Tis the season for some kind of outdoors event each weekend, right? When deciding what to do, be sure to add in some events that help inform and teach your kids (and you!) about different types of outdoor recreation and activities. When you go to these events, pay attention to what really interests you and/or what your kids gravitate towards…is it the fishing pond or the archery booth or the live wildlife? Maybe take that as a sign to pursue those activities a little more this year.
- Great Outdoors Day on the Atlanta BeltLine: (Sat. May 6, 10 am – 1 pm): will feature interactive exhibitions from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, including live wildlife, archery, Gateway to Fishing casting lessons, and numerous other family-friendly activities highlighting outdoor activity and local wildlife. Between demonstrations, stop by booths for information on fun summer activities. Atlanta conservation organizations, such as Trees Atlanta, The Nature Conservancy, and Greening Youth Foundation, will also be in attendance to share the work local groups are doing to protect our air, water, land, and wildlife. Find out more at the Atlanta BeltLine website.
- Keeping Georgia Wild Family Festival: (Sat. May 20, 2023, 9 am – 2 pm): Free admission includes an array of activities that focus on Georgia wildlife, conservation, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Kids can try archery, fishing, shooting sports, and solar viewing with the Charlie Elliott Astronomy club. There will be outdoor exhibitors, live animal presentations, arts and crafts, prizes and more. Attendees will also get to enjoy a free hot dog lunch (while supplies last). Find out more HERE.
- Family and Kids Fishing Events: Family and Kids fishing events are held throughout the year and offered across the state on public and private waterways. They typically take place at a location with a successful catch rate to make the experience even better for new anglers. Many events have on-site volunteers to help those who are new to fishing. Some events even offer additional options, such as lunch or snacks, prizes and educational information. Find an event near you by checking our Event Calendar. Oh, and here are some great resources for fishing with kids.
This week, we have fishing reports from Southeast, North and Central Georgia. Whether you are fishing at a special event or festival, or just headed out with your best fishing buddies, we are glad that you choose to Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Bert Deener, Region Supervisor and fisheries biologist with Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Well, before this evening’s deluge I would have said that we’re about to have some of the hottest fishing of the year in our rivers. Now that is all probably done for the time being, as I had almost 3 inches in my rain gage with more to come Thursday evening. We’ve had several river record fish of different species recorded over the last couple of weeks. Saltwater and the Okefenokee bites should be good.
River gages on April 27th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 8.2 feet and falling
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 5.8 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.6 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 9.4 feet and rising
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 9.9 feet and rising
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.1 feet and rising
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 2.3 feet and rising
Full Moon is May 5th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website HERE. For the latest marine forecast, click HERE.
The catfishing on the lower river is your best bet this week. With the water dropping, you should find a few places in the oxbows where the water isn’t flowing through the woods if you want to fish for bass or panfish.
Conditions have improved this week, and you should be able to catch some panfish in decent numbers this week if the forecasted end of the week rains aren’t too bad. The water temperatures are still a little cool, so expect to have to fish slowly to catch them. The Satilla Riverkeeper’s annual Fishing Tournament was held from April 15-24th. Check them out on Facebook or their website at (satillariverkeeper.org/tournament) for tournament results.
Tyler Finch got back on the river this weekend, as it had dropped out some. The panfish weren’t doing anything, so he set limb lines baited with Sandy’s Catfish Soap. The whiskerfish were cooperative, and he caught 50 of them over the couple days. Most were a couple pounds – perfect to filet, but a couple looked to be pushing 6 or 8 pounds.
ST. MARYS RIVER
This is still the river in the best shape for panfishing. Chris Stephens and some fishing buddies fished and camped on the St Marys this weekend and had a great catch using Satilla Spins. The best colors were chartreuse snowflake and chartreuse bruiser, and their catch included redbreasts, bluegills, crappie, bass, and warmouth. One of their warmouth was a giant. Way to go, guys! A couple of Blackshear anglers fished the tidal St Marys on Saturday with crayfish, crickets and artificials and had a good catch. They kept 5 big bluegill, 2 shellcrackers, a pair of redbreasts and a warmouth but caught many small fish and released them. They fished the crawfish and crickets on 1/16-oz. Zombie Eye Jigheads.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Capt. Greg Hildreth (georgiacharterfishing.com) had a great charter on Monday morning. His crew caught more than 30 trout with 8 really nice fish. They caught them in 4 to 5 feet of water on live shrimp. Steve and Brenda Hampton fished the Jekyll Pier this week. They caught a few throwbacks, and Brenda had the catch of the trip – a 15-inch flounder that ate a mudminnow. 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).
