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Dredger's Weekly Report - Rudolph the Red-Streaked Rainbow

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  • Dredger's Weekly Report - Rudolph the Red-Streaked Rainbow

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the North Georgia Region fisheries staff. All of us, from Buford to Gainesville to Burton to Armuchee and yonder west to Summerville, wish you a safe, healthy and fun holiday season and many tight lines in the New Year. To help you celebrate your vacation time, state and federal elves were busy spreading Christmas cheer to trout waters, finding good fishing stories, making more fish habitat, and searching the web for more fibs and tips to fire you up. Grab the fleece, goretex, and handwarmers and give some winter fishing a try. Hey, we’re not in Montana, so there are actually some great pockets of mild weather mixed in during Georgia winters. When you’re dressed right, these are some of the best times to wet a line. There are no fair weather crowds, waters are crystal clear, the air is cold and clean, and the scenery is awesome. When the presents have been unwrapped and the leftovers in the fridge are getting a bit old, cure your cabin fever with a half-day trip afield. Before you go, here we go with a GAWRD Christmas stocking stuffed full of fishing reports and conservation news for y’all:

    · Chattooga DH

    Dredger used his “net” last Friday evening (12/16).
    (21-day report: &cb_00036=on&cb_00045=on&cb_00052=on&cb_00060=on&c b_00065=on&format=gif_default&site_no=02330450&per iod=20&begin_date=2017-12-10&end_date=2017-12-17)

    His net, the inter-NET, showed him that the last week’s worth of lower water temperatures, continued low flows, real chilly mornings ahead, and Sunday’s pending rainfall that might be lower and later than originally predicted by the TV weather folks. That web intel indicated: stream trout should have finally acclimated to decreased water temperatures, the larger DH trout streams still had wadeable flows, and the catching should be better in the afternoons as water temps rose at lunchtime. So he plotted a weekend afternoon strategy: Chattooga on Saturday and Toccoa on Sunday.

    After a scenic drive along the shady, snow-lined shoulders of Warwoman Road, he landed at noon at the half-filled DH parking lot of the SC side of the river. He wolfed down his Wendy’s chili, bundled up in fleece and goretex, and began the short hike to the river. A Rabunite, learned in the ways of the north Georgia wilds, he studied the land around him… and noticed telltale critter tracks in the snow on the edge of the wildlife opening. Hmmm, there’s a clue, he thought.

    Up the closed road and left at the end of the food plot, he hit the ford, popped into the river, and plopped his thermometer in it. The mercury was hesitant and grudgingly crept up to the 38-degree mark. Uh-oh, self, it might be a real slow start, he mumbled. He turned left, ambled downstream to the head of the first good run, hit the bank, and rigged up his Euro outfit, which he hoped would bring him better luck than last week’s trips with a short pole and a shallow bobber rig. He tied on his home-grown “depth charge version” of a Pat’s rubberlegs
    to the end of his six-foot strand of 5X tippet, hanging below the sighter on his Euro rig, and then tied an apricot Oreck easy egg to the dropper strand about a foot above the first fly. With very little hope, he tossed it in.

    And the first drift stopped, the hook was set, and a rainbow bulldogged toward his net. First cast success!
    Uh-oh, was that the dreaded first-cast jinx, where nary a nibble would follow?

    He fretted for a second, but cast again, and again. One hour, six rainbows, and two browns later, he was confident that the first-cast jinx had bypassed him. The afternoon harvest slowed as he made his way upriver a mile or so. He also tried some top-secret intel from Jake at Unicoi Outfitters: little black stonefly nymphs. Then in the waning sunshine of late afternoon, the catching picked up again. And he saw more of those telltale tracks, on the JoJa side of the river this time. The rainbows liked both the stoneflies and egg flies, while the browns were partial to the stones. Between casts in a long straightaway, a fast shadow caught his eye, and he looked up in time to enjoy the flight of a bald eagle slowly cruising upstream, just above the treetops. The last fish was his best, a chunky 16-inch brown that inhaled the rubberlegs in the “sandy beach hole” at 430 PM. The fish “switch turned off” and the bite then shut down as his fingertips and toes numbed with the setting sun and dropping air temps. He hiked back out, crossed the river, and hit the parking lot around 5:15, where some leftover fried chicken and a hot car heater welcomed him back. It was another fine day on the Chattooga, and he thanked the fish gods for leak-less waders, warm gloves, hot flies, and those deadly strike indicators - - those tracks in the snow…
    And he said, “Thanks for my early Christmas gifts, Walhalla!”

