Is there anything better than seeing a kid smile because of fishing? Well, our Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Fisheries office was able to give an extra BIG smile to Mason Ray Cheek, age 8, because he was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2021 Georgia Angler Award Program. A grant provided the funds to be able to offer a fun grand prize to one lucky angler that achieved an Angler Award last year. We put all 254 angler names that got a 2021 award in a “hat” and drew one winner.
Mason achieved two angler awards in 2021, one for a flathead and one for a blue catfish. His “paw-paw” is his fishing buddy and always makes sure his Angler Award applications get filled out and turned in. Congrats Mason – we hope you keep catching the big ones in 2022! Get more information about the Georgia Angler Award program HERE.
NEWS TO KNOW:
- McDuffie PFA – Boat Ramp Closure: Effective immediately the Willow Lake Boat Ramp at McDuffie PFA is closed. This closure allows improvements to be made to the existing boat ramp, including extending the ramp to allow better access for boat anglers. The work is expected to take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Willow Lake is still open for fishing as anglers have an abundance of bank and kayak access points available. Additionally, McDuffie PFA has 7 total lakes, all with boat ramps and ADA access pads.
This week, we have reports from Central, Southwest, Southeast and North Georgia. Plenty of tips and tricks to keep you angling all weekend. Bundle up and Go Fish Georgia!
(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)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Russell has been stable and water temperatures are hanging right around the 50-degree mark with lightly stained water. Bass are being caught, including the spots and largemouth, on main lake points and the islands whether large or small with the fire tiger suspending jointed Shad Rap. Carry the McSticks in several colors also. Try to throw in shallows mid-day. Let the crank baits dig in the bottom as much as possible. Digging up the bottom will also trigger a lot of bites in the fall as well as the spring. Stay out of the backs of the smaller creeks. The bass aren’t here so move to a more productive area. Carolina rigged finesse worms are also working on or near any sharp bends of the river channels. Fish the northern waters with a Zoom finesse green pumpkin worm. Downsize to Sufix clear 10-pound test line and use a ¼ ounce brass weight with a small glass bead. Working the bait slowly is the key and letting it hang up in the numerous brush piles that are present will draw a good bite. As you let it hang up, feel the brush pile, stop the bait, and just lift the rod tip slowly and let the bait fall right back into the structure. Many bass are holding very tight to heavy structure and by using this method, the chances of hooking the bigger fish increase.
CLARKS HILL IS DOWN 2.1 FEET 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. This week’s cold weather and the full moon will slow thing’s lake wide. Be sure to look for the bait and this where the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology can cut searching time as much as 90%. Send the left and right beams out as much as 80 feet in the creeks and coves. Find some ditches with old structure like those around the Fort Gordon area and then locate the shad on Lowrance. These will be the most productive areas to start your culling process. Use several baits with a small worm on a Carolina rig and a 4-foot leader. Mid-day have the shad pattern #5 Shad Rap and a Red Eye Shad crank bait; use of these baits on eight-pound Sufix line in the ditches appears to be working for many of the anglers. Try the quarter ounce Spot Choker underspin lead head and a Keitech small trailer in pearl and drop them into these same areas and drag them across the bottom slowly. The Rapala DT6 will also work and use no more than ten-pound test line. Main lake points are also productive, but bass are scattered about.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S
Bass: Bass fishing is slow due to the cold water. Try around the Sugar Creek and Hwy 44 bridges. In those areas, fish a ¼ ounce Rat L Trap in silver and black or a number 5 Shad Rap. Fish the bait using a slow retrieve. The bites are light, so watch the line.
