Welcome to winter – I think it is finally about to arrive. At least that is what the current weather reports are telling us about this coming weekend. Be safe out there.
NEWS TO KNOW:
- State Record Shoal Bass: It’s a big’un. Joseph Matthew McWhorter is the proud angler with a brand new state record shoal bass in his hands. This 8 lb, 5 oz shoalie was caught on the Chattahoochee River near Columbus. Find out more HERE.
- Career Path: This summer, DNR invites high school students to the DNR Career Academy, a week-long summer camp where students will have the opportunity to work alongside field professionals and receive hands-on training from game wardens, park managers, and wildlife, fisheries, and marine technicians while traveling across the state visiting wildlife management areas, state parks, fish hatcheries, historic sites, and Georgia’s coast.
This week, we have reports from North and Southeast Georgia. If you are headed out, maybe include some of those hand warmers in your gloves, and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala Region Fisheries Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
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!
Lanier Bass and Linesides (Report courtesy of Captain Mack Farr) — The Stripers are still in the creeks, drains, and pockets around the bait, so the basic premise is unchanged. Find the bait where it is layered up on the bottom and then drop the down lines. Stagger your baits based on what you see on the sonar, but often the fish that are on or near the bottom will be quickest to bite, even if you are seeing greater numbers of fish suspended throughout the water column. Try dropping at least a couple of the baits the bait to the bottom and reeling up a couple of cranks, just enough to get the sinker off of the bottom. You can always adjust the depths once you figure out where the sweet spot is on a given day. Dedicate a couple lines to smaller baits, and a shorter leader may be a plus.
Trolling the rigs is also very strong, the big rigs and the Mini Macks are both effective. Using the big rigs to search for fish, then switching to stealth trolling the Minis once you locate fish is a good combo. If you have the boat moving at 1 MPH or less, you can effective fish the Mini’s with the live baits. Watch the birds, there are a few fish pushing bait to the surface and the birds( Gulls, Loons or both), with tell on them quickly. Swim baits, buck tails and Mini Macks are good choices to cast at the surfacing fish.
The Bass bite is pretty good, with fish being taken at a variety of depths and structures. The Plastics on the Weedless Wonder have been very strong, with Senkos, Roboworm, and Trick worms all being good choices. Target docks, rocks(both offshore and rocky points and bluffs), and channel swings. On the swings and rock bluffs, the fish may be at any depth, so fish the bait from the bank to 40 feet. The dock pattern will have the same guidelines, and weather will influence this pattern greatly. Shallower docks with the lowlight, deeper docks with brighter sun and or post front conditions.
There are still plenty of fish that are orienting to the bait concentrations in the ditches and drains. Spoons, swimbaits, blade baits and Damiki Rigs have been catching plenty of the deep fish. Look for the bait schools in 35 to 50 feet over drains, creek channels, and ditches!
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.
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 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 Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) — With several days of stable weather conditions, the drop in barometric pressure ahead of a cold front may produce some above-average fishing this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend for West Point Lake. The pressure drop could trigger some aggressive feeding at least until the forecasted cold front brings the possibility of snow to Midwest Georgia. Also, water levels have been slowly dropping since the last major rain event. Anglers should concentrate on sunny areas where the water temperatures are slightly warmer than the rest of the lake. Also, several creeks are still slightly stained and should be targeted. Crank and spinnerbaits fished slow along sunny banks and rocks should determine quickly if bass are feeding. Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.
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.
Cold Weather Boating: A video demonstration of cold water survival tactics, should you take an accidental polar plunge this winter “1 : 10 : 1”
Trout Stream Bridge Closures: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — It came to our attention this week that two bridges in Fannin County that provide access to popular trout waters have experienced recent closures. Shallowford Bridge, which crosses the Toccoa River a short distance downstream from the DH section, was closed briefly for repairs and maintenance, but we are glad to report it is open. According to Fannin County Public Works, rumors about the permanent closure of the bridge are inaccurate. The Newport Road bridge over Noontootla Creek (near Black Ankle Creek Rd) is closed and will remain that way until the County can make necessary repairs. If you have plans to fish Noontootla Creek, its tributaries, or other nearby streams, please plan accordingly as you may need to find alternate routes.
