Let’s go get the big’uns! Check out these two 10 lb+ largemouth lunkers that Ray Mitchell landed at Paradise Public Fishing Area yesterday. These two lunkers, that earned him each a Georgia Angler Award, were landed using live bait he caught from the pier, According to Mr. Mitchell, these two fish were headed home to “join” him for a fine supper.
NEWS TO KNOW
- Georgia Fishing Regulations: The 2023 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations Guide provides important information for new or experienced anglers. It is available online or in print. Find out more HERE.
- Area Closures: If weather or construction or renovation is happening at a boat ramp, shooting range, public fishing area or wildlife management area, we do our best to let you know. If you ever need to check, visit our Closures page or sign up for notices HERE.
This week we have fishing reports from Southeast, North, Central and Southwest Georgia. Whether you catch the big ones or the small ones, we are glad that you choose 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 cold, windy weekend reduced the number of reports, but we’ve had fairly stable weather the last few weekdays. The forecasted late-week cold front will likely cause you to have to deal with some wind and cold again on Saturday. Fishing ponds, small blackwater rivers, and other protected waters is a good plan for the weekend.
River gages on January 19th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 12.1 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 8.1 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 10.5 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 9.0 feet and falling
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 6.9 feet and cresting
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.9 feet and falling
Fishing was good in the Okefenokee this week during the warm-up. On the east side (Folkston entrance), a couple anglers pitched jigs under a float on Wednesday and caught a good mess of fliers, Bill Stewart fished with a friend on Wednesday afternoon for a few hours on the east side, and they trolled up 30 bowfin and 4 pickerel. They had an 11-lb., 7-oz and 9-lb., 8-oz. bowfin that both ate fire tiger -chartreuse blade Dura-Spins in 49-degree water. Smaller fish started biting as the water warmed. Other colors that worked well were crawfish (both brass and orange blades) and black/chartreuse–chartreuse blade. They caught all of their fish by trolling and could not get any takers when they tried casting. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.66 feet.
The water level is good on the lower river, and crappie in the oxbows or catfish on the bottom would be your best bet. The upper river is on the cusp of spilling into the floodplain.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Mark and Sabrina Williams fished the middle St. Marys on Thursday afternoon and had to work for them. They tried artificials and minnows for crappie but didn’t find them, but they did catch 4 nice redbreasts and a few stumpknockers by fishing worms on the bottom in the 54-degree water.
Konner and his dad Robert fished their pond on Friday in the cold and wind, and Konner caught 2 bluegills and a pair of golden shiners by pitching crickets. Chad Lee caught 7 bass this week on short lunchtime trips. They were almost all 2 pounds and under, but he did manage a 3-pounder on a white spinnerbait in the wind on Thursday. Senkos fooled the rest of his fish. He fished and Alma area pond in the crazy high winds (his anchor wouldn’t hold) on Saturday and fooled 2 bass with a crankbait. A couple of Blackshear anglers fished a pond on Monday and had a great catch of bass and crappie. They had 63 bass (biggest were 8 pounds and their top 5 weighed 33 pounds). They also had a dozen crappie up to a pound. They fished live bait, junebug stick worms, and chartreuse jigs tipped with minnows for their fish.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
The big bass have started biting. Ray Mitchell fished live bait off the Lake Patrick Pier on Thursday morning and caught a 10-lb., 0-oz. and 10-lb., 3-oz. bass. Crappie bit ok, some people reported catching them and some didn’t. Nathan Nissley fished the area on Wednesday and caught some crappie, but he had to fish deep for them.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, more info HERE)
The bass bite has been really good at the area. An angler reported catching over a dozen quality bass per trip this week while using lures, and his biggest pulled the scales down to 7 pounds. He released all of them. An angler fishing the pier on Thursday morning had a 25-inch bass on live bait.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had some good catches inshore during the good tides this week. Early this week his clients caught 30 trout (biggest 20 inches) and a few reds by swimming Berkley Power Swimmers and Blue Water Candy’s Christmas tree colored curly-tail grubs. On Tuesday they caught a limit of reds then chased sheepshead. They kept 7 nice sheepshead with the biggest 8 pounds. They fooled them with shrimp. 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 Jackson Sibley, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is slow. Lots of rain and stained to muddy water. The Allatoona arm is clear to slightly stained around Allatoona landing. It is tough with the cold and muddy water so find the clearest water down lake. Many shallow parts of the lake were frozen with the recent cold weather. And it will take time to warm. Plus they are dropping the lake. Bass are cold blooded and they are slow to react to bait. Water temperatures are cold and under these tough conditions stay in the main lake. [To] find schools of baitfish use a Flex It Spoon or a Sidewinder spoon on 10 pound test line with a medium action rod. Move the rod tip up 4 to 6 inches and let the bait fall back down. This is where the Lowrance Sonar really pays off and use the high CHIRP for deeper penetration and better target separation with these signals for stumps and brush in 8 feet of water down to 20 especially around points and humps that have deep water access. Try some crank baits and the spoons. The best pattern is to arrive early and leave late and be prepared to drop shot and spoon on every stop. The deep cold and muddy water makes is slow for any angler. When the water clears up the fishing will improve and several different techniques will get going.
