How is it possible that we are already SEVEN DAYS into 2022? Have you made plans for your first fishing trip of the year yet?
NEWS TO KNOW:
- New Georgia Fishing Regs Available: The guide is now available online and in the Outdoors Georgia app. While printed copies are delayed (due to paper and manufacturing issues) until at least the end of this month, you can find a downloadable copy of the to-be printed guide HERE.
- Greenhouse Lake Re-Opens: Staff completed maintenance work, added fish attractors & stocked hybrid striped bass, channel catfish and bluegill at Greenhouse Lake at the Marben Public Fishing Area and it has now re-opened for anglers.
This week, we have reports from Southwest, Central, North and Southeast Georgia. Happy New Year to all and Let’s Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
The crappie fishing on Lake George is still hot! Jigs and minnows towards the southern end of the lake have been very productive. Use sonar to fins areas with flat bottoms and submerged structures. Also try fishing around docs. Remember that the lake is really a river channel so be aware of submerged obstacles and shallow depth when boating.
The water on Blackshear is pretty stained after all the rain we received over the weekend. When fishing for bass try shad colored lures. Try using darker colored lures that will match the prey in the muddy water. When the stain lightens up go back to using more natural-colored lures. The crappie bite continues to be pretty hot and minnows are the bait of choice. Some good channel cats can be caught out there as well with any smelly bait. One angler suggested his family secret as chicken breasts soaked in Kool-Aid or Jell-o mix. Good luck out there!
(Fishing report courtesy of Steve Schleiger, Region Supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Look both up and down lake as well as up the rivers and creeks. Use the Shad Raps in the RS and Jointed models along with the famous balsa wood version. Light rain moved across the area and has turned the bass on as they are feeding heavily on the shad and herring. The rocky banks mid-way back in the coves are holding both the largemouth and the spotted bass. Some of these bass are bigger fish. Forget the main lake points and head on back to the halfway point in the larger coves and smaller creeks that feed into the lake. Fish an area where the red clay bank has a little different color of water than the channel, fish this area with a shad pattern Shad Rap and if the water is stained use the perch color. This fire tiger pattern and a slow retrieve will work. The early morning and late afternoon will be the best time to find a good feeding pattern.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 4.5 FEET 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Head to the points and main lake humps with brush. The bass are tight in cover and the Zoom Creepy crawlers in pumpkinseed colors is taking a few fish. Work baits slowly. Up the creeks on points close to the current, use a dark jig and pig combination. Fish tight in any cover from the bank as far out as 15 feet. The Stanley jigs in the 1/2-ounce size in dark reds and blacks with a matching #11 Uncle Josh trailer will be best. Use some Real Craw scent and use it often, casting to the same location. Flipping and pitching tight trees in the water or docks up lake is fair. Bright 7A Bombers in green crawfish worked slowly in the creeks halfway back later in the day, can draw strikes. Find the warmest water for better action. Watch the water temperatures with the Lowrance Heat Map feature in the areas that are getting more sun. A couple of degrees can make a big difference all month.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. The fish are moving out to deeper water. They are no longer in the back of the coves. Look from the mouth of the coves to the river ledges. Try a white spinner bait, fished around bait fish. These schools of bait are coming up in the morning and later when the water warms. Pick up some bass with a #7 Shad Rap fished around the same bait. An old stand by this time of year is a white roster tail. The fish do not see this bait much and there are times when it will out fish all others. Be ready to move deeper as the water cools with the coming cold fronts and this will change fast.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.6 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is good. The fish are shallow and close to wood around docks in the creeks. Bass are biting Bandit crank baits in bright colors and spinner baits. The bass are on the thickest wood anywhere on the bank but it’s best to stay on the lower lake in the creeks. Use the 1/2-ounce Stanley spinner bait with large silver willow leaf blades. Slow roll this lure on the points and use a single Colorado blade and a chartreuse and white skirt. Also, up lake, work this same lure on thick bank cover. The Zoom blue pumpkin lizard on a Texas rig has been fair on deep docks and points. Add a glass rattle in the lizard. Afternoons are better as the water warms up. Later each day, use a Zoom trick worm in greens and cast around docks down lake and let it sink out of sight. Watch the water temperatures with the Lowrance Heat Map feature in the areas that are getting more sun. A couple of degrees can make a big difference all month. Continue to look for the bait and this will help during the colder months. Take the time to find the bait and fish these areas thoroughly.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Use a Rattle Back 1/2-ounce jig and a larger Pro Pork Trailer by Uncle Josh on the docks and shallow points close to the main lake. Mid-day use the spinner baits down lake in the creeks using Stanley spinner baits with bright gold blades. Late look for shallow strikes as the bass move to the creek banks and points during the day. The Zoom watermelon seed lizards on a Carolina rig, has been fair later each day on creeks on old channels, use a Culprit red shad worm on a Texas rig with the brass and glass combination. Work baits right on the bank around any cover. Zoom Flukes skipped under the docks down lake can also work. Use the pearl and baby bass colors in the Zoom baits. Watch the water temperatures with the Lowrance Heat Map feature in the areas that are getting more sun. A couple of degrees can make a big difference all month.
