“Nature has the power to heal because it is where we are from, it is where we belong and it belongs to us as an essential part of our health and our survival.” Dr. Nooshin Razani
Did you know May was Mental Health Awareness Month? How can we can take care of our minds? I know – let’s go fishing! According to outdoors.com, fishing can help us do the following things to help improve our mental health: Take You Away from your Stressors; Connect You with Nature; Provide You with a Purpose; Force You to Find Stillness; Make You More Mindful; and Offers Opportunity to be Active. Check out the full article for more info on each of those topics.
NEWS TO KNOW
- Keeping GA Wild Family Festival: (Sat. May 20, 2023, 9 am – 2 pm): Free admission to the Keeping GA Wild Family Festival 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. Event will happen whether it is rain or sunshine, so come on and join us!
- Take a Kid Fishing! Do you remember the first fish you caught? Even if you don’t remember all the details, I bet you remember how it made you feel. You can help generate the same feeling for your kids when you bring them to a Family or Kids Fishing Event. Check out the Event Calendar to search for one near you this Spring or Summer. Can’t get to an event? Here are some great tips to help you have a successful trip fishing with younger ones.
- Boat Ramp Closure: The Georgia DNR boat ramp on U.S. 129/221 on the Alapaha River (Lanier County) will close for replacement on May 30, 2023. Duration will be approximately 8 weeks. During this time, boaters and anglers may access the Alapaha at the ramp at SR 168 (Berrien County). For info on other bot ramp closures or area closure, visit this Georgia DNR webpage.
This week, we have reports from Southeast, North and Central Georgia. We hope you find time to get outdoors and experience the healing power of nature. And, while you are there, be sure 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)
It should be another great week of fishing, but afternoon thundershowers are starting to factor into the equation. The Satilla didn’t get quite warm enough and it’s headed back up again. Other rivers are in pretty good shape, and the swamp is still great for pickerel and bowfin. The saltwater weekend weather forecast is pretty good at the time of writing this.
River gages on May 18th were:
- Clyo on the Savannah River – 8.2 feet and rising
- Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 5.5 feet and rising
- Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.6 feet and falling
- Waycross on the Satilla – 7.5 feet and cresting
- Atkinson on the Satilla – 6.5 feet and falling
- Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.4 feet and steady
- Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.3 feet and falling
- Fargo on the Suwannee – 1.9 feet and steady
I didn’t get any specific reports from the Alapaha this week but saw a few photos of decent catches. It’s low, so expect to drag. Paddle crafts are perfect for the river now. Take note that the Highway 129 Bridge boat ramp will be closed beginning May 30th. It will be closed for a couple months while the ramp and parking area are rebuilt.
Jamie Hodge put it on the panfish again Friday in the middle river. He fished the backwaters and caught 22 big bluegills and shellcrackers with pink worms and catalpa worms. The river is still a little off-color, but it’s fishable. Some bass are still spawning in the backwaters of the Altamaha and its tributaries, so look for activity near the edges and cast to the disturbance.
I got a great report from the Ogeechee this week. Even with the high, off-color water an angler caught 70 redbreasts by flinging a 3/16-oz. Satilla Spin (not sure which color). In the swift water, it took the larger size to get the lure down to the fish.
Reports were good from the Satilla and its tributaries this weekend but not really on fire yet. Most reports I had were 15 to 20 fish per trip. John and Lisa Morgan fished Wednesday in a tributary to the Satilla and caught 15 nice redbreasts by pitching lime green bugs. They fished Thursday and caught 7 panfish before the thunderstorms ran them off.
Tyler Finch fished the river this week and didn’t get anything going for panfish yet again, but he did catch some catfish on Sandy’s Catfish Soap. The water has fluctuated and just has not warmed up to produce good panfishing yet.
