Take the photo! It doesn’t matter if it is an award-winning day of fishing, take a second to document the experience. Whether you realize it or not at the time, when you fish with your kids, grandkids, family members or friends, you are making lifelong memories. Having a photo of that day will bring you joy for many years to come.
Trout Talk: The Trout Survey Team conducted backpack electrofishing on several tributaries in the Cooper Creek drainage in search of undocumented Brook Trout populations. Their efforts revealed two previously unknown populations of Brook Trout containing multiple size classes.
- Only 2 spots left! Fish and Learn (April 28-30): Hurry and grab those last 2 spots! 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.
- 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.
- 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 North, Central, Southwest and Southeast Georgia. Wherever you snap that next fishing photo, we are so glad that you Go Fish Georgia!
(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 good. Fish are biting bright crank baits and small dark Zoom June bug finesse worms. Texas rigged worms are the best bet and keep a close watch on the Lowrance. The fish will be tight in cover on and around docks. Afternoons with the warming weather, the #5 bright jointed Shad Raps and the DT10 crank baits are working. Be sure to dig the bottom with the casts directly on the banks. For a fast bite, use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. Stay down lake in the creeks off the main river and avoid the muddy water flowing down the main river channel at least for a week. There were some spots on the main lake reef markers and points, but they have moved off these areas to deeper water.
Carters Lake Hybrids (Report courtesy of Carters Lake Guide Service) — Angler Grant Orr of Mableton, Georgia boated this beast of a hybrid striped bass from Carters Lake earlier this week. The giant lineside pulled the scale to 14.37 lbs and was fooled by a 1/4oz underspin fitted with a 3” swimbait.
Hartwell Mixed Bag Fly Fishing (Report courtesy of Polly Dean of On The Fly South) — The On The Fly South crew was spending a couple days on the water with Captain Cefus McRae. He and his wife Beth built their home on the shores of this lake and the captain fishes it often. Cefus is best known as the host of the television show Nuts and Bolts of Fishing. He is a man of down-home southern charm, that has a passion for the outdoors. With an infectious personality, he shares his love for fishing with an emphasis on the how-to portion of where to fish and how to better your chances of catching an array of species, whether they reside in freshwater or the salt. Since striped and hybrid bass are residents of this lake, and they can grow to a hefty size, they were of particular interest to us and we geared up for such an encounter. But honestly, we were just as excited with any fish that took our fly. As it turned out, there were a variety of species that did come out to play. Hartwell Lake didn’t disappoint and the knowledge of our guide on this reservoir served us well. Cefus kept us on the fish. Though our flies were placed generally in the physical range of our targeted species, which that day was eight feet or deeper, we occasionally had trouble convincing them to nibble on the artificial fur and feathers. Fortunately, we had come prepared with a bit of fly-fishing knowledge from additional source. Finish Reading HERE…
Lanier Bass (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. Spring like weather is here and the fish are responding to it. The water temperature is ranging from fifty six to fifty nine right now with a full pool lake. While there are still fish staging in the thirty to forty foot range, schools of bass are showing up in the less than twenty feet range. It’s a good time to look for the fish shallow on rocky points and boat docks with less than ten feet of water in front of them. The three sixteenths shakey head with a green pumpkin trick worm has been a very consistent producer over the last week. It has produced good numbers with some really quality bass included. Another solid pattern has been a wacky rigged senko worked around docks and rocky banks or in pockets. Be sure to watch your line carefully with the wacky rig as often you won’t feel the bite but rather they just move off with the worm. The quarter ounce Spotchoker with a small chartreuse swimbait has also been producing fish from twenty feet up to two feet of water in the backs of the pockets. There have been a lot of largemouths weighed in over the last two weeks and look for the largemouth patterns to continue for at least the next month. Squarebill crankbaits, small spinnerbaits and the Alabama rig worked near bedding areas will produce good fish right now. As we move to the next full moon many of the largemouths will be going on bed. With the typical up and down of March weather temperatures make sure you look for the warmest water you can find as just a couple of degrees can make a huge difference in being able to catch fish. In the warmer areas there has been a little topwater activity but now quite enough to really target. If you see them surface follow up with either a Spotchoker or a Jerk bait to draw strikes. The fishing is only getting better on Lanier so get out and Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Crappie (Report Courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton via www.southernfishing.com) — The water temperatures is 60 and the crappie are spawning. Look shallow in the mouths of major creeks where 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 good look in large shallow bays or coves. The jig that are producing the best for my are the grey color combinations or white & chartreuse. 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.
