Do you know how to knot? Learning how to properly tie fishing knots helps make sure that your tackle stays on your fishing line. Check out the extensive and helpful “How To Tie Fishing Knots” webpage at TakeMeFishing.org.
NEWS TO KNOW:
- 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.
Gateway to Fishing: The new Gateway to Fishing mobile fishing trailers are now distributed across the state. The 10 trailers, purchased with grants from Bass Pro Shops, will provide countless opportunities to help host fishing events and educate anglers about fishing techniques and opportunities. Pictured are Boy Scouts from the Lake Allatoona area practicing their casting with loaner rods and reels before hitting the lake for some “real” fishing.
- Register Your Group!: Register your group for June Fishing Month 2023 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricultural Center. Four fully stocked ponds available. Registration deadline is May 19!
- Keeping it Social: A great way to keep up with ALL the wildlife news from Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division is to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, the Georgia Wild e-newsletter and Twitter!
This week, we have fishing reports from Southwest, North, Central and Southeast Georgia. Get that knot knowledge and get out there and Go Fish Georgia!
(Fishing report courtesy of Rob Weller, Fisheries Biologist and Region Supervisor with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
The big news on Lake Blackshear is the bream fishing. Excellent catches of both bluegill and shell cracker are common. The preferred baits are crickets, pond worms, and red wigglers. Try fishing around shoreline vegetation and cypress trees. The bream are bedding, so if you find one expect to catch more in the same area. Bass fishing is currently good, and they can be caught using soft plastics, spinner baits, and top water frogs.
LAKE WALTER F GEORGE
Largemouth bass fishing is currently good. Some bass are beginning to transition out of inshore areas to deeper water. The catfish fishing has begun to heat up as well and anglers using noodles have been having good success. The bream are also bedding and good catches of redear and bluegill have been reported. The crappie have begun to move deeper and can be caught with live minnows along the creek channels and deeper flats.
The redear have been spawning and there have been several reports of good catches. Look for bream beds in less than 4 feet of water. Spotting patches of light-colored sand among the vegetation is a good sign of bedding activity. A red wiggler fished under a cork is probably the most effective technique for catching bedded redear on Lake Seminole. Look for Crappie along the creek and river ledges. There have been reports of suspended fish being caught in 15- 20 feet of water in deeper areas of the lake. A live minnow is your best bet for catching schooling crappie. Bass are beginning to settle into their summer pattern. As the days become longer and warmer, early morning topwater frogs are a good choice.
The Flint River is dropping from the high spring flows we have had recently. Expect the bream and catfishing to really start heating up. My favorite bream baits for this time of year are beetle spins, crickets, and worms. Largemouth and shoal bass fishing should be good and there have been recent reports of a good number of thee and four pound shoal bass being caught.
The following USGS gauges of river level may be useful when planning your next fishing trip:
SILVER LAKE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
Numerous large shell crackers were collected during a sample of Panic Pond at Silver Lake PFA this past week. Bream fishing should be good in most ponds on the area. Preferred fishing methods include crickets and worms under a float and beetle spins.
BIG LAZER PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Surface water temperature: 67°F
- Water visibility: Visibility is about 26”
- Water level: 3” Below Full Pool
- Big Lazer PFA Fishing Guide
In general, May water temperatures at Big Lazer have warmed up and so has the fishing. May and early June are one of the best times to fish Big Lazer PFA because spawning fish move into shallower water. Also, early summer is a great time to not only fish but also picnic at Big Lazer with the whole family.
Largemouth Bass: Good – bass fishing is pretty good right now. We recently sampled many largemouth bass about 5-10 feet off the bank and in 4 to 6 feet of water. Bass will be finishing spawning and switching their focus to feeding. Try throwing spinners and crankbaits in about 4-6 feet of water. Fishing plastic worms and lizards near spawning beds could still produce decent bites. You may have luck by locating feeding shad near the banks and throwing a crankbait or spinner in the area.
Crappie: Fair – The crappie bite has slowed some over the last two months. 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. Fish for crappie deeper than you do for bass.
