I see a few sunny days on the weekend horizon, which makes it a perfect time to prep and plan a fishing day trip! Where will you go? You can always check out one of the 11 available Public Fishing Areas or use the Interactive Fishing Map, and, if you need help knowing some tips about a specific waterbody, you can use the Fishing Forecasts or this fishing blog!
NEWS TO KNOW
- CoastFest is TOMORROW! CoastFest is a celebration of coastal conservation and education. It will take place on Earth Day, Sat. April 22 (10 am – 4 pm) at Mary Ross Waterfront Park in historic downtown Brunswick. Get more details HERE.
- Kids Fishing Events are Happening! It is the time of year when you can find a Kids or Family Fishing Event almost every weekend. Be sure to check the Event Calendar and note upcoming opportunities on your family calendar. These events are a great way to introduce someone to fishing!
- Georgia Trout Slam and Georgia Bass Slam: C’mon now – who needs a Challenge? Put a Georgia Trout Slam or a Georgia Bass Slam on your “to do” list for 2023. Let’s GO!
This week, we have fishing reports from North, Central and Southeast Georgia. Pick out a favorite destination and let’s Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Kyle Rempe, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Lake Allatoona Bass: (courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Bass fishing is good. Fish are active and can be caught with just about any technique. Use the fluke style baits, Ned rigs and popper style top water baits and cover water. The bite is good most all day but the best times are before 9 am. Pockets and secondary points around Red Top and Stamps Creek seem to be best right now. Have a second rod rigged and ready as the spotted bass are chasing small baits mid day. An all white 3/8 ounce Rooster Tail will catch almost anything. The Texas rigged worm and a 1/4 ounce weight with a Zoom finesse worm in black emerald color cased on or around the bed will also catch these fish. The Texas rig worm on a Weedless Wonder head should be fished in the speed worming method by simply casting the bait to the bed and when it hits the bottom you begin to reel it in with a steady retrieve like it was small crank bait.
Lake Hartwell Bass: (courtesy of Brad Fowler; report via SCDNR Freshwater Fishing Trends) — Guide Brad Fowler reports that April is the biggest spawning month on Lake Hartwell, and in the beginning of the month there will be more fish pre-spawn while by the end of the month most of them will be post-spawn. However, in most years some will also spawn into May. Depending on water conditions, spinnerbaits and soft plastics such as floating worms or Carolina rigs will work well this month when most fish can be caught shallow. This month the herring spawn will also kick off and overlap with the bass spawn.
Hartwell Hybrids (report via Fisheries Biologist Kyle Rempe) — Got out to do some sampling this week and water temperatures are really starting to pick up on the Tallulah River side of the reservoir. We ran into quite a few schools of Hybrid Striped Bass in tributaries and along points, with multiple fish bordering the 5 pound mark. Might take a little bit of searching, but getting on a group of them yourself should make for a fun day and some sizable slabs.
Hartwell Stripers (courtesy of Chip Hamilton; report via SCDNR Freshwater Fishing Trends) — Guide Chip Hamilton (864-304-9011) reports that through most of April fish should be caught up the rivers and major creeks. Early they will be caught shallow off points, while as the sun rises they will pull out to mid-depths in the same areas. Free-lines will work at both times, but you can also fish down-lines. While this pattern will last most of April, if it gets very warm then fish will start to go deeper and ease back down the creeks and rivers.
Lanier Bass (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s) — Bass Fishing remains very good as to be expecting for early April. Still mostly a you pick ‘em on the baits, so choose one of your high confidence bait and start casting! The worms on the lead heads are still very good and will consistently catch lots of fish, or on some days get lots of bites. Short bites and dropped baits are common, I think that is a result of many of the bites you get are spawning fish. If you get the bite and have a swing and miss, look at the bank and get a visual point of reference. Cast back to the same place and often you get the fish to try round two. Shorter plastics may also be a plus if the fish seem to be reluctant to take the bait. Cast the worm/jig head combo at any bank with cover and you’ll stay plenty busy.