ST. MARYS RIVER
The river is still in great shape (but very low in the upper end). A couple of anglers fished the middle river on Saturday and had a good catch. They fished the bottom with shrimp and caught a dozen channel catfish up to a couple pounds then switched to pitching for panfish. They used beetlespins and crickets to catch 7 big stumpknockers, 2 crappie, 8 big bluegills, and a redbreast. Chuck Dean fished the middle river on Monday and flung a fly. He caught 8 slab bluegills and missed another dozen or so that rolled on it but didn’t take it. He used a stone fly imitation and also an orange popper with a San Juan worm as a dropper. Shady Bream Tournaments will hold their 4th points tournament of the season this Saturday (5/20). They will be holding a co-ed tournament on May 27th, so check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook for more details.
The pickerel and bowfin bites were great this week. A Waycross angler flung fire tiger-chartreuse blade and crawfish Dura-Spins in the canals on Friday evening for just an hour and a half after the deluge and caught 44 bowfin and pickerel. His biggest was an 8-pounder. I took my son fishing on Saturday morning and lots of folks were fishing. The anglers we talked to only had a few warmouth each, and they caught them by pitching jigs. Mark and Tripp Vick live in Guyton near the Ogeechee, and they came down with friends and fished the east side on Saturday. They had a handful of warmouth, and Tripp wore out the bowfin flinging a plastic worm. My son and I ended up catching 64 fish (mostly bowfin) by casting and trolling Dura-Spins. We fooled more jackfish by casting and more bowfin by trolling. The best colors were fire tiger-chartreuse blade, crawfish-orange blade, and black/chartreuse-chartreuse blade. Our biggest jackfish was 18 inches and biggest bowfin 7-lb., 14-oz., and we released everything. Another angler fished Wednesday mid-day before the storms and caught 16 fish (4 pickerel to 18 inches, the rest bowfin) by flinging fire tiger-chartreuse blade and jackfish Dura-Spins. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.40 feet. The yellow fly numbers have started ramping up, so cover up when you fish the swamp. I loathe those little flying nasties…..
Jimmy Zinker caught a 6-lb bass this week from a Valdosta area pond by flinging a shad rap. He has started night fishing hard-core this week with buzzbaits, so expect some big fish reports in the near future. A Brunswick angler fished Tuesday from 1:30 to 5 in the afternoon and whacked the bass. He caught 30 bass up to 6-lb., 15-oz. His biggest 5 fish were 28 pounds. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits worked best for him, but worms did not produce well. The key for him was to bump the bottom with the moving bait and then slow it way down to get bit.
SALTWATER (GA COAST)
Steve and Brenda Hampton fished with Capt. Jamie Bracewell on Friday and had a great day. Brenda caught a 16 and 17-inch trout and a 19 1/2-inch flounder. Steve caught 17 and 28-inch redfish. His big red was on a Hoodwink plastic, and the rest were on mudminnows. Tommy Sweeney fished behind Jekyll Island this week and had a good trout bite. He fished the flooded grass during the high tide and caught some trout and redfish on 4-inch Keitech Swimbaits (mullet looking color). I got reports of quite a few reds back in the creeks on low tide, and also some reports of tailing reds on the flats being caught with both flies and conventional lures. Some Brunswick anglers fished inshore this week and fooled trout with mudminnows. They also caught a 16-inch flounder with a space guppy Sea Shad fished on a Zombie Eye Jighead. Capt. Greg Hildreth (georgiacharterfishing.com) looked around for tripletail on Wednesday and saw a few. They were able to catch a 22-incher. He said that whiting reports were pretty good from the beach and sounds (when the winds allow you to get out). Capt. Tim Cutting (fishthegeorgiacoast.com) said that his best bites were redfish and flounder, and the trout have scattered from where he was catching them the last couple of weeks. Water temps in his areas hit 80 degrees this week. His best presentation was Gulp on a Zombie Eye Jighead fished around live shell in 1 to 3 feet of water. An angler reported catching 8 flounder from the Jekyll Pier this week, and another person caught 4 flounder.
