All signs point to getting outdoors this weekend. Are you listening?
NEWS TO KNOW:
- Go Fish Workshops: Get the Basics at a 1-day Fishing Workshop at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry, GA. Workshops are offered on May 22 and on June 5. They have limited capacity – so sign up soon! Workshops are $25 per person, all equipment is provided and you are sure to have loads of fun!
- Tired Creek Serving Up a Whopper: A MONSTER of a largemouth was caught at Tired Creek Lake in Grady County on May 1. This 28-inch long, 22.5-inch girth, 14 lb, 9 oz hawg was reeled in by Amanda Parker of Valdosta GA. Congrats to Amanda who will be recognized with a 2021 Trophy Bass Program certificate (and other rewards), including being eligible for a free replica mount of the fish!
- Gone Virtual! The Keeping Georgia Wild Festival will be a week-long virtual event with great instructional outdoor info, entertaining “art” sessions, and end with two in-person opportunities – a kids fishing event and a tree climbing session (pre-registration required for the tree climbing). Oh, and there is a chance to win some prizes if you participate in some social media activity!
This week, we have reports from Southeast and North Georgia. Go soak up that sunshine and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Region Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Well, it WAS time to get your river boats ready…until last Saturday’s deluge. The rivers pretty much all flooded this week, except the St. Marys.
Teddy Elrod and a friend fished the lower river oxbow lakes last Saturday and Sunday and did really well. On Saturday they had a dozen bluegill up to 11 inches on Satilla Spins (copperfield) and poppers fished on a fly rod. On Sunday they figured they would fish since the river had not risen yet after the heavy rains the night before, and they were glad they made that decision. They had a great catch of 30 panfish. Most of their fish were bluegills, and most ate a copperfield Satilla Spin, but they had a couple other species, and a couple of their fish ate crickets. For the results of the recent Satilla Riverkeeper fishing tournament, check out their Facebook page. Don’t fish the upper or middle river this week – it’s screaming. The extreme upper river should be fishable next weekend, though. The river level on May 6th at the Waycross gage was 11.6 feet and falling (71 degrees). The Atkinson gage was 14.6 feet (flood stage is 13 feet!) and falling.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Chuck Deen fished the middle river on Sunday afternoon and caught 9 nice panfish. His biggest was a 10-inch redbreast, and he also had a nice 3/4-pound crappie. All of his fish ate warmouth craw Satilla Spins. 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 May 6th was 4.5 feet and falling.
Last week, Scarlett Barber fly fished with bugs in a local pond and caught a dozen bluegill. She learned how to effectively take fish off her own hook, also. I’ve heard of some good bass catches on buzzbaits and walking topwaters this week. Most bites are early in the day. Expect the topwater night bite to fire off in the next few weeks. Catfish and bream are shallow preparing to spawn right now, so give them a try if you have a good pond for those species.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
Isaac Phinazee of Cochran caught his personal best bass, a 7-pounder, on Saturday. He was flinging a “bleeding gill” pattern Z-wake swimbait. Most of the good bass catches were early and late in the day on topwaters. It doesn’t get any more exciting than that!
Josh and Alisha Forsythe fished the east side on Saturday and had a great catch of fliers, warmouth, and pickerel (jackfish). They used pink sallies for the fliers and caught the rest on crickets and electric chicken jigs. They caught a total of 54 fish. An angler reported catching fliers, warmouth and a few bass on the west side. The catfish bite should be wide open on the west side, but I didn’t hear any specific reports. With this warm weather, the bowfin should start biting well if you like flinging in-line spinners down the canals and pulling on the feisty fish. The bugs still aren’t bad, but the yellow flies will be picking up by the end of the month. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.94 feet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Brentz and Claudia McGhin hand-lined for crabs with chicken in the Brunswick area last week and had a great trip. They ended up bringing home 52 big crabs that were full of meat. Tripletail fishing has been slow over the last week and a half, but there have been lots of boats looking for them. Someone probably found them, but the folks I’ve talked with saw just a couple per trip and didn’t catch them. If you hit the right day, you will have multiple shots at fish on the flats off Jekyll Island. Whiting reports were surprisingly slow from the folks I talked with. Most trips produced a dozen to 20 fish, but that’s a small fraction of the usual catches this time of year. This warmth might get them biting a little better??? 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 Jim Hakala Region Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
NE Georgia Reservoir Reports (Report courtesy of Zach Moran) — Decided to take a vacation from Texas and visit an old friend in the Northeast Georgia mountains to chase some spawning Largemouth and big Spotted Bass during the shad spawn. Over the course of four days we fished Lakes Chatuge, Hartwell, Lanier, and Burton…and man was the fishing lights out. The weather was perfect, and we caught over 50 fish during the four-day trip while enjoying some beautiful mountain scenery.
