I want to find a place to go fish. I want to know what kind of fish I caught. I want to know what kind of license I need to fish in Georgia. Where would you go to answer these questions? The Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division website, of course! You can find so much fishing (and other) information, like our interactive map to target fishing locations or boat ramps, fishing forecasts for lakes/rivers, trout fishing information, public fishing area information, fish identification, and license info. And, when you are on the go – put the power of the website on your phone with the free Go Outdoors Georgia app!
NEWS TO KNOW
Measure Carefully! Submitting an Angler Award or a Georgia Bass Slam and need to include length? Make sure you measure that fish correctly to ensure your entry will be accepted. The mouth of the fish should be closed and at front of board/ruler, tail fins compressed. Make sure the measurements on your board/ruler are CLEARLY visible in any submitted photos.
- Etowah Wildlife Expo (March 25-26): Join in the fun at this 2-day event that includes reptile show, falconry show, dock diving dogs, bass fishing demos, an archery range, 100+ wildlife vendors, and live music. Sounds like a great weekend! More information HERE.
- Fish and Learn (April 28-30): Children, ages 8–15, and their guardians are invited to a weekend of learning about fishing through our Fish-n-Learn Education Program. Classes will include Equipment and Casting Techniques, Regulations, Biology and Habitat, and more. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time set aside for fishing! Find out more and reserve your spot HERE.
- Spring Harvest Month at Go Fish Education Center: March begins Spring Harvest Month at the Go Fish Education Center. Plan a visit to the casting pond to harvest and take home rainbow trout, catfish and bluegill. More info HERE.
This week, we have fishing reports from Southwest, Southeast and North Georgia. However you get your fishing info, we are just glad you choose to Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Lake Blackshear has some really good crappie fishing still going on. Minnow or the local favorite sugar bug jigs are the baits of choice on this lake. Use your live scope to zoom in on the crappie. A good place to start is in 6-10 feet of water on the edges of channels and at the mouths of the creeks. The bass bite is also picking up as warmer water temperatures pull those fish into shallow water to spawn. There are also some monster catfish being caught in Blackshear. Any smelly bait should do the trick. Hot dogs and chicken livers are a good choice to pull in those hungry cats. Consistently great looking fish are being caught out of Lake Blackshear so make the trip for a great day. Be sure to stop by Flint River Outdoors for some sugar bug jigs and to weigh in your fish for their monthly big fish contest.
TIRED CREEK LAKE
Water temperatures are creeping up at Tired Creek Lake and bass fishing is prime time. Fish are in shallow water along the dam or on beds in the coves. Keep an eye out for tagged fish as you try your luck. Be sure to report tagged fish for a chance to win a t-shirt! Call the phone number on the tag to report your fish.
Now is the time to take a trip to Lake Seminole for some fishing! Water temperatures are rising as air temps and day length increase. To target crappie, you should be fishing in 6-10 feet of water with light vegetation cover. Minnows, crickets and jigs are good choices when targeting these delicious fish. Bass are starting to bite more readily in the main body of the lake. Work them along the edge of grassy areas for a sneaky bite or try a lizard to try to get the defensive bite from a fish fanning the beds. If you are looking for some variety, there are some nice bream and warmouth out there. Crickets and worms are good bait for bream. Remember they have small mouths so be sure to use baits that are appropriate sizes for them. Have some patience and try out some different bait and lure options or try fishing for another species if you are not having luck with your target species. Have fun out there but be careful as many hidden obstacles pose a threat to boater safety.
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
Bass and crappie fishing is great on Walter F George right now. The crappie seems to be in 6-10 feet of water in the northern part of the lake. Crickets, worms, and brightly colored jigs are your best bet for them right now. The bass bite is also picking up. There are plenty of 3-5 lb fish cruising the banks looking for beds. Be patients and work that top water lure through topped out grass for a ringer. There are also lots of nice shell cracker out there that are the perfect size for the fryer. Be sure to wear your life jacket as hidden obstacles and shallow water can cause dangerous boating situations and your life is not worth the risk!
Fishing on the flint is picking up! The striped bass fishing below dams is hot and many anglers are seeing 10lb plus fish. The largemouth bass and shoal bass are also starting to move more as water temps increase. Look for largeies below the dams and in areas of slower moving water along the bank. For shoal bass target below dams and in swifter moving water along shoals. Be sure to call in any tagged fish you catch by calling the number on the tag. Good luck out there and be cautious of quickly changing water levels!
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
In general, March water temperatures at Big Lazer are starting to warm up and so is the fishing. Late March and early April are some of the best times to fish Big Lazer as pre-spawn largemouth bass start to move into shallower water followed by bream. Good luck!
- Largemouth Bass: Fair, but on the rise- Anglers should begin to have some decent largemouth bass fishing trips very soon as they begin to move to shallower water. Bass fishing should really start picking up in the coming weeks. Try throwing spinning baits or crankbaits in 6 to 8 feet of water. Baits should still be fished slower due to cool water temperatures. Casting your line near good cover should yield some decent bites. Remember to please report any tagged largemouth bass to DNR fisheries staff or call the number on the tag.
- Crappie: Fair- There have been more than usual reports of crappie being caught but remain somewhat difficult to locate. However, crappie fishing should pick up as spawning season approaches. Try locating groups of crappie by trolling the lake with minnows. Most bites will be in 8-10ft of water. You can also try bright colored jigs to try to entice bites. Remember: Only two poles are allowed per angler.
- Bream: Fair- There have been some reports of good bream fishing due to the approaching spawning season. Anglers seem to be having luck fishing with worms around the fishing piers. This time of year, bream are located in 4-6 feet of water. Try locating woody structure for increased chance of bream bites.