(Fishing report courtesy of Brent Hess, Fisheries Biologist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, with help from Region Staff and Local Experts)
It’s the Spring Home Stretch: (Report courtesy of Jeff Durniak and Unicoi Outfitters) — Welcome to Spring Home Stretch on north GA’s larger freestone trout streams. It’s been a great spring of hatch-matching on regional rivers, but it’s winding down now. Get out there soon and take advantage of some remnant caddis, mayfly, and stonefly adult bugs and the trout that retain memories of those April groceries. Throw tan and yellow at dark.
Small streams will still fish well, as will the higher elevation Smokies streams for all of you headwater fans. Region trout tailwaters will fish well, too, as spring floods die down and reservoir releases become more predictable.
Pond fish remain on fire, river residents still include some striped spring vacationers from Lanier, and reservoir spots and largemouths are still good. There’s a lot to choose from. Don’t miss our spot-on intel in our full report at our Angler Management Blog. Stop in a UO shop for your late season hatch-matchers. Here we go:
Wes’ Hot Fly List:
- Dries: tan elk hair caddis (#16, 18), micro chubby, goober sally, knobbler sally, 409 Yeager yellow, parachute light cahill (16, 18).
- Nymphs & Wets: Improved yallarhammer, Jiggy pats rubber leg, green weenie, soft hackle hares ear, SH yellow, holy grail, Edwards yellow sally.
- Streamers & warm water: Amnesia bug popper (for bream), double barrel bass bug, hybrid changer, jerk changer, sparkle minnow.
Need Trout Info? Visit the Trout Fishing page on the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division website. Here you will find info about the Georgia Trout Slam, the Trout Stream Interactive Map and, of course, don’t forget to sign up for the weekly stocking report while you are there!
LAKE ALLATOONA is down 1.2 feet, and the water temperatures are in the 70s.
Allatoona Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good. The bass are in mid depth ranges of 9 to 21 feet deep, even though there are some fish shallow. First thing in the morning, there are still some shad spawning and the top water bite is good. Use the Sprog Dawg and a Zara Spook. Look for fish activity and schooling around rock and hard banks. Some shad will even spawn on floating docks. Once the sun gets up look for brush or blowdowns. A good Lowance Structure Scan machine with Fish Reveal with GPS is key this time of year. The main lake docks and shallow points are producing the best. The jig by Kacy’s Kustom in bluegill fire or brown and a Spro Little John are hard to beat.
Allatoona Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Heron Outdoor Adventures): With nice steady levels controlled by mother nature and the ACOE, and a multitude of other factors, we are off to the races with a fresh load of little fry after some ideal spawning circumstances for the white bass, crappie, and spotted bass. The reservoir has held fairly steady at full pool, with water temperatures in the mid-70s.
The lineside action has been great this year and we are just going to let the cat out the bag here- this fishery is on fire! Catches of 50 to 60 fish in a few hours is not unheard of, but even a slow day targeting active fish produces 2-3 dozen catches. As you can see from our recent catches, there are a multitude of hungry double digit fish swimming in the reservoir.
There are hotspots on each end of the reservoir and so many points in between. While the majority of the lineside have made their way up the river and back into the reservoir already, we have seen some recent catches of big egg-laden female striped bass still in the reservoir. Quite possibly due to the mild rising temperatures, the spawn run has surely been stretched out.
They don’t all run up the river and the many that return stay again until colder water refuges are desired. In the meantime, they love the abundance of bait in the main lake:)
With the continued proliferation of freshwater herring as a forage base, we are noting the linesides and spotted bass are being found deeper overall through this spring. Even into May we have found ourselves in 40 to 50 feet of water fishing 2 feet off the bottom for the best bite on many days. Down lining with 1-to-2-ounce weights, a 6-foot leader of fluorocarbon and a number o1 or 2 octopus hook are one of the staple setups for tethering 3-6″ threadfin shad or herring.
