From Rossville to St. Marys and from Bainbridge to Dillard, our state is loaded with fantastic fishing. Here's a look at a full year of that action! (February 2008).
Peach State anglers are blessed with diversity. Georgia's aquatic habitats range from high elevation mountain brooks to the roaring surf of the Atlantic Coast and everything in between. With such a blessing by Mother Nature, it's no wonder that Georgia anglers can find good fishing for almost every major sport fish species somewhere in the state.
Whether your passion is wading a mountain stream for trout, fishing for one of Georgia's six black-bass species, or offshore saltwater fishing, Georgia has what you need. Let's take a month-by-month look at the best angling Georgia has to offer.
For landlocked striped bass in Georgia, Lake Lanier is a topnotch destination. Striped bass are a cool water fish, and the winter temperatures are just the trigger they need to feed aggressively. Expect stripers to be feeding heavily as they roam the lake looking for schools of shad and blueback herring made lethargic by the cool conditions.
A good striper angler reads a lake map as easy as a trucker reading a road map. Fish use the channels as major highways, and any nearby point or hump serves as a rest stop for a quick snack.
Among artificials, a bucktail jig is hard to beat. Trolling umbrella rigs trailing several jigs is a consistent producer. Even in the middle of winter, don't overlook the potential for feeding activity near the surface, especially during low light conditions. It pays to keep a rod with a Redfin or Zara Spook rigged and ready.
For the best chance of success, live bait -- shad or herring downlined or freelined over good structure, for instance -- is the way to go. Hold onto your rod: This time of year produces some huge fish.
Other Options: Amicalola Creek in Dawson County is managed under delayed harvest regulations. Winter trout fishing is catch- and-release only, making for some fast action with plenty of fish available.
Dodge County Public Fishing Area near Eastman is one of Georgia's best big bass producers. Work deep structure with a jig-and-pig retrieved painfully slow.
Carters Lake is known for the magnum spotted bass swimming its depths. Plummeting more than 400 feet at the dam, Carters can be a tough nut to crack, but for those who unlock its secrets, the fishing can be excellent.
The key is to downsize your tackle and lures to be able to detect light strikes from deep fish. Depending on the weather, the fish may be holding on a deep winter pattern or may be staging to move in for the spawn. Main lake points and humps offer a variety of depths, making them good choices during unsettled conditions.
The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division fish attractors are always good choices to pick up a few fish. Try fishing a finesse worm or small jig-and-pig slowly along the bottom. Deep-diving crankbaits can be productive, too.
A call to Bart's Bait and Tackle at (706) 636-2248 is a good way to learn the latest. A fish attractor map and GPS coordinates are available on-line at www.gofishgeorgia.com.
Other Options: Coastal anglers may catch the biggest striped bass of the year on the Savannah River as the fish begin their spawning run. Fish heavy jigs or big Rat-L-Traps around bridge pilings on a moving tide.
A section of the upper Toccoa River is Georgia's newest delayed harvest trout stream. Anglers looking for catch-and-release angling for trout under artificials-only regulations should give the Toccoa a try.
March has one of the hottest tickets of the fishing year in northwest Georgia as white bass make their annual run up the Coosa River. Both boat and bank anglers can get in on the action, with several boat ramps available and good bank access at Mayo's Bar Lock and Dam.
The action starts early in the month and by mid-March should be hot and heavy. Early in the season more fish are found around the State Route 100 area, moving farther upstream as the migration progresses.
Good places to find fish are creek mouths, around blown-down trees in current and sandy banks. Fish deeper to catch the bigger females.
A 1/4-ounce jig-and-plastic grub combo is ideal. Good colors include pearl, white, and yellow. Small crankbaits that imitate a shad are also very effective. Live bait anglers do well with minnows. Contact Floyd County's Lock and Dam Park at (706) 234-5001 for more information on fishing Mayo's Bar.
Other Options: Lake Blackshear is a good choice for largemouth bass. Fish the lake's abundant shallow cover with spinnerbaits and plastic lizards for fast action.
Walleye anglers find good fishing at Carters Lake. Fish near the shoals and points on the upper end of the lake where walleye congregated during the spring run.