It’s hard to find better fishing than the swamp if you just want to set the hook and fight fish. Chuck Dean fished the east side on Friday and had a blast catching 24 fish. He accidentally left his Dura-Spin box in his garage, so he only had one of them (a fire tiger-silver blade model). He trolled the canal and caught 17 bowfin before it broke and he had to try something different. He flung some other lures and caught a few and then put on a buzzbait while he trolled back to the landing. Several bowfin ate the black-gold blade buzzbait while “waking” in on the way back in. His biggest bowfin of the trip was 4-lb., 7-oz. I fished the east side for just 2 hours on Saturday afternoon and pitched a fire craw-colored 2-inch Keitech Swimbait on my new weedless Micro Swimbait Head made with a Gamakatsu sickle-shaped hook. It is weedless, so you can pitch it right in treetops. I caught 32 fish during that short trip. Half were warmouth up to 11 inches and the other half were bowfin up to about 4 1/2 pounds. I was using the 1/16-oz. version, but the 1/8-oz. model will be great for rivers when they drop out to fishable levels. Chuck Dean fished the east side on Thursday morning and caught 31 fish. He trolled Dura-Spins for a bunch of bowfin up to 6.5 pounds. Fire tiger – silver blade was his best color. He also flung a fly for a little bit for 2 fliers. A Waycross angler fished the west side (Fargo) on Thursday before the storms and had a banner day. He caught 59 fish total, including bowfin, jackfish, fliers and a big stumpknocker. He pitched 2-inch Keitechs on Micro-Swimbait heads for the panfish and trolled and cast Dura-Spins for the bigger fish. His biggest jack was about 26 inches and biggest bowfin was 6-lb., 8-oz. Blood red and jackfish were the best color Dura-Spins for him, but he also caught a few on crawfish-orange blade and black/chartreuse-chartreuse blade. A Homerville resident reported catching 12 fish (jacks, bowfin, and warmouth) on Thursday on the Fargo side. A Fargo angler fished earlier this week with a Satilla Spin and caught some really big warmouth by pitching it around cypress trees. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.18 feet (down slightly). At this level you can still get around ok in a small boat, but don’t be surprised if you bump limbs or peat every now and then.
Jay and Drew Turner fished a Savannah area pond on Saturday and did really well for catfish. He threaded a Gulp Minnow on an 1/8-oz. Zombie Eye Jighead and slowly worked it along the bottom. They had a couple dozen channel catfish and a couple big bluegills. On Sunday, Chuck and Jennifer Dean loaded up and fished a local lake for catfish. They grabbed some old deer summer sausage from the freezer and cut it up into small chunks for bait and wore out the channel catfish. They ended up catching 40 in 2 hours of fishing. Jason Blair took some sallies home from a recent trip to the Okefenokee. He has been using them in his pond in north Georgia, and he caught some big bluegill on the pink sally this week.
(Fishing report courtesy of John Damer, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
Lake Lanier Sampling Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — The Gainesville crew was out on Lanier last week to conduct annual spring sampling of black bass, bream, and crappie. Bass abundance overall was solid despite the 30-degree swings in air temperature between the morning lows and the afternoon highs. By noon, water temperatures were approaching the mid-60s and bass numbers would predictably improve. Bass size was mostly average across all stations, 1-2 lb Largemouth were common, although some 4-6 lb specimens were also handled. Alabama Bass were abundant throughout the reservoir, gravitating to rocky shoreline with high relief, and were captured anywhere between 10 ft to 2 ft. As usual, abundance and size of Alabama Bass were good, and a healthy number of 4-5 lb fish were sampled throughout the week. Bass were found among large schools of spawn-ready blueback herring, so using a fluke, swimbait, jerkbait, or topwater presentation like a Gunfish can work well this time of year. The back of Four-Mile held some monster photo-worthy redear sunfish (aka “shellcracker”) that weighed in well over 1 lb. Crappie abundance was weak at the beginning of the week, but the warming trend towards the end of the week brought the crappie shallow over submerged brush and in the blowdowns. Tossing a hair jig, plastic jig, or live bait over these structures in 10 feet of water or less will be the ticket for catching slab crappie over the next few weeks.