- Channel Catfish: Poor- Catfish bites are hard to come by this time of year, but you may have good luck fishing with livers or shrimp near the bottom. The rip rap along the dam and around woody structures will be your best bet of landing a cat. The newer pier may also produce decent CCF bites.
(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)
Many of the bass and crappie spawned in the shallow systems during this extended warm spell, so you should be able to find fish in all phases of the spawn this weekend in ponds and shallow lakes. Weather is forecasted to return to more seasonable temperatures next week.
River gages on March 9th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 5.9 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 7.5 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.3 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 9.0 feet and falling
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 8.6 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.7 feet and falling
The river backwaters are fishable, and I heard of some decent catches this week. Expect crappie to be pre-spawn or spawning on cover the backs of oxbows. Check the open water also for pre-spawn and post-spawn fish. Bass should start feeding as the water level continues to drop this week. Texas-rigged plastics will probably catch the most, but try moving baits like crankbaits, vibrating jigs, and even buzzbaits for larger fish.
The river is still high and not really worth fishing, but the catfish bite around the bridges out Swamp Road has been good. A couple of anglers fishing Friday afternoon in the pools around the bridges had a great mess of yellow bullheads by fishing shrimp on the bottom. You can probably catch a few catfish in the Satilla if you want to try it. Limb lines will be most efficient in the high water, but you can catch a few on rod and reel by putting shrimp, worms, or cut baitfish around cover and current breaks.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Ricky Beckham had an excellent day of catfishing on the St. Marys on Friday. He caught 83 catfish and a nice striped bass. The whiskerfish were a mix of yellow bullheads (butter cats), white catfish, and channel catfish. Cut bait worked best for him. His catch of the day was a big channel cat approaching 25 pounds. Dale and Emma Anderson fished the St. Marys on Saturday and caught a mixed bag of panfish. They worked for their 20 fish. I didn’t ask what they fished, but they typically fish artificial lures. Matt Rouse fished from the bank on the upper St. Marys on Tuesday evening and caught and released a half-dozen nice warmouth by pitching a pink-chartreuse Crappie Slider grub. The first Shady Bream Tournament Trail event is scheduled for March 18th out of the Traders Hill ramp. Check them out on Facebook (Shady Bream Tournaments) if you are interested in more information.
OCMULGEE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Hawkinsville, more info HERE)
Anglers reported catching some nice bass up to about 8 pounds this week. Some big crappie were caught, as well. Terry Jones caught an angler award-size white crappie on Monday. His 15-inch, 2-lb., 5-oz. slab ate a minnow.
I got several reports this week from the swamp. Caleb and Mark Williams fished the east side (Folkston entrance) on Friday morning and had a blast. They fooled a bunch of bowfin on plastic worms with the biggest weighing 5-lb., 4oz. They also caught a few warmouth, flier, and bluegill. Crickets fooled their panfish. Also on the east side, the warmouth bite is picking up. Some anglers dabbled crickets on Zombie Eye Jigheads (with sickle hooks) for a good mess of warmouth on Wednesday. Folks caught bowfin and fliers in the east side boat basin that day, as well. On Thursday, Cason Howard and Ray McMillan fished the Folkston entrance and caught about 30 fish (mostly bowfin but they had a couple pickerel) on Dura-Spins. They caught an 11-pounder on a black/chartreuse-silver blade version. They also caught fish on the jackfish and black-brass blade colors, On the west side, angers reported catching a few warmouth, but catfish were the best bite I heard of. Shrimp on the bottom is the ticket for whiskerfish in the swamp. The new off-water time is 6:00pm for the east side, so you can fish a little longer in the evenings now. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.58 feet.
Matthew Page fished a Douglas area pond with his dad last week, and they caught 6 bass up to about 4 pounds and a dozen crappie (some were over a pound). Dane Clements and his son fished a Baxley area pond this week and caught 22 bass up to 6 pounds. The bass were chewing baby brush hogs that day. Daniel Johnson fished this weekend and caught 10 bass (most in the 2-pound range) on stick worms. Jay Murray fished with his son and grandson on Monday, and they caught a dozen nice bass up to 8 1/2 pounds. Most of their bass were males, but they had a few big females. They used Texas-rigged junebug lizards to catch most of their fish. Jimmy Zinker fished a pond on Monday and had two big bass. His 7-lb., 10-oz. trophy ate a chartreuse Capt. Bert’s custom buzzbait on his 3rd cast, and an 8-pounder inhaled a Jitterbug later in the day. Chad Lee had a great weekend for crappie on Alma area ponds. He caught over 50 crappie on his favorite pearl Assassin plastic on a Zombie Eye Jighead. None were giants, but they were good eating-sized fish. He fished Monday and caught 5 bass, 20 crappie (on his favorite Assassin/Zombie Eye rig), and a handful of big bream. He also fished on his lunch break Tuesday and caught 6 bass up to 4 pounds. They ate green pumpkin stick worms. A Patterson angler fished an area pond on Friday evening and caught a bass and a jackfish then returned on Saturday and caught 3 small bass and had to work for them. A Baxley angler who spider-rigs offshore made 2 trips this week and only caught 9 crappie (both trips!). The vast majority of fish in that pond are presumably on shoreline cover spawning.