Hybrid Bass: Hybrid fishing is fair. Fish down the lake within sight of the dam looking for schools of shad on the depth finder. Using a spoon or live bait, fish these baits under the school of shad once they show up on the Lowrance.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. The bite has started up the Oconee River on the flats above the Indian Mound when we have a couple of warm days in a row. The Indian Mound is located on the Oconee River north of the 278 bridge. Use a lake map and find where there is an island north of the 278 bridge. The island is the Indian Mound. Go north up the river till you see a small windmill on the right bank. The water depth will be 4 to 6 foot deep. This is the flat north of the Mound. Live bait is best but also try using a Jiffy Jig tipped with a minnow. You may need to try different color Jiffy Jigs and see what color is working best that day.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.6 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. On most days the shallow water will work with a spinner bait, jig, or worm. Add the Rapala Shad Rap or other small crank bait. The number of daily bites will be lower than during spring, but the average size of fish may be higher. For the spinner bait, try a ¼ ounce Stanley in chartreuse and white with tandem Colorado blades, one nickel and the other gold. Slow roll the bait around blow downs, brush piles, rocks, rip rap, grass, and docks. Several large fish have recently been caught on Shad Raps like a #5 or #7 and a #4 or #5 in the RS series in chrome blue and fire tiger on bright days and fire tiger, shad, or gold black on cloudy days. Fish these small crank baits around any of the fore mentioned cover and just about anywhere else. Retrieve the bait slowly. Try moving the bait with a slow sweep of the rod tip and use the reel to take up slack only. Repeat casting to the same cover will also work well on some days. Jigs with pork or plastic should also be tried. Stay with lightweight jigs if possible. Try a 3/16- or 5/16-ounce Stanley casting jig with a #11 Uncle Josh pork frog in black, blue, black and or pumpkin brown. Texas and Carolina rigged worms are also catching fish from shallow water. Bass are also coming from deep water in the central and lower lake. Depths are ranging from 15 to 30 feet. Some of these fish are following shad schools and moving a lot. Others are holding on humps, points, and flats along the main river and creeks. The best baits are jigging spoons and Carolina rigs.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Start the search is rocky points and banks in 7 to 10 feet of water. Use a #5 Shad Rap in crawfish for stained water or shad/black back in clearer areas can always catch fish. A Rapala DT10 or Bandit 300 crankbait will work and concentrate on horizontal casts that bump the rocks slowly. Look for areas that the sun has had time to warm the rocks and the water around them. If the Jackson bass are not on the crankbait bite use a 1/2-ounce jig with a craw trailer flipped next to docks and blowdowns or slowly crawled on the rocky points can be very effective. Many times, spots stack up off points or in the middle of coves. Use the Lowrance electronics to locate the schools of bait and bass. Now use the Fish Head Spin with a small swimbait trailer. Throw it past them and let it sink down on slack line. Now just reel it back with a slow steady retrieve. Resist the urge to set the hook like a worm and just let the fish load up on the bait and keep reeling when they hit. Anglers report success with the quarter ounce Spot Choker underspin lead head and a Keitech small trailer in pearl; drag them across the bottom slowly. 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.
FLAT CREEK PUBLIC FISHING AREA
- Surface Temperature: 50.5˚ F (10.3˚ C)
- Water Level: 43” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 36”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
The water level is down at Flat Creek, with some anglers preferring the lower water level. Anglers that fished before the cold front were reporting a high catch rate. The ever-committed nighttime anglers were reporting catches on crappie just after daybreak. The bass bite has been slower as the fish have moved into deeper water to avoid the cooling surface temperatures. Some anglers report catching a few smaller largemouth bass. Bream fisherman have reported success from the bank. Here’s a list of what the anglers are reporting to have had good success using for each of the following:
Bass: Darker colored worms are producing more hits than other baits. Minnows are resulting in hits as well.
Bream: Red Wigglers fished from the bank
Channel Catfish: The last anglers that were catching catfish used the following: chicken livers and pinks.
Crappie: Fishing from the Fishing Pier with minnows has been productive.
PHOTO: New Flat Creek PFA Lake Record- 2.13 pounds
PHOTO: Crappie Catching
MARBEN PUBLIC FISHING AREA
- Water level: All ponds and lakes are full except Greenhouse. Greenhouse is filling and is only a couple of feet low.
