Looks like the weather may wet your line before you get to wet a line if you plan to head out on Saturday for a day of fishing. Keep an eye out, enable your phone weather alerts and be safe!
NEWS TO KNOW
- Zebra Mussels Found AGAIN in Georgia: Looks like it might have been a close call for Lake Lanier. A purchased boat from Tennessee was being cleaned (never entered the water) when zebra mussels were found. The boat owner contacted DNR and staff were able to positively ID the mussels and remove them. Boat owners and anglers and anyone that cares about waterways and fisheries in Georgia MUST practice CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY when moving boats from one body of water to another (whether state to state or just here in Georgia). More info HERE.
- Angler Awards: Plenty of applications have already rolled in for the 2021 Angler Award program. Are you working on yours? Depending on your age and your catch – you have a few programs to choose from: Adult Angler Award, Youth Angler Award, Largemouth Bass Angler Award, and PFA Angler Records. Before you hit the water, check out the weights and/or lengths your catch needs to meet to qualify. Be sure if you submit a fish that you include photos (length awards must show fish photographed next to a ruler/tape measure). If submitting for weight, the fish must be weighed on a certified scale. Find a listing of certified scales HERE or check with local grocery stores/marinas.
This week, we have reports from North and Southeast Georgia. Pack a raincoat and some patience and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, Fisheries Biologist and Region Supervisor with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
Smorgasbord….. it’s a strange-sounding Swedish word that means “a wide assortment of choices.” Right now, there is a smorgasbord of fishing opportunities across North Georgia, so it’s time to “get after it while the gettin’ is good.” This week, our team of biologists and technicians have been surveying our most popular fisheries and brought up bass, crappie, and bream galore plus stripers, hybrids and even a 40 lb flathead catfish! Fortunately, most of these popular targets are willing to snatch a bait and bend a rod. So, enjoy the smorgasbord while you can. Before we get to the nuts and bolts of this week’s hottest fishing tips, there are a couple of shout-outs that are worth mentioning.
Big Ole Catfish! First, we would like to recognize catfish angler, T.R. Clark, who boated a 54 lb blue catfish while fishing on West Point Lake (photo on far right). We hope this fish will soon be recognized by GON as a new lake record. This behemoth fish shattered the previous lake record of 37 lb, 5 oz and also qualifies for a Georgia Angler Award.
- Welcome! Also, we want to welcome George Gavrielides to our North Georgia fisheries team. George is a native of Georgia and enjoys fishing, hunting, and all things outdoors. George managed to wrangle a 40 lb flathead catfish into the boat this week during his first sampling trip to Lake Hartwell.
Now, to the nuts and bolts…the following information is from our field staff, friends, and Ken Sturdivant’s angler report.
BOATERS BEWARE: Last week, a dangerous invasive bivalve identified as Zebra Mussels were identified on a wood-hulled boat in dry dock at a Lake Lanier marina. Fortunately, the boat was recently purchased from a marina in Tennessee and had never touched Georgia waters. Zebra Mussels are bad news that can cause tremendous environmental damage and we don’t need them in Georgia! For more information about Zebra Mussels, click HERE and HERE.
WEST POINT LAKE IS DOWN 2.5 FEET CLEAR 70S
Bass (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing for both spots and largemouth has been very good. Fish for both on primary and secondary points, coves and pockets in the major creeks. Use the Strike King Redemption 3/8 ounce and Bass Pro buzz baits shallow. On the spinnerbaits the double willow blade combination. Slow roll the spinnerbait around any cover on the points and in the coves and pockets. The important thing is to cover a lot of water. Fish shallow using very large baits in bright colors. Spots are still spawning and shallow. The spots are holding on shoal markers, humps, and underwater roadbeds in 1 to 5 feet of water. Several good baits are a green pumpkin or June-bug lizard, rigged Carolina style and trick worms. Top water action is starting using a Bang O Lures, Rapalas, Pop R’s. The bass will be shallow for at least two weeks and then they will head to the 10 to 12 foot depths on humps and road beds up in the creeks.