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The whiting and sheepshead bites have started to pick up, and the trout bite has fired off also. The middle of last week, Brentz McGhin and Chad Sexton fished the Crooked River area and caught 8 sheepshead (2 keepers) by dabbling fiddler crabs around hard cover. They also put shrimp and squid on the bottom and caught 15 whiting big enough to keep. By flinging Gulp shrimp under Cajun Thunder Floats they fooled 7 trout (2 keepers to 15 inches). Tommy and Pam Sweeney found a great school of trout on Sunday and put it on 41 them, even though most were too small to keep. Their catch included a “slam” (trout, red, and flounder). They found the right combination of shell and current and suspended live shrimp under a Harper Super Striker Float for Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) figured out the redfish this week and he and Tom caught them all week when the wind allowed them to get out. They found the reds in 1 to 4 feet of water, but they weren’t able to find trout. Harper Super Striker Floats with 4-inch Gulp Swimming Mullet lures fooled the reds. Alex McGhin fished the St. Simons Pier last week and caught a dozen big whiting by fishing shrimp on the bottom. There is a new drop-off location for the Coastal Resources Division carcass recovery project. The Waycross Fisheries Office at 108 Darling Avenue now has a freezer in the parking lot by the office where you can drop off carcasses of saltwater fishes that you catch. They measure the carcass and pull the otoliths (earbones) so that they can then age the fish and learn more about age and growth of our estuarine species. Bags, information cards, and instructions are at the freezer. 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 Jim Hakala, Fisheries Biologist and Region Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of angler Matt Driver): Fishing is wide open right now! We are in full swing pre-spawn. The shallow bite has been great! Chatter baits, spinner baits, and shallow running crank baits have been the ticket. Those areas where fish pull up first before going back to the spawning grounds have been great. Small football head jigs, and Ned Head Rigs have been working great too. Look for bass on the first drop-off to deep water – typically in that 10 to 12-foot range around rock or brush. It is taking around 14 to 16 pounds to win a tournament lately. There was a tournament a few weeks ago that the top 20 boats all had over 9 pounds each. Now is the time to be out there! More resources: Allatoona 2023 Fishing Forecast; Find DNR fish attractor locations at Lake Allatoona HERE.
More Native Buttonbushes Planted at Allatoona: The Allatoona Fish Habitat Improvement Program is long-running and diverse in nature. Whether it’s creating deep water structure, placing Christmas trees around fishing jetties, felling shoreline trees, or planting native aquatic vegetation, the collaborative Program aims to improve habitat for fish and anglers alike. Check out this BassMaster article on recent native bush plantings at Allatoona designed to improve shallow water fish habitat in this aging reservoir.
Allatoona Lineside Report (This report courtesy of Heron Outdoor Adventures, 404-919-4918): Current water levels are about 6 1/2 ft. below full pool and surface temperatures are 60°-62°. Rain-or-shine, let’s go fishing! The linesides have been very nomadic all winter and continue in such a spirit through. The striped bass and hybrid striped bass are just not stacked and staging yet, however, we occasionally catch glimpses of 50-100+ linesides along with many smaller wolfpacks of 3-10 heartier fish. Even with these larger schools, unless you are continually keeping lines in the water and feeding them bait, they are moving on. Getting up on points and banks with a good depth break early in the morning have found us the most schooling fish as they are pushing and corralling bait to the end of the line. Have downlines at the ready with 3/8 to 1 oz weights and 6 feet of 8-10 lb. flouro leader with a number 2 octopus hook should do the trick using threadfin or herring. Some of our better fish in recent weeks have been down on the south end from Bethany Bridge to Glade Marina. In the bigger water, it is not uncommon to find the bait stacked at 30 ft and control depth down lining here right on top of and even into the bait has produced a bite. If you had to wing it anywhere, try to keep your spread from 15 to 30 ft. and adjust accordingly as you see the depth the majority of your active fish are at. From the boat or from shore right now, casting an inline spinner, Alabama rig, Magic Swimmer, Bucktails and 5 to 7 ft diving crankbaits will produce a bite for artificials. I like the Berkey Frittside 5 and 7 for an easy to find and great bait. Several good line sides have even been caught right along the banks with a medium or large shiners under a bobber, and many right in the easy to access recreation spots such as Red Top recreation areas, Cooper’s Ferry, Galts Ferry, Kellogg Creek, Victoria and Little River. Wherever you find yourself, be happy that you’re going fishing. Where possible, take a kid fishing. Tight lines!
Allatoona Crappie Report (This report courtesy of Jeff “Crappieman” Albright): Water temps are in the high 50s low 60s and the trolling bite is on fire right now! We are pulling Red Rooster Custom jigs at 0.9 to 1.2 mph. Best colors have been “Sasquatch” and black body orange tail. When water temps reach 65, they’ll be spawning, so get a kid out there and let them enjoy the fun!
Carters Walleye (This report courtesy of WRD Fisheries Supervisor Jim Hakala). A recent electrofishing survey indicated that good numbers of spawn-run walleye remain in the Coosawattee River above Carters Lake. Most fish observed were running in the 2-3 pound range, but a few larger fish in the 5 pound range were encountered. These fish are notoriously tough to catch this time of year, so patience and persistence are a must. Not all walleye have moved into the river though. Target these fish on main lake points or in areas of standing timber from the middle half of the lake upstream into the Coosawattee River Arm. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, and live fish are all good choices this time of year.
Carters Spotted Bass (This report courtesy of Louie Bartenfield of Carters Lake Guide Service, 706.218.6609): Water Clarity: 5ft+ viz in lake, stained upper river. Temp: 56-59. Spotted Bass: Fishing has been good! With the warm temps, fish have started their pre-spawn & spawn staging. We’re seeing most our fish from topwater down to 25ft deep. My best patterns have been shakey heads tipped with a Michael Neal signature series Big Bite Skinny Stick in green pumpkin or Vegas Flash fished slow from 10-25ft in staging flats/pockets. I’ve also caught a lot of fish on small shallow running jerkbaits like LC Pointer 78’s on windy points & flats. As April progresses look for the herring/shad spawn to get cranked up, so always have a topwater bait on deck at the ready!!!
