HOLES FOR 2003
indeed lucky to have some of the best and most diverse fishing
opportunities in the Southeast. With over 500,000 acres of
reservoirs and 12,000 miles of warmwater streams, plus unmeasured
miles of saltwater coast and salt marshes, Georgia has more water
than you probably could fish in a lifetime. But it sure would be
fun to try!
To help you
narrow down the best fishing opportunities, here are some
suggestions for each month of the year, with some timely tips to
help you put fish in the boat.
Stripers are continuing to grow to mature sizes because annual
stockings of Apalachicola-strain fish have taken place since 1992.
Expect stripers to average 5 to 10 pounds, with occasional fish
going up to 25 pounds or better.
For the best
winter action, slowly drift live shad on South Carolina rigs over
schools of fish you have located on your depthfinder. Stripers can
be found bunched up in front of the dam or on main-lake points
near the dam. Other favorite baits are chrome spoons, Little
Georges and large white marabou jigs.
To help you
get in on the striper action, contact Johnny Chapman’s Guide
Service at (706) 674-2640.
Carters Lake has received stockings of walleyes for several years,
so you expect to encounter fish averaging 3 to 4 pounds, with some
exceeding 10 pounds. In the wintertime, locate walleyes on the
deeper points and use jigging spoons, deep-diving crankbaits or
live night crawlers fished on leadhead jigs to catch them.
anglers at Lake Hartwell find an abundance of hand-sized crappie,
with other crappie weighing more than 2 pounds. Fish around downed
trees in 15 feet of water in the upper section of the lake and
especially in Eastanollee Creek.
Sinclair is a perennial favorite for Middle Georgia’s crappie
anglers. The warmwater discharge of Georgia Power’s Plant Branch
gets Beaver Dam Creek’s crappie in a spawning mood earlier than on
other reservoirs, but don’t be shy about trying the upper ends of
other nearby creeks. Most anglers use multiple rods rigged with
1/16 or 1/24-ounce crappie jigs slowly trolled over break lines
and creek channels. For stained water, use darker colors, such as
brown, black or blue or a red-green-yellow combo jig. “Shooting”
jigs or dunking minnows under boat docks can really pay off, as
does trolling minnows under a cork around the many fish attractors
maintained by the Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).
On Lake Lanier the striped bass continue to grow bigger, with the
average fish weighing 4 to 7 pounds, but some go 20-plus pounds.
Try live trout, shad or bluegill baits over main-lake points near
deeper water. Called the “Crappie Capital of the World,” Lake
Weiss has an excellent forage base that supports a quality crappie
fishery. Try trolling small jigs or live minnows this month.
MARCH - Lake
Jack Wingate, the Sage of Seminole, says that this should be
another very good year for largemouths. The reports from the WRD
agree, noting a larger number of bass exceeding 12 inches than in
past years. Fishing should be very productive for numbers of 2-
to 3-pound bass. This 37,500-acre reservoir has big stretches of
shallow water with accompanying weedbeds that cover approximately
40 percent of the surface. So to tie into the bass, get your lure
into the open pockets of the weeds or drop the lure along the
edges, near deeper water. Wingate recommends fishing lightly
weighted Texas-rigged worms, casting white or yellow spinnerbaits,
or tossing topwater lures at the crack of dawn or dusk. For
additional information or guide services, contact Jack Wingate’s
Lunker Lodge at (229) 246-0658.
Excellent yearly spawns of crappie have increased fish numbers in
Allatoona Lake. Expect to encounter good numbers of 8-inch-plus
fish. Try the upper reaches of the creeks and rivers entering the
lake, concentrating your trolling in 6 to 10 feet of water.
reports an abundance of large-sized crappie in Middle Georgia’s
Lake Tobesofkee this year. Try trolling above the Thomaston Road
Bridge for dependable action.
APRIL - Lake
Lake Blackshear’s 8,500 acres are often described as a huge farm
pond because of the large stretches of shallow water, standing
trees, aquatic vegetation and excellent bream fishing.
Shellcrackers usually start to spawn a little earlier than other
bream species, and now is the time to find them in the 4- to
6-foot flats along the shorelines and in the backs of coves.
slowly drift along, dabbling a live night crawler or cricket into
likely spots until a concentration of fish is located. Then you
can anchor and catch a mess of fish.
