The state of Georgia abounds with an amazing variety of reservoirs and rivers that we are fortunate to fish. However, the introduction of an aquatic invasive species into our waters can affect your fishing, your boating, and even your wallet. You can help prevent invasive species from entering our waters by draining the water from your gear and vessel away from the boat ramp; ensuring that your gear, boat, and trailer are not carrying aquatic “hitchhikers” (plants, mud, animals, mussels, etc.) from one location to another; and never dump a bait bucket. Need more tips? Find them HERE.
NEED TO KNOW
- Protect Your Waters-Watercraft Inspection Training (May 3-4): GA DNR is partnering with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to offer an in-person training designed to teach participants about watercraft inspection and decontamination. This hands-on training provides participants with the opportunity to learn how to minimize the transport and accidental introduction of ANS like zebra mussels into new waterbodies. Find out more about the training HERE. Sign up HERE before the deadline of March 31.
- It was Shocking, I tell Ya: Jay Payne, fisheries biologist, recently took out a reporter with WRDW Augusta on a research trip at Lake Olmstead. They discuss research, surveys, electro-fishing and how that information helps make future decisions. And they pull out some nice fish! Check out the story HERE.
- In Search Of Walleye Broodstock: Fisheries Management staff collected and transported walleye broodstock to the Go Fish Center for spawning. Currently, more than six million eggs are incubating in special incubation jars and hatch is expected to begin in earnest later this week and continue over the next few weeks.
This week, we have fishing reports from Southwest, Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Help keep our waters healthy and invasive species-free, so we can all 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)
While we don’t have a fishing report to share about the Flint River this week, we do have some really nice photos taken during research and survey work by fisheries staff.
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA
Largemouth Bass fishing is fair at Big Lazer Public Fishing Area. Anglers should begin to have some decent largemouth bass fishing trips very soon as they begin to move to shallower water. Bass fishing should really start picking up in the coming weeks. Try throwing spinning baits or crankbaits in 6 to 8 feet of water. Baits should still be fished slower due to cool water temperatures. Casting your line near good cover should yield some decent bites. Remember to please report any tagged largemouth bass to DNR fisheries staff. Crappie fishing is poor. There have been few reports of crappie being caught as they are difficult to locate. However, crappie fishing should pick up as spawning season approaches. Try locating groups of crappie by trolling the lake with minnows. Most bites will be in 8-10ft of water. You can also try bright colored jigs to try to entice bites. Remember: Only two poles are allowed per angler. Bream fishing is fair. There have been some reports of good bream fishing due to the approaching spawning season. Anglers seem to be having luck fishing with worms around the fishing piers. This time of year, bream are located in 4-6 feet of water. Try locating woody structure for increased chance of bream bites. Channel Catfish fishing is poor. Catfish bites are hard to come by this time of year but you may have good luck fishing with livers or shrimp near the bottom. The rip rap along the dam and around woody structures will be your best bet of landing a cat. The newer pier may also produce decent Channel Catfish bites. In general, March water temperatures at Big Lazer are starting to warm up and so is the fishing. Late March and early April are some of the best times to fish Big Lazer as pre-spawn largemouth bass start to move into shallower water followed by bream. Good luck!
Fishing in Lake Blackshear is heating up. In general the location in which you fish matters quite a bit for the amount of action you will get. Stay in the back water areas where water temperatures have reached the low 60s. Bass are starting to pair up and are on beds. Fish 4-6 feet of water near docks and the edges of vegetation. The water is a bit muddy from all the rain so use lures that are tinged with reddish muddy colors. The bream fishing is looking really nice as well. There are some really great sized redear or shellcracker out there just waiting to be caught. Crickets and worms are the bait of choice for these guys. The crappie fishing is also looking very good on Blackshear right now. Sugar bug jigs are the local lure of choice for these guys. Stay in 3-7 feet of water in coves and at the mouths of creeks near vegetation. These fish are schooling so if you get a bite stay in the same spot and be persistent.