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com): Bass fishing is good. The “buck” bass are up on clay and rock points. Look for the areas the sun is on first. This water warms the quickest and can be very productive. Continue to look for the bait as this continues to be key as it always is during this time of year. So, take the time to find the bait and fish these areas thoroughly. In the mouths of the creeks start shallow from the 1 to 12-foot zone. If there is cloud cover look for the fish to stay shallower throughout the entire day. If the sun is out, then look for the fish to work their way to the closest cover and stay tight to it. Key baits have been a crank bait, chatter bait, or a jig. Jig color- anything in a green pumpkin. For the crank bait bite use the Rapala DT6, Shad Rap and a Square bill in either a crawfish pattern or baitfish pattern. Fish have been coming off the clay and rock points leading back to the spawning areas or the ones that are adjacent to the spawning areas. Continue to move throughout the day. When the fish bite slows down, work the area with several baits before moving on to the next area. Continue to work these areas throughout the pre and post-spawn.
Lake Lanier Walleye Report (This report courtesy of fisheries biologist Hunter Roop): North Georgia’s walleye are on the move to the spawning grounds and Lanier’s population was leading the pack when it came to early arrivals this year. The prolonged February warm spell that persisted the last several weeks coaxed many walleye to enter the river earlier than the typical mid-March timeframe, so walleye numbers on the ‘Hooch and Chestatee are now on the decline from their late-February peak. Although walleye numbers are relatively low at this point, you can still catch some fashionably late arrivals as Lanier angler Glenn reported. This week, he caught two beautiful female walleye that both exceeded 5 lbs while fishing the Chattahoochee! Our electrofishing surveys have also produced some impressive specimens including this 9 lb female caught and released this week on the Chestatee. Walleye are a bucket list fish for many anglers, and now is a great time to pursue them on north Georgia’s major reservoirs including Blue Ridge, Carters, Chatuge, Yonah, Tugalo, Rabun, Seed, and Hartwell as well. Plan your fishing trips to fish during the dusk and dawn periods as that is when walleye tend to bite best. Find flowing water and target deep holes to find females waiting to move onto the spawning grounds, or move upstream into shoal complexes where you’ll find schools of males awaiting a spawn-ready female. A variety of tactics can be used to entice a walleye strike including trolling, casting jerkbaits, live baits including minnows and nightcrawlers on jigs, and a variety of spinning lures. For more information on walleye fishing in Georgia, check out Georgia’s Guide to Walleye Fishing and get after ‘em!
Lake Lanier Bass Report 1 (This report courtesy of Captain Mack): Bass fishing has been good, and the fish really responded to the late March like surface temps! Think pre-spawn here, with the Bass staging up in good numbers around the lake. The patterns are many, as are the baits so here are some suggestions for the upcoming week! Crank baits are producing well, Rapalas, Shad Raps and Rock Crawlers are among the favorites. Cast these baits to rocks, secondary points or any visible structures you see. This pattern really has two components: fishing shallow areas on the banks or creek backs, and fishing deeper rocks on the main lake or in the middle parts of lower end creeks. The Shad Raps are particularly good in the shallow creek backs or in the upper parts of the lake. Match the bait depth wise to the structure to make this pattern pay off. Docks are very prolific, although the best depth is a little difficult to determine. Worms and jigs are the staples on this bite, and 10 to 20 foot docks are a likely range to start. Depth is a big and changing variable so watch the sonar to look for fish on either side of the above range. If you are in the upper parts of the lake, that depth range may be much shallower. Try a skipping a soft plastic to the dock to tempt any suspended fish, then follow up with a worm or jig to get the fish tight to the bottom. The fish are beginning to congregate on the docks, and this patter will probably get stronger as we progress through the month. Swim baits remain very productive, paring them with the Keitechs and Prodigys on the 1/4 oz Queen Live Sonar Head have been money. Cast them to the crest of points, around brush, shallow ditches, points, or any fish you see on the forward-facing sonar. I have done well this past week using this method with a slow retrieve with frequent pauses to stay on near the bottom. Watch for the bite on the drop, it is subtle and happens often. Make sure your line is in good shape, otherwise those surprise Striper bite will cast you some tackle!
Lake Lanier Bass Report 2: (This report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770-366-8845 via www.southernfishing.com): Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. Things, they are a changing. The lake is at full pool and water temperatures were ranging in the fifty-eight to sixty one degree range at the end of last week. Over the weekend the temps dropped some with the cold air and wind but should be on the rebound again. As the water temperature has come up so have the fish. A large number of both spots and largemouth can be found in less than fifteen of water with rocky points and banks facing the sun as key targets to be looking for now. Even red clay points facing the sun have been producing fish. It can be a very simple pattern if you just want to take a three sixteenths shakey head with a green pumpkin trick worm and run the docks and rocks pattern. Look for the docks back in the pockets that have a shady side and thoroughly work them. The wacky rig is a good option for the fish that are scattered down the banks in these same areas. If the wind is blowing look for more main lake areas near bedding flats and throw a spinnerbait or jerk bait to draw the strikes. A jig or a worm will work in these areas also. As the water temperatures continue to rise watch for more and more fish to move up and prepare to bed. All of this can happen very quickly on Lanier so be prepared to be flexible with your bait selection. The fun news is it won’t be very long before we are talking top water and on Lanier that is special. They are biting well and it’s not complicated right now so Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Fish Attractors: Find DNR fish attractor locations at Lake Lanier HERE.