Bream: Good – We have had some good reports of bream catches lately. May is traditionally a great time to fish for bream on bed. Look for bream beds in the backs of shallow coves. Red worms and crickets are still your best bet for bream. Woody structure and areas near the pier may produce some good bites.
Catfish: Good – Catfish fishing is improving and should continue to do so. Try using livers or worms at or near the bottom. Woody structure as well as the riprap near the dam may be your best bet for a good cat. Many large channel catfish were recently stocked in the big lake (10lbs and up).
(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. Shad are spawning and the hungry post-spawn bass are feeding up. Finding rip rap and rocky shoreline is key. The shad spawn bite good from daylight till 9:00. Small poppers and walking baits like the Spro dawg are great. The drop shot tipped with a big bite shaky squirrel is great for fish that have pulled out and are not feeding on top. If the wind is blowing in the morning, fish main lake points with a ½ ounce Davis Spinnerbait in the Spot Chaser color. If it is calm, cast a Bonnie 95 top water bait or a Super Spook Jr. in Shad colors to these same points. As the morning progresses, try casting a 1/8 ounce Shaky Head tipped with a Net Bait Finesse Worm. The hot color this week seems to be Table Rock. There are fish in the backs of the creeks by casting a Zoom Trick Worm in White or Bubble Gum color. Cast this bait to any cover or docks. To catch fish on a crank bait, fish after dark on steep rock banks with a Norman DLN in Raspberry color. Use a stop and go retrieve to these banks. Cast a black colored, single Colorado Bladed Spinner bait on these same areas and use the Punisher Short Arm. On the nights when the spinner bait or crank bait will not produce, slow down and fish a ¼ oz. Davis Paca Jig in the Grass Craw color. Tip this bait with a black Paca Chunk.
Hartwell Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is fair. There are still many fish very shallow in the backs of creeks and pockets. A small jig head and worm combo will catch these fish as will a fluke. The main lake fish are moving up shallower on the points and humps and are also spawning in those same places. In many of the same type areas the spots are spawning the shad are spawning as well. Use the fish head spin, spinnerbait wake, bait jerk bait and a fluke. Also, top water baits such as a popper are starting to work as are many other options. Use the Bass Patrol 3/8 ounce jigs with Mustad Hooks. Throw these baits when schooling fish that pop up. The dock bite is good and the Weedless Wonder heads worm combos Senko s or a fluke around the docks are working.
Lanier Bass (Report Courtesy of Phil Johnson via www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is good. The lake is at full pool and the water temperature is right around sixty-five degrees. There is some stain to the water from the recent rains and it seems that most of the floating dangers are gone. Bass fishing over the last few days has been up and down. The high winds we have had haven’t helped as at times some of the lake is simple unfishable. Several baits have been working though with most of the fish being in less than fifteen feet of water. The pearl fluke fished weightless around reef poles and on long rocky points has produced well. There has been some swimbait activity and the majority of these fish have come on the Slick Stick Pro series swimbait. When working the swimbait vary your retrieve and even put an occasional twitch in the action. We’re still catching bass on the three eight’s Pro Model Spotchoker with hologram blades and a two eight Keitech trailer. We’ve been working this bait in less than fifteen feet of water with a steady retrieve just off the bottom What do two guides do on their day off, they go fishing together. Had the pleasure of spending a morning with Jeff Nail and came away knowing how to do the pitch shot. This is a miniature version of the drop shot we all use in the winter. A six-inch leader with a one eight drop shot weight with a worm and you’re ready to go. The soft entry on presentation makes this a great bait for the finicky bass on Lake Lanier. The shakey head bite is still working with a three sixteenths head and either a senko or a trick worm. This bite has been mostly around rock or on the docks. Right now, you can’t cast to shallow. Look for the wave of bedding fish to show up on the upcoming full moon and be sure to take care to quickly release any bedding fish you catch. The bite is just going to get better over the two weeks as the water warms so get out and Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Crappie (Report Courtesy of Captain Josh Thornton via www.southernfishing.com) — Crappie are shallow, as far as I can tell the spawn is over for the most part the crappie should start moving back to deeper waters for the next few weeks check blow downs in shallow water. Look for shallow docks less than 20 feet deep as the crappie are suspending 5 15’ deep. Dark color jigs are working well I prefer black with a chartreuse tail or a solid dark purple jig. Minnows under a bobber set at 6 feet deep have been working well. 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.
