It’s probably time to re-spool your fishing reels, so grab those and some fresh line and let’s talk about the loads of fishy facts and fun we have to share.
NEWS TO KNOW
Catch a Flint River Tagged Bass – Get Rewarded! Biologists are tagging shoal and largemouth bass that are 12 inches or longer in the Flint River between Warwick Dam and Lake Seminole to help estimate the catch and harvest of these species and allow for an assessment of shoal bass movement in the river. Catch one and report the tag, and you can get a hat and be eligible for a larger prize. Click HERE for more on the Southwest Tagging Study.
- Triple Up Your Trout Catch To Get a Georgia Trout Slam: Catch all three species of trout found in Georgia (rainbow, brown and brook) within a calendar year and you have a Trout Slam. This new program rewards anglers that succeed. Find out more about the Georgia Trout Slam.
- Grab a Fishing Spot! Registration is NOW OPEN for June Fishing Month at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter. They have four ponds stocked with catfish, bass and bream available for kids to fish! More information found on the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter Facebook page.
- Let Me Tell You the Story of that Hybrid Bass You Caught: Writer Marisa Mecke with the Savannah Morning News recently visited with staff at the Richmond Hill Hatchery to talk about hybrid bass production. Read the article at the Savannah Morning News website.
- Reporter Ride Along at Clarks Hill Lake: Electrofishing allows fisheries biologists to get data on the population makeup of a lake. WRDW’s Will Volk went along to see how the process works on Clarks Hill Lake.
This week, we have fishing reports from Southwest, Southeast and North Georgia. After reading today’s report, you should be loaded up on all the fishing news and fishing tips, so get out there and 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 is about 68 degrees and stained. Water levels are back up to normal and the bite is pretty good. The crappie are in open water between the trees. Try in about 8 feet of water and keep yourself on the move. Anglers are reporting that the bit drops off when you sit still. Since the water is stained try using lures with darker colors to mimic the natural prey species. Something with a dark blade and a chartreuse belly should bring in a bite. Catfish mixed bream and crappie are all good things to target on Lake Blackshear and the bass bite isn’t too bad either. No matter what you are fishing for be sure to stop by Flint River Outdoors to weigh in your catches for their monthly big fish contest!
TIRED CREEK LAKE
Bass fishing is looking good on Tired Creek Lake. The fish are moving off beds but some stragglers are still on them. Try a lizard lure to get those territorial males to take a bite. The crappie bit is mediocre but its never a bad day out on the water. Try deep water near standing timber. Worms and crickets are you a good place to start while targeting crappie but jigs are also producing. Tired creek has a lot of warmouth so if you are interested in trying something new they are neat little fish that is thriving in this unique reservoir. Don’t forget to call in your tagged fish for a chance to win a prize.
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
The hybrid striped bass bite is hot right now. Sandy points are the place to look for those. Vrank baits and rattle traps are popular when targeting these fun fighting fish. The largemouth bass and striped bass bite is also good right now. The fish are in 4 to 6 feet of water off points of vegetation. You can also try your luck on submerged timber for some good looking fish. The crappie and shell cracker are also looking very nice and provide a tasty bit for your dinner table. Try targeting those in 7 to 10 feet of water with some mixed vegetation. Worms and crickets are you best bet here. There are also lots of catfish to be had! Any smelly bait will bring you a bite from a channel catfish or a blue catfish out on the lake. Be wary of submerged obstacles and abrupt shallow water out there and please remember to wear a life jacket!
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
In general, April and May water temperatures at Big Lazer PFA are warming up and so is the fishing. April and May are some of the best times to fish because spawning fish move into shallower water. Also, spring is a great time to not only fish but also plan a fun picnic with the whole family.
Bass: The bass fishing is quickly getting good now as they have begun to move into shallower water to spawn. Try throwing spinners and crankbaits at about 4-6 feet of water. Fishing plastic worms and lizards near spawning beds should produce decent bites. You may have luck by locating feeding shad near the banks and throwing a crankbait or spinner in the area.