Allatoona Crappie (Report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright) — Tough start to the morning. I got on the water around 7am and we pretty much had the lake to ourselves! Water temps were from 44-46F. We fished 5 of my favorite places and only caught 9 with 3 keepers, but at our last stop we found them. Ended up catching 36 with 25 keepers – crappie , white bass , spots , and a 12-15 lb. striper . Cleaned 22 good crappie, with a few in the 13-15″ range and the rest being 10-12″, plus 2 white bass, and of course a striper. Red Rooster custom baits was and is always the ticket, with multiple colors and styles catching fish on 1/16 oz jig heads. Most fish were over 25-30 ft of water and suspended in 7 to 15 ft. Trolling speeds varied between .5 – .9 mph. Allatoona has been crazy for most this year for catching crappie. My 2 cents is don’t stay in one place too long. Move around and find flats in 15 – 30 foot of water. They are there, you just gotta find them. They’re definitely starting to stage for the spawn. All fish cleaned today were full of eggs. Big shout to my buddy James ( AKA Sasquach) for hanging out with me today. Again, Red Rooster Custom baits in my opinion are the best jigs out there and I have used a ton of them . Hit Robbie up and get your order in because it’s about to be on fire! Also, Robbie makes a really good spinner that worked great for us today too.
Lake Hartwell Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Fish are holding to lay downs along the bank and most of them are being caught out in the tops of the trees in the heavy branches on jigs. Use a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce jig in brown and green colors with a twin tail or frog trailer. Out on the main lake points, fish are still breaking the surface and on occasion are hitting top water baits. As the lake turns over, bass tend to suspend, and Ito 110 jerk baits are excellent. Bass suspend on overcast days when barometric pressure is dropping or on sunny, windy days. The fish cling to rocky bottoms during calm, sunny weather. In clear water bass hang close to brush piles. Suspended bass can take a lure offered at the right depth and with the right action. The McStick is a suspending stick bait. It looks like the bait fish they are after. It can quiver like and imitate the shad dying making an easy meal. Try the Deep Husky Jerk on the deeper channel ledges. Stay on the main lake or in the rivers this week and out of the coves. Spinner baits are catching a few bass that are roaming the banks and most of these fish are small spots. Use the six inch worms, the Rapala #5 RS Shad Raps and trick worms with a very light Texas rig. Fish every point and piece of structure and it may be necessary to fish several baits in one locations to trigger a strike.
Lanier Bass (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing on s good. This area took 5 inches of rain. The lake is still showing the effects of the recent heavy rains with many of the creeks still heavily stained. The main lake is still clear and the water temperature has risen back into the low fifties. The bass are definitely feeding up for the winter as the local tournaments have shown. Multiple five fish limits of over twenty pounds were weighed in this weekend with several spotted bass over five pounds included. More bass are moving to the deeper water now around deep structure and your electronics become more of a factor in finding the fish. The shad are grouping up more out deep and are the key to look for. We have been working the three eights or half ounce Spotchoker with a three inch Keitech in thirty to sixty feet of water to cover an area where the bass are scatter around the bait. Use a very slow retrieve and if you feel a fish strike the bait without them hooking up let the bait fall to the bottom for a few seconds and then restart your retrieve, Often they will take it as soon as you move it again. If you find the bass actively feeding on a school of shad dropping a spoon on them will catch fish quickly. One key to the spoon fishing is to keep the spoon directly under you. If you notice your line angled away from you reel up and drop again. Dragging the spoon along is the main reason for getting hung up. It’s fun to watch both your spoon and the fish on your Live Scan as often you can actually watch the bass take the spoon. The drop shot and the Dimiki rig are also catching fish in the same deep water. There are some fish up early in the morning especially on rocks that you can catch on either a crankbait or a worm. Look for the rocky areas that are in the sun. The bass are settling into the winter patterns and it’s a great time not only catch numbers but also size so Go Catch ‘Em!