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Carters Lake Walleye Report: (This report courtesy of Eric Crowley, Lake and Stream Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports) — Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish. In fact if you learn how fish act in the coldest times of the year, it can be a lot of fun. Vertical fishing is the name if the game for walleye. Spoons, jigs, minnows and soft plastics fished right in a fish’s face is the best way to draw a strike. It’s a reaction strike, but it’s a lot slower than in the fall. Short movements versus aggressive presentations is the way to go. For locating fish, look for bait in an area and look for fish on the bottom just below it. That 50- to 60-foot range has been the target zone. Position the boat to make the most vertical presentation you can with the wind and work around the area 20 to 30 feet in each direction. Don’t spend too much time if you’re not getting bit. Be thorough and you will catch fish you never marked on the graph as they are too close to the bottom. Light and weather conditions really affect the walleye. Look for cloudy, overcast or windy days to be best for numbers. Vary your colors for the weather conditions and you’re in business. We have been seeing lots of 22- to 23-inch fish with some bigger 25- to 26-inch fish mixed in.
Carters Lake Striper Report: (This report courtesy of Eric Crowley, Lake and Stream Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports) — Stripers are in the backs of the creeks early feeding on small, 3- to 4-inch baits. They are following the bait out of the creeks and into the deeper water. As the sun comes up, the bait goes down. You should be following the bait balls depth with your baits. We have seen some massive schools of striped fish in the last few weeks. There’s so much bait in the lake that sometimes it’s hard to get bit, but light leader, small hooks and fresh baits can get it done. Most of the fish are in the 35- to 55-foot depth early and deeper after sunrise. Follow the birds. Loons, gulls, anything working the water can be worth checking out. We caught fish suspended 80 feet deep under feeding loons last week in the middle of the day on artificials. There’s no key areas since you can find the same bait scenario in every creek.
Blue Ridge Lake Walleye Report: (This report courtesy of Eric Crowley, Lake and Stream Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports) — Low water, cold air temps and what seems to be a never-ending breeze keeps most people off the lake this time of year. Not me, I’m loving it. The walleye bite has been great, and we are catching them daily. As the water temps reach the low 50s, the fish have slowed a bit and a more subtle presentation is needed. It’s still a vertical bite, but with less action than last month and with slightly smaller baits. Instead of 3- to 4-foot jig motions, a foot or 2 seems best now. Also the speed you’re fishing needs to slow down a bit. The fish will still eat, but you just have to give them a little more time versus early fall. Spoons, jigs, blade baits and live minnows are all viable options right now. Try different colors on different days. Adjust to the daily conditions, and you can put some fish in the boat. While the daily numbers are about the same, the size of the fish are getting bigger as they pack on the weight for winter. Look for this bite to hold steady until the end of the month when the walleye will start focusing on the upcoming spawn. We are seeing lots of fish in the 20- to 23-inch range and a few 24- to 25-inch fish mixed in. These larger fish are what we are after for the next few weeks.
Blue Ridge Lake Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Eric Welch, Welch’s Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports) — The bite is fair. The lake is now at full winter pool, and we have been having some strange weather. Some nights are down in low 30s with days in the mid 50s, then we are right back to days being close to 70 and sunny. The fish for the most part are in their winter patterns. I start out my mornings fishing long, rocky points and around docks that will warm up fast. I choose to throw a drop shot, Ned rig, 3.5-inch tube and a 3/8-oz. jig in these areas. I will run this pattern until noon, and then I will start my way up the river fishing the steep, rocky banks. I will use the same patterns of lures, but sometimes I will mix in a small-sized crankbait, No. 5 Shad Rap and sometimes a Flex-it spoon. The water temp is now at the right temp to throw the Float-n-Fly. I target deep, rocky banks and off long, rocky points. If you have never fished this technique, you have no idea how big a fish will hit this little fly. Midday is a good time to start throwing the A-rig around long points and docks. Good luck.
Lake Nottely Striper Report: (This report courtesy of Jeremy Seabolt, Lake Nottely Fishing Charter via GON Fishing Reports) — Fishing has been fair. We have been catching a mixed bag of fish. The stripers and spots have been hanging in the 20- to 40-foot depth, but we have all been catching them up shallower on planer boards and freelines, with most of the fish up shallower on herring and trout. The key this time year is to find the bait and the fish won’t be far behind. Trolling Captain Mack’s boards have also been performing well for us in the middle of the day. By mid January, it should be getting fairly cold up here, so the bait will get to where it will start piling up on the sunny points. That means it will be time to start throwing bucktails and working them back as slowly as you can. A v-wake plug also works well in January.