Lanier Stripers (Report Courtesy of Buck Cannon of Buck Tails Guide Service) — Stripers on Lanier have moved up the rivers and the methods used are the planer board and flat lines have been the ticket. Blue backs and shad are the preferred bait. Water depth is around 25 to 35 feet deep. Pull the umbrella rigs at .05 to 1 mph. Use your electronics, locate the bait, and start your pull and you should have stripers near.
Lanier Stripers (Report courtesy of Tad Murdock of Georgia Wild Trout) — The spring striper fishing has been good and getting better. The shad spawn is just now taking off, making the first couple hours of daylight critical for being on the water. Look for points, preferably with rock, to congregate larger shoals of bait. The striper, and spotted bass, will not be far behind. I would recommend bringing some topwater setups along as well for the days the fish are moving too fast and don’t seem to want to get close to the boat. If you are covering new water and don’t know the typical places the shad/herring typically spawn, keep an eye out for herons. They will behave like seagulls during the shad spawn and clue you in on where the activity is happening.
Lake Nottely (Report courtesy of fisheries biologist Hunter Roop) — The Gainesville crew was sampling on Lake Nottely this week and we can share some insight that may help you direct your fishing effort for the remainder of May. The lake has filled and warmed quickly in the last two weeks—Nottely is now just under full pool and in the upper 60s – low 70s, whereas, two weeks ago the lake was 3 ft down and in the low 60s. This is key information because much of the littoral structure like blowdowns and undercuts and just now becoming accessible to the bass, and some largemouth are now settling in around cover to spawn while others are already post-spawn. The post-spawn fish are roaming boulder fields, points, and taking cover under docks. We observed good numbers of quality largemouth throughout the reservoir, although most were concentrated in the river pockets and backs of coves south of Jack’s or Deavertown ramps. The blueback herring have pulled up into the shallows in good numbers, and the spotted bass, stripers, and hybrids are taking full advantage. Flukes, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits are great tools to cover water for spotted bass feeding on schools of herring, and trolling live bait will be the best option to locate the striper and hybrids. There’s a great opportunity to catch hybrids on topwater in the mornings, especially in the embayment’s of Jack’s Creek, Poteete, and Conley Creek. Crappie seem to have moved out of the shallows already, except that some of the fresher blowdowns (i.e., still sporting some green vegetation) were holding a handful of crappie, and some of the largest crappie we sampled were pushing the 2 lb mark. Don’t forget to check out Nottely’s Fishing Forecast webpage, and consider targeting some of the fish attractors that the Union County High School Agriculture students installed with us this past winter (hint: look for the fish attractors just north of Canal Lake Boat Ramp). Good luck out there!
West Point Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good. The largemouth and spots are hitting top water all over the lake early in the mornings and late in the evenings. Watch and listen for surface action and for bass schooling and feeding right on the surface. During the day the bass are moving out on the points in 8 to 12 feet of water. This is a good learning bait in the Bass Patrol 3/8 ounce jigs with Mustad Hooks. Use a Carolina rigged worm or lizard in black grape and pumpkinseed. The points off the main lake close to Yellow Jacket Creek Whitewater Creek and Wedhadkee Creek are good places to fish. Keep moving within the first 15 minutes and move on to another point. Try the Champers Football jig and green pumpkin and a Zoom trailer.
Lake Weiss Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) –
- Bass: Bass fishing is good, and most are spawning. Plastic Lizards and worms are catching fish.
- Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair and they are spawning in the 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.
- Striped Bass: Striper fishing is poor and no reports in the last few weeks.
