Winners, Winners, Fish Fry for Dinner! Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Director Ted Will recently drew the names of the 2022 Grand Prize winners from a basket, and they are….Georgia Bass Slam angler Andrew Wood of Atlanta and Angler Award recipient Daniel Woodcock of Ellabell (check out his blog report about the award HERE).
While getting a Bass Slam or an Angler Award garners prizes already, the chance to win a Grand Prize is a fun way to generate further interest in the programs. Grand prizes included a cooler, two camp chairs, tackle boxes and more. Will you get YOUR Georgia Bass Slam or Georgia Angler Award this year?
NEWS TO KNOW
- Not a Bird…Not a Plane…That’s a Trout! Last week, the U.S. Forest Service helicopter used its longline and water bucket to stock catchable-sized rainbow trout into remote areas of the Chattooga River. This unique trout stocking effort is a partnership between GA DNR Fisheries Management, Trout Unlimited, and the Forest Service to maintain a trout fishery in this backcountry area.
- Sturgeon Studies: Fisheries Management staff continue to monitor sturgeon encounters in the American shad fishery. For any observed sturgeon encounter, a variety of data is collected from the animal before it is released. This data is valuable to fishery managers at both the state and federal level.
- Fish Art Contest Deadline Approaching: If you have youth working on their State Fish Art entries, be sure to nudge them along as the deadline to submit is Feb. 28, 2023. Find out more HERE and HERE.
This week, we have fishing reports from Southeast, North and Central Georgia. Whether you head out to pursue an angler award, a Bass Slam, or just to wet a line for fun, 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)
I got some really good reports and some reports of anglers not even getting a bite this week. Welcome to wintertime fishing! It’s all about the timing…
River gages on February 2nd were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 12.6 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 8.7 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 10.9 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 14.3 feet and rising
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 12.0 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 3.0 feet and falling
The river is high, muddy, and out into the floodplain, but a buddy from Fitzgerald still fished the Ocmulgee this week. He managed to catch 3 bass up to 4 pounds. He fooled them by pitching Texas-rigged worms. He gets the award for the most unlikely catch this week.
Not a good idea this week (or probably for the next 3 or 4 weeks). The water is flowing hard and way out in the floodplain.
ST. MARYS RIVER
This is the only river worth fishing this week. It’s in good shape. Pitching plastics to shoreline cover or minnows to the mouths of oxbow lakes should produce some crappie and putting shrimp on the bottom will fool catfish.
I didn’t get any specific reports this week, but I’m sure the fish were still biting Dura-Spins trolled or cast during this warm spell. Fliers will eat yellow sallies pitched with a bream-buster pole around shoreline cover on both the east and west sides during winter warm spells like what is forecasted for next week. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.75 feet.
PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Tifton, more info HERE)
Sterling Brumbaugh and a friend fished the area and caught some nice crappie. They found them with their electronics and flung minnows on jigheads to catch 6 slab crappie up to 13 1/2 inches.