Linesides (Courtesy of GON contributor Dustin Pate) — The last week has been prime fishing for hybrids. The fish are from the shoals to Snake creek and every spot in between. The lure bite has slowed some, which is normal. The fish really seem to turn to shad later in the run and especially when the water clears, as it has the last week. We are on short time with the hybrids at this point. There will be enough around for the next week but look for it to really slow down soon. A massive amount of white bass came back down last week. These are all spawned out fish making their way back to the lake. They are mostly smaller fish, but you can expect insane numbers when you land on a group. They are eating any small baitfish imitator. The main mass of striped bass always seems to wait for this April full moon. I think it is even more the case this year as the temps have stayed lower than normal. You’re not going to run into the major numbers of them like the hybrids, but they will be around for the next couple weeks. There is always a chance at a bigger fish also. We had one around 21 lb yesterday (April 18). See all photos from trip HERE.
LAKE LANIER IS DOWN .33 FEET, CLEAR CREEKS STAINED, Upper 60S
Bass (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — There’s rarely a better time of year than now for fishing on Lanier. With water temps in the mid-60s, dusk arriving late at 8, and a falling barometer over the weekend, fishing conditions are excellent! While conducting annual standardized sampling on Lanier this week, Largemouth were hugging the banks and spotted bass were typically cruising shallows in 4’ – 6’ of water. Our best samples for spotted bass were those mid-lake stations with rock outcrops throughout, where the bait was congregating in pockets and the spots were taking full advantage. We observed a number of spots consuming crayfish, so don’t discount a drab craw patterned crankbait or rattletrap this weekend. Many post-spawn crappie are now in 6’-10’ of water around submerged structure, a jig and bobber cast into blowdowns at the right depth can fill the boat this time of year. Lots of fishing patterns are working right now, so just get out on the lake and have some fun!
Bass: (This fishing report is by Phil Johnson at Pjohnson15@hotmail.com 770 366 8845) — Lake Lanier has definitely come alive. As the lake has cleared and the water temperature has steadily risen the fish have become very active. There are plenty of spotted bass up shallow to make them easier to find. You may have to still drop off a little to catch some bigger spots but they are hungry also. Almost all of the pockets are holding fish and they can be caught several ways. A wacky rig worm on a 1/8-ounce head in almost any color will get strikes. Green pumpkin all the way through chartreuse Senko’s will work well. Just cast toward the bank and work it slowly watching your line. Many of the strikes you won’t even feel. A chug bug in blue and silver pattern worked on rocky points has been producing some good fish. Look for the flats with sand for some good action also. A Megabass one ten jerk bait in the shad pattern is working well in these areas, particularly the pockets with wind blowing into them. As the sun gets up higher look for brush in the 20 to 25-foot range and work either the chug bug or a wake bait over. You won’t get as many of these strikes but the ones you do will be well worth it. As we approach the next full moon there should be another wave of largemouth moving up to spawn. Check the backs of the pockets facing the south and the docks leading to the back. Senko’s and trick worms on a 3/16 Spotsticker with do the trick in these areas. It’s time to get out there and have some fun.
Stripers (report provided by Henry Cowen) — Striper fishing is in full spring swing. Fish are spread out all over the lake and there is even a little schooling going on. The big schools are clearly up the rivers for the spawn. Both the Hooch and Chestatee rivers are loaded with fish. Bigger offerings like game changers and clousers are the flies of choice as the fish are gorging on blueback herring.