We have a good spinnerbait bite going on, and it is multi faceted. Casting the spinnerbaits at almost any shallow cover will be productive, and slow rolling the spinnerbaits over a stump field is an excellent pattern right now. Wind is a plus, but not a necessity. I like to cast the bait to any visible objects I see, then let the bait get down into the water as I retrieve. Think of the bait flowing the contour of the bottom, staying a few feet off the bottom as opposed to near the surface towards the end of the retrieve. This makes it easy for those fish that are in the 5 to to 10 foot range to get the bait, as opposed to chasing it all the way to the surface.
Lanier Stripers (courtesy of Captain Mack, Captain Mack’s)– The Stripers are still scattered, however, the greatest concentrations of fish seem to be up either river arm, and into the moving water of both rivers as well. The patterns are still varied, with live baits on the free lines, behind the planers, or pitched to various structures being the best producers. There are a few casting opportunities, and a little bit of a trolling bite. Herring have probably been the overall best producers, but Gizzard Shad, Threadfin Shad, and Shiners are still viable choices. There ls some application for the down lines, so don’t rule out that method based on what the sonar shows. Target points, humps and saddles, anywhere from 3 to 25 feet. There are a ton of Bass on these areas so you’ll catch lots of fish, and with enough Stripers mixed in to keep things interesting. This is particularly true on the lower end of the lake. I think there are more Stripers on this pattern mid lake and up on either river. Due to the shallow water, and the sparse numbers, the fish may be hard to see on the sonar. Side Imaging is a plus for this technique. Pull the baits over a likely area and if the fish are there the bites will occur quickly. Cast to the banks while you are on this pattern, Flukes, wake baits, OG Stickbaits, or Minis should get a few bites from both Spotted Bass and Stripers.
Another pattern that is very good is pitching the Herring to points and humps. Just like pulling baits like on the points and saddles, you will catch a bunch of bass, even a few Channel Catfish while pitching. Because this technique can be so productive you will need to carry plenty of bait. Generally you can only pitch the Herring a couple of times, so they will not last long, and if the bite is good you can easily use several dozen baits. A couple of things to remember on this pattern. As you let the Herring swim around, keep your rod tip low. Mend the line if needed, and be aware that the Herring is usually not where you envision it to be. Try and keep enough slack out of the line so you will know where your bait is. Circle hooks are great for this technique, so when the fish loads it up, DO NOT set the hook. Just reel and life your rod tip until the line gets tight. It is common for the Stripers will grab the Herring and run straight at you. This is where “reeling and lifting” will be better than a “hook set”. If the fish is coming at you, and you set the hook, you probably will not get enough slack out of the line to drive the hook home. By reeling and lifting, and keep reeling until the line is tight, you increase your strikes to hook up ratio substantially!
Weiss Bass: (courtesy of Mark Collins, Mark Collins Guide Service) — Bass fishing is good, and most have moved to the spawning bays on secondary points and road beds. Spinner baits, crank baits are catching fish.
Weiss Catfish (courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant) — Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water. Cut bait is working best.
WEST POINT LAKE
West Point Bass (courtesy of Keith Hudson, Keith Hudson’s Lake West Point Guide Service) — Good. April is usually my favorite month for all types of fishing in general. The weather is usually beautiful and fairly consistent. Bass can be caught on several different patterns. Top water baits such as Pop R’s, Zara Spooks and Buzz Baits can be extremely effective for shallow and aggressive pre-spawn and spawning fish. The second pattern that works really well is to look for spawning shad. Try fishing rip rap around bridges with spinnerbaits, small crankbaits, and Zoom Superflukes. Additionally, some big tournament sacks of Largemouth are weighed in April by guys who sight fish, targeting fish that are locked on bed. A Yamamoto senko or Merthiolate Trick worm rigged weightless will do the trick. This can sometimes be an aggravating way to fish but can pay off in a tournament win. Lots of spotted bass spawn in April and are caught by just dragging a Carolina-rigged Zoom finesse worm or lizard around sloping gravel banks especially on the south end of the lake .This tactic normally works very well for numbers.