    · Toccoa DH

    Dredger headed northwest on Sunday afternoon. The snow-covered mountaintops on his ride over Hwy 129 from Cleveland, coupled with snowlined river banks, made this a Christmas card-worthy road trip, if just for the scenery. Given the gloom-and-doom weather report, he expected little competition from fair-weather anglers, and was prepared to battle the elements again with his fleece pants, goretex waders and raincoat, thick socks, and handwarmers. He was right, as the crystal-clear DH stream was abandoned except for one hardy soul with stout Yankee blood. There was only an intermittent, slight drizzle. He and “Boston Steve” from Cartersville struck up a conversation about crazy, displaced Yankees who liked fishing in frigid conditions. Despite the 38-degree water, the duo lit ‘em up on the go-to winter combo of legs and eggs. After spotting the fish slowly tail-wagging in the bottom of gin-clear pools, Dredger tossed Euro while Boston tossed his bobber, long tippet, and shot combo. They could have stayed til dark and still caught fish, but numb toes and the arrival of steady rainfall finally drove them back to car heaters at five o’clock. It was a great afternoon between brand new fishing buddies, thanks to their dismissal of a dismal weather report and some nice federal hatchery rainbows, showing off their festive holiday colors.

    Holiday hints: the fish were again bunched up near stocking sites, due to the low water this fall. However, after the expected storms this week, they should finally flush throughout the DH reaches with high water. Be careful about higher flows and wade only where safe, or try a float tube or small pontoon craft to deal with higher water. Icy water is dangerous, so practice wading safety and always, ALWAYS carry a spare set of dry clothes in your vehicle.

    And, by all means, try a drag-free drift and use enough weight to get down to these winter fish, now glued to the bottom.

    · Toccoa Tailwater Browns!
    Time to dress like an Eskimo and take a float trip?

    · Hooch Tailwater
    The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam was stocked with some 10 to 14 inch rainbow trout today for the upcoming holiday weekend. River water quality has improved abruptly over the last two days and the long-awaited Lake Lanier "turnover" has finally happened.
    Dissolved oxygen levels in the upper river now are more than adequate for stocked trout survival and feeding, so this week would be a great time to try your luck at places like Buford Dam, Jones Bridge and Island Ford. River temperature this morning (12/19) was 12.3C and DO was 8.9ppm.

    Pat Markey
    Buford Hatchery Manager
    Wildlife Resources Division
    (770) 781-6888 |

    (Ed note: A Hooch stocking video link should be posted in our WRD statewide fishing blog, updated every Friday afternoon. The blog is here

    · Hooch Tailwater Reports

    · Special Hooch DH Stocking
    Last Friday, December 15th, Gainesville Fisheries and Buford Hatchery staff delivered a total of 2,000 Brown, Brook, and Rainbow trout to the Chattahoochee River DH. This stocking was in partnership with Sweetwater Brewing Company as part of their “Stack a fish, stock a stream” campaign. Over twenty volunteers from the Sweetwater Brewing, National Park Service, and local anglers and guides bucketed trout at Paces Mill to provide additional holiday fishing opportunities to Georgia’s metro trout anglers.
    Enjoy the photo gallery, here:

    -GAWRD fisheries biologist Pat Snellings (center, photo 19)

    · Holiday Trout Stockings
    During the past week and a half, WRD and Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery
    staffs have stocked a total of 8,500 rainbow, brown, and brook trout into Georgia’s Delayed Harvest waters, the upper Lanier Tailwater, Vogel Lake, and the Toccoa River below Lake Blue Ridge Dam. I am especially thankful for the long drive that our federal partners took to Erwin, TN last month to obtain a truckload of “retired” rainbow trout broodstock for stockings in select Georgia waters. Both agencies hope that these stockings bring holiday cheer to many Georgia anglers.

    PS- enjoy our recent snow photo.

    - John Lee Thomson
    GAWRD Trout Stocking Coordinator and Burton Hatchery Manager

    · Anthony’s Mountain Lakes

    The mountain lakes of northeast Georgia have a reputation for chunky spotted bass. Right now on Lake Burton, bass are chasing blueback herring in the creek mouths and open waters around the dam. Besides live bait, anything that looks and swims like a herring is apt to draw a strike. Anglers are also finding bass in deepwater brush piles at 30 to 40-feet and having some success using large hair jigs. In addition to Burton bass, walleye and yellow perch are doing well on Lake Tugalo and Lake Yonah. These two small reservoirs on the Georgia/South Carolina border support the highest walleye densities of any Georgia lake and quality yellow perch is a by-product of our walleye stocking efforts. This time of year, anglers will find walleye in downed trees around 30 to 40-feet deep. Live bait presentations and slow trolling around these structures are your best bets.