We patterned Spotted Bass on main lake points with jerkbaits and shakey head trick worms. Every single Spotted Bass had a gigantic belly and were full to the brim with shad. A “twitch twitch pause” seemed to be the cadence the fish wanted from the jerkbaits and the points with rocky bottoms produced the most fish. Largemouth Bass were in the midst of the spawn with some fish guarding, others nesting, and some building beds. Coves protected from north winds had the most fish. Beds were patterned next to docks with hard gravel or sandy bottoms. We used white swim jigs, whacky rigged worms, and white craw-like trailers to get bedding fish to bite. Had an absolutely epic trip and can’t wait to return next year. Go fish Georgia!
Mountain Lake Spawning: (Report Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern) — On the mountain lakes, bass are wrapping up their spawning season and preparing to feast on the blueback herring that are just now starting to spawn on rocky banks. The swirling frenzy of herring sets the stage for the year’s most exciting topwater action. Swim baits and jerk baits that mimic the erratic swimming action of blueback herring will definitely draw the attention of aggressive bass, like the 6 lb spotted bass pictured from Lake Burton.
Walleye Abound: More than 600 thousand walleye fingerlings landed in lakes Lanier, Hartwell, Yonah, Tugalo, Rabun, Seed, Chatuge, Blue Ridge and Carters over the past couple weeks. Learn more about Georgia’s walleye program HERE.
Lanier Bass (Report courtesy of Phil Johnson) — Lake Lanier fishing is good and improving. We were so close to things busting loose and then we had a thirty three degree night with wind. As the water temperature backed down so did fishing. The herring spawn was just starting before the cold snap and the bass were chewing. As the water temperature comes back up this week all of the activity should follow. Probably the steadiest bait has been the fluke fished either on banks or blow through’s. The top water bite is definitely starting up with the Chrome Red Fin or wake baits working well over the flats or sandy areas. There also is some schooling activity if you are in the right area with a Chug Bug working well on this aggressive fish. Sandy pockets, rocky banks and bridges can all be areas to look at. Often it just as simple as smelling them. This bedding activity usually only last a couple of hours in the morning but the shad will hang in the area during the day. If you have wind, always on Lanier, look for the windblown points and banks and try a jerk bait on a steady retrieve. The wacky rig is still producing fish around docks and banks leading into pockets. Watch for the top water bite to take off with the warmer water so have something you can throw for distance on these fish. Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Crappie (Report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton) — Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures are in the mid 60’s. The hot bite target zone is 10 15 foot deep. The crappie are back on the docks and also can be found on open water brush piles and blow downs. Try the slow retrieval method with a jig when fishing vertical. I always put out a Crappie minnow set the minnows just above the fish. Right now I am setting the minnows around 10 feet deep. 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 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 most productive jig colors for me have been the translucent colors and the solid white. I’m using ATX lure company’s plastics that can now be purchased at Sherry’s Bait and BBQ. I use the 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. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my page @crappieonlanier
Lanier Lake Level Info: Track Lanier Lake Level at Buford Dam HERE.
Allatoona Crappie (Report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright) — I have not been out lately, but some friends have told me they are starting to see crappie in deeper water brush piles. Once water temps hits 80F, the spider rigging bite will be on fire!
Allatoona Linesides (Report courtesy of Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service) — Fishing is good and will only get better as we enter into the month of May. The hybrids have started their spawn runs up both the Etowah and Little rivers. Most of the fish that are being caught are already spawned out. The river bite should stay decent into the middle of May. The main lake is also fishing well. The fish that are returning out of the rivers are starting to school up from the Little River bridge up to the Delta and from the S-turns to Kellogg Creek. There is also a decent south end bite going on right now from Iron Hill to the bay out in front of 3rd Army. The fish on the main lake are up in the water column and are very hard to mark on 2D sonar. If you have a Lowrance with side scan, you can locate these fish by running your side scan setting on 60 feet on both sides. These have been working great for me on my Lowrance 12. If you don’t have side scan, the best way to find these fish is to put out a spread of planer boards and freelines and pull the banks and open water until you get bit. Planer boards and freelining live shad on the main lake have been our best bite. For at least 95% of our catch on both Lake Allatoona and Carters Lake, small to middle-size gizzard shad and threadfins have been the ticket. Trolling has been decent but should get really good once the water temperature hits 70 degrees and the lake starts to clear. Overall the bite on Allatoona is very good for almost the entire lake. Spring is and an awesome time to be on the water.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is good and the jerk bait bite is on. It’s a mixed bag of spots and largemouth and also a mixed bag of lures. Top water, swim baits, shaky heads, soft plastic jerk baits and more. Put the trolling motor on medium and make as many casts as you can. The spawn is winding down. Use the Berkley Flicker Shad Shallow Hard Bait on the blow downs. Warm water and wind are great combos. The mid-lake area is good for all day fishing. Keep a Zoom pearl Super Fluke ready and use it everywhere.
More Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of GON angler contributor Matt Driver) — Fishing is great! The month of May brings the end to the bass spawn and the beginning of a topwater smash fest! May means the shad spawn and postspawn fishing begins. Bass have moved to areas where they can recover from this spawn, rest and feed. Nothing changes, it’s like clockwork. May is time to think shad. Shad have already started spawning, and the bass are feeding like crazy. The white bass and hybrid join in, as well. Shad spawn on hard surfaces like rock and even debris floating in the water. The best baits this month are shad-imitation baits, like the Picasso Suijin tipped with a fluke. Also fish a jerkbait, like a Lucky Craft Pointer 78 or the 100. Also, topwater is on fire. Any walking bait will do, but I prefer a Zara Spook, Spro Hydro-Pop and a Pop-R. The bass can be targeted with jig-head worms, drop shots and finesse jigs. Watch your sonar for signs of bait and active fish. The new forward-facing sonar is going to change the way we approach fish in the future. Check it out. The best areas to catch fish right now are Cooper’s Branch, Illinois Creek and the mouth of Little River. The best shad spawn times are on the full moon.
Lake Level Info for Allatoona: Track Allatoona Lake level HERE.
Blue Ridge Bass (Report courtesy of guide Eric Welch) — April was a crazy month for fishing. We’ve had so much rain that our lake actually went above full pool in just a matter of a few days. That’s not good when it’s spawning time, not to mention we had some cold rains that dropped the water temps, but hopefully we’re back to normal. We’ve got some fish still spawning, and this should last until about the second week in May. Then we have some that are already done spawning and are trying to protect the fry, but are ready to eat. Around spawning banks and flats where I can’t see the beds, but I know it’s a spawning area, the baits I use are a Strike King 5-inch finesse worm on a shaky head, a Z-Man TRD worm, a drop shot with a 4.5-inch Roboworm and a 3.5-inch tube. For the fish that have spawned and are protecting their fry around wood and docks, try a Zoom Trick Worm and a Zoom Fluke. Once the spawn is over, you should start seeing some topwater action. Try a Whopper Plopper and a Strike King Sexy Dawg Jr. Bass will start going back to their normal summer patterns where you will catch them on jigs, Texas rigs, drop-shots and other baits.
Carters Spots and Linesides (Report courtesy of Carters Lake Guide Service) — Fishing continues to be great on Carters Lake. Planer boards, free-lines, & down-lines were the ticket today. Troll .3 to .5mph in and out of the creeks. The bite will get better as the weather warms, so if you want to chase 5LB.+ Magnum Spotted Bass or Trophy Striper give us a call!
Lake Level Info for Carters: Track Carters Lake Level HERE.
Nottely Linesides (Report courtesy of guide Jeremy Seabolt) — It has been an awesome April. We have caught some nice fish and lots of them! We have had the best luck pulling planer boards with shad and large herring first thing in the mornings. Then we have been moving out into the deeper water pulling weighed freelines 100 feet back. The DNR has done an awesome job the last few years. We have a lot of different age classes of fish showing up in big schools. One of our guides got a 26-pounder recently, so the bigger fish are showing up mid-lake. Red Fins in herring and shad colors have also been working first thing in the morning and in the afternoons. Work the sunny points and hold on. May is always a fun month to fish. We will be fishing about the same way as April, but we’ll also be fishing points with herring. The herring should be starting to spawn by mid-May, so that’s always a lot fun to fish. They will be up shallow gorging, so don’t be scared to pull your baits right up on the banks. Also a fluke is a go-to bait in May. Don’t forget the Bait Shack on Nottely has all your live bait needs, and it’s open 24/7 so you can go catching whenever you want.