Lanier Stripers (Report Courtesy of Buck Cannon of Buck Tails Guide Service) — Lake Lanier stripers are still on the live bait. The key to catch them is to use the electronics locate the bait and put out planer boards, flat lines using blue backs and trout. Using your trolling motor .05-1.5 mph. be patient and cover points with drop offs near the channel. Keep a top water plug tied on if you’re running and look for the birds for that top water bite. Remember to wear your life jackets.
West Point Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good and 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, jerk baits and spinnerbaits. Look on the front deck of most bass boats this time of year and there will be a jerk bait rigged. Anglers are now heavily dependent on hard baits like the Berkley Stunna. This bait won the Bass Master Classic twice. The Stunna has a baitfish shimmy and action that works in almost all water colors. Rat L Traps and #5 Shad Raps will be very good patterns. Hit the banks, throwing at any piece of wood. 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. Senko’s in dark colors with little or no weight around any wood can work.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) –
- Bass fishing is good. Most have moved to the spawning bays on secondary points and road beds. 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 in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water. Cut bait is working best
NORTHWEST GEORGIA RIVER REPORT
White Bass: (Report courtesy of fisheries biologist John Damer) — I have been passing time by throwing a few casts at the boat ramp in the evenings while my daughter is at soccer practice. I’m only fishing for 30 mins or less, but I’ve managed to catch a few white bass each time I go. Last night I landed 7 in about 20 minutes, with a couple big females breaking the 2-pound mark. I use ultralight tackle with 4-6 lb test mono, which makes for a great fight especially if they get you out in the current! My best luck has been using small crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps in shad colors. I have heard similar reports from others bank fishing at other boat ramps, creek mouths, and back eddies on the Etowah, Oostanaula, and Coosa. Even if you have just a few spare minutes to go throw a few casts it is probably worth giving your local spot a try.
Striped Bass: (Report courtesy of fisheries biologist John Damer) — Our sampling crew was on the rivers again this week. Numbers of striped bass are still low but increasing slowly. We are starting to see just a few more big females like the 25-pounder pictured mixed in with a handful of smaller males. The cold weather forecasted for this weekend will not help speed things up either. Hopefully, the next warming trend toward the end of next week might really start to ramp up the striper run. If you must try before then, try the rivers around the confluence at Heritage Park or try running up the Oostanaula for a few miles.
SMALL RESERVOIR REPORT
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Report courtesy of fisheries biologist Jackson Sibley) — Bass are still in their pre-spawn pattern at Rocky Mountain PFA, holding everywhere from rock piles to offshore open water habitats to nearshore brush piles. I took a couple of hours off on Wednesday for some “hook and line therapy,” and I’m glad I did. Chunking a 7” glide bait, I managed a 5.5 lb largemouth—my biggest of 2023. Though bites are infrequent on lures this size, the fish that strike tend to be the biggest and most aggressive in a particular area, so covering a lot of water can be the key to success.
A couple tips for first-time Rocky PFA anglers:
- These bass see a lot of lures. Oftentimes, those willing to try outside-the-box presentations get the most strikes.
- Offshore structure tends to hold as many fish as bank structure, but the fish seem more willing to strike—perhaps because they’re less pressured in these areas. Not only do we have these structures marked in our interactive map, we’ve also recently made their coordinates available for download on our
- Rocky is open to fishing from sunrise to sunset. Set your alarm clock for an early arrival as bass often feed most actively in the first few hours of daylight.
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 last 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.
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.
(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)
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Water Temperature: Temps ~58 degrees and rising AGAIN
- Water Visibility: 25+ in
- McDuffie PFA Fishing Guide
Whew! This weather has the fish just as confused as the rest of us! Bass were moving well in the shallows and hitting on a variety of lures. See the picture of a recent catch from Willow taken just before sunset. However, with water temps back below 60 degrees they have moved back to deeper water. As the weather warms back up, we can expect to start seeing them bedding in the shallows again, especially in the shallows of Willow Lake. Fishermen should try the shallows near the stumps on the upstream side of Willow; from the boat ramp hang a left through the small cut in the peninsulas. As for the rest of the area, the cold snap has served well for a striper bite. They are still hitting on the livers, and even worms, sunk into deeper water.