Crappie: Crappie fishing may begin to slow a bit now from last month’s peak. However, there are still a few being caught. Minnows are still your best bet. You can also try trolling with bright colored jigs and minnows at varying depths to find bunched up crappie.
Bream: We have had some reports of decent bream fishing lately. They are getting ready to spawn soon so look for beds to fish near. Red worms and crickets are still your best bet for bream. Woody structure and areas near the pier may produce some good bites.
Catfish: Catfish fishing is improving as of late and should continue to do so. Try using livers or worms at or near the bottom of the lake. Woody structure as well as the rip-rap near the dam may be your best bet at a good cat. The deeper water near the new pier may also be a good spot to try.
Lake Seminole is full pool right now but the Flint and Chattahoochee arms are still quite muddy. Water temperatures are around 72 degrees. The shad spawn has started so be sure to try out some shad mimic lures to catch those bass. The bass fishing is hit or miss depending on where you try so if you are not getting any bites try relocating to another area. In general, the Flint arm has not been very productive due to the high winds out of the east. As the wind cools down and the weather heats up the fishing should be a bit easier. The shell cracker are bedding and their locations should be easy to find. Try crickets, worms or minnows for a good result. The fish are a bit picky so be patient with your bait and strategic as you approach the area. There are also some schools of post spawn bass that are checking out the shellcracker. It’s always a good idea to take a top water lure with you when you are targeting shell cracker because you never know what big fish may be targeting the same species you are targeting.
(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)
Wind was the story in saltwater this week, but freshwater fishing was good for those who went. Check out the annual fishing tournament sponsored by the Satilla Riverkeeper in the Satilla River section below. The event will run from April 15th through the 24th.
River gages on April 13th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 10.9 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 9.2 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 11.4 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 11.6 feet and cresting
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 9.6 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.6 feet and rising
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 4.0 feet and falling
The river is still high and muddy, but it’s falling out some. You can catch some catfish, but it’s swift enough that I would recommend fishing elsewhere. I went over the river near Lumber City on Wednesday, and it was high and muddy still.
Last week’s rains pushed the river well up into the floodplain again. I crossed it at the Hwy 158 Bridge Wednesday and the water was fairly stained. You can catch a few bass and catfish at this level, but panfishing will likely be slow. The Satilla Riverkeeper is hosting their annual Fishing Tournament from April 15-24th. The entry fee is only $25 per person and you are competing for $1,000 worth of cash prizes. For details on the tournament, check out their website at satillariverkeeper.org/tournament.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The St. Marys is the river in the best shape (in southeast GA) for fishing right now. The 3rd Shady Bream Tournament was held on Saturday, April 8th and some folks caught some nice sacks of fish in the tough weather conditions. First place was Daniel and Michael with 8.06 pounds. Mike and Mike took second place with 7.09 pounds, and Dale and Emma rounded out the top 3 places with 6.97 pounds. Big fish was caught by Josh, and he had a 0.83-pound bluegill. Check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook if you are interested in more information. Matt Rouse fished the upper St Marys in a boat with his son, Dustin on Saturday. They caught some crappie and a few redbreasts on curly-tail grubs and some really nice catfish (up to 7 pounds) on shrimp fished on the bottom. They flung crawfish-brass blade Dura-Spins in the shallow cover and caught a few bowfin.
DODGE COUNTY PUBLIC FISHING AREA (near Eastman, More Info HERE)
An angler reported catching an 11-pound bass this week at the area. Smaller bass and some bluegill bit pretty well this week. Expect to catch quite a few 4 to 5 pound bass around schools of shad. Don’t be surprised if you catch a few crappie still, also.
