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Dredger's Weekly Report - Dry Week Ahead!

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  • Dredger's Weekly Report - Dry Week Ahead!

    Look outside!

    The grass is growing, the buds are breaking, the yard bugs have re-emerged, and the pollen count is increasing. It’s gotta be Spring in north Georgia! The days are warmer and longer and, after 1-2 inch totals last night, the rain will finally quit for a week! Here’s another great report as the waters warm, our target species head toward the shallows and we declare, only a week early, that spring has arrived for north Georgia anglers. While last night’s heavy rain will blow out our biggest trout streams for 1-2 days

    and the bass/striper/walleye rivers for a bit longer,

    smaller streams, our ponds, and the big reservoirs should fish well. Hopefully those bigger streams will drop to fishable levels soon, so stay tuned to the USGS streamflow gauges and local tackle shops for updates. In fact, if you choose a 2-4 week data interval on those USGS gauges, you can review past rainfall events and see how long it took those rivers to drop to fishable levels afterward. Then you can predict future fishable flows and plan your next trip. It will be cooler, but drier next week. After the morning chills, the afternoons should warm enough to restore decent stream temperatures and give us some good shots at our finned targets.

    Why is the WRD statewide fishing blog great? Well, we’ll tell you.

    Who has better intel than GAWRD? Electricity beats a streamer and nets beat a diving plug nearly every time! We’re sampling the lakes, capturing river broodstocks, creating stocking lists, and loading our trout trucks. Some of us fish alongside you on the weekends and even on weekday evenings now, as daylight lengthens. North Georgia anglers who take the time each week to read this WRD text and click on a few links should be right in the middle of great fishing opportunities. And it is all thanks to YOU because our sampling, stocking, and reporting efforts are a direct result of sportsmen and womens’ dollars. It’s a user-pay system. You’re paying and we are delivering to you, so you can enjoy your aquatic resources and sport fisheries.

    With spring’s warmth drawing our sport fish into the shallows, it’s now time for our annual sampling of several target species like walleye, stripers, and soon the bass when they hit the shallows. Enjoy the pics and reports from our managing biologists as they enter their busiest two months of field sampling for the entire year.

    And for those anglers who don’t take advantage of GAWRD’s online resource, well, we’ll just wish them luck with their fishing trips. They may be more “fishing” than “catching,” but they’re still fun. And maybe, one day, they’ll discover these gub’mint gold nuggets and cash in. In the meantime, for the miners among you, get ready to load your wheelbarrows:

    · Ken’s Reservoir Reports

    Ken’s detailed Friday updates from local fishing guides are worth reading before you burn your truck and boat gas on Saturday morning!

    · Lanier Ramp Update

    More ramps are reopening as the lake level slowly drops:

    · Fresh Lanier Bass Report

    · March Striper Tips

    Although this is a year old, it’s still great intel from Capt Clay that will put you on fish now:

    · Roop’s Lanier Report

    Your Lanier biologist has fresh walleye and striper intel.


    This week has been focused almost exclusively on wrapping up broodstock collections for walleye on Lake Lanier (see the videos to come). With Chestatee and Chattahoochee River temperatures now creeping up in the low 50s, the walleye numbers appear to be peaking in their traditional spawning areas. Many fish have moved from their lower, deeper pre-spawn staging areas into shallow, swift moving water over gravel bottoms. Many walleye we are seeing are ripe for spawning, and some have even already deposited their eggs/milt. While the “spawning walleye bite” can be a bit unpredictable depending on which stage of the spawn these fish are in (pre-spawn, spawn, post-spawn), now is a great opportunity to go catch a walleye. Any interested Georgia anglers should give this fish a try, because they are fun to pursue and are tough to beat in terms of table fare. In an effort to increase anglers’ success rates, WRD Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern has created a “Walleye Fishing Guide” that anglers can read and prepare for a walleye fishing trip. That document can be found here (

    Anthony is also featured on Oneil’s TV show about Georgia walleyes, here:

    Oh, and by the way, walleye aren’t the only fish biting this early spring. These warm temperatures are triggering the natural instincts of Lanier’s Morone species (white bass & striped bass), and we are starting to see more and more activity on the lineside front. In fact, we ran into a hardy 20 lb striped bass in the Chestatee River this Monday (pictured) This early running adult had little company in the run of the river we were sampling, but there were plenty of pockets of small baitfish including shiners and blueback herring to maintain her appetite. In these relatively high flows, look for stripers foraging in deep runs, holes, and eddies where baitfish are seeking refuge from the current. Larger stripers may be found in swift shoals where higher quality forage is available. The fishing is expected to continue to pick up through the month of March, so be on the lookout for more tips and intel from WRD as we aim to improve everyone’s fishing knowledge and success!