Across The Board Report (Report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters) – Find the Report HERE. This week we should “work around the weather.” Avoid the pending snow/ice storm, be careful on the roads, and go deep and slow on these streams with your popular winter patterns. Unless you spot some risers! Carry some little black winter stoneflies, blue wing olives, and midges in case you’re lucky enough to toss some dries. Bring a handwarmer to aid the tie-on of tiny bugs.
Public waters rated fair to good last week, while our private waters still fished really well as stormflows receded. Dress in your winter garb, wade slowly and carefully, and make sure you carry a dry change of clothes in case of a misstep. Crowds are down, so enjoy much more water to yourselves.
Wes’ hot fly list and our reports and tips follow on our long version. Catch it on Facebook or by clicking “fishing reports” at unicoioutfitters.com.
Stay safe this week, given the expected storm that might start on Saturday night. Check both road and stream conditions before you come up. There are some real curvy, shady routes to our favorite waters that may retain some ice longer or surprise you with a downed tree, so be careful on your drives for a couple days after the storm.
Good luck. Wes’ hot fly list and our reports and tips are in our long version of this report. Catch it on Facebook or by clicking “fishing reports” at unicoioutfitters.com.
Wes’ Hot Fly List: Dries: Griffith’s gnat, little black stonefly (or small gray elk hair caddis), comparadun BWO. Nymphs: squirmy worm, pheasant tail, copper John (black), hares ear nymph and soft hackle, WD-40, rainbow warrior. Streamers & warm water: Bank robber sculpin, kreelex, micro changer, polar changer.
Georgia Public Waters:
Headwaters: RonW’s friend, Marcus had a great weekend and shared his stories. Here’s the first:
“Saturday (8th)- backcountry wild fish in sight for Channing and me. Nice brisk morning hike in, then got a small fire going. It was cold, clear, plenty of sun with some residual snow in the shadows. We both got the job done with small #18-20 frenchies and heavy egg patterns. The fish were very spread out, only catching one or two out of the larger holes. All and all a great day in the NGA countryside!”
Smith DH: John from ATL recently emailed our shop with a 12/30 fishing report. He had a great day on rainbows once he switched over to a Pat’s rubberlegs, and was thankful for that helpful intel in the UO fishing report. Thanks for your trip report, John!
Chattooga DH: Sautee’s duo gave it a shot yesterday afternoon (1/12). A departing angler said his morning was cold and slow, but still fun. He had landed just two rainbows on eggs. The duo hiked in with a glimmer of hope. The water was an icy 39F upon their 1PM river entry. Flows were good, the river was clear, and the afternoon fishing rated fair. A lot of fish were hunkered down and refused many patterns. Sautee found a few honey holes and did well there, scoring a handful of bows and browns and brown and pink squirmies. Accomplice lost one bow on an egg, caught one on a Frenchie, and finally fooled one more fish on top. He had picked a fight with a few sporadic risers that were gulping the occasional black winter stonefly that drifted by. Despite the slow catch, they had the whole river to themselves and enjoyed their treatment for cabin fever. That dose should hold them through this weekend’s storm.
Private Waters: Our private waters still fished really well for guided folks and our experienced, unguided guests. Here are the Day 2 results from Marcus: “Sunday- Channing and I got right back at it with a full day unguided reservation at the Unicoi Outfitters property. Water was up but nothing we couldn’t handle, rain was in the forecast so it was time to get cracking. Channing started catching fish instantly at the “stadium” hole, and I wasn’t far behind. We found early success on #16-12 buggy nymphs, eggs, and squirmys. Every hole below Nora Dam is holding large fish in great numbers. They kept us busy all morning long, with average fish ranging from 16-20″ about 2-3lbs. Some of the larger fish pushed 20″+ and 6lbs.
As the rain persisted, so did we! Nearing lunch the nymph bite was slowing and rain picked up, so we chucked on some euro style jig streamers. That was the play of the day! We hooked so many studs that our arms got tired. We needed a break from the rain, and the army of fish. So we walked across the street to the village pizza joint for a hot meal and a dry-out on the heated patio. After lunch the onslaught of absolute footballs continued. We felt like we hooked every fish in the river. An absolute slay day! Streamers pictured are my custom ties, Channing loved the “blonde bomber”. I found my luck on my sculp/craw pattern. Cheers From Marcus and Channing.”
Two unguided clients also had productive Bend trips. Jarrett from ATL found success on 1/7 by drifting squirmies and dark nymph droppers – deep. Jeff from ATL had a slow start on a cold 1/10, but a hot ending as the water warmed in the afternoon and the bows cooperated. His best bug was a small pheasant tail.