I fished the east side on Friday morning for about 3 hours and caught panfish, jackfish, and bowfin. I started off early pitching Warmouth Whacker Jigs to shoreline cover and vegetation. I did that for about 2 1/2 hours and fooled 28 panfish. My biggest warmouth was 10 inches, and biggest flier was 8 1/2 inches. The biggest warmouth ate the black/chartreuse jig, and I caught a few on the crawfish model. But, by far the best color was the pink-gold version. I fooled all species with that color, including an 18-inch jackfish that inhaled it. I switched to trolling Dura-Spins for bowfin during the last 1/2 hour of the trip and caught 9 bowfin up to 5 pounds. Crawfish-orange blade was the ticket for trolling. Thomas Powell fished in the Folkston boat basin on Wednesday evening and caught 8 bowfin and 3 pickerel by casting red/white Dura-Spins. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.40 feet.
Jackson Theimer fished with a couple of friends in a Waycross area lake on Friday, and the trio caught several nice panfish and a few bass. Their biggest bass was a fat 7 1/4-pounder that Jackson fooled. It was his personal best. They pitched worms to catch 10 decent bluegills, 3 shellcrackers, and a couple redbreasts. Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond on Saturday in the nasty weather and absolutely whacked the crappie. He said that he caught at least 100 and kept some of the larger fish (about 40 of them). The harder it rained, the better they bit his 1/16-oz chartreuse Flashy Jighead (silver blade) rigged with a shad-colored Gulp Minnow. Chip Lafferty fished a Brunswick area pond on Thursday evening for a short time before supper and caught 12 bass up to 3 1/2 pounds. He flung wacky-rigged pumpkinseed stickworms. Several folks caught catfish this week by putting worms and shrimp on the bottom in a pond with lots of whiskerfish.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The winds this week were insane at the coast. The few who fished had to seek protected water just to be able to cast. Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had to cancel some trips because of weather but had a couple good charters this week in the protected waters. On Friday, they caught some oversized reds and big trout. They caught their fish over submerged oysters and rock piles because of having higher tides when they fished. Tuesday was tough in the high winds, but they had a half-dozen nice trout and reds in the mix. Wednesday was better, and they had some nice flounder, sheepshead, trout, and redfish. A lot of the fish came from 8 to 12 feet of water. The majority of their fish ate live shrimp under a Harper Super Striker Float. 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 Anthony Rabern, Region Supervisor and Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
This week’s cool spell slowed down the fishing a little bit, but conditions are improving daily. It’s “Go Time!” Here are some tips and tricks from the experts and other avid anglers to make your fishing trip more successful.
Linesides (report by Hunter Roop, DNR Biologist) — Gainesville staff wrapped up sampling Lanier’s headwaters (Chestatee and Chattahoochee Rivers) for white bass and striped bass this week. White bass have been running into the rivers for the past two weeks, and the spawn appears to be wrapping up. Anglers can expect to find white bass moving back down the river into the embayments of the larger tributaries and over open water in search of forage. Live herring, curly-tailed grubs, in-line spinners, and a plethora of other presentations can entice a white bass to strike. Striped Bass have also been pouring into the rivers this week, especially on warm days following rain events. The slightly turbid water makes perfect conditions for striped bass to forage aggressively, which helps anglers get hooked up! Most of the striped bass we are seeing are between 10-12 lb, but several specimens exceeding 20 lb and even 30 lb have been captured this spring. Planer boards and freelines fished with live herring, gizzard shad, trout, or even medium shiners are all good methods for catching shallow water stripers as they move into and out of the rivers. Each of these species is stocked by WRD to maintain these fisheries, so now is a great time to go out and enjoy them!