West Point Sunfish (courtesy of Keith Hudson, Keith Hudson’s Lake West Point Guide Service) — Good. Don’t forget about our bream & shellcracker for the next few months! Finding an active bed can take a little effort but when you do, you can have a ball. West Point has turned into a really good lake for some big shellcracker in the past few years. Bedding usually takes place on the full moon cycles in April & May. Look for shallow cover in the backs of pockets. Sandy flats & stump beds tend to draw the fish like a magnet. Use live pink worms, crickets and small jigs for the best results.
The Trout Switch (courtesy of Jeff Durniak, Angler Management; report via Unicoi Outfitters) — The trout switch is “on” up here as we really get into caddis and cahill season. Come late and stay late to take advantage of the evening bug activity and the resulting trout rises. A young Atlantan heeded my suggestion this week and enjoyed a great 30 minutes of Smith DH trout on top at sundown. You can, too.
But, before you crash into the stream and start casting, stop and WATCH first. Find a good, high spot on the riverbank and watch closely: for bugs and feeding fish. Be the eagle. Then you’ll have a much better chance to match the hatch and have your “eats” far outnumber your refusals.
Toccoa River Trout (courtesy of Perfect Fly) — Stream levels are still okay. We received three good reports from customers fishing the past week. Good hatches are taking place including Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Little Brown stoneflies and little Black Caddis.
(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)
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 20th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 14.2 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 8.9 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 10.5 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 11.4 feet and falling
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 11.5 feet and cresting
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.2 feet and falling
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 3.1 feet and falling
The river is still high and muddy, but it’s falling out some. Trevor Brown fished with his bass club out of Jaycees Landing (Jesup) and had trouble finding areas where the water wasn’t running through the woods…. But, as always happens, someone found them, and the winning weight was just over 11 pounds. 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 Tuesday, and it was high and muddy still.
Conditions are not ideal, but fish were caught this week. The best bite would be catfish and bass under these conditions. Expect panfishing to be slow until levels drop out more. 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
This is the river in the best shape for panfishing. I fished with Blake Edwards on Friday morning out of Traders Hill for just a few hours, and we caught 18 fish (mixed bag of panfish and a couple bowfin). Our biggest panfish were warmouth, but we also had a few nice redbreasts. We caught one big redbreast on a warmouth craw Satilla Spin and the rest on a 2-inch Keitech swimbait rigged on a weedless prototype swimbait head. The best colors were chartreuse-pearl belly and green pumpkin-chartreuse.
Fishing was very good in the swamp this week. Zane Gill and Noah Mitchell fished with a friend for a few hours on Saturday afternoon and caught 42 fish. Noah was a couple days shy of turning 16 years old, so he tried to catch a few GA DNR angler-award sized fish before he had to switch to the adult size categories (check out the Angler Award program). They started off pitching pink and yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies and caught some fliers right off the bat. Noah caught one big enough to earn an angler award on his second fish. Then they were off to fish for larger fish. They trolled and cast Dura-Spins for a bunch of bowfin and a chain pickerel (jackfish) just big enough to earn Noah a second angler award. During the feed, they caught several bowfin up to 8-lb., 2-oz.(Zane caught that one) and several in the 5-lb. range. Noah earned an angler award for one of those 5-pounders. He ended up catching 3 total angler awards that afternoon. The best color Dura-Spins were black/chartreuse-chartreuse blade, jackfish, and blood red. Staff from Okefenokee Adventures on the east side said that there were lots of folks chasing warmouth this week in the canals and that the bite has been fairly slow. Most folks he talked with only had a handful of fish per trip. That bite should improve over the next couple of weeks when the cooler nights are at a minimum. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.36 feet (down slightly).
