Today, April 22, is Earth Day, a time set aside to celebrate the Earth, learn about the environment, and promote conservation. As anglers, you have a head start as good Earth Day citizens. When you buy a fishing license, or purchase fishing equipment, it helps bring money back to Georgia to support the very activity you enjoy. What other ways can you show your Earth Day support?
NEWS TO KNOW
- Fishin’ With Military Heroes: This fishing tournament, taking place tomorrow on Lake Lanier, allows those that have served in the military to test their fishing skills and luck in an effort to land some big fish and win prizes. Find out more about how you can support efforts like these at Fishing With Everyday Heroes.
- Walleye Eye Info: If you are familiar with walleye, you have seen their most prominent feature: their eyes. Click HERE to find out more.
This week, we have reports from Southeast, Central and North Georgia. Celebrate Earth Day, not just today – but every day, by heading out to 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 fishing should be very good during the upcoming week with the river levels dropping and water heating up. Take your pick this weekend! I received only a few reports from the past week – probably because the winds, cold mornings, and turkey season have folks deciding to do stuff other than fish…..
River gages on April 21st were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 15.7 feet and falling (flood stage is 11 feet)
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 9.2 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 12.1 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 8.0 feet and falling (68 degrees)
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 10.1 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 10.7 feet and falling
Chris Nugent fished the river on Saturday and caught fish even though it was still high, stained, and flowing fast. He used warmouth craw Satilla Spins to fool 6 panfish, including a giant 10-inch rooster redbreast. He released all of his fish. The river is falling out to fishable levels and will be in pretty good shape by the weekend. The annual Satilla Riverkeeper Fishing Tournament will continue through Sunday, April 24th. Check out Satilla Riverkeeper on Facebook for all the details and to sign up. Good luck, everyone! Capt. Bert’s Lures is sponsoring the native catfish category, so go put shrimp or worms on a Catfish Catcher Jighead and win the $150 prize! Southern Fishing Company is sponsoring the longest panfish category, so tie on a Satilla Spin and catch a big bluegill or redbreast to win the $150!
ST MARYS RIVER
The Shady Bream Tournament on Saturday saw 15 boats battling it out for top honors. The top weight (10 panfish limit) was 8.66 pounds by Hunter and Austin. Ernie and Alan took second with 8.05 pounds, while Daniel and Tamara rounded out the the top 3 with 8.03 pounds. Big fish was a whopper warmouth (1.20 pounds) caught by Ernie and Alan. There will be a co-ed tournament this Saturday (4/23), so check out the Shady Bream Tournament trail on Facebook for more information.
The cool nights have the bite slow, but the warmup late this week and falling water level should have the fish chewing over the next week. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 121.20 feet.
Chuck Deen fished with a buddy in a Brunswick area pond on Friday, and they did well (even in the WIND). It was blowing 25-30 knots for a good part of their trip, so they looked for windblown points for active fish and protected water for a respite. The windblown areas did not play, as they only caught 1 bass on a crankbait. But, when they started banging plastics around wood, they started catching fish. Texas-rigged Keitech Mad Wag Worms in the black-blue and green pumpkin candy colors and pink Trick Worms worked best. They caught a dozen bass, with their biggest pulling the scales down to 4-lbs, 2-oz. and 3-lb. 10-oz. The bream should move shallow with the warming temperatures over the next few weeks.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
I did not receive any reports from our coast. If you can get out, the whiting should bite decently on this warming trend. Check the forecast before heading to the big water, as the winds are supposed to be strong for the next several days. 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 60’S
Bass fishing is good. A large quantity of bass are still on the beds. Some have yet to lock on and these bass are being caught in five to seven feet of water on or near secondary points. Finding the small channels leading back into the coves will be a key factor in catching a good limit. Use the Ito Vision 110 jerk bait almost all day. The #5 Rapala Shad Rap and Rapala DT4 and Rapala DT6 are a sure bet. Don’t forget to fish the rip rap early in the morning and late in the day. The top water bite is warming up midday especially out on the points and in the small cuts. Chug Bugs, Zara Spooks and Rico’s in shad patterns are all working. Keep throwing a green pumpkin 3/8-ounce jig with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer in root beer green pepper. Concentrate on whatever brush you can find from 2 to 10 feet deep.
