Make it a good day, whether it is sunshine or rain, by making it a fishing trip day! Challenge yourself this year to target a new species of fish, a different style of fishing or visit a different type of waterway (like a river instead of a lake). We have all kinds of angler resources HERE to help you learn more.
NEWS TO KNOW
- New State Record: Rachel Harrison is the latest angler (3 in the last 4 months) to break a freshwater fish state record. Rachel snagged the new state record longnose gar on the Coosa River on March 19. Check out the photos and find out more HERE. Are you interested in being the next angler to break a record? Be sure to review state record rules and information.
- Can You Snag a Hat While Fishing? You can if you catch a tagged shoal or largemouth bass on the Flint River. Georgia DNR Fisheries biologists and Auburn University have teamed up for a 2-year study. Find out more HERE.
- Rolling, rolling, rolling those trout-stocking trucks are rolling: It is the time of year when fisheries staff is ramping up the trout stocking for North Georgia streams. Find out more HERE. Get trout fishing info HERE (and be sure to sign up for the weekly stocking report to be delivered to you each week).
This week, we have reports from Southeast, North and Southwest Georgia. Take on a fishing challenge this year and Go Fish Georgia!
(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 weather was still unsettled this week, but temperatures were much better than last week. Some great fish were caught this week, mostly in freshwater. The rivers are pretty much all shot after this week’s rains, so flat water and the ocean are your best bets this week.
River gages on March 24th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 11.2 feet and rising (flood stage is 11 feet)
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 11.2 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.9 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 14.4 feet and rising (64 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 10.6 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 12.2 feet and rising
The river is high, muddy, and ripping, but you can probably find some backwaters to bass or crappie fish if you feel that you must fish the river. Next week, the Appling County Bass Fishing Club is sponsoring an open bass tournament on the Altamaha River at Deens Landing. For more information, check out Appling County High School Bass Fishing on Facebook.
ST MARYS RIVER
On Saturday Chuck Deen and Jake Duncan fished the river and caught some really big bluegills. They had 8 bluegills (up to 11 inches!), 2 shellcrackers and a catfish. They fooled 5 of the bluegill with Satilla Spins (crackle head crawfish color) and a few on crickets. The next Shady Bream 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.
The water has been creeping up with each successive rain, but the fish have been biting, so far. Last Thursday, Mary Mead fished with her friend Ellie Deener and me out of the Folkston entrance. We focused on bowfin and pickerel and caught a bunch of each. We fished a few hours and caught 22 fish by trolling Dura-Spins in the canals. The best colors were jackfish, black/chartreuse (chart blade), and crawfish (orange blade). On Saturday with the water level rising, the warmouth were still biting. Matt Rouse fished with Lloyd Murray, Sr from Richmond Hill on the east side, and they caught a bunch of warmouth in the canal. They caught most of them on small tube jigs, but had a few on Louisiana pink worms. They ended up keeping a dozen warmouth. They also caught a few bowfin (mudfish) and fliers during the trip. By Sunday, the bite had slowed, as I had 2 reports from folks who struggled to catch them. One group caught 6 average to small-sized warmouth, and the other group did not catch any warmouth but caught a couple pickerel and bowfin. They never found a pattern and said they caught every fish on something different. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.38 feet. That is a rise of over 6 inches during the last 2 weeks (that’s a LOT of additional water in a place the size of Okefenokee!).