Lake Lanier Striper Report 1 (This report courtesy of angler Jack Becker): Warm weather and the full moon this week found me back on Lake Lanier in search of stripers as they begin staging on main lake points before heading upriver to spawn. I found a great pattern that produced quality fish three days in a row. Bait are moving up in the water column near dusk and the predators are hot in pursuit. I mark a lot of bait in standing timber 40 to 50 feet deep close to the river channel near Brown’s Bridge. I look for timber holding bait and troll back and forth over the area. I can watch the bait come up out of the cover to within 10 feet of the surface as the sun begins to set. The key has been to troll slow, 0.2 to 0.4 mph. Free lines 50 to 60 ft. behind the boat produced the bigger fish. The action doesn’t last long, only about an hour and 20 min each night, but it has been my best fishing of the year. Catching quality stripers on both live bait and jerk-baits is a blast! Good luck and be safe. – GA. Aquadog aka. “Jack in Gainesville.”
Lake Lanier Striper Report 2 (This report courtesy of Buck Tails Guide Service 404-510-1778): Stripers are moving to the creeks up north. The bait is the key to success, and once you have the bait around you put out planer boards, some with weights and some without. Locate the bait using your electronics and be patient and pull thru at .05-1 mph with trolling motor. Blue backs are working fine and make sure you have a down line in the water too. Remember to wear your life jacket.
Lake Lanier Striper Report 3 (This report courtesy of Captain Mack): Striper fishing is good, although the fish remain scattered. I think the fish are very catchable, but because there are fish scattered all over the lake, using many patterns, and combined with frequent weather changes creating a lot of movement, it is hard to get big numbers. Temps in the upper 50’s will make the Stripers very active, but it also gives them the latitude to go anywhere on the lake, and they have. Following are some patterns to try next week. We have some fish roaming the creek backs, some very shallow, especially early and late. If there is bait in the backs of creeks and coves, chances are the fish will be around. The numbers may be sparse, but for the most part the fish that are roaming these areas are there to eat. Live baits on free lines or behind the planers, Shad, Trout, Herring, Shiners and Shad are all viable baits. Keep a mix in the spread until you can determine a favorite. Keep in mind that the small baits still have application as the Stripers may be locked onto the Threadfin Shad. If you are in the skinny water, cast to the banks and points, those cast may get you a few bonus bites. Minis and small buck tails tipped with a fluke are great choices for casting. The open water bite is also developing well, generally best mid-morning and into the day. Free lines and planers are the best method, although down lines may have some application as well. Mini Macks are also a good choice to keep in the spread and remember that they do not have to be fished deep. A Mini 15 to 20 feet behind the planer can be very effective on the shallow open water fish when they are spiked up high in the water. Watch the graph and place the spread accordingly. Pull an area for 15 to 20 minutes, if you do not mark fish move to another area. Watch for birds and the occasional surfacing fish to help find the best location. A variety of small and larger baits will also be plus on this pattern. Trolling remains productive and good catches are being made with the big rigs and the Mini Macks. Trolling the full-size rigs over creek channels, flats associated with the creeks, or around bait schools should get the bite. In those open water areas, you may need to drop the rigs to 140 or 150 feet back to get the get the bite. Minis on the leadcore, on the down riggers, or with added weight have been effective on the open water fish. I’ll elaborate on adding weight to the minis in next week’s report.
Lake Lanier Striper Report 4 (This report courtesy of Georgia Wild Trout): The striper bite on Lake Lanier is finally on the rise. Most fish have found their way to the mid lake area or above and are beginning to leave the deep winter holes they’ve been occupying for the shallows. Main lake and secondary points with a fair amount of bait (not too much bait) are what you will be looking for. Striper are cruising fast and can be difficult to keep pace with. Use what is left of the birds and keep your eyes on the horizon for any surface activity on overcast days. Schooling fish should be moving fast to corral shoals of bait so make your casts count as the feeding frenzies tend to not last long. The dock light bite has also been fair if can manage your way onto the lake in the early AM and may improve if the shad/herring spawn happens sooner than normal due to the recent weather. Use stealth when approaching these lights as the fish do see a good bit of pressure in these areas. The striper will be on the feed if they remain un-spooked.
Lake Lanier Crappie Report (This report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton 770-530-6493): Crappie fishing is good. The water temperatures are finally in the upper 50’s and the Crappie are moving shallow. Start looking in the mouths of major creeks where the crappie are staging. They will continue to move to the back of the creeks over the next few weeks. I like looking for Rock walls and standing timber or blow downs in the shallow waters to cast to. Trolling is also picking up, so look in large shallow bays or coves. We have been getting good fish from trolling – mostly over a pound. The trolling should stay consistently good for the next month. The jigs that are producing the best for me are the black and chartreuse combination or anything with a chartreuse combination. Crappie love the shade, so cast into the shadows or shaded areas of docks. When dock shooting, the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I use ATX lure companies jigs on a lip thrashin’ lure jig head. 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.
Lake Nottely Report: (This report courtesy of fisheries biologist Hunter Roop): Lake Nottely fishing guide Will Harkins reported that the recently deployed fish attractors near Canal Lake are working as intended: providing additional cover for baitfish and bass, and creating more opportunities for anglers to hook up. Union County High School Agriculture Science students helped Gainesville Fisheries staffers deploy 17 large pallet tent fish attractors in several locations back in January, and the fruits of the students’ labor are already blossoming. In the coming weeks as Nottely refills, expect to find and increased number and diversity of sportfish like bass, crappie, and bream using these fish attractors. To locate these fish attractors and other target areas before your next fishing trip, check out Lake Nottely’s Fish Attractor Map, and shoot for the stars!