- Water clarity: Expect the smaller ponds to become stained after heavy rains. The larger lakes are clear with up to 36” visibility.
- Surface temperature: 46-54 degrees F
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: Plastic worms along creek channels. Threadfin shad suffer from cold water temps and become lethargic. Often seagulls will feed on these struggling fish. So, when you see gulls feeding there is a good chance bass are feeding too. Bait that look like shad are a good choice. Many anglers look for this activity across the area before deciding where to fish.
Hybrid Bass: Bennett and Greenhouse are producing some nice hybrid bass. Hybrid bass are seen feeding on threadfin early morning and late afternoon.
Crappie: Expect the crappie to get cranked up after a few days of warmer temperatures. Minnow and jigs tipped with minnows are the best bet. Try fishing different depths to find the crappie.
Bream: The bluegill and shellcracker bite for February will be slow. Try fishing on or near the bottom with worms.
Channel Catfish: Channel catfish will feed little when water temps are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, February typically provides several consecutive warm days and this will have the channel catfish looking for a meal. Try worms at or near the bottom.
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The water on Lake Blackshear is pretty stained. The crappy bite is still hot. The lure of choice right now is sugar bite baits. Keep an eye out for fish attractors and submerged structure where these tasty fish like to hang out. It is always best to match your lure to the water conditions for best results. When the stain lightens up go back to using more natural-colored lures but for now stick with slightly duller colors that fit the surroundings. The catfish are still biting as well. As always, any smelly bait should get you some nice fish. If you are waiting for bass fishing hold on just a bit longer. The spawn will be coming soon as it warms up and stays warm we can expect the bass fishing to heat up with water temperature.
Flint River Outdoors runs a monthly Big Fish Contest. Here are just a couple of the anglers that made some good catches.
LAKE WALTER F. GEORGE
Between the rain and the recent temperature swings the fish are pretty confused. The water is pretty muddy but the southern end of the lake with the sandy bottom has been clearing up more quickly than the creeks and northern areas. The bass are in deeper water hanging out on structure. Carolina rigs with a jigging spoon have been effective and a big worm on a heavy Texas rig is also a good bet. With the constant swings in weather and temperature, persistence is key. If you find any action in an area be patient and throw multiple types of lures before you head off in search of other digs. Crappie are hard to catch in this muddy water so look for clearer spots along the ledges and try a minnow. Smelly bait is carrying well in this dirty water so catfish fishing with a nice smelly stink bait should produce a nice outcome. Stay safe out there as water levels can vary dramatically.
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA
In general, February fishing at Big Lazer Public Fishing Area is challenging. Anglers must be more patient and persistent to have a good day fishing. However, winter weather means less anglers are fishing; thus, less fishing pressure for the dedicated angler. And warmer temperatures are on the way, which means fish will start spawning in the next few weeks. Hypothermia could still be an issue so continue to remain vigilant near the water’s edge.
(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)
Winter fishing is definitely upon us. That typically means that if you can find a fish that you have found a whole school of fish. The trick is getting them to bite. The current warming trend at the time of writing this will definitely increase your odds that you can get them to bite, but they probably won’t move much before the next cold front barrels through. The rivers (except the St. Marys) are still high, and your best bites in Georgia will probably be in ponds and saltwater.
River gages on February 3rd were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 7.4 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 5.6 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.3 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 10.4 feet and falling (51 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 11.2 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 3.8 feet and falling
The river is still high but is coming down. Charles Carter shared information about a trip one of his friends made in the upper river on Wednesday. His friend floated minnows under a cork to catch 24 fish, including bass, bluegills, and crappie (most were crappie). That made for a great fish fry. Your best bet is to fish the upper river backwaters if you want to fish the Satilla, but the forecast is for more rain late in the week.