Lake Chatuge Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Eric Welch, Welch’s Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports) — Fishing has been fair. The lake is at normal winter pool. I fish a lot of the same baits that I fish in the summertime in the winter. I just slow way down and I’m not looking to cover a lot of the lake because I know the types of areas I’ve caught fish in for 30 years. I will start out fishing points and rocky banks in areas where the sun hits first in the mornings. I’ll work a drop shot, Ned rig, shaky head and a 3/8-oz. jig. By midday, I will start fishing docks. When fishing docks, I will throw a jig and an A-rig. You want to look for areas where the water will warm up quick but has access to deep water. Your electronics play a big deal this time of year fishing. Sometimes 2D sonar will show fish and at times it won’t. But then down imaging came out, and when 2D sonar didn’t show fish, the down image would show what 2D wouldn’t. Now we have live view, which will show what 2D sonar and down image don’t see. With live view, you can see 50 to 75 feet ahead of you, so it makes finding fish a lot quicker. Now if they would just come out with the one that tells us what the fish want to eat that day. Good luck.
Lake Burton Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Wes Carlton, Georgia Lake Fishing via GON Fishing Reports) — The bass bite has been good the last few days. We have caught fish shallow and deep. Most of our bigger fish have been on main-lake points over a 30-foot bottom. We have been using a 6/10-oz. Berry’s Flex-it spoon. Try jigging a spoon within a few feet of the bottom close to structure. Be patient when using this technique. These fish are lethargic and sometimes slow to take the spoon. The shallow-water bite around docks has also proven to be good. We have been using smaller sinking Sebile swimbaits with a slow-twitch retrieve. This bite should continue and continually get better as we near the end of January.
Lake Burton Trout Report: (This report courtesy of Wes Carlton, Georgia Lake Fishing via GON Fishing Reports) — The brown trout bite has finally taken off! We have been catching fish on live bait (herring) and trolling small crankbaits and Pins Minnow 90s. These have been working well in bright colors.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Matt Justice, via GON Fishing Reports) — Deep fishing has really kicked into full swing. Fish are coming on a football jig and underspin in 30 to 60 feet of water. Look for large groups of birds as an indicator of where deep bait is present. Look for groups of fish on points humps, ditches and creekbeds. Fishing can be tough once the sun gets up, so an early start is important.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Bass fishing is fair. The bass are on deeper points down lake. Warm water can bring the bass shallow looking for food. Stay down lake or go into Little River use the large jig and pig, worms and bright crank baits and fish baits. Be sure to fish right in the heaviest cover and add some scents to any baits. Use the dark Texas rigged Berkley Power worm in the larger sizes on the docks on the lower lake. Later each day, use a red shad Culprit worm in and over the grass beds with little or no weight. Cast the worm right on the banks and pull them slowly over the grass. A larger dark worm over the grass and around docks can get a strike. Slow roll a bright Stanley spinner bait on points and docks in the lower lake creek. Watch the water temperatures with the Lowrance Heat Map feature specially the areas that are getting more sun. A couple of degrees can make a big difference all month. Continue to look for the bait and this help during the colder months. Take the time to find the bait and fish these areas thoroughly.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770-366-8845 via www.southernfishing.com ) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. The water temperature has been on the rise and the fish are still scattered from two feet to fifty feet. Be prepared to be versatile with your fishing until you find a pattern that is working for you that day. Let’s start with the shallow bite. A three sixteenths SpotSticker with a darker colored worm with work good on the shallow rocky points, banks and boat docks especially early in the mornings. A bright sunny day will keep the docks a good target for most of the day. Jerk baits have also been working well on these shallow targets as well as in the back of shallow pockets. There are plenty of fish in the ditches but you will have to look for them, every ditch doesn’t have them in it. It seems the big balls of shad have spread out with the warmer water temperature so this is not as key to find. The fish in the ditches are scattered and moving so you will have to key moving with them. My Garmin Panoptics has been critical not only in finding these fish but in following them around in the ditch. A white Georgia Blade half ounce spoon or the Dropshot are great choices to vertically approach these fish. While you may not mark many fish once you catch one you very well may see your screen light up. It is also a great time to throw the Spot Choker underspin since you can cover all depths and a large area with it. By making very long cast and working the Spot Choker on the bottom back to the boat it is much easier to locate fish in the ditch. We’ve been using a half ounce white with either a fluke or a four inch Keitech on it for our fish. Be ready in these deep areas also for schooling fish. Often there are only one or two fish schooling at a time but there will be scattered schooling throughout the area. The underspin or the spoon are both good choices to throw at these fish but it is critical to hit right on them. Sometimes it’s just a game of sit and wait to be able to get the right cast. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year! There biting so Go Catch ‘Em!