The main channel of the lake is starting to warm up and some of the back water spots are reaching 63 degrees and above. Continue to focus on these areas until the rest of the water warms up more. Crappie are schooling in 5 to 8 feet of water in the lily pads and on the edges of other vegetation. Minnows are a good choice for crappie bait. Be sure to be persistent if you get a bite because these fish tend to school together. The legendary bass fishing of lake Seminole is starting to heat up. Bass are starting to pair up in the shallower water of those backwater areas. Along the edges of grass in 3-7 feet of water seems to be the sweet spot. Try hollow belly frogs and chatter baits. Work them along the edge of grassy areas for a sneaky bite. Also try a crank bait to lure those fish off the beds. Some nice bream and warmouth are also out there waiting to be caught. Try out some different bait and lure options or try fishing for another species if you are not having luck with your target species. Have fun out there but be careful as many hidden obstacles pose a threat to boater safety.
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA
Water temps at Silver Lake Public Fishing Area are slowly recovering from the cold front that moved across the eastern half of the country last week. Anglers are reporting good action on Cutoff Pond with most bites coming from largemouth on beds. Bream and crappie fishing in the big lake has picked up in the last few weeks, and we are expecting the next few weeks follow that trend. Those big mouths on beds are taking dark bodied flukes and crawfish pattern jigs. Stump jumpers and beetle spins are coaxing a bite from the crappie and the larger bream. Be sure to go slow out there on the big lake as there are lots of hidden obstacles.
(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)
This has been one of the worst weather weeks all winter with the cold, rain, and wind. Ponds and the Okefenokee have been the best bites. The rivers are rising again, and the bites will likely be tough in flowing water this week.
River gages on March 16th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 8.9 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 8.7 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.0 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 8.1 feet and rising (62 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 7.4 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 14.3 feet and falling
ST MARYS RIVER
Even in the cold and wind this weekend, folks still caught panfish on the St Marys River during the Shady Bream Tournament. It was moved to Sunday instead of Saturday due to bad weather. First place was earned by Emma and Dale with 8.73 pounds. Daniel and Jimmy came in second with 8.51 pounds. Mark and Brittany rounded out the top 3 with 8.02 pounds. Big fish honors went to Daniel and Jimmy with a 0.81-pounder. The next tournament is scheduled for Saturday, April 16th out of the Kings Ferry ramp. Check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information.
Even in ponds I had very few reports this week. Makaylen Robertson had the biggest crappie of the week that I heard about. She landed a slab from a Waycross pond by pitching a white jig. Cooper and Jackson Winn fished Monday afternoon with their Great Aunt Kathy Tatum and their parents at an Alma area pond. They fooled 18 bream with red wigglers fished under corks and 2 bass with junebug Christie Craws (Texas-rigged). Their biggest bass was in the 5 pound range. Chad Lee fished even with the poor weather this week, and his biggest bass was a fat 6-pounder that he fooled with a white spinnerbait on Wednesday.
The water came up some with the recent rains, but the fish still bit. Mary Mead and Ellie Deener fished with me on Wednesday afternoon while they were down on spring break. We fished the east side and caught 54 fliers up to 9 inches. Color didn’t seem to matter. Mary caught her first flier ever and most of the first half-dozen fish on a yellow sally. During the middle of the 3-hour trip, Ellie had the hot hand with orange, while I caught the most at the end of the trip with pink. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.16 feet.
(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 good. The water continues to warm, and bass are shallow. Fish all the shallow bedding areas all day long and then find a deep ditch or channel ledge and fish the area with either a Rapala DT6 or a Rapala #5 Shad Rap. The bass will strike at any aggressive crank bait now including Fat Free Shad and Wiggle Warts. During the mid-day period fish any wood on the banks. For the larger bass go to the swim jigs by Striker King and a light Texas rigged Zoom trick worm rigged with a pegged sinker. Finding the right color will be the key but green pumpkin is the first choice.