CLARKS HILL IS 2.7 FEET OVER FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. The lake took a turn for the last week as the lake levels rose during the last rain. Up in the rivers the water was muddy, and the bass seemed to leave their shallow water pattern. Most of the bass are still being caught on Texas or Carolina rigs but this pattern will continue to be the best option for a week. As the weather get stable, jerk baits and spinner baits will be the key baits to use once this happens. The crank bait bite is getting better as spring rolls along. Expect it to be hot over the next couple of weeks. Good baits to use this week include the Trigger X lizard and Big Bug on a Texas rig and a 3/8-ounce Strike King spinnerbait.
LAKE OCONEE IS ONCE FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The lake is full. The shad spawn is in full swing. At daylight the bass will be close to bank looking for the spawning bait. Use a spinner bait fished along sea walls and rip rap to target these fish. Work the middle of the coves and main lake creeks. Use a Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2, Brown Craw. In stained water use the fire tiger or crawfish colors. Try in the clear water the shad and perch colors. Keep throwing a green pumpkin 3/8-ounce jig with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer in root beer green pepper. Concentrate on whatever brush from 2 to 10 feet. Fish boat docks, wood structure, and sea walls. Work the back of the coves and creeks. Use Shad Raps and small crank baits with rattles fished on sea walls and around docks. Later in the day when the sun gets up move to the docks and fish a shaky head under docks in the same area.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is great. Most of the bass seem to be spawning but some pre spawn and post spawn fish can be found. Soft plastic baits fished slowly in the spawning pockets have been most consistent. We have been catching a lot of good fish off stumps, grass, and dock walkways in 3 to 5 feet in the back half of the spawning pockets. Texas rigged Zoom lizards and weightless Zoom trick worms have been best when targeting spawning fish around the stumps. Dark colors will work best as the water is still really stained in most areas of the lake. Pre spawn and post spawn fish can still be caught in these same spawning pockets by covering a lot of water with a chartreuse Buckeye Lures spinnerbait with Colorado blades or by flipping a Buckeye Lures mop jig around the dock posts on the sides of the pockets. A black buzz bait or Zoom horny toad will fool a few big ones early and late targeting wood or grass in the pockets.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.3 FEET OVER FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are biting on a variety of baits. Most are shallow at 2 to 8 feet deep in coves and along main river and creek banks. Although many of the larger fish have finished spawning, others are doing so now. The best bet for daylight fishing is to find spawning shad that have bass chasing them. The shad dance is occurring on most areas of the lake right now. Shad are spawning around sea walls, blow downs, grass, rip rap, or most anything that contacts the surface. The bass are there shallow too. Use Tiny Torpedo’s, Chug Bugs, original #7 Rapala, spinner baits, Flukes, buzz baits and crank baits. Light Texas rigs are catching fish along cove banks and on a few points. Try a 5-inch Zoom Lizard in green pumpkin on a light Texas rig. A Zoom trick worm is working rigged weightless with a swivel about 8 inches above the worm. White and Merthiolate have both worked the last couple days. Fish this rig around docks and other shallow cover. Small crank baits like a Shad Rap RS are catching fish also.
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 65-70 F
- Water Visibility: 22-48+ in
- McDuffie PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: Big bass are still hungry! Bank anglers and boat anglers alike are getting bites across the water. Fish are biting well on artificial worms, creature lures, and forage look alike lures. Anglers should try working parallel to the dams and also near siphons. Also, as part of our pond management practices, several big bass were relocated to Beaver Lodge Lake.
Bream: The bream bite remains constant. Try using crickets and worms near structure.
Channel Catfish: The catfish bite is picking up with folks catching nice stringers across the area. The fish are biting on the usual stink baits and worms. Try casting into deeper water from the docks across the area and the dams of Bridge Lake.
Striped Bass: Striped bass continue to be caught on Bridge Lake.