Wyatt Crews and Scout Carter spanked some big bass on Sunday evening in a Waycross area pond. Keitech Noisy Flapper toads were the lure of choice, and the best color was green pumpkin-chartreuse belly. They rigged them unweighted on 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG superline hooks. Each of them caught a few fish in the 6 to 7 pound range along with several 4 to 5 pound bass. Wyatt said it was the best bass fishing day he’s ever had. Trevor Brown had a great report this week. He, his dad, and his brother-in-law fished a pond on Saturday and landed 40 bass. Most were in the 2 to 3-pound range, but they had a couple around 5 pounds and one that pulled the scales down to 6 pounds. They caught some smaller fish on crankbaits and jerkbaits, but their best 2 lures were a vibrating jigs and Flashy Swim Jigs. The vibrating jig was a copperfield color, and the Flashy Swim Jig was in the sexy shad hue. Chad Lee fished a few times this week but had just small fish under a couple pounds. He had a big one break him off on Thursday.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (NEAR TIFTON, More info HERE)
Crappie fishing remained good from the piers in Lake Patrick and also in the other ponds. Most of the big fish have spawned and moved offshore, as most of the catch is made up of 8 to 10 inch specks. Minnows and jigs have both produced. At Lake Patrick, the entire bank around the parking area can produce good catches, and don’t be surprised if a few big bream are mixed in your catch. Lake Bobben produced some good crappie and bream this week from the bank between the boat ramp and the island. One angler reportedly caught a 25-inch hybrid near the overflow while using chicken livers. Bass have been shallow in Horseshoe 4 and 5 and Tacklebuster lakes. Area staff did some of their annual sampling this week and saw really good numbers of bass in Horseshoe 4 and 5. Bass are in all phases of the spawn right now. Post-spawn fish are chewing and will hit topwaters, swimbaits, crankbaits, and wacky worms. The post-spawn fish are the most reliable and aggressive. That good bite will continue until the summer heat arrives.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Capt. Greg Hildreth said that he had a great trip for sheepshead on the nearshore reefs on Wednesday. They caught their fish on fiddler crabs. He also said that the whiting bite has been consistent when you can get out to the sounds or the bars around King and Prince off St. Simons. Shrimp on the bottom produced the whiting. Anglers fishing from docks caught a few sheepshead this week by dabbling fiddler crabs around pilings. A few tripletail were caught this week, and that bite will improve as spring progresses. The inshore trout and redfish bite has been slow. I didn’t get any good reports from those species this week. 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 Sarah Baker, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
Trout Stocking Season is Here! (Courtesy of John Lee 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. This week GADNR, in cooperation with the USFWS, has stocked 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. Sign up for our weekly trout stocking report while you’re there. You will then be ready for a great family trip this weekend and can land an excellent tasting trout dinner. Popular waterbodies that receive regular trout stockings include Rock Creek in Fannin County and Dicks Creek in Lumpkin County on the Chestatee Wildlife Management Area. Additionally, Holly Creek in Murray County, Johns Creek in Floyd County and the Tallulah River in Rabun County are all great trout streams to visit.
Spring Trio on Lanier: (Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) – Spring has arrived in full force here in North Georgia and now is a great opportunity to pursue the trio of species that overlap during the earliest spawning runs of the year on Lake Lanier. The players are walleye, white bass, and striped bass (oh yeah!). Although river temps have been bouncing between the upper 40s and mid 50s, the prolonged photoperiod and recent warm spells have triggered these species to move into headwaters (Chattahoochee & Chestatee Rivers) and major tributaries. Main lake temps have been more stable and are currently between 58-59 F. Many post-spawn walleye will be making their way back downstream, and these fish are hungry after expending all of their energy on the spawn, so bring along nightcrawlers, crankbaits, or jigs with live minnows to put fish in the boat. White bass are starting to show up pockets here and there along the sandy runs from Lula Bridge to Belton Bridge. For some excellent white bass fishing tips, check out Jeremiah’s latest white bass post on GON (part 1 & part 2). Striped bass are moving into the headwaters in the upper reservoir, and into the back of creeks and into pockets on the main lake. Lots of folks are having success pulling planar boards right now. You can find stripers roaming in 8’-10’ of water and even shallower at times when they are on a big bait ball. Birds can be a huge help this time of year to locating giant schools of bait! If you are casting artificials or fly fishing for stripers, focus on tapering points, secondary points, saddles, and windblown banks to increase your chances of success. This weekend will be a great one to purse a spring trio of your own on Lake Lanier!
Lake Lanier: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) — Lake Lanier is full; 60s.