    - Hunter J. Roop

    Fisheries Biologist

    Wildlife Resources Division, Gainesville

    (770) 535-5498

    · Crappie

    Lake Lanier Crappie Fishing Report March 13, 2019

    This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. See our club’s website,

    Lake Level is about 3 ½ feet over full pool, and there is still a good bit of floating debris to avoid. Everyone in the boat should be on the look-out. The backs of the creeks have moderate to heavy stain, which is where you find the warmest water, about 55 degrees and creeping up. Fishing is good to excellent. Simply follow the bait in the middle to backs of creeks and they will lead you to the fish. Also, there are lots of roaming fish. This means that long-line trolling can be very effective. We suspect that the fish are checking out their spawning grounds, and my guess will be that the spawn will begin around the coming full moon. The trees are blooming and the daffodils are in abundance, both signs that the spawn is near. I know the fish can’t see the trees and the daffodils, but their bloom is related to air and soil temps, which are affected by weather, as is water temperature. We are targeting and catching fish in docks in 15 feet of water and much less. The bite is suspended shallow in the water column, so expect bites quickly after the bait hits the water. Having said that, fishing is changing from day to day. You might catch a mixed bag in size one day, and the next day you may end up with nothing but big ones. I can’t explain that, but for me, any tug on the line is a win. But we are definitely catching our share of big fish! We are keeping a close eye on the blow-downs, and scanning the deeper ones. But so far, we are not seeing any fish on them. I do expect that to change quickly, though. Usually, when I see the turtles soaking up the sun on the blow-downs, I expect to find the fish there. This is a fun time of the year to catch them. If you happen to be one of those fishermen that get a chance to fish multiple times during the week, and are catching a lot of fish, keep in mind that our future fishery depends on a good spawn, so you may want to consider catch and release..

    Stay safe on the water, wear a life jacket!

    · The Moran Report

    Courtesy of new WRD fisheries biologist Zach Moran (706-947-1503), stationed at Burton Hatchery and traveling all across north Georgia to assist our region field staffs. After work, he fishes. A lot. From trout to bass to stripers, he’s enjoying his new home in north Georgia. Here’s the latest Moran report, combining both work and angling time to bring you some breaking news.

    Spring has sprung, and with it comes excellent fishing to Northeast Georgia. Fish (especially big fish) are beginning to move shallow to look for food in warmer waters. Now is the perfect time to go out and catch that trophy of a lifetime. The trick to catching these big fish is to throw bigger, slow-moving baits. For trout, try throwing egg sucking leeches and streamers in deep eddies. Striped bass and walleye are moving to the uppermost ends of reservoirs to spawn and can be targeted with shad-imitating lures. Largemouth and spotted bass can be found in creek channels leading into spawning areas using a jig or Texas-rigged worm.

    - Zach

    · Coosa Whites

    Rain and continued water releases from Allatoona and Carters has kept river flows high in the Coosa River ( Electrofishing surveys earlier in the week generally showed few white bass in the river between Mayo Lock and Dam downstream to the Old River Road Boat Ramp. The fish present tended to be holding on the inside river bends and back in the tributaries off the main river. Most were smaller male white bass, but a few larger egg-laden females were observed. River temps have risen into the mid-50’s F, which has brought a few striped bass into the river as well. Striper numbers should continue to increase in the coming weeks as they head upstream on their annual spawning run.

    - senior fisheries biologist Jim Hakala

    WRD - Armuchee district office


    · Blue Ridge Bass

    Staff in the Armuchee office captured and released these two bass over 4 pounds this week at Blue Ridge Lake while searching for walleye broodstock. Experienced anglers will know that the fish on the right is likely a smallmouth bass, but the fish on the left looks like a hybrid smallmouth x Alabama (spotted) bass to our trained eyes. Genetic data from each fish will confirm our visual ID. Alabama spotted bass were first illegally introduced into the lake around 1993, and by competing and breeding with the native smallmouth they have become the dominant bass species in the lake. WRD now raises and stocks pure smallmouth into the lake to combat the “spot” takeover and maintain the smallmouth bass fishery for anglers in the future.