Reservoir Fishing Reports Below Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS DOWN 1.6 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Bass are feeding all during the day and the spots are roaming and hitting the crank baits well. Work Beaverdam Creek using a variety of Shad Raps. Crank baits and finesse worms are accounting for most of the bass. A short cold front may slow things a little, but the fishing will rebound. Head up the Savannah River early and then after mid-day, go back down lake to the Hwy. 72 bridge and up in Beaverdam Creek. Stay in the wind and keep cranking the Shad Raps. Try the Shad Raps but do not fish it too fast as it will roll over. Fish no further back in the creeks than the secondary points and remember the larger bass are going to be holding to the cover. Look on the front deck of most bass boats this time of year and there will be a jerk bait rigged. Anglers are now heavily dependent on hard baits like the Berkley Stunna. This bait won the BassMaster Classic twice. The Stunna has a baitfish shimmy and action that works in almost all watercolors. Make several casts on both sides of any brush piles and wood. With any sunny day, crank the windblown side of the Hwy. 72 bridge rip rap.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS DOWN 1.2 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Main lake points near the mouth of the creeks and larger coves is a good place to look for bass. Crank baits like the Rapala DT10 and Rapala DT6 along with the RS Shad Raps and Ito Vision 110 jerk baits are catching bass. Some spotted bass are being caught on secondary points on crank baits and Carolina rigs. Lizards are a good choice to rig up with here. The Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology will work very well even in 10 feet of water. Anglers can cover 68 feet of bottom at 10 feet deep with the 455-frequency beam. The key will be to throw in shallow and work the cranks and lizards real slow. Usually the bass are hitting the crank baits on the first couple of turns of the reel handle.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. The best results over the past week have been on a Carolina rig with a 5 to 6 in worm in green or pumpkin, fished around sea walls in the middle of the big coves from the Hwy. 44 bridge south. Small crank baits fished along the side of the docks in the middle of the coves out to the main lake will produce. Also add fishing a chrome blue back Rat L Trap around any deep dock and around rip rap early. Jigs fished around wood structure up the lake have also produced some larger fish. For a fast bite, use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. Many fish are starting to move into the creeks and coves so do not be afraid to move in and out of the coves and pockets, fishing all depths of water.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.3 FEET, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Carolina rigs and small to medium crank baits have been producing more consistently than other baits. Primary and secondary points and flats are the places to throw the Carolina rig. Depths are varying from 3 to 10 feet and more. Try a Zoom Finesse or U tale worm in June bug or green pumpkin on a 1/0 Gamakatsu extra wide gap hook. A 2- or 3-foot leader of 12-pound line is attached to 14- or 17-pound main line with a half-ounce weight. Crank baits have worked on the same points and around rip rap, docks, rocks, blow downs, and in coves and pockets. For depths of 2 to 6 feet, try a ¼ ounce Rat L Trap, #4 and #5 Shad Rap RS, and Bomber Model 6A. Some good baits for 7 to 10 feet are a Fat Free Shad #6, Norman Deep Little N, and Rapala DT10. Most chartreuse patterns along with chrome blue and crawfish patterns should work. Spinner baits may get more consistent very soon with the average temperatures moderating. Try a 3/8-ounce Stanley in chartreuse with a single gold Colorado blade on the points and rip rap. A tandem blade model usually works best around wood and grass. Work the jigs and Texas rigs around docks, brush piles, and blow downs. Staying light has been best, but power fishing these baits should get better.
LAKE JACKSON IS FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Up in the rivers the water is reaching 55 to 56 degrees and the bass are up shallow this week after the full moon. White spinnerbaits are the favorite this week and fish are on any structure they can find. Docks and stumps are getting a pounding and some nice bass are being caught. A small number are being caught on top water with Chug bugs. The top water bite is still a week or so away. For a fast bite, use the Berkley Square Bill 7.5 and 8.5 Special Craw 2 Brown Craw. This lake is known for heavy cover especially around the numerous boat docks.
(Fishing report courtesy of Emilia Omerberg, Fisheries Biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA
Largemouth Bass fishing is fair at Big Lazer Public Fishing Area. 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.
Crappie fishing is poor. There have been few reports of crappie being caught as they are 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 fishing is 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 fishing is 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 Channel Catfish bites. 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!
Fishing in Lake Blackshear is heating up. In general, the location in which you fish matters quite a bit for the amount of action you will get. Bass are starting to pair up and are on beds. Fish 4-6 feet of water near docks and the edges of vegetation. The water is a bit muddy from all the rain so use lures that are tinged with reddish muddy colors. The bream fishing is looking really nice as well. There are some really great sized redear or shellcracker out there just waiting to be caught. Crickets and worms are the bait of choice for these guys. The crappie fishing is also looking very good on Blackshear right now. Sugar bug jigs are the local lure of choice for these guys. Stay in 3-7 feet of water in coves and at the mouths of creeks near vegetation. These fish are schooling so if you get a bite stay in the same spot and be persistent.