Crappie (report provided by Captain Josh Thornton, call to book a trip 770 530 6493) — Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures are in the upper-60s. The hot bite target zones are 4 to 8 feet deep and 15 to 20 foot deep. The crappie are on the move look in the backs of coves, look in creeks, and pockets, under docks and on brush. Try drifting or slow trolling .3 to .5 mph over the bait fish with minnows 3’-8’ deep. Look for the stray fish they are typically larger than the schooling fish cast a jig to these fish. I have been finding the crappie 20 feet deep over 30 to 40 feet of water under docks we have found them on brush in 30 feet and I have found crappie in 3’ of water this week. Try the slow retrieval method of a jig when fishing vertical. If you get hit and were not able to set the hook open the bell and jig fall back down in front of the fish and slow retrieve again. I always put out a Crappie minnow with a BB sized sinker 12 to 16 inches above the 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. The water is clearing up from the recent rains so I am going back to lighter jig color combinations white with chartreuse tail or the blue grass. I’m using ATX lure company’s plastics that can now be purchased at Sherry’s Bait and bbq. I use the K9 5lb test high visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on an Acc crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my page @crappieonlanier
LAKE ALLATOONA IS FULL, CLEAR 70S
Bass (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — fishing is good. The shad spawn is more prevalent now and is it more locations on the lake. Soft plastic jerk baits, Rooster Tails, poppers and even jerk baits are working great in the morning. Find the schools of fish on serval rock banks and pea gravel shorelines. This water is a tad bit warmer and the bait fish like this and the bass come after them. This bot only last for a few hours and once it goes away fish move out just a little bit and can be called on jig heads, Carolina rig and crank baits. The top water is still really good and will only continue to get better for the rest of the month. Water temperatures are little slower to rise this year and the Shad spawn will actually last a little longer than normal.
LAKE HARTWELL IS DOWN 1.1 FEET 70S
Smorgasbord: (From Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — The water temperature is rising quickly on Lake Hartwell with temperatures reaching the low 70s during peak sunshine. Bass are hugging the banks but the bigger fish are holding on the secondary points. Crappie are holding tight onto downed trees and a few are moving into the flooded grass along backwater areas. This will be a good year for crappie fishing on Lake Hartwell with an abundance of fish topping the 1 ½ lb mark (photo of George with crappie). Also, the hybrid run is on and fish are plentiful in the upper reaches of the Tugaloo River (Hwy 123 bridge and up) and even in feeder streams like the Chauga River.
Bass (This report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is GOOD. They are chasing bait so find the bait and find the bass. Crank Baits are starting to turn on some right now, along with spinner baits and jerk baits. The main lake points are getting hammered as the bass move up. Use the Speed Traps, X Raps, Rapala DT6 and a 3/8-ounce Strike King spinner Bait. Also take along a Carolina Rig for those slow periods. With a little color in the water from time to time try using a root beer color Speed Traps. And be sure to use a McStick everywhere you stop.
BLUE RIDGE LAKE: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — The latest cold snap pushed temperatures back down a bit, but they rebounded into the mid-60s by mid-afternoon. We found lots of bluegill and redbreast in shallow areas in the backs of coves and in small pockets. Good numbers of largemouth were up shallow too, mainly in debris jams and blowdowns on the upper end of the lake and way up the larger creek mouths. Spotted bass numbers were a bit below normal, suggesting that we sampled a little on the early side to catch their main migration to the shallows, but they are there and will be shallow very soon.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN PUBLIC FISHING AREA (report provided by fisheries biologist Jackson Sibley) — On Monday, fisheries staff wrapped up spring sampling at Rocky Mountain PFA. Notable catches included sizeable channel catfish, impressive shellcracker, and several bass over 7 lbs. PFA manager Dennis Shiley shares some insider intel into the area’s diverse fishing opportunities:
“Catfish are biting good using cut bait and chicken livers along rip rap areas. Crappie are finishing up the spawn but can still be caught shallow on structure. Bass fishing is good and the bigger fish are moving out to their summer spots. Look for them in 8 to 10’ of water on structure and offshore rock piles.”
WEISS LAKE IS AT FULL POOL AND CLEARING AND 68-72 DEGREES (This Lake Weiss fishing report is by Mark Collins Service) —
Bass: Bass fishing is fair and 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. Some fish are starting to bed.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. 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. They are spawning right now.
Stocked Waters: With only a few more weeks left in the delayed harvest season, there are still trout in the creek that are ready to be caught again and again. Here is an article about Smith Creek DH that might be useful.