- Bass fishing is good. Most have moved to the spawning bays on secondary points and roadbeds. Spinner baits, crank baits are catching fish.
- Crappie fishing is good. They are showing up in the spawning bays and creeks. They can be caught long line trolling with Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ13, JJ17, JJ20. Shooting docks with jigs is also producing some fish.
- Striper fishing is poor and no reports in the last few weeks
- Catfish are biting good in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water. Cut bait is working best.
West Point/Chattahoochee Lineside Report (This report courtesy of angler and GON Forum contributor Dustin Pate): As of 3/8, fishing conditions upriver have really improved over the last week. A perfect storm of warming temperatures and a full moon have increased the number of fish showing up. Water temperatures are running in the low 60s, which is well above average for this time of year. Groups of male white bass can be found from Franklin to the Ringer area. Some nice females are starting to mix in, and their numbers will continue to increase over the next few weeks. You can find these fish along any current break, creek mouth, and sandy areas. If the water is stained, start with small Shad Rap style crankbaits or lipless crankbaits. In clean water, go with small (2-3″) swimbaits, curly tails, and small bucktail jigs. Don’t be surprised if you catch some very nice crappie in similar areas. The number of hybrids is increasing daily and should peak by the April full moon. They can be caught in similar areas with the same lures. Stepping up in bait size can weed out some of the white bass. Both live and cut bait (shad, chicken liver) are the top baits for hybrids, especially when the water turns stained. Fished on a Carolina rig, you are sure to get some bites. The average size of hybrids this year appears to be very good so far. Stripers are being caught by bait fishermen, but these are mostly resident fish. The number of these fish will increase greatly in April. The weather forecast over the next 7 days looks to be much cooler with many rainy days. The bite will likely slow-down in muddy, cold water.
More Fish Attractors for West Point (Report courtesy of fisheries technician Cody Somsen) — Our West Point DNR fisheries crew has been busy adding fish attractors to various locations around the reservoir this winter. We’ve been using pallets, bamboo, and hundreds of Christmas trees to improve fish habitat in shallow areas around the impoundment. With the lake level down, a number of these fish attractors are still visible above the water’s surface. Find these, as well as the location of other DNR fish attractors at West Point HERE.
West Point Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) Bass fishing is good. There are waves of bass moving to the shallows. Shad are in the creeks and the bass will follow them in big numbers. The best bite through late week was up the river on the crank baits and that will get better with the warm up. Bass are after shad so find the bait and the bass will be close by. Once the bass get into the creeks in full force, it’ll be a good opportunity for crank baits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits. Rat L Traps and Shad Raps will be very good patterns. Hit the banks, throwing at any piece of wood you see. Watch the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology to get the most out of every cast. Make accurate casts to maximize your chances for a hookup. Chatter Baits and spinner baits after mid-day will draw some strikes too. Senko’s in dark colors with little or no weight fished around any wood can work as well. The full moon was March 7, 2023, so expect waves of fish to move shallow.
West Point Crappie Report (This report courtesy of fisheries technician Cody Somsen and fisheries biologist Brent Hess): Crappie are moving and staging for this spring’s spawn. Both bank and boat anglers did very well during Monday’s full moon. The water temperatures are reaching the mid 60’s. However, the next cold front coming later in the week will likely drop water temperatures once again. Crappie catch size has been in the 10-inch range and they are being caught trolling with chartreuse jigs (1/16” or 1/32”) in clear water. Trolling from mid-lake upstream into the creeks should prove successful. Because of the frequent rains, the Hooch arm of the lake has been slow to clear up. Anglers should switch to darker-tailed jigs in the New River area. The best fishing times are from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
West Point Catfish GON-tel: West Point News HERE.
Coosa River White Bass Report: (This report courtesy of fisheries biologist John Damer): Our sampling crew found just about as many white bass as we have ever seen on the Coosa this week. Fish were thick from Mayo Lock and Dam down to Hwy100. However, a couple guys from our office fished all day midweek and only caught 25 between them, which was a huge drop from last week’s 100-fish day. Most of the whites they did catch came late in the day, so you might want to start after lunchtime if you plan to go. Small crankbaits continued to produce. Good luck out there!
Oostanaula River Striped Bass Report: (This report courtesy of fisheries technician Sam Capone): With the recent warm weather, WRD fisheries crews surveyed a portion of the river to gauge the status of the striped bass spawning run. Despite the higher-than-normal river temperatures this year, only a couple smaller male stripers were encountered. With a cooling trend forecast, it will likely be several more weeks before stripers move into the river in mass.
SMALL LAKE REPORT
State Park Lakes: Small lakes often warm faster than larger impoundments in the spring. This early warming spurns fish feeding activity and potentially better fishing. Here are a few north Georgia State Parks with small lakes you may consider fishing this weekend.
- James H. “Sloppy Floyd (Chattooga Co.).
- Fort Mountain (Murray Co.)
- Vogel (Union Co.)
- Unicoi (White Co.)
- Black Rock Mtn. (Rabun Co.)
- Fort Yargo (Barrow Co.)
- Sweetwater Creek (Douglas Co.)