ST MARYS RIVER
The St Marys is the river in southeast Georgia currently at the most fishable level. Brentz McGhin and Joseph Mitchell fished the tidal St. Marys on Thursday and had a great catch of panfish. They were targeting crappie and caught a total of 35 mixed panfish. They used crawfish Satilla Spins and plastics on jigheads. Bluegills, redbreasts, stumpknockers, and a redear sunfish (shellcracker) made up most of their catch. Electric chicken was the most effective plastic color followed by black/yellow. 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.
I didn’t have any reports of folks fishing either entrance this week, but the level is right, and the fish should eat on the next warming trend. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.04 feet.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The weather was terrible this week with cold fronts and winds, but the current warm-up should get fish chewing going into the weekend. Keep a close eye on winds if you plan to go this weekend. A Waycross angler fished by himself on Friday in the Brunswick area and caught a bunch of trout. He slowly worked a morning dawn-colored 3-inch Keitech swimbait on an 1/8-oz Zombie Eye Jighead with a 1/0 Gamakatsu Hook for most of his fish. He also fooled a 19-inch redfish, 2 black drum to 18 inches, and a 16-inch flounder with the artificial. He had a dozen keeper trout up to 19 inches and caught a total of 31 trout. He tail-hooked a live shrimp and fished it on the bottom with an 1/8-oz. Shrimp Hook for about a dozen of his smaller trout. A group of anglers fishing some docks in the Brunswick area around low tide late last week dabbled fiddler crabs and mussels around pilings to fool a couple dozen sheepshead up to 6 pounds. They released their fish. For guide trip information, call Capt. Greg Hildreth at (912) 617-1980 or check out his website (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).
Daniel and David Johnson fished an Alma area pond on Tuesday and caught 9 bass up to 3 pounds on Christie Craws and black-fire tail plastic worms. Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond over the weekend and caught a few bass up to 2 pounds on black/blue Christie Craws. He also caught a giant bluegill on a sickle hook jighead and chartreuse pearl Assassin Tiny Shad. Robbie Berry fished a small pond on Sunday evening and caught 35 crappie in just a short time.
(Fishing report courtesy of Sarah Baker, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Get outside and soak up some sunshine this weekend! Is it spring yet?!?
Fishing with Academy Jack: I was back on Lanier this week. I fished Brush piles in 20 to 25’ of water this week in Balus Creek for Crappie and got a nice Largemouth Bass as a bonus. The water temperature was 49.7 degrees. The bigger Crappie and Bass came on a 3” MegaBass Hazedong Shad (ghost shad color) swim-bait on a 1/16 oz Keitech Tungsten ball jig head. This time of the year, I like to cast to the brush pile from a distance of about 30’ and let it sink on a tight line all the way back to the boat. All of my bites came on the fall. I Don’t shake or reel the bait at all; just let it slowly sink. Bundle up and don’t forget to wear your life jacket. -Academy Jack
Lake Lanier: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) — Lake Lanier is full, 50s
- Bass (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson, (770) 366-8845) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. The colder weather has taken affect and the bass are hanging out in their winter locations. It is becoming easier to locate the schools of shad and when you do the bass are not far away. Start the morning out for the first hour or more with three baits to choose from. Use a medium to deep diving crankbait such as a Rapala DT6 or a Rock Crawler and a quarter ounce Spot Choker underspin on red clay banks or rocky points. The banks in both the sun and the wind are your best areas. The crawfish pattern or a red and black pattern have been the best producers for the crankbaits. The quarter ounce Spot Choker with a two/0 hook paired with a 3/3 Keitech has produced in these same areas as well as the backs of pockets. While you are in the shallower areas be sure to try either a worm or a jig on the rocky points and on the docks in less than twenty foot of water. An orange, blue and brown jig with a root beer trailer has been producing good bites while a green pumpkin or watermelon red worm has worked best. You won’t feel a lot of these bites on the worm or jig so you will have to be a line watcher as the fish are just picking it up and moving off with it. The deep bite is getting stronger with the Spot Choker underspin, the Georgia Blade spoon and the drop shot being the steady producers. Match the half ounce or three eights ounce Silver Back Spot Choker with a white Super Fluke in the thirty to fifty foot range on a slow retrieve to catch these deep bass. Where there is one there are probably more. Using your electronics like the Garmin Pan Optic LiveScope is a tremendous advantage on not only locating these fish but also seeing how they react to the different baits. If they are just moving with the bait instead of taking it then try one of the other baits to draw a strike. As the water is colder the fish tend to group up more making both Georgia Blade spoon and the drop shot good choices Work the spoon and the drop shot directly into the groups of fish to draw strikes. A white spoon has been the choice and either Morning Dawn or Blue Lily have been the choice for worms. Be alert that this time of year the fish tend to group by size .if you are only catching small fish on a spot that is probably all that is there. They are definitely biting so bundle up and Go Catch ’Em!