Ponds are where the best bites happened this week. Chad Lee fished at lunch on Tuesday and had 2 bass about 3 pounds apiece on wacky-rigged Senkos. The biggest bass I heard of being caught was from a Brunswick pond. The 7.6-pounder hit a topwater on Wednesday, and Scott Kuhn caught (and released) it. A Baxley angler fished a pond on Tuesday and spider-rigged 9 crappie up to a pound. He was using a 1/16-oz Tennessee shad Specktacular Jig tipped with a minnow. Pastor Ken Carden visited the Waycross area from his home in Nashville, TN and fished with a friend on Tuesday. The pair trolled 2-inch Keitech swimbaits on 1/32-oz. Zombie Eye Jigheads and caught 38 crappie up to a pound, 8 bluegill to 10 inches, and 4 small bass. Their best colors were green pumpkin-chartreuse, shad, sight flash (white), and chartreuse shad. Everyone didn’t catch them, though. Another friend fished a pond Wednesday and only caught one small bass and a decent crappie. Both fish ate a small, white spinnerbait. They also used minnows but did not get them to bite. Two very experienced anglers fished a Brunswick pond on Thursday, expecting the bass to chow down ahead of the front. They managed to catch 8 bass up to 4 pounds and 4 channel catfish, but they had to work hard for their fish. At one point about 2 hours into their trip without a bite they were wondering if they were even going to catch a single fish. One of them caught his fish on vibrating jigs, and the other one caught them on his small confidence spinnerbait. If you have a pond spillway that you can safely access, the extra flow this week should have fish attracted to the plunge pool below the dam.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Friday, January 27th was a special day for Ben Golden, III of Midway. He caught a sheepshead that pulled the scales down to 14-lb., 14.37-oz and tied the Georgia state record. He fooled the monster fish near the Sunbury area of our coast. This is the time of year when sheepshead fishing will be good around hard cover (rocks, pilings, shell mounds) all along our coast and also on nearshore reefs. Fiddler crabs are the favorite bait, but folks have other offerings that they like to drop down to tempt convictfish. 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 the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The Atlanta Fly Fishing Show is this weekend – February 3-5 at the Gas South Convention Center, in Duluth, GA
Final Chattahoochee Delayed Harvest Bucket Brigade: This is a “last call” for Atlanta trout anglers to join us for the final Chattahoochee River volunteer trout stocking event of the delayed harvest season! This bucket stocking will take place at the Paces Mill Boat Ramp (3444 Cobb Pkwy SE, Atlanta, GA 30339) on the Chattahoochee River on President’s Day Monday, February 20. The stocking truck should be ready to unload around 10:30 AM, and volunteers should bring a clean 5-gallon bucket, waders, and a signed copy of the WRD adult or minor liability water form. As always, we encourage you to bring your kids to help stock trout and enjoy catching a few once all the fish are stocked. We look forward to seeing you on February 2o and a special thanks to everyone who joined us for the Thanksgiving and Christmas stockings! If you have questions, please contact our office at 770-535-5498.
It’s crappie time! Cast swimbaits on jig heads to brush piles from about 30’ away and let them sink slowly on a tight line.
LAKE LANIER: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant southernfishing.com) — Lake Lanier is full, 50s:
- Bass (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson, (770) 366-8845) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. The water temperature is ranging from forty-seven to fifty degrees throughout the lake. There is still a lot of stain in the backs of the creeks with the main lake being clear. The lake is full right now and more rain is expected so watch out for floating trash. It seems it has become routine for twenty-pound bags to be weighed in on the weekend in the local tournaments and this weekend was no exception. It seems right now it is a little bit of a boom or bust fishing pattern. Lots of fisherman are having big days and others are struggling. The key now is to find the right school of fish. Lots of the ditches have big schools of fish in them but they simply won’t bite but in the right ditch you can get loaded up quickly. The main baits for this week have been the Spotchoker, Spoon and worm. The Spotcoker and the spoon have been working well on the fish in thirty to fifty feet of water. I am moving into the ditches and pockets starting out deep and moving shallow. If I see fish grouped under me I will work the spoon and if I see the fish more scattered I go to the three eights or half ounce Spotchoker with a Keitech to cover the area. Typically, I am not spending a lot of time in an area unless I get bit quickly. If the fish in that area aren’t feeding it’s easy to tell on your Panoptics as you can watch the bass simply follow the bait instead of biting. I am still using a very slow presentation with the Spotchoker as bottom contact is very important. A worm fish on a quarter ounce lead head will also draw strikes in the deeper water but it is a very slow drag technique. Deeper docks and rock drop-offs have also been holding some good bass. They are definitely biting with a lot of good fish included but again you have to find the active schools. It’s a great time to catch some big Spotted Bass so Go Catch “Em!
- Striper (Report Courtesy of Buck Cannon Buck Tails Guide Service, (404) 510-1778) — Lanier stripers are putting on the feed bag and working their way up the river and creeks. Using the help of the birds and your electronics locate the bait and fish down lines with blue backs between 35 to 55 feet deep. Concentrate on the bends in the contour lines on the mapping. Also trolling the Mini Mac and the full-size umbrella rigs in the same areas at 2.5 to 3.5 mph. Remember to wear your life jacket.