CLARKS HILL IS FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair to good. Use the Lowrance Active Target technology to scan the docks after checking them first with the Structure Scan side scan technology. Scan the docks and send the side scan beams out 80 feet and just ride until they show up on the equipment. Have the Zoom Super Flukes ready too and use the pearl color around docks and points to cover water. Main lake points are best and if there is a pocket close by, even better along with the numerous boat docks. An early top water bite is still present on the points, especially those located near the river channel. Try using a 3 1/4-inch Chug Bug in either a gizzard shad or Tennessee shad color. A four-inch number 10 Husky Jerk in a Glass Blue Minnow and a Glass Perch color are working on the side of points. Light jigs and Texas rigged worms are working around and underneath the boat docks.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50S
Bass: Bass fishing fair. There are a couple of ways that are catching fish. For a bigger fish flipping a jig and pig or a large worm under docks will bring you a few good bites. Look for docks where there is deep water nearby. Make sure and work all areas of the dock. For numbers of fish go to finesse fishing. Use a drop shot or a jig head worm on light line, 6 or 8-pound test. A drop shot jig with a baby fluke can work; just be patient. Look for where there is rock or rip rap in the area. These areas will warm a little bit faster than the rest of the lake during cool water. Fish the bait slow and keep in contact with any rocks.
Striped Bass: Striper fishing is fair. The fish are starting to move away from the dam. Use the Lowrance to locate the schools of fish in the mouths of the coves and on the humps on the south end of the lake. Live bait (shad) has been the best over the past week.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. The fish are scattered from shallow to already moving into the timber on a summer pattern. Be versatile and be ready to fish jigs in the back of creeks to dropping minnows into the deep timber.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.4 FEET, 60S
Bass fishing is good. There are tons of shallow fish. Top water baits and spinner baits have been especially good during the last few days. Popping baits like Pop R’s and Chug Bug’s, and prop baits like Torpedo’s are producing numbers and quality of fish. Start the morning in the clearer water till the bite slows and then move to stained water and give it a try. Spinner baits will work with winds and a choppy surface. If the bite slows or stops, try using a lightweight Texas rig in the same areas around any cover present. Rip rap along the roadway bridges are holding fish that are hitting crank baits, spinner baits, Texas rigs, and jig head and worm rigs. Docks and boathouses are still holding bass that are mostly hitting Texas rigged worms. The normal summer humps, points, and ledges have slowed to a crawl, but should again hold lots of fish once the sun shines for a couple days. Large crank baits like Norman DD22, Poe’s 40 and Fat Free Shads are good choices when the fish are really active, especially during power generation. Carolina rigs and Texas rigs are the other primary choices for these deep fish.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.1 FEET OVER FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Some small bass are roaming the banks as well as on the ends of points. The bass are shallow around any wood. Use the Lowrance Active Target technology to scan the docks after checking them first with the Structure Scan side scan technology. Scan the docks and send the side scan beams out 80 feet and just ride until they show up on the equipment. Cast baits to shadows all day. Use a gourd green Zoom finesse worms down lake or a Weedless Wonder lead head Texas rig and use the brass and glass on the rig for more sound. Look in the mid lake halfway back in the creeks and hit any dock on points. Brush is a must, and the fish are on the shady sides of docks. Up the river the fishing is fair. Use a Lucky Craft Redemption spinner bait and add a large trailer. Zoom Bush Hogs and dark worms in the u tail style in reds and grays will work fished slowly on wood and docks. Use a Texas rig and fish all lures slowly and let them fall. Zoom trick worms in pink or yellow are also fair around the docks in the shadows in the creeks.
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 60 F
- Water Visibility: 22-48+ in
- McDuffie PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: With water temperatures rising bass are hungry! They are moving well in the shallows and hitting on most anything. Multiple large bass, 6+ pounders have been caught in the last week across the area.