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Jimbo Mathley, Jimbo’s Spotted Bass Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports) — While the outside elements are not always favorable, January can offer some outstanding angling on Lake Lanier. Lanier offers some great winter fishing if you are willing to go outside of what may be your comfort zone. Before we get into the fishing, please mark Jan. 14-16, 2022 on your calendar. These are the dates of Jimbo’s Southern Fishing Expo! Come and enjoy some incredible fishing tackle and service vendors, as well as classes presented by the region’s top anglers. Live entertainment as well! The event will be held at the Forsyth County Conference Center at Lanier Tech. Click HERE for more info. Now, let’s explore some fishing tactics with which you can approach Lanier in January. As we discussed in a recent installment, a ditch can be defined as a significant depression which offers a sharp depth change of 2 feet or more from the surrounding structure. Ditches can be naturally occurring or can be man-made. An example of a naturally occurring ditch would be a creek channel that feeds a pocket, cove or creek arm. A man-made ditch could result from a trench that was dug during the construction near the lake. These features exist in many places on Lake Lanier, and they hold fish during the winter months. Ditches can be shallow or deep and sometimes both depending on the length and location of the ditch. I shared a comprehensive article in December that focused completely on ditch fishing. If you missed it, take the opportunity to go back to GON.com and review this information—it could continue to play a key role in January this year. Use your Humminbird/Garmin electronics to find creek arms or pockets just off of the main creek channels that offer a deep vein extending back into the arm or cove/pocket. The farther the deep water extends back into the creek arm, the better for wintertime fishing. When you enter these areas and are searching for productive water, search for the presence of baitfish in and around the timber, which you will find in the deeper-water portions of the ditch. If you do not find bait, you will not find fish. Leave and check other similar areas. Also, look for the ditches that do have timber at the mouth. The presence of the timber represents the appropriate depth for a potentially productive ditch. Also, key in on special features within the ditch, such as a point or secondary ditch, that may intersect with the main ditch. While our focus is on fishing deep, understand that a shallow bite often exists in these same ditches, even in the dead of winter. Often these shallow fish in the winter mornings are monsters. Try these areas with a Georgia Blade Shad Spin, SPRO jerkbait or SPRO crankbait. Also, a Keitech swimbait on a 1/4-oz. swim head can be a good option. Your presentation speed with all the above should vary directly with the water temperature. The colder the water, the slower your presentation should be. Also, with the Shad Spin, crankbait and Keitech, your bait should maintain contact with the bottom as much as possible. Begin your search shallow in the backs of the creek arms at daylight. This will be the warmest water in the lake and will often attract baitfish. Often the active fish will be in 15 feet of water or less right at daylight, so get out early and be ready for some action right away. After the early morning bite, switch your focus to the deep areas of the ditch. Start with the first area of naturally occurring timber you find as you move from shallow to deep in the ditch. An isolated tree can be excellent, but thick timber can hold fish, as well. Obviously, the former is preferred, as the latter is normally more difficult to fish and potentially less efficient. So, if you can, find the more isolated cover when possible. The timber edges are often the most productive, so focus on those areas first. Cast and drag a Georgia Jig through the timber the same way as you would work shallower cover. Slow and methodical is the key. Develop a keen sense of feel as the bites are often very light. If the jig is not productive, fish a shaky head tipped with a Berkley worm in the same fashion. Another option is to jig a Georgia Blade spoon vertically over fish you see on your Lowrance electronics. A drop shot can also be an effective presentation. Experiment daily as fish preferences change like the wind. Stay open in your approach and remain flexible. We guide year-round on Lanier and would enjoy the opportunity to help you with your winter fishing. Tight lines and enjoy a great winter bite on Lake Lanier.
Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton, 770-530-6493 via www.southernfishing.com ) — The water temperatures are in the low 50s. The bite is slow and soft keep a close eye on your line you may see the line swimming away before the rod bends over. Minnows are the first choice of the crappie this week’s catch was 80% minnow’s 20% jigs. The jigs I had success with this week were dark blue over silver or dark purple with a chartreuse tail. I am setting the minnows 10 to 12 feet deep over brush. This week the fish were not where I expected to find them they have moved off the shallow docks and shallow brush so look at your deep water structure and deep water docks. Look for covered docks that have brush under or near by a good depth range would be 20 to 30 feet of water and near a main channel. Use your electronics locate structure or bush piles. Crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows. When dock shooting the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I’m using the skippers jig moon jigs use (promo code heroes) when ordering. I use ATX Lure Company’s jigs atxlures.com. I use 5 pound test high visibility yellow k9 braid for my line unless I am using a bobber then it’s the k9 6 pound high vis line k9fishing.com 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 pages @crappieonlanier & @fishingwitheverydayheroes
Lake Lanier Lineside Report: (This report courtesy of Ron Mullins, The Striper Experience via GON Fishing Reports) — Striper fishing will continue to be good through January mid-lake and north up the rivers. The stripers will be in a variety of water depths, but the most consistent bite will be in 40 to 60 feet of water with downlines. The Captain Mack’s Planer Board bite has been good in late December and should continue to produce a few bigger fish while using trout or shad in the 8- to 12-inch range if the weather continues to stay at or above normal temperatures. The key to the downline bite will be to find the large concentrations of bait toward the backs of the creeks. Sardis, Ada, Wahoo and Littler River on the Chattahoochee side and Taylor, Thompson and Yellow on the Chestatee side will all be good starting points. The drainages and coves coming into the main lake as you run up the river channels will also produce during January. Herring on downlines with a 1- to 1.5-oz. Captain Mack’s Swivel Sinker with approximately 3 feet of 10- to 12-lb. fluorocarbon leader and a No. 1 or 1/0 Gamakatsu circle hook will be the best bait setup. Don’t forget that small trout, medium shiners or small gizzard shad will also be great baits to put down. Remember to change out your hooks to a 2/0 or No. 4 hook depending on the size of the bait that you put down. The Captain Mack’s Mini Mack and Super Spoon will be the artificial go-tos in January. After you find the bait and fish on your Humminbird SOLIX or HELIX, get your downlines down, as well as your Captain Mack’s Mini Mack. The Mini Mack should be put 25 to 35 feet down and pulled around these schools at 0.5-0.8 mph. The Mini Mack will also be an easy rig to flip out 125 to 150 feet behind the boat and trolled through active birds that you will see while you are moving from creek to creek. Once you find a big school of fish, put your Minn Kota Ulterra on Spot-Lock and fire your 3/4- or 1-oz. Super Spoon in white/silver scale, white/chartreuse scale, chartreuse/chartreuse scale, or chrome down to the fish that you are seeing on the bottom. Let the spoon hit the bottom, put your reel in gear, and make a 5 to 8 foot sweeping motion up with the spoon and let it fall back to the bottom. Most of your hits will come while the spoon is falling so really pay attention and consider using 15- to 20-lb. braid as your main line so that you have a better feel. John 3:16 plan and simple: God loved, God gave, we believe, we receive. We pray for a blessed 2022 for all.
Lake Lanier Lineside Report: (This report courtesy of Clay Cunningham via GON Fishing Reports) — The striper fishing on Lanier has been consistently pretty good despite the changing weather this past December. Many times in January the best fishing is in the afternoon. No need to get out super early and freeze most days. The other key to the stripers this time of year is to find the bait in the back of the creeks. Every creek on the lake will have some stripers in it. Another huge advantage this time of year is the bait being in the backs of the creeks, which narrows your search immensely. Once you find the bait in the backs of the creeks, several patterns can develop. First and foremost is pulling live bait on a freeline. The freeline is basically a hook and a live bait back behind the boat. Be sure to use a premium swivel like the Spro Power Swivel and fluorocarbon on the leader like the Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon. So far this winter, herring has been the best bait, but trout are working, as well. Early in the morning and during any time of low light, pull the herring or trout on a freeline somewhere around 100 feet behind the boat. This is the best way to catch bigger fish most days. You will not get as many bites as you will on the downline but size will be better. The other pattern is the downline bite right on the deep schools of bait in the creeks. Rig up a Carolina rig with a 2-oz. Captain Mack’s Swivel Sinker, a Berkley 100% fluorocarbon leader and a Gamakatsu 1/0 straight-eye octopus hook on a Penn Fathom Linecounter 15 reel and a Shakespeare Striper Rod. Find the bait and drop the smaller trout and herring right on top of the bait. Start with a 5-foot leader, but do not be afraid to shorten it. If you do not want to use live bait, be sure to try a spoon. The spoon bite has been strong for stripers and spotted bass. The most popular spoon on Lanier is the 0.6 white foil Super Spoon and the 1-oz. Captain Mack’s Super Spoon. Great electronics like the Humminbird Solix are critical for seeing the spoon. Many times you can see the fish eat the spoon. We’re also catching some monster spotted bass on the spoon. Give it a try and see you on the lake.