Lake Lanier Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Phil Johnson, 770-366-8845 via www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Lanier is .66 feet over full, in the 60s. Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. The lake level is near full pool and the water temperature is near sixty. A little warmer up the lake than down the lake. The fish are in all stages of spawning right now with some already spawned and others preparing to on the next full moon. A variety of baits are working so it’s a great time to be on the water and fish your favorite technique. The top water swimbait bite seemed to slow down with the cooler night temperatures we have had but there are still fish to be caught that way. We’ve been throwing Red Fins, shallow running jerk baits and the Slick Stick Pro Series on flats and reef poles to catch fish. It seems that while the fish are orienting to the flats you still need to have deep water (thirty feet) nearby. A lot of the fish have been suspended over the twenty to thirty feet of water and while they will react to a jerk bait they won’t take it. If you run into this just put on a Pro quarter ounce Spotshoker with a prism blade and a Keitech then count it down to them on the retrieve. Another bait that has been producing fish sis the fluke. It can draw a strike from the suspended fish as well as fish on docks and rock areas. Right now start the day working shallow to very shallow and then back out if you need to. The worm bite is still a very effective way to catch bass also. Both a green pumpkin worm on a three sixteenths shakey-head or a wacky rig worm are working well. Work the shakey-head on secondary rocky and red clay as well as all around a boat dock. For a wacky rig work the shallow rocky points and the banks leading into the pockets. As the water temperature heats up over the next week look for everything to break loose even more with top water coming alive. It’s a great time to be on Lanier so Go Catch “Em!
Lake Lanier Striper Report: (This report courtesy of Buck Cannon, Buck Tails Guide Service 404-510-1778 via www.southernfishing.com) — Lanier stripers have moved up the rivers and the methods used are the planer board and flat lines has been the ticket. Blue backs and shad are the preferred bait. Water temperature 66 to 67 degrees water depth is 25 to 35 feet deep. Pull the umbrella rigs. 05 to 1 mph. Use your electronics locate the bait and start your pull and you should have stripers near. Remember to wear life jackets.
Lake Lanier Crappie Report: (This report courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton, 770-530-6493 via www.southernfishing.com) — Crappie are still shallow, check blow downs in shallow water. Look for shallow docks the crappie are suspending under them at less than 10 feet. The majority of this week’s catch came from jigs dark colors. Minnows are getting very few but I always take them with me just in case. Crappie love the shade so cast into the shadows or shaded areas of dock. When dock shooting the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. I use ATX Lure Companies jigs on a Lip Thrashin Lure jig heads. I use ATX lure companies jigs on a lip thrashin lure jig heads. I use 5 pound test high visibility yellow k9 braid for my line unless I am using a bobber then it’s the k9 6 pound high vis line and a Acc crappie Stix. I use Garmin Live Scope and a Power Pole.
Lake Weiss Multi-Species Report: (This report courtesy of Mark Collins Guide Service 256-996-9035 via www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Weiss is 11 inches below full pool, light stained to clear, and 63-65 degrees. Bass fishing is good and most have moved to the spawning bays on secondary points and road beds. Spinner baits and crank baits are catching fish. Some fish are showing up on the spawning banks. Crappie fishing is fair, and 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. Some fish are starting to go shallow to spawn look for a big migration to the shallows next week. 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.
West Point Lake Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — West Point Lake is down 1.6 feet, in the 70s. Bass fishing is good. Now we are seeing more fish moving to points and humps as the water warms up. The spots and largemouth are feeding on the primary and secondary points, coves and pockets on major creeks down lake. Use Rat L Traps and buzz baits shallow with a double willow blade combination. Slow roll the spinnerbait around any cover on the points and in the coves and pockets. The important thing right now is to cover a lot of water. Trick worms and Super Flukes can work almost any time of the day and work the shallow wood cover and the shadows early and late.
Bear Creek Reservoir Sampling Report: (From Fisheries Biologist Hunter Roop) — WRD staff from the Gainesville office sampled Bear Creek Water Supply Reservoir near Athens this week. Water temps were in the upper 60s. Largemouth Bass were up shallow in all phases of spawning. Really good numbers of 8” – 10” shellcrackers were found on bed in the backs of creek and coves, and would make a good mess for dinner if you can get on them.