Bream: Bream bite is picking up. Nice sandwich size bream are being caught using worms near structure.
Channel Catfish: Catfish bite remains slow across the area. Fish are still being caught in the deeper waters of all lakes. 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.
(Fishing report courtesy of Brent Hess, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
Getting Ready for Stocking Season: (courtesy of John Thomson, Trout Stocking Coordinator with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division) —It is that time of year to dust off the trout fishing gear and make sure you plan a fishing trip to your favorite trout fishing destination. Next week GADNR, in cooperation with the USFWS, will stock over 40,000 trout in north Georgia. It is a great time to make sure your fishing and trout licenses are up to date. If you don’t have a favorite destination, visit our Trout page on the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division website and explore our interactive trout map and sign up for our weekly trout stocking report. You will then be ready for a great trip next weekend and could even land an excellent tasting trout dinner.
Don’t Sleep on Pond Fishing (courtesy of Brent Hess, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division) — Reservoirs aren’t the only fishing location; pond fishing has also improved over the last few weeks. Farm ponds can also produce some monsters. For example, this pre-spawn female largemouth bass weighed almost 8 pounds. It was caught in a small pond in Troup County by Daniel DeRose-Broeckert.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Allatoona is down 6.2 feet, 50s. Bass fishing is good. Work the points on the main lake and also secondary points for schooling fish using a big swim bait and top water early. Have a Lucky Craft pointer 78 ready and work it along those same main lake and secondary points. Make super long casts to expand the strike zone. For numbers get out the drop shot rigs but be ready to cover some water to find the pods of fish on the drop shot bite. Catch one and there will be more there. Use the Lowrance Active Target technology to scan the docks after checking them first with the Structure Scan side scan technology. Scan the docks and send the side scan beams out 80 feet and just ride until they show up on the equipment. Have the Zoom Super Flukes ready too and use the pearl color around docks and points to cover water. Try the Yamamoto Flat Tails, 3.5 inch Cut tails, Tiny Flukes, Baby Sluggo’s and Basstrix baits. The smaller fish and numbers are right on the bank and out to 10 feet. Use a #4 Splitshot Dropshot hook by Gamakatsu, 8 pound fluorocarbon line to feel those deep bites and a 1/2 ounce Quick drop sinkers.
Lake Hartwell Bass: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Hartwell is Full, 50’s and Bass fishing is fair. The fish are heading to the creeks and bait schools are the key to finding the most fish. Key baits this last week have been a wacky rigged Bass Pro Shops Stick O. Green pumpkin is the go-to color for the lake and add this same color with some red flake and target docks. Use the Lowrance Active Target technology to scan the docks after checking them first with the Structure Scan side scan technology. Scan the docks and send the side scan beams out 80 feet and just ride until they show up on the equipment. Have the Zoom Super Flukes ready too and use the pearl color around docks and points to cover water. Some of the thread fin and herring have already started spawning on clay and rocky points. This is where the fluke bite will catch on. If the bite slows switch to a shakey head in the same areas. Continue to move throughout the day. When the fish are active work the area with several baits before moving on to the next area.