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Matt Driver, via GON Fishing Reports) — January will be different this year. At the first part of the month, the water temperatures were still in the mid 50s. Normally I would talk about low water temperatures in the mid 40s, fish being sluggish and possibly a shad kill in the month of January. Unless the weather pattern changes mid month, January is going to fish more like March (prespawn). I am ready for the water temperature to cool and make the bite more consistent by gathering fish in a common pattern. Mid to upper 40s would be great. Fish are still dirt shallow as well as out deep. I am going to sound like a broken record because many of the techniques I am about to talk about have not changed since the month of November/December. My go-to techniques are the jerkbait, A-rig and a small shallow crankbait, like the Little John. I use several jerkbaits that run at different depths. The Mega Bass 110, the Pointer 100, the Strike King KVD in the 200 and 300. I like to fish it as fast as the fish will let me. I start off fast and slow down until I start getting bit. A lot of times the hit comes during the pause (nothing has changed). I caught a 7.03 on Dec. 19 doing this. Let the fish key you in on the cadence. Lighter line allow you to get the bait deeper. I use 5- to 10-lb. Sunline fluorocarbon. For the A-rig, I use the Picasso Bait Ball. I like to downsize my baits in the winter. I use a 3-inch paddletail. I make long casts, count it down to 10 and slow-roll it back. For the bass holding tight to the bottom, I like to throw the 3/8-oz. Little Spotty by Picasso. Green pumpkin amber is my go-to color. The key is a slow retrieve. You need to feel every rock on the bottom. I like a medium-heavy Shimano Expride 7-foot jig rod and 12-lb. Sunline fluorocarbon line. I fish main-lake points and parallel bluff walls and ditches in January. Concentrate on areas north of Bethany Bridge, the mouth of Stamp and McKaskey up to the mouth of Illinois Creek. Don’t fish alone in January. Hypothermia can be a killer if you fall in.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Bass fishing is good. There are so many options for bait choices. Start the month with jerk baits while the water temperatures are still in the high to mid 50’s. Use a Spro McStick and the McStick 95. Mix the smaller and larger bait up to see what works best. Use ghost transparent colors while the water is clear, and use purples and oranges if the water gets a little stain to it. With the jerk the bait use a slack line pause retrieve. Fish the bait parallel to drop offs and bluff walls. Watch the water temperatures with the Lowrance Heat Map feature in the areas that are getting more sun. A couple of degrees can make a big difference all month.
Lake Allatoona Lineside Report: (This report courtesy of Robert Eidson, Firstbite Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports) — Good. The bait is starting to move back into the creeks and so are the stripers and hybrids. Mid-lake seems to be holding better numbers of fish than the south end and the north end since they are trashed out due to all the rain. The best bite going right now is live bait—shad and trout—fished on planer boards and freelines at sunup and then again at sundown. You will catch a few fish in the backs of the creeks. After the sun comes up, the fish will move out to the mouths of the creeks and can be caught on shad, trout and shiners on downlines anywhere from 18 to 50 feet deep. The spoon bite is also good midday. Once the water temp dips below 50 degrees, the spoon bite will get better than using live bait. The trolling bite is also good right now, and umbrella rigs are the only thing I am trolling right now. I have had my best luck this week pulling my rigs 145 feet behind the boat at 3.1 to 3.4 miles per hour. As the lake starts to clear, the umbrella rig bite will get better.
Lake Weiss Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service via GON Fishing Reports and www.southernfishing.com) — Crappie fishing is good, and they are on the creek and river channel ledges 18 to 25 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 longline trolling with Jiffy Jigs. Some fish have moved shallow in the bays to the warmer water. Striper fishing is poor with no reports of any catches. Catfish are biting good in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water. Cutbait is working best. Bass are fair, and they are on their winter pattern on the river and creek channels. Drop-shot rigs and Carolina rigs are catching fish.
West Point Lake Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Keith Hudson, Lake West Point Fishing via GON Fishing Reports) — Fair. Bass fishing in January can be very challenging. The shallow bite for bass is only fair right now but could improve quickly in late January, especially with a warm rain and extended warming trend. Stained water, higher-than-normal lake levels and water temps in the low 60s will turn things on quickly. Baits such as crawdad Shad Raps, Rat-L-Traps and ChatterBaits will produce on these shallower fish. Try to fish these baits in coves and pockets with small feeder creeks or around schools of baitfish. Keep a jig or shaky head handy to pitch around any wood cover. Fishing rip-rap can also produce good results this time of year. The rocks warm quickly and retain heat. On the other hand, a snow or ice storm in January could shut the bite down completely. Water temps in the 30s and 40s make it super tough. If the lake stays cold and clear, go deep! Big schools of spots mixed with hybrids, white bass and stripers can be caught on jigging spoons and drop-shot rigs and shaky-head rigs on humps and drop-offs. Target deeper offshore structures like brushpiles and old roadbeds in 20 to 30 feet of water near the mouth of most major creeks for the best results.