- Catfish: Catfish are biting in the bays and creeks in 8 to 15 feet of water and cut bait is working best.
NORTHWEST GEORGIA RIVER REPORT
Tugalo River: (Report courtesy of Gainesville angler Jack Becker aka Georgia Waterdog) — Last week I went up to the Tugalo River below Yonah Dam looking for gar in the backwaters. Last year I found gar up there this time of year and caught some big ones while sight fishing and using rope lures. It was too windy and overcast to sight fish, so I trolled small crankbaits in the main river for hybrids. I caught one nice hybrid, a few small white perch, and a nice shellcracker. The water was 61.7 F.
Striped Bass: (Report courtesy of Tad Murdock of Georgia Wild Trout) — Striper runs are in full swing on the Chestatee, Upper and Lower Chattahoochee, and Etowah Rivers. A float down any of these will produce a variety of fish species but the bigger stripers are present. Smaller baitfish imitations are best for getting bites, but don’t be afraid to go big if you’re looking for a trophy. Runs on the Coosawatee River and Nottely River, should begin soon as the water temps continue to rise. These runs will pick up as we get closer to June.
Trout Stocking (This report courtesy of trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson) — There is not a better time of year to fish for stockers. Trout stocking trucks have been rolling for over a month now and weekly stocked trout streams are great targets for catching some high-quality trout for dinner. Excellent flow and cool water in North Georgia creeks in rivers have trout spread out and eager to bite. Inline spinners work well, but crickets and worms are always a good bet too. Small hooks and light line are key. With brook, brown and rainbow trout ready for stocking in our hatcheries, the trout slam should be obtainable for those anglers willing to put in the extra effort and visit multiple waterbodies. For rules and submission form look HERE. Good luck and Go Trout Fish Georgia!
Delayed Harvest Streams (This report courtesy of trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson) — Georgia’s delayed harvest trout fishing is quickly coming to an end. These trout have been picked through and heavily pressured for the past several weeks. The finesse presentations will be best if you are unwilling to look for trout streams that may offer better opportunities. The streams should be just about completely cleared out after the weekend of the 14/15th. The additional pressure in the Delayed Harvest during this week may mean less pressure on the other stocked trout streams across the state.
Chattahoochee River Tailwater (Report courtesy of Tad Murdock of Georgia Wild Trout) — The trout fishing below the dam on Lake Lanier has been excellent for the past couple months. There is something for just about everybody. Small midges will always be the best way to attract bites from nearly every trout around. If you’re throwing bigger than a size 20 you can be sure you’re leaving trout behind, especially the wild browns. The river has been crowded on some afternoons during the week and around the clock on weekends. A ten-to-fifteen-minute walk will put plenty of distance between you and 80-90% of other anglers. A great challenge for experienced anglers is the dry fly bite. The midge hatches have been excellent in the mornings and following generation. The wild browns are very selective but can be fooled with a slow approach and good presentation. This video will demonstrate how I approach these fish eating on the surface. The number of trout to hand is far less than what you may see fishing seams with a euro rig or indicator setup but can be far more exciting. Steer clear of the dry flies on windy days. It’s a brutal process and typically more frustrating than anything else.
Wild Trout Streams (Report courtesy of Tad Murdock of Georgia Wild Trout) — The wild trout activity has picked up considerably in recent weeks. Whether your targeting brown trout, native brook trout, or wild rainbows, the fish have been slower in the mornings and get more active as the day progresses. I have seen several sizable (for Georgia) hatches in recent weeks. Yellow Sallies, golden stoneflies, grannom caddis, Sulphurs, and PMDs have been the bugs I have seen the most in recent weeks. Dry Flies continue to produce well on these streams and should continue until December. However, small patterns have still been outshining the large patterns and it’s not quite time to put away the nymph boxes on chilly mornings. This should stay the same until later in the month or June when the trout will begin favoring the big bugs more.
New Georgia Trout Slam: If you have the skill to successfully catch all three species of trout (brook, brown, rainbow) in Georgia within a calendar year, consider giving the Georgia Trout Slam a try. All successful submissions will receive a Georgia Trout Slam Sticker and be entered into a drawing for an annual grand prize. Program details can be found HERE.