    Anthony Rabern
    Fisheries Biologist
    Wildlife Resources Division
    (706) 947-1507

    · West Side Lakes

    This Lake Allatoona fishing guides report for striper and hybrid has been brought to you exclusively by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service, 770 827-6282. Lake Allatoona, Georgia email:
    Line side fishing is decent !!. The snow storm really dropped the water temperature and the north end of the lake is stained. Nevertheless, it is still holding a ton of fish, mostly white bass and small hybrids. These fish have been picky, but they will still eat live bait and will take a spoon as well. Look for these fish north of Galts Ferry. Mid lake is where you want to be if you are looking for stripers. Bartow Carver to the dam is the place to be for stripers and bigger schools of hybrids. These fish are wanting to eat big baits like jumbo threadfins or gizzard shad. If you don't have shad, trout will work. I suggest going by Striper Soup and picking up a couple dozen gizzard shad if you are looking for a bigger fish. I have also had some really good luck mid-lake pulling u-rigs the last few times out. These fish have moved out of the river channel and up on the edge of it. Look for these fish to be in water 20- 40 of water. I look for the live bait bite to really ramp up once the water temps stabilize. This time of the year you need to be open minded on your techniques. Top water, trolling, spooning and live bait can all work this time of year, but what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow! So take the kitchen sink with you when heading out to the pond this time of year.

    This Carters Lake fishing report was provided by Robert Eidson of First Bite Guide Service, 770 827-6282., Georgia email:
    Temp 53
    Clarity 8 feet
    Line Sides - Decent ! The fish are starting to move out of the river, back to the main lake. They are splitting up into groups. Some are following the threadfins to the back of the creeks and others are staying on the main lake chasing alewife. If your targeting the fish in the backs of the creeks you need to use small threadfin shad, trout or even shiners. Fish the baits on planer boards and/or free lines early in the morning. Once the sun comes up change over to down lines. If your targeting the fish on the main lake, fish the pockets. These fish are holding on 90 foot bottoms and are eating big baits. Big shad and trout are working best on down lines 55 feet deep.
    Walleye. Its that time of the year and the bigger fish are starting to show up. Threadfin shad, small gizzard shad and shiners have been working best for us, but I would imagine they would eat a night-crawler very well right now. The walleye we are catching are coming on a 20 foot bottom in the backs of the creeks with standing timber in the early morning. Most of the fish we are catching are good fish in the 5-7 lb. range. I am very pleased to see fish of this size this far south!

    · Lanier Bass
    Water Temp - 54 degrees
    Water Level - 5.5 feet below full pool

    This report brought to you by: Jimbo Mathley - Jimbo on Lanier

    The weather and the lake has started to stabilize this week. The water temps and level are nearly the same as a week ago. Some areas of the lake are still showing signs of turnover - the water quality is mixed throughout the lake - some areas look great, and others not so much. Some fish have started to move shallower in the ditches. We have found some good activity in ditches from around 30 feet all the way back to 15 feet or so. A SPRO McStick has worked well on these shallower ditch fish of late. A Picasso ShakeDown Head with a finesse worm and a Chattahoochee jig are also good options in the ditches when they are not chasing the jerkbait. The spoon bite has started to slow a little this week. We aren't finding as much bait out in the deep timber, which makes sense as more fish are starting to move back shallower in the ditches. When we are finding the spoon fish, they seem to be more in the 30-50 foot range. Some days they are relating to the bottom near timber, and some days they are in more clean, flat bottom type areas. Some days they are more up in the water column and easier to spot. When they are down in the timber, rely on your Lowrance 3D Structure Scan to discern the presence of fish. You may not see them well until you hook one, then your display will explode with activity. Now is the time to book your trip if you would like to learn ditch fishing! I know a lot of people have talked to me about learning this bite - it is here! Following is a list of my upcoming open dates in December: 27, 28 (PM); January: 1, 2, 3, 4, 9(AM), 10, 11, 12. Give me a call and let's get out and catch some fish!