- Crappie (From Captain Josh Thornton, (770) 530-6493) — Crappie Fishing is good. Crappie can be found from 10 to 30 feet deep. This week’s catch came from docks and open water brush the fish were suspended in 6 to 15 feet of water. 50% of our fish are coming on minnows 50%. Jigs the colors that worked for us today are the chartreuse ATX Lure Company and a gold and black color combination. Crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows or shaded areas of dock. When dock shooting the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I use ATX lure Companies jigs on a Lip Thrashin Lures jig heads. 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 and 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 HARTWELL: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. Many anglers are on the main lake in the ditches. As always this time of year you want to look for the areas the sun is on first. This water warms the quickest and can be very productive. Start shallow and then get out in deeper water as the day progresses. Fish in the 15 foot zone and work out to 35 feet area by afternoon. If there is cloud cover look for the fish to stay shallower throughout the entire day and if the sun is out then look for these same fish to work their way out to the first timber line. Key baits are a jerk bait, jigs, shaky heads. Add the underspin with either a Zoom Fluke Jr. or a small paddle tail swimbait on the back in the ditches. For the jig and shaky head anything in a green pumpkin color is good this time of year. On the McStick jerk bait look to use both the shallow and deep divers. Something in the pro blue, pearl, or shad color will work now. Use the bait on the ledge side of the points or the back part of the ditches. Key is to find the right cadence with the jerk bait to get the fish to react to the bait. If this does not produce try throwing a jig and the Alabama Rig. Continue to move throughout the day. Continue to work these areas until the water starts to warm up and as the days get longer.
LAKE ALLATOONA: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant southernfishing.com) – Bass fishing is fair. Start the fishing the main lake steep rock banks near the dam with a McStick jerk baits. Be sure to reel these back very slowly. Start the day by fishing main lake points and flats with a Spro McStick jerkbait in spooky shad pattern. Be sure to fish the bait very slowly to attract bites. As the day gets warmer, move to the backs of creeks and coves and cast a jig to any cover. A black and blue jig with a blue chunk seems to be working well. If the fish are not on the banks in the creeks, fish the middle of the creek with a Fish Head Spin or a Bandit 300 Crankbait. Use a slow stop and go retrieve. The best crank bait colors seem to be in crawfish or chartreuse and blue patterns. Bass are biting the Spro McStick jerk bait most of the day. Also have the drop shot and the Big Bite Shaky Squirrel jig head, and the Alabama rig ready too.
WEST POINT LAKE: (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant southernfishing.com) – Bass fishing has been tough. A little stain in the water will turn on the crank bait bite this week. The only bites we are getting is to cover as many red clay and rock points as possible during the day with mid depth crankbaits in a shad pattern. Use a Bomber 4A and Bandit crankbaits. Plan to cover a lot of water. Five to ten bites in a day is a good day with current conditions. Use jerk baits in the same areas but covering a lot of water is key. Locate one fish and a couple more will be close by. Crank baits can work especially in the off-colored water and use the Tot’s Flat Garage crawfish and green shad crank baits. Catch a couple more on the same point. It will take little change in the weather for fish to really turn on.
CARTERS LAKE – Captain Cy Grajcar with Allatoona’s Extreme Stripers Guide Service landed some nice stripers from Carters Lake last week and some hybrids and stripers from Lake Allatoona yesterday afternoon. The afternoon bite is getting to be good.
- Preparing for Spring Fishing – Page 19/44
- Lanier Stripers – Page 20
- Carters Lake Walleye – Page 21
- Braving the cold for Walleye on Lake Blue Ridge – Page 24
- Largemouth on Nottely – Page 27
- Pre-Spawn on Lanier – Page 28
- Stripers on Nottely – Page 29
- Chatuge Tid-Bits – Page 31
- Lake Allatoona – Page 33
This past week’s rain has increased the flows and depths of north Georgia rivers. Though the weekend’s forecast calls for sunshine, the creeks may still be high. Check the flows before you go.