A Blackshear angler fished an area lake on Saturday and trolled live bait for some big bass. He caught 7 bass up to 6 1/2 pounds. His biggest 5 fish weighed 19 1/2 pounds. The biggest bag I heard of this week was a Brunswick angler who caught 5 bass that weighed just shy of 21 pounds. They threw artificials for their fish. Jackson fished in a Tifton area pond on Saturday and caught and released a good mess of bluegills on red wiggler worms. The bream bite was good, but unfortunately, the bass bite was not. Jay Turner and his friend Gary fished a Savannah area lake on Wednesday and caught a bunch of fish. Most were small bass, but they also caught several hybrids and some giant bluegills. They caught a couple hybrids on small crankbaits, but the vast majority hit small 3-inch Keitech swimbaits on Zombie Eye Jigheads casted at shoreline cover. Their best colors were electric shad and shad-looking colors similar to that. Chad Lee fished ponds for a short time during his lunch breaks this week and had bass up to 3 pounds on topwaters. Shad colors worked best for him.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
The winds were better this week but tides were big and kept the water muddier than ideal. Capt. Greg Hildreth (georgiacharterfishing.com) said that the whiting bite has been good at the top and bottom of the tide (it’s easiest to keep your bait on the bottom when our 8-foot tides are not ripping in or out!). Shrimp on the bottom is the best way to catch them. The sheepshead bite on the offshore reefs has been his go-to lately when the winds allow him to get out. Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had a couple really good trips on Friday and Saturday around Brunswick before the tides ramped up. They fished the main river points in 4 to 8 feet of water and caught some really nice trout in the 15 to 20-inch range. They caught fish on paddle-tails and Gulp Swimming Mullet, but most of them ate live shrimp under Harper Super Striker Floats. He did target flounder this week and caught a half-dozen of them in the 12 to 15-inch range. Their surprise catches this week were pompano – they caught several of them. While not unheard of, they are a fairly rare catch in our area. He slid out Wednesday looking for tripletail and put eyes on a dozen fish, catching one keeper. They put a bait on one really big fish, but it would not eat. Winds will probably prevent tripletail fishing for the next few days, as it is supposed to kick back up. Tommy Sweeney poked around the ICW and creeks off it this week and got into some trout in the Brunswick area. He found trout wherever he found clear water, but there were lots of other boats that found that same clear water. He fooled his fish with artificials. I heard of some reports of decent fish being caught from docks in the Brunswick area this week. Most were sheepshead and black drum on shrimp and fiddler crabs. 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 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: 72 degrees and rising
- Water Visibility: 25+ in
- McDuffie PFA Fishing Guide
Waters across the PFA are warming up and relatively clear right now. This makes for great visibility to see where fish are moving. Bass having been moving along dams regularly but are skittish with the visibility. The alligator weed on Jones, Bridge, and Clubhouse, as well as the large stumps on Bream Buster are reliable bass hangouts. Regulars still swear by the black trick worms for quality bass. Bream can easily be seen working their beds. As we near the full moon, these are going to be hot spots of activity. Look in the sandy spots, particularly in the coves on Bridge Lake and all-around Bream Buster. Black soldier fly worms, red wigglers, and crickets are always good bets for bream. What we affectionately call trash pond, near the archery range, is turning into a sweet little bream spot. Kayakers brave enough to put it near the culvert will have a blast working near the abundance of vegetation, especially near the upper end of that pond. For anglers hoping to catch one of our pond stripers, they have been biting fiercely from the Clubhouse dock and near the siphon closest to Bream Buster. They are hitting aggressively on large balls of chicken livers.