    Thanks to all and May God Bless.

    Jim "JIMBO" Mathley
    Spotted Bass Fishing Guide - Lake Lanier
    Mobile - 770-542-7764

    · Lanier Crappie
    Crappie Fishing Report December 21, 2017

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

    Water temperature still varies from the north end to the south end of the lake. On the north end in the backs of creeks, you will find water temps 50 degrees and below. In the middle to the south end of the lake, you will find water temps approaching mid- fifties. The bite has slowed with the recent cold spell. But it should be picking up in the next day or two, so right now, crappie fishing is fair. With this rain, expect the creeks to have moderate to heavy stain. This could work to your advantage, using darker colored jigs. To have a successful day, we are having to cover a lot of water until you find the right spot with schooling fish on submerged brush piles. Channel docks are also holding fish, and the water is not nearly as stained as the backs of creeks. Bobby Garland’s Mr. Crappie, and the Panfish Assassins, combined with 1/24 oz Davis jig heads are a good choice. If you prefer it, our “go to” hair jig continues to be a Jiffy Jig. Because the bite has slowed, you may want to consider a change to 2 lb test line. Most of the fish we are catching are a pound or less. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket!

    · Capt Mack’s Lanier Reports

    · Ken’s Reservoir Reports
    Fresh on Fridays:

    · Chatuge Attractors
    Last Tuesday WRD Gainesville fisheries staff took a trip up to the mountains, braving the cold and remaining snow, to install new fish attractors on Lake Chatuge. In partnership with the US Forest Service, 91 fish attractors were installed within casting distance of the newly opened Mayor’s Park Boat Landing and the RideShare parking lot just south of the US-76 bridge. These attractors will help hold bass, crappie, and bluegill and are within casting distance of the shore which creates great fishing opportunities for both boat and bank anglers. For more fishing info on Lake Chatuge, check this out:
    Our 2018 reservoir and river fishing prospects are being drafted now by state biologists and should be available online around the first of February.

    Pat Snellings
    Fisheries Biologist
    Wildlife Resources Division - Gainesville
    (770) 535-5498

    · The Next Generation of Conservationists
    High school students from three different Paulding County classes released tiny trout fingerlings into Raccoon Creek this past weekend as the culmination of a semester long “Trout in the Classroom” program (TIC). TIC is an environmental education program in which students raise trout from eggs to fry in their own school while learning all about trout, their habitats, water chemistry, aquatic ecosystems, and conservation. TIC programs are sponsored by local Trout Unlimited chapters with help from partners like WRD. Visit for more info on Trout in the Classroom program.

    - WRD Fisheries Biologist John Damer

    · Last Minute Gift Ideas

    Time running out? Still stumped?
    Here’s a list of potential stocking stuffers to end your holiday shopping stress:

    o Lifetime license. Let them fish for free, forever!

    o Gift cards- local tackle shops, box stores like Bass Pro and Cabelas. Sportsmen and women always love to “shop for free” and get exactly what they “need” (code name for “want”) via targeted gift cards from their favorite sporting goods stores, from Striper Soup to Cohutta to the Fish Hawk to Hammonds to Oakwood Tackle to Unicoi Outfitters.

    o Guided fishing trips. Most sportsmen and women are too tight to spring for that Bucket List item of a guided trip. Gather all family members, chip in, and land that big one for Mom or Dad, whether it’s trophy trout, big Carters spots, Toona hybrids, or Lanier stripers. Just Google “(insert lake or stream name) fishing guides” and check out their reviews, especially on some of the Georgia fishing message boards like GON and NGTO.

    o Lodge Stays. Maybe Mom likes to fish, but the other family members like to hike. Check out some cool spots that allow a diversity of activities like Smithgall, Unicoi, and Don Carter state parks.

    o Fly or lure assortments. Sneak a peek into Dad’s tackle box and see what he likes. Take a pic or two, then go to a tackle shop and have the sales attendant make you a nice batch of “hot” flies or lures that are sure to bring a smile on Christmas morning.

    o Fishing books or subscriptions. You have your pick from big, expensive encyclopedias down to affordable pocket guides. Examples:


    Best wishes for a great holiday season. We hope Santa brings you that new fishing pole or guided fishing trip that you’ve longed for. Thank you all for your support of our staff and their operations during 2017, and we will see you and serve you in the New Year.

    Jeff Durniak
    North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor

    Wildlife Resources Division

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