Georgia 2011 Fishing Calendar

From Rossville to St. Marys, the Peach State holds a wealth of fishing options. Here's a look at three dozen of the best.

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From mountaintops to Atlantic Ocean offshore drops, Georgia fishermen are surrounded by good angling. The Peach State has arguably one of the most diverse fisheries to be found anywhere in the country, so whether it's bassin' your local reservoir, battling it out with bull redfish on the coast, or finessing your way down a high mountain trout stream, the Georgia has it all. Let's fill in this year's fishing calendar with the best the state has to offer.

JANUARY

Striped And Hybrid Bass - Allatoona Lake

Allatoona Lake anglers can enjoy some of the best fishing of the year for stripers and hybrids in the dead of winter. Mixed schools of stripers pushing 20 pounds and scads of hybrids in the 5-pound range can make for fast and furious fishing when the bite is on. The fish are congregated around offshore structure enjoying the cool water temperatures and gorging themselves on schooled up bait.

Tips: Start your search around main-lake points and humps. The Gaults Ferry area of the lake is a good choice. Use your electronics to find offshore structure holding bait and hopefully stripers and hybrids too. Fish frisky gizzard shad on down lines or free lined and hold on tight.

Always keep an eye on what the birds are doing. Diving gulls almost certainly mean bait is being pushed to the surface by big fish below. When the action starts it can be fast and furious.

Other Options

Walleye will have their upstream spawning migration on the mind by the end of this month at Carters Lake. Get in on this up and coming fishery by hitting points and shoals upriver for these tasty members of the perch family.

The hot water discharge in the Beaverdam Creek arm of Lake Sinclair should be holding plenty of crappie now that the thermometer has bottomed out. Slow troll a spread of jigs or live minnows to fill a stringer.

FEBRUARY

Largemouth Bass - Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole is one of Georgia's best lakes for trophy bucketmouths, and its southern latitude means the bass are way ahead of schedule on their annual cycle compared to other reservoirs. While anglers in other parts of the state may be waking up to snow on the ground, Seminole's bass are on the move to the spawning grounds. The lake's Spring Creek arm offers prime fishing.

Tips: Should a late cold front shut things down, expect bass to pull off to timber on the channel ledges. Otherwise, the bass will be on the move toward the shallow weeds to spawn.

A heavy spinnerbait slow-rolled through the timber is a good choice, as are deep-diving crankbaits. For fish in the weeds, consider pitching or flipping a bulky soft plastic creature bait.

Other Options

Dodge County Public Fishing Area near Eastman has always been one of Georgia's best big bass producers. For a big bite, work deep structure with a jig-and-pig or other large profile bait retrieved slowly and deliberately, keeping in contact with the structure.

Smith Creek in Unicoi State Park is managed under delayed harvest regulations. Winter trout fishing is catch and release only, making for some fast action with plenty of fish available.

MARCH

Striped Bass - Savannah River

It's springtime on the Georgia coast, and great fishing is available for Savannah River saltwater striped bass.

Target bridge piers, pilings, and other structure when the tide turns. Good fishing can be found in the Port Wentworth area at Houlihan Bridge on Georgia State Route 25. A short boat ride will also take you to the smaller bridges where the same highway crosses the Middle River and Back River. Other good areas to try include diverters and piers downstream of Houlihan Bridge where the Middle River meets the Front River.

Tips: The best fishing is on the first of an outgoing tide when the current is strong, but avoid spring tides that dirty the water and shut down the bite.

Heavy jig-and-grub combos or a large Rat-L-Trap lure are proven producers around the bridge piers.

Other Options

Lake Blackshear's largemouth bass are making their move into the shallows for the spawn. Target cypress trees and other shallow cover for a chance at a wallhanger.

The general trout season opens this month. Pack up the family and take a camping trip to the Georgia mountains for some trout fishing. Rock Creek is heavily stocked and a great choice for families.

APRIL

White Bass - Coosa River

Many anglers who take part in this awesome fishery make the mistake of thinking that Coosa white bass fishing isn't a shorts and T-shirt affair. While the run historically gets started during the March chill, good fishing is available well into April.

Tips: The stretch of river between SR 100 and Mayo's Bar Lock and Dam provides prime fishing. Medium-diving crankbaits like Fat Free Shads and Bomber Model As in a chrome or yellow shad pattern are deadly. The later in the day it gets, the tighter the fish hold to the bank. Fish up to 3 pounds are common, and on a good day you can catch them until you're arms are tired.

Other Options

The Paradise PFA near Tifton offers good fishing for bream. Filling your stringer with bream for a family fish fry from one the many lakes shouldn't be a difficult task this month.

Carters Lake is one of the best spotted bass lakes in the state. Small soft plastics and crankbaits worked along the bottom on secondary points is a proven producer on Carters.

MAY

Bluegill - Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole offers South Georgia anglers something out of the ordinary in May in a fishery best suited to a fly rod.

Fly-fishing for bream is hot when the mayfly hatch is in full swing. Literally millions of mayflies swarm shoreline vegetation, ringing the dinner bell for fat bream laying in wait to pick off any bug that ends up on the water.

Tips: Even a novice fly-rodder can have good success their first time out. Topnotch equipment, casting accuracy, and delicate presentation

s don't apply here. Just slap a buggy-looking fly or popping bug down near where the fish are feeding, and be ready for a strike. A 5-weight outfit is a good choice since it also can handle any bass that may decide to join the fun.

Other Options

May is a good month for catfishing on the Altamaha River. The river is full of big flatheads that will put even the heaviest tackle to the test.

The Chattooga River in Rabun County is blue-ribbon trout water by any standards. Early spring's high and muddy water should be a memory now and the fishing should be good.