West Point Lake Lineside Report: (This report courtesy of Keith Hudson, Lake West Point Fishing via GON Fishing Reports) — Good. The downline bite with shad or bass shiners has improved as the water has cooled off and in most years stays good all winter. Most of the fish seem to be holding 25 to 40 feet deep, except for those rare days when they are schooling on the surface. Expect the topwater fishing to be very sporadic. It’s usually best very early and very late or on overcast or rainy days. Gulls and loons are here now, which makes it easier to pinpoint schooling stripers and hybrids. Keep your eyes open! The popping-cork rig has still been working on schooling, 1- to 3-lb. fish with an occasional bigger one mixed in. A big Red Fin or a big swimbait won’t get many bites but could produce a 20-lb. fish on any cast. A 3/8- or 1/2-oz. white Rooster Tail, a chrome C.C. Spoon and a number of other small shad imitators have also been producing, and the colder it gets, the better the deep fishing usually is (within reason of course). In cold water, a bucktail jig becomes very effective, as well. Trolling with mid-depth crankbaits and Flash Mob Jr. rigs also continues to produce some linesides. The mouths of most creeks anywhere south of the Highland Marina area all the way to the dam and Maple Creek have been holding fish.
West Point Lake Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Keith Hudson, Lake West Point Fishing via GON Fishing Reports) — Fair. Try tightline fishing with minnows or a 1/16- or 1/8-oz. jig around bridge pilings, brushpiles and blowdowns in 15 to 20 feet of water. Concentrate on trees and brush that are close to the old creek channels. Pitching or shooting deep-water docks with small tubes or feather jigs around or under the docks can still produce this time of year. As usual, crappie seem to love shade and cover. Yellow Jacket, Wehadkee and Whitewater creeks are still producing some crappie. Spider trolling usually works well in January, as well, and can be very effective. If January turns unusually warm and wet, the crappie can show back up surprisingly shallow very quickly.
West Point Lake Bass Report: (This report Courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Bass fishing is good. Fishing has been picking up as temperatures have cooled. Look for fish to go on a major feed now. With lower water and cooler water temps the jigging spoon bite has really picked up. For numbers move offshore to West Points many humps and road beds with a jigging spoon and drop shot rig. The jigging spoon a ½ ounce white Hopkins spoon is working lifting it off the bottom with short hops. On the drop shot rig use a Zoom green pumpkin Meathead on a number one hook. To catch better fish use small shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits covering a lot of water fishing any piece of wood.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
Big Walleye from Rocky Mountain PFA : (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Angler Dennis Shiley caught a really nice walleye this week on an underspin at West Antioch Lake, one of the three public lakes at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (PFA). Dennis’s catch weighed 6 lb 9 oz and measured just under 26 inches, which was more than enough to qualify Dennis for an angler award. Rocky Mountain PFA is unique, as it is the only PFA in the state that is stocked annually with walleye. Recent sampling shows a healthy population of these toothy predators at both East and West Antioch Lakes, and now is the time for catching big pre-spawn fish like the one Dennis snagged. Target low light periods (dawn, dusk, and cloudy days) and fish slow or use a vertical presentation for your best shot at getting your own trophy walleye.
Trout Streams Report: (This report courtesy of “The Dredger,” at Unicoi Outfitters) — The UO Facebook page had some great info this week about “winter mode” on our local streams. Here’s an excerpt from 1/3: “He was a month late, but Old Man Winter finally arrived last night. He put a light coat of snow on our area from Helen north into the mountains. The week’s four inches of rain also have big streams high, cold, and muddy today. Winter’s winds have downed multiple trees, so drive slow if you’re up here. Better yet, give this area a day or so to recover before coming up. It’s finally time to change our flyfishing game to winter mode. Here’s a link to some winter fishing advice. Remember that nearly all of our region streams are freestone and not spring-fed (which have more consistent temperatures and higher alkalinity) so the freestone advice in this PA podcast will be most applicable down here. Troutbitten is a treasure trove of knowledge, so consider following their website. And here’s one more podcast, from last year by Orvis, when Tom R interviewed the Asheville, NC store’s fishing manager. A little bit of homework in the warmth of your own dens will sure beat anything outside today… and will pay dividends on your future trips during this season of chill.” Find Unicoi Outfitters full weekly report along with other great nuggets on their Facebook page HERE .
(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)
Wow, what a warm spell up in to the New Year! The amount of fishing pressure was unreal over the last couple of weeks, but winter is back upon us. Fishing about everywhere was good, and the weather forecast is good for the upcoming weekend at the time of writing this, although expect the fish to be back into their winter patterns.