These same fish can be enticed into striking a spoon, especially in the deeper depths. We are still finding a good bite both on flats and on long points early in the morning and catching active fish even while casting rigs and spoons as well as pitching shad. Sometimes where you start fishing may be predicated on which way the wind has been blowing day/days preceding, and some of our best mornings on the water have been facing a 10 to 15 mile an hour northwest wind coming across a flat onto the channel edges. When it’s our day to fish, we fish pretty much regardless of weather conditions but mindful of how those conditions could affect the locations of bait and gamefish.
While the crappie bite is still on, as they do eat year-round, these fish are finished spawning and are back to their both nomadic at times and structure holding routines. Shooting the shallows and docks early in the morning will produce some of these fine speckled friends, and then moving to a little deeper water as the sun rises and warms. We’ve even picked some up while down lining 20 to 25 feet down over deeper water with threadfin or herring and have targeted some specifically on deeper brush piles with 2-3″ swim jigs and small tubes.
The spotted bass fishery is becoming better and better each year the past several years/ Notably one of the most benefited species from the high-protein forage base, we might just give it a couple more years to see it rival other close by spotted bass fisheries with respect to both quantity and quality. We are definitely hoping to see more largemouth bass take root and spawn, particularly with the added efforts of state stocking just this past year.
We do hope that you may have a chance to get out of the water here on Lake Allatoona. We also hope that some information shared will point you in the right direction, and should you be in the market for a full-service guided instructional trip, we will be happy to help you there as well. God Bless and tight lines, friends!
LAKE HARTWELL: is over full and water temperatures are in the 60s.
Hartwell Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good. This week the bass are up early and late and a Stanley buzz baits with silver blades and a white skirt up and down lake will work. On river points, use a bright Mann’s Deep crank bait in shad colors down lake on points. The Alabama rig with small Zoom fluke pear trailers is working also. Up the rivers, go to the Bomber 7A in all white or fire tiger on the banks. Small spinner baits with willow leaf blades have been fair early and late. Cast the floating worms halfway in the creeks and the off-river coves. Zoom u tail worms in gourd green or natural blue on a Texas rig is fair, but fish them very slowly. Night fishing is slow, but a big red worm on a Texas rig can draw a few strikes on bridges and docks around lights.
LAKE LANIER is full water temperatures are in the 70s.
Lanier Bass (This Lake Lanier Bass fishing report is by Phil Johnson Pjohnson15@hotmail.com 770-366-8845) — Bass fishing on Lake Lanier is fair to good. The lake is at full pool and the temperature is tanging in the mid-sixties. The water color is basically clear throughout the lake. The post spawn blues are in full effect right now which creates challenges for catching bass. It is not necessarily a problem finding the fish it is just getting them to commit to a bait. This is normal for this time of year and usually takes a couple of weeks for them to recover from the spawn. That’s not to say that you can’t catch fish but simply that you may have to work for the strikes you get. Several baits have worked at times over the last week and I would recommend to have some different baits on the deck so you can be versatile. The three eights ounce Pro model Spotchoker with either a small fluke or a two eight Keitech has produce the most fish for the week. We’re working it on a steady retrieve over flats and shallow humps to get most of our strikes. There has been scattered topwater with a small Spook or Sammy doing being the most consistent baits. The Slick Stick Pro Series swimbait has produced some good fish this week and this bite should only get better shortly. On the windy days (seems like everyday) the white spinnerbait along with a Whopper Plopper have paid off. The worm bite is still there around docks and rocky points but be prepared to make a slow presentation with the bait. As you can tell we have been throwing a lot of things at them in a lot of different places because they are slow to bite but you can still catch them. Look for everything to break loose over the next two weeks as they come out of their funk and the water warms up more. It’s still a fun time to be out there four Go Catch ‘Em!
