If you could get any fishing-related gift for the holidays, what would you wish for and why? New reel? New lures? A new boat? We can wish, can’t we?
NEWS TO KNOW
- Give the Gift of Recreation: This holiday season, no need to go to the stores to get the perfect gift for the outdoors enthusiast on your list. You can gift them a hunting or fishing (or combo) license to help them enjoy the wild places they love. Find out more HERE.
- Reintroduction of a Rare Sucker: Seven sicklefin redhorse were implanted with transmitters and moved from the lower Nottely River to above Lake Nottely for a pilot study on reintroducing the rare sucker into its historic range.
This week, we have fishing reports from North, Southeast and Southwest Georgia. Stay on the “nice” list and we’ll hope the holidays are good for you…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)
New to fishing? Don’t know where to begin? Take Me Fishing is the resource for you! They have the information you’ll need to get your “feet wet,” from buying a license, choosing tackle, locations and seasons to fish, and beyond. Additionally, they have released a new series of short videos that will teach you some great new skills to help you hit the water this weekend!
- Best Times of the Year to Fish
- How to Buy a Fishing License on Your Phone
- How to Hold a Fish
- Best Fall Outdoor Activities
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Allatoona tournament bass angler Matt Driver) — Bass fishing is good. December looks to be great. Good numbers were caught in November, even though fish were scattered. In December, as temperatures cool, the bass tend to concentrate and be a bit more predictable. Water temps are starting to drop into the upper 50’s and will be in the low 50s to upper 40s by the end of the month. There are two patterns to follow in December. Suspended bass and deeper, bottom hugging bass. For suspended fish and we tend to stay in the main lake around point and bluff walls. The bass tend to key in on the 10 to 14 foot range. Our favorite techniques are the jerk bait and a rig and we tend to slow down quite a bit. We use several jerk baits that run at different depths. The Mega Bass 110, the Pointer 100 and the Strike King KVD in the 200 and 300. We like to fish it as fast as the fish will let me. Start off fast and slow down until we start getting bit. A lot of time the hit comes during the pause. Let the fish key in on the proper cadence. Lighter line allows to get the bait deeper. Use 5 to 10 pound Sunline fluorocarbon. The Alabama rig is the Picasso bait ball. Downsize the baits in the winter. Try a 3 inch paddle tail. Make long casts, count it down to 10 and slow roll it back. For the bass holding tight to the bottom use the 3/8 Little Spotty by Picasso. The green pumpkin amber is my go to color. The key is a slow retrieve. Feel every rock on the bottom. Try the medium heavy Shimano Expired 7 foot jig rod and 12 pound test Sunline fluorocarbon line. Fish main lake points and parallel bluff walls. Concentrate on areas north of Bethany Bridge. Fish the mouth of Stamp and McCaskey and up to the mouth of Illinois Creek.
Allatoona Lake Levels: Keep track of daily lake level changes HERE.
Allatoona Linesides (Report courtesy of Robert Eidson www.firstbiteguideservice.com) — [Fishing is] very good! The fall bite is in full swing. Flatlines, planer boards, downlines, umbrella rigs and spoons are all working well. The northern end of the lake is fishing best. The bigger fish are coming from Victoria up to Fields Landing. I’ve been fishing big shad and trout fished on planer boards and flatlines early in the morning and then again late in the evening. The bigger number of hybrids and white bass are coming mid-lake from Victoria to Stamp Creek. Downlining threadfin shad and shiners is your best bet for quantity. All the flats mid-lake are holding fish at sunup. Once the sun gets up, swap over to Mini Mack rigs and spoons. This November is probably the best I’ve seen in the last three to four years. We’re looking for big things going into December. Hopefully the big fish will show up in better numbers this year.
Blue Ridge Bass (Report courtesy of guide Eric Crowley via GON’s Fishing Report) — Bass are on the points 20 to 30 feet deep crashing bait on the surface and holding deep on rockpiles in 40 feet of water. We are catching them on vertical offerings while walleye fishing, but I’m sure anything will work. They are definitely liking the chrome or green spoons and lures.