Little Amicalola Creek Report and Video: (This report courtesy of Pautzke Bait Co.) — Georgia is stuffed with opportunities to catch trout. Meanwhile, not all stocked waters are ideal for young anglers. Fortunately, Little Amicalola Creek is. Flowing through the heart of Amicalola Falls State Park, the creek is stocked weekly by the Georgia Division of Natural Resources from spring into summer. Learn how to take your kids here and catch trout in this episode of Pautzke Outdoors. Watch the video HERE.
Upper Hooch Report: (This Report Courtesy of Box Lux) — Nymphs were on the menu today topped with tungsten beads. We got a handful of stockers on mops, eggs and hot bead nymphs. More natural flies did not produce any strikes and oddly, squirmy worms produced nothing. Soft edges near fast water produced the most fish.
Toccoa Tailwater Report: (This report is courtesy of the Cohutta Fishing Company) — Horseshoe Bend Park and Tammen Park are open on weekdays. Curtis Switch might be open as it is a TVA access point. I would call the county before heading to fish the tailwater. IF it is open, I would mostly prospect with subsurface patterns imitating big stoneflies like pat’s rubber legs and tungstones, followed by a dropper fly like a March Brown Jig, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail, Holy Grail in olive, or a Rainbow Warrior. I start replacing my strike indicators with Chubby Cherynobyls this time of year, and I would also carry a few dries just in case – Parachute Adams 12-16 (March Browns, Hendricksons), Elk Hair Caddis in Tan 14-16, and Griffith’s Gnats 16-22.
Trout Stream Report (This report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) — We had just a few reports from small headwaters because everyone was having too much fun with bigger fish on bigger waters, which had finally receded enough to fish well.
- Headwaters will be good again. Try a big (#14) buoyant dry to call them up, and add a beaded prince or pheasant tail on a short dropper if they’re hesitant in the morning chill. Young UO buddy Cameron had some decent action on a north GA WMA. More little wild bows were missed than fondled, but it was great hook-setting practice!
- RonW: “Kurt and I scouted a few streams in the Blue Ridge WMA on Sunday. We fished from 8am till noon and had a tough go at it. The water was up a little and off color. We tried everything (dry, dry dropper, nymph and streamers) but in the end the fish won this round. I managed the lone fish of the day, a lil’ wild Brown who smashed a Stimi. It was an absolutely beautiful day to be out on the water with a great friend. We fished some cool new water and were home by 2pm, I guess we won after all!”
- Wes: “I did a half-day public water trip Wednesday afternoon in town. Plenty of large fish are still left from the Helen trout tournament. We hooked 3 fish that were all 4+ pounds but weren’t able to get any landed. We did catch several stockers. Worms, eggs, soft hackles, and buggers were the ticket.”
- Delayed Harvest: Apparently most DH streams, including Smith Creek, got some DNR re-doses last week, giving newer fly-fishers a good shot at success. Resident fish will still supply challenges for our angling vets. None of us had a recent DH trip, but web reports have been very good. DH streams should fish really well again this week, especially with lower flows in larger streams.
- Cool mornings may keep bugs and fish deep, so go down to them if needed before your lunch break. Better yet, come late and stay late. For evening surface activity, remember to match adult bug size, color, and behavior.
Parting Trout Note: Want to do more to support trout fishing in Georgia? Consider upgrading to a Trout Unlimited license plate this year. Aside from being a great looking tag, each purchase or renewal of a Trout Unlimited license plate directly supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs. Hatcheries and wild trout efforts both benefit from the trout tag.
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Fisheries Biologist and Region Supervisor with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
Get your river boats ready. It’s about to get silly!
I heard of several great trips this week – some caught limits. The best catches I heard of were made with bruiser, black/chartreuse and crawfish Satilla Spins. Ronnie Gaskins made a trip this week and caught some really nice rooster redbreasts on the bruiser color. There were 19 trucks with trailers at the new Hwy 168 ramp in Berrien County at one point on Saturday. The cool nights will slow the morning bite somewhat, but expect the bite to heat up with the afternoon temperatures. The river level at the Statenville gage on April 22nd was 3.5 feet and falling.
Several folks reported good catches on the Ogeechee this week. Jason Arrington had a board of fish that took him awhile to filet. Looked like a 2-person limit. He caught them on electric chicken Satilla Spins. The river level at the Eden gage on April 22nd was 6.3 feet and falling.