- Striper (Report Courtesy of Buck Cannon Buck Tails Guide Service, (404) 510-1778) — Lake Lanier Stripers have been found all over the lake and both rivers and the down lines have been working using blue backs at 30 to 45 feet deep over a 50 to 80 foot bottom. Using the electronics locate the bait and start searching for the schools of fish before starting to fish. Get over the fish and use thee anchor lock and drop down lines at different locations in the water column and find out what’s their preference. Make sure to put one on or near the bottom. Stripers, crappie and bass are mixed in the schools so watch the rod tip. There are a lot of light bites so be on your toes. Remember to wear your life jackets it’s colder than you think.
- Crappie fishing is good. (From Captain Josh Thornton, (770) 530-6493) — Crappie fishing is fair. Try smaller, lighter jigs with little to no action go slowly. Color will depends on water clarity dark color for muddy and stained water light colors for clear water. Try several color combinations until you find one that works for you. 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. Crappie Minnows work great year round. Try a free line minnow (no sinker) when the crappie are schooling near the top. We are setting minnows 10 to 12 feet over brush. 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. We are using the Skippers jig moon jigs use (promo code heroes) when ordering. We use ATX Lure Companies jigs. 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 Weiss: Mark Collins (256) 779-3387) reports —
- Bass fishing is fair and they are on their winter pattern on the river and creek channels. Drop shot rigs and Carolina rigs are catching fish.
- Crappie fishing is good and they are on the creek and river channel ledges at 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 lot of Crappie have suspended in the Coosa river channel 20 25 feet deep. 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 and a float and fly.
Lake Hartwell: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is slow. Cold weather has put a damper on Hartwell this week with black bass and crappie far and few between. Water temperatures range from the high 40’s to lower 50’s and the lake is full. Trolling the larger Shad Raps and Risto Raps will work. With the water cold bass are holding tight to brush piles and any form of wood that is available near the channels. Try locating these fish with the graph and back off and try throwing a small ¼ ounce jig or a 4 to 4 and 1/2 inch Texas rigged worm right at the target. The red shad color Zoom finesse worm will work. With a Venom Glass rattle stuffed into the body and Jacks Juice garlic scent this will improve strikes and the fish will hold them longer. Slow cranking for suspended bass will always net one or two. Use the McStick jerk bait and add a tensile tail on the back hook as a replacement.
Lake Allatoona: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) – Bass fishing is fair. This time of year there will be a shad kill and fishing gets tough due to cold water temperatures. There are some bass that have ventured into shallower water. There is a good bite on the quarter ounce Spot Choker underspin lead head and a Keitech small trailer in pearl and drop them to the bottom on slack line as the fish will hit it falling. Now drag it into across the bottom slowly. There will be a good afternoon bite mid week on a Spro Fat John square bill crankbait. Have a Chatterbait ready too. If the weather pattern changes toward the end of the month and water temperatures drop the bass will pull out to deeper water and suspend until conditions stabilize. If this happens the drop shot use the Big Bite Shaky Squirrel jig head and the Alabama rig bite will pick up.