(Fishing report courtesy of Jim Hakala, Region Supervisor and Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from WRD Staff and Local Experts)
Lake Hartwell Bass and Crappie: (This report courtesy of Fisheries Supervisor Anthony Rabern) — Water temperatures in Lake Hartwell this week ranged from 58 to 65 degrees. Largemouths were in the shallows wherever water temps reached the low-60s. Spots were on clay banks and rocky banks along the main river channel at depths ranging from 4 to 10-feet. Post-spawn bass are feeding on threadfin shad and blueback herring. The typical feeding strategy for hungry bass is to push baitfish against the banks and then gorge away. As for crappie, we are not yet seeing huge numbers of fish in the shallows, but hopefully the warming water will draw them in. Shoreline vegetation is a bit sparse this year, so the highest numbers of crappie are concentrated around fallen trees.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com ) — Bass fishing is fair. The lake took a major hit as the cold front passed through last week. Everything should return to normal as warmer weather moves in this weekend. Most all the reports that are coming in are from the south end of the lake. Crankbaits are working when the wind blows and the Rapala DT6 and Shad Raps off the points, and some bass are even in the backs of the deeper cuts and bowls. Jigs and Carolina rigs are still the bigger bass weapons to use, but this will change soon. Use the Z Man RaZor ShadZ Swimbait in shad or perch colors. Try the Rapala Ott’s Garage tiny 4. These crankbaits cover shallow to mid depth. They offer subtle to aggressive crankbaits, so anglers can adjust to the depths the fish are holding. Experiment with these baits and their unique features. Have some McSticks and Rapala X-Raps to really turn on very soon. Target the rocks especially those near the deeper water.
Lanier Bass and More: (This report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Water temperatures on Lake Lanier have dropped slightly from the 65-66 F mark we measured on Monday this week down to 60-63 F by Thursday, but the slight cooldown hasn’t dissuaded largemouth and spotted bass from remaining on the spawning grounds. Most of the fish we are seeing are still in the early stages of the spawn. Largemouth bass and spotted bass numbers have been great so far during our annual spring electrofishing surveys, especially compared to catch rates in recent years. There are plenty of fish in the 2 lb – 4 lb range among both species. Spotted bass are congregating in 4’ -10’ of water on clay flats, points, and any stretches of shoreline with lots of rock, which gives anglers plenty of features to fish! If you’re fishing for largemouth, look in the back of coves with green-tinted water, a soft bottom, and cast around wood features like stumps and blowdowns. A number of presentations are going to be productive this time of year, from traditional Texas-rigged soft plastics, to jigs, flukes, swimbaits, underspins, spooks, whopper ploppers, and many more. We are finding schools of crappie congregating around submerged structure in 2’ – 4’ of water. A small jig or live minnow will work well to put crappie in the cooler this spring. We are also seeing some impressive, spawn-ready shellcracker (redear sunfish)! We measured several female shellcracker weighing up to ¾ lb and about to bust with eggs.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770-366-8845 via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is on fire! The spring bite is finally here, and the bass are very active. They have moved up into the shallow water range with plenty of fish in the zero to fifteen foot zone. The water temperature is in the high fifties to sixty degrees now and many of the fish are moving to their spawning areas. Pockets, secondary points, rocky banks, and docks are all subject to holding fish. The water above Browns Bridge becomes more stained the farther up the rivers you go and the water below the bridge is clear. Wacky rig worms and a green pumpkin worm on a three sixteenth lead head will produce fish in any of these areas but especially on rock and docks. A fluke on a quarter ounce Spotchoker underspin will draw some big bites from the docks also. Spinnerbaits and jerk baits have worked well on the points and pockets especially with wind blowing into them. Chatterbaits have also been productive in the pockets. While there are a lot of fish pulled to the pocket areas don’t overlook the main lake rocky points and the reef poles on the main lake. These can also be key bedding areas for the spotted bass. Be prepared to adjust your bait color the farther up the lake you go. While lighter color worms or shad colored baits work well on the south end of the lake you need to adjust to crawdad color baits or darker colored worms in the dirtier water up the lake. Keep an eye on your water temperature also this time on year as it can be several degrees different from pocket to pocket. The fishing is great right now, so you can choose almost any bait to fish and just go enjoy your trip, Again, just a request. If you do catch a spot or a largemouth that is loaded with eggs, please treat them gently and return them to the water as quickly as possible. The bass are on fire so Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Youth Bass Tournament (Courtesy of Trout Stocking Coordinator John Thomson and the New Habersham News) — The Tallulah Falls Middle School Fishing Team of DJ Broome and Jack Thomson hammered out a respectable 16th place finish in the regular season tournament finale on a blustery cold Lake Lanier recently. The duo, with Captain Daryl Broome at the helm, weighed-in a nearly 12-pound sack of Lanier’s famous spotted bass. Spinner baits, soft plastics, and warm cloths proved to be the ticket for the young anglers competing not only against 100+ other participants, but some tough “gameday” weather conditions (Photo courtesy of TFS Athletics).
Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton, 770-530-6493 via www.southernfishing.com ) — Crappie are on the docks suspended 10 feet deep over a 20 to 45 foot bottom. If you are using jigs I would recommend starting with white body and chartreuse tail. And 50% of this week’s catch came on minnows. I am setting minnows at 8 to 10 feet deep over schooling Crappie. Most of the crappie I found on docks this week were suspend 10 to 15 feet deep over a 20 to 40 foot bottom. 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. We use ATX Lure Company’s jigs atxlures.com. I use 5 pound test high visibility yellow k9 braid for my line unless we are 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.
Lanier Striper Report (Report courtesy of Buck Cannon, 404-510-1778) — Lanier Stripers are being caught up the lake above River Forks Park in the back of the creeks using blue backs on weighted flat lines, planner boards and down lines. The fishing has been spotty, so use your electronics to locate the bait and if you mark just a fish or two drop your bait just above the bait and use the “drumming method” to fire up the bite. Always have a down line in the mix. Remember to wear your life jackets.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Start the day by fishing main lake points and secondary points with jerk baits. A Spro McStick in Clown or Old Glory color will work early and then after mid-morning it will be tough. As the day progresses move in the creeks and coves and fish trick worms around any cover. Be sure to use bright colors such as yellow or pink to see the bait when the fish bite it. In these same areas fan cast a Zoom 4-inch mini l9izard in green and make sure there is some red flaks in the bait. On the days when the wind is blowing, use a double willow leaf spinnerbait in shad colors. Fish this bait on main lake flats, and also on the creeks around wood cover. Night fishing has already started on the lake. Anglers are catching fish on dark color crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but the bite appears to be slow. It should pick up in the next few weeks.
Lake Allatoona Linesides (Report Courtesy of First Bite Guide Service, via GON Magazine) — Fishing is good! The hybrids have started their spawn runs up both the Etowah and Little rivers. The river bite should remain solid as we go into May. The main lake is also fishing well. The fish that are returning out of the rivers are starting to school up from the Little River Bridge up to the Delta and from the S-Turns to Kellogg Creek. There is also a decent south-end bite going on right now from Iron Hill to the bay out in front of 3rd Army. The fish on the main lake are up in the water column and are very hard to mark on 2D sonar. If you have a Lowrance with Side Scan, you can locate these fish. If you don’t have Side Scan, the best way to find these fish is to put out a spread of planer boards and freelines and pull the banks and open water until you get bit. Planer boards and freelining live shad on the main lake have been our best bites and are counting for at least 95% of our catch. Small to middle size gizzard shad and threadfins has been the ticket. Trolling is on fire! The Captain Mack’s umbrella rigs are hard to beat this time of year. We are running a four-arm loaded with all chartreuse 120 feet behind the boat at 3.1 miles an hour.
- Bass: Bass fishing is good and they are 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 fair and they are suspended in the spawning bays, 8-20 feet deep, and can be caught long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ13 and JJ17. Some fish are starting to be caught in 4-8 feet of water. Look for them to spawn over the next few weeks. Some Crappie are being caught shooting docks with jigs.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor, with no reports of any catches.
- Catfish: Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8-15 feet of water, cut bait is working best.
West Point Lake Bass Stocking (This report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Brent Hess) —400,000+ largemouth bass fingerlings now call West Point Lake “home” thanks to the fine folks at the Cordele State Fish Hatchery, West Point Fisheries staff, and local anglers. The fingerling bass were transported to the lake and loaded on to boats so they could be stocked into high quality, shallow water habitat across the northern portion of the lake. Largemouth bass have been stocked annually at West Point since 2016, in an effort to improve the abundance and size quality of this popular sportfish. Learn more about bass and other West Point fishing opportunities HERE.