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.
SMALL RESERVOIR REPORT
North Georgia Small Impoundments (Report courtesy of Gainesville angler Jack Becker aka Georgia Waterdog) — I follow the Weekly Georgia Trout Stocking report every week and made a trip to a small North Georgia Mountain Lake that is open to kayaks & boats with an electric motor only. I invited a friend that moved here from out of state to see if we could catch some trout for the frying pan. We got a late start and arrived around 1 o’clock. Light wind and cloudy skies made for a comfortable afternoon. We started out slow trolling inline spinners, kastmasters, joe’s flies and small Crankbaits in hot perch, fire tiger and clown color at .5 mph. It didn’t take long to start catching them. In the next 3 hours we kept 2 limits of trout and 7 perch. Another good day on one of my favorite small lakes.
Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area (Report courtesy of fisheries biologist Jackson Sibley) — While the bass spawn is mostly over in north Georgia’s lower elevation reservoirs, the bite is still hot. Fish are likely to be scattered across the lake right now but feeding strongly near brush piles, rock dams, and shelves. I’d wager that Sunday’s overcast and prefrontal conditions may provide your best bet to get acquainted with Rocky’s famed bass population this week. Get out at first light to catch the topwater bite and transition to deeper presentations in the late morning and afternoon.
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 website.
- 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.
(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 Courtesy of Southern Fishing with Ken Sturdivant.
LAKE RUSSELL IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The water is warm, and this is driving the bream and perch into the shallows. The shad are also now moving back into the shallow water and will soon spawn. Shallow running Shad Raps in the Perch and Shad colors are working. The early morning and late evening bite is good. Slow down mid-day and use the Net Bait Paca Chunk and Paca Bug 3/8-ounce Alabama craw Black neon and Okeechobee 3-inch and Sapphire craw. Small cuts and coves seem to be the favorite places to fish. Top water Chug Bugs and Pop R’s are working in the creeks early in the morning. Follow any missed strikes with a spinnerbait. On the bright sunny days after the sun comes up over the treetop’s, anglers are finding the bass holding tight to cover and hard to catch. This is the time to use those plastics and jigs. Texas rigged lizards near wood piles seem to be working the best.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS 1.0 FEET 0VER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The bass have been biting the best on the windy days. Grass lines are still a good bet for this week. Slow down mid-day and use the Net Bait Paca Chunk and Paca Bug 3/8-ounce Alabama craw Black neon and Okeechobee 3-inch and Sapphire craw. Try a variety of baits along the edges of the grass like the Ito Vision 110 jerk baits. Use the #5 jointed Shad Raps in the early morning hours. Keep the baits moving and change up often. Also try a Thunderdog top water bait on secondary points and flats.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The lake is stained up the rivers, the main lake is clear. The shad spawn is in full swing. First light head to the rip rap. White spinner baits fished on the rip rap will produce. Keep a small crank bait as a backup. Find the spawning shad on sea walls and around lights. A 6-inch Zoom green pumpkin lizard fished on a Texas rig in brush around and under docks will also produce. There are still some bass spawning as well as post spawn fish moving out of the back of the coves and pockets. Get ready, the buzz bait bite is about to start up any day.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is great. Early mornings have been best for both numbers and quality. Start the morning with moving baits and cover water. Top water baits such as a white buzz bait or white popper have been great around concrete sea walls and wood targets in the Oconee River. A weightless Trick worm has also been good up shallow around wood cover, sea walls, and docks in the river. Later in the morning and throughout the day try a chartreuse and white Tru Trac Lures spinnerbait or a Spro Little John crank bait in these same areas. Continue using these moving baits all day if it remains cloudy. If the sun comes out start flipping a Texas rigged Zoom baby brush hog in June bug color around logs and docks. When Georgia Power is moving water run to Crooked Creek Bridge or Little River Bridge and cast a Spro Little John crank bait and light Texas rigs to the rip rap banks. Take advantage of the current by fishing the rip rap points and bridge pilings as post spawn fish try to fatten back up after the spawn. Numbers of smaller fish can also be caught in the clearer creeks on the lower end of the lake by fishing shaky head worms in green pumpkin color around the docks.