New Allatoona Fish Habitat: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) – DNR Fisheries staff partnered with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Marietta BassMasters, Keep Bartow Beautiful, and local volunteers to improve fish habitat at the Victoria Day Use Fishing Jetty on Lake Allatoona. Together, the group added approximately 225 recycled Christmas trees to existing anchor points around the jetty at this popular fishing spot. When water levels rise this spring, the trees will be inundated with water and species like bass, bream, and catfish will take up residence. This program, now in its 16th year, has added more than 3,500 recycled Christmas trees to Lake Allatoona to the benefit of both sportfish and anglers. Find more fishing intel, as well as a map showing the locations of more than 70 Allatoona fish attractors, click HERE.
West Point: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) – Bass fishing is slow. Cold fronts and lots of wind makes fishing slower than normal. For now stick with the slower lures on points and roadbeds. Find isolated brush piles and rock at the mouths of pockets. On non windy or post frontal days use a 3/8 ounce black & blue All Terrain jig with a Zoom black super chunk. On days when wind is present the pattern changes to shallow running crank baits and spinnerbaits. For spinnerbaits a Strike King 3/8 ounce gold and nickel double willow leaf blades with a chartreuse/white skirt. For crank baits the Rapala RS5 shad rap in a shad pattern will produce fish in all sizes.
Carters Lake Stripers– Captain Cy Grajcar with Allatoona’s Extreme Stripers Guide Service, landed a couple walleyes from Carters Lake last week and some hybrids and stripers from Lake Allatoona yesterday afternoon. The afternoon bite is going really good if you want to go out when it’s a little warmer. The walleye are biting on Carters!
This past week’s rain has increased the flows and depths of north Georgia rivers. Though the weekend’s forecast calls for sunshine, air temperatures will be cool. If you decide to brave the swollen creeks, be sure to bundle up and check the flows before you go.
Unicoi Outfitters Report 1/28 – Angler Management: (Report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters, www.unicoioutfitters.com) – “Low and clear equals long and light.” Remember that slogan and you’ll have more success on our thin regional streams. Right now longer, thinner (6,7X) tippet and tiny natural bugs will bring more looks than bright and bulky ones. The stream drift currently holds midges, BWO’s, and a few little black stones, so match those hatches. Try a dry/dropper combo in slow pools and runs during warm afternoons. A #18 Adams, stonefly, or gray caddis can float a tiny WD40 below it, even with a tiny tin shot crimped on your 2-foot tippet.
Wes’ Hot Fly List:
- Dries: Griffith’s Gnat, parachute Adams, little black stonefly
- Nymphs: WD40, black copper John, three dollar dip, RS2, mini leech purple, twisted mayfly.
- Streamers & warm water
- Sparkle minnow, micro changer, bank robber sculpin.
Headwaters: My noon circuit today had Spoilcane running 44F and Smith DH at 46. Hooch and Tooga temps are on their USGS gauge sites.
RSquared checked in: “Michael and I fished my favorite little wild brown trout stream mid-week. ( I can do that now that I am retired from public education!) The water was cold and gin-clear. We could not even spook a fish from their lair under rocks and logs. However, just before dark we able to stick a couple. Michael got one on a bead-head hares ear. My only fish was deceived with a Frenchie tied on a jig hook with a tungsten bead. I also managed to break the mid-section of my beloved 3wt Butter Stick. It was a tough day!!! Rodney”
Smith DH: Dredger hit it on Monday afternoon and did “fair” in low, clear, 42F water. His small handful of bows liked the WD40 dropper the best. A few little black stonefly adults buzzed by in the sunshine (did you enjoy this week’s video quiz?), but no fish rose to them. Only one fish hit his bright walts worm in a fast pocket. When the sun set at 5, he switched to dry/dropper and was thrilled with one fish that rose to his parachute Adams.