LaFayette’s Queen City Lake (This report courtesy of fisheries technician Richard Childers): Water temps were in the mid-50’s last week and the shad and bass were blowing up HARD. The bite was ON, and I did really great (for me) fishing the shallow rocky points towards the deeper end of the lake. Bass and catfish were crushing a larger jerkbait, but only if I was making consistent bottom contact. Shad patterns were the only thing I got bites on. I really should have thrown some topwater just to see how that worked out, but I stuck with the jerkbait. It was probably my best day on that lake with a 19-inch, 4 lb largemouth and a 16-inch spotted bass being my biggest two fish of the day. They were feeding up big time and every single fish had a swollen gut.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN PUBLIC FISHING AREA REPORT
Rocky Mtn Bass (This report courtesy of Rocky PFA manager Dennis Shiley): Bass are in all stages at this point, but that doesn’t mean they have been easy to catch of late. The key is just trying different presentations. Start by fishing your strengths and using baits you have the most confidence in. If those don’t produce, branch out from there on your presentations.
Rocky PFA Bass GON-tel: PFA Bass Info HERE.
Bream (This report courtesy of fisheries technician Richard Childers): With the unseasonably warm weather, I’ve definitely seen bluegill starting to move into the back of the creeks leading into the lakes. Worms or crickets should elicit bites, but the fish are not as congregated as they are during the spawn, so keep moving to find fish willing to bite. Look for redear sunfish to spawn in April, followed by the first bluegill spawn, which typically occurs in May and continues through the summer.
Crappie – A Lesson in Scaling Down (This report courtesy of Rocky PFA manager Dennis Shiley): Crappie are holding on wood and brush piles getting ready for the spawn. One thing I can tell you is that I am not a crappie fisherman, but I can catch bass out of Rocky! Why is it that I am just terrible at crappie catching? After crappie fishing with co-worker Steve Cason last week and getting “whipped with a switch,” I can tell you I may have finally learned something – scale down and use 4 lb. test line and 3/32-ounce jigs. Of course, I had neither in my tackle bag. Two days after coming out of the “whooping shed,” I decided to return on my own to catch some crappie. The problem was I still didn’t take his advice and get some 4 lb line and small jigs. All I did was watch a guy from the bank catch slab after slab on 4 lb line and a 3/32-ounce jig! To add insult to injury, I just sat in my boat watching him catch fish after fish with my Livescope in real time. When it started to rain, I just knew my chance was coming, so as the angler headed out, I went over there and dropped a minnow in the school with my 10 lb. line and waited….. And you guessed it, I went home hungry. So, take my hard-learned advice and get some 4 lb. line and small jigs. Someday I will too, but for now I will fish for bass.
More Fish Attractors: The staff at Rocky Mountain PFA have been busy this winter putting out new fish attractors and planting native buttonbush to improve shallow water fish habitat. Christmas trees, cedar trees, and American Fish Trees have all been added to various locations in Antioch Lake. You can find these and other fish attractor locations at Rocky Mountain PFA using this interactive map.
PFA Angler Award Program: Don’t forget, Rocky PFA is part of the State’s Public Fishing Area (PFA) Records Program and there are currently open record slots for largemouth bass, bluegill, and redear sunfish at the facility. So, if you find a 10-pound plus largemouth or 1.5+ pound bluegill or redear sunfish on your line this year, call the Rocky PFA office (706-802-5087) or flag down a staffer to have your fish weighed on a certified scale – you might just become a record holder!
Camping: Don’t forget, Rocky Mountain PFA is not only a great place to fish, boat, and hike, it’s one of only a handful of PFA’s in the state that offers onsite camping. So, consider extending your next fishing trip by making an online camping reservation through GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com today.
Early Trout Stocking Alert! (This report courtesy of trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson): Georgia’s state hatcheries are loaded down with trout, as we near the beginning of the traditional trout stocking season at the end of this month. To relieve some “pressure” at our hatcheries, some early trout stocking was conducted across north Georgia this week. The Middle Broad River, Hartwell Tailwater, Stamp Creek, Holly Creek, John’s Creek, and Dicks Creek were just a few of the waters receiving early doses of stockers. Find the full list of streams and lakes stocked this week in the “Weekly Stocking Report” found HERE. While you are there, do yourself a favor and sign-up to get weekly stocking updates emailed directly to you throughout the season.
Delayed Harvest Streams (This report courtesy of trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson): Don’t forget that Georgia’s Delayed Harvest trout program is in full swing! Anglers fishing designated Delayed Harvest stream sections must release all trout immediately and use and possess only artificial lures with one single hook per lure from Nov. 1–May 14 annually. Trout have been routinely stocked in these streams since Nov. 1, so they offer catch-and-release anglers a great opportunity to catch quality trout throughout the winter and early spring months.
Chattahoochee River Tailwater Report (This report courtesy of Georgia Wild Trout): The lower Chattahoochee has been fair as fish activity increases with the longer days. If you can dodge around the irritating generation schedule, there are plenty of trout to be had. Junk flies and midge patterns are still the tickets. Don’t overlook the mouths of the feeder creeks as they begin to warm much quicker this time of year. The dry fly and emerger bite have been good on days when the wind dies and longer casts are possible.
Toccoa River Tailwater Report 1 (This report courtesy of Perfect Fly): As of 3/7, conditions are good. Stream Conditions: Afternoon Water Temperature: 46F (lower section); Clarity: stained. They will be running one generator for part of the day today. There are a lot of insects hatching – Blood or red midges, Cream midges, little BWOs and Winter stoneflies, and some nice browns are being caught.