West Point Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair and most of the fish are spots being caught lake wide. The upper end of the lake is silty right now so go south to fish. The dam area up to the Maple Creek area is the best fishing spot right now for all fish. All of the fish are bunched up together in 25 to 30 feet of water and there is a mixed bag of fish vertical jigging on the bottom. Find the fish on the depth finder and then vertical jig using a 1/2 to 3/4 ounce spoon of choice. The warm week and especially the weekend brought a few more anglers to the lake. With the bright sunny days the bass got a little sluggish but good keepers were still being caught. Those that are heading back into the creeks and coves are just getting a few small bites while throwing plastics. Find schools of baitfish use a Flex It Spoon or a Sidewinder spoon on 10 pound test line with a medium action rod. Move the rod tip up 4 to 6 inches and let the bait fall back down. This is where the Lowrance Sonar really pays off and use the high CHIRP for deeper penetration and better target separation with these signals. The bass are suspending in the channels and deeper water and move up early and late to feed. The bigger bass especially the spots want the bigger slower moving crank baits. Rocks deep water and wind is the key thing to look for.
SMALL RESERVOIR REPORT
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Report courtesy of PFA Manager Dennis Shiley) — Now is the time to go fishing at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area! Actually, anytime is the time to go fishing! Look up the definition of fishing explained simply as “Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish”. Anyone that has ever fished knows that it is more about just being in the outdoors—seeing the deer and eagles and all of the wonder of nature around you. I shake my head, that’s all great but it’s ultimately about catching and being successful.
So back to it. Now is the time to go. It doesn’t matter if the weather is bad, go fishing at Rocky and use your electronics to find the shad schools and fish small swim baits through the schools for bass. Mostly look in 30 ft of water to start with then move shallower up to the 15 ft range. If the weather is nasty, the shad schools will be tight. As you get a warm spell the schools will separate, and the bass will move along with them into smaller pods. If this isn’t working for you then move to the 8’ range and start throwing a lipless crank bait and a bladed jig bounced on the bottom, there are always a few fish shallow, just fish slow. If you want big one right now stay out deep!
Crappie are also biting if you can get out in your boat and use your electronics to find the schools. Look along the bluff walls and just out from them for stacked schools. In winter, crappie at Rocky like to pile up on the old bulldozer ridges on the bottom of the lake. When February rolls around the crappie will start making their way toward the spawning areas and can be found around the beach point and the fishing jetties.
Yahoola Perch (Report courtesy of Gainesville-area angler Jack Becker) — Another trip to Yahoola Creek Reservoir in Dahlonega produced more great yellow perch fishing this week. The pattern changed from my last trip when I caught them in 15 foot of water on the upper end of the Reservoir. I did not find fish until I went to the lower end near the dam. The water was muddy and cooler at 42 degrees. I found a section of water that was a little clearer and marked a lot of fish near the bottom in 9 to 10 ft of water. Trolling small, 1 1/2” Crankbaits, hot perch & fire tiger color at .5 mph produced instant strikes. Working that one section of water produced 18 perch in about 4 hours. Perch fishing is a new experience for me but I’m learning that it’s better to keep moving until you locate fish and then start trolling back and forth over the schools. If I don’t get a hookup on 2 passes, I change colors. Using 2 lb. or 4 lb. Leader will also get you more bites. Hope this helps you. Perch are delicious and fun to catch on light tackle. Remember no gas motors are allowed on this Reservoir.
You plan to release it but would sure like to know its size. Here are a few quick and easy ways to obtain a length and weight on your trophy trout, bass, or striper.