- Bass: (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson, (770) 366-8845, Pjohnson15@hotmail.com). Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is very good. The bass are in full pre-spawn mode and feeding up for it. The majority of the fish have made their way up to the shallower parts of the lake and are looking for lots to eat. There are a number of patterns working right now but the most important thing to remember is the fish are in the zero to twenty foot range. A green pumpkin zoom trick worm or Senkos fished on a three sixteenths lead head around docks, blow downs and secondary points will produce. There are also fish being caught on a wacky rig worm in the banks leading into shallow pockets. A white Georgia Blade spinnerbait with white blades is also producing fish on the main lake points and rocky banks particularly if there is wind. A white jerk bait worked around main lake reef poles has started to pick up fish and should only get better as the water continues to warm. The steady producer still is the quarter ounce Spotchoker with either a two eight or three three Keitech in a white color. Work this bait very slowly on secondary points or reef poles. Also check the blow through’s as many of them are holding bait. The largemouth are spawning or have just finished in many areas so be sure to check the banks and secondary points around the bedding areas. As you can tell the there are multiple patterns working right now and all of them are geared to the shallow bite. It’s a great time to fish learn and learn a new pattern as the fish are definitely cooperating. They’re biting so Go Catch ‘Em!
- Striper: (From Buck Cannon, Buck Tails Guide Service, (404) 510-1778). Lanier’s Stripers are on the move and you can find the bait back in the coves early in the morning and follow the fish moving out as the sun comes up. Planer boards and weighted flat line 60 to 80 feet back. Keep a down line 20 to 35 feet under the boat just because. Mini Mac on planers have produced pulled thru the schools of fish. Remember to wear your life jackets.
- Crappie: (From Captain Josh Thornton, (770) 530-6493). Crappie fishing is good. The water temperature is 60 the water is stained but should clear up quickly. I am finding crappie in shallow water 5 and 15 feet deep. I am also catching them out of docks. I still expect the crappie to be in a spawning pattern for the next couple weeks so look shallow and towards the banks. 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. If you are using jigs I would recommend starting with a dark body and a chartreuse tail, one color I had success with this week was brown and chartreuse. I am setting minnows 2 to 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 companies jigs atxlures.com. I use 5 pound test high visibility yellow k9 braid for my line unless I am using a bobber then it’s the k9 6 pound high vis line k9fishing.com and a Piscifun reel on a Acc crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and the Navionics Boating app Find me on Facebook and like my pages @crappieonlanier & @fishingwitheverydayheroes
Lake Weiss: (Mark Collins (256) 779-3387 reports) —
- Bass fishing is fair. 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 fishing is good. The fish are suspended in the spawning bays at 8 to 20 feet deep. Use the long line trolling technique with Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ13 and JJ17 JiffyJigs.com. A lot of Crappie are suspended in the Coosa river channel 20-25 feet deep. A few Crappie are being caught shooting docks with jigs.
Lake Hartwell: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good. If there is wind use a Chatter Bait and Jerk Bait. The Chatter Bait can be a white and the jerk bait needs to be a pearl color to mimic the shad. Have the Rapala DT6, #5 or #6 Shad Rap and fish rocks and clay or just rocks. Look for the banks that the sun is hitting first as this water will warm up first thing. If there are high bright blue sky days use one of the crank baits are working mid day. If the fish slow down go to jig or Shakey head around brush and docks. Start looking for the first wave of fish to be shallow and cruising the banks looking for spawning areas. Use a wacky rigged Senko style bait. Continue to move throughout the day. When the fish stop feeding slow down and work the same area with several baits before moving on to the next area. With warmer weather coming in look for these fish to move up quickly. Lowrance down Scan technology can scan much wider areas with the narrow beams so anglers can see the bait, the structure and the fish four times better than with sonar. Use the Lowrance Active Target technology to scan the shallow areas after checking them first with the Structure Scan side scan technology. Find the bait and find the fish.
Walleye Success: (Report courtesy of Bob Lux) – Recently hit up some North Ga lakes in hope of some walleye. Last Saturday, I slipped the kayak into some headwaters. The wind had the lake white capping, so I stayed in the river. No walleye were to be had, but I did get into some pre-spawn spotted bass on #5 shad raps in a blueback herring flavor thrown around structure.