Lake Allatoona Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Allatoona is .68 feet over full, in the 60s. Bass fishing is great. This is a great time to try almost anything on the lake. The small Whopper Plopper has been hot and just reel it back and be ready as a hybrid make come along. There has been a good soft plastic bite for the past week or so. Shaky heady and Carolina rigs have been a good way to produce numbers of spotted bass. Big bite bait Shaky squirrel and the Big Bite are fighting frog in tilapia color/chartreuse tail have been the ticket. There may be another wave of shallow bass the first week of May also on the next moon. There are more schooling and feeding frenzy action so cast an all-white ½ ounce all white Rooster Tail as these fish move constantly and very rarely are the same place two days straight. Allow the wind direction to decide the areas where bait may be ambushed such as small wind-blown pockets and points. A Spro McStick jerk bait, Spro dawg and BB jerk minnow are great baits for schooling fish. Now the weather should stabilize, and warmer temperatures are coming.
Lake Hartwell Bass Report: (This report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant, www.southernfishing.com) — Lake Hartwell is .80 feet over full, in the 70s. Bass fishing is good. The lake is full pool. There are waves of bass spawning bass in the shallows and actively fanning the beds. Spinnerbaits are great and the Lucky Craft Redemption 3/8 ounce bait runs straight and true on every cast. Mix any color with white mixed in the skirt will work. Zoom Super Flukes in pearl and baby bass will work all day. During peak feeding times, the Spro McSticks and Shad Raps will catch fish all day. Use a Rapala X Rap in the olive green. This color looks just like the blue back herring found all over the lake. A steady retrieve seems to be working best. Use it just like a medium fast crank bait. Soft plastics are good, but anglers can cover more water with the other baits.
Northwest Rivers Striped Bass Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Our sampling efforts and recent angler reports suggest that now is a great time to hit the rivers of the Coosa basin in Northwest Georgia in search of big, hungry stripers. Striped bass, like the 24-pounder pictured, are finishing up their annual spawn and looking to bulk back up on shad. Your best bet is throwing live shad, but cut shad and shad-imitating lures may also do the trick. Try fishing the Coosa in Rome or head up the Oostanaula from the confluence all the way up above the Hwy 140 boat ramp in Armuchee. Some fish are also being found on the Etowah, but this river should get better later in the season.
Double Dry Tip: (This report courtesy Jeff “Dredger” Durniak at Unicoi Outfitters) — Double your Dark30 fun with double dries. It’s that time of the year when several orders of aquatic insects are hatching and then dancing at dark. For example, I watched cahills, March browns, BWO’s, and yellow stones buzz past me in the Monday afternoon sun. If you haven’t already, try giving these fish a choice, especially at dark. Run a first dry fly that’s larger and easy for you to spot in the dying light. Then change your dropper from the nymph or emerger to a second dry fly. Pick the two most common bugs you’ve seen, or the ones disappearing in surface swirls. One of my favorite combos right now is a cahill first, followed by a small tan caddis trailer. The caddis dropper can be easily twitched and skittered, too. Match both hatches and let the fish decide their dinner. Give the double-dry combo a try as soon as this rainy spell passes and the bugs come back out to play. Here is a nice Orvis video on the setup. Have fun this spring. Stop by either UO shop to stock up on our great imposters for the “hatch of the week.” And may you even score a doubleheader on your double dry rig. That will really test your tippet knots and netting skill! Check out Unicoi Outfitter’s regular “trout and more” fishing reports HERE.
Harlin’s First Trout: (From Fisheries Biologist Sarah Baker) — Harlin Watts proudly displays his first trout, and he sure looks happy about it. Way to go bud! Make some great memories and smiles with your loved ones and go trout fishing!
Make sure your fishing and trout licenses are up to date and visit the Trout page on the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division website to explore our interactive trout map. Grab a few yellow panther martins or white rooster tails. Cast them either upstream or downstream into pools, and reel back slowly in to attract a Rainbow Trout!
Stocked Streams Report: (From Fisheries Biologist John Damer) — Did you know we update the Trout Fishing page on our website every Friday afternoon with the latest stocking info? You can also sign up for automatic updates sent directly to you every Friday.