Lanier Stripers (report is by Buck Cannon, Buck Tails Guide Service 404-510-1778) — Lake Lanier stripers are moving to the lake points and creek intersection, water temperature 72.5 and with the bright sunshine should increase over the next couple of days. Flat lines and planer boards should be the ticket using blue backs. Vary your bait from 40′ to 100′ behind the boat and use a small weight on half the lines to get a good handle on what works best. Top water hasn’t materialized so far but keep your favorite lure ready to throw just in case. Use your electronics to locate the best possible location. Remember to wear your life jacket.
Lanier Crappie (Report is courtesy of Call Captain Josh Thornton 770-530-6493) — The water temperature is 70 Crappie are shallow check blow downs in shallow water. Look for shallow docks less than 20 feet deep the crappie are suspending 12 to 15 feet deep. Minnows under a bobber set at 4 feet deep have been working well over blow downs. 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. 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 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.
WEISS LAKE is near full pool and has a light stain and 64-66 degrees.
Weiss Lake Mixed Bag (Report courtesy of Mark Collins www.markcollins service.com: 256-996-9035) —
- Weiss Bass Bass fishing is fair. The Texas rigged worms and lizards are catching fish, look for the fish to move to the weed beds as they come off bed.
- Weiss Crappie Crappie fishing is fair and a few fish are being caught long line trolling with 1/24 ounce Jiffy Jigs in colors JJ01, JJ06, JJ13, JJ17 JJ20, JJ37 and Marks Special Blue. Shooting docks is producing a few Crappie also. Spider rigging with live minnows is producing some fish on the creek channel ledges.
- Weiss Striper fishing is slow.
- Weiss Catfish Catfish are biting in the deeper flats of the lake on cut bait.
WEST POINT LAKE is down 2.2 feet, but water levels change frequently, and water temperatures are in the upper 70s.
West Point Bass (Report courtesy of Ken Sturdivant www.southernfishing.com) — Bass fishing is good. With the temperature change this week there has been little change. There are still a few fish left on the bed, but most fish are falling in the post spawn pattern. The spawning fish that are left are primarily north up the river past Ringer access. To catch these fish use Texas rigged soft plastics. The secondary pattern is the shad spawning early in the morning. Look for shad spawning at daybreak before the sun crests the trees. This pattern will not last long but can produce some really big fish. Use buzz baits in white with a silver blade to mimic spawning shad. A drop shot with a morning dawn colored Roboworm Straight Tail Worm on a 1/0 hook and ¼ ounce tungsten weight. The best areas are rocky points and rip rap located near bridges.
West Point Lake Fish Attractors: Find attractor locations at West Point Lake Fish Attractor Information.
West Point Lake Water Level: Find Lake level information at West Point Lake Levels Information.
(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. Spend the day in Beaver Dam Creek or the area way up the Savannah River. The top water bite is good early in the morning using the Pop R’s and Chug Bugs to catch the bass still in the shallow water. Most of the anglers are going to the plastics early, concentrating on lay down trees and stumps. Be careful not to fish the plastic baits too early. Bass are still being caught on pearl and shad colored Rapala Shad Raps and Rapala DT10 shad crank baits. Use these baits on windblown points and the rip rap. Carolina rigged green pumpkin lizards are catching nice spotted bass all day. Small chunk rock is the key while fishing the Carolina Rig. Use the Zoom Super Flukes in pearl and baby bass around rock and wood. Start off with the faster moving crank baits in the morning and then move to the slower moving plastics as they day heats up.
CLARKS HILL LAKE IS 1.0 FEET 0VER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. The pattern of fishing will change all during the day and everything from top water baits like Chug Bugs and Pop R’s to suspending baits like the Ito Vision 110 jerk baits are catching bass. Grass lines are still producing quality bass using the Husky Jerks and plastic worms rigged with no weight. The early morning bite is good until about 9:30 a.m. The winds have been picking up after lunchtime and the Rapala DT6 in the crawdad color is a good bass catching bait to use on windblown points. Try changing the standard black nickel VMC hooks with the same size red VMC hooks. This little trick of changing the hooks seems to be getting a few extra bites on roaming bass. The lighter ten- and twelve-pound test line is catching most of the fish. The lighter line is allowing the baits to move freely and have better action. Main lake points, grass lines and wood is the key this week to catching a limit of quality bass.
