Checking weather reports to see if I can make at least one day this weekend a fishing day. Looks like I may want to get on out there as it appears some rain is coming next week. Are you a fair weather angler or are you a “fish no matter what weather” type of angler?
NEWS TO KNOW
- Let’s Talk Fish at School: Southeast and Coastal fisheries biologists are taking fish to the classroom. Well, they are taking educational knowledge about fish, biology, ecology and more and sharing them with classrooms in the area. Learn more about their efforts in this GON article HERE.
This week, we will have reports from North, Southeast and Central Georgia. So whatever weather angler you are, be sure to Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Anthony Rabern, Region Supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Water temps across North Georgia lakes and streams are still cold, running in the mid-40s, but temperature is not the only factor that puts fish on the move during late-winter. Other factors, like the amount of daylight and river flow, also trigger fish movements during the closing weeks of winter. This week, our fish sampling crews witnessed firsthand the convergence of these driving factors as we scouted several reservoir
headwaters for early movements of walleye and striped bass. Although we did not load the boat with fish, we did find a few male walleyes starting to make their way upstream to the spawning grounds. More walleyes will follow these lowly trailblazers in the next few weeks with migrations of white bass, striped bass, and hybrid bass not far behind. For more information about walleye fishing in Georgia, click here to download a free publication from our secure website. During our walleye recon, we also encountered spotted bass, Bartram’s bass, and shoal bass. With warmer weather in the forecast, now would be a good time to get a jump on this year’s Bass Slam. Click here for more info on the Georgia Bass Slam. Late-winter is also the time of year when anglers have the best chance of catching a trophy fish just before egg-laden females deposit their valuable onboard cargo to create the next generation. So, I hope your line is fresh and your hooks are sharp because it’s time to hit the water!
Here are fishing reports for some of your favorite North Georgia fishing spots:
Lanier Bass: Academy Jack ventured onto Lake Lanier this week and provided us with this interesting report. “I went back to Balus Creek on Lake Lanier this week and found the water stained but not as muddy as it was a week ago. I marked several schools of Stripers in 40 to 50’ of water but could not get them to bite jigging spoons or swim-jigs. There was a lot of bait in the back of the creek and the water was slightly warmer, 49.7 along a rocky bank. I marked several fish in 6 to o 8’ of water near the bottom. I switched to a crank-bait and bounced it along the rocks. I thought I hooked a Big Spot but to my surprise I caught this Spotted Sucker. The first one I have seen on the lake. Academy Jack” Just to add a comment to Jack’s story, spotted suckers are bottom feeders that occur in many of our reservoirs and rivers; however, I rarely hear of one being caught on hook and line.
Lanier Report from Jimbo Mathley (www.jimboonlanier.com) — Water temps and lake levels are on the rise and bass are becoming more motivated to move into the shallows in the backs of creeks and pockets. A chatterbait and jerkbait are working well in the stained water. Most bass have been coming around shallow docks, but little rocky points are holding fish as well. Focus on water 15 feet deep and less for this pattern. The timber edges in and around 30 to 40 feet are also holding fish. Drop shotting flukes or other minnow imitations are your best bet. When the wind is up, cast a SPRO Little John DD to the rocks as well for some fish. Don’t expect a lot of bites, but some good ones. Don’t miss the opportunity to throw a SuperSpin in the same places as well.
Spotted Bass on Lanier: (Report from Phil Johnson, (770) 366-8845) – Phil reports that spotted bass are being caught on points, main lake humps, and ditches of the last deep water going up into coves. Look at deep brush piles and find some bait at depths of 25 to 35 feet deep. Deeper docks half way into the creeks are also good areas to try. Main lake ledges at the creek mouths are good areas for a jig and a spoon. Spots like the deep rocky banks and if it is out of the wind, these are key areas that will warm up sooner than the windblown banks. Also use the Lucky Craft suspending jerk baits. Colors need to be silver and blue combinations. Find the fish on the Lowrance Down Scan technology and if have Fish Reveal use it on the Down Scan so the fish appear like on regular Sonar. Use the vertical jig in a 1/2 to 3/4 ounce spoon.
Lanier Crappie: The backs of the creeks are stained, and that is where you will find the warmest water temps. Darker jigs are recommended in moderate to heavily stained water. Fishing should get easier over the next few weeks.