LAKE JACKSON IS .68 FEET OVER FULL, 60’S
Bass fishing is fair. Look for the shoreline bank structure and fish the pockets with a Trick worm in green pumpkin and watermelon green. Look specifically for the pockets with sand and clay. Good bait to use is the Champers Football jig and green pumpkin and a Zoom trailer is the choice. A Sworming Hornet Dude in pearl white, frogs, spinnerbaits, and jig head worms are working well for these fish. As far as the main lake, the spotted bass are on every shoal marker that has sand or rock around it. Jerk baits, flukes, and shaky heads are taking these fish. Look for the shad spawn to be a major factor in the next few weeks. It has already started but is not in full swing yet. Keep a Zoom pearl Super Fluke rigged and use it every place the boat stops. Cast the Booyah jigs in the 3/16-ounce black and blue and add a matching Zoom twin tail trailer.
(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)
This is a great weekend to hitch up the boat. The rivers are falling to fishable levels, the swamp is firing on all cylinders, and saltwater is beginning to warm up (and tidal heights are better this weekend). It’s time to go!
River gages on May 11th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 5.2 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 6.1 feet and falling
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.7 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 6.7 feet and falling
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 9.1 feet and falling
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.1 feet and rising
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 2.1 feet and steady
The river dropped out last week, and reports have been great. I had a couple of reports of excellent redbreast catches from the middle river and then Stan Rhodes sent in a photo of a cooler of beautiful redbreasts he and some friends caught in the upper river. They caught 67 panfish (mostly redbreasts but also some bluegill, warmouth, and crappie) on bumblebee and crawfish Satilla Spins, crickets, and crawfish. Take note that the Highway 129 Bridge boat ramp will be closed beginning May 22nd. It will be closed for a couple months while the ramp and parking area are rebuilt.
Jamie Hodge had the best panfish report I heard of this week. He caught 30 panfish (bluegill, warmouth, shellcrackers) on Friday in the Altamaha backwaters. Pink worms and catalpa worms fooled them. The river is still a little off-color, but it’s fishable. Fish better learn to eat in muddy water in that river system or they would starve to death…. I heard of a couple decent reports of 4 to 20 bass per trip from the Ocmulgee this week. Most were caught with crankbaits or Texas-rigged worms. Some bass are still spawning in the backwaters, so look for activity near the edges and cast to the disturbance.
The river dropped out a bunch this week, and folks started catching panfish. The water is still slightly stained, but it’s getting right in the upper river. This is a great weekend to try for panfish. The level should be high enough to be able to poke around in a boat and only have to get out and drag a little bit. The water is warming enough that the fish should bite well. I got reports of some decent redbreast catches, but nothing more than about 20 to 25 fish per trip so far. I expect the reports to be much better in next week’s report.
Tyler Finch tried for panfish this weekend but it just wasn’t happening. The fluctuating water levels had the fish in flux! A few catfish was all he could muster.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river is still in great shape, and catches have reflected it. Brentz McGhin and Tim Bonvechio had a great day on Saturday. They fished crickets and beetlespins to catch several dozen redbreasts, bluegill, and warmouth. The couple dozen fish they kept were all bigger than hand-sized. Matt Rouse walked the upper St Marys bank for a short time on Wednesday and got a few decent crappie to hit a plastic crawfish lure. Shady Bream Tournaments held a Thursday evening “working man tournament” last Thursday evening and had 9 boats participate. Daniel and Darwin won first place (6.74lbs) and big fish (0.90lbs). They will be holding a co-ed tournament on May 27th, so check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook for more details.