Let’s Talk Trout: (With Sarah Baker) – It’s a great idea to learn about trout behavior because it will help improve your fishing success! I was recently asked several questions by an angler about typical trout behavior. Here are my answers:
1.Do they sleep? Trout don’t “sleep” per se, because they don’t have eyelids to close. They will rest, however, by finding a well-covered location with gentle flow to expend as little energy as possible.
2. How often do they eat? Eating habits depend largely on the season. In hot, summer months, trout typically feed in the cool, early mornings, and late evenings. In winter months, they typically feed during the warmest part of the day (~11:00am-3:00pm). During their feeding times they arrange themselves in “feeding lies” and will continuously feed on whatever appears edible. Their metabolic needs also change during seasons. In really hot summer months, and cold winter months, trout don’t feed as often because they don’t need to; they’re not growing. In spring months, they are feeding a lot because they are growing!
3. How do day & night change their behavior or preferred places to be? During sunny days, when the water is clear, trout are more likely to be located in places where they won’t be spotted by a predator. This will typically be in deep holes or under log jams. When the sun goes down, trout feeding activity can increase because predation risk decreases. Typically, night fishing is associated with targeting large Brown Trout. This is because Brown Trout more often consume more types of prey; like mice, and mice are more active at night.
4. How about rainfall and swelling streams? Does that change what they focus on and where they spend their time? When it rains, fish aren’t able to be as picky about what they eat because water turbidity is typically increased. This can mean more luck for anglers. This doesn’t change what fish focus on; they’re just more likely to go after something that looks somewhat like food. This is why “flashy” and large flies are recommended if fishing in the rain or shortly after a rainstorm.
5. How about temperature; On warm days do they prefer the deep pools or go towards the surface? See answer to question 3. Depending on the season, trout will prefer or avoid the surface when it’s warm. During the winter, trout will feed at the surface during the warmest parts of the day. If it’s summer, they’re typically going to avoid the surface. This also depends on what food is available. There are a lot more bugs flying around near the surface in the spring than in the winter. It also depends on the weather. If it’s a warm winter afternoon and overcast– trout will be more likely to be feeding at the surface if there’s available food (typically baetis mayflies). Again, this is related to how “safe” trout are from being spotted by predators. If it’s a warm winter afternoon and sunny– trout will be feeding in deep pools, but typically not toward the surface. Surface-feeding happens all summer long in Georgia, in a high-elevation streams. This is because there is a lot of vegetation cover along these streams, so trout are protected from predators seeing them (think camouflage).
6. I seem to catch more trout in the rougher waters vs the calm pools, why do they go to those sections instead of staying in the pools like I hear so many other fishermen talk about? Rougher waters or “riffles” are “bug factories”. This is where macroinvertebrates build their homes, and where their eggs hatch. It’s smart for a trout to stay just below a riffle to increase their likelihood of capturing a meal. Dry flies can catch trout near or even in riffles. In our surveys, we observe small trout occupying the riffle areas. This may have to do with the pecking order. Larger trout typically occupy the deeper pools and swim the smaller trout off into the riffles or runs. When fishing deep pools, your setup will need to change. You’ll need either wooly buggers, or squirmy wormy flies, or nymphs.
7. Are the trout released by the hatcheries always the same age/size? I caught one about 14 inches long in the Amicalola DH section shortly after DH started and was very impressed but was wondering if that was likely something directly from the hatchery or one that has been around a while. Trout are stocked at various sizes. Our goal is to stock 10” trout. We’re occasionally able to stock trout larger than that. The Delayed Harvest sections of streams get too hot in the summer months for long-term trout survival, so the trout you caught was more than likely from one of our hatcheries.
8. Do you have any resources to recommend that I might study this type of thing further? Yes; please watch this three-part series compiled by Wendell “Ozzie” Ozefovich. I recommend setting aside some time (they’re several hours long) when it’s absolutely pouring rain and your fly box is full (is that possible?) to watch it. You may want to take some notes. It is incredibly informative and uniquely captures more than just trout feeding behavior. Learn about “hydro cushions”! Specifically, parts two and three.