Striped Bass (report and picture provided by Jack Becker) — Dogwoods are blooming and I was hoping to find stripers moving up the river this week. I launched at Toto Creek Campground on the Chestatee River, which was my first trip upriver and quite the learning experience. I didn’t go very far when I noticed this part of the river was not part of my Humminbird basemap, but I have Auto-chart Live with a Zero lines card so I recorded our whole trip—next time I will be better prepared. What I found amazing was an 11-degree difference in water temperature along our journey upstream. Using my electric motor, we trolled at .3 to .5 mph. With shallow water (2’ – 15’) most of the time, we used planner boards and free lines. It was exciting to watch Stripers chase our bait to the surface, and several times there were several Stripers trying to get one bait. We found fish in one small area of the river and caught a 31” Striper and a 25” Catfish. We also broke off two quality Stripers. All bites came on Gizzard Shad. My partner Matt Pesch caught the Striper, which is his personal best. I definitely will be going back soon. Take Care & Good Luck. Ga. Waterdog aka Jack Becker, Gainesville.
Spotted Bass (report by Anthony Rabern, DNR Biologist) — Fishing just keeps getting better and better with lake temperatures reaching the low 60’s as the Franklin family can attest. Father, son, and grandson enjoyed a great outing catching plenty of spots and a few largemouths. Threadfins are starting to congregate along the shallow margins of coves and rip-rap banks. Spotted bass will also be in hot pursuit in hopes of gorging on the silvery shad cuisine. Casting flukes or even small curly-tailed grubs during the shad spawn can be a productive and exciting way to fish. Some largemouths are spawning but the big wave seems to have been postponed by the recent spell of cool weather. Look for pre-spawn bass to be staging around docks midway in the backs of coves. Structure also holds lots of fish, so anglers should target blowdowns, submerged stumps, rip rap embankments, and anything else that contrasts the otherwise desolate clay flats that make up a significant portion of Lanier’s shoreline on the lower end of the reservoir. A whacky-rigged worm or Texas rigged soft plastics are excellent choices for catching these shallow fish. Be sure to make a subtle presentation as these shallow fish can be spooky.
Crappie (report by the Lanier Crappie Anglers Club) — We’ve been catching crappie on shallow docks, but post-spawn fish have moved to deeper docks at 15 feet and deeper. The early morning bite is definitely the best part of the day, and the bite lessens significantly by 10:30 or 11:00 on a sunny day. The bite picks up late in the evening around 7:00 and continues until dark, and on certain days. As the water temp warms up, the fish should begin to move to the brush piles that are now deeper than normal for this time of year because of the high water. Experimenting with various colored jigs is helpful. Certain color jigs may work better in one pocket over another.
Catfish (report by DNR Biologist, Hunter Roop) — Let’s give a “shout out” to Matthew Haynes who caught a 15.5 lb blue catfish on Lake Lanier. Although not a native species to Lanier, we are finding their numbers and size slowly increasing. Matthew’s catch was submitted to GON as a potential lake record, which is a category that is currently unfilled.
Bass (report by Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is great and almost any bait will work. Fish are active and vastly on the move to spawning areas. Fish are being caught several different ways. Soft plastic jerk baits Big bite jerk minnow hard Jerk baits Spro Mcstick jigs like the Kustom Kicker freak Carolina rig tipped with lizards and much more. Expect 30 fish a day as common. Megabass Vision 110 jerk bait is tuned to match the of a real bait fish. The Megabass Vision 110 jerk bait is already a legend and this bait will be a fish catching machine. Fish are in 6 to 10 feet and moving shallower quick. Be ready for the top water to break loose for some great action. The spots will start to show up in large schools.
Bass (report by Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is good. The fish can be found in main lake pockets and ditches and have been shallow on some days but the recent cold front has pushed them back deeper 25 to 28 feet in some cases. We have been using a weedless Fish Head Spin in Pearl White and Albino colors trailed with a Zoom Fluke Jr. The Shad Rap has continued to be reliable in the creek pockets and a 3/16 ounce Weedless Wonder head around docks has also been productive. Look for the fish to make a big move shallower in the next couple of weeks. The water is a little warmer the shallow in backs of the major creeks.