Tuesday, we hit some Hartwell tributaries that appeared to be fish-less the week before. We threw a variety of lures and flies, but the only thing that produced consistent actions were green pumpkin Mr. Twisters on black 1/8 ounce jig beads. They’re cheap, easy to use and are probably our best producing piece of tackle we throw for walleye. Angelica was the winner for the night bringing two walleye to the net, both released to fight another day.
We’ve been on a couple of trips so far this year and this was the first one getting into walleye. They’ve been up the rivers but have been tight lipped a bit. Looking back at the fish catch logs, we have historically gotten into them in those far-reaching tributaries starting the 3rd week of March through the end of April. It’s shaping up to be the same pattern again this year, so we’ll keep at them.
Lake Allatoona– (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant (southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good. This month catch fish on just about any bait. Many bass will soon be shallow. Pockets and secondary points are best to target for better size right now. Scroungers, jerk baits and Chatter Baits are working great. Windy and sunny days have been the most productive. There has been a good jig head bite. There has been a good bite on 6 and 8 inch finesse worms fished on rocky outcrops leading into spawning pockets. Lowrance down Scan technology can scan much wider areas with the narrow beams so anglers can see the bait, the structure and the fish four times better than with sonar. Largemouth will spawn first and spotted bass will follow shortly after. Look for some awesome schooling activity before the spots go on bed. Have the Spro Dog, a Spy Bait or a soft plastic jerk bait if the bass surface.
Rocky Mountain PFA: (Report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist, Jackson Sibley) – With largemouth at just the start of the spawn, anglers at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area can expect high hook-up rates of big, aggressive fish in just a few weeks. Creature baits, Senkos, and chatterbaits are working great. Keep ‘em shallow, and try bumping them off of rocks, standing timber, and other cover.
Double Digit Farm Pond Bass! GON member, fatback, caught a hawg earlier this week on a weightless green pumpkin YUM Dinger! Congrats! Check out his story here.
First Fish: Celebrate this shellcracker success story here!
Lake Oconee First Spotted Bass Record: Austin Skinner catches the 5.20-lb Spotted Bass on a Carolina rig with a Zoom green-pumpkin lizard in Lake Oconee. Read the GON report here.
Coosa River – Longnose Gar Record: Congratulations to Rachel Harrison of Adairsville who caught this monster Longnose Gar on March 19th on the Coosa River near Rome. It weighed a whopping 31 lb, 2 oz, replacing the state record from 2013 (30 lb, 13 oz). Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) are members of the gar family and are considered relics from a large group of primitive fishes. Longnose gar have an elongated body, are greenish black on top and yellow toward the belly. They have black spots along their sides and fins. A long, narrow snout contains many sharp needle-like teeth. They prefer weedy areas of deep or shallow lakes and streams. Gar feed primarily on other fish.
Lanier Tailwater Wild Browns: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) – Continues to produce impressive brown trout as we enter the spring season. This week, ‘Hooch angler Phil Hutcheson was proud to showcase this stout 26” brown trout caught and released in the upper reaches of the Lanier tailwater. Large brown trout like Phil’s feed almost exclusively on fish, including other brown trout, so if you’re trophy hunting this spring, be sure to tie on big streamers or other fish-imitating artificial lures like Rapala Countdowns. Target large woody structure along the channel to increase your chances of success!
Chattahoochee Headwater Brown Trout: Congrats to Killer Kyle on his 22” Chattahoochee Headwater Brown Trout! GON post here.
Trout Fishing in Georgia:
Are you new to trout fishing in Georgia? We’ve got several resources that we can recommend to you:
- What you need: Keep it simple! Bump salmon eggs, corn, worms or crickets slowly along the bottom of pools. An ultralight spinning or spincast outfit spooled with 4-pound-test monofilament, a small hook and a few BB-sized split shot are all the tackle you need. If you prefer to cast spinners, Panther Martins and rooster tails work great! A personal favorite is yellow with red dots.
- Information Station: Check out our Trout Page. Here, you can sign up to receive emails that notify you of recently stocked streams. You can also access trout fishing regulations, and the Trout Stream Interactive Map. GADNR hatchery crews stock weekly from mid-March until early September (schedule HERE).