Flat Water: This just in from HenryC: “Lanier is finally looking much more promising. Surface temp is 52F, the birds are flying, and the fish getting higher in the water column. That’s what I need to see!
Good luck, folks. Stay safe and don’t let the black ice catch you before you catch some icy winter trout. Call or come by either UO store for intel, supplies, or a thaw-out.
Chattahoochee River Trout Report: Enjoy the 1/10/22 report from the Orvis Fly Fishing Report, Atlanta’s Tip of the Week
Delayed Harvest Program In Full Swing!: Don’t forget, Georgia’s Delayed Harvest Program is in full swing.
Winter Trout Fishing Ain’t Easy (Courtesy of Trout Biologist Sarah Baker): While you wait until the water levels drop down, and/or the snow flurries let up, give Domenick Swentosky’s four-part series about fishing in the winter a read.
- Part 1: Your Hands
- Part 2: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes(We’re not in Pennsylvania, so we don’t have to go quite as hard on the warm clothes, but I’d rather be fishing longer instead of throwing in the towel early because my toes are too cold…)
- Part 3: The System– Find Feeding Fish With Nymphs & Streamers
- Part 4: The Go-To Nymphing Rig(You may have some questions about his Split shot method so check out Split Shot Slide and Split Shot vs. Weighted Flies.)
8 Tips: Also, check out Katie Burgert’s 8 Tips for Winter Trout Fishing from Fish Untamed.
- Slow Down
- Look for slow deep water
- Size down
- Fish tailwaters
- Know your winter dry flies
- Sleep in
- Target warm days
- Try dead drifting a streamer
Or tie some flies for your spring and summer adventures.
Upcoming: Atlanta Fly Fishing Show, February 4 & 5
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)
The warm spell came to an abrupt end, and so did the great fishing. There were some good trips for crappie and in saltwater this week, but not the torrid bites like the previous 2 weeks.
River gages on January 13th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 9.6 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 10.4 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 10.9 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 13.1 feet and falling (54 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 10.6 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 4.3 feet and falling
I checked a ramp near Waycross at lunch on Thursday, and it was too high to safely launch a boat. Fish the extreme lower river for white catfish and striped bass or fish elsewhere.
ST MARYS RIVER
Matt Rouse took Michael fishing on the upper St. Marys River on Thursday afternoon for a couple hours and they caught 5 nice crappie. It was Michael’s first crappie and the first time he had caught fish with artificial lures. Catfish on the lower river are your best bet this weekend. Put shrimp on the bottom at the mouth of a creek on outgoing tide and you should catch them. 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 and I did not have any specific reports. If you are on the west side, 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 121.10 feet.
The pond fishing slowed with this week’s cold, as well. The few bass fishermen I heard from caught some fish on crankbaits, hard jerkbaits, and plastic worms. I heard of some bass up to 5 pounds. Ricky Young caught a 4-pounder on a minnow at Laura Walker State Park lake this week. Chad Lee fished with Lester Rowland on Saturday in an Alma area pond. Chad had a 2-pound bass on a white spinnerbait, but they trolled little jigs and minnows for crappie most of the time. They trolled up 16 decent crappie. Most of their fish were in 3 feet of water. Other anglers reported catching about a dozen specks per trip – mostly on minnows.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The inshore fishing improved some this week, but it was still mediocre with the high winds most days and cooling temperatures. My son Timothy and I fished the Brunswick area for 3 hours after church on Sunday afternoon and got into a few redfish. The water temperature was still 62 to 65 degrees – much higher than I was expecting. The tides were backwards, so we fished from the high tide down until it was just starting to slow down (my favorite time for redfish). We flung lures and only had a few bumps, but we were able to pitch dead shrimp on Redfish Wrecker Jigheads (3/16oz-3/0 hook was best) for 4 redfish up to 18 1/2 inches. Timothy had one with 8 spots and another redfish that was tagged (we reported that on the Coastal Resources Division website). We hated having to leave for dark, as we caught fish on our last 2 pitches. For guide trip information, call Capt. Greg Hildreth at (912) 617-1980 or check out his website at www.georgiacharterfishing.com. For the latest fishing information or live shrimp in the Brunswick area, check with J&P Bait and Tackle on Hwy 303 (912-282-9705).