Trout season is open and an early spring visit to the popular trout stream southeast of Blue Ridge is an annual tradition. This Toccoa River tributary is heavily stocked.
Public access is excellent since much of the creek flows through the Chattahoochee National Forest. There are two public campgrounds on the stream, and fishing in these areas is a communal affair. If you don't mind company, fish the lower end of the creek near the campgrounds, where it is heavily stocked. Farther upstream, access becomes more difficult and the number of anglers drops off dramatically. Both stocked and stream-bred trout are possible there.
Small Panther Martin or Rooster Tail spinners are top lures, and worms or corn are good natural bets.
Other Options: The multiple lakes of Paradise PFA near Tifton offer good fishing for bluegill. Filling your fish basket with tasty bream shouldn't b
e a difficult task.
Clarks Hill Lake near Augusta offers excellent bass fishing year round, and April is no exception. Carolina-rigging a plastic lizard across flats and gravel points is sure to produce.
Famous for its bass fishing, Lake Seminole offers a unique, alternative fishery in May. The trigger is the mayfly hatch. Literally millions of the insects swarm shoreline vegetation, ringing the dinner bell for fat bream laying in wait, ready to pick off any bug that ends up on the water.
For the most fun, break out the long rod. Even a novice fly-rodder can have good success. Casting accuracy and delicate presentations aren't required. Just slap a buggy looking fly down near where the fish are feeding, and get ready for a strike.
A 5-weight outfit is a good choice, since at any time a bass may decide to join the fun.
Contact Wingate's Lunker Lodge at (229) 246-0658 for a fishing report and information about planning a trip.
Other Options: The striped bass run is in full swing on the Oostanaula River near Rome. Shad, either live or as cut bait, are a favorite with anglers enjoying the year's best striper fishing.
Various species of sharks are thick in the sounds of the Georgia coast. Fish cut bait on bottom when the tide is running.
Bartletts Ferry Lake
June kicks off the night fishing season on this Corps of Engineers lake southwest of Atlanta. The impoundment gets heavy pleasure boat use during the day, making nighttime the right time for both largemouth and spotted bass.
Fish the reservoir's many boat docks at night to fill your string. 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 a plastic worm or pearl fluke around the pools of
light off the ends of the docks. The light attracts the baitfish and the bass are sure to follow. Most fish run a pound or two, but bigger fish are always possible.
Other Options: The Altamaha River is the premier destination in Georgia for monster flathead catfish. Stable water and comfortable weather make June a good choice for catfishing.
Floating the Satilla River for redbreast sunfish is a fun way to spend the day. Plop a popping bug down near any cover on outside bends.
Russell bass are on their summertime pattern, which means spending the day in the cooler depths with a sharp eye peeled for bait passing overhead. Early and late in the day, anglers can enjoy topwater action with largemouths and spotted bass.
As the sun begins to burn down, look for bass to be holding on deep brush piles or standing timber near feeding stations like points and humps. Soft plastics, deep-diving crankbaits, and jigging spoons are all effective.
Largemouths remain dominant in the Beaverdam Creek arm, but spotted bass are the more likely catch in Savannah River arm of the lake. Russell is known more as a numbers lake, so expect most fish to range from 1 to 3 pounds.
Other Options: Blue catfish are abundant in the Coosa River and fishing a piece of cut bait in a deep hole is guaranteed to produce action. Try to find an area with rocky bottom.
Floating the Coosawattee River for redeye bass is a pleasant way to spend a hot summer day. Along the way, stop to wade the best shoals. Light spinning tackle and small plugs is the way to go.
The Chattahoochee River below Lake Lanier is one of the premier tailwater trout fisheries in the Southeast. The river is heavily stocked and its abundant shoals offer good feeding stations for the river's rainbow and brown trout. The various units of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area offer good public access to the river.
The best fishing is when the water is low and clear. The river comes up fast when the turbines come on, and the water is cold, so safety is paramount. The best way to fish is to float the river, stopping to wade the best shoals in search of hungry trout. Small spinners and tiny Rapala Minnows are good choices, and spoons can also be productive. Contact the National Park Service office at (770) 399-8070 for more information.