Carters Lake Linesides (Report courtesy of guide Eric Crowley via GON’s Fishing Report) – The striper bite has been decent, with some quality-sized fish being caught on planers early in the morning and downlines after sunup. With the water being clear, light line and small hooks are going to be to your advantage. Look for fish in Worley Creek, around the big island and near the beach. I like my baits 50 to 60 feet behind my boards, and currently we are fishing downlines 40 to 60 feet deep. Live shad, trout or big shiners are good bait choices right now. Dress warm, and we will see you on the water.
Lake Hartwell Bass (Report courtesy of Rick Owen www.captmacks.com) — Bass fishing is fair. The fish are biting on main lake creek ledges and in the mouth of the creeks. Rapala DT bream crank baits are fair and use light line to get the baits deep. Use the Texas or Carolina rigged worms in Zoom red shad or gourd green and use the brass and glass weight for extra sound. Work all slow lures all the way back to the boat on the points and ledges. Up river in the creeks mouths, slow roll a larger 1/2 ounce Stanley spinner bait with gold and silver willow leaf blades. Later each day, the fish are moving to river points. Later in the day and use the Lucky Craft Redemption spinner bait in the 3/8 ounce size with the shad head. Big bass will feed in the middle of the day.
Lake Hartwell Linesides (Report courtesy of Captain Mack www.captmacks.com) — Striper fishing is pretty good, perhaps a little inconsistent, and versatility remains the key. Plan to use a variety of techniques, Free lines, planer boards, down lines with some casting opportunities. Stealth trolling is also a good technique and is gaining strength with the cooler water temps. I think overall the down line is the most productive technique, with Trout and Herring both producing well. Look for the fish to be roaming around deep bait schools in creeks and drains adjacent to channels. 40 to 50 feet has been a good depth to start searching for bait and fish. Once you find the bait, deploy the spread and spot lock, or move slowly around the area until you see the fish. Moving allows you to saturate an area more effectively and gives you the opportunity to mix Mini’s or other artificial and trolling baits into the spread. You can always hit the Spot Lock when you get the boat on top of the fish. If you spend 20 to 30 minutes in an area and are not catching fish, move onto the next place.
Big Trout and Gizzards on the free lines and planers are also catching fish, with some of the bigger fish we have seen in several months being taken on this technique. This method has application over the above mentioned deep water areas, on flats adjacent to the creek channels, or points near the creek or river channels. Perhaps not as prolific as the down lines, but you may trade higher numbers for a larger average size.
There are also a few fish roaming shallow humps of up tight on points that will respond to casting baits. Casting Mini Macks have a great application here, target humps or points 5 to 20 feet. Swim baits will still get a few bites, and maybe even a topwater bait. High Saturation is the key, and low light, wind and clouds will generally make this pattern stronger.
Lanier Bass (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is very good. From dirt to deep has been the pattern for the week’ We have caught fish in two feet of water and fifty feet of water. The shallow bite has been good with Rapala DT6 crank baits, worms, spinnerbaits and jerk baits. The key factors have been rock and wind for these baits. Both the main lake and secondary areas in the creeks have produced fish with many quality fish mixed in. Early has been a key time for these baits then there seems to be a lull with the bite picking up again later in the day. The dock bite has been getting steadily better as the fish pull back into the creeks. Look for docks in the ten to fifteen foot range and work them with a three sixteenths spot sticker and a green pumpkin trick worm. As the sun gets higher look to the humps and ditches for schools of shad. Your best range is going to be in the thirty to fifty foot areas. The shad are not everywhere and they haven’t locked down yet so be prepared to move around to find them. Several techniques are working for these fish. The Spotchoker Underspin, A Georgia Blade Spoon, the Damiki rig and a drop shot have all produced fish this week. Throw the Spotchoker down the middle of the ditches and slowly craw it back. Often the bite will just feel like you picked up some trash or a slight tick. Just continue a steady reel and slightly pull on the bait. With the Georgia Blade, drop it all the way to the bottom and reel up about a foot off the bottom. Use a steady bounce of about a foot. The Damiki rig is a very subtle bait. Simple drop it to the depth you want and hold it steady. The movement of the boat will give it all the action it needs. Your electronics become vital this time of year for finding bait and fish. It has been fun playing with my Panoptic this week and watching the fish move under me. On several occasions I was able to watch the bass swim through and feed on the shad. The ability to do this put fish in the boat this week. The bite is really good and getting stronger so Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Linesides (Report courtesy of Buck Cannon via www.southernfishing.com) — Stripers are biting small baits like trout and medium shiners. Same down lines but smaller baits. Locate bait using your electronics and fish into the bait and just above it. Tapping on the bottom floor will activate your bite. Smaller bait means smaller hooks I’ve been using number 4 octopus cycles.