Recommended Trout Flies:
- Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin and Articulated streamers, size 6/4
- Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6
- Blue-winged Olives: size 16 nymph, emergers, duns and spinners
- Aquatic Worms, size 12, pink, red, and others
- Midges: Blood, Cream sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
- Winter stoneflies, 16/18, nymphs and adults
Toccoa River Tailwater Report 2 (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company via Blue Ridge TU): The tailwater has been fishing great lately. The black caddis hatch started early for us in the beginning of February. The hatch is winding down, but there are still some caddis flying around on the warmer days. So, if the weather looks nice that day, make sure you have a few size 16 Black Elk Hair Caddis in your box. So far, this month has been very rainy for us, and according to the weather forecast there is more on the way. Usually after about a half-inch of rain, the tailwater may start to get blown out. But if you’re wading and willing to brave the rain, the river at Tammen Park will stay clear since all of that water comes from the dam. On those rainy days, a Pat’s Rubber Legs and a worm will usually get the job done. If not, try black Wooly Buggers or try some flies that are black, purple, or blue. These colors show up well in low-light conditions. On normal days, my go to rig has been a Pat’s Rubber Legs with a caddis emerger ,such as a Holy Grail, behind it. I’ve been going back and forth between bobber rigs and dry-dropper rigs. That way, in deeper holes I can make sure I’m getting deep enough. But in shallow pockets, it doesn’t help to slap a bobber down on the fish. If you’re wading, stick with a dry-dropper because most of the holes at the access points are fairly shallow. If you’re looking to get on some dry-fly activity, warmer days at mid-afternoons have been best (somewhere between 3pm-5pm). As this warmer weather continues, keep an eye out for other bugs hatching. There should be a variety of mayflies coming off soon. Keep some Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears and Parachute Adams in a variety of sizes ready.
This Month’s Hot Flies:
- Pat’s Rubber Legs, size 8-10 (brown/black/olive)
- Tungsten Pat’s Rubber Legs, size 8-10 (brown/black/olive)
- Tungstone, size 8 (black/brown)
- Holy Grail size 14-16 (black)
- Birds Nest, size 16 (black)
- Swing Caddis, size 16-18 (black/brown)
- Elk Hair Caddis, size 14-18 (black)
- Rainbow Warrior, size 14-18
- Squirmy Worm, (pink/red/purple)
- San Juan Worm, (pink/red/purple)
Upper Toccoa River Watershed Report (This report courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company via Blue Ridge TU): The small streams of the upper Toccoa River watershed can be your best bet when everything else is blown out. Usually these are the first to clear up, even if they blow out. And some days can produce really good fishing when these creeks are high. Dry-dropper rigs with a Pat’s Rubberlegs and a caddis emerger or Pheasant Tail has been finding fish. You might be wondering why I have been running a stonefly on all my rigs. Stoneflies are great for when the water is high and stained. They are easy for fish to see in murky water because they are bigger, but stoneflies also begin to hatch in March and April. Before they hatch, they get really active, and unlike most bugs, stoneflies don’t float up to the surface to hatch. They crawl out on rocks and logs to hatch. While they are moving around on the bottom, it is easy for the current to sweep them off, making a big easy meal for trout. And the last reason, BIG FISH LOVE STONEFLIES!
North Georgia Trout Streams Report (This report courtesy of Georgia Wild Trout): Spring has arrived really early this year and the trout and striper activity has picked up considerably. The warm rains we had in February have warmed the creeks and lake into the mid to upper 50s. Still seeing plenty of midges and winter stoneflies across North Georgia with BWO and even a stray caddis joining in on the festivity. A couple species of small caddis (size 16 or smaller) and have begun emerging leading to a productive dry fly bite on the small mountain creeks. The tandem dry fly rig is having the best luck on the wild trout streams. I have been leading with a size 14 or bulky size 16 caddis or stimulator pattern then trailing with a thin size 18 or 20 caddis, mayfly or midge pattern in the rear. On days when the activity is slower, a dropper will clean up what doesn’t fall for the dries. Check out our article on the best flies for North Georgia to get a better idea of what the trout are looking for. The trout have begun to venture away from their winter holes and into some skinnier water so don’t be afraid to venture away from the overfished pools and target some faster water, especially on a warmer day. These patterns should remain consistent in the coming week as it looks like the mild weather will be hanging around.
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 your purchase of a trout tag.
Georgia Wildlife Expo: This rain or shine event is scheduled for March 25th-26th, 2023 at The Mill on Etowah in downtown Canton, Georgia. This outdoor weekend is hosted by The Mill on Etowah, and the team is excited to bring back an experiential celebration of Georgia Wildlife through live entertainment, expert demonstrations, and fine arts and related vendors. This event is for all sportsmen, amateur and novice alike, as well as a great weekend away for families and outdoor enthusiasts. Come be a part of the Wildlife fun! Event Times: 12pm-6pm both days (Saturday and Sunday).
Why Moving Bass is a Really Bad Idea. Don’t be part of the problem that is decimating native bass populations in Georgia and throughout the southeast. Here is a great podcast from our friends at the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, featuring professional angler Matt Arey, discussing the problems illegally introduced Alabama Bass are having on popular native bass populations.
Georgia Bass Slam! Do you have what it takes to complete a Georgia Bass Slam in 2023? The idea behind the Georgia Bass Slam is to recognize anglers with the knowledge and skill to catch five (5) different species of black bass in a variety of habitats across the state, and to stimulate interest in the conservation and management of black bass and their habitats. North Georgia anglers have a great opportunity to complete a “slam”, as seven of Georgia’s ten program eligible bass species can be caught in various waters from Atlanta north. Give it a shot and maybe you too will make the distinguished list of successful “slammers” in 2023!
What did I catch? With well over 300 fish species (mostly freshwater) calling Georgia “home”, it can sometimes be tough to identify your catch. Is it a green sunfish or a warmouth? What kind of minnow is this? The next time you find yourself in such a situation, check out the “Fishes of Georgia” website. The site’s color photos and state range maps may just help you figure out what’s on the end of your line!