JUNE

Largemouth Bass - Lake Tobesofkee

June kicks off the night fishing season on this suburban reservoir just west of Macon. The lake gets heavy pleasure boat use during the day, making the night the preferred time for activity by both anglers and the lake's largemouth bass.

Tips: Fish the lake's many boat docks at night for the fast action. Lighted docks are best since they attract the most bait, but they also attract the most anglers. Dark docks can produce too if you do your homework and determine which ones provide the best cover.

Fish plastic worms or pearl Flukes around the circles of light off the ends of the docks. The light attracts the baitfish and the bass are sure to follow.

Other Options

Blue catfish are abundant in the Coosa River and fishing a piece of cut bait in a deep hole is almost guaranteed to produce some action. Try to find deeper areas with rocky bottom. The lower end of the river near the state line is the best bet.

The Toccoa River above Blue Ridge Lake offers a variety trout fishing. Rainbows are the most common, but browns are possible too. Since shoreline access is limited, a float trip is the easiest way to reach the best shoals.

JULY

Inshore Sharks - Coastal Georgia

As the weather heats up, so does the shark fishing. Sharks are abundant on the Georgia coast during the summer and just about anywhere you can make a cast to hit brine, you have better than average odds at catching sharks.

Small inshore sharks are great sport on medium tackle, but there is always the chance that something will take the bait and make you wish your tackle was much bigger.

Tips: Shark fishing isn't complicated. It's a lot like catfishing in freshwater. Fish a chunk of cut baitfish pegged to the bottom with a heavily weighted fishfinder rig. Tossing it into a channel or deep hole should produce some quick action. The bite is best when the tide is running.

Other Options

Lake Hartwell's bass are on their summertime pattern of ambushing schools of bait passing overhead. Anglers can enjoy fast topwater action with largemouths and spots when the bite is on.

Wading the Flint River for shoal bass is a great way to beat the summer heat and enjoy some topwater action from these aggressive strikers.

AUGUST

Striped Bass - Etowah River

The water temperatures are soaring and Coosa River system striped bass are in search of the coolest water they can find. In this drainage, one of the main refuges is the Etowah River, kept cool by Allatoona Lake's discharges.

The Etowah is shallow and full of rocks from bank to bank, making a jet boat and nerves of steel necessary if you want to run the river. A canoe or johnboat is just fine for a float trip though.

Tips: Live shad are like candy to stripers. Pitch the baitfish to downed trees as you float along the river. If live bait isn't an option, then cast stickbaits or topwater plugs.

Other Options

Bottom fishing off the Georgia coast is hot for snapper and a variety of other bottom species. Grab some buddies and charter a boat to head offshore in search of red snapper.

McDuffie PFA has plenty of channel catfish that should be willing to bite this month. Try nightcrawlers or stink bait fished on bottom.

SEPTEMBER

Spotted Bass - Lake Lanier

Early fall can be one of the best times to enjoy all this lake has to offer. The worst of the heat has broken, but the days still are warm and pleasant. Lanier's famous spotted bass should still be on an early and late topwater bite as they intercept schools of baitfish.

Tips: Look for main-lake humps sweetened with brush in about 20 feet of water to find the bait and hopefully the bass. Fish a Sammy, fluke or stickbait to draw fish up for a strike. Keep on the move until you find a good bite.

Other Options

Clarks Hill Lake provides good fishing for large flathead catfish. Fish live bait on bottom near channels and other offshore structure to catch one of these bruisers.

Hugh M. Gillis PFA in Laurens County offers good small lake fishing for largemouth bass.

OCTOBER

Largemouth Bass - West Point Lake

There is a nip in the air this month that signals West Point Lake's largemouth bass to feed heavily in advance of cold weather. Expect school-size fish to be shadowing pods of bait around creek mouths and secondary points.

Tips: A medium-diving crankbait is a super way to cover a lot of water as you hop from spot to spot looking for aggressive fish. Spinnerbaits are another good search lure, especially if the fish are holding a little shallower than expected.

Other Options

Ocmulgee PFA near Hawkinsville is a good place to try for channel catfish this month.

Speckled trout are beginning to move from the sounds and lower rivers into the creeks this month on the Georgia coast.

NOVEMBER

Crappie - Weiss Lake

The Brushy Branch area of Weiss Lake on the Georgia side of the state line has good crappie fishing in the fall. Troll the channels in the backwater sloughs with jigs to catch a mess of these nice slabs.

Tips: When the weather is cool, the best bet is later in the day when the sun has warmed the water and the shad are more active. The sloughs are full of stumps so expect to lose some jigs, but the best fish are often found around the heaviest cover.

Other Options

Lake Burton's brown trout are feeding heavily now. Troll deep rocky points with a crankbait or toss a live blueback herring.

Sunny days tempt redfish into shallow marsh ponds. Cast a gold spoon well past a skittish tailing red and wobble it slowly into the strike zone.

DECEMBER

Smallmouth Bass - Blue Ridge Lake

Blue Ridge Lake is the only viable reservoir smallmouth bass fishery in Georgia. If you can handle the cooler weather conditions this month, the smallies can be accommodating.

Tips: The best fishing is on the nastiest days. Windy, overcast conditions push the bait around. The low light and broken surface give the smallies a sense of security to rocket up for a strike. Stickbaits or spinnerbaits on wind-blown points should produce.

Other Options

A stretch of Amicalola Creek in Dawson County is managed under delayed harvest regulations. Winter fishing in this section is catch and release only.

Lake Jackson has a well-earned reputation of producing trophy bass for hardy winter anglers.

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