Lake Tugalo Record Shellcracker (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist George Gavrielides) — Turnerville Georgia angler David Shirley has captured the top spot for Redear sunfish at Lake Tugalo. The record fish weighed 2 lb, 2 oz and stretched 13.3 inches in length. The giant shellcracker easily qualified Mr. Shirley for a Georgia Angler Award.
Hartwell Bass: (Report courtesy of Southern Fishing With Ken Sturdivant) Bass fishing is good. These fish are in post spawn. Fish can be found in main lake pockets and ditches and have been as shallow as 2 to 10 feet, as well as still around points and pockets in 20 feet. For a fast bite use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. Use the green pumpkin trick worms on a shaky head Weedless 1/4 ounce Fish Head Spin in Pearl White and Albino colors trailed with a Super Fluke Jr. as well as jerk baits in the pockets. The shaky head has also been effective around the docks. Strike King Super Finesse worm green pumpkin and KVD Perfect plastics Bull worm bold blue and KVD Caffeine Shad.
West Point Bass Stocking (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) — Bass, bass and more bass! West Point has been stocked with more than 800,000 largemouth bass fingerlings this spring. These stockings are part of an ongoing largemouth bass stocking program initiated in 2016 to improve largemouth abundance in this popular reservoir. The majority of bass fingerlings have been stocked by boat into prime largemouth bass habitat as a means of improving their post-stocking survival rate.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service) —
Bass: 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. 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. A lot of fish have spawned and started moving to deeper brush.
SMALL LAKE AND POND REPORT
Rocky PFA (Courtesy of Manager Dennis Shiley) – At Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area largemouth bass are getting out of their post-spawn blues and are starting to eat jigs and plastic worms. On the flip side, bluegill and shellcrackers are bedding now and crickets or worms are all you need to get in on the action. Big catfish continue to be caught at Rocky this year. Summerville angler Chad Teems shattered the previous channel catfish record at Rocky PFA by more than 4 pounds when he boated a 20 pound 5 oz. cat from Heath Lake last weekend. In fact, Chad’s catch will not only hold the top catfish spot at Rocky PFA, but also among all other PFA’s across the state where records have been established. Congrats to Chad on an awesome catch. Find out more about the angler award program at PFA’s HERE.
Rocky PFA Walleye Stocking: Rocky Mountain Recreation and Public Fishing Area (PFA) is probably best known for its trophy largemouth, hand sized bream and slab crappie, but did you know walleye also call Rocky Mountain PFA home? Walleye are a native species and have been stocked annually at Rocky Mountain for more than a decade to further diversify the facility’s sport fishery. Here is an article on Rocky Mountain’s newest walleye additions.
James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — Did you know that fishing opportunities abound at Georgia State Parks? James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park in Chattooga County offers some great all-around fishing for anglers of all types. Each of the park’s two lakes provides a boat ramp as well as abundant bank fishing access. A recent DNR sampling outing turned up some really impressive fish, a testament to what the Park’s waters have to offer. The bream populations look great, with bluegill sizes larger than normal for the area. Redear sunfish pushing 1 lb were common. Additionally, these species are currently engaged in spawning, making them particularly easy to catch in 2 to 5 feet of water. Crickets fished under a cork can be an unbeatable approach. Keep an eye out for largemouth bass as well. Anglers report frequent encounters with chunky largemouth, like these pictured, which tend to keep the weight on throughout the year thanks to a healthy threadfin shad population in the lakes. You may try lighter crankbaits and swim baits in order to “match the hatch.”
Trout Stocking: Over 28,000 trout were stocked this week across North Georgia. Wanna know where? View the weekly trout stocking report. Keep in mind this week’s heavy rains and high river flows have likely spread stockers farther downstream from their stocking points. So, if at first you don’t succeed, head farther downstream!
DH Home Stretch: Georgia’s Delayed Harvest season will end on Friday, May 14! Starting May 15 and running through October 31, trout harvest is permitted on Georgia’s five delayed harvest streams.
The Beginner Fly List (Courtesy of Jeff “Dredger” Durniak) — Don’t let what fly to fling overwhelm you. Whether it be dry, wet or attractor patterns, check out Dredger’s top north Georgia fly recommendations HERE.
Trout Stream Insect ID: So you have a box of flies, which one do you toss? Answer: the ones that match the hatch. Check out this six-minute video by Orvis expert Tom Rosenbauer that will help you decipher our spring hatches and make your fly choice easier.
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.