Fresh Additions to Delayed Harvest! – (Trout Stocking Coordinator John Lee Thomson) — Get your junk flies ready fly-fishing newbies! With the rainy weather behind us, this weekend would be a great opportunity go out hit the delayed harvest streams. The stocking trucks have been rolling this week so landing some naive trout would be a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather. Remember that these areas have special regulations including catch and release and artificial lures only. Sign up to receive the latest stocking report on the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Trout Fishing webpage and Go Fish Georgia.
Fishing the Chattooga Backcountry – If you haven’t yet explored the remarkable Chattooga River backcountry, now’s a great opportunity. The Chattooga establishes the border between Georgia and South Carolina and originates in the mountains of western North Carolina. Its powerful rapids run 57 miles before entering Lake Tugalo. It was designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 1974. Since access roads for stocking trucks to use are limited, agency partners, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Forest Service, and the non-profit organization Trout Unlimited, have used a helicopter to stock the remote upper reaches of the river with Rainbow, Brook, and Brown Trout since the late seventies. These stockings increase an anglers’ chance for success in this remote environment. You can read more about the Chattooga River helicopter stocking HERE. Remember to find a good map, make a detailed plan, and dress for the conditions when you embark on your backcountry adventure.
Unicoi Outfitters Report 1/27 – Angler Management: (Report courtesy of Unicoi Outfitters Facebook page or at www.unicoioutfitters.com) – “Right now, it’s all about “winter windows.” Crummy weather and high water closed a lot of windows for our winter trouters last week. But gray skies and rain opened some windows for striper fans. Right now, area streams have good flows and rebounding water temps (47F yesterday). Find a sunny day and give them a go. Just have a good game to fool experienced trout. Hint: aim for flood refuges. Why? Three inches of rain displaces naive stockers!”
Wes’ Hot Fly List:
- Dries: parachute BWO, Griffith’s gnat.
- Nymphs: Peach egg, mighty may baetis, Violet midge, ruby midge, black copper John.
- Streamers & warm water: Simi seal leech, sparkle minnow, finesse changer, Clouser minnow. Cowen’s Somethin’ Else.
Headwaters: They’re running full, clear, and cool. Spoilcane and Smith DH were 47F at 5pm yesterday. The Hooch in Helen was clear with a healthy flow, so remember your wading staffs. Small stream fans have a chance here in GA on small, dark, dredged nymphs. The better midwinter bet is hitting bigger, downstream, warmer waters that catch more sun.
- Help with casting streamers – Page 12
- Fly-fishing with an egg – Page 14
- Fly-fishing the Chattooga River – Page 15
- Why dead drift in the winter – Page 16
(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 DOWN 1.1 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is barely fair. More rain hit the lake and raised the water level some. A lot of times this will activate the bass. Use the crank baits that have a tight wobble during the winter. Another cold front will hit this weekend and will lower the water temperature a little and the bait fish will be affected by this. This will require a slower retrieve and presentation on all baits. Fish the 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 wood cover well. Crank baits can work especially in the off-colored water and use the Ott’s Garage crawfish and green shad crank baits. Drag a small Zoom mini lizard green pumpkin color on a light spinning rig with a set of small split shots like a lightweight Carolina rig and work the clay and rock banks later in the day.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS DOWN .62 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Bass are biting on the main lake points. Reese Branch is producing some quality bass. Good roadbeds with plenty of rock are holding the bass here. The water is deep enough for the bass to go and hide and the points are providing an ample supply of herring for them to feed on. Fish the Rapala DT10 in the shad color and the Glass Shad Rap in the glass shad color. For the ledges and deeper water use the #7 Rapala and the #5 Rapala and will work fishing shallow. The Carolina rig can catch the cold-water fish in the deeper water up the lake near the Little River area. Use a small Zoom lizard in dark colors and a ½ ounce weight and work the ledges with this rig. Try to find brush piles in the fifteen to twenty-foot range. These areas are where the bass like to hang around this time of the year.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Fish down lake at and around the dam. Then after mid-day head to shallow docks up Richland Creek and concentrate on the fully covered docks; they will warm the water faster. Down lake, work the channel ledge, stay in the deepest water and cast along the channel with a Rapala RS Shad Rap. Use the darker colors if rain moves in and the water is stained. Stay with the shad and blue shad colors in the clear water for the best results. Crank baits can work especially in the off-colored water and use the Ott’s Garage crawfish and green shad crank baits. Use the Zoom trick worm weightless and the crank all day and throw an occasional jig around the stumps and rocks when you come across them.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.1 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is fair. Lake Sinclair is stained to muddy with surface temperatures ranging from 47 to 51 degrees. Fishing for largemouth bass now is about as tough as it gets on Sinclair. Two patterns will produce a few fish. One is a football jig in deep water around creek and river ledges, humps, points, and roadbeds. The other is crank baits in two to seven feet of water around docks, grass lines and shallow ditches. Some productive crankbaits have been the #5 Shad Rap in chartreuse and pearl and the Bomber Flat A in a fire tiger color pattern. Fish them slowly using the stop and go retrieve. Our extended forecast calls for more rain.