Lake Lanier Fishing — Lake Lanier is Full, 50s:
- Bass (Report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770 366 8845 Pjohnson15@hotmail.com): Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. Can you say Junk fishing? It is the time of year that you can throw a bunch of different baits and catch fish. The bass are migrating toward the shallower water areas where they will bed. There are still some good fish deep but the majority have moved into less than twenty five feet of water. The dock bite has gotten much better, and several baits are working well on them. We have been throwing a three sixteenths lead head with a green pumpkin or a watermelon red trick worm, a quarter ounce Spotchoker with a two three Keitech or a wacky worm to catch the dock fish. Work the last three or four docks in a pocket and try to get you bait either close or under the dock. Pay particular attention to the shady sides and metal post on each dock. A jerk bait or a spinnerbait have also been working well especially early in the day. If the wind is blowing these two baits will work all day. Work them in the backs of pockets, secondary points and rock banks for the most strikes. On the jerk bait most of the strikes are coming on the pause so don’t get in to big a hurry on your retrieve, the bass are still moving a little bit slow. Don’t be afraid to set your boat in twenty-five to thirty foot of water and cast the jerk bait right down the middle of the pocket for a big bite. With the rain this week and the cold weather predicted for this weekend the bass may back off a little until the lake level stabilizes and the water warms back up but they aren’t going far. The first wave of bedding will happen around the next full moon so look for the fish to move back to the shallows. The largemouth will be looking for beds in less than five feet of water and the spotted bass will be in the ten-to-twenty-foot range. It’s a great time to just go have fun catching bass on Lanier. They are biting so Go Catch ‘Em!
- Stripers: (report is courtesy of Buck Cannon, Buck Tales charters 404 510 1778) — Lanier Stripers are setting up in large schools and locate using your electronics to find them and the best methods are weighted flat lines, planer boards and down lines are still working. Look in back of coves all the way out to where they connect with the channel in water at 20 to 60feet deep. Use the flat lines 80 to 110 feet behind the boat and 30 feet behind the boards and locate the down lines just above the bait ball. Blue backs and gizzards are all working. This rain may stain the water so look for color changes. Top water could happen at any time so be sure to have a Zara Spook or a Magic Swimmer ready to throw. Remember to wear your life jackets, you don’t want to miss the spring bite it’s going to be memorable.
- Crappie (report is courtesy of Call Captain Josh Thornton 770 530-6493) — The water temperature is 58-60. We can’t seem to get a steady weather pattern. We will experience all 4 seasons this week including monsoon. This weekend will likely be tough fishing with the major drop in air temperature. I am still finding crappie roaming in shallow open water. I have also started catching them out of docks again but expect them to be in a spawning pattern for the next 3 weeks. One female can lay up to 60,000 eggs so let’s only keep what we intend to eat right away until the spawn is over then we can go back to filling the freezer. Minnows were 90% of our catch this week, if you are using jigs, I would recommend starting with dark colors with all the rain the water is going to be muddy or stained. I am setting minnows 2-4’ feet over schooling Crappie. 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 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
Weiss Lake Report (Report courtesy of Mark Collins www.markcollins service.com) —
- Bass: Bass fishing is fair, and a lot of fish have moved shallow in the bays and creeks in the spawning areas, spinner baits and shallow running crank baits are catching a lot of fish.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is good and they are suspended in the spawning bays at 8 to 20 feet deep, and can be caught long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ13 and JJ17. A lot of crappie are suspended in the Coosa river channel 20 to 25 feet deep. A few crappie are being caught shooting docks with jigs.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor and no reports of any catches.
- Catfish: Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water and cut bait is working best.
West Point Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — West Point Lake is down 4.6 feet clear 60s. — Bass fishing is good. Some top water action is there early and until 10 am. Use big top water bait like the Devil’s Horse and all white buzz baits. All white seems to be the hot colors with a little green in the skirts. These baits have been taking some really good fish early in the day. Use the Lowrance Active Target technology to scan the docks after checking them first with the Structure Scan side scan technology. Scan the docks and send the side scan beams out 80 feet and just ride until they show up on the equipment. After the sun gets up, slow rolling spinner baits and large crank baits has been the best way to get to the deeper fish on the river. The bass are tight on the creek channels half way into any of the creeks as they stage for spawning. Carolina rigged Zoom green pumpkin Trick worms or the same color in the Zoom lizard in the six inch size will work. Add some extra Jack’s Juice garlic into the bags of all the soft plastics. This scent will make the fish hold the baits longer. Spots will take a #5 and #7 Shad Rap all day. Find West Point Lake Water Level Information HERE.