- Where to go: Our Trout Stream Interactive Map is a great resource for helping you to locate a stream to fish at. Zoom into northern Georgia until you see yellow and pink highlighted lines. If you click on the “Legend” in the upper righthand corner, you will notice that we now have streams that have been stocked in the last week highlighted in Bright Yellow and streams stocked the week before (8-14 days ago) highlighted in a Sandy color. You can also stop by our Gainesville office (2150 Dawsonville HWY Gainesville GA 30605) and pick up a hard copy of our Trout Map. US Forest Service Maps are also really helpful. The National Geographic series of topo maps have an excellent detail look at NatGeo maps #777 (western half) and #778 (east) to cover the Chattahoochee Forest. Part of the fun of catching a trout is that it takes some planning and adventuring!
- Helpful online blogs:
- Our Weekly Fishing Report! Woohoo! Glad you’re reading this. We update it each week. 😊
- Angler Management Blog by Unicoi Outfitters. Check out the Archive on the right-hand side going back to 2009.
- Gink and Gasoline has a blog category archive for How to Fly Fish that is helpful.
- Though not a blog per se, Rabun TU’s website has some incredibly helpful information!
- Call us: If you have any questions related to trout fishing, give us a call at (770) 535-5498. We look forward to answering your questions and equipping you with the tools you need to have a memorable trout fishing experience!
How to Support Trout Management in Georgia: Georgia anglers can support fisheries conservation and trout management several ways:
- Buy a Fishing License: Did you know that your license purchase allows the Georgia WRD to continue to do important research, maintain and operate public fishing areas and more? Purchase a Georgia license online HERE.
- Buy a License Plate: Purchasing a Trout license plate supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs. These efforts positively impact trout production, stocking and stream restoration throughout north Georgia. More info HERE. Go trout fishing!
A BIG thank you for buying your fishing licenses, tackle, and TU Brook Trout license plate!
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
LAKE WALTER F. GEORGE
Look for bites during early morning shad spawning. Anywhere with grass in the shallows should be successful. As the sun gets higher in the sky and things start to warm up try moving further offshore. Anything providing structure should provide you with a bite or two. Blowdowns, stumps or branches that provide shade for fish are a good bet. We have seen success with plastic worms, swim gigs and creature bites. The water is very muddy after all the rain and the high winds we have been getting so be careful of hidden obstacles. Shellcracker are also looking nice on the southern part of the lake. Crickets are your best choice for these guys. Target them in shallow water near vegetation or structure.
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Spring fishing action at Silver Lake PFA is in full swing! On all the lakes and ponds, anglers are targeting bluegill and redear near bedding areas. Worms and crickets will usually coax an otherwise distracted male away from his bed making tasks. Small lures like beetlespins, inline spinners (rooster tails, panther martins, and the like), and curly-tailed grubs on 1/8 oz jigheads are also producing quality bluegill and redear with the occasional largemouth taking the bait. If the fish aren’t biting, then try your hand at Geocaching! Silver Lake PFA hosts ten high-quality geocaches. Whether you prefer being on the water or in the woods Silver Lake Public Fishing Area has something for you!
The Flint River is flowing very high after the recent rain. Shoal bass and largemouth bass are looking good and are in pre-spawn and should be again when the water levels come back down. Keep an eye out for tagged fish and be sure to call that information into the phone number on the tag. Find out more about the bass tagging study here and find out what you can win when you call in a tag.
Fishing in Lake Blackshear is looking nice. The water is muddy after all the rain we got early this week. Stay in the back water areas where water temperatures have reached the low 60s. Bass are starting to pair up and are on beds. Use lures that are tinged with muddy reddish colors to mimic the natural color of the bait fish right now. The bream fishing is looking nice as well. Crappie fishing is hot. Try at the bases of cypress trees in veterans state park, or off the wooden railroad ties. The 300 bridge and the mouths of creeks are also good choices. There are some nice sized redear out there so take some crickets and worms with you. Take a look at all these awesome Lake Blackshear catches below! Many of the photos below come from the Flint River Outdoors Facebook page – be sure to give them a follow.