Lanier Crappie (Report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton via www.southernfishing.com) — Crappie fishing is good. Right now, crappie can be found on just about any part of the lake. Find schooling crappie on docks for dock shooting. Anglers can find crappie on shallow, open water brush and blowdowns for bobber fishing. Anglers can find crappie on deep water timber for vertical jigging. In the past week we have had success in each of these situations on different parts of the lake. The biggest fish been coming from vertical jigging in about 25 to 30 feet of water. For big numbers go look for a dock with brush near a main channel.
Nottely Linesides (Report courtesy of guide Jeremy Seabolt via GON’s Fishing Report) — There have been some nice fish showing up. Most of the fish have been caught pulling large herring on freelines and on planers early mornings. Then we have been moving over to downlines around 10 a.m. or so. Fish are scattered all over the lake. We have also started catching a few fish working plugs on points and shallow humps. The Captain Mack’s Mini Mack has also been working good slow pulling behind planer boards. Going into December, fish will start pushing up shallower, and a 1-oz. bucktail will work good throwing it on rocky banks and points. Look for the freeline bite to fire off, too. Just remember when the water gets cold, you have to slow down some. Pull herring 60 to 80 feet behind the planer boards, or the spots will drive you nuts. Finding bait balls is also key to catching the deeper stripers in December. Also remember the lake is down about 12 to 14 feet below full pool, so be safe out there on the water. We at Lake Nottely Fishing Charter wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy fishing.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service www.markcollins service.com) –
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair and a lot of fish have moved shallow as the water cools. They are showing up on secondary points, humps, road beds and sand bars. Rat L Traps, flat sided crank baits and spinner baits are catching fish.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is good and they are still on the deeper brush. A lot are showing up on the creek and river channel ledges, 12 to 20 feet deep. Spider rigging with live minnows and jigs over brush and stumps is the way to catch fish in the fall. A few Crappie are still being caught shooting docks with jigs. Some fish are starting to suspend in the river channel in Little River and can be caught long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor and no reports of any catches.
- Catfish: Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8-15 feet of water, cut bait is working best.
West Point Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Fish are in the creek channels and expect the bass to be no further back in the creeks and coves past the secondary points. The docks in the creeks mid lake are good and find the road beds in the creeks also. Some good quality bass are coming of the rip rap. Spoons and jigs are best and concentrate on the ledges on the old creek bends. A ½ ounce Flex It spoon on heavy 14 pound Suffix Elite line and a heavy action bait casting rod is the right rigging. Add an all black jig and use the Uncle Josh all black eel and drag this bait on the same bait casting rig on and over these locations. Mid lake is the best area because the creeks are much stained. Be sure to find the shad schools in the coves and creeks.
Where Do I Go? To learn about Georgia’s diverse trout fishing opportunities including the latest stocking information, check out Georgia DNR Trout Fishing page.
The DFD and Hooksets are Free! (Report courtesy of Jeff at Unicoi Outfitters) — As our region’s stream trout have now smartened up from your fall angling pressure, it’s a perfect time for this reminder: a drag-free drift (DFD) will get you more looks and eats. Here are some DFD tips for everyone, especially our newer fly anglers.