Other Options: Find the bait to find the fish for Hartwell's hybrid striped bass. Two- to 5-pound fish are common, and 10-pounders aren't out of the question. The deep water near the dam is always a good place to try.
McDuffie PFA has plenty of channel catfish that should be willing to bite this month. Try night crawlers or stink bait fished on bottom.
Lake Walter F. George
Barring an early fall, largemouth bass at Lake Walter F. George should still be on the summertime ledge pattern. Find channel drop offs and fish them with deep-diving crankbaits, Carolina-rigged soft plastics or big slow-rolled spinnerbaits.
Finding a good ledge can take some detective work with maps and a depthfinder, but once you dial in a honeyhole, it should be a consistent producer. Anglers should expect good numbers of fish from 14 to 18 inches, with bigger fish possible, but not nearly as abundant.
When the turbines come on at the powerhouse, so does the bite. Power generation schedules and lake levels can be obtained by calling the Corps of Engineers at (229) 768-2424.
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.
Floating the Flint River for shoal bass is a pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon. Concentrate on the shoals with a fly rod or light spinning tackle.
The Brushy Branch area of Weiss Lake on the Georgia side of the state line has great bass fishing in autumn. The cooler nights are signaling the fish that winter is coming. Shad are thick in the backwater sloughs, a
nd the bass follow and feed heavily to stock up for winter.
All the backwaters offer good bass fishing, but as the month wears on and the lake level continues to drop, access into smaller sloughs can become difficult. Once you make it over the shallow bar at the mouth, there should be plenty of fishable water.
This is power fishing. Target shallow woody cover with fast-moving lures like spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps. There are plenty of stumps to target, but the best ones are near the creek channels. Keep your bait in the water to cover as much territory as possible. Strikes often come when your lure deflects off the cover.
Good numbers of 2- to 4-pound fish are there to be caught, with plenty of bigger fish too.
Other Options: Cooling water temperatures begin to push spotted seatrout into the estuaries for the winter. Comfortable weather, fewer bugs, and willing fish make this a great time to be in the marsh.
The upper Conasauga River is blue-ribbon trout fishing. The water is low and clear and the stream-reared trout are extremely wary, so take care with your approach and presentation.
Autumn has a firm grip on North Georgia and with the cooler water temperatures crappie schools are roaming on the lookout for bait. Little River and Kellogg Creek are two consistent producers.
Anglers do well spider-rigging a spread of small jigs or just barely easing along pulling a live minnow under a float. If trolling doesn't work, don't overlook tightlining a live minnow under the tire breakwaters around the marinas.
The average crappie should measure around 10 inches and weigh about a half-pound. Anglers should find at least a few larger crappie on their stringers that tip the scales over a pound.
Other Options: In November, Lake Burton anglers catch hefty brown trout grown fat on blueback herring. Live bluebacks fished over rocky points is a good technique.
Autumn brings some of the best smallmouth bass fishing of the year to Blue Ridge Lake. Target deep, windblown flats with stickbaits and crankbaits.
Lake Jackson, Georgia's oldest major reservoir, has a long-standing reputation of giving up trophy bass to cold weather anglers. Even in the middle of winter, a sunny afternoon can pull big fish up shallow in search of a meal.
Shallow points near deep water are good places to find feeding fish during these conditions. A soft bottom holds the heat and warms the water ever so slightly. Even a degree or two can mean the difference between getting good bites and "hauling water."
A crankbait or spinnerbait slowly bumping along represents easy pickings to a trophy bass. During cold spells, target deeper water with big bait like a jig-and-pig slowly worked along bottom through deep cover. Lake Jackson has a good proportion of bass over 15 inches, including some real wallhangers.
Other Options: Lake Sinclair is an excellent destination for winter crappie. Trolling jigs in the area of the warm water discharge from Plant Harlee Branch on Beaverdam Creek has filled many stringers with tasty winter crappie.
Warm sunny December days can pull schools of redfish into shallow marsh ponds. The dark, soft bottom and afternoon sun warms the water, turning on the bite. Fish gold spoons or soft plastics with a careful presentation to avoid spooking the skinny-water fish.
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