Linesides (report by Kyle Rempe, DNR Biologist) — Anglers are curious to know if the hybrid bass run has started on Hartwell yet. The answer is… “Not Yet.” However, some early birds are starting to make their way toward Hartwell’s headwaters. This week, we collected a few hybrids on the sandbars around Spring Branch up to the mouth of the Chauga River. Water temp was 54oF, but increasing temps should increase the numbers of fish soon.
WEST POINT LAKE
Bass (report by Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is good. The fish are shallow lakewide, and the fish have begun spawning. Use the soft plastics like a Zoom lizard on a light Carolina rig and the trick worms or creature baits. Work the isolated cover and depressions. These fish are most likely relating to small ditches waiting to pull up for the spawn. A light Carolina Rig can also be effective in these same areas. The best areas have been from Wehadkee Creek north to the Hwy 109 Bridge. Anything on the banks can have fish in and around it – trees, rocks and bridge pilings and just fish shallow.
Mixed Bag (report by Mark Collins) — 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 fair and they are showing up in the spawning bays and creeks. Crappie are being caught while trolling with Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ13, JJ17, JJ20. www.jiffyjigs.com. Shooting docks with jigs is also producing some fish. Some fish are starting to go shallow to spawn look for a big migration to the shallows next week. Catfish are biting well in the bays and creeks in 8-15 feet of water, cut bait is working best.
Coosa/Oostanaula River Striped Bass (report by Jim Hakala, Regional Fisheries Supervisor) — The annual spawning migration of striped bass from Lake Weiss is underway. Stripers can be found in the Coosa and Oostanula Rivers as far upstream as Calhoun. While most of the egg-laden females will be in the 15-20 pound size, fish over 30 pounds are present. Males typically run 5- 15 pounds in size. Live bait such as shad or bream are best, but artificial lures that mimic a shad will work too. Cut bait may pick up a striper or two as well. Look for striped bass to be holding in the river just downstream of fallen trees which provide a current break for the fish. Striped bass numbers in both rivers should continue to increase through the month of April as more fish head upstream to spawn.
MOUNTAIN LAKES MIXED BAG
New Chatuge Lake Record: (reports by DNR Biologists) — Hiawassee resident, Howard Stimis, caught a 2.0 lb crappie from Lake Chatuge. The trophy fish earned recognition for an Angler Award and was submitted to GON for recognition as a new lake record. Crappie are in spawning mode so target your fishing efforts in the shallow water cover that is tucked into the coves, creek runs, and shoreline pockets.
Striped Bass Outook on Nottely: (reports by DNR Biologists) — Striped Bass fishing on Lake Nottely will soon heat up with warmer weather and will have the local guides running out of bait before they run out of fish to catch. Use planer boards along the shoreline in Ivy Log Creek, Jacks Creek, Youncane Creek, and up the river. These fish are in the backs of creeks and along clay banks and points gorging on shad. Hybrid Bass on Lake Chatuge can be caught on midlake points. Live shad and shad imitating lures are your best bet for catching fish.
Rocky Mountain PFA: (report by Jackson Sibley, DNR Biologist) — The largemouth are starting to wind down their spawn and beginning to move out of the shallows at Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area. A recent DNR electrofishing survey noted bass holding in 6-8 feet of water on points or on the deep end of fallen trees like where these 6, 7, and 8 pounders were captured. Rip-rap banks were another area holding decent largemouth numbers. The shad are close if not already spawning. Find the shad and there are usually largemouth close by. The big shellcrackers are getting ready to spawn. Look for them to go on bed around the next full moon. When they do, key in on fishing near downed trees or other woody debris along the shore. Look for deeper bedding fish off gradual points or flats in 4-5 feet of water.