First, pick fly patterns you believe in. Wes’ weekly hot fly list is a great place to start. After that, adjust the amount of split shot and the height (depth) of your indicator above your fly. Try a height of 1.5 times the estimated water depth of the spot you’re fishing. Adjust the Indi as needed when you change spots. Change flies only after giving your first choices some good drifts through some prime pools and runs.
Second, read the water and find a seam, the line between a fast and slow current. Then cast a short distance up into the seam and let your indi rig drift along that seam, back toward you. Make sure your indi drifts along just like an adjacent leaf or bubble: at the same speed and in the same “lane” (direction of flow) The indi should also “tick” occasionally to show that your rig bumps the bottom a few times on its downstream journey.
Hooksets are free, so use them often. Every 10th “rock” might just be a fish! I prefer to set sidearm, downstream. If it’s a miss, I can continue that drift. If it’s a bad miss, I can retrieve my flies from the low streamside branches behind me and get back in the game quickly. Want a demo? Here’s a rerun of our Nov 2019 trip with of my buddy, Sautee, drifting well on Nantahala DH.
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, Region Supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Congratulations to my son, Timothy, for meeting his goal of earning youth angler awards (through the Wildlife Resources Division of the DNR) for 10 different species before his 16th birthday. He caught his 10th species this week (a yellow bullhead catfish) from the Okefenokee Swamp. Get the boat ready for this weekend – the weather forecast is great for southeast Georgia all the way through the middle of next week. With the big tides this weekend, freshwater will likely be the best option.
River gages on December 2nd were:
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 2.5 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 5.7 feet and cresting
- Waycross on the Satilla – 6.8 feet and falling (54 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 6.5 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 4.6 feet and falling
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 7.0 feet and falling
ALTAMAHA AND OCMULGEE RIVERS
I talked with several anglers who fished the Altamaha and the Ocmulgee this week. The Ocmulgee is getting low and greenish-colored. Expect to have trouble launching at the ramps that typically give you trouble when the water is low. But, if you can get in and get around with your boat, you will catch bass. One angler using his jet boat on the upper Ocmulgee had 5 bass before 8:00am on Wednesday. Worms and crankbaits did their damage. They ended up catching (and releasing) a couple dozen largemouth bass. They also had several spotted bass and 3 shoal bass. The same angler earlier in the week had a 20 bass day lower down on the Ocmulgee. His biggest this week was 6 1/2 pounds. An angler had his best day (for numbers) ever on the Altamaha this week. He caught almost 40 bass (mostly 1-2 pounds, the typical river bass). Crankbaits and worms have been the common denominator from thee reports I’ve heard this week.
My son (Timothy) and I fished the Waycross area of the river on Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours, and he caught a giant redbreast that earned him an angler award. The 10 1/2-incher ate a red wiggler worm fished behind a split-shot. He also caught a 7 1/2-inch redbreast, a couple bluegills, and a small channel cat. It was an impressive catch considering the 49-degree water temperature! A couple different anglers fishing that afternoon caught some channel and bullhead catfish by putting worms on the bottom. The water in the upper river is right for boat angling or a float trip.
The panfish bite upriver slowed this week with the rising water, but the striper bite down near Savannah fired up this week. On Wednesday, some anglers reported catching and releasing a dozen stripers and a giant hybrid of 8 to 9 pounds. They fished plastics for their fish. Other anglers reported some good striper catches, as well.
My son Timothy and I fished the SC Foster State Park boat basin, and Timothy caught his 10th youth angler award there this week. The 10 1/2-inch yellow bullhead catfish was just a little larger than it needed to be to earn him the award. The fish bit a red wiggler worm fished on the bottom with a small split-shot. The fish bit right at dark, and we had caught fliers, warmouth, and missed a bowfin before the catfish finally bit. The water is still high on the east side, and the fish are spread out in the prairies, but you can still catch some fish. The peak color on the cypress trees is coming to an end, and the falling needles will be pretty aggravating on the surface for the next week or so. Look for areas without so many floating needles to fish.