Crappie Report: (Report from Josh Thornton, (770) 530-6493) – The water temperature is in the mid-40s. The hot bite target zone is 12 to 15 feet. The bite is supper soft so keep your pole in your hands and feel for the slightest bump. Use your electronics to look under docks that are in 20 to 40 feet of water and have brush or structure. Remember crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows of a dock. Try down lining a crappie minnows with a sinker or set up a slip bobber. Jigs can be used for short casting, vertical jigging or dock shooting. The most productive jig color was amber or a chartreuse hair jig.
Carters Lake Striped & Hybrid Bass: (Striper and hybrid report provided by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service, 770 827-6282. www.firstbiteguideservice.com) — Fishing has been good for big fish. Carters has never been known for numbers, but it is known for big fish of all species. The downline bite is the best bite, with limited action on planer boards and free-lines. Downlines fished from 50 to 80 feet over bait are working best. Most of the action we are getting is right at sun-up. All the main creeks are holding fish. The bigger your shad, the better. Remember, you’re not going to load the boat, but some true trophies are biting right now.
Carters Lake Bass: (Bass fishing report courtesy of Louie Bartenfield, http://www.carterslakeguideservice.com/, 706-218-6609) — Spotted Bass are still following big schools of alewife throughout the lower to mid lake sections. These fish are roaming in 25-50ft depths over creek channels but will occasionally stage near a bluff or ditch. Drop shots, jigging spoons and Spotsticker Underspins have been good producers for these fish.. I’ve been dragging jigs and casting crank baits around the flooded wood. The bites are few and far between, but you can run around and catch some this way. Looking forward to the warmer weather & longer days just around the corner. Good luck out there!
Lake Allatoona: Last Friday, Cody Hopkins caught a white crappie from Allatoona that weighed 3 lb 4 oz. If the weight is verified, this monster crappie will smash the current 42-year old lake record by a whopping 8 ounces.
Allatoona: (This report from Joseph Martinelli of Heron Outdoor Adventures) — Joseph reported good success downlining for hybrids and stripers but he advises to devote some time fishing the point breaks and cove mouths. Freelining with medium shiners and threadfin shad has been effective for secondary hookups while pitching into the pockets along the shoreline with smaller live baits as well as crankbaits. As for spotted bass, they seem to be all over the place. Catching a few on Rapala DT6, but other baits are just as effective.
Weiss Lake: (Report from Mark Collins (256) 779-3387) – Mark reports catching bass around culverts and other inflows with clearer water as well as channel ledges. Spinner baits and crank baits are working best, but Carolina rigs and jigs are catching fish, too. Crappie fishing is good. They are being caught long line trolling, with Jiffy Jigs, JJ13, JJ17 and JJ20 are the colors that have been catching fish for me, they are suspended in the river and creek channels 7 to 10 feet deep. Some fish are still being caught spider rigging, with minnows, on the river channel ledges.
Lake Hartwell: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) — Look for the bass on the points both up and down lake looking for food. There are deep bass in the up lake creeks in the very backs of feeder creeks. Trick worms in greens and small shad crank baits have been fair. The lower lake creeks are clearing and stay with small shad colored crank baits and use the smaller jigs in black and silver with a small pork. Fish any bank cover all the way to the boat working the lure’s slowly in cover. Find any warming water in the northwest cove’s later in the afternoons. Fish any bank cover all the way to the boat working the lure’s slowly in cover. Find any warming water in the northwest cove’s later in the afternoons. Use smoke/green Zoom u tail worms and cast around docks down lake. Down lake in the creeks use a 3/8 ounce blue and black Stanley jig and a Bo Hawg trailer on points. Hopkins spoons in ½-ounce sizes on and over the old tree lines in the major creeks is fair just fish them slowly.
Trout Delayed Harvest Reports: Smith, Amicalola, and the Toccoa are fully stocked and ready for anglers to take advantage of the fresh dose of trout.
Smith Creek — Warmer weather will likely draw in plenty of anglers this weekend. If you are one of them, be sure to toss an egg or a pink squirmy wormy fly, which are fishing well right now. Here’s some trout success from NGTO from Smith Creek DH.