West Point Lake Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com )– Bass fishing is good. West Point Lake has plenty of water and the fishing has been getting better daily. Fish have moved up to the shallows and are being caught in less than 2 feet of water. Good baits to use right now is a White Zoom Super Fluke or a Zoom Methiolate trick worm. Focus of pockets with gravel and sand on the bottom and that is also protected from the wind. This is the time were many of the no name small pockets up the river really shine. Just plan to hit your favorite creek and good choices are Stroud Creek, Maple Creek, Whitewater Creek and Rainbow Creek. Use the Z Man RaZor ShadZ Swimbait in shad or perch colors. Try the Rapala Tot’s Garage tiny 4. These crankbaits cover shallow to mid depth. They offer a subtle to aggressive crankbaits so anglers can adjust to the depths the fish are holding. Experiment with these baits and their unique features.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Report courtesy of PFA Manager Dennis Shiley and Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley) — The shellcrackers are going on bed at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area! Recent fish surveys found visible nesting colonies of ½ to 1-pound shellcrackers in both Antioch Lakes. Crickets or worms fished under a bobber, or bobber-less on the bottom will entice bites. Crappie have pushed a final wave in to spawn and can be caught on jigs and minnows, keep moving until you find them. Check the Brush piles as you can. Largemouth bass are wrapping up on the spawn and are moving to post spawn locations. Good places to find them are on the end of laydowns, off-shore brush piles and rock piles. Just about any woody-type structure on a shallow to mid-depth flat was holding good quality fish. Bass are hitting swimbaits, swim jigs and small crank baits. Make sure you mix in a 10” worm as that bite will start as soon as they are over the spawning blues. Whatever you are fishing for this weekend, keep in mind the Rocky PFA staff devoted considerable effort to adding new fish attractors to the lakes this winter and spring. Some of the new brush piles are still visible, while others are now fully submerged. Find the location of both new and existing fish attractors at Rocky Mountain PFA HERE.
Bear Creek and Cedar Creek Reservoirs: (This report courtesy of Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — Our Gainesville Fisheries staff conducted spring electrofishing surveys at two water supply reservoirs last week—Bear Creek (Jackson County) and Cedar Creek (Hall County). Although these two waterbodies are similar in terms of their operational mission, the fisheries they contain are significantly different in terms of number and quality of bass and other sportfish occurring in these lakes. Why? There are several reasons, but a major difference is that the amount of available littoral (shallow) habitat is much greater on Bear Creek compared to Cedar Creek. On Bear Creek, the shoreline tapers gently, contains emergent aquatic vegetation like bullrush, and is littered with complex structure such as trees and man-made brushpiles. These features provide bass with abundant habitat and cover to ambush prey and maintain great condition, like the two largemouth bass pictured here. In contrast, the steep banks of Cedar Creek combined with little woody structure give bass few options to effectively forage. Because few bass can attain a quality size, the reservoir becomes overcrowded with largemouth bass that are underweight (see skinny largemouth picture). How do we turn this Cedar Creek lemon into lemonade? For now, consider Cedar Creek a great numbers lake, and a perfect starter lake to take a kid or someone new to bass fishing. Over time, the bass population can be restructured by removing fish (through angler harvest or culling) and potential habitat enhancements that will increase the carrying capacity of this reservoir for bass. As for Bear Creek, this fishery is looking healthy in terms of numbers and size of largemouth bass, in addition to the crappie and bream that are available for anglers. Bear Creek is currently open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM from April – September and has a boat ramp with an $8 launch fee. Cedar Creek has normal operating hours (Monday – Sunday) and neither of these reservoirs allow the operation of a gas-powered motor, though electric trolling motors are permitted.
Coosa River Basin Stripers (Report Courtesy of Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — WRD surveys of the Coosa, Etowah, and Oostanaula Rivers found decent numbers of spawn-run striped bass up to 25 pounds in size. The stripers are actively spawning, and we are encountering both egg-laden and spent (already spawned) fish in the rivers. Key in on downed trees and shoal areas to find these river behemoths. Live or cut shad, swimbaits, redfins, bucktails, or shad imitating crankbaits are all good choices.
Stockers: Trout stocking season is rocking and rolling and a lot of quality trout hit Georgia public waters this week. Want to know where trout were stocked in north Georgia this week? Check out the “Weekly Stocking Report” found HERE. You can even sign up to get the “Weekly Stocking Report” emailed directly to you each week!
Trout Plus Some: Check out Unicoi Outfitter’s regular “trout and more” fishing reports HERE.
Delayed Harvest Trout Program: Don’t forget, Georgia’s Delayed Harvest Program is in full swing through May 14.
Parting Trout Note: Want to do more to support trout fishing in Georgia? Consider upgrading to a Trout Unlimited license plate this year. Aside from being a great looking tag, each purchase or renewal of a Trout Unlimited license plate directly supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs. Hatcheries and wild trout efforts both benefit from the trout tag.