Stocking Trout Waters: Trout stocking was in full swing this week with more than 30,000 quality-sized trout hitting the water this week. Want to know where they were stocked? It’s easy. Sign up to receive the weekly trout stocking report that is published each Friday afternoon during the trout stocking season. With warming temperatures, wild trout like the brookie pictured are more eager to take an Adams or Cahill
Get a Georgia Trout Slam! We rolled out a new trout angler recognition program – the Georgia Trout Slam, which recognizes anglers who catch all three species of trout that occur in Georgia (brook, rainbow, and brown). For more information about this new program and what you get if you successfully get a slam, check out our Georgia Trout Slam page.
North Georgia Trout Streams (report by Tad Murdock of Georgia Wild Trout guide service and Sarah Baker, DNR Trout Biologist) — Trout fishing success has continued to pick up as waters across the state warm. The recent rains have brought the water levels of rivers and creeks up causing the trout to spread out. Streamers are an excellent way to probe large areas for trout. Hatches have begun to pick up around mid-morning and with it, the trout activity. The best hatches have been happening on the windy days following a passing front. The hatches of blue wing olives, black caddis, and march browns will shift to yellow sallies, grannom caddis, and quills this month, with sulfurs showing up later into April. Size sixteen to eighteen dry flies have been the best imitations when you begin to see the trout rising but, larger patterns will become more effective in coming weeks. When things are slow, large nymph patterns (stonefly and caddis) have worked well. Many other local fish in streams and rivers will begin their annual spawning ritual so don’t overlook egg patterns if suckers and chubs are around. The end of the month should see all of these patterns pick up as well as the fishing. Not every day has been best for dry flies. Though hatches may be in full swing, the trout are still swinging and missing on a fair amount of their rises. In these situations, adding a dropper or emerger pattern will lead to more hook ups.
Georgia Stocked Trout Streams — Trout have been stocked in nearly all of North Georgia’s seasonally stocked streams. The crowds in these areas have been heavy no matter where you’re fishing in North Georgia. You can take a look at what streams have been stocked in our Blue Ridge Trout Fishing Guide, Helen Trout Fishing Guide, Ellijay Trout Fishing Guide, or Dahlonega Trout Fishing Guide. After visiting several popular waters following the initial late March stockings, these heavily trafficked streams have already been mostly cleaned out. The streams stocked weekly have had more stocked trout find refuge following the heavy rains that have limited much of the catch and keep anglers’ hauls and dispersed the trout into areas with less pressure. Junk flies are still the go to for these stocked trout, especially when the water is high following rains.
Tailwater Trout Fishing — The tailwaters of the Chattahoochee and Toccoa have both been fishing well with recent stockings. Generation on the Chattahoochee below Lanier has changed as the COE is trying a new strategy to limit the peak water generation levels in attempt to improve the quality of the river corridor. After generation, the water levels can take a bit longer to reach their lows so be sure to pay closer attention to the Lake Lanier generation schedules and use some additional caution with the new norms. If they do pull on these rainy days, it is typically for shorter periods. Rainbows have been stocked in the river so expect heavier visitors on the days the river is fishable. And as always we highly recommend releasing any of the wild brown trout caught in the river.
For anglers looking to learn more about trout fishing and fly fishing North Georgia, our latest articles on Fly Fishing the Appalachian Trail and What Trout Eat will teach fly anglers the insects and other food items that trout are looking for in the local rivers and creek as well as some of the most scenic wild trout destinations in the state.
How to Support Trout Management in Georgia: Georgia anglers can support fisheries conservation and trout management several ways:
- Buy a Fishing License: Did you know that your license purchase allows the Georgia WRD to continue to do important research, maintain and operate public fishing areas and more? Purchase a Georgia license online at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com/.
- Buy a License Plate: Purchasing a Trout license plate supports Georgia’s trout conservation and management programs. These efforts positively impact trout production, stocking and stream restoration throughout north Georgia. More info at GeorgiaWildlife.com/licenseplates.
- Go trout fishing! Creating and sharing memories with loved ones will help sustain this pastime for years to come. Be sure to clean up after yourself and leave the streambank in better condition than it was in when you arrived!