The Satilla Riverkeeper week-long tournament is still going on, so check out the details on Facebook or their website at satillariverkeeper.org. Some nice fish have been weighed in so far this week. The upper river is in pretty good shape and is definitely fishable. The cool nights will probably push the best bite into the afternoon. I talked with several folks who fished the river this week, and most caught a half-dozen or so fish. Hopefully the water will warm before it gets tough to get around. The river level on April 22nd at the Waycross gage was 6.7 feet and falling (68 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 6.2 feet and falling.
Tyler Finch had another productive trip on the Savannah. He and a friend ended up keeping 84 panfish, and all of them ate white Satilla Spins with a cricket. The river level at the Clyo gage on April 22nd was 7.9 feet and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The results of the Shady Bream Tournament his past Saturday were impressive. Some giant fish were caught, with the biggest being 1.06 pounds – caught by Tamara. The Team of Hunter and Shawn won with 9.81 pounds of panfish (10 fish). Second was Ernie and Ronnie (8.95 pounds), while Dale and Emma came in third with 8.38 pounds. The next Shady Bream Tournament will be held Saturday, May 22nd out of the Trader’s Hill Landing near Folkston. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information. The river level at the MacClenny gage on April 22nd was 6.8 feet and falling.
Davis Summerlin had a great trip to a local pond for bass on Thursday. He caught several 5’s, a 6, a 7, and an 8 1/2-pounder. His biggest bass ate a pink floating worm. For his post-spawn basin’, Davis uses a topwater frog a lot, but they often don’t actually eat it. He then follows up a miss with a floating worm, and they will usually inhale it (he said 9 of out 10 times….). His favorite search bait this time of year is a 3/8-oz. green pumpkin Chatterbait. Some anglers got together and fished a bass tournament on Saturday at a Brunswick area pond. The winner fooled 17 pounds of bass (5 fish limit) using plastic worms, Rat-L-traps, and spinnerbaits. Chip Lafferty and his partner earned runner-up and big fish by throwing Texas-rigged Keitech Mad Wag Worms (black-blue flake and green pumpkin candy fooled most of them) and wacky-rigged stick worms (junebug and green pumpkin worked best). Another group of anglers had an impressive 27 catfish catch. Catfish are shallow preparing to spawn right now, so give them a try if you have a good catfish pond. Look for bluegills in your favorite bream pond, as the coming full moon will push another wave shallow.
An angler fishing on Thursday said that they caught a few panfish, but not enough to worry with cleaning them. The cold nights late this week slowed the warmouth bite, but you can still catch a few fliers and warmouth per trip along with some pickerel (jackfish). The bowfin bite hasn’t taken off yet, but it will in a few weeks when the nights quite cooling off as much. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.96 feet.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
The biggest largemouth bass I heard of being caught at the area was a 9.21-pounder caught on Saturday. On Sunday a 9.01 pound bass was reported. A couple of anglers fished the area on Friday and caught a 2, 3 and 4-pounder. The big crappie bite has slowed, but anglers are still catching decent numbers of smaller fish.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
On Saturday, Shane and Joshua Barber fished around St. Marys and landed 15 trout and sheepshead (8 keepers), a croaker, and a whiting. The trout ate grubs, while fiddler crabs fooled the rest. Todd Kennedy caught his first trout out of his new kayak this week. It ate a topwater. Trout fishing has been good in Crooked River and the Brunswick area. Expect to catch a meal’s-worth per trip. Tripletail fishing has been good this week, with folks having multiple shots at fish on the flats off Jekyll Island. Most experienced anglers reported catching a few fish per trip. Live shrimp under a small float is the traditional way to catch them. Brentz and Claudia McGhin went crabbing with hand-lines in the St. Simons area this Friday and brought back 46 big crabs. They spent some time picking them, but there will be some delicious crab cakes in the future. Whiting fishing was good this week on days you could get out. The winds have been bad a few days, so make sure to check the marine forecast before going. The normal King and Prince and Cumberland Sound spots have produced. 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.