- First, mark your rod and hold it alongside your trophy as it rests on its side, in the water so it can still breathe. On my store-bought rods, I’ll take a Sharpie pen and draw a line on the blank at 12, 16, 20, and 24 inches up from the rod butt. On rods that I build, I’ll wind and finish small thread wraps at these intervals. And maybe go another interval or two higher on my striper rods!
- A second method is almost as quick and easy. Buy a nylon sewing tape measure for a couple bucks from a craft store. They’re usually 60 inches long, so I cut one in half for my trout and bass packs. I roll each half up and put one in my fly vest and the other in my summer bassin’ sling pack. The tape measure is very small & light and doesn’t rust.
While trout are measured in inches, big bass and stripers are often discussed in pounds. If you’ve caught a real lunker, that flexible tape measure can also help guestimate its weight. Just measure total length and girth and use those two measurements in a weight estimator for your species. Here’s a nice article with those equations. While some veterans just eyeball their catch and embellish its length in future fish stories, a lot of folks want to know the lunker’s true size. Hopefully these methods will provide the answer you want while taking care of that trophy you will release – after a few quick pics.
Good luck making and recording your fishing memories!
(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. More rain hit the lake hard and raised the water level some. A lot of times this will activate the bass. Crank baits that have a tight wobble are excellent choices during the winter. More rain this weekend will lower the water temperature a little and the bait fish will be affected by this. This will result in a slower retrieve and presentation on all baits. Try some stained water up in the rivers and especially areas that hold rock and wood. This combination will work on and off all winter long especially on those sunny days. Take along a small jig or worm and fish the shallow wood cover well. Good baits to use this week include Rapala DT10’s, RS Shad Raps, 1/4- and 3/8-ounce blue back herring colored Lucky Craft spinner baits and a 1/4 ounce Stanley 3/8 brown jig and add a green pumpkin Yamamoto twin tail trailer.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS DOWN 3.2 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Expect the bass to move back a little to deeper water. The bass are suspended out in 10 to 15 feet of water. This will enable angler to pinpoint them on the Lowrance graph and use the Down Deep Husky jerk baits. Bass suspend on cloudy days when barometric pressure is dropping or on sunny, windy days. The fish cling to rocky bottoms during calm, sunny weather. In clear water bass hang close to brush piles. Suspended bass can take a lure offered at the right depth and with the right action. The McStick is a suspending stick bait. It looks like the bait fish they are after. Carolina rigs are always a fall favorite during the cold months. Later in the day head to the Little River or Savannah River. Fish the rivers by picking apart the cover with Chatterbaits and jigs. On the windy days, fish the deeper points with a Rapala DT10 and a DT14 and use shad and hot mustard colors.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50S
Bass fishing is fair. The lake is full with a heavy stain over most of the lake. Richland creek has a light stain. Water temperature is 48 to 52 degrees. Richland Creek and Double creek have the best water. When you find the cleaner water, a shaky head with a dark trailer fished under docks and around wood structure has been producing fish. There is also a spoon bite on the south end of the lake where Richland Creek and the Oconee come together. Find the schools on your Lowrance and drop a 5/8-ounce Flex-it white spoon down to the school.
The Georgia Wildlife Federation Fisharama/Buckarama in Perry, Georgia is February 10, 11, 12, 2023. Southern Fishing Professional angler Ken Sturdivant will be hosting fishing seminars. For more information contact Sam Stow 778-787-7887 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Water Temperature: Temps~ 52 degrees
- Water Visibility: 25+ in.