River gages on January 6th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 10.0 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 11.4 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.8 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 10.0 feet and rising (59 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 9.4 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 4.8 feet and falling
The main river is too high for good boat fishing, but Gilbert Ellis, Jr. and Caleb Thornton walked the higher banks in the extreme upper tributaries in Coffee County around New Years, and the warm temperatures had the fish chewing. They caught 3 nice bass and 11 bluegills (some of them big purple-cheeked coppernose bluegills). Worms fooled their fish. I heard a few reports of small stripers being caught in the Woodbine area this week, also.
The panfish bite was back on track for Tyler Finch on Friday. He boated 40 nice panfish using white Satilla Spins tipped with crickets. On Saturday, the river had jumped several feet, and he only caught 9 in a couple hours that morning, so he packed it in and went to the house. The slug of water from recent rains is making its way down the river, so fishing will probably be off somewhat this week.
ST MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse and Brant Gay fished the upper river on Tuesday and caught several fish on white Crappie Sliders on 1/4-oz. jigheads. They tried several other lures, but that plastic was the ticket. They caught several crappie and bluegills, as well as a bunch of bowfin and pickerel, and even a catfish. It was a great catch for just a 4-hour trip! The first Shady Bream Tournament will be held on February 19th out of the Kings Ferry Boat Ramp. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information.
Very few folks fished the east side again this week, but Carlton Paulk of Waycross did. He caught 5 nice fliers by pitching red wigglers unweighted. On the west side, the bite has been slow with the fresh influx of water. If you’re going to be there anyway, you should be able to catch a few fliers, warmouth, or catfish by putting worms or shrimp on the bottom in the boat basin. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.14 feet.
My daughter (Ellie) and I rung in the new year by trolling up 41 crappie first thing on Saturday. We trolled a Baxley area lake at 1.0 to 1.1 miles per hour with 4 rods rigged with 1/16-oz. jigheads and Flashy Jigheads and 2-inch Keitech swimbaits for all of our fish. The best swimbait colors were electric shad (the best color of the day), shad (smoke with puple flake), morning dawn, and chartreuse pearl back Another angler spider-rigging minnows on the same pond only caught 5 crappie, so they apparently wanted the artificials that day. Sandra Harris had a great trip this week when she landed an 8-pound channel catfish from a Waycross area pond. She fooled it with a Louisiana pink worm. Steven and Hayden Lee had a fun day in an Alma area honey-hole this Saturday. They ended up with 20 fat crappie up to about a pound and a half. Their fish ate mostly minnows, but a few ate jigs. Chad Lee and Brice Thigpen spanked the crappie on Friday and Saturday. They had about 30 on one trip and 10 on the next trip to Alma area ponds. Most of their fish ate minnows, but Chad fooled some slabs with his favorite Assasssin chartreuse shad on a 1/16-oz. jighead. They also had a 4-pound class bass to the boat on the tiny minnow. A couple of anglers fished a Brunswick pond on New-Year’s Eve and had fun. They landed just 3 bass by beating the banks with swimbaits and vibrating jigs, but then about an hour before dark the bass started busting shad. They used small crankbaits (bluegill color) and 4-inch gold flash Keitech Easy Shiners on a jighead to fool 5 more of the schooling bass (all of those were over 3 pounds, and the largest was 4 pounds). Some other anglers followed up on the last hour schooling action the next couple of days and caught several bass in the last hour of daylight on little crankbaits. Their biggest was 5 pounds on Wednesday evening. Sterling Brumbaugh fished Wednesday on a Baxley area pond and caught about 30 crappie by Live-Scoping them and casting a minnow on a white or chartreuse jighead to them. His best range was 7 to 10 feet deep, and he would see schools of a few fish and pitch to them. He had fish up to 14 inches and kept the biggest 10.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (NEAR EASTMAN, More Info HERE)
Bobby Knight had a great catch on Sunday this week. He used minnows to fool an angler-award sized crappie that pulled the scales down to 2-lb., 3-oz. Bass numbers were decent during the recent warm spell, but most fish were on the small side (under 2 pounds).
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The inshore fishing went from awesome to almost non-existent with the negative tides this week. The water was much muddier and the winds rough this week with the cooldown. Dane Clements of Baxley braved the poor fishing conditions on Saturday and tried for trout and redfish first thing in the Brunswick area. He didn’t find them, so he went back to his confidence bite and caught 10 nice sheepshead on fiddler crabs before he left. The water (tides and water clarity) and winds should be better in saltwater this coming week based on the current forecast. For guide trip information, call Capt. Greg Hildreth at (912) 617-1980 or check out his website. For the latest fishing information or live shrimp (or Redfish Wrecker Jigheads) in the Brunswick area, check with J&P Bait and Tackle on Hwy 303 (912-282-9705).