsonville HWY Gainesville GA 30605) and pick up a hard copy of our Trout Map.
- US Forest Service Maps are also really helpful.
- The National Geographic series of topo maps have excellent detail. Look at NatGeo maps #777 (western half) and #778 (east) to cover the Chattahoochee Forest. Part of the fun of catching a trout is that it takes some planning and adventuring.
- Blogs: Online blogs recommendations include:
- Our (GA DNR Wildlife Resources) Blog Woohoo! Glad you’re reading this. We update it each week. 😊
- Angler Management Blog by Unicoi Outfitters. Check out the Archive on the right-hand side going back to 2009.
- Gink and Gasoline has a blog category archive for How to Fly Fish that is helpful.
- Though not a blog per se, Rabun TU’s website has some incredibly helpful information!
- Call us! If you have any questions related to trout fishing, give us a call at (770) 535-5498. We look forward to answering your questions and equipping you with the tools you need to have a memorable trout fishing experience.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, fisheries biologist and Region Fisheries Supervisor, with help from Region Staff and local experts)
The upper river is falling out and clearing up, but rain is in the forecast. I didn’t get any reports of folks fishing, but I’m sure you can catch some fish in the upper river if we don’t get another deluge during the next few days. Catfish are your best bet with the river still a little high, but you should be able to find some bass and panfish willing to eat lures if you work at it. The river level on April 8th at the Waycross gage was 9.1 feet and falling (63 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 9.8 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Hunter Deen fished the middle river with a friend on Saturday, and fooled a bunch of big redbreasts, some giant bluegills, and some warmouth with 1/16-oz. chartreuse bruiser Satilla Spins. His buddy pitching crickets did not catch a fish, but Hunter slayed them with the little spinnerbait. Apparently, they wanted to chase that day. David Cannon and a friend fished the middle St Marys River on Tuesday and caught 43 fish. Most of them were bluegills (some over a pound), but they also had some rooster redbreasts, warmouth, bowfin, crappie, and a stumpknocker that was only an ounce shy of the Georgia state record. They caught a few fish (predominantly crappie and warmouth) on a fly, but most of their fish ate chartreuse bruiser, red/white, slaw, and crawfish Satilla Spins (1/8-oz.). The fish were both in the creeks and the banks of the main river, but the biggest bluegills were on main river banks. 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 8th was 3.2 feet and falling.
David Freeman fished a lake this weekend and caught a good mess of crappie by swimming a popsicle curly-tailed grub on a 1/32-oz. jighead around shallow points and banks close to deeper water. Todd Kennedy fished a pond on Thursday and said that the best bite was the last hour of daylight. During that time he caught 10 bass up to 7-lb. 10-oz. while using wacky-rigged worms and Z-Man Pop Frogz. Bass are mostly post-spawn and are starting to chase lures pretty well. I got reports this week that bluegills were bedding in area ponds and lakes. Dillard Winters is back at his mud-bug catching from ponds and creeks around Coffee County. He has collected over 325 crayfish to eat recently.
The great warmouth bite slowed down with the freezing mornings late last week, but the bite is picking back up. A group of Waycross anglers fished the east side on Sunday afternoon and had a blast. They caught 11 fliers on pink and yellow sallies under a small balsa float, and they only targeted fliers for a short time. They had a nice pickerel on a crawfish Dura-Spin and caught a 10-inch warmouth on a 1/32-oz. chartreuse Specktacular Jig. On Monday, David and Stephanie Cannon fished with a friend on the east side and caught a bunch of fliers. They had close to 50 fliers by pitching pink sallies and yellow sallies underneath a small balsa float. They cast Dura-Spins (crawfish and fire tiger worked best) down the middle of the canal and fooled a good chain pickerel and several bowfin. Their biggest bowfin was a 5-pounder. Other anglers fishing the east side on Monday caught about 5 to 10 warmouth per trip by dabbling crickets. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.08 feet.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
The biggest bass I heard of being caught was a 7-pounder this week. According to staff on the area, most anglers caught around 5 bass and 5 crappie per trip. There are lots of bluegill beds around the shallows right now.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
The cold weather slowed the bite some, but anglers still caught fish. The biggest bass I heard of this week was a true 10-pounder (on scales…) caught by an angler fishing from the bank.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The whiting bite has been tops this week. Chris O’Berry fished behind Cumberland Island for whiting on Tuesday and caught a bunch. They ended up with about 50 whiting (about 20 of them were really big ones) and a pair of flounder. Shrimp on the bottom was the ticket for the whiting. On Thursday, an angler counted 15 boats whiting fishing in front of the King and Prince. When that happens, you know the whiting bite is on. A few trout and redfish were caught, but I didn’t hear of any super-impressive catches. You can count on catching enough for a meal if you go this week. Capt. Greg Hildreth has been doing well on the nearshore reefs for sheepshead this week. That bite will stay good for a little longer if you get a chance to go. 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.