With hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams from which to choose, anglers can easily find some great Georgia April fishing. Here are five outstanding ones to check out.
Some anglers love screaming down a lake in a bass boat, stopping to quickly cast to cover before flying to the next hot spot, while others prefer kicking back on a river sandbar watching rods propped in a forked stick.
Even more enjoy quietly easing around a cove, dabbling minnows beside button bushes in search of crappie. Thankfully, Georgia provides all these options and more in April.
From reservoirs to rivers, ponds to creeks, April fishing is fantastic for every kind of fish that swims, allowing anglers to choose their favorite or sample from the many different kinds of fishing available. In fact, choosing what to pursue can be difficult.
1. LAKE THURMOND CRAPPIE
In late March, crappie move into coves all over huge Lake Thurmond. They spawn around shallow cover in these coves all during April and will hit live shiner minnows and small jigs.
When the lake is full, button bushes line many of the coves in Germany Creek, Hart Creek and Soap Creek. Bushes and small pine trees that grew when the water was down fill the shallows and hold fish. Trees in the water concentrate schools, too. Easing around the shoreline dabbling baits beside any wood cover will catch fish.
A cane pole or fly rod is a good choice. Tie a crappie hook 18 inches to 2 feet below a cork, pinch a small split shot 6 inches from the hook and flip a lively minnow down beside bushes or tree limbs. Or tie a 3/16-ounce Hal Fly or other small jig below the cork and drop it into the same places. A combination of red, green and yellow is a good starting place.
Don't let the bait sit long. Swing it out, let it fall straight down and sit for a few seconds before moving to the next cover. Sometimes one side of a bush seems to hold more fish than the other so try all around any cover.
When the lake is down, as it seems to be every spring lately, look for stumps or brush just under the surface in these same coves. Crappie still spawn, and they look for wood cover, but it is more limited with lower water. Anglers put out brush in 6 to 8 feet of water to attract fish and with limited cover, any brush or stumps will concentrate fish even more.
2. LAKE OCONEE BASS
Bass move into spawning pockets and feed heavily during April. They hold on dock post, grass beds and rocks in shallow water and feed before and after bedding, and can be caught all day long on a variety of baits.
A cove with shallow flats along the sides is where the bass spawn and those protected from the prevailing west wind are favorites. Go into a cove running north and south and start about half way back. Fish to the very back then back out the other side.
A faster moving bait, like a spinnerbait, cover waters to find active fish. A 3/8-ounce bait with one gold and one silver willow leaf blade and a chartreuse and white skirt is a good choice. Run the bait just under the surface through water willow grass beds and beside docks. On deeper docks, run it up to a post then let if fall a foot or so, fluttering down like an injured baitfish. Do the same at the edge of the grass beds.
After finding a concentration of fish, slow down and work a bright-colored weightless trick worm in the same places. Cast it into grass beds and pitch it under docks and slowly twitch it with pauses to let it sink a few inches. Keep it just shallow enough to keep it in sight, which is where bright colors help. Let if fall a little deeper at the edge of the grass and beside dock posts, watching the line for movement indicating a bite.
The coves on the west side of the river from Long Shoals Ramp to the dam are good places to find protected coves with clearer water. Some of them have huge boulders in them that also hold bass, so make a few casts all around them, too.
3. WEST POINT HYBRIDS
In the spring, hybrids at West Point Lake make a false spawning run up the river and creeks feeding the lake. As they move upstream in schools, they feed on baitfish. Bridges concentrate them into smaller areas where anglers can catch large numbers of them.
A fun way to catch moving hybrids is to tie up under a bridge as it gets dark and hang a light over the water. An added benefit is that crappie are caught this way as well.
The Highway 109 Bridge over Wehadkee Creek and the Chattahoochee River, and the railroad trestle on the river upstream of the Highway 109 bridge are good. The first two bridges over Yellowjacket Creek and the Highway 219 bridge up the Chattahoochee River are also good, and all have ramps nearby.
Tie both ends of the boat so it does not drift around, leaving some room for the other boats doing the same thing. A gas lantern hung just over the water is the traditional way to attract shad that attract hybrids and crappie but 12-volt lights, especially the green Hydro Glow underwater light, work even better.
For hybrids use larger shad or shiner minnows on a 2/0 hook about 6 inches below a sinker. Vary the weight of sinkers, depending on current, so it hangs straight down. Ten-pound line is a good choice to land strong fighting hybrids.
For crappie use a light wire crappie hook under a sinker on 6- to 8-pound test line and go with smaller minnows. Put out several rods, a couple for hybrids and two or three for crappie, put them in rod holders and sit back to wait for a bite.
Sometimes, even stripers will hit in these situations. Hybrids tend to pull down and circle under the boat but a striper will usually come up and run away from the boat so be ready to reel in other rods to avoid tangling.
Vary the depth of baits until finding the right one for the fish. Hybrids will usually be a few feet deeper than crappie; good electronics help find fish depth.
4. LAKE SEMINOLE SHELLCRACKER
Shellcrackers spawn in huge numbers on Lake Seminole in April and provide pole bending action for anglers. Pound-size fish are common, and limits can be caught most days around the edges of hydrilla beds in hard bottom coves and sloughs.
Grass shrimp are a favorite food for shellcrackers, and can be caught in a fine mesh net for bait. Or anglers can buy crickets or dig worms.
A cane pole with 6-pound line, a cork and small split shot and No. six long shank hook are the usual tackle, but anglers can rig a fly rod with the same terminal tackle. Rig a cork about 18 inches above the hook with the split shot a few inches up from the hook. Shellcrackers will also hit small artificial flies, such as crickets and shrimp but live bait will catch more fish.
Fish protected pockets upstream and downstream of Wingate's Lunker Lodge on the Flint River. The pockets on the north bank across from Faceville Landing are also good. Ease around these areas watching for white patches on the bottom where shellcracker have fanned beds. Also, lower baits along the edges of the hydrilla beds and let it sit for a few seconds to attract fish hiding in the grass.
5. ALTAMAHA RIVER CATFISH
From its headwaters where the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers join to where it becomes brackish near Darien on the coast, catfish thrive and grow big in the Altamaha River. Two 83-pound Altamaha flatheads, one caught in 2006 and the other in 2010, are tied for the state record.
The state record channel cat, weighing 44 pounds, 12 ounces, was caught there in 1972. And last October, a monster 93-pound blue cat caught in the river broke the old state record by 13 pounds. Even bigger cats of all three species have been caught that do not qualify for the state records because they were caught on limb lines.
The Altamaha River is also full of eating-size catfish, with fishery biologists saying there are good numbers of flatheads in the 4- to 10-pound range, and blue cats around 5 pounds have been increasing in numbers the past few years. There are also decent numbers of channel cats in the 3-pound range.
There are few ways of fishing more relaxing than setting up camp on a river sandbar, building a fire and setting out several rods for catfish. The deep outside bends of the river, where current has undercut the bank are where catfish live during the day. At night, they move into more shallow water on the inside of the bend and at both ends of the bend to feed.
A Carolina rig with a heavy main line tied to a swivel below a one-ounce sinker, a two-foot leader and a 2/0 hook on the end is a good choice for smaller cats. For bigger fish use heavier line and bigger hooks. The big cats like big live bait. A 5-inch bream is not too big for a grown cat.
For eating size cats go with smaller baits, such as a 2-inch bream or gob of earthworms. Use a sinker heavy enough to hold on the bottom in the current, casting out on the shallow flat leading to the deeper water and let it sit. Fish deeper for bigger cats.
All these fishing trips are fun and produce fish. Just decide how you want to fish, what you want to fish for and give them a try.