- McDuffie PFA Fishing Guide
Fishing across the area has been challenging lately. Though the bite is slow, anglers are catching catfish from deeper waters of Beaver Lodge and Bridge Lakes. Livers and homemade stink baits are the best bets. Bass anglers are seeing larger bass moving around structures, especially patches of aquatic vegetation near banks. But the big fish are wary of lures. Try fishing the bank of the Jones dam near the corners. The wood structure and alligator weed are solid habitat where fish have been regularly seen. Willow remains a consistent angler choice for big bass. Kayak fishers like working the shallows with creature lures from the deeper side. Late in the day, top water on Bream Buster and Bridge are yielding good results. Use shad look-a-likes while the bass are chasing the forage. Fly fishermen are doing very well catching stripers and hybrids in our West Valley Lakes (Bridge, Bream Buster, and Clubhouse). They are fishing near the siphons and casting into the downstream currents.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. The number of bites decreased but the size of fish seems to have increased. The recent rains have dirtied up the water particularly on the upper ends of the lake and creeks. The influx of fresh water has also caused rapid changes in water temperatures in a short period of time. Waters temperatures in any given area can fluctuate up to 10 degrees in just one day. Keep an eye on your water temperature when fishing new water and try to stay around the warmest water you can find. Crank baits, big bladed spinner baits, and jigs have been best this week when fishing for shallow fish. The Spro Little John MD 50 in the fire craw color will get a bite when fished extremely slowly over primary and secondary points in the rivers, as well as short pockets located near deep water. A chartreuse and white spinner bait with a large gold #7 willow leaf blade slow rolled around laydown trees on the main riverbank will get fewer bites but look for them to be big fish. A black and blue ¼ ounce Buckeye Mop Jig is great for flipping docks in short pockets or docks that have brush around them. Many fish can be caught deep right now as well with most of the deep fish being in 28-40 ft of water. A gold spoon will catch these fish that are relating to bait schools in deep water. Try to find structure in the same depth the fish are holding. The Lowrance HDS Structure Scan system is very helpful for finding the fish and the fish-holding structure.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .60 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. Blame the changing weather and water levels. The few bass biting will take a #5 chartreuse and white Shad Rap. While the cold front did have its effect on the bass this past week, crank baits can still work. Throw the Shad Raps and the Rapala DT6 on or near the channel ledges for the best results during these harsh conditions. The weather is expected to warm up for the upcoming week and fishing may improve as the water settles. Sunshine beating down on the red clay banks and the rocks is a good place to fish during a warming trend. The bass will move up to the warmer water to feed and the rocks and red clay will warm the water around these areas first. Carolina rigs and a Zoom mini lizard in June bug is good choice this week.
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The water on Blackshear is clearing up a bit after all the rain we received last week but it remains stained. Shad colored lures for bass are you best bet. They will begin to stat moving into shallow water as things warm up so frog and lizards will become more popular. The crappie are hitting minnows well in about 4 feet of water. Another good option is a cricket or a sugarbug jig. Some good channel cats can be caught out there as well with any smelly bait. One angler suggested his family secret as chicken breasts soaked in Kool-Aid or Jell-o mix. Anglers often report catching crappie when they are targeting bass and the other way around so keep you mind and options open by bringing a few lures and bait options out with you.
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
The water has cleared up pretty well after all the rain. The mild temperatures have caused the shallow bit to pick up a bit. Texas rigs, swim jigs and slow-moving ChatterBaits are getting a good action and Carolina rigs worked on the first drops on the river channel and creek ledges are also getting some good hits. Jogs and minnows for crappie are still your best bet. Lots of fish are being pulled in off the lake and they are good eating! The southern end of the lake and also around docs are good place to look for crappie. You can also use sonar to find areas with flat bottoms and submerged structures. Smelly bait is carrying well in this stained water so catfish fishing with a nice smelly stink bait should produce a nice outcome.
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
In general, the weather is cold and the bite has become less consistent. Anglers have to be more patient and persistent to have a good day fishing. However, winter weather means less anglers are fishing; thus, less fishing pressure for the dedicated angler.
Bass: Largemouth bass fishing is slow. Fish plastic baits at a slower pace now that water temperatures are cooler. Plastic-worms fished around the deep water by the picnic area and around both fishing piers may produce a few good bites.
Crappie: Crappie fishing has been poor, and they are difficult to locate. However, their spawning season will start soon. Until the warmer temperatures arrive fish for crappie in 10-12 feet of water with minnows and jigs.
Bass: Despite the wind and shifting temperatures bass fishing is good. The winning bag for the St Jude’s benefit tournament last week was 23.13lbs! The best set up to use right now are drop shots, deep crankbaits and Carolina rigs. Try yo-yoing a jigging spoon in the grass for a good hit as well. You can catch a lot of smaller fish on the Carolina rigs but if you are out there looking for that big quality bass stick with a Carolina rig. The best colors right now are junebug, green pumpkin, watermelon red flake and moss green.
Catfish: Big catfish are in around 20 feet of water. Your best bet for them is a cutbait of either skipjack or mudfish and try bouncing that off the bottom. There are lots of smaller catfish in about 10-15 feet of water with the pan fish. Night crawlers are a sure bet for these one.