Upper Toccoa Delayed Harvest: (Report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company) — Heavy rains on Thursday night made the Toccoa unsafe to wade, but if the flows diminsh and you’re willing to brave the conditions, you might catch some very good trout fishing. Bring loads of heavy split shot and prepare to fish deep. Pat’s Rubber Legs, Squirmy Worms, Tungsten Pheasant Tail/Hare’s Ear soft hackles with colored bead variants, Two Bit Hookers, and Thrift Shop Caddis should all be on the menu. Don’t forget your Black Caddis and Little Black Stonefly Patterns.
Chattooga River: Joe C heeded the advice of last week’s WRD fishing report and scored a touchdown on the Chattooga DH during the warm, sunny first-half of the weekend. Like the LA Ram’s Cooper Kupp dodging a cadre of angry Bengals, Joe kept his presentation low and flashy in the river’s crystal clear runs. Gaudy flies were the ticket and brought many fish to hand over the course of the trip, but when his landing net cradled his new PB brookie, he knew he had scored the game winning touchdown. “Fat and strong” is how Joe described his prize fish, which swam off to play another down in the next battle of wits and patience on the mighty ‘Tooga. Now is a great time to score your own touchdown and tell your story on a delayed harvest stream near you!
Check the Gauge: Be sure to check USGS stream gauges and local tackle shops before making your way to your anticipated fishing spot. Most importantly recognize the power of water and don’t wade when the river is roaring!
(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-ups have been getting stronger the last couple weeks, and that is forecasted to continue into this coming week. Expect both bass and crappie to begin spawning soon. Look for them to break out of the winter pattern and move toward the shallows. The key during the transition is finding them each day.
River gages on February 17th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River –10.3 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 1 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 10.4 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 10.1 feet and falling (54 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 9.6 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 4.3 feet and falling
Tim Kegebein fished the Ocmulgee River a couple times over the past couple weeks and caught 16, 17, and 18 bass on the trips. On his most recent trip on Friday, he caught 17 bass up to 5 pounds. Most of his fish ate plastic worms fished around cover adjacent to deeper water. On all the trips, he caught his fish on worms or crankbaits.
The river is still high but should drop within the banks this week if we do not get much rain out of this next front. Catfish and crappie will be your best bets during the coming warm spell next week.
ST MARYS RIVER
The first Shady Bream Tournament will be held this Saturday, February 19th out of the Kings Ferry Boat Ramp. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information.
The swamp level is getting right, and the forecasted warmth will get the fliers and warmouth biting, and don’t be surprised if a pickerel (jackfish) grabs your lure. There should be some good reports this next week. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.0 feet.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (NEAR TIFTON, MORE INFO HERE)
Crappie fishing has been best, but the bass are starting to move shallower on each warm-up. Expect both species to be biting well during next week’s forecasted heat. Ray Mitchell and Antavious Greene caught angler award-sized crappie. Both were using jigs, and Ray’s was just shy of 2-lb., 10-oz, while Antavious’ fish was 2-lb., 1-oz. The shallower ponds like the Horseshoe series and Tacklebuster typically warm up first, with the large lakes like Patrick, Paradise, and Bobben taking a few additional warm days to heat up.
The bass and crappie bites have been best this week. Scott Klingel and his wife had a great trip on Saturday in a Statesboro area pond. They caught 25 bass, and their biggest was an 8-lb., 6-oz. lunker that inhaled a swimbait. Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson fished an Alma area pond on Saturday and caught 9 bass up to 2 pounds. They fooled them with stick worms and Christie Craws.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
We finally had a Saturday without a preceding cold front, and the effort showed it. There were lots of trailers at the ramps I went by that day. Josh Brumfield of Nashville, Tennessee visited a friend and fished Friday evening and Saturday in the Brunswick area. They caught 9 seatrout (7 keepers up to 18 inches) and a 29-inch redfish in just 1 1/2 hours of fishing on Friday evening. A few bit live shrimp on an 1/8-oz. Shrimp Hook but the rest ate a morning dawn 3-inch Keitech swimbait rigged on a 1/8-oz jighead with a Gamakatsu sickle-shaped hook. On Saturday the duo managed 14 trout (only 2 keepers), 4 redfish up to 28 inches, a 17-inch black drum, and a small bluefish. They caught a half-dozen on live shrimp rigged on 1/8-oz. Shrimp Hooks and the rest on the same head as the night before and 3-inch Keitechs. That day they caught them on chartreuse pearl and morning dawn colors, primarily. Another group of anglers got on some keeper redfish in the Cumberland area. They caught a limit on shrimp. An angler reported catching 35 trout (not sure how many keepers) on Saturday while using live shrimp in the Brunswick area. 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).