The main channel of the lake is starting to warm up and some of the back water spots are reaching 70 degrees and above. Continue to focus on these areas until the rest of the water warms up more. Crappie are schooling in 5 to 8 feet of water in the lily pads and on the edges of other vegetation. Minnows are a good choice for crappie bait. Be sure to be persistent if you get a bite because these fish tend to school together. The legendary bass fishing of lake Seminole is starting to heat up. Bass are starting to pair up in the shallower water of those backwater areas. Along the edges of grass in 3-7 feet of water seems to be the sweet spot. Try hollow belly frogs and chatter baits. Work them along the edge of grassy areas for a sneaky bite. Also try a crank bait to lure those fish off the beds. Some nice bream and warmouth are also out there waiting to be caught. 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.
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA
Water temps at Silver Lake Public Fishing Area are slowly recovering from the cold front that moved across the eastern half of the country last week. Anglers are reporting good action on Cutoff Pond with most bites coming from largemouth on beds. Bream and crappie fishing in the big lake has picked up in the last few weeks, and we are expecting the next few weeks follow that trend. Those big mouths on beds are taking dark bodied flukes and crawfish pattern jigs. Stump jumpers and beetle spins are coaxing a bite from the crappie and the larger bream. Be sure to go slow out there on the big lake as there are lots of hidden obstacles.
(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 long warm spell was nice, but the fluctuating weather is back with a vengeance. Try to catch the end of a warmup and just before the next cold front for the best bites. The number of reports this week were down because of the weekend cold front and crazy weather.
River gages on March 16th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 6.9 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 9.0 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.7 feet and rising
- Waycross on the Satilla – 9.2 feet and rising
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 7.9 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 5.0 feet and falling
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 6.9 feet and falling
Several folks have fished the river this week. I heard of an angler catching about a dozen redbreasts (some of them big roosters) in a tributary off the Satilla. Another group of anglers caught a few channel catfish with worms on the bottom. Overall, the bite has been slow in the main Satilla, and it will take a little time for the river to warm and come back down. Right at the end of that last warm spell the bite was improving, but it’s slowed again.
ST. MARYS RIVER
Unfortunately, the Friday cold front and rising river will make for challenging conditions for this weekend’s tournament. The first Shady Bream Tournament Trail event of the year is scheduled for this Saturday, March 18th, out of the Traders Hill ramp. Check them out on Facebook (Shady Bream Tournaments) if you are interested in more information.
Bill Stewart and a friend fished the east side (Folkston entrance) on Friday morning for just 2 hours and caught 21 fish by trolling and casting Dura-Spins. Most were bowfin, but they had a couple pickerel (jackfish) up to 18 inches. Their last fish was a 10-lb., 6-oz. monster bowfin that ate a jackfish-colored Dura-Spin. Their best colors were jackfish and fire tiger (they never switched colors because they kept eating the ones they had tied on). Teddy Elrod and Chuck Dean fished the Folkston entrance on Saturday in the middle of the day and did well. They had about 50 fish – mostly bowfin by trolling and casting Dura-Spins. Chuck flung a Bert’s Bug (white color) on a fly rod and caught a nice jackfish on it. Their best colors of Dura-Spins were jackfish and black/chartreuse-chartreuse blade. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.67 feet.
Scout Carter and Ivy Spratling had one of the best trips I’ve heard of this spring in a Brantley County pond. They started throwing a Zombie Head and pink diamond Assassin Curly Shad and never switched because the fish never stopped biting it. They wore out bluegills, crappie, and bass during the afternoon trip. When the smoke cleared, they kept 32 fish (mostly big bluegills up to a pound) and threw back over a dozen fish.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had a few decent trips this week. They worked for a half-dozen fish on one trip and caught a dozen really nice fish (trout, reds, and black drum) the other trip and had to check a dozen drops to catch them. Their fish ate mostly live shrimp under Harper Super Striker Floats. If you go to saltwater this week, expect to have to look around for them with this variable weather. Some of my friends went offshore of Brunswick on Thursday and caught a mixed bag of cobia and red snapper by working bucktail jigs tipped with squid around offshore wrecks. Whiting fishing was good before this weekend’s blow, and it should be good when the weather stabilizes next week. Unfortunately, there is another Friday cold front forecasted, and the wind will likely be bad behind it again. 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).