Reservoir Fishing Reports Below Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Fish the sunny coves in wind protected pockets. If the wind is up, go to the mid lake pockets and banks. Find the warmest water you can. Zoom Super Flukes in pearl and the Shad Rap crank baits on rocks and wood is working. The Chatterbaits in all white and a spinnerbait with bright blades in stained water, gold and silver in clear water are working. There are lots of fish on points and around all the lakes docks. These fish are in manmade and the natural cover and they will bite live or artificial lures. Presentations early should be slow and work the baits all the way back to the boat. Work small worms on any of the main lake rocky points on a light Texas rig. Continue to use the finesse style green worms on a Texas rig. Some locations to work on early and late each day will be the main lake reef markers. Small to medium chrome and blue top water lures can draw the spots but the key is to move around and make only a few casts to each location. Try the Berkley Digger in Irish Gold Blue Chartreuse. Slow down with a Carolina rigged Trick Worm or centipede worm. Shaky head worms, drop shot worms, and jigs worked slowly on docks in blowdowns and brush will be the key to the next couple of months.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS 1.02 FEET 0VER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The spinner bait bite is great. Use the Realis V Tailshad 3 and 4 inches for spinner baits, jigs, Alabama rig, and Ned rig. The Carolina rig will get lots of bites and use a 3-foot leader and a Zoom green lizard in a 6-inch size. The lower end of the lake around the Keg Creek area and Modoc Shores are some good places to fish this week. The water here seems to be a little clearer. Lipless Crank Baits are also catching some of the nicer bass. Good baits to use include a 3/8-ounce Terminator Spinner Bait in the white/chartreuse color, Rapala Clackin’ Raps and a Rapala DT6 in hot mustard and Shad colors. Use the Molix Jigs Live Skirt Systems 3/8 and ½ ounce sizes. The water is a little warmer there and good-sized bass are on the bed. This is where the Lowrance Heat Map feature on your map can help anglers find the warmest water fast.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Richland Creek and the main lake are clear, north of the 44 bridge is stained. The fish are in the coves and creeks. The middle of the coves is a good starting place. Small crank baits are drawing some strikes around docks. You can now look for fish in the back of the coves and creeks. Small shallow running jerk baits have been very good over the past week. Sugar Creek is a great creek to fish now. The shad have started to spawn on rip rap around the bridges and on sea walls. This is a great opportunity to fish a spinner bait on the sea walls and rip rap at first light.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. Black buzz baits in the morning and spinnerbaits in chartreuse and white are working well. A buzz bait in the grass early has also been producing. Little Earl crank baits and Rat L Traps are other moving baits to try. Docks and blowdowns fished with Ole Monster worms in June bug and black emerald and a trick worm on a shaky head in the same colors are producing. Also try a Senko in various colors or a weightless Trick worm in methiolate or bubblegum shallow. Use the Realis V Tailshad 3 and 4 inches for spinner baits, jigs, Alabama rig, and Ned rig. A Carolina rig with a short leader and a lizard will be hard to beat. Look for hard sand and hard bottoms as the key to finding the beds. Fishing a buzz bait or spinnerbait is another tactic. If you get a bump or blow up that does not hook up, cast right back with a Senko or Trick Worm, and let it fall.
LAKE JACKSON IS 1.5 FEET OVER FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. There are still fish in shallow coves and pockets now and should be back out on points and humps by the end of the month as the water warms up. To begin the month, use double willow leaf spinnerbaits and shad colored Shad Raps or Bandits. Try a Yamamoto Cowboy jig. Use the spinnerbaits, jigs, Alabama rig, and Ned rig. Weightless worms like a Senko skipped under docks and blowdowns can bring a lot of strikes, as well. Toward the end of the month, use crankbaits or Carolina rigged u tail worms and lizards on secondary points. Flipping lizards or jigs with Zoom Super Chunk trailers can find some big post spawn fish. Look for the shad to begin their spawn near seawalls, and throw the spinnerbait or a top water bait, like a 1/2-ounce white Lunker Lure or a Pop R. The spots are on rocky points, flats and near deep docks. Fish the points from the Tussahaw down to the dam. Weightless flukes or green pumpkin Trick Worms on a SpotSticker are always good choices. The water is a little warmer in the coves and good-sized bass are heading off the bed. This is where the Lowrance Heat Map feature on your map can help anglers find the warmest water fast.