(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. This week’s full moon moved a few fish shallow. The unstable weather has been moving through the area and this has confused the fish. The bass are still holding tight to cover. A variety of plastics and jigs are working when using a slow presentation. The spotted bass are still scattered all over the lake. When the winds blow constant on the lake, good limits can still be caught while using crank baits on the points and rocky banks. Rapala DT6 and DT10 and the #5 Jointed Shad Raps are still working; use a combination of crawfish and shad crank baits and swap them in the different water conditions. Continue to check out the rip rap on sunny days because the shad and the bass are there. Keep a Red Eye shad handy in case any bait schools get active.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Use a bait that will make a lot of noise and puts off vibration. Small crank baits fished around docks and sea walls from the middle of the creeks to the back of the creeks are productive. Also, fish are starting to show up off points in the lower lake creeks. Most of the bass are still hanging out on the ledges out on the main lake. Carolina rigs will catch a limit. The more active bass are still responding to the Rapala DT10’s and Rapala #7 Shad Raps while working the deeper water. The Shad color still seems to be the favorite with most of the fishermen. Look for a few fish with Zoom Super Flukes in pearl. The back side of sharp points are also holding good bass. Try the Husky Jerks and Rapala DT’s along with drop shot rigs. On the warmer days, expect the fish to be a little more active and move up to feed more often. Lowrance Structure Scan technology can make the search a lot faster. Scan five times the depth of the water with the Structure Scan Side imagining technology and find the bait; the bass will be close by.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Most of the fish are small. Work the spoons, jigs, and worms. Look for the bass in the mouths of the main lake and main river creeks. The lower lake creeks are clearing and use the smaller jigs in black and silver with a small pork. Fish any bank cover all the way to the boat working the lures slowly in cover. Find any warming water in the northwest coves later in the afternoons. Moving water with noisy baits are doing well. Soft plastics around shore cover are working, as well. Rocks and rip rap will keep water warmer and will be ideal for morning bites. Chatter baits around the older docks will work and watch out for shad working the surface. Lipless crankbaits under these schools will get the bigger fish. Work baits slower in colder water. Hopkins spoons in 1/2-ounce sizes on and over the major creek bends is fair, just fish them slowly. Use a small green worm or a small jig fished around the mid lake docks especially the double ones since they hold more heat. Off the points on the main lake use a small Zoom finesse worms in greens on a Texas rig.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.3 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Jigs are a winter bait that can work if they are fished slowly on the structure in the creek’s mid lake. There is a cold front expected this weekend. The cold waters in the upper lake and down lake creeks make conditions tough for bass. There are shad in the feeder creeks in the stained water and most are 15 to 40 feet deep. The shad are harder to locate and this is unusual for the Lowrance screen not blacked with these bait fish. So, if there is little bait, the fish cannot be as picky about their food choices. Spoons and drop shot rigs can get a few bites but fish right on the top of the structure straight down. The fish are still in transition with the week’s full moon,
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: <60 F
- Water Visibility: 22-48+ in
Bass: Bass are biting well across the area. Fishing late in the afternoon in the shallows of Willow Lake, while for Bridge Lake casting near the pumphouse and peninsulas are still consistently yielding good bites. Black worms, shad look-alike lures, and all other forage look-alike lures have been performing well.
Bream: Bream bite remains slow. Fallen trees and docks on Clubhouse and Bream Buster are doing well, while working the dams on Bridge Lake has landed some nice bream. Pink and red worms are having the most success for bait.
Channel Catfish: Catfish bite has slowed down across the area. Fish are still being caught in the deeper waters of all lakes, especially Beaver Lodge, lately. Best bets are chicken liver and the usual stink baits.
Striped Bass: Striped bass have been tearing up lures and livers alike in Bridge and Clubhouse. Best bets are casting lures and sinking bait in deeper water.