The Georgia Wildlife Federation Fisharama/Buckarama will be in Perry, Georgia on February 10, 11, 12, 2023. Southern Fishing Schools Inc. professional angler Ken Sturdivant will be hosting daily seminars.
LAKE JACKSON IS DOWN .85 FEET, 50’S
Bass fishing is slow. However, the bite can change quickly depending on the weather conditions and what area you are fishing on the lake. A warm night and a sunny day can make all the difference. Look for the best fishing when the sun is shining and find the warmer water. Crank baits can work especially in the off-colored water and use the Ott’s Garage crawfish and green shad crank baits. Don’t go out too early and let the sun warm the rocks around the lake. The South River and the Alcovy River are stained. Head down lake and find a perfect light stain and warmer water. The areas down toward the dam may be the best bet. Look for many fish to hold from 2 to 10 feet deep. If the sun is out fish shallow around docks, rocks, and other radiant cover. Throw a black and blue jig thoroughly on the docks. Try crankbaits on the rocky areas. Cranking rocky features is a classic winter pattern. Fire tiger and craws are good colors to try in off-colored water. Also, the Rapala DT6 and DT10, Shad Raps, and Bandit 300s are good choices. Look deeper and try a light Texas rigged U tail or drop shot a 3 inch Yum Dinger if fishing is tough. Try green pumpkin or Junebug in the stain and watermelon seed in more clear water.
FLAT CREEK PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Surface Temperature: 52.7˚ F (11.5˚ C)
- Water Level: 45.5” Below Full Pool
- Water Visibility: 18”
- Flat Creek PFA Fishing Guide
With recent rains, the water level has come up 16 inches since last month. The rain has changed the lake’s color from green to brown so keep that in mind when choosing lures. Here’s a list of what the anglers are reporting to have had good success using for each of the following:
Bass: Anglers targeting bass have been reporting an increase in catches, especially from watercraft. Catches have been in the 4-6 lb. range with some reports of 7-8 lb. bass being caught. Try using a chatterbait to produce catches since visibility is down and the watercolor has changed.
Bream: Red wigglers continue to produce bream.
Channel Catfish: Anglers last reported using chicken livers, live baitfish, and cut baitfish.
Crappie: Anglers last reported using live minnows and crappie jigs to produce catches.
Pictured below: Angler Steve Watson with a nice 8 lb. largemouth bass
MARBEN PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Level: All ponds are full.
- Water Clarity: Most ponds are stained due to all the rain in January.
- Surface Temps: 50-60 degrees F
- Marben PFA Fishing Guide
Bass: Cooler ambient temperatures may still cause the shad to become lethargic. Look for feeding gulls and mimic a dying shad. Jerk baits work well.
Hybrid Bass: Crank and jerk baits are your best option for catching hybrid bass. Again, look for schooling shad. Bennett is your best bet for hybrid bass.
Crappie: The crappie are still out deep for now. 4-5 days of warmer sunny weather will prompt crappie to move in shallow. Jigs tipped with minnows are always a safe bet. Present your bait above crappie. Try different depths and structure.
Bream: The bluegill and redear bite is slow. Try worms on the bottom.