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 the 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)
Reservoir Fishing Reports Below Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass have made their move to points and underwater humps after the spawn. Some bass are still shallow so go after them with a white buzz bait and a white frog on the shallow, flat shelves and around the sandy areas. White spinnerbaits will be an excellent choice this week. Also, every angler has the Rapala #5 Shad Rap ready and these will work all day. Shad and olive green are great colors. Spotted bass are still roaming all over the lake chasing shad and a top-water bite should not be ruled out. Use a walk-the-dog style bait like a Whopper Plopper but use the small one. Keep the bait moving without stopping works best. Some bass will follow the bait all the way to the boat. Plastic worms are also working during the day. Brush piles and any wood around or near spawning areas must be fished this week. Trick worms in bright colors down lake are also fun and easy baits to use.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS .71 FEET 0VER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The lake is clear towards the middle and slightly stained up in the rivers and creeks. The water temperature is up and so are a lot of bass up shallow. This is a good time to plain junk fish, meaning use anything in the tackle box. Use a lot of baits to catch these shallow bass. Chug Bugs and small Cordell Red Fins are working on the cloudy days when a slight wind is present. On the points the 3/8 ounce and 1/2-ounce Luck Craft Redemption spinnerbaits; these baits will work on the larger bass but not catch as many. Bass are currently on the flats after the last full moon. Rapala Shad Raps and Bandits are great baits to use on the shallow water bass. Shallow Shad Raps will work for some quality fish. Next week bass will be after the Zoom pink trick worms and this is a great time to take a kid to the lake. Also use the Rapala DT6 crank bait on the outer edges of the points. Crawdad and shad are the best colors.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The shad spawn has continued, and the bass are after them. Fish will be feeding shallow around wood and rocks at first light. Look around any wood structure, or boat docks. Better get a Whopper Plopper and hang on. Spinner baits worked around the wood or docks has been the best producer over the past few days. White or white and chartreuse have been the best color. The Lowrance Structure Scan Down Scan new 3D technology can eliminate tons of water to find the bait, the structure, and the bass. Small crank baits fished around the docks will draw a strike. A chrome Rat L Trap and small Rapala Shad Rap #5 or #7 in fire tiger or shad color will work depending on watercolor. A Weedless Wonder head worked under the docks from the middle of the creeks to the back will also draw a few extra strikes.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.3 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass are feeding and watch the feeding tables to be fishing the right lures during the day. Many are still shallow in the coves and protected bays. With some stained muddy water, spinner baits have become the primary bait of choice. Seawalls, wood cover, grass, and walkways to docks are all holding fish at one to 5 feet deep. A 5-inch Senko in June bug or green pumpkin has been good all-day bait around the docks in Cedar Creek. If the bass miss other lures, use this bait and the bass will usually grab it right away. Crank baits and Rat L Traps are also still catching fish. A short leader Carolina rig with a lizard should be tried by anglers that would rather fish slowly. Use the Lucky Craft Redemption 3/8 to one-ounce spinner bait with double Colorado blades. In muddy water or low light conditions, copper blades work well. Gold or silver blades are the ticket in stained water or with bright skies. A single spin bait with a large Colorado blade emits more vibration, which is well-suited for muddy water. But this bait is less snag resistant and harder to retrieve through wood cover.
LAKE JACKSON IS .61 FEET OVER FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is good. Bass are scattered from one end to the other. Try the backs of the small creeks and coves with the crank baits. A lot of the spots and largemouth are still shallow and try crank baits in the shallow running variety. Try the Rapala Shad Raps in the crawfish color #7 Shad Raps and the deeper running ones like the Rapala DT10 in the hot mustard. Keep the line size down to the ten-pound range and keep the bait in the water. Top water action will start soon and have the small Chug Bugs and Pop R’s. Stay in the back of the coves for best results. The spots are still hanging out on the points but the most spots are running midway back into the creeks and coves. These spots are hitting a few of the spinnerbaits but the #5 Shad Rap is a good choice. Jigs are also working around a few of the boat docks, but it has to have a lot of wood in and around them to hold better fish. There is a good worm bite and a Zoom U tail worm on a light Texas rig is good; use the June bug color. Stay with the cranks for the limits and then try the jig or plastic after the midday point has arrived.
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