LAKE OCONEE IS FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is fair. Start the day with a buzz bait fished along sea walls and rip rap. Work the middle of the coves and main lake creeks. After the sun gets up switch to boat docks in the same areas. Use a shaky head under the docks and around the dock poles. Also use a small shallow running Rapala Shad Rap crank bait around the same docks. As the day heats up move to the bridge and rip rap when Georgia Power starts pulling water. Use a white and chartreuse spinner bait or a small crank bait and fish the down lake side with these two baits. Keep an eye on the water movement while fishing as this also causes the bass to feed.
LAKE SINCLAIR IS DOWN 1.5 FEET, 70’S
Bass fishing is great. The shallow bite is still the dominant pattern. The bream are still bedding in the pockets and the mayflies are just starting to hatch in the rivers causing the bass to stay up shallow. Top water baits such as a black buzz bait and the Spro Bronzeye frog are catching fish consistently around grass, lay down trees, and sea walls around points and channel swings. Texas rigged soft plastics and shaky heads will also catch fish around the docks in these same areas. A Weedless Wonder head with a Zoom trick worm is hard to beat under these docks. A drop shot with a morning dawn colored Roboworm Straight Tail Worm on a 1/0 hook and ¼ ounce tungsten weight is catching fish. For those that prefer to fish deep, there is a decent offshore bite going on as well in 14 to 18 feet of water. Look for offshore humps and long points in the mouths of creeks and near the river channels for the best results. A cell mate colored Spro Little John DD and Buckeye Football Mop jig fished on these offshore spots will catch fish right now and for weeks to come. Look for hard bottom or stumps when fishing offshore. This bite is best when Georgia Power is moving water.
LAKE JACKSON IS .72 FEET OVER FULL, 70’S
Bass fishing is good. There are a lot of spawning shad around the man-made rock piles and the bass are right in there with them. Any windblown point can also produce a few fish using the Lucky Craft Flashminnow 110 and Pointer 100’s. Once the sun gets up the fishing gets a little trickier. Fish are already seeking thermal refuges such as shaded banks, deeper water, and the backs of creeks. Be ready to adjust quickly once the sun gets up by fishing deeper water in the 10 15-foot range. The hump bite in the main lake is starting to turn on strong as well. Best deep baits for fishing deeper are a small 1/4-ounce standup Bass Stalker jigs and spot stickers tipped with a finesse worm. Also, the drop shot bite is producing a few fish. The bass are roaming in the pockets and creeks and they are after any small popping bait or a small Zara Spook in shad patterns. Top water lures like the Devils Horse will catch some good largemouth as well as the Senko green pumpkin worm rigged weightless.
MCDUFFIE PUBLIC FISHING AREA (More Info HERE)
- Water Temperature: 76 and rising
- Water Visibility: 25+ in
- McDuffie PFA Fishing Guide
Waters across the PFA are warming up and fish are moving around. Unfortunately, the overall bite has been slow. Bass have been finicky, with anglers trying multiple lures to get a bite. Also, they are moving towards deeper water. So, they are still being found in shallows, though with less frequency. Boat anglers should try following the bank about 15-20 feet out in parallel fashion. Most of our ponds drop off quickly so this will allow them to work shallows and deeper parts at the same time. As usual, find structure and work the periphery. This is good advice for finding bream on the area too. Bream bite has been slow too, with red and pinks being best choice of bait. The pond closest to the archery range is still coming up with nice bluegill. That pond has lots of cover and habitat for brave kayak anglers to work around.