Creek or Limestone Creek and expect the shellcrackers to be nice
additional information, call Campers Haven at (229) 268-9076.
Alternatives: Lake Nottely has plenty of older crappie, and 25
percent of the fish now weigh just less than 1 pound. Best spots
are coves with fish attractors constructed by the WRD or Tennessee
Valley Authority. Lake Oliver, in the suburbs of Columbus, is
well known for its excellent bream fishing. The average bluegill
here is 6 to 8 inches. Night crawlers work best in the backs of
coves and sloughs.
MAY - Lake
This 4,750-acre reservoir in Jasper, Butts and Newton counties
continues to produce good numbers of larger bass, and last year 13
percent of the bass were greater than 15 inches. The average bass
weighs 1 pound and can be found around the creek and river mouths.
The lake also has numerous boat docks that are always hotspots for
young, hungry bass. Start your fishing with a jerkbait or
Texas-rigged worm. For larger bass, try a deep-diving crankbait or
Carolina-rigged worm in deeper water. For additional information
on boat ramps and bank-fishing opportunities, call the Georgia
Power Company Land Department at (770) 775-4753. Alternatives: Of
all the lakes in North Georgia’s Tallulah River system, Lake
Tugalo offers the best chance of catching a trophy bass. Each year
numerous 10-pound lunkers are caught in the upper section of the
average around 1 pound each on Lake Chatuge. You can haul them in
on hair jigs, plastic grubs or small white in-line spinners. JUNE
- West Point Largemouths: Because of its fertile waters and
16-inch minimum size limit, West Point continues to shine as a
premier bass fishery. Over 30 percent of the largemouths are
within the 15- to 20-inch category, and the average fish weighs 1
to 2 pounds. Another positive is that 80-plus percent of all bass
hooked are returned to the lake.
fishing guide Ron Savage, in June the bass have moved to deeper
water around main-creek and river-channel structure. Locate
breakline dropoffs, then probe them with a Carolina rig. His
favorite baits are a 6-inch June bug, a red bug and a plastic
worm. He works them very slowly across the bottom. The bites can
be very soft, so be alert. For guide services, contact Ron Savage
at (706) 884-6232. For lodging, food or marina services, call
George Marovich of Southern Harbor Resort and Marina at (334)
Lake Russell is a sleeper for bigger largemouth bass, with
approximately 30 percent of the fish measuring more than 16 inches
in size. Largemouths are often found in structure 20 to 30 feet
down in the clear water.
Use a jigging
spoon or a heavily weighted South Carolina worm rig to reach the
been heavily stocked with hybrid bass in recent years, resulting
in plenty of fish for area anglers. Look for top-breaking hybrids
in the Airport Area, or try chicken livers on the bottom around
the dam. JULY - Flint River Shoal Bass: The Flint River is
renowned for its excellent shoal bass fishing among its rocky
shoals. The current state-record 8-pound, 3-ounce fish came from
this river, and 3-pounders are fairly common. The lower water of
July tends to congregate the bass in the deeper pools of the shoal
areas, where they are more likely to locate your lure.
baits are crawfish-colored jigs and small crankbaits. In the upper
Flint, try the Yellow Jacket Shoals area near Thomaston. On the
lower Flint, try fishing below the town of Newton or upstream of
State Highway 32 in Lee County.
The crappie on Lake Lanier average a half-pound this month. The
best locations for catching them are the upper Chattahoochee arm
in the Clarks Bridge area and Thompson and Taylor creeks. Try
night-fishing for best results, using live minnows. Channel
catfish were No. 1 among species harvested fish from the Ocmulgee
River last year.
worms, cut bait or chicken livers around deep holes. Remember that
fishing picks up at night.
The mighty Altamaha River is home to one of Georgia’s foremost
aquatic predators: the flathead catfish. Regardless of their size,
all flatheads are excellent table fare.
them, locate deep holes in the river with your depthfinder and
drop a live bream or shiner to the bottom on a 1-ounce weight with
a 2- to 3-foot leader. Be patient, as it takes a while for them to
find your bait. If possible, set out two or three poles to
increase your chances. Baitcasting reels and 30-pound line are
recommended due to river snags and the large size of these fish,
which often reach 30 to 50 pounds. When the sun goes down, the
fishing gets better and set hooks and limblines are popular.
Altamaha Park, Oglethorpe Bluff and Beards Bluff Landing are
additional information, contact the Jesup-Wayne County Tourism
Board at (888) 224-5983.
Lake Oconee is loaded with 11-inch or smaller largemouths that
make up 50 percent of the total bass population. The WRD
encourages anglers to harvest some of them for a fish fry so the
bass in the protected slot limit (11 to 14 inches) can grow. Small
Texas-rigged worms and white spinnerbaits tossed around standing
timber or stumpfields pay off with plenty of action.
Lake continues to be one of the Peach State’s top choices for
channel and white catfish. Channel cats up to 10 pounds and whites
to 2 pounds can be caught this month.
West Point Lake
With the cooling temperatures of early fall, you can bet that the
excellent hybrid fishing will roll around after the dog days of
August. West Point has maintained its renowned hybrid fishing,
due to high stocking rates and good lake fertility. The average
hybrid weighs about 1 pound, but numerous fish in the 3- to
7-pound range are available to stretch your line.
early fall locations are on main-lake points and just off the old
river channel. Locate the fish first using your depthfinder, then
drop a line. The No. 1 bait is a medium-sized shad pulled from the
lake with a casting net. For a great day of West Point hybrid
fishing, contact Todd Snider Guide Service at (706).
In southeast Georgia, the Ogeechee River is building a reputation
for largemouth bass angling. Two good spawns have resulted in a
large number of bass in the river.
banks with a spinnerbait or jig-and-pig combo. Successfully
stocked for several years, hybrids are numerous and are an
underutilized species in High Falls. Cash in with live shiners or
bream in the main lake near the dam.
fall season is a great time to go after seatrout in the coastal
rivers of tidal Georgia. These fish are popular for their sporting
value and for how good they taste on the plate.
incoming tide is the best time to be drifting a live shrimp under
a cork in the deeper holes and along grasslines. Catch one good
seatrout, and you’ll likely see that more of his buddies are
around. For guide services, contact Captain David Newlin in
Richmond Hill at (912) 756-4573.
Spotted bass continue to increase in availability and size in Lake
Rabun. Spots are most abundant along the steep, rocky shorelines
on the lower end of the lake.
numerous public piers along the Georgia coast, all of which offer
good fishing for sheepshead. These fish are common next to the
barnacle-covered pier pilings, but their stealthy bite is hard to
This 3,290-acre reservoir on the Toccoa River near Blue Ridge in
Fannin County is Georgia’s best coolwater fishery for smallmouth
bass. Smallie numbers have remained constant over the last few
years, and these acrobatic fighters should provide some exciting
fishing this year. Smallmouths prefer rocky shorelines and
points. Tie on dark-colored hair- or rubber-skirted jigs for
bottom action, or try a small crankbait for the middepths.
becomes tricky in the fall as the lake level drops, so contact
Lake Blue Ridge Marina at (706) 632-2618 regarding boating
information. Alternatives: Clarks Hill is a 71,535-acre reservoir
that has produced three consecutive strong year-classes of
largemouth bass. The result has been abundant 12- to 14-inch fish
in the lake.
Best bets for
good fall fishing are Grey, Lloyds and Rousseau creeks in the
Little River arm of the lake. Also consider Soap, Murry and
Fishing creeks in the Savannah River section.
lowered the minimum size for largemouth bass on Lake Walter F.
to 14 inches
back in November of 2000, so more bass are available to fishermen.
Best locations are near Lake Point Resort, riprap at the dam, the
State Highway 96 causeway, and the mouths of feeder creeks.
Several thousand brown trout have been stocked into Lake Burton to
help control the rapidly growing blueback herring population. The
trout find Burton’s habitat and food base very suitable and grow
rapidly. Winter temperatures drive the bluebacks into shallows, so
look for the browns to be stalking the herring in skinny water on
rocky points. Fishing live herring, golden shiners, or night
crawlers below a cork works, as does casting minnow-type lures.
additional information, contact the WRD office on Lake Burton at
Located near Macon, 3,600-acre Lake Juliette offers Middle
Georgians the best chance to catch a trophy striped bass. The lake
record fish tipped the scales at 40 pounds. Try drifting live or
cut shad in the creek channel during the winter.
is our southernmost reservoir and produces good wintertime crappie
action. Your best bet is to use minnows and jigs in the open areas
near the dam. Concentrate on the old channels of the Chattahoochee
and Flint river arms.