    We caught several walleye this week, but nearly all of the females were spawned out. That spring run is about over for the year, and the fish will now return to the reservoir.

    - John Damer

    Fisheries Biologist

    GA WRD- Armuchee District

    (706) 295-6102

    · Chattooga DH Hat Trick (3/10)

    Dredger gave the high water a shot last Sunday afternoon to see if any spots were fishable. During his morning “net” session on his Iphone, the river showed 2.8-foot height on the Clayton gauge, which equaled 1.8 feet and 400 cfs on the Burrells Ford gauge.

    Despite his height and 30+ years of experience on the Tooga, that intel indicated BIG water and he proceeded with caution. Walking the bankside trail, he found a few spots right at the river edge to hop in and cast. He never wandered far from the bank and never crossed the raging river.

    Before rigging, he scanned the surface for hatching bugs and poking noses. The bugs were scarce and the noses, nonexistent, so he set up for high-water dredging: bobber, long leader, split shot, and big attractor bugs (brown Pat’s rubberlegs and red squirmy). He did try some dropper bugs (pheasant tail, hares ear) but had no lookers on those smaller targets in the raging river.

    He found enough slow eddies and pools to make the trip worthwhile, and ended the day with about a dozen rainbows, three browns (two were hefty fish at 16 and 17 inches), and one fat brookie to give him the “trout hat trick.” The catch was split evenly between the legs and the worm. Despite the warm afternoon and 53-degree water, the real bugs weren’t thick, except for a slow stream of tiny (#22) caddis that only drew about three rises. At least until his late afternoon hike out. A pod of fish set up shop in the glassy tail of a long pool and were sipping microscopic emergers. He rigged tiny, cast, missed one, and put down the pod. It was still a nice afternoon on the Chattooga, with size compensating for numbers. It will only get better as the water warms, flows drop, and bugs and trout noses meet on the water surface.

    After the two-inch rain last night, it will be several days before the river is fishable again, but at least you can glance at those gauges, check the hatch charts in last week’s WRD blog,

    and plan your next trip to this wild and scenic river.

    Where? Here:

    · Spring Dries and Droppers

    Bullet #3 in here = a veteran’s tips for your next three months of Southeastern fly flinging.

    · Trouting Home Run

    When we swing for the fences, we often strike out. But sometimes we connect and the ball sails into the bleachers. Here is the story of one such trout homer hit on a north GA river.

    The choice is ours. We can bring dry/droppers to the plate and hit many singles and a few doubles this spring. Or we can take a swing with some big, meaty calories and hope to put one in the upper deck. Good luck as you stroll into your own on-deck circle.

    · Trout Stockings – Weekly Intel

    Our weekly stocking lists are getting longer. This week, more than 13,000 trout will be spread among 30 streams and small lakes. I’ll bet Carmen will be out there again this March, ready to string up some stockers for supper! Have you signed up yet for your Friday afternoon “dings” on your smart phone?


    · Events

    o March 22: Lanier Striper Tourney

    Join us this next weekend for our 2nd Annual Southern Striper Open on Lake Lanier! Anglers will have a great opportunity for friendly competition, as well as thousands of dollars in giveaways, prizes, and raffles, all while raising funds for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Let's get our veterans fishing!

    -Jeff Wright, manager

    Alpharetta Outfitters

    o March 23 – Hooch Hoot

    This is where the GATU Dream Trip’s winning tickets are drawn.

    o March 30- NGTO Fling at Buford Hatchery

    o March 30 – 30th Annual Helen Trout Tournament

    o April 6: Rabunite 101 (Learn to Flyfish)

    o April 6: Smithgall’s Flies and Fly Water

    o April 26: Fish and Learn

    As always, thanks for your fishing tackle taxes, license purchases, and TU brookie car tags.

    We’re putting those funds to good use on your north Georgia sport fisheries. And good luck in dealing with a true angling anomaly this year: A DRY WEEK! I’ll bet you’ll figure it out quickly and make some fine fishing memories in the days ahead. Don’t forget a friend, especially one who’s good with a camera.

    Jeff Durniak
    North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor

    Wildlife Resources Division

    Want to Help Ease DNR's Budget Woes? Buy a TU license Plate!