It’s been hit and miss this week in ponds. Those who did well did very well. A couple of Waycross anglers crappie fished a lake on Friday, and it was way too windy to troll – their preferred method. So, they used the spot-lock on their Minn-Kota trolling motor to hold them over fish when they graphed them and vertical fished minnows and Specktacular Jigs tipped with minnows. They ended up catching 25 crappie up to about 11 inches and had a blast doing it. A Blackshear angler fished a pond on Sunday with minnows and caught 17 crappie (kept 12, biggest was 1.5 pounds and just shy of 14 inches) and 5 bass. He had a great fish fry on Sunday evening! Chad Lee fished a little bit on Sunday afternoon in an Alma area pond and caught 10 bass up to 3 pounds using jigs and Keitech crawfish. A group of Douglas anglers fished a great bass pond on Thursday morning and afternoon and caught 4 bass and a crappie. Their biggest bass was a 3-pounder on a Rat-L-trap.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
The crappie bite has remained good all across the area. The pier at Lake Patrick has received a lot of attention from bank anglers. The catfish and bluegill bites were good again this week in the entrance ponds.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Trout fishing has been great. A Savannah angler caught his limit of keeper trout in a half-hour while walking the bank on Tuesday. He released a 25-inch gator trout as well. His fish came on Keitech swimbaits rigged on jigheads built with Gamakatsu hooks. He tried some new lures at his community dock for just a couple minutes on Thursday evening and caught 2 nice trout. The trout bite was good for folks fishing the Brunswick and Crooked River areas, as well. Most folks caught about half a limit per trip. Cason Kinstle and a friend had a fantastic trip on Thursday, setting the hook a ton in the Brunswick area! They landed about 60 trout (most undersized), and the biggest was about 18 inches. Their fish ate plastics (chartreuse) on small jigheads. From the reports I got, it was about 2 to 3 throwbacks for each keeper trout. A few redfish were caught, but not as many as the last few weeks. I got a great whiting report – the fish are in the rivers and creeks. Some sheepshead were around dock pilings and hard cover. I heard of a really nice one caught from a dock with fiddler crabs. 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 Emilia Omerberg, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The crappie bite on Lake Seminole is picking up. There are some nice fish down towards the dam this time of year. The Striper bite is also pretty hot near the southern end of the lake. You can also try your luck fishing for hybrid striped bass. Mornings and late afternoons are the time to get out there. But be careful as early morning fog can severely limit visibility and make dangerous hazards nearly impossible to see.
Fishing in the Ochlockonee River is decent right now. Suwannee bass are a prized fish that can be caught in this drainage. Watch out for low water and snags that can be hazardous for boat anglers. These same snags can produce some cool fish. Crappie and sunfish are abundant in this area and some other interesting fish like pirate perch can be found by an attentive angler.
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Bass: The Largemouth bass fishing is fair. The water temp has dropped noticeably in the last few weeks causing the bite to decrease. However, once the fish get acclimated, the bite should start getting better. In the cooler water temps, fish near structure using a slow presentation on either your darker colored plastic baits or shad-colored lures.
Crappie: The crappie bite is also fair. The water has cooled off now, and the crappie are trying to fatten up before it gets any colder, so try minnows and/or brightly colored jigs around the standing timber or along deeper banks to produce a bite. Also, try the fishing the pier near the picnic area where there are artificial attractors are in easy casting distance as well as deeper water.
The crappie bite on Lake Blackshear is on. Target submerged brush and standing timber for these delicious slabs. Some anglers report catching some nice sized bass while sitting on brush looking for crappie. The fish are out there you just need to go get them! Anglers are suggesting night fishing with the use of lights to target the crappie. Smoak bridge is a good location to try as well as the northern part of the lake. Good technology will also be key in finding those fish if they are favoring 25-30 ft of water as some have been. Good luck out there!