Warmouth fishing was mediocre from the reports I received (around a dozen per trip for those targeting them), but the pickerel and bowfin bites have been excellent. Jim Spencer came up from south Florida to meet his friends Tersh and Michael from Charleston to fish the east side on Friday and Saturday. The crew had about 40 pickerel (jackfish), 20 bowfin, and a few fliers and gar. They fished the canals and prairie lakes with fly and spinning gear. Most of their jackfish were in the 12 to 18-inch range. Yellow/white, red/yellow, and white/chartreuse Clouser minnows were the top flies. He was trying to reclaim his 8-pound tippet world record from 2010 but fell just shy. His biggest was a 28-incher that he thought would be big enough, but it was only about 8 pounds on his certified scale. He and his buddies flung white-olive, chartreuse, and pink Mepps spinners and jackfish Dura-Spins for some of their fish. Chuck Dean and Jake Duncan trolled and cast fire tiger-silver blade, jackfish, and black/chartreuse Dura-Spins on the east side Saturday morning until noon and landed 40 fish (including 4 pickerel). Most were bowfin, and their biggest was 9-lb., 2-oz. Marcus and Anna Lloyd fished the east side on Sunday and caught 53 bowfin. Their biggest was 3 pounds, and they caught them with white-red and fire tiger-chartreuse blade Dura-Spins. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.30 feet. The creeks that feed into the swamp along Swamp Road and down Hwy 84 toward Homerville produce some good catfishing when then drop out. Shane Barber fished off the bank in one of the creeks this week and brought home 30 bullhead catfish. He fooled them with crawfish, shrimp, and worms.
A Brunswick angler fished for 2 hours in a Brunswick pond on Friday morning and caught 10 bass and lost another half-dozen fish. His biggest 5 fish weighed 20 pounds. Crankbaits (shad-colored) worked best for him. The fish are feeding up in a strong post-spawn mode. Chad Lee fished some Alma area ponds this weekend and landed more than 40 bass. Most were in the 2 to 3 pound range. Senkos, hollow-bodied frogs, spinnerbaits, and buzzbaits fooled them. Jay Turner fished a Savannah area pond and caught a few channel catfish on a white Gulp Minnow pegged on a Zombie Eye Jighead and some smaller bass on a green pumpkin frog Keitech Noisy Flapper. Later in the weekend he fished another pond and caught some nice bass up to 4 pounds on the same Keitech topwater and then switched to a mullet-colored Paul Brown Softdine XL and caught a dozen nice bass up to 5 pounds.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) had some great trips this week. He smashed the trout on Tuesday with live shrimp under floats set 6 to 10 feet deep. They kept 24 trout that day. On Thursday morning they fooled a bunch of trout with mullet-colored paddletails rigged on Zombie Eye Jigheads and gold flake DOA shrimp in 6 to 12 feet of water. They had a limit of trout in less than 2 hours with those lures. They also had a handful of oversized redfish in the 24 to 27-inch range this week mixed in their catch. Whiting fishing has been consistent but not off the chain. The best bite has been around low water in the 18 feet range in the rivers. The beach and sounds have been too rough with the winds. He suggested going this weekend before the water warms and the “other” fish arrive (sharks, croakers, stingrays, catfish, etc.). An angler fishing the Brunswick area on Saturday reported catching a limit of sheepshead on fiddlers. His fish were up to about 13 inches. Steve Hampton fished the Jekyll Island Pier on Wednesday, and he had the only 2 keepers caught on the inside of the pier. He fooled a 14-inch flounder and a 17-inch trout with a Hoodwink plastic (flounder with a white and the trout with a chartreuse color). For some current flounder information from the piers, check out Flat Fish Fanatics on Facebook. Tommy Sweeney had some good trout catches this week in the waterways behind Jekyll and Cumberland Islands. He caught them with Keitech swimbaits rigged on 1/8-oz. Zombie Eye Jigheads. Capt. Greg Hildreth (georgiacharterfishing.com) had some good charters this week and caught a bunch of trout. He said that the water is improving coming off last week’s big tides, and the trout have responded. All of his fish were caught with live shrimp suspended under a Harper’